The Great Unravelling

The long deceased American author Mark Twain once wrote of dogs that: When a man’s dog turns against him it is time for a wife to pack her trunk and go home to mama. Fortunately for me the canine fluffy collective that work here on the farm, are most definitely on my side. The editor is quite fond of me too, or at least I’d like to think so.

A long time ago, the editor once remarked to me in passing that it is the little things in life that are important. Who can argue with such wisdom? Lucky for her, I’ve always been interested in the little things in life.

Plenty of people think otherwise, and I’ve noted that grand gestures score more social brownie points than the little things in life do. Who is not impressed by a huge wedding, a massive holiday, or an even more massive house? Such things are the markers of social success, however woe is me because I avoid such things.

On the other hand, there is always the Lindt Ball attack.

Preparations for the inevitable Lindt Ball attack

The coffee on the right is for me, but the coffee on the left is for the editor – as is the chocolate. What better way to start a day than a proper Latte (sometimes known overseas as an Australian flat white) coffee in bed, a small chocolate, and a good book? If there is a better way to start a day, I have not yet heard of it. And some mornings each week, that is the dreadful ordeal that the editor has to face. Please spare a thought for her.

A week or so back I was asked the hard question as to why I don’t travel much any more. It was a tough question to answer, and I responded to the simple question by using my best work in the gentle art of obfuscation. Obfuscation is the fancy word for what is colloquially known as bullsh#t, or more technically: ‘the action of making something obscure, unclear, or unintelligible.’ You may have noticed that politicians pull that trick out of their sleeves far more often than they should.

It is not really part of my nature to obfuscate, but in that particular instance I was uncertain as to my motivations and just didn’t know how to respond. And the question has haunted me ever since it was asked, and so I really had to dwell long and hard on a response.

In the end, it all came down to coffee. The number ‘Forty Two’ was provided as the mysterious answer to the ultimate question of Life the Universe and Everything in the most excellent book “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”. Mysticism is probably not my bag and so I intend to explain what I mean when I say that the answer to the questions asked of me is: ‘coffee’.

The answer is actually absurdly simple. But first let’s talk about ‘mad cafe cash’. With a few rough calculations on the back of an envelope, I work out that there is a rough exchange rate of 1,000 mad cafe cash to 1 overseas holiday. The calculation itself reveals much to me, and it suggests that society values overseas holidays far higher than the 1,000 mad cafe cash.

So what exactly is mad cafe cash? It is an abstract concept that equates to the real world cost of a coffee, raisin toast, or most excellent muffin. There is a place I have frequented for more than a dozen years and they roast their own coffee beans out back, but they also bake the most superb muffins. Once long ago, the nice folks working there almost spilled the beans, and they began to tell me the secret formula for their muffins, but no I resisted. I cannot un-hear that sour cream was involved in the process. Anyway, some knowledge is too heavy to bear, and I’d rather use my mad cafe cash to support their ongoing excellent work.

Realistically, time is limited and in a year I cannot physically enjoy the experiences that 1,000 mad cafe cash units would buy. That works out to be more than two and a little less than three cafe experiences per day – for the entire year. So much coffee would leave me feeling a bit jittery and slightly agitated – and who wants to see that? The poor barista’s dealing with my state, might cut off my coffee supply if I took things to such an awful extent.

There are a few students of economics who read the blog (you know who you are!), and I have no doubts that they were probably already busting to to blurt out their salient observation that: People who only indulge in say 150 mad cafe cash experiences per year, spend far less than those who indulge in 1 overseas holiday per year. The facts speak for themselves, and the corollary is that a person so doing, doesn’t need to earn as much actual real world mad cash.

I’d really like to make a grand and virtuous statement suggesting that I no longer go on overseas holidays because it is a good outcome for the environment. It certainly sounds good to my ears, and makes me feel all righteous and stuff. Unfortunately, it is not true at all, the editor and I just prefer the little enjoyments in life.

Who cares about the work we did on the farm this week – if only because there are two crazy sheep dog puppies running around the farm!

Here’s looking at you kid

Plum and Ruby have already wormed their way into our hearts. And they love their food.

Smash and dog food grab. Plum to Ruby: You are like super bad girl!
Smash and dog food grab. Plum to Ruby: What a good idea you had there Ruby!

The two newbie girls are learning the ways of being a farm dog. And we are exhausting them. At night they fall soundly asleep in preparation for the next days activities.

Ollie loves his new farm dog mates enough to share his green couch

It wasn’t all puppy work this week. We’ve been upgrading the solar power system. Regular readers will recall that a few weeks ago, a bloke who is a mate of a mate offered us eight free solar panels. Before the encounter it never even occurred to me that people were disposing of perfectly good solar panels, and that the regulatory system in place is encouraging such epic waste. It is a truly bonkers story that one, and no matter how it might be talked up by the authorities it reflects very poorly upon our society. However, it really is a thing. I managed to score another eight solar panels this week for about 40 mad cafe cash units. Bonkers.

Another eight solar panels were scored this week. The waste story behind it all is beyond a joke

With all of these extra solar panels, I have had to construct a new structure to hold them all. Earlier in the week I picked up a load of steel for that very purpose.

A load of steel is going to be used to produce a structure to hold the new solar panels

The new-old solar panels will be installed on a steel frame in the paddock below the house. I considered driving the steel down to where the structure was to be built, however there has been a bit of rain recently and I was uncertain about how dry the paddock is. So just to be safe, I walked all of the steel down to where I intend to use it.

I walked all of the steel down into the paddock by hand

The editor designed a structure that would use two of the three the existing steel posts. That left another eight holes to be dug for new steel posts.

Eight holes were dug in the paddock

The eight new steel posts were then cemented into the holes in the paddock.

Eight posts were cemented into the holes in the paddock

The intention is to begin installing the steel supports for the posts over the next week or so. The concrete first has to cure, and that usually takes a few days.

We used the low centre of gravity ride on mower and its trailer to take sand, gravel and cement down to the work site in the paddock. I hadn’t used the mower for a month or two, and it had a few minor technical difficulties, so I performed a few maintenance jobs on it. The mower had not appreciated sitting around doing nothing for the month or two, and in future I intend to just get the machine going a bit more regularly. It is a case of use it or lose it.

A few minor maintenance jobs were done on the low centre of gravity mower

To cool the machine down after use, I was toodling around the house doing circles. I spotted Scritchy the 19 year old miniature fox terrier and on a whim I took her for a spin. She loved it, and was having a blast, but eventually I had to put the machine away, and that was when Scritchy went back to her usual aloof self.

Scritchy goes for a ride – and loves it!

The weather has turned mostly humid and cooler of late, although we still get some very hot days. This sort of weather is perfect for the Portuguese millipedes, and they are to be found everywhere.

It is Portuguese millipede time again

The wetter weather is a real boon for the frogs that live on the farm. The other night I spotted this Pobblebonk frog. The name sounds very much like the sound that the frogs make.

A Pobblebonk frog enjoys the wetter weather of late

At night there are also huge moths flying around. I suspect that the Sugar Gliders consume the moths, but even so there are a lot of them around. I spotted a Bogong moth attached to a succulent plant the other night.

A Bogong moth hangs off a small cacti

We’ve completely weeded all of the vegetable growing spaces. The former tomato enclosure was turned into a space for growing pumpkins, squashes and melons, and those plants require a lot of space.

The former tomato enclosure is now used to grow pumpkins and melons

Raspberry transplants are being placed in the corn enclosure. Next summer the corn will be grown elsewhere.

Raspberry transplants are getting off to a good start in the current corn enclosure

The grape vines in the strawberry / grape enclosure are growing really strongly. One vine in particular has reached the second and highest wire and I am slowly training the vine to travel along the two wires.

The grape vines are growing strongly in the strawberry enclosure. Plum approves.

The raspberries are being slowly removed from the blackberry enclosure. The blackberries just grow too strongly for the smaller raspberries.

The blackberry enclosure has been very productive this season
The blackberries are ripening such that there are good handfuls to consume each day

The Kiwi Fruit vines have produced very solidly this year.

So many kiwi fruit!

The developing succulent terraced garden had some new plants added to the collection.

Four new plants for the succulent garden

Onto the flowers:

Geraniums form the backbone of some of the garden beds
Oregano is a useful culinary herb and also a great plant
More geraniums!
Nothing is as spectacular as the passionflower

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 9’C (48’F). So far this year there has been 184.0mm (7.2 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 173.6mm (6.8 inches).

91 thoughts on “The Great Unravelling”

  1. Hi Tam,

    It sounds like you have quite the collection of herbs, and it is always great to experiment just to see how far you can push your climate and plantings.

    Ginger is such a good plant, and I too have tried it in a protected spot and failed. It grew a nice shoot though before the frost got it. But you never know how the plants will cope. I’m meant to be able to grow turmeric here, but it just doesn’t survive and incidentally some sort of fungi gets it. It was sourced locally too, so who knows what that means.

    From time to time there are a few successes though like Vietnamese Mint (a very tasty plant and one I regularly consume) and also the two Tea Camellias which have now continued to grow slowly for a couple of years. And the Macadamia trees haven’t yet died even after heavy snow, and they just sort of struggle along.

    Had to laugh at the image of you with the bottles of vodka and toddlers at the checkout. 🙂 Funny stuff, and I’m totally with you, vodka is the best for tinctures. We make our own vanilla extract with vodka too as it is the least flavoured of all the ethanol products. In fact I’d have to suggest that it has been filtered but not flavoured. Ridiculously easy to make.

    We’ve been making our own wines and sake for about a decade, and one strange thing about it that never ceases to amaze me is that people inevitably come to the conclusion that we somehow drink a lot of alcohol. People who say that just have no idea of the sheer industrial scale of production behind their purchases at the store. Whenever I hear that comment, I sort of scratch my head and think to myself: Well, I guess you have a point of view. We simply can’t produce enough to be able to over indulge – and few people understand that.

    Is your perennial basil of the mint family? I grew a basil mint which seems pretty hardy and is close in taste but not quite the same as basil. This year I grew a new variety of basil and I’d be curious to hear what plant you are growing: BASIL ‘FINO VERDE’ ORGANIC – Ocimum basilicum

    I’m in the same boat and am just taking reasonable precautions, but the increased awareness in the public as to the spread of disease is not a bad outcome. I have encountered plenty of folks who have not shown the slightest concern for germ theory, and I have then been hit hard by their colds and also influenza twice over the years. I now get the flu shot as a consequence. I really don’t know, but at the moment it seems to be affecting the elderly and those with a compromised immune system. But be aware it is not out of the question to get both it (which is a form of the cold family of viruses) and influenza at the same time. That would make for a very testing week. Unfortunately the flu shot isn’t being released for a few more weeks. Keep a sharp eye on that one. I read today that there have been runs on the shops, and incidentally it is very difficult now to purchase alcohol based hand wash.



  2. Hi Pam,

    Thank you so much for writing that about Mr Toothy and I appreciate the sentiment. He’s a lovely, but occasionally grumpy old dog and we’ve known each other for many years.

    I first met Mr Toothy at the pound in Melbourne many long years ago where he was in a concrete cage with an oversized dog coat. It was winter, and he was huddled at the far end of his cage and looked utterly miserable. The editor actually took a liking to Mr Toothy, and so we took him home with us.

    For the first few days, Mr Toothy was quite sedate as he learned the ropes of being a hip inner city dog. On reflection I have this sneaking suspicion that he may have been sedated. But who really knows…

    After a couple days, Mr Toothy shook off his lethargy and exploded into action. He really was feral. As he’d been fixed up, he was wearing an Elizabeth collar, and he used to use that collar as a battering ram. You’d see him sighting the very-new-to-being-a-boss-dog Old Fluffy, and then declaring: “Full Speed Ahead. Ramming Speed!!!” And the little rotter used to ram Old Fluffy.

    We had to take Mr Toothy back to the pound to have his stitches removed. For some odd reason he didn’t much like being taken back to whence he came. The chastened Mr Toothy was on his best behaviour for about two days after that, but then rapidly returned to his old tricks.

    Now Old Fluffy was nobodies fool, and so she took Mr Toothy under her wing and because she liked to lick things, she just began cleaning Mr Toothy’s face. And Mr Toothy was dirty for the attention. Before too long Old Fluffy had the upper hand in the relationship and Mr Toothy submitted to having his face cleaned. It was amazing to see, and I truly worried that Old Fluffy might accidentally remove an eyeball, but I needn’t have worried.

    Who would have thought that a simple face cleaning could tame a feral pup? Old Fluffy was a force to be reckoned with and dogs four times her size were beaten into submission by her sheer force of personality. Like Ollie she was a work wub (the bark noise she used to make), and used to follow me around.

    Every now and then as a special treat for Mr Toothy, I grab a damp Wettex and clean his face, and he loves it.



  3. Hi Inge,

    Hedgehogs are beautiful little creatures. They look a little bit like the Echidna which are fairly commonly seen around here. I like Echidna’s because they eat ants, and that is OK by me.

    Apparently your hedgehogs can avoid hibernating if the air is warm enough and there is enough food around. However, how would their burrows cope with all of the rain that you are experiencing this season? I often wonder how the wombats in their large underground burrows cope with really wet seasons? I don’t really know, but I do know that wombats (unlike kangaroos) are sensible enough to avoid the rain and can wait up to three days for it to cease. It is a sad and dispirited wombat that is seen trundling around in the rain.

    I guess the only positive note is that the ground water reserves on your island are filling up.

    When I dug the holes in the paddock this week, I was surprised to see how dry the clay was. I might have to spread some manure over the surface near to that location.



  4. Hi Lewis,

    I had a quiet enough day today and read up on the Classis Britannica and also the Roman Navy. All is now explained, and it is clear that the Roman’s – and thus Arthur’s ancestors and part of his culture, didn’t really favour or put much stock in ocean going navies. From hindsight in the story, I could see that the ships were primarily considered troop transport and not a means to sink the Danes whilst at sea.

    Years and years ago I used to play strategy war games against my mates. One mate in particular used to have this strategy where he would just keep sending units out to wear down my defences. And the toll it took beggared the kingdom and wore out the defences and also any resource mining operations I had set up. It was an unrelenting strategy, but it took a toll on his side too. And the upshot was that if I managed to eventually fend off the unrelenting hordes, it turned out that his side didn’t really have much of an expectation that the tide would ever turn. Alfred the Great got lucky and the campaign he pursued from the grip of defeat was a canny and pragmatic one.

    It is good to read that there was a patron saint of the arts. Who knew that? Jan van Eyck had a great eye, and did not shy away from certain realities. A brave man, and one with good connections. I was interested to read that his widow was afforded a modest pension after his death. He was lucky to have survived the plague, and I note that the court of Portugal was described as itinerant due to the health circumstances. The detail to be seen in the paintings is staggering. Thanks for mentioning the artist.

    Hehe! Yeah fat chance of that happening, and anyway, would you enjoy being a celebrity? What a horror that would be. I actually feel a bit edgy when people I know read the blog and want to discuss it. Have I ever mentioned that there are people I know who read the blog and then refuse to acknowledge that they read it, and yet in round about ways they tell me they read it – what is with that? Anyway, that makes me feel a bit edgy too, perhaps even more so.

    Haha! No need to apologise as I don’t really know the guy (Salinger). I just didn’t like the book at all because I hated the central character, but at the same time I can see how the work might provoke some strange sentiments and outpourings from the readers. Yeah, mate run to the hills brother, I hear you. I had read long ago that the author lived like a recluse, but thought that was a personal desire and not driven by the fans. Ouch. I live in the woods because I enjoy it, whilst acknowledging that it is not a situation for everyone.

    A couple of bodyguards wouldn’t mean diddly-squat if confronted by a horde of rampaging fans after blood. I mean look what happened to Arthur in the story when he was over run by a bunch of nobodies who just managed to have sheer numbers on their side.

    Sorry to say, but the virus getting into an aged care facility does not make for pleasant hearing. Down under, the authorities announced that a doctor who had not travelled overseas had contracted the virus from a patient, and apparently they don’t know who the patient was. Apparently people are stocking up on stuff: Coronavirus fears prompt shoppers to stock up on essential items, stripping supermarket shelves. Who would have thought that there could be a run on toilet paper? Banks yes, toilet paper, no. As a young bloke just out of home, I used to visit mates who used pages out of the telephone book for that purpose. Inventive, but hardly new from what I understand of your old mail order catalogues from back in the day.

    Anyway, the upshot is that the virus seems to have jumped the containment lines. Wasn’t it you who told me that in films there is always someone who jumps the containment lines? And from what I’ve seen people are happy to lie if it is in their own self-interest. I get no sick pay doing what I’m doing and that means relying on stores.

    I tend to agree, sorry to say. It’s here.

    Grape hyacinths are really lovely flowers and they’re blue. 🙂

    Bit of rain and cooler temperatures here today.

    Had to pick up some more stuff for the solar power system upgrade today. I may have also made a detour to get a coffee, but they had no muffins. Shock horror! I was told that there was a run on muffins earlier in the day. What is the world coming to?



  5. Yo, Chris – When people complain to me, about their spouses, I ask them, “When’s the last time you left a rose on the pillow?” Or, any other small gesture, that’s similar. Even a cranky old bachelor, like me, knows that.

    I also gave up traveling, somewhere along the way. I guess my last big trip, was over to Idaho, a few years back. I don’t know. The planning? The disruption to my comfortable little rut? Never knowing where one might find the next bathroom? The sheer unpredictability of travel?

    Coffee is our most important national resource! 🙂 . I do wish I could link to that old Saturday Night Live, sketch, “Java Junkie.” It was a hoot. But, it’s not to be reproduced due to proprietary concerns. It was done for SNL by an outside source. And, the “artist” is very miserly with the rights. Seems a bit of overkill for a less than five minute sketch. But, if I run across a bootleg copy …

    Your blog is getting a bit dog-o-centric. But, awwww, aren’t they cute? That picture of Ollie with his paw slung over the sleeping pup, is a classic.

    Looks like the low mower, little yellow trailer, and you, got quit a workout. Use it or loose it.

    You can keep your millipedes. We have similar, but ours are more circumspect. The Bogong moth. Isn’t that the one that tastes like chicken?

    You keep moving the veg around, and they’re likely to get dizzy. I fiddled around in the garden, a bit more, yesterday. Taking a good long look at things, and also deciding where to put this and that. Cont.

  6. Hello Chris
    I enjoyed reading it all even if I didn’t find anything to comment on. The photo of Ollie with his arm over the puppy is absolutely enchanting.
    We don’t have any hedgehogs around here which is a shame. They used to be around and I have a photo of my children looking at the largest one that I have ever seen. At the time there were no badgers here, now we have large numbers of them and they eat hedgehogs.
    I have a tiny model of an echidna, very sweet.
    Friends who read your blog but don’t admit it! That sounds really strange to me. Perhaps they disagree with things that you write but don’t want to engage with you on the subjects. Even so, it is very peculiar.


  7. Cont. There were a lot of grain transport ships, between Britain and the German frontier. Britain was part of the “bread basket” for the German Limes. The Romans had a funny relationship with ocean travel. Julius Caesar had to shame his troops into crossing the channel to invade Britain. Superstitious terror of that misty island. Of course, given the number of ship wrecks and pirates, ocean travel was not taken, lightly. Old Julius made a name for himself, early on, fighting pirates. I just discovered that besides Neptune, sailors also claimed Priapus as their patron god. I guess they had a randy reputation, even back then. 🙂 .

    Watched a bit more of the “Art of the Northern Renaissance”, last night. Next up, Rogier. He was a bit of a contemporary of Van Eyck, but improved a bit on his style, by injecting more emotion, into his figures. More a reflection of an inner life. He did one interesting painting of St. Luke, who is the actual patron saint of artists. The story goes, that Luke had a vision of the Virgin Mary, and did a painting of her. They think the painting may have been done for the artist guild, and that the figure of St. Luke is actually a self portrait of Rogier.

    Speaking of health concerns, back then, there was mention of three brothers, earlier than Van Eyck, who were manuscript painters. First came manuscripts, than came panel painting. Any-who. All three brothers died within a year of each other, probably, of the plague.

    Maybe people who read your blog, but don’t fess up to it, are respecting your privacy? The internet is funny territory. It’s one thing, as far as social boundaries go, and up close and personal is different territory. I don’t think all the manners, around the two spheres, has quit been worked out, yet.

    The run on toilet paper is kind of odd, as, paper products are one of the few things we still make, here. Kunstler has some interesting things to say about the virus. At least is pretty much jostled him off the politics.

    Looks like they had a death, at the old folks facility, outside of Seattle. At least I think so. Patient privacy, blah, blah, blah. He was 77 and had “an underlying condition.” One of the Ladies, asked me this morning, what I thought his underlying condition was. I responded, “He was 77.” Age, was his underlying condition.

    If we get a case here, at the Institution, I suppose we’ll be under quarantine. That thought just kind of sunk in, today. Well, that’s something I’ve never experienced before. Ought to be interesting.

    “Someone always breaks quarantine.” (™ Lew). Even when I was a wee small lad, reading about the Black Death or the Flu Pandemic of 1918, I realized that. I was a cheery child 🙂 . I read a novel, a few years back. Can’t remember a title or author, but it was about the epidemic of 1918 and how they tried to lock down the logging camps. Didn’t work. Some logger was always sneaking off to town for booze, tobacco or women, and bringing the virus, back.

    No muffins! The horror, the horror. Do they come from China? Did the supply chain break down? 🙂 . I made a batch of beef stroganoff, last night. Enough for a couple of nights, and, a couple of packs for the freezer. Not bad. I used yogurt, instead of sour cream, so, it wasn’t quit as “rich.” Ground beef. Served over rice, instead of noodles. Lew

  8. Chris,

    Yes, occasionally I meet humorless people. I’ve met a few people who were wired in such a way as to not understand jokes or when someone is joking. But then there are the ones who are totally humorless, take everything seriously, look as if they’ve never laughed or smiled once in their lives and who get upset when people joke near them. I try to avoid such people when possible.

    It sounds as if you’ve hit the motherlode of solar panels. The cost appears to be working too long in the sun and baking your brains. Ouch.

    The cats that invade my yard never bury their poo, be it in sand, garden soil or grass. Never ever. And you nailed the Finnish Spitz mentality – just as there was a bear named Winnie the POOH, Finnish Spitz’s should be renamed POO Hounds.

    My experience with coyotes and cats suggests that urban housecats are so scared of a coyote that the cat might or might not survive the encounter. One cat should be able to deter a lone coyote. But fear, and the fact that the coyotes that invade the area travel in packs, well, the pack knows how to eventually surround and attack the cat from behind. Harry S. Truman, the cat not the president, was a different story. He was an outdoor cat, weight about 14kg, and did keep the coyote pack away from a friend’s chickens. Harry knew what he was doing and was not to be trifled with.

    Math? Mate, your most recent column, extremely well written, shows a complete mastery of that advanced branch of maths entitled “Coffeemathics”. Beware, beware, beware. Adepts at coffeemathics sometimes get caught attempting bistromathics.

    Interesting that you mention how meditative your work on the farm can be. I can do that with certain yard chores, but you seem to have achieved a level to which I can merely aspire. I do note that when working, any thoughts I have are in words rather than visuals. Physics taught me to take a complicated thing and break it into more manageable segments that could be solved, similar to how you work on complex projects. Fortran programming enhanced that ability. Breaking a complex problem into smaller parts and working on those is a tool that I can use in the garden, the job, pretty much anywhere.

    A chap I went to junior college and university with had been an electronics tech in the air force. He struggled with the math in physics, but he was a wizard in the lab and with applications. He became a research physicist for the air force after university and did exceedingly well. His lab skills often ran circles around the theoretical skills of his boss, who had a physics PhD from Princeton or Harvard or somewhere like that. Meaning – I’m not surprised that you could obtain such a familiarity with machines that you know how they work and what they’re supposed to do and how to troubleshoot problems with them. Decades of experience often overshadow years of theory.

    Yeah, officially our seasons change at equinoxes and solstices. Most years I prefer to break Spokane into 8 seasons. This year looks to be a 6 season year. 4 seasons of 3 months each simply don’t describe what the weather actually is here.

    The little things, like coffee and a chocolate in bed, are the things that keep a marriage going strong. That is advanced coffeemathics in action, a practical application of the theory. The theory, thanks to Deep Thought Computer, is that the answer is “42”. Coffee is a practical application for the theory of “42”. “When will you travel again?” Chris answers “coffee”, DJSpo answers “42” and Miagi of Karate Kid says, “after”. It’s all the same, you just put travel expenditures in terms of something we can all understand: coffee, which has an intrinsic value that can be seen and tasted and savored. Well done. I had a good laugh reading this edition, but also enjoyed the reality that you brought into it: one trip = 1,000 coffees. Mate, that is a LOT of simple enjoyment to give up for a trip.

    Dogs and puppies everywhere. The photos of the pups and the food were funny. The one with Ollie and a pup on the sofa was adorable. The one with you and Scritchy going for a ride – that’s an event that neither Scritchy nor you will ever forget.


  9. Hi Chris,

    One of the reasons Mrs Damo and I don’t drink coffee is the concern we will become addicted and dependent to start the day etc. Lots of people regard it well though, maybe we should push through the weird tasting (but admittedly delicious smelling) ritual and join the rest of the world? Of course, then we would need mad cafe cash units, thus pushing up the exchange rate and causing untold financial carnage. No easy answer, stick to tea maybe?


  10. Hi Inge,

    I respect and appreciate your honesty, and the journey for me has been a fun ride. Of course, like Damo and Mrs Damo you may not be into coffee and chocolate? I’d don’t particularly find chocolate to be a great temptation. The story was really about why we no longer travel, and the truth is I just don’t feel like going on great journeys, if only because home along with all of the accoutrements, really is pretty nice. I’d be curious as to your thoughts on the matter?

    Sorry to hear that about the hedgehogs. Only a few decades ago and before the 1983 bushfires, the native marsupial cat (spotted quoll) was present in this mountain range. Do any animals consume badgers? They look quite toothy and formidable.

    It is peculiar to me too, but then I engage in dialogue with people even if the topic is difficult.

    Hope the rain has ceased for a while? How am I expected to enjoy Grand Designs UK next September when your winter weather has put a note of sad music to the builds?



  11. Hello again
    I don’t like chocolate drinks, but oh how glorious is the solid stuff. Restrict myself to one mug of coffee a day as more makes my heart pound. 2 mugs of tea and the rest is just water whenever I am thirsty.
    Travel: I did love it and only old age has stopped it for me as I did like to travel alone and that has become ever more difficult. That said, I love being at home also and it was always wonderful to open my front door when I returned. Actually I feel the same now when I return from a shopping trip.
    Lew said what I wanted to say about this doggie blog but I was too diffident.
    Nothing eats badgers, humans are their only enemy.


  12. Hi Lewis,

    You are a wise man as the rose wins more kudos than the grand gestures that people so love making a splash out into society with. Few people give a fig for such grand gestures other than the people directly involved in them – and I have noted many examples of buyers remorse over the years, and it is not a pleasant thing to observe. I salute and respect your cranky old bachelor state. Really the blog essay was about why I don’t much travel anymore. Something about Toto and Kansas and stuff.

    I’ve seen photo’s (admittedly not recent images!) of Venice inundated by folks pouring off cruise ships. The last big trip we did was a four week jaunt in Peru which may have been two decades ago, and I vividly recall standing at the Sun gates to Machu Picchu as the sun rose. We’d walked in there by a circuitous route that few people took. For days on end we saw few tourists. And then we were confronted by the realities, and it was ugly – not the scene, but the masses. Regardless, those ancient folks knew how to garden on a terrace.

    Hehe! What if there is no toilet? Such an important question, and yet so rarely considered. I’ve seen some very dodgy toilets in my time during travels – do I wish to repeat that form of shock treatment? It doesn’t seem like a good idea to me.

    OMG! Were you referring to: Mad TV – Mr McNer coffee guy? So wrong, so very, very wrong. And yes, he does need to kick the five cups per day habit!

    You raise an interesting point about the blog becoming too dog-o-centric as the dog-o-meter was off the charts. So I asked Ollie what he wanted and he said to me, seriously: “Chris. Mate, I need some quiet adult time as there had been too much puppy today”. So, Ollie (who is now sound asleep behind me on the green couch) and I went on a prolonged boundary patrol check sans pups. He seems to have enjoyed the break, as I’m sure you will! But they are really cute.

    I was surprised that the low centre of gravity mower was such a pain after having only sat unused for two or three months. But then I began performing some routine maintenance on the machine and had a realisation that it was one complicated beast of a machine. Have you ever heard the tales of old taxi vehicles that continue working long after their peers and compatriots give up the ghost? It is a bit like those stories.

    Hehe! You go first on chowing down upon a roasted Bogong moth. Lots of fat and protein apparently, but I’m a bit dubious about the taste. Still if I was hungry enough, I’m sure such fussy manners could be easily circumvented.

    You know that you broke my spirit! In a good way of course. All my highfalutin talk about not having to perform crop rotation was all talk. Yeah, it has to happen as you have so assiduously reminded me over many years. I just didn’t have enough growing space before. The upshot is that you were right and I was in la la land.

    I read about the transport of grain across the Mediterranean for the Roman Empire, and thought to myself that long supply lines are never a good idea. And also I kept hearing a quiet laugh at the back of my mind about the foolishness of a policy of bread and circuses. Never a good idea. I read the short story as to how Julius Caesar was captured by the pirates, and then made good on executing them. What interested me about the story was that Julius displayed leniency by giving them the coup de grace, and that the pirates didn’t take him seriously. It is good to see that Priapus is also the God of gardens, and I will try not to cause offense.

    OK, Rogier van der Weyden was a better painter than Jan van Eyck, the scenes are vivid and alive with colour and expression was particularly good with the faces. You can imagine the three of them egging each other on to new heights of excellence! Bizarrely enough as I was reading about the painter, a little naughty thought popped into my head, and it was them sitting around over a mug of beer and then declaring about the next commission: Not another freakin’ crucifixion scene! 🙂 But I do note that they kept the roof over their heads and indulged in other more interesting commissions.

    That is possible, and I absolutely 100% agree with you about differing social mores between the interweb and real life. Without heading into sweeping generalisation land, I reckon without guidelines people talk to each other in very odd ways over this interweb thing. I listened to a news program yesterday where a philosopher may have said something along the lines of: “You’d be an absolute fool to believe that the gubermint had your back all of the time.” And he said it with no sense of irony as if he were doling out wisdom.

    I rather enjoy Mr Kunstler’s writing, although I can make no opinions on the political scandal bubbling away over there. He has a new book out that I have on pre-order and was hoping that it turns up in the mail soon.

    The thought of quarantine is a new one to me too (although when sick I usually hang out at home), but I have noticed that people are less inclined to shake hands now, except that I had to do exactly that today. And someone I know went to a supermarket today to purchase toilet paper, and then sent back a photo of empty looking shelves.

    Hehe! Me too, I loved reading the ‘In Search of Series’ and as a kid I wanted there to be aliens and monsters and other strange things in this world. There are strange things, thats for sure, and a few monsters, but no aliens. I reckon they’d spice things up a bit, but if they could easily travel between stars, we’d be in a whole bunch of trouble.

    Oh you’re good! Nope the muffins were freshly mixed and baked, and they are really good. I feel a bit awkward as I was speaking to the boss and mentioned how good the muffins were. I should have stopped there, because it somehow slipped out under interrogation (or as happened stupidity on my part) that there were no muffins. And then he started making noises about asking some hard questions about the lack of muffins. The staff are going to so hate me, and I was just having a chat and not a whinge. Anyway, I’ve seen Fight Club, and I do hope that the furor all blows over in time.



  13. Hi Damo,

    Very wise, it is addictive, but fortunately there is always a: Tea, Earl Grey, Hot. That is a nice beverage too and helps bring mornings to the correct level of focus. And dare I mention it, but wasn’t that a favourite drink of Picard? Shoot! I broke my own rule there and mentioned the name-that-shall-not-be-named! Hehe! We could have hours of fun with that ongoing gag. 🙂

    Hope you appreciated the story?



  14. Hi DJ,

    Please spare us such humourless people. Years ago I encountered one such paragon. Mate, I tell you I worked my audience hard with every bit of entertainment that could roll off my tongue – and they gave me nothing. It was killing me. Even taciturn folks can occasionally spout forth pithy observations in a nice country drawl – and I play that act too from time to time. Anyway, afterwards I asked the editor about it, and she told me that folks used to say: “Still waters run deep”. There was a pause, and then she went onto say: “But that one might have been catatonic”. Yep, Gawd please spare us from such folks. 🙂

    Is the cost of brain cooking worth the extra solar panels. I’m frankly not sure, but given my brain has been cooked, how do I really know? Thanks for understanding too, the other day I had to travel to the far end of the big smoke to pick up the solar panels and got home really late.

    Hehe! Your Finnish Spitz is exactly the reason that I don’t have a cat today. The dogs loved the cat that I used to have (long ago), but the relationship was not really constructed upon friendship.

    Harry was indeed a big cat, and at 14kg he would deal to dogs as well as coyotes. Domestic cats can get pretty large and I recall that many years ago someone had a 22kg cat up in Queensland (think our version of Florida). At what point does a huge domestic cat become a mountain lion? Harry would have been about the size of the cat that flipped ‘Old Fat’ upside down and pinned her on the ground. And she was a 19kg Dorgi, but clearly not dog enough. I’m unsure that Old Fluffy the Pomeranian would have been taken down so easily.

    Oh far out man! All that talk of coffeematics is making me feel a bit jittery, but possibly it was the fifth cup… 🙂 Actually I could drink that much coffee. My guts would not be good. Rolling, rolling, rolling rawhide!

    Few folks would know Fortran these days. As a kid I wanted to program games and taught myself machine language (which is not that dissimilar from Fortran) out of a book. A mate who works in IT was telling me the other day that few newer programmers know the older base level languages, and I reckon that is a problem.

    Just for your info, I have always done desk work, but at nights or on weekends have also done physical work. I never stopped, although one day I will for sure, but the ability to drift off into discursive meditation whilst physically working has always been with me. I can’t remember not being able to do that. Although, years and years ago the editor and I went on a five day walk (The Great South West Walk). It was a really nice walk and I went into it thinking that I’d have great thoughts, but no, although each day varied from about 20km to 30km per day and it was just mentally relaxing. And we didn’t meet anyone else on the walk.

    Thanks, yeah it was probably something like that. My dad cleared out when I was really young, and with only my mum and two older sisters I was just forced from a very young age to get my head around all of the ‘guy stuff’ in the household. I recall that as a teenager my mum got me to organise some repairs on the car, and so I just had to man-up and walk in to the shop and organise it. “G’day mate. I just wanna get some stuff done on the car”. And yes I know the difference between ‘want to’ and ‘wanna’, but when in Rome. Afterwards, she asked me how I knew how to do that stuff and I had no idea, but it got me thinking about how people learn. I reckon we are like sponges, but like a good kitchen sponge it needs to be used. I’m pretty certain that was what you also wrote about?

    Officially it is four seasons here beginning 1st December (summer), 1st March (autumn), 1st June (winter), and 1st September (spring). They don’t match reality at all, but I read that the decision behind it all was due to the sheer scale and variety of environments on the continent. The indigenous folks here reckon that there are 6 seasons and I have no reason to doubt them. So you say 8 seasons, what do the locals say?

    Mr. Miyagi by that very comment said both yes and no, proving that he was of Elvish stock! True. And exactly, I enjoy the simple pleasures in life and the comparison as to what society values is quite telling about who we all are. Plus I’m chuffed you enjoyed my humour.

    I make this prediction. If Plum gets to adulthood, she will be the next boss dog. She is already giving Scritchy ‘what for?’ Nobody wants that, and Scritchy loved being driven around – it was really strange behaviour for her.



  15. Yet again
    Notayesman has a bit about Australia today 3rd March. I was aware of the current state of the Australian $ though I don’t understand why.


  16. Enjoyed the reflection on comparative pleasures, and how to try to quantify through money. Everyone’s ratios would be different.

    But the post title, as often is the case, got me wondering how it was chosen. Were you referring to the rewiring of the electrical system, with all the rerouting and untangling that must entail?

    Or was it something else, something more general? I think the term was originally used as economist Paul Krugman’s book title, where he tried to critique the policies of the Bush 1 administration, and its harm to all the future wellbeing of the country ( and planet!) . And yet, here we are, nearly twenty years later, and the wheezing, clanking global behemoth is still chugging along, though those worrisome rattles from under the hood do seem to be getting louder…….

    Whether it’s called an unraveling, a long emergency, or the cyclical passage of one more empire, it does seem we are in the midst of a large deflection point in history.

    In which case, a preference for, and intentional choice of small, local pleasures will be the new normal for all of us.

    I did my first experiment with baking goodies made from hazelnuts grown here on our farm. Just barely edible, but not the fault of the nuts. I’ll keep trying recipes till I get a keeper. Just wish cacao grew in Wisconsin.

  17. Yo, Chris – The Mad TV sketch, was very funny. But, that’s not the one that was on Saturday Night Live. That one was filmed in black and white, and made to look like a 1950s noir film. Here’s a short article with some stills from the sketch.

    Ooops. Wrong link. This is a transcript of the short film.
    Now we know how you and the Editor get so much work done, around the farm. 🙂

    A chat, not a whinge. I think there should be a puppy, or, any other hound about the place, in every picture. Good to take a bit of quality time, with Ollie and Scritchy.

    50 years, ago, now, but I can still remember sitting in Art 3, the art history auditorium where we sat in the dark, for hours, looking a slides. I distinctly remember thinking if I saw one more Madonna and Child, I’d go screaming into the streets. Well, I suppose it makes sense that a lot more religious art survived. The Church was where the fat commissions were. And, a picture in a religious institution probably has a better chance of surviving, then something tucked in the attic or under the bed.

    I’ve been following what’s going on at the elder care center, outside of Seattle. Four have died and several others are in hospital, in critical condition. Where it’s really going to get interesting is when they run out of Intensive Care Units (ICU) beds. Seattle has an incredible number of hospitals, but, it’s a limited resource.

    I don’t get out and around, much, but I did stop in a store up in Centralia, yesterday afternoon. Didn’t seem any busier than usual, and I saw no empty shelves. But, they’re a small independent and expensive store. I suppose they’ll be the last resort. I stopped by the Club for a cuppa, and noticed a couple in masks, getting into a car. A first, for me. Looked like they were off to rob a bank. Bonnie & Clyde.

    I watched “Color Out of Space”, last night. Don’t bother. It was kind of a mess, and a bit over the top. And, not in a good way. There was the usual gaggle of irritating children. There were alpacas, however. Though they came to a bad end.

    I read somewhere on the Net, that “Picard” really doesn’t kick off and get going, until episode six. That’s a lot of shilly shallying around. Lew

  18. Hi Chris,
    Yes it’s a doggy world at Fernglade lately. Ollie looks so huge next to the pups. Wanted to let you know that Salve licks Leo’s face too as well as inside his ears. Even though he was here first she’s definitely the alpha dog though they are truly best buddies.

    Doug and I have never traveled much due to financial constraints, care giving duties and animals. You might recall that we came home a week early from our 3 week road trip. In the last year I have read four different books about walking long trails, the last one that I just completed yesterday was “A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome” by Timothy Egan. Now that’s something I would have liked to do but I just don’t think the body is able anymore. So often one of the first questions people ask is, “Are you planning to travel anywhere?” It’s almost a given that once you retire if you are financially able that people expect that you’ll just start traveling.

    There’s so much conflicting information regarding Covid 19. Just yesterday for example I heard one “expert” downplaying it and then on the national news another “expert” from Harvard University stated with confidence that 40 to 70 percent of adults worldwide will contract it. The best thing to do at anytime is to do what is necessary to promote a strong immune system and use common sense hygiene.

    Things are warming up here and the first migrants from the south have returned; Sandhill Cranes and Red Wing Blackbirds. Doug put up the Bluebird boxes this weekend as they too are early arrivals.


  19. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for the feedback.

    I had to laugh because of your comment regarding the dogs. And I’m most definitely not laughing at you, you just reminded me of a funny story the editor once recounted.

    You know what’s wrong with our education system? That was a rhetorical question, as I’m about to fill in the blanks. And it comes down to your use of the word ‘diffident’, and I appreciate your honesty.

    The editor once told me a story of an interaction she had with a teacher whilst at Primary School. The English class was asked to use a certain uncommon word (the details of which have long since been forgotten). So when the teacher asked the editor to use the word in a sentence and in context, the editor piped up and said (remember at the time she was very young): “I looked up (insert uncommon word) in the dictionary, but could not find it.” And oh boy, she recalls getting a stern telling off for her cheeky answer.

    Turns out the education system is not teaching students to provide an answer, and it was not lost on her – even at a young age – that they wanted ‘the’ answer. I’m pretty sure that there is a vast difference between the two responses, and it says much about our society.

    Not a good basis for education, me thinks. 😉

    Sorry, I do love a good digression and thanks also for mentioning the most excellent economics blog.



  20. Hello again
    Haha, I see that Lew has back tracked; diffidence all around.
    Our education is best described as brain washing for societies believed requirements.
    I am sick (to death) of coronavirus, it is dominating our television, radio and newspapers.


  21. Hi Inge,

    Ah! Because I am occasionally an idiot, I forgot to add the word “not” to my third sentence in my reply to you. That’ll teach me for replying to you so early in the morning. Mornings are rarely clear. It certainly changed the tone and meaning of that comment, but the main comment is unaffected.



  22. Hi Inge, Steve, Lewis and Margaret,

    Thanks for the most excellent and insightful comments and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading them. However, tis the mid-week hiatus and um, yeah, my brain is tired and sleepy. That’s no way to be, but alas it has been called upon to be put to good work and now I’m eyeing off bed wistfully.



  23. Hi Lewis,

    What a shame the clip is not available due to copyright concerns. I can’t imagine what the behemoth expects to earn from the clip, and I am aware of someone I know who now lives and works in the US and pursues utoob copyricht infringements. It is a bizarre process and also one of the reasons why I ditched the old blog, although you did warn me. It is the things you don’t think about that can club you over the head.

    I’m amazed that the character in the clip could enjoy coffee again after his encounter with the darker side of caffeine addiction. Out of curiosity, do you have members of your club that can tour the dark side and then enjoy moderation? My understanding may be a cliche, and I’m frankly not sure as to what the reality is. And I tell ya, if I had three coffees in a short succession my guts would be very unsettled.

    I have no secrets. 😉 Sometimes writing the blog has been a deeply personal revealing, and I’m still not sure about all that and how I feel about it. I’m actually a reasonably private sort of guy, and mostly I direct conversations with friends onto themselves. But here in this forum it is different somehow, but I’ve never really tied down just how that may be. Dunno, maybe I just made the decision to be more open than I usually am with others? Dunno, really.

    Haha! Inge was looking for your support in the dog matter!!! I salute both of you for your honest reactions. Ollie, has been exhausted today by the two littlies. And I have to remember that they are also overwhelmed by the craziness that is the two pups. Here is a link to a very short story by a most witty and pithy author who also discovered just how hard it is to obtain a rescue dog: Adopting a dog is no walk in the park. I have a suspicion that this is a result of the closure of the dreaded puppy farms, and the shelter folks are possibly looking for purpose.

    Hehe! That’s is exactly what I was thinking when I observed that the 3 painters had painted yet another freakin crucifiction scene. It must have been a tough gig, but they had to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. I noticed that one of the panels had managed to spice up the dreary scene a bit by chucking in a very anatomically correct and scantily clad Adam and Eve, whilst also depicting what the two had been up to. It was at that point I knew that they must have had a good sense of humour. They’re alright that lot.

    Yup, the virus hit an institutional situation down here in the state to the north of here. Not good. The toilet paper situation down here has reached bonkers stage five. Seriously it is the stupidest thing I have ever heard of. It makes me wonder if confronted by hordes of zombies, the population would strip the supermarkets of toilet paper. The craziness has apparently reached the internation attention. I wrote a blog once about peoples odd consumption of toilet paper down here. It was a housemate that alerted me to the situation and I took that item out of the shared kitty as I wanted no part of such extravagent waste. Hey, there is no shortage of the stuff we used because it is manufactured from waste office paper.

    Stock – Up – On – Toilet – Paper – seems to be the herd advice. 🙂

    Thanks for the review. I saw a poster for that film at the cinema when we went to see the Biggest Little Farm. Surely Nick Cage would have performed well?

    Maybe Damo needs to keep watching Picard. I may just ask him what his thoughts are on the matter? I haven’t had much free time of late due to the work on the solar power upgrade. It has been a bit of an epic project. No work tomorrow though as the heavens are set to open from the remnants of ex- tropical Cyclone Esther. There’s an old fashioned name you don’t hear much nowadays.



  24. Yo, Chris – I think the character in the “Java Junkie” sketch, asks for hot water. For something decafinated. Sanka, maybe. Well, you know my stand on that. Why bother? As far as my lot go, trips to the dark side, usually don’t end well. Sometimes, it takes repeated exposure, to get the point. Some can lock down their mind’s enough, to avoid problems. But, who wants to live with that? We call it “white knuckling.” As a precept of the program, anyone who “falls of the wagon” is welcomed back. With no judgement. Most of us have been there. We may ask, “What did you learn?” But, that’s about it.

    I to, have no secrets. 🙂 . The net is a different place. I mean, really, how likely are you to meet, face to face, any of us? Other than maybe Damo. You probably know that, deep down.

    That was a really funny article about dog adoption. And, so true. But, when the author asked, at the last, what is one to do, well, we know. Check your local cafe or pub notice board. Listen to the bush telegraph.

    Artists had workshops. Apprentices and students to do all the fiddly bits. I think I read somewhere that apprentices spent their first three years, just grinding pigments. I notice looking at the list of episodes in the Great Courses, that there’s a whole lecture on artists’s workshops. Also, sometimes copies were made of popular paintings. Usually, it was an apprentice who did that task.

    To late now, but buying stock in a toilet paper company would have been advisable. I don’t know. When I think about what I’d really miss, come the apocalypse, I usually think of paper towels. I use them (over and over) for so many things.

    Looking at the previews of other films, made by the same company that made “Color Out of Space”, their primary product is B and C horror films. I’d say, a lot of the actors were just trying to keep food on the table, between “important” projects. A two week gap in their schedule, make something cheap and fast.

    My tub tap, has a drip. To the tune of two gallons an hour. So, I put in a work order, on it, this morning. Oh, for the days when you just shut off the water, and changed the washer! This might prove interesting. All our sinks and toilet have water shut offs. Where the shut offs for the tubs are, are a mystery.

    Finally! The answer to the question that I’m sure has been keeping you up, nights. Why are swamp wallaby always pregnant, even when carrying another kit? Here’s the answer.

    I’m glad someone was on this. Now we can all get a good night’s sleep. Lew

  25. Chris,

    Catatonic? That’s funny! The Editor scored a direct hit with that.

    Good point. How would you know if your brain has been cooked? It’s sorta like “it’s so cold I froze my tookas off”. Which how would I know? First, it had to have gotten so cold I couldn’t feel my tookas. Then it would’ve fallen off, but since I couldn’t feel it by then , how would I know?!?

    Ohhh, I would love to drink 5 cups of coffee a day. The resulting jitters and tension and bellyache and brain malfunction wouldn’t be pretty. I settle for one daily cup.

    I talk to some of the programmers at work. The one who has written most of our department’s programs the past 30 years, and now oversees programmers, wouldn’t know Fortran if it bit him in the hindquarters. The 2 or 3 times I mentioned “subroutines”, he got a glassy look in his eyes and wondered what they were? One of the head programmers for the entire organization agrees with me that programming in “Visual Basic” and the following generations of such nonsense has led to horridly degraded programming skills. Subroutines aren’t taught any longer, so all we get is one ginormous, convoluted hash of code that nobody understands. So when something goes wrong, it literally is lost in the “whole sort of general mish mash.”

    Mental relaxation? I do a lot of that when outside. A hazard of my job is the need for a lot of mental relaxation time.

    The local indigenous people don’t seem to have a fixed time frame of seasons, or else don’t share them with outsiders. The tribal elders pay attention to weather and climate and know when to look for traditional roots and huckleberries. The dates of the traditional feasts vary according to when the traditional foods are available. (The Princess sure doesn’t know what her people traditionally called the seasons, or how many seasons there were. A lot of traditional knowledge is forever gone.)

    I’ve been here 52 years, which is longer than most people in the Spokane area, so I AM a local to the newbies, so any observation I make about “8 seasons” or “don’t plant your potatoes until the snow is off Mica Peak”, or “the hawthorns and mountain ash don’t have many berries so it will be a mild winter” is taken as sage wisdom. My long, grey beard helps to make such pronouncements sound even more sage. One of these years I might tell some unsuspecting warm weather incomer that “Oh, I’ve seen plenty of years like these. No need for a snow shovel or winter boots this year. Record warm winter coming. Pay no attention to the weather people on TV” while repeatedly stroking the sage, long, grey beard. More seriously, I dunno what others think about my idea of 8 seasons. It just makes more sense, as Spokane gets transition seasons between the big four. When each season starts and ends and how long it lasts varies from year to year.

    We lose an hour of our lifetimes this weekend. Yup, Daylight Savings Time begins, or as I call it, “The Onset of Summer Insomnia Season”, as it is hard for me to get to sleep when it is still light out at 10:30 p.m.

    Some dogs you can tell are made for greatness in the doggy world, regardless of their age. Rakhi the Samoyed was clearly of highly superior intelligence and protectiveness. Cheyenne the Finnish Spitz had a different kind of smarts and one of the most loving canine demeanors I’ve ever encountered. These traits were apparent when the dogs were about 2 months old. So, you’re probably right about Plum gonna be the boss dog. Keep those eagles away!


  26. @ Inge,

    I’m also tired of “all coronavirus, all the time” news. My wife the Princess asked me over the weekend why I wasn’t taking it seriously. I replied that I am, but that I see no reason to panic like many folks are, here are the things we’ve been stocking up on quietly, here’s how long we can just sit at home before we must go restock, etc. However, I’d been negligent on keeping enough of these items on hand, so I’m using this as a reminder to keep stocked up better.

    I have yet to get to the panic induced state in which I run down to the store and purchase cartons and cartons of toilet paper. 😉


  27. Hi Chris

    I received my signed hardback copy of Kunstler’s new book in the mail today March 04,20. After reading the first 3 on Kindle I decided to buy the 4 th one in signed hardback from his local NY book dealer. Then I got the first three and now the latest. A lifetime first for me. Gives me a good feeling! my parents were big book fans .many feet of shelf space in the family home.😁. I have learned to pace my reading in latter life.

    I am waiting to see the new solar farm Addition take place. Lot of plain ole hard hot work in that undertaking. Lots of care and safe work practices needed.

    You may want to poll your accounting customer base maybe find a reasonable owner/ operator crane guy fairly priced. Could be a good move. And a safe one.

    Those new panels are going to push those battery current readings back up again. Oh gosh more battery ?😱 it never ends!
    Al (MR.Cheer full)

  28. Hey everyone,

    The dreaded mid week hiatus continues apace. Sorry for this brief intermission.


    Goodie now I feel much better. Went into the big smoke today and there is an aggressive vibe in there – and I can confirm that supermarket shelves have indeed emptied of toilet paper. What is with that need to fill the empty consumer hole? It has the whiff of ritual about it, like if someone manages to nab a 50 pack of toilet rolls they’ll somehow dodge the virus. Hmm. Anyway, rice, hand sanitsiers, dried milk powder, and the most dubious product of them all: canned meat products, were in short or no supply. Fortunately there appeared to be plenty of lentils. Vitamin C is actually found in meat, it just sort of breaks down pretty quickly in the preserving and/or cooking process. Still, what do I know? I’d stick with the lentils, but that is maybe just me.

    Will speak tomorrow!



  29. Hi Lewis,

    Went into the big smoke today on errands, and there really is an aggressive vibe in there. It won’t do them any good having all that toilet paper, although it may feel reassuring, and I’ve been suspecting that is at the heart of the story. The editor managed to pop a tire by accidentally running into a curb, and that put a dampener on the proceedings. Still had a nice lunch though of scrambled eggs on sour dough toast with fried oyster mushrooms. Yummo!

    The big news of the day down here is that last night it began raining. Then for some odd reason, it didn’t quite get around to stopping raining. More than 3 inches so far, but less than 4 inches of rain. Bonkers, and this morning there was water everywhere. I had to get up in the middle of the night and clear the water tank inlet filters as they’d failed. My brain must have taken note of the heavy rain falling on the roof of the house and told my body to get up and sort it out. Sure enough water was spilling down the side of the water tanks. Probably about 7,000 gallons of water was collected just off the house roof, so yeah if any of it spills down the side of the tank due to an inlet failure (i.e. heaps of gunk off the roof blocks it up), then it is something of a drama. At least it was warm when I cleaned it out sometime in the wee hours of the morning.

    I thought you might enjoy this article: Geelong’s historic Kerleys Auction Rooms to close after 110 years. On reflection, enjoy might not be the correct word, but perhaps interest may be more accurate. The old images are very cool.

    White knuckling is a fine way to describe the experience. Yeah, the words really paint a picture. Out of curiosity, is the question: ‘What did you learn?’ asked because an answer is often provided, or is it more to bring attention to the state of self-reflection?

    Secrets? What are these things anyway? I doubt many of the readers of the blog travel much either, although I could be wrong, and that is an astute observation about Damo.

    I liked how the author of the dog article kept morphing his wife’s responses into how a dog would have so acted. A very clever technique. I’m glad other people are taking note, and I do believe now that the various shelter folks may be adding to the difficulties because their original purpose has now become superfluous now that puppy farm output is negligble. Should they disband given this is the case? I am curious about that. I’m guessing jobs are involved as well as status, but don’t really know. I do know that they can be difficult and it seemed unnecessary to me.

    What? Really? Makes you wonder if that sort of thing goes on at writing workshops taken by big name authors? Imagine getting someone to pay to write a book in an authors name?

    Don’t really use paper towels, but I take your point as I use a wettex sponge that can be easily cleaned. Back in the day I recall restaurants using damp old cloths to clean down tables. Nobody blinked about such things.

    Fair enough actors need to pay the bills too, and it needn’t always be top level work.

    Haha! The little valves are called ‘mini-stops’ down here and they are usually found within cupboards to the rear wall of those chunks of cabinetry.

    Gotta run!

    Will speak tomorrow.



    PS: Buy-toilet-paper!

  30. @DJ & Chris,

    To jump in with my own unasked for opinion 🙂 Whilst I do bemoan many aspects of modern programming and, for want of a better term, silicon Valley culture (broadly summarised as, we can make a computer say “hello world”, therefore we are well equipped to develop society changing software such as Facebook, self driving cars, uber etc etc). I am not that quick to dismiss modern, highly abstracted programming languages. Indeed, I am pretty sure almost all software nowadays would be difficult, borderline impossible to write and implement reliably without them. However, I am only somewhat familiar with c++, java and python so might be biased 🙂

    I did work for a major bank 20 years ago that used fortran on a mainframe for its ledger and account system, it was considered old then, but no one was game to change such a critical bank function lightly. If it works…


  31. Hello again
    Rain is pouring down and supposed to continue all day.
    Son and I were laughing about the run on toilet paper. Hand sanitisers have vanished from the shops. Not something that I have or would ever buy. However it is an ill wind! There is a firm in the UK that makes the stuff and is rubbing its hands with joy as it massively increases production.


  32. Hi, Chris!

    Well, they may not dodge the virus, but they will sit it out in comfort. Am buying toilet paper today. Really – it’s my regular trip into town.

    Am also sparing a thought for the editor. One of those green-colored thoughts.

    I like your new monetary standard of mad cafe cash. I don’t like coffee, but I like muffins. I also don’t like to travel; I like it here.

    Ruby – your ears are pointing north, and you have spots on your hands, and little moons over your eyes. I take back what I said when the puppies first arrived – Ollie’s not the Dad, he’s the Mum.

    It’s good to have a load of steel; we have some, too.That’s a lot of new holes to dig, but you probably hardly even notice that work anymore. I am digging holes, too; I notice that work . . . I am moving a bunch of wild eastern yucca plants up onto the bank in front of the house. They have gorgeous big, creamy flowers eventually. They also have huge, deep roots that are used for soap. I was astonished to see them along the roadsides when we moved here to Virginia because before I had only seen yuccas in the desert.

    Scritchy still enjoys the finer things in life! How nice of you to give her a treat like that.

    Our frogs and toads hibernate in the winter. I accidentally dig the toads up in the garden beds if I am not careful, and they squeak. I don’t know where the frogs hibernate. The Spring toad migration has started as they head for the pond behind us. Sometimes they go in herds.

    Mr. Toothy is a character. I am glad that he is still with us. I wish I had met Old Fluffy; that would probably have been safe as I am not a dog?


  33. @ DJSpo:

    “stocking up on quietly” – yes, a bit. Like you I had let us get a bit behind with some items that we should be regularly stocked up on. I have gotten soft as we used to have power outages here about every 3 weeks, on rare occasions a week, and no generator, and occasionally a road would be blocked for 2 or 3 days and no way into town. My mother used to ask why we moved to the outback.

    Now we are all sophisticated, and have a generator – and the power rarely goes out and the winters and hurricanes have been so mild lately.

    Sadly, I use quite a bit of toilet paper . . .


  34. @ DJSpo:

    I am not worried about the virus either. THAT’S when I’d catch it – if I worry. The number of deaths are still incredibly small, especially compared to the world’s population.


  35. @ Lew:

    After I get through blushing . . . those poor wallabies. As a mother they have my heartfelt sympathy and every right to be cranky – forever.


  36. Chris:

    Do the animal shelters kill the pets that they can’t adopt out? Or are they no-kill shelters as they are in my area?


  37. Yo, Chris – Somehow or another, toilet paper has come to equal reassurance. Maybe they should pass out teddy bears, instead. We got our official memo, from administration, as to the coronavirus. A page of dense print, that boiled down to “keep calm, wash your hands, don’t call us, call your doctor.”

    That’s quit a bit of rain. Makes us look like pikers. Oh, well. Unless you get a hot snap, you won’t have to water the garden, for a few days.

    That was quit an article, about the auction. In the first picture, I noticed an oak, barley twist table, off to the right. If it’s not a foreign import. One of the last pictures had one of the co-owners, standing in front of a wall of pottery. Interesting. All Australian made, I’m sure. Looks like some of our stuff, but, with a difference. Some nice sponge ware. Hmmm. I’ll have to do a search and see if anything comes up for “collectible Australian pottery.” I quit like my little piece from the Diana pottery company. I noticed in the article, that he said young people buy furniture on time, and aren’t afraid of debt. By the way, do you have “rent-to-own” stores down there? We have quit a few, here. Basically, you can rent just about anything for the home. Once it’s paid off, you’ve shelled out three or four times the market value.

    Well, self-reflection is encouraged, but a gentle nudge in the right direction, or realization, isn’t out of line. In my completely unscientific survey, I’d say the major reason most people go on a bender, is because they initially darkened our doors, at the behest of someone else. Not for themselves. To get the spouse off their back, get they’re children out of care, save their employment, etc. etc.. In some ways, it’s a very selfish program. I often suggest that if someone feels they need a meeting, that they shouldn’t let anything get between them and showing up. I mean, gosh, it’s just an hour out of their lives.

    Hmmm. I wonder if because of the falling numbers of animals, a lot of the nonsense at the shelters is make work. Got to use up that time, somehow. I don’t think shelters will ever go away. Like the poor, unwanted animals are always with us.

    I read a bit more of Chuck’s work, last night. He has a number of interesting exercises. Here’s one. If you write in the first person, do it without using the pronoun “I”. Were you referring to “ghost writers?” Sometimes they’re unknown. Sometimes, acknowledged “as told to.” I guess you can make a tidy sum, writing other people’s stuff.

    Those nasty clothes in restaurants are quit germ free. You probably haven’t noticed them, but most places have “bleach buckets.” Health inspections make sure they’re in place. Even in the small cafe I worked in, we had to have three, strategically placed.

    Turns out, when it comes to our tubs, if they work on them they’ll have to shut off the water to the whole floor. That ought to endure me to my neighbors. Maintenance hasn’t showed up yet, to have a look. I suppose then they’ll be a wait for a part, and, of course, everyone will have to be notified as to the time of the shut off. Probably take days. In the meantime, the sound of running water makes me want to urinate, all the time. 🙂

    I watched a very good film, last night. “Leave No Trace.” (2018). The film is based on a novel, which was based on a true story. Sort of. Filmed around Portland. A vet with severe PTSD, and his 14 (or so) year old daughter, are hiding/camping out in the woods. They are discovered, and sucked into the system. To say more would be spoilers. It’s one of two movies that had a 100% positive feed back on Rotten Tomatoes.

    I took a quick inventory. I have 36 rolls of toilet paper. Think it’s enough? Actually, any time I see the stuff on sale, I pick it up. It can get pretty expensive.

    The prequel to the Camulod books should be waiting for me at the library, on Saturday. Lew

  38. @ Damo,

    Thanks for interrupting and adding to my education. Since I’m older than fossils (according to most of the programmers at work), attitudes and experiences that differ from mine are welcome. I have no experience with anything newer than Fortran, so have no idea what the languages can and cannot do. What I do know for certain is that, at least where I work, all of the programming is for “one program to do it all, one program to break again” that never works as intended and that nobody writes things in modules or subroutines. Dunno of that latter is due to a language limitation or poor programming skills or how programming is currently taught.


  39. @ Pam,

    Worrying about the current plague du jour is entirely counterproductive. Just wears one out and reduces one’s immune system due to the self-induced stress. Either I’m going to catch it or I’m not. Ditto the Princess. And if one or both of us get it, deal with it as best we can. Being in a panic does nobody any good.

    Also, there have been enough documented cases that tested positive that developed no or mild symptoms, which fact the media is now ignoring. The actual death rate outside of the source region looks to be, while not insignificant, at least not terribly high.

    And I sure as blazes hope I’m right!


  40. Hi Chris,

    I see you and Lew are taking some sort of perverse pleasure in taunting me with Picard themed comments. I, as usual, will take the moral high ground and refuse to engage with such base and blatant trolling!


  41. Hi Inge,

    Lewis was very diplomatic in his second comment regarding the dogs. The epitome of the very meaning of ‘gentleman’. Of course the first comment was along the lines of what you said! Hehe! Well done both of you. 🙂

    Well that was the thing about the education story. I actually recall in English that I was asked to write a creative essay, and inevitably I was marked poorly. As requested I wrote creatively, but no, that wasn’t what they wanted – they just used those words inappropriately. Incidentally I could never quite elucidate an answer as to what was meant by that request. English was the subject in which I received the lowest marks. Bonkers!

    DJ raises an interesting point about raising peoples anxiety levels in relation to concern over the virus. I could smell the fear when I was in the big smoke yesterday, and the waft in the supermarkets was rather potent. The staff looked haggard. Some people get that way about the bushfire risk during hot and windy summer days too. I feel that breeding such an anxiety response in the population is not a wise idea.

    I’m laughing about the run on toilet paper too. It is a product that is very easily substituted. I don’t get it all, but if it makes people feel more secure then, who are we to argue? The local manufacturers I’ve read have been ramping up production.

    Your turn of phrase ’tis an ill wind’ is a beautiful way to put the situation.

    Sorry to hear that the rain is still pouring down. What a winter you have had. Over a month’s worth of rain fell here yesterday: Ex-tropical cyclone Esther hits Victoria, bringing heavy rain, flooding and damaging winds. Not unusual, but towards the more extreme end of that continuum. The garden appreciated the drink.



  42. Hi Steve,

    In looking for a contrast and then put a value to it, I really had scratch my head and reach for something completely different. It is genuinely how I feel on the subject, although a lot of people value an overseas holiday more. The other main point I was attempting to raise was that it is much cheaper to enjoy a good coffee and muffin, than head overseas, and if your base costs are lower, then you just don’t have to earn as much. Since the heady days of Reaganomics, everyone seems fixated on increasing the supply side (in this case income) of the story. But it ain’t the only game in town, and if everyone is pursuing it, then it might not be a bad idea to head off and do something else with your time. Hope your solar power system is chugging merrily along.

    Top question! The title of the post was an allusion to the fact that as incomes stagnate and costs increase, it might not be a bad idea to reorient personal aspirations to more achievable outcomes. I acknowledge that not everyone will feel that way about the story, and plenty of people do well during these times.

    A lot of cycles tend to be represented best by an inverted bell shaped curve, and we are most certainly near the top, but are now on the downhill slope of that curve. I reckon the top was about 2005-ish.

    Hey, have you ever made hazelnut butter with your crop? And do you prune them back hard?



  43. Hi Margaret,

    Dogs love cleaning each others ears, and bizarrely enough the pups are cleaning Ollie’s ears and not the other way around. He really does love the attention. Salve is a smart dog to take control of the grooming, and I’d also peg her as the boss dog for doing that. Dog politics can be complicated, but over the decades I have always found that it was the female dogs who were the boss dogs. Toothy tried for a while, but his general demeanour was just too aggressive to make much of an impact, and the other dogs ignored him roundly. I’ve noticed that the boss dogs tend to ensure that the other dogs are kept entertained. It is a funny business, but I reckon the boss dogs are onto something with that. I have no doubts that Plum will be the next boss dog as she is already challenging Scritchy. And Scritchy has had a spring put under her step as she meets the challenge from the much younger Plum. Although I tell you, Plum brings Ruby into play and Scritchy is sorely beset by the combined forces of the puppy fluffy sheep collective. They’re a force to be reckoned with.

    On the other hand several other folks have raised the question as to the blog becoming too dog-centric. But puppies… 🙂 Oh well.

    I hear you about the financial constraints in relation to travelling, and if it means anything to you, (and I get asked that question too a lot) the question is really a form of validation of values for the person asking the question. In fact, the question is asked as a form of herd reinforcement, but also it highlights the challenging question for them which could be stated as simply as: If you don’t travel, then what do you do with your time and reserves?

    On the other hand I acknowledge that you were weighed down with cares and responsibilities from an early age, and I hear you about that which I also have alluded to. Such an experience, and indeed it could be more correctly stated as a journey, lends your values to being different from other peoples. How could it be otherwise?

    I could not have put it better. Maintain a strong immune system, use common sense, and don’t unnecessarily challenge your immune system. The bushfire risk during hot and windy days informs my internal state that maintaining a sense of high alertness to possible threats is a really bad idea. That is a state which is being cultivated. Sun Tzu mentioned in his treatise on the Art of Ware that it was an unwise move to wear out the troops unnecessarily – and I really believe that he spoke the truth there.

    Spotted a really interesting looking gargoyle yesterday, and I reckon it might make a wonderful addition to the garden. Plus, Lewis will be amused to note that the place also had gnomes, and the fern gully is crying out for the elder folk to make their presence felt.

    Lovely! As you rise into spring, I descend into autumn. And yesterday a month’s worth of rain fell over the farm in just one day. I recorded four inches, but the official gauge was a little bit less than that at about three and a lot inches. So much water is a true delight. The tomatoes are splitting though.



  44. Hi Chris,

    I did appreciate this week’s story! I was unable to make a substantive comment this weeks as, ironically, I was travelling! Although, this week it was for work, and I did not need to spend any mad cafe tokens for the trip 🙂


  45. Hi DJ,

    So guilty, I’m such a chatterbox that there are times I’m at clients and we are having a lovely conversation that goes to interesting places, and then reality kicks in and I have to ‘fun police’ myself and reign it in and get back to work. But then here is the thing, in all of the gas bagging that goes on people tap into my perspective on various topics. Often I feel that folks sometimes just want a left-of-centre or perspective that is different from their own, and that is how they obtain it from me.

    But then sometimes the silent types just have nothing to say, and that is how they navigate through life.

    So many questions, and there is logic to your logic. 🙂 Doesn’t it remind you of the awful philosophy question: “if a toe falls off…” It sounds very much to me like the “if a tree falls in the forest…” My first thought was should we mourn the lost toe, or is it simply lost? And given the propensity of the toe to fall off, is it such a big deal in the first place? 🙂

    From what I understand of things, higher level programming languages come with the sub routines (usually written by other folks), that lower level programming languages had to write from scratch. It is a different way of looking at the problem, but I also believe that there is an inherent increase in the level of complexity with these systems as they are asked to do more and more. At some point you reach the stage where there are only a few folks who know the very basic fundamentals, and what the heck does that mean for the end product? Visual Basic uses sub routines regularly, but whether programmers try to create and reuse good code that way is a question that is beyond my experience.

    Out of sheer curiosity, have you always understood that you had a need for mental relaxation? It wasn’t always thus with me, and I reckon you can manage that trick until you hit your late 30’s early 40’s, but that is my perspective.

    It is a shame that much of the local knowledge is gone. However, as a species we were smart enough to learn it once, so I guess we can do it again.

    Yeah, that is a long time, however the oldsters here tell me that the required number is at least three consecutive generations. Of course they may also be pulling my leg, and anyway I’d accord you long time standing. I’ll bet you’ve seen some changes during those years. I’ve been around these parts for 14 years and I’ve seen some changes even in that time. For your info, the editor would probably cut (whilst I was asleep of course) any long beard that I intended to grow! 🙂

    That makes sense, and local knowledge of the local conditions trumps any imported knowledge. I reckon the six seasons is about spot on for this place and it accords with what I observe here. Yesterday 4 inches of rain fell, and most certainly the weather is radically different from even one month ago. Variability appears to be the new normal.

    Oh no! Wherever did your lost hour go? Did you check to see whether it fell behind the couch? It’s possible. I always feel mild jet lag for several days until my body adjusts to the change in time. Good luck!

    The pups are growing pretty fast, and hopefully they are too heavy for an eagle to take now, but at the same time I’ll keep a sharp eye on the sky and listen to what the local birds have to say on the matter.

    Tomorrow I’ll get a bit more of the steel frame for the new-old solar panels constructed. I’m looking forward to it, but at the same time I’ll stick to about five hours work max as there is only so much drilling and cutting of steel that I actually want to do. It is hard work. Fortunately a few years ago I taught myself how to keep drill bits cutting deadly sharp, but still it is not easy doing the drilling. Oh well.



  46. Hi DJ,

    Modern languages are great, in some cases elegant even. But they are pretty easy to write, and low skill programmers such as myself can readily write code that compiles and runs with no immediately obvious errors. And then one day you turn around and find the ‘simple’ music player on your phone is a 200 megabyte application!!!


  47. Hi Pam,

    Hehe! A bout of true naughtiness almost overtook me the other evening. Seriously, it is terrible. I was considering whether I should end every comment this week with: PS: Buy-toilet-paper. Now, I freely admit that whilst I would have found it to be endlessly amusing, other people would soon tire of the repetition. I’m so torn…

    But like you, I too only wanted to pick up a regular pack of toilet paper at the supermarket. Coffee seemed to have disappeared too, although I can sort a supply out on that front because I actually know ‘a guy’. Some people get stuff sorted because they know ‘a guy’ and I reckon that is a form of effective social networking.

    Hehe! Yeah the editor is doing it way hard with that coffee and chocolate situation.

    I’m with you, home is the best place. Perhaps it takes a long time to realise that? Anyway, I’ve always wondered when travelling: Where the heck is the next toilet? Makes for an uncomfortable journey. And some of the toilets I’ve seen in the Third World should come with a health hazard warning. Forget about coronavirus, check out the epic stench…

    The muffins contain sour cream, and they are so good. Imagine my horror when they are sold out – which happens more often than not. Have you ever used sour cream in muffin baking?

    Ruby’s ears are a bit floppy when compared to the more traditional looking Plum. Is it polite to discuss such deficiencies in public? I tend to think: why the heck not? I joked today that perhaps a Staffy had been interested in the mother of Ruby and Plum, but Ruby got the inheritance. Is this also polite conversation? 🙂 Ruby on the other hand has the sweeter nature. Plum is all business, and Scritchy is getting a dose of ‘what for’ which she roundly deserves from the youngster. And I totally agree with you, Ollie has become their mum. It’s true, he’s very gentle with them.

    Untrue, I do notice the work, and just try to do other things the day afterwards. I have to look after myself and just listen to what is going on internally as injuries can occur very quickly and without warning.

    Yucca’s are really great plants. A few years back they were a bit of a thing here as they tolerated the crazy hot summers. I have noticed that as the plant gets biggerer, it does fall over. But I suspect that is how the plant walks along the land.

    It is an unfortunate thing to dig up a toad or hibernating frog as they rarely thank you for the excursion. I have unintentionally done that too. And the frogs here sound like little high pitched children’s squeeze toys when they are treated so poorly. Somehow one got into the chicken enclosure a few years back and the frog did not appreciate the ministrations of the chickens.

    If left to his own devices Mr Toothy would sleep all day and night long now. It feels a bit mean, but I force him outside to hang with Ollie and the pups and it really does him the world of good.

    Old Fluffy loved humans so you’d be fine. When she was a younger dog, people used to stop me in the street and get a photo of her. She was very photogenic, but with other dogs she had the canny mind of a sewer rat. Go figure…



  48. Re: travel and mad cafe cash

    Apparently it is quite the thing these days for people to have cafe coffees, muffins and eat out lunches every day. I was shocked to read last week that 800/month car leases are considered ‘normal’, and lets not dwell on the number of mad cafe cash units required for a house, let alone children!

    Of course, the trade off comes easy for me as I don’t want most of those things, thus freeing mad cafe cash and time for other indulgences. However, I must admit to a extravagant purchase yesterday, a *new* book, and gasp, fiction and hardcover at that! It was almost 10 mad cafe cash units. Mrs Damo was quick to point out the groaning shelves of unread books, unaware how important it was that I read this one promptly! She remains skeptical.


  49. Hi Damo,

    No, opine away, as how knows what we might all learn in the process? The higher level languages are often converted into lower level languages anyway using a tool known as an assembler. They’ve been around for a very long time – and I only know about them from my Commodore 64 days. Visual Basic does the same trick. The programmer writes the code in Visual Basic and then the assembler produces an executable file, although these days the resulting file might not even be as low as machine language which sits behind it all, and really isn’t that different to the Basic language. That is the joke of it all. The only thing I noted about those executable files was that the resulting code was not very succinct, but then internal memory and external memory is now far cheaper than it used to be and so it probably doesn’t matter.

    The similarities between programming languages is far greater than you’d imagine.

    Mate, I can’t even begin to imagine the difficulty with replacing such a large and existing chunk of software. A totally bonkers problem that fortunately I’ll never have to contemplate.

    Hehe! I’m so busted about the Picard business. Yes, it’s dirty, but also at the same time very amusing for me. And I’m really gutted that the blatant trolling (as you so describe my witty repartee) has now been called out and put into the spotlight where perhaps it doesn’t look so good. And rightfully so too! 🙂 I haven’t even seen the series yet because I’m replying to the lovely comments here and have no idea what it is even about, but yeah let’s put an end to this silliness right here and right now. Make it so! Shoot, broke my own rule there… Hehe!

    The irony of your reply about travelling was quite amusing. No judgement here either, there was just a good story in there that is useful to keep at the back of your mind should travel ever become err, lesser available (if that is even a thing).



  50. Hi Lewis,

    Exactly, that is exactly how I see the toilet paper dilemma. Obtaining a pack of toilet paper has now become a ritual of reassurance to ward off the dreaded cooties. I think this genie is out of the bag now, although I wish it were not so. Big cities have always been breeders of some very interesting diseases, and this time it is no different. If it means anything to you, the death rate from this one in Western countries appears to be very low and about on par with the influenza virus – which is a pretty nasty customer as well.

    That was nice of your administration folks to try and not get involved in the ensuing situation should the virus reach your place. Mate, what do you do?

    The rain was bonkers and it was the tail end of ex-tropical cyclone Esther as she travelled down the length of the continent from the far north. I noted this morning that the local river has begun flowing again, and the local creek which begins at the bottom end of my property has also begun flowing. Last night the frogs were kicking up a massive celebratory chorus line. It was great to hear them all cheering away for the rain. It is very unusual for the property to look this green at this time of year. UV was only rated ‘High’ today, although tomorrow we’re back up to ‘Very High’ UV ratings.

    Today it was still very wet outside, so I ignored work and went to visit a nearby garden that has opened its gates to visitors for the next week or so (Monday is the Labour day public holiday). The garden was really beautiful, and the place is attached to a plant nursery where they raise most of their own plants for sale. A very wise decision. And I also believe that they are not connected to the electricity grid due to the remoteness of the property.

    I had to laugh about that line about millennials avoiding debt. As far as I understand that particular story, it is because the banks who dole out credit cards, don’t tend to pretend to understand the millennials under-employment and gig economy situations. So I suspect such comments are a face saving comment because they can’t get a credit card in the first place. From what I’ve read, they’re pretty happy with debt as they enjoy the embrace of the pay-day loan folks who nowadays appear to hook up with retailers and promote buy now and pay later loans. However, those forms of debt are somehow not thought of as debt. People have told me the same thing about their student loans! Bonkers. There are rumours circulating that the margins demanded by the pay day loan providers are such that it is destroying the retailers margins (the retailer has somehow paid for the customers margin). Thus accelerating the retail-pocalypse. You know these are all symptoms of a money supply that is expanding faster than real wealth is actually being created?

    Rent-to-own used to be a thing down here, but I haven’t seen it around for a long time now. And people seem to have accepted the sort of pay-day loan folks better, probably at a guess because they ask less questions and use phone apps.

    Thank you and I appreciate your unscientific viewpoint as I have wondered about that story. I can see how it happens too. What did the old timers used to suggest about: Gawd helping those that help themselves? It is hard to help those who say they want help, but don’t really believe their own words. I wonder what it takes for them to look deep into themselves and find an honest self appraisal of the situation – I do hope that it is not a crisis of one sort or another? Some folks are just liars and I avoid them, but they’re around. No I disagree about the selfishness, if support is required, then support is required. I don’t believe that anyone jumps into addiction knowingly, and I’ve always more or less believed that nobody really knows what hooks will take them to dark places. Best not to find out, but does anyone really teach moderation these days? When I was a kid, and from hindsight it really annoys the daylights out of me, but folks used to tell me that I could do whatever I wanted. It was a hard story to shake clear of, and sometimes I used to want to rail and ask: Yeah, so how’s that working out for you? But no, I kept quiet – the consequences were not good and known in advance.

    BAM! That is how I saw the situation with the shelters: Make work. What a great phrase. I don’t know if this is significant or not, but a lot of them have become severely pro-life, and I’m not entirely sure I’m comfortable with that. That’s a great point too about the places serving a practical purpose.

    Hehe! Chuck’s advice is good. Had to laugh about it too, because sometimes when time is pressing and replies to comments are called for, the first person is used in my reply and “i” pops up a lot. Is this a good thing? Probably not, but there are only so many hours in the day. The comments actually get re-read and edited before posting, but even so mistakes slip through the gaps, and Chuck’s advice (which was already known to me) is always there in the back of my mind.

    Who knew there were ‘bleach buckets’ in cafes and restaurants? makes sense, although the chemical would be tough on a persons skin. It reminded me of the musical instrument ‘the recorder’ at primary school when they were kept in a bucket of Condy’s crystals. A truly unpleasant looking solution which tasted as bad as it looked. However, it was very appropriate hygiene.

    Ouch. Hopefully the plumbers will be speedy about it? I’m assuming all that is required is to replace a leaking valve? Not so hard, normally… Of course if the leak is from a tap that has a mixer, then replacing the cartridge in those devices is a right royal pain – and finding a matching one is a difficult proposition. Yes, The Decline of Western Civilisation: The non-standard plumbing years. 🙂

    And incidentally, I’m totally with you as that noise would drive me bonkers for the same reason – and here it would be a nightmare too because the water would be coming from the finite reservoirs of the water tanks and using the solar power.

    The film sounds great and it is on the ‘too see’ list.

    36 rolls. Hmm. I’ve just consulted the local shaman and am told that 36 is a good number, however 48 may have better efficacy. I think we are down to less than 10! Not a good sign at all…

    I received an email letting me know that Mr Kunstler’s latest book will arrive in my post box next week. Yay! And I look forward to reading your thoughts on the prequel.



  51. Hi Damo,

    I’ve heard those stories too, but the physical realities of my life mean that even if I were so inclined, I would not be able to indulge such a whim. The thing is, that situation requires that someone work in the same place regularly – and that ain’t me. Although cafe coffees everyday sounds pretty nice to me.

    And what sort of person doesn’t clean their keep-cup in between visits to cafes? I’ve seen such containers being cleaned by cafe staff, but I would be too embarrassed to hand over such a soiled container.

    Mate, have a look around at the cars on the road and ask how much do they cost? Dual cab utes are not cheap, and few people choose the base model with no options. The thing with car leases is that years ago they used to be three years. Then they’re now usually five years (in the US I’ve read that it is pushing seven years) and then there is the balloon payment. People who can’t meet the balloon payment at the end of the lease usually sell the vehicle, and get this: They get another lease. There is a pattern in there if you but look hard enough. 😉

    Haha! Your actions match your words, and that is what is also known as living consciously. Not always easily done.

    I can posit no opinion on the book, but was curious: Was it worth it?



  52. Hello again
    Oh dear, here I go with a dog question. You said that your dogs have always had a female as boss dog. I knew that Son had a male dog as boss, so asked him. He said that he has had experience of either being boss. I believe that your dogs are castrated and I reckon that that would make a difference, Son agreed with me, his are left whole. What do you reckon?
    We are being told to use tissues to blow our noses and then to dispose of! Son says ‘What do they think we are going to do with them, keep them to make a collage?’


  53. Chris:

    My grocery store’s shelves of toilet paper were fully stocked yesterday.

    Hmm – I don’t see Staffy in Ruby. Mr. Jackson had ears like Ruby’s when he was a puppy. They eventually decided to stand upright – and stay there. I’ll bet you a muffin that Ruby’s do that, too.

    To my mind, a dog-centric blog is a happy, healthy blog!


  54. Chris- Thought you might find this interesting- I am putting up a second PV array. We are still grid tied, so our first array feeds an inverter and sends to the grid when we aren’t using the electricity.
    This second array will be stand alone off grid, and direct feed DC to our water heater. ( Our water is heated with electricity, and that fact has chafed at me since we moved here) I got the idea from a nearby energy tinkerer, and the design is not too tough to figure out.
    Our electric bill will plummet, and I don’t need to fuss with utility approval since this all happens on our side of the meter.

    Hazelnuts- This is the first year I’ve gotten a good harvest, so the first time I’ve begun experimenting with recipes. My next foray will be home made Nutella. As much as I like Nutella, I learned of the environmental issues, and swore off. Nut butter is but a short side trip, so yes, I’ll be trying that too.

    Since the bushes are still rather young, I have not yet needed to do the pruning/thinning step, but in another year or two, that will be added to the yearly chore list. I’ve heard about various wood crafting items made from these thinning, so might give that a go as well.

    travel in retirement- Yes, all our peers seem to assume that we’ll start traveling the globe as many of them do, but the cost and environmental impact don’t appeal to us, and there is so much to enjoy here, just takes a bit of tuning in to it.

    I’m absolutely with you on the reduce outgo instead of increase income alternative. So many “financial advisors” tell us boomers that we need X% of our income in retirement to survive, but that’s assuming we plan to spend so much on expensive entertainment. I am quite comfortable with our budget plans, but I imagine if we even talked to an advisor, they’d balk.

  55. Yo, Chris – The frogs are now in full voice, here, too. Open gardens are a great idea. And the nursery must bring it a little jingle, for overhead. Smart move.

    Having never used a pay-day loan outfit, I could say I don’t know much about them. There have been articles, so, I do know how they work. When Elizabeth Warren was head of consumer protection, she really reigned them in. Or, at least made their contracts a lot more transparent. I was sorry she had to drop out of the presidential race. Because of her previous position, the big banks and Wall Street just hate and fear her. Which is, I think, a good thing. She also made the banks a lot more transparent with their credit card and loan paperwork. Maybe she’ll be someone’s vice presidential pick. Time will tell.

    Unfortunately, people come to the Program (or, come back to the Program) because they’ve had their driver’s license pulled, been in an accident, lost their job, had their kids taken away or the spouse has packed up and left. So, yeah, crisis. Usually, there’s a lot of blaming other people for their problems. We kick that out of them, pretty fast, in a nice way.
    Or, a firm way. The Program works just fine, you just have to want it, more than anything else in the world. Simple, right? 🙂 . There’s also a bit of “wisdom”, that kicks around. If nothing else, once they’ve been exposed to us, it really screws up their drinking. If they’ve got anything on the ball, they can never quit indulge again, without a bit of nagging reflection.

    I vaguely remember in grade school, that we were told not to use the first person “I”, as it sounded egotistical. But I also think that when you have a writer who doesn’t usually use it, and then they do, it can have real impact.

    I guess our maintenance guy was in and out of the Institution, yesterday. Don’t know if he checked out my leak, or not. I slipped out, for awhile, to get a cuppa at the Club. Today is Friday, so, if it’s not taken care of, today, I’m sure nothing will be done until next week. Besides the waste of water (glad I’m not paying that bill) I notice that the drip is hot water. So, not only is it the volume of water, but also the extra energy going into the hot water tank (communal) to keep it hot.

    I can imagine future archaeologists saying, “Well, we don’t know quit what happened. The ancients plumbing was really good, and then it all went to heck.” There will be many theories launched, and dissertations written, puzzling over this development.

    I see Damo also gave the film “Leave No Trace” a thumbs up.

    I have consulted the Ancient Texts, and have come to believe that the correct number of rolls of toilet paper one should keep on hand is … 42. Lew

  56. Hi Chris,
    Glad to hear about the rain even though it’s too much in a short period of time. You gotta take it when you get it. I’ve mentioned that it’s been fairly dry here but that looks to change next week.

    I would have found your PS re: toilet paper very amusing. We’ve not seen any shortages of TP here but we haven’t been to Costco which by all reports is running low on certain items. It has been noted that it hasn’t stopped anyone from getting all their many samples.

    I visited my sister who has Crohn’s disease and a compromised immune system and she’s rightly concerned but isn’t freaking out by any means. I read over at Ecosophia about oscillococcinum and figured it was prudent to pick up some while at Walgreens (big chain pharmacy). Went to the ophthalmologist yesterday and she recommended a certain vitamin supplement as I have the very beginnings of macular degeneration.

    Yours in toilet paper,

  57. @Inge
    Hoping it stops raining soon. Sounds like our spring last year. You must be going stir crazy.


    The dripping would drive me crazy too. Would putting a towel under it muffle the sound at all? I think you’re good on toilet paper.


  58. @ Margaret:

    Do you mind mentioning that supplement for the eyes? I accept your disclaimer in advance.


  59. Chris,

    I’m finding I do the chatterbox thing at the job more often now that I’m under 1 year to go. I DO have to snap myself back into work mode sometimes, though.

    Okay, toes falling off? Well is that like the tail some types of lizards have, and it will regrow? Or is it still there but not visible? Did a zombie eat it? Answers to these questions might actually point someone toward the Ultimate Cosmic Truth.

    You and Damo have helped me understand the coding things much better. It’s gotten me to thinking (dangerous) and after an incident at the job today, well, I’m confident that with one particular individual it’s a matter of laziness leading to sloppy coding.

    Ohhhh, interesting question! In retrospect, it’s clear that I’ve always needed a lot of mental relaxation time, but it wasn’t until 15 years ago, more or less, in which I realized it in so many words. If I don’t get enough mental relaxation time and I can get very grumpy. So I’m thinking that my experience matches yours fairly closely.

    I’ve seen a lot of changes here. I won’t talk about most of it now because it’ll put me in a mood in which I need extensive mental relaxation time. 🙂 Seriously, Spokane has GROWN and not all growth is necessary or good. But I’m simply a peasant, so what do I know?

    “Variability appears to be the new normal.” And is probably the way it has always been, but we remember things from our childhood differently than we do more recent things as adults.

    Oh, the lost hour will be lost this coming 2:00 a.m. Sunday. I imagine it will be found with the toe that fell off, the lizard’s tail, the tookas that froze off, and the missing link. All I ever see behind the couch is dust bunnies, and they savagely protect their turf. And it won’t be found in the closet, because that is where my sense of adventure resides and where my common sense takes frequent vacations, with occasional visits by my senses of perspective and proportion. My sense of humor adheres to me quite well, thankfully.

    Steel work is hard. Anybody who can do very much of it has my respect.


  60. Hi Chris,

    Yep, it all comes down to zeros and ones in the end (or is it Simon Pegg?). Seeing what the last generation of coders were able to achieve with just a 386, 1meg of memory and DOS, or the early game consoles, is a testament to their efficiency and ingenuity.
    But, highly abstracted modern programming languages allow a portability and “re-usability” in code that simply isn’t possible if you were “writing on the metal” (a term I have seen used for low-level languages). No doubt this leads to sloppy coding practices, and I am on the fence if the pro’s of software “everywhere” outweigh the con’s. Either way, it wouldn’t happen if everyone had to manage address spacing themselves, or write a new GUI everytime the hardware changed slightly or the OS got a minor update.

    Not sure if the new book was worth buying new – will start reading today or tomorrow. I will say it did make me quite happy buying it, and a paperback or used copy find would be years away – And I ask who can wait that long!

    Right now, it is research time, trying to get a solid start on making a plan – to have a plan, on where Mrs Damo and I decide to move next. What job, what is all up in the air. It could all be for moot, maybe coronavirus will mutate and we will all be zombies in 3 months, hmm, didn’t Simon Pegg have something to say about that as well?


  61. Hi Inge,

    A good point and I had not considered that aspect of dog politics. The past three boss dogs have been female (and Plum will make that four for four), and I have never known what a canine pack would be like with a male boss dog. There is much food for thought in your sons observation.

    At this stage I’m not considering breeding dogs, or chickens for that matter. Longer term who knows? I’ve encountered some dodgy genetics with chickens over the past few years, so I’m supposing that the same problem is in the canine world too. Maintaining a large enough genetic pool for dogs and chickens would be a difficult task and there is simply not enough interested people around here. And so I’m frankly not up for it at this stage and don’t have the systems or connections to assist with that role. It is a risk.

    That’s funny about the tissues. Mind you, I was once exposed to the influenza virus via a carelessly disposed of tissue, so perhaps basic hygiene needs to be re-learned by the general population? I went down like a sack of spuds for a couple of days after that, but I was very stressed beforehand and the snotty dumped tissue, believe it or not, concluded the stressful episode.

    Don’t you reckon peoples anxiety levels are heightened about this virus via how it is playing out in the media? From what I can understand the influenza virus is a pretty nasty customer too, and nobody seems to give that a second thought. Dunno.



  62. Hi Pam,

    Lucky you for having fully stocked supermarket shelves. 🙂 The bar has been raised for toilet paper (less than 10 rolls myself and am meant to be feeling nervous): Toilet paper shortage from coronavirus panic buying sees argument break out at Woolworths in Sydney. I have so many unanswered questions like: Have they not heard of handkerchiefs? We may never find out.

    Your bet is a safe bet and I cannot become involved, as unfortunately I had already read that Ruby’s ears will stand upright as she ages. Anyway, the casino always wins, that is why the building is so freakin huge and luxurious. Please forgive my poor memory, but what breed was Mr. Jackson?

    Hehe! Nice one. The dogs keep me on my toes and I love their antics. The dogs are all exhausted tonight as they followed me around all day long around the farm. Plus they enjoyed some fresh bones along with all of the canine business that goes with that.

    I bit the bullet today and moved a permanent asparagus bed which was poorly sited. One of the asparagus plants was so huge that it filled an entire wheelbarrow, and it was a total nightmare to lift out of the ground. Hope it survives being transplanted? Fingers crossed.



  63. Hi Steve,

    Total respect and well done you! 🙂 Mate, it is a journey, and never a destination.

    An excellent idea. For your interest a local manufacturer (who’s components I have used for the past decade and then some without fail) has been working on exactly the use for which you are putting your second PV array to. I actually have met the guy that developed these controllers: New Off Grid Solar Hot Water And Excess Energy Diverter *4.5kw+ Solutions. Note that no batteries or inverters are required. I use four of their normal solar controllers for the battery charging which that system is based upon, and they are beyond good and can work at ambient air temperatures up to 55’C / 131’F without a fan and without de-rating. For what you are attempting, there is no finer controller product to be found anywhere.

    I never used such a device because I have solar hot water panels, and also the wet back on the wood heater so hot water has never been a drama here at any time of the year.

    What? I’d heard that global supply of hazelnuts and been outstripped by demand but was unaware of the environmental issues. Ouch!

    I’ll be very interested to read of your pruning efforts as I have no idea but have observed hazelnuts growing in the local area. The hazelnuts here have been very slow growing here on the farm, however in other news today I harvested several buckets of almonds. Yum! I’m now waiting for a sunny day with which to dry the shells out – and I also have to keep them out of Ollie’s reach as he consumed about a third of last years almond harvest before I noticed. He gets fed more food nowadays.

    Mate, I’m with you and people expect the same from us in relation to travel plans. And like you I am also concerned about the cost and environmental impact, but yeah, that’s the thing, when home is good – it’s good.

    Mr Greer once wrote about the time he spotted a bumper sticker which proclaimed: If you’d had enough, how would you know? BAM!



  64. Hi Margaret,

    I took your dog training advice yesterday. After observing Plum and Ruby for a while, I believe that Ruby will make the better chicken dog. So last evening I took Ruby out with me to supervise the chickens, and actually threw both the boss chicken and the second in command at Ruby. The chickens t-barred poor Ruby! Ruby squealed in fright both times and both chickens were unimpressed, and went straight back into attack mode on the hapless Ruby. After that I could keep Ruby off the lead and she began working with the chickens. Thank you for suggesting such an approach with Ruby.

    The rain was great to receive and it will mean that the burn off restrictions will be lifted very shortly. If anyone in the gubmint had half a brain, they’d be out back burning right now, but I’m guessing the window of time will be lost. Anyway memories are short and people seem more concerned about toilet paper than bushfires.

    Hope you enjoy some rain. I moved a number of asparagus plants (no easy feat as they have enormous root systems) today and was pleased to see that the soil was reasonably damp, but not too wet.

    Thank you and I am easily encouraged to acts of silliness. Hehe! The toilet paper debacle is so weird that it can only be thought of as an ineffective preventative ritual. I put in a link to the reply to Pam about a fight in a supermarket that apparently ended up with police attendance. And a few days ago I believe a customer was tasered because they allegedly pulled a knife to defend or co-opt their stash of toilet paper. I don’t know these people.

    What are the samples that you speak of?

    Sorry to say, but your sister is wise to be concerned. How is she going with her Crohn’s disease anyway? I know a lovely lady who suffers from that condition, and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.

    Ah. I have never heard of oscillococcinum and have no experience with homeopathy. Rest, fluids, keeping your energy up and avoiding secondary infections is a good idea.

    Eyesight is a toughie, and it degenerates in everyone as they age. The editor has recently had to obtain prescription reading glasses, and it is part of life. How bad is your macular degeneration?

    Mind you, it might be a good excuse for Doug to do more housework? 🙂



  65. Hi DJ,

    There is always middle ground in the work thing, but always keep in the back of your mind not to shoot the goose that lays the golden egg! Hashtag, just sayin! 🙂

    Anyway, like you, I have had to read the work situation and just have to take my best guess as to what is an appropriate amount of chatter.

    The local gecko equivalent reptiles (otherwise known as ‘Skinks’) can lose their tail if confronted by a predator. I’ll bet that process of dropping their tail hurts. But they do actually re-grow their tails, so it seems like a good survival process. Hey, have you ever gotten close to suffering from frostbite?

    Bizarrely enough I have never encountered a zombie story where the zombies were happy to eat things other than brains. It sure would make life easier for the zombies. I mean if they are successful in their endeavours, then they’ll eventually run out of brains and suffer the environmental consequences of over reach. Imagine a story of zombies farming humans for their brains? An uncomfortable thought.

    Powerful owls often consume the heads of possums, and the first time I encountered the carcass of a headless possum in a park in the big smoke, I was really worried that there was a serious sicko out there, but no it was the owls. Possums aren’t around these parts as the owls pick them off – it is brutal. Some idiot released possums into New Zealand for their fur, and the possums have become quite the nightmare forest pest over there.

    Being able to think just goes to prove that a zombie has yet to get to your brain. There’s still time for that though!!!! Hehe! Speaking of coding, I saw a local council down here is looking for some sort of smart application that I’m guessing, can listen in on phone calls and determine the mood or emotional state of callers. WTF? What if the machine gets it wrong?

    Yeah, weird emotional states can be reached if there is not enough mental relaxation. I found out the hard way almost two decades ago that my judgement can be impaired if I work for too many hours and at too high a level of stress. That was easily dealt to, but gaining the knowledge was not as easy as it would seem, and that is a road of hurt. But some roads have branches you can take and that is all cool.

    Since I left the big smoke, the powers that be have added an additional million people to the city and it can be a confronting thing, so yeah I hear you about Spokane. The change has been slower than most people living there in the big smoke would notice, but as someone who rarely travels in there on a weekend, the change is very confronting.

    Hehe! Yup, you are probably correct about the variability. It is one of the reasons I can see why farmers may have been rejoicing back in the day at the thought of industrial agricultural practices. Consistency I have noticed, takes a lot of energy and resources. You may have noticed that in your work?

    Hope the killer dust bunnies don’t bite. I’ve heard that they have huge teeth that will do you up a treat mate! 🙂 Here’s a salute to your sense of humour and adventure!

    It is the drilling of steel that makes it really hard to work with. Cutting is of course a bit easier. I have my drill bit sharpener out and ready for the job. It was a bit wet this morning, and so we changed tack and did work around the garden. An asparagus plant had to be moved, and it had become so huge that it took up an entire wheelbarrow.



  66. Hi Damo,

    Simon Pegg is da man! Have you read about any new Star Trek films with the new crew? I recall the 386 and 286’s for that matter and they may have been called something like an XT before that time? DOS games inevitably required video cards to use standard drivers, and let’s not talk about extended memory drivers, and if they didn’t work… But then you have a good point and routines that can be re-used and standardised facilitate the whole computing thing nowadays. But then it also introduces a layer of risk to the entire endeavour. Fears private details of Defence Force members compromised in database hack. What could possibly go wrong?

    Enjoy your book, and from my perspective, it is worth what it is worth to you personally.

    I have heard of people making a plan to make a plan. It is not as easy to do as people would necessarily imagine! Nice tie back too. 😉 I believe Mr Yogi Berra suggested that the: Future ain’t what it used to be. Can anyone doubt such wisdom.



  67. Hi Lewis,

    We watched the trailer for “Leave no trace”, and it looks both great and intense. Stories about parental mental health issues cut a bit close to the bone for me, but I’m tough and can hack out the film. Actually I had a little flash whilst watching the trailer of the film and it was of the concluding road trip chapter of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert M. Pirsig. It was a good read, but the fathers realisation about his own mental health issues towards the end of the book and its affect on the relationship with his son, was quite the pivotal point in the story. Why would the film trailer reveal a pivotal point like that? Bonkers.

    I’ve never used a pay day loan outfit either. Although back in the day when I was a kid, businesses used to offer ‘lay-by’ which was where the business held the stock, and accepted regular payments for the goods – which weren’t released until they were fully paid for.

    I saw that about Elizabeth Warren, and if the banks and Wall St feared her, then you’ve suffered a loss. Word on the street down here is that Biden doesn’t stand a chance. The youth news program I listen to had an interview with the guy who heads up the democrat youth group (sounds a bit dodgy really doesn’t it?) He mentioned all sorts of issues facing your country, but then he went on to suggest that your President was an embarrassment. An odd opinion, but the guy also went on to say that he read every one of your President’s tweets. The highly successful singer Madonna is quoted as having said: “If you don’t like me and still watch everything I do.Bitch, you’re a fan” Apparently her words. Brutal but with a grain of truth. I was scratching my head and thinking to myself: Stop listening to the guy, and get out and reach out to your constituency and make a case to replace him. It’s not hard in fact it is basic politics.

    Thank you for the direct answer, and I was wondering about that and really appreciate the understanding your words have provided. I guess it takes a lot of one on one communication in order to kick the habit of blaming others? The Democrats in your country appear to have fallen into that trap. Nagging reflection is a lovely way of putting that. I can see that.

    Yeah, that was what I was also told about the use of the word “I” in writing. However it is really challenging to avoid using the word, because it works. I’ll keep an eye out for examples of the kind of writing that you mentioned, and observe the impact. I’m still pining for lost Camulod. Oh well.

    Far out, dripping hot water is an energy nightmare. But what can you do when the system is so interconnected? That is really funny about the future view of today’s plumbing. Hehe! You’d hope some copper line is saved as it would be highly valuable. And maybe some stainless steel stuff, that would be handy. Someone once mentioned to me that folks in the future will be grateful for the glut of exotic metals brought to the surface by our civilisation, but then we’ve brought up some shockers too – like highly radioactive waste.

    Shoot!!! Down to less than 10 rolls. Mate, that is it, we’re done for. I read today that a doctor who allegedly had coronavirus worked on 70 people over the past few days. And in a very Ritzy suburb too. Melbourne GP clinic closed after doctor tests positive for coronavirus.

    Oh no! Forget about coronavirus, in breaking Australian Sheep Dog News: World’s oldest dog? Australian kelpie Maggie dies after 30 years on a dairy farm. Note the previous record holder was an Australian cattle dog. What have I gotten myself into?

    Did a huge amount of work around the farm today and am feeling it tonight. It was a bit too damp this morning to do the steel work, so we did a bit of work with the plants. At this stage I’m planning to move a number of fruit trees on Monday. In any other year there is no way I would move fruit trees now due to heat and dry stress, but this year it’s different. One of the plants I moved today was a huge old asparagus and it eventually took up the entire guts of a wheelbarrow. Absolutely bonkers and it took over an hour to dig out of the ground. I can’t be 100% sure, but I reckon it will survive in its new home. It was stupendously heavy.

    Steel work tomorrow on the new-old solar panel frame. Not sure how much of it I will get done because working with steel is hard work due to the necessity to drill holes in the stuff. Oh well.

    Hey, we picked a huge bucket of almonds today, and they’ll be left out in the sun over the next few days (when the sun eventually peaks out from behind the thick clouds). Last year Ollie managed to scoff down quite a lot of the almond harvest which was left drying out in the sunshine. I hope old habits are forgotten? Maybe?



  68. Hi Al,

    Apologies mate, I missed replying to you yesterday. The system entirely failed!

    Mr Kunstler’s fine book will apparently be here late next week – although admittedly it is a long way away down here at the bottom of the planet. Have you ever read ‘The World Made by Hand’ series? I really enjoyed the series and have since re-read it.

    Did you somehow say that you learned to pace your reading by observing your parents habits? Many shelf feet sounds a bit scary!

    Tomorrow I intend to put up some more of the steel frame for the new-old solar panels. It is the drilling of the steel that is the hardest part. I use cobalt drill bits for the job and they’re good – plus I have the drill bit sharpener ready to go.

    Maybe, but I’ll probably just lift the panels into place by hand.

    Hehe! Yeah – Nah. The old system used to charge at around 175A and in the newer incarnation that probably won’t exceed 105A. From what I found it was actually the current draw from the inverter which really built up heat in the battery interconnectors.



  69. Chris:

    Mr. Jackson was a Jack Russell/Shetland Sheepdog cross that produced an amazingly handsome 22 lb. (10kg) dog. Smart as a whip and twice as bad.

    I wish I could have seen that asparagus! I bought 10 crowns a couple of days ago. I had almost decided not to plant any as I had not found the variety I wanted around here and I didn’t feel like ordering them online. Then – wha la – there the right one was at a small nursery. I had read to get varieties with the name “Jersey” in them as they are all male plants. This one is “Jersey Knight”.


  70. Chris:

    Oh, my – I watched the toilet paper fracas with the sound off, but I could still hear it a bit and they sounded just like squirrels fighting. I laughed, but then I could only watch about half of it. I much prefer squirrels.


  71. Chris:

    “Mind you, it might be a good excuse for Doug to do more housework? 🙂” Shame on you , Chris. 🙂

    I have felt the fur on dead possums – it’s not nice. Why would anyone want to raise them for their fur?

    Someday you are going to be a very old man with two very old dogs.


  72. @ Margaret – I have a friend down at the Club, who has Crohn’s Disease. She’s undergoing some therapy, right now, that takes the Mickey out of her immune system. So, she hasn’t been around the Club, much.

    She’s one of those ladies who always look like they’ve stepped out of a band box. Stylish, with hair and nails, perfect. High, high heels. You know the type. My knick name for her is High Maintenance. 🙂 . She takes it with good humor.

    The drip, drip, drip, is now a splash, splash, splash. It’s a long story, that I’ll tell to Chris. Don’t want to chew my cabbage, twice. But I will say, I thought about putting something under the tap, to cut the sound. But I worry it will shift, block the drain, and then …. well, it might get even uglier. Lew

  73. Hello again
    The media here are indeed causing an insane level of panic. It annoys me that we keep receiving figures for the number of deaths from covid-19 but not the current figures for deaths from flu.


  74. Yo, Chris – Poop! Poop! Poop! I stopped by the library, this morning, to pick up the book. Same title, wrong author. I didn’t read the fine print, on the Amazon listing. Only published in Canada, so far. And, Interlibrary Loan doesn’t go international. BUT, I checked the WorldCat, and there is one library in Texas, that has it. Will they lend? Time will tell. Some American dealers, do have copies, for sale. Not too expensive. I may have to go that route.

    Here we call it Lay Away. Heck, even the dime stores, used to do it. Especially around Christmas. Last place I heard that did it was K-Mart, and they’re gone, now. They didn’t charge a fee for Lay Away, either.

    I think Biden “might” have a chance, depending on who he picks for his vice president running mate. Ditto, Bernie. Time will tell.

    Here’s a bit of what Chuck said about using the word “I”. It’s in a short chapter titled “Authority: Submerging The I.” “…don’t screen the world through your narrator’s senses. Instead of writing, “I heard the bells ring,” write just “The bells rang,” or, “The bells began to ring.” Avoid, “I saw Ellen,” in favor of, “Ellen stepped from the crowd. She squared her shoulders and began to walk, each step bringing her closer.”
    So were I your teacher, I’d tell you to write in the first person, but to weed out almost ll of your pesky “I”s. ”

    That was quit a story about the Melbourne GP. You’d think a doctor would know better, than to go to work, sick. Wonder if he’ll be disciplined, by whatever medical board you have.

    Well, at least The Editor and you know who to leave your estate, to. The hounds. I’m sure the farm will be in safe hands, er, paws. Not having that opposable thumb, may slow things down, a bit.

    So, almonds into one of the enclosures. And, probably best not do it when Ollie can see you. Would the birds be a problem? Which reminds me. I was disturbed when you mentioned the parrots had vanished. Are they back? Prof. Mass did his annual post on migrating birds, showing up on radar. I’m tempted to ask how many are humming birds.

    The saga, continues. Lazy Shiftless Jack, the maintenance guy, and his minion roared in on Friday morning. Took a look, said it would have to be fixed, but, they’d have to call a plumber due to “liability.” What? I didn’t ask, I don’t want to know. So, the building manager called me and said a plumber would be by, between 2 and 4. Would I be here. As she had a doctor’s appointment. The plumbers showed up just as she was bolting the building. The water has to be shut off to this floor, which required 24 hours notice. It’s the week end, so everything is shoved into next week. The plumber said I can take showers. He may, or may not, have to get into the wall. The cartridge has to be seated on two copper prongs (I think) that tend to be soft, and if he can’t pull it off, it’s open the wall. Someone mentioned that in other cases, where that was done, black mold was discovered. Which will be another whole can of worms. I’m feeling a bit stressed. If they had gotten on this when I turned in the work order on Wednesday morning, this would all be taken care of, by now.

    Just out of curiosity, what’s your dental like, down there. My friend in Idaho, had to go in for a cleaning. It was discovered he had a bit of decay, under 4 crowns. They need to be replaced. To the tune of $5,000. They decided to do two, and leave the other two, until they start to bother him. I commented to her, that had we known, we all would have become dentists, and be happy as hogs in slop. Lew

  75. Hi Chris
    No Apologies required . You have a busy life.
    The new JHK book is an interesting read so far.
    World Made by Hand Series has been one of my fiction favorites. My work life involved manuals , procedures and so forth. As a journeyman construction electrician, an Instrument Technician. And industrial Mechanical guy (not at the same time.)
    When I got hold of good fiction I. Got in a really bad habit of going into a non stop speed read mode till I finished the book.
    My son gave me The Road as a birthday gift in 2008. The story Affected me and I went back for a more through read and made a change in my reading habits. As a result.

    The hole drilling in structural steel is torturing! The cobalt bits well shaped and repointed as required is a must. I would probably rent or buy a mag base drill machine for a project of your size. One of the nice features is if you are punching through two opposing sides a long bit can do it from one set up. There is a company named Hougen that makes some really smooth cutting bits that look like precision carbide tipped hole saws. Use a nice mandrel , metric and inch from 3/16 to 1”. When I’m drilling structural I keep a hand drill with a deburring counter sink in the chuck to get rid of the drill burr before it can cut anybody.

    And now the hot terminals to the inverter. Picture a 3” x 3” by 1/4” thick piece of pure copper bar (9 Square inches area) . A clearance fit hole for the battery connector bolt. Other holes near the corners for bolting the inverter wires. Two of these one for + 48 volts and one for – 48 volts.are used These are called buss bars. The buss bars can reduce the current path density, and lower the heat level in the current paths. Your supplier can probably help with a final design.

    And now my evening read of Jim’s latest master piece😊

  76. Hi Pam,

    Mr Jackson surely would have loved to run what with such heritage in his veins. Does anyone really want a dumb dog? A long time ago a Jack Russell terrier was part of my life and he was a right gentleman of a dog, had the name of Denver because he was found: “On a country road”. It seemed appropriate somehow.

    Unfortunately removing the monster asparagus was such a drama, that we completely forgot to take a photo of it sitting in the wheelbarrow and spilling over the sides. In the photos, you can see the huge area that was left behind by its removal, and the hole in the raised garden bed where it ended up.

    Haven’t heard of that particular variety before, and kudos for the score! The one I grow has a rather family unfriendly name called: Fat Bastard. True! I can almost imagine the plant breeder deciding whether to call the asparagus that name or not, the cheeky scamp.

    Squirrels would be far nicer to encounter.



  77. Hi Margaret,

    I see Pam has suggested that I not be so cheeky in future, re: the housework. I’ll try, but it will be difficult. 🙂

    The sun has barely shone here for about a week. Absolutely bonkers weather for this time of year.



  78. Hi Pam (again),

    Your opossums are marsupials, but they are carnivorous and angry looking critters. Big pointy teeth and all.

    The possums here are vegetarians and their fur is incredibly soft. New Zealand deals with the possum problem by harvesting the fur. The possums have no natural predators over there and they really are eating the daylights out of their forests.

    I once over heard someone asking a question about possum fur, who in retrospect may have been a bit naive, because the question I heard was: Do you think the possums mind being shorn? Things that make you go hmm.



  79. Hi Inge,

    Exactly, and I wonder that too. If you want a horror comparison, compare the deaths to motor vehicle deaths, or industrial accidents leading to death. Engendering this level of panic seems a bit odd to me. Of course people are pretty bad at considering risk, otherwise why would people fall for such blatantly stupid scams such as the Nigerian Oil Scam? Do you have any thoughts as to why such a level of panic is being engendered?



  80. Hi Lewis,

    It is a trap for both the wary and unwary. Back in the day there was a book which Damo has only just finished reading (Shogun). It is a beautiful story about the adventures of an Englishman in Japan towards the end of the Edo period, and it was so well told. After completing the read the hunt was on to see whether a movie had been made based on the book. Turns out there were heaps of martial arts films with the same title, but were they all worth watching? Therein lies the nub of the problem. And this was pre-interweb days too, so you could hardly just do a quick Gogle search. Nope, adventure off down to the video shop and hire them out one by one. Can’t suggest that the process created a love of martial arts films.

    Incidentally, titles are not subject to copyright.

    Retailers used to do the lay-by or lay-away thing. People have somehow lost sight of how much stuff floats around the landscape these days, because back in the day it was not unusual for people to use the lay-by system for their Christmas presents, and people set the goal of having the items fully paid for by Christmas. There just wasn’t a lot of free income floating around, and can you imagine the shock of dropping someone from today, who has become well adapted to the current state of affairs and stuff, back into the past, and then told them that they had to make do! Cue Hitchcock style screams! 🙂

    Maybe, but down here they are suggesting that both of them as candidates are toast. Sorry.

    Thanks for the writing lesson as it is much appreciated. What a lovely way of putting the situation: Submerging the I. Very astute. Getting rid of the dreaded word, actually makes the text more engaging. Something to cogitate upon.

    The story about the doctor is actually quite interesting. Like all good stories, it has progressed: Coronavirus-infected GP Chris Higgins hits back after criticism from Victorian Health Minister. His daughter is quite the well known performer (Missy Higgins). The doctor has a point, however it would be interesting to hear what the potentially infected patients have to say? They may feel differently.

    Mate, that one about the estate is a toughie, as it is very possible that should the worst occur, the dogs will be euthanized. Years ago inquiries were made about the situation, and some very honest answers were provided. It is nice that the people so asked did not dissemble.

    What a good idea about putting the drying almonds into an enclosure out of the loving care of Ollie, who would possibly consume more of them than he should.

    Thanks for asking about the parrots, and it has been something of a mystery. It is very possible that some were shot and others were poisoned, because numbers really are down and there is little reason for that. As it stands judgement will be reserved until winter sets in. You see, the farm is a source of food all year around for the wildlife, so it might be possible that at the moment the parrots can simply eat in the surrounding forest as there is plenty to be had, but when times get lean, that will be telling.

    It is quite gobsmacking to consider that migrating birds are in enough profusion to appear on the weather radar, and the blog essay was so noted and read.

    There is so much wrong with your maintenance story that it really is hard to pin down the worst aspect. What a challenge you have provided. There is just so much meat to choose from in there. One can only hope that the plumbers were paid for their visit to your unfolding plumbing disaster. Life rarely works that way, sorry to say. There are a few folks that can be called upon here for assistance with the various systems, however, their reliability means that they are not cheap. What do engineers say about: Good, Fast, Cheap, pick any two. It’s true that saying.

    The cost of dental here is about the same for that sort of work. As a general observation, it is best to care for one’s teeth well before such work is required and that includes brushing your teeth and the gums well (not as simple a task as you’d imagine). For your interest, dental is not covered under the basic health insurance here which everyone chips in for via their incomes. And several years ago there was an article which suggested that dental graduates are among the highest paid of all graduates. Some orthodontics folks put people on payment plans.

    Better get writing!

    I actually got through the entire reply without using the word “I” in the first person. Oh shoot! Just broke my own rule there. 🙂 Hehe!



  81. Hello again
    Oh dear, I am trying not to think that it is a great thing to blame for a financial collapse that was about to happen anyway. This certainly applies to the collapse of the airline flybe which was already in dire trouble. They are blaming the virus!


    I laughed tears all over my breakfast.


  82. Yo, Chris – “Shogun” (as you probably know) was a TV mini-series, about 1980. I watched it, and, also read the book, way back then. As far as confusion at the DVD store, just look for the Anglo guy on the box cover 🙂 . If you haven’t seen it, you might also like “The Last Samurai.” Never mind that it stars Tom Cruise, it’s still worth a look.

    Here, if you want to know if a title has been used before, you can check with our Library of Congress. LOL. When they wrote the AA big book, they were going to call it “A Way Out.” Turned out there were a dozen other books, by the same title. So, they just settled on “Alcoholics Anonymous.”

    Well, you just can’t get good help, anymore 🙂 . That’s the first time our Interlibrary Loan Department has slipped up. So, I won’t be asking for names, or expecting heads to roll. 🙁 . But if it happens again … Someone at the Chehalis Library, who I’ve known for years, and reads and watches a lot of the same stuff I do, said, “When I checked that in, I didn’t think it was the kind of thing you read.” From the cover, it was clearly a fantasy novel.

    Banks used to have Christmas clubs. Set aside a bit, every month in a special savings account, and get it in November, to do your Christmas shopping.

    It’s a long way to the November elections. As far as making predictions, look at 2016. Who knew? Other than Mr. Greer.

    Yup. The GP has a point. Really, it’s pretty much all down to chance. But, everyone wants someone to blame. Probably a lot of wishful thinking, and, “it always happens to other people”, involved.

    Well, more of the plumbing problem ought to resolve itself, tomorrow. If our building manager shows up, to work. I figured out a way to cut some of the drip sound, from the bathroom, involving a plastic seed tray. Needs must.

    When I first moved here, people wondered why. I’d just tell them a.) I never had to look for a parking spot and b.) my dentist took payments. They’d go, “Oh!” And be very envious. He was old school, and is now retired. Pity.

    Well, the dreaded time change, was last night. I spent a bit of time wrangling with Eleanor over times to walk the dog. She’s all for adjusting the time (is it an hour forward, or, an hour back, etc. etc..) so the dog won’t get “confused.” The heck with the dog, what about us? I held a firm line. Stick with what it says on the clock. HRH will get over it. I might not. Lew

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