Lying by omission

Today marks the winter solstice in my corner of the planet. The sun shines upon the land with feeble rays at this dark time of the year, and perhaps using less romantic descriptive words, it is basically just cold. Although at 37.5 degrees latitude south of the equator, it really isn’t all that cold comparatively speaking. The wood heater for example was only kicked off at about 4pm today, so it is not lost on me that in other parts of the globe which are even further from the equator, well let’s just say that it gets heaps colder there.

Possibly due to the virus subject that dare-not-be-named, there are a whole bunch of people sitting in their houses wondering what to do with their free time. Some of those folks may even be enjoying nice summer climes where the sun is warm and the weather is sweet. Others in the Southern Hemisphere are probably feeling the cold, like it is here. But whatever the case, some folks in either situation must have been enjoying the blog, because the readership has recently increased.

With the increased readership in mind, I might borrow a leaf out of the recent Michael Moore / Jeff Gibbs documentary: Planet of the Humans, and set about annoying everybody all at once. It is admittedly an impressive achievement. The two blokes have certainly stirred the environmentalist pot with the documentary, that’s for sure. If outcomes were any guide, they could probably use the stirring.

The latter half of the documentary lost me a bit as the film maker painted renewable energy systems as some sort of instrument of massive big business and then ended the film with suggestions of apocalypse. I’m not so easily convinced about apocalyptic stories. I lived through one massive apocalyptic story almost two decades ago. It was the now largely forgotten Y2K bug at the turn of the century, and who could forget the earlier furor linked to that story? But then when the day came and we all found ourselves in a new century, not much really happened and it seemed to me to be much like the day before and people just got on with their lives.

As to the claim that renewable energy systems are some sort of instrument of massive big business, well let’s just say that I managed to purchase 16 solar panels earlier in the year for $400. That hardly sounds like big business to me, and if I can access such technologies for very little coin, why aren’t other people doing so?

But then I freely acknowledge that serious people are actually talking up some possible future based upon 100% renewable energy systems. If they were keener students of history, they might comprehend that for much of our species history on the planet we actually have enjoyed the benefits of 100% renewable energy, except that it is called by other less favourable names: Subsistence agriculture. Plant photosynthesis as a system is almost certainly based on 100% renewable energy, and few could argue the fact.

I’d describe the tall claim regarding a future based on 100% renewable energy technology as a lie by omission. And I can’t really know or speculate upon the motivations behind the people making such claims, but all the same the claims are out there.

Seriously though, renewable energy technology is good, it just isn’t good enough to run industrial civilisation as we know it today. Over a decade ago I used to believe the hype, and I was really excited about the technology. But then after over a decade of experience with the renewable energy technology I’ve been granted an intimate insight into the sheer malarkey that are such claims. I don’t believe that the claim is likely to eventuate into reality, but I guess the folks talking large at least deserve some points for sheer vision.

How are you meant to generate much solar electricity when the winter skies around the solstice look like this:

Thick clouds hang over the central highlands of Victoria at sunset near to the winter solstice

When I was a kid I wasn’t trained to perceive lies of omission, probably because people used to lie to me all of the time and think nothing of it. I’m sure you’ve all heard the claim that: “You can do anything!” A patently false claim, and yet adults banged on about it all of the time. It doesn’t even take much poking to prove false. Can I be an astronaut? I doubt it, so the claim is false and the implication was not lost on me that adults regularly lied.

At an early adult age I moved into a share house with four friends. I have a bit of an independent streak and couldn’t wait to get out of my mothers house and strike out into the world. The experiences from the share house could have filled sections of the amusing novel: He died with a falafel in his hand, written by the Australian author: John Birmingham. I can clearly recall meeting the owners of the house and stating for the record that the ‘party days were behind us all’. Yeah, we sure lied, and the rental bond eventually disappeared in its entirety as a consequence.

One good turn deserves another, and at one stage, two of the house mates suggested to me that we head off to Adelaide (the capital city of the state of South Australia) on a bus road trip. A road trip to the next state over to the west sounded like fun to me. They had it all planned, and being naive I didn’t think to ask too many questions as to the details of the trip. Mad cash was handed over.

The bus trip was an overnight bus trip, and turns out I don’t really sleep very well on buses. The bloke sitting next to me on the bus had been on bender earlier in the evening and he seemed to sleep pretty well and lolled around and snored deeply and in time to the rocking motion of the bus.

Upon arrival in Adelaide, the accommodation was thoughtfully pre-booked and also twin share. Turns out that in order to save money the house mates had booked me in to twin share, so I got to share the room with a total stranger, which was something they had elected not to do.

The lack of sleep was slowly turning me mildly psychotic, or at best, really grumpy.

Entertainment for the evening was organised, and despite my misgivings they’d chosen to venture into the cities casino. It was one of the few such venues on the continent at the time and was something of a novelty. As a poor student of math, but with an excellent grasp of statistics (it’s a confusing situation for me too, most likely arising from a prolonged encounter with the school bully in math classes in year 9), I realise that in order for their to be a ‘house’ a lot of people have to lose big time in order to pay for the edifice. And as such I don’t gamble.

Turns out my worries were for naught. If I’d known of the finer details of the adventure in the first place, I probably wouldn’t have gone. In the unlikely circumstances that I’d chosen to go knowing what was involved, I would have worn a shirt with a collar and gotten into the casino like my house mates did. I was barred from entering the establishment due to ‘strict dress rules’.

Ditched in a strange capital city, not knowing anyone or anything, I grabbed some food to eat and went back to the accommodation to get some sleep before the stranger turned up and possibly began snoring at volume.

Upon returning home to the share house, and in a somewhat disheveled and distressed state, the other two house mates who had chosen not to embark upon the interstate adventure may have remarked that: “It serves your dumb a#$ right”, or words to that effect. I ended up being good friends with those two clealry more alert house mates, even with all of the other dramas that ensued.

So yeah, if people are talking up big about things like mysterious interstate adventures, or a 100% renewable energy future, take it from me and learn to ask some hard questions. Turns out the reality might not be so pleasant.

We’ve decided to construct a greenhouse in order to raise seedlings. Over the past six months I’ve been reading about the topic of seed raising. The previous very cold spring provided the motivation to consider this aspect of seed raising. It is worth noting that many of the summer crops grown here can be raised from seed directly sown into the ground. Others, like chili’s and eggplant, have zero chance of ever growing from directly sown seed as the soil isn’t nearly warm enough. Raising those seeds in a greenhouse may give us an advantage with those hot climate plants.

A greenhouse need not be a prefabricated construction, and there is no reason why second hand and seconds materials cannot be incorporated into the structure. The most important materials for the greenhouse are the windows and earlier this week I scored three such windows on the cheap.

Ollie and Plum are impressed by the windows

To provide a sense of scale, the bright yellow trailer is a five foot by seven foot trailer. The windows are quite large and from seconds and second hand stock. And they are totally good enough for a greenhouse. They were hauled back to the farm from the polar opposite end of the city.

Cleaning up the strawberry enclosure took an entire days work. Strawberry plants have to be removed after about their third year of growth. The plants do succumb to disease at that age, but I don’t see that and what I do see is that the plants stop producing berries and instead produce vast numbers of runners. Runners is the technical name for new strawberry plants attached to the older strawberry plant by a feeder root.

This is what the enclosure looked like before hand:

Ruby thinks to herself that the strawberry enclosure is a total mess

This year I chose to clear half of the very oldest strawberry plants. The beds were then fertilised with huge quantities of chipped up organic matter supplied by the nice electricity company. Just to ensure that the chipped up organic matter didn’t strip too much nitrogen from the surrounding soil and plants, I added about a third of a wheelbarrow of pelletised chicken manure onto the growing beds. Into the two growing beds on either side of the enclosure were planted all of the newer runner strawberry plants. A massive job.

All done and nice and tidy again

The strawberry enclosure clean up job used at least 20 wheelbarrow loads of organic matter, and possibly more. The folks who are possibly concerned that the mountain of chipped up organic matter supplied by the nice electricity company is rapidly depleting, need not so concern themselves as there is heaps of the stuff left.

Plum, Queen of Mulch Mountain

A close up of the replanted runners follows:

A close up of the replanted and fertilised strawberry runners

Ruby the Kelpie (Australian sheep dog / puppy) was very helpful during the day. Whilst she was assisting me, she became momentarily bored and decided to chew one of the grape vines.

Ruby did this to a grape vine

All up there are ten grape vines growing in the strawberry enclosure and in two years one of them has reached the ceiling of the enclosure. The grapes are different varieties but all are suitable for either table grapes or wine making.

A two year old grape vine has reached the first and second wires

Onto the not quite flowers, but very pretty all the same:

Overnight rain collects on this mint scented Geranium

Leucodendrons grow really well here and these new leaves are as attractive as flowers

Onto the proper flowers:

Gazania’s on the winter solstice
Alpine heath is enjoying the cool and damp weather this year
A fascinating succulent flower
Very early Echium flowers
A couple of shy yellow Wormwood flowers
A truly stunning and hardy Salvia

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 4’C (39’F). So far this year there has been 644.6mm (25.4 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 621.8mm (24.5 inches).

73 thoughts on “Lying by omission”

  1. Yo, Chris – Happy winter solstice! Again. I did yesterday, but, as it was the last post of the week, I didn’t want any of your other readers to think I was suffering a lapse, of the social niceties. 🙂 .

    I happened to see an article that they were re-instating some of the lock down rules, in the State of Victoria, due to a spike in your numbers. True? Or, fake news?

    Apocalyptic stories. It will be different, this time! 🙂 . Sooner or later, someone’s going to be right. After all, a stopped clock tells the right time, twice a day. I did enjoy the series that Mr. Greer did, on apocalyptic wash-outs. He had a rich field to pick from.

    Why don’t other people poke around a bit and do solar “on the thrift?” Because they want “new and improved! Clean and shiny!” ? Or, a fast talking salesman just sells them a bill of goods. I read the last post on “The Daily Impact”, blog, and thought, “Oh, Chris has to read this! It will get him cheering.” And then I saw you chimed in.

    Road trip! I did similar, in my late teens, with three buddies. Halfway across Canada, to Regina, Saskatchewan , and back. All four of us, crammed in a small car. There were ups and downs, but, we had a heck of a good time, and could tell tales, for years. Looking for a club, where we could get served (bell hops and taxi drivers are a wealth of information). Snow on pup tents, forcing us into a hotel, that we could not afford … so two of us had to sneak up the back stairs. Etc. etc.. I’m so sorry your adventure did not turn out, as well.

    Looks like a good start, on the greenhouse. Your right. The strawberry enclosure was a mess. But Chris just waved his magic wand (and sweated a lot) and everything was put to rights. Will the grape vines shade the strawberries, too much? Will they get enough sun?

    The Gazanias look quit exotic. And, the Echium is really striking. I’ve got to remember to right those names down, so I can ask the Master Gardeners if we’ve got any of either of those, about. Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    A bit of a shame your lack of pie culture, but if needs must, Damo and I will turn a blind eye whilst you nick a gourmet pie – and hopefully you’ll enjoy it and believe that it was worth the effort. It must not be lost on you that such activities lead to transportation to the colonies back in the day. 😉 At least there may possibly be gourmet pies there. Hehe!

    The indomitable Plum and Ruby were playing outside and refused to come inside for some reason. Of course I have access to the weather radar and also a better view of the distant horizon. The rain was coming in thick and fast, and suddenly the erstwhile puppy heroes became quite damp and decided that conditions were sub fluffy optimal and so they retreated into the house. That’s winter for you! 🙂 They’re looking meek and mild now, well as much as they can imitate that.

    Work was a mixed bag today of paid work and work around the farm, and I also had to head off to an outer suburb to pick up some steel supplies. We’d run the supplies down on all of the recent fence projects and the stocks needed replenishing. The lengths have to be cut down to 13.2ft long otherwise they don’t fit on the trailer properly, and nobody wants my steel supplies dumped on the road. It is funny, but when I was a kid, hard to explain items sourced on the cheap were often described as having fallen off the back of a truck. Even as a kid it was not lost on me that a heck of a lot of stuff had fallen off trucks… I’d assume that there was more of a ‘black market’ for things in those days.

    Yes, hydro power is as good as it gets. Not much beats it, and as long as a drought does not intervene, there are few intermittency issues which plague solar and wind. 🙂 Good to read that you know other forms of food preservation as there is a real art to that skill. And nowadays few people practice the art.

    Wise, a very wise course. You may have noticed that we don’t shirk hard work, and both the editor and I have done University on a part time basis whilst working full time. The student debt ate income that’s for sure, but then from my perspective it was better doing that than accruing the debt in the first place. It interested me that at the time, the course was usually full of mature age students, and then there was me. It is not a quick option, but then it doesn’t carry the ongoing financial burden.

    Exactly, not being able to do what one has always done is part of the ongoing current program – at least that is what I’m guessing it is all about. And yes, you are correct and we are going backwards due to an upswing in cases. Other states in the country are discussing whether us lot in this state should be shunned. Many state borders are still closed.

    It is a good book on Edo-era Japan and that was why I went back to finish it. There are a lot of lessons in there. At the time I had to put the book down because there were too many things going on work wise and my brain was in imminent danger of popping. Surely you’ve seen the early 80’s horror film Scanners? Well let’s just say that it didn’t end well for some of the characters in the film and I wanted no chance of that happening to my brain. I’ll bet they had fun making the film. It had Michael Ironside in it.

    Haha! Raffish and Bohemian – and not a smile among any of them. They looked rightly proud of their creations though, as they should be. It would have been great fun constructing the buildings from local materials and they were aesthetically very pleasing. I agree too about the Arts and Craft style. I had no idea what either device was, but then there was a small reference to the ‘View Master’ which I recall using as a child. A round disc was inserted into the guts of the device and you could look into the two lenses and see the picture displayed. I wonder whatever happened to them? Film and film developing was not cheap when I was very young, and you’d have to drop your film off for developing at businesses that did so – they were often a side business of chemists / pharmacists.

    Happy solstice to you too! 🙂

    Gotta bounce, will speak later.



  3. Hello Chris
    I love steam trains and when I was young, it was still okay to hang ones head out of the window. However if one faced the direction of travel one was in danger of getting grit in an eye which happened to me on one occasion. If one faced the other way one might miss the necessity to withdraw inside.
    It is scary looking tracks over ravines and along mountain sides that I don’t like.
    That is a vast number of strawberry plants. mine are still producing though it has slackened off. Runners are just starting to appear. I have also got a variety that starts a bit later and then continues to produce throughout the summer. It does not produce runners unfortunately as I now have fewer of them and don’t know its name.


  4. Hi Lewis again (the double secret edition reply) 🙂

    You need not worry on the social niceties score as you have plenty of social credit to burn – although it need not be burned needlessly. And you may have noticed this but there seem to be plenty of folks around who do forget the social niceties, so by comparison this makes us all here look very good indeed. In some respects it is a bit like the general decline in deportment in the population, which from one perspective makes it easier to shine by acting with good grace and remotely dressing well – or at least avoiding active wear. Or there is of course the not wearing of ratty old woollen jumpers in public. In the spirit of Edo-era Japan the jumper is soon to be retired to dog bedding.

    The reverse of the easing up is not fake news, it’s happening. I have a good mate who lives in Darebin and they do fancy themselves over there as being rather progressive in the sense that such folks see themselves. I am totally going to give him heaps about this, and I’ll enjoy every minute of it. Hang on a second… … What do the words ‘cesspit of disease’ mean? Hehe! I do so amuse myself.

    The whole Y2K thing was like a storm in a tea cup from my perspective even back then. A lot of people working in IT made heaps of mad cash out of the story. Mr Greer has most certainly made that point about apocalypse stories, and I completely agree with him. It was amazing how often the theme occurred and then fell flat on its face. Was there some saying he quoted about it being a refusal to consider the future, or something along those lines? Not sure.

    🙂 Such stories on solar are like catnip to me. The lies told about the technology are so astounding from my perspective that it becomes a compulsion to suggest that the Emperor is wearing no clothes as often as I can be bothered saying it. You know what though, even then people don’t believe me. It is just so weird that story.

    Your road trip adventure sounds awesome. Thanks for the story. A couple of likely lads head off into the far wilderness (a.k.a. Canada) just to see what is there and have heaps of fun and many travails in the process. Good stuff and I would have loved to see that part of the world. Thanks for the condolences.

    Sorry to say that I’d sell your soul for a magic wand to get this stuff sorted. Is that a bad thing? Probably, and no doubt someone would sell my soul for some reason far worse in turn. Now that I think about, these magic wands sound like trouble, so let’s forget about it all and get on with the job at hand. Much easier and less eternal damnation, flies and stuff.

    That job in particular was very fiddly as I couldn’t just dig the whole strawberry garden bed up and the runners had to be removed one by one and assessed just to see whether they’d take in the cleared garden beds. And I am genuinely amazed at how prolific the plants are.

    Honestly I’m not sure about the grape vines and the strawberry combination in terms of shading. Strawberries are a forest plant and so the shade may actually assist berry production in January and February when it is crazy hot. The only thing I do know is that without either plant being grown inside a steel cage I will not get any fruit or berries. Some crops are like that.

    How cool are the windows. Can you believe someone was chucking out the top most pink window? Crazy stuff, our society is extraordinarily wasteful. The Edo-era book on Japan has a lot to say about that and by way of comparison, we don’t look so good. We produce very little waste here and everything that can be returned to the soil is, but our contributions are a drop in the ocean.

    Echium seems to be very snow hardy, but I’m not yet sure about the Gazania’s although one of my neighbours has a slope that is covered in them. Looks especially great in summer. Very cheery.



  5. Hi Inge,

    Nowadays you can’t open a window on a train or electric street tram and do that particular enjoyable trick, however like you when I was a kid all the windows and doors used to be able to be opened and the fresh air could be let in. To me the fresh air – no matter how hot – felt better than the stale air conditioning these days.

    Down here the trains in those days were still the old timber electric trains and for some reason they were painted red. Locals used to call them the: Red Rattlers: Four car Tait train at the Spring Vale Cemetery platform. The seats were comfy and the windows opened, although the breaks always smelled interesting and very distinctively when the trains were pulling up at the stations. By the late 70’s they’d been in operation for something like 60+ years. Not a bad effort. Many ended up on farms as sheds and the demand for the vehicles far outstripped supply.

    I hear you about looking into deep ravines, but I’m far more comfortable with those than with the view from tall buildings.

    Yes and thanks. Strawberries grow really well here, but everything eats strawberries thus the cage. They’re a nice early berry, mostly because they don’t have the sugars of the latter season berries and so don’t need the sun as much. Unfortunately I purchased a lot of different varieties and then chucked them all together and this is the outcome. There were hundreds and hundreds of plants that were removed that day and if you were local I would have donated as many as you wanted. Most of the crop here is turned into jam.

    The soil in the oldest part of the strawberry enclosure was superb and a rich black loam. Beautiful stuff and it will be interesting to see how the plants cope with the chipped up organic matter.



  6. Chris,

    Believe it or not, I neither read nor watched Fight Club. Although I do note that Palahniuk was born in the same tri-city metropolis where Al lives.

    Yes, Gaggle is indicative of locations, but no more. We use somewhat better software at work, but there are too many layers of unrelated data that are piled one atop another. I tell people that what they see with our online mapping is a representation and if they want accuracy, hire a licensed surveyor.

    Got a lot of work done outside the past several days. And now the rain is done, so the heat will follow. I’ll have to start watering everything very soon.

    Meanwhile, the Princess returned from her monthly trip to see her brother. Her cousin is in hospital with the dread virus. Double pneumonia, also. If things don’t improve this week, it’s ventilator time IF one is available. Yes, the hospitals in Yakima are beyond overwhelmed, as Yakima has been the hardest hit area on the Pacific Coast for many weeks.

    Working on a new carving, started it Saturday when 5 of us from the club met outdoors. I tool a small cube of basswood and rounded the sides, then carved a face in one side. Decided to carve out the innards to make it a tiny bowl with a face. One of our master carvers was there and tossed a couple wood chips from his project into my bowl and called them feathers…so, I will actually carve and wood burn some wood to be feathers that will fit in the bowl face, who has been dubbed “Feather Brained”.

    Good score on those windows. It doesn’t take much for a good greenhouse, and those should do the trick.

    That bus trip sounds awful…I rode a bus from Spokane to Chicago and back one year for Christmas vacation. It was quite “interesting” and sleep was hard to come by on the bus, so I know how you felt. your casino venture, however gave me a good long laugh when I read about your lack of mathematical aptitude but with a good grasp of statistics. That’s funny! But statistics is why I don’t gamble. Plus, it’s hard to drag me into a casino nowadays: too much noise and too many flashy light thingies.

    I used to play low stakes 21 occasionally, as I could understand the odds there, meaning that it is a way of losing your money slowly rather than quickly. We were at a powwow that had some blackjack games, so I was playing low stakes, strategy by the book, and watching my $20 slowly slip into somebody else’s pocket. Meanwhile, another gent at the same table was doing everything wrong and raking it in. Such are games of chance.

    I note that in cleaning up the strawberry cage, Ruby was removed from the cage also. And isn’t it interesting how dogs “help” with your chores? Dig where you don’t want a hole. Dig what just got planted. Chew on plants because it just needed to be chewed on. Etc…

    At least Plum was earning her keep by “guarding” Mulch Mountain.

    The flowers are looking good. Enjoyed especially the heath and echium photos.

    So it was +38C at Verkhoyansk the same day the temperature here was +19C? Whoa!


  7. Hi Chris,

    A belated but very happy winter solstice to you (and Damo, and anyone else reading this who is in the southern hemisphere)! And to those of us in the northern hemisphere, an equally belated and equally happy summer solstice!

    While I don’t need to cage strawberries or raspberries to enjoy a bountiful harvest, I do need to cage grapes and blueberries. The local birds are eating all of the latter two before they ripen. I need to put some thought into construction of a caged area to which I can move them, if I want to eat anything from them.

    I have found that mowing off the tops of the strawberry plants soon after they finish fruiting renews the plants. After the leaves are mowed off, the plants put their energy into growing new leaves rather than into making runners. I had another bountiful harvest this year from three or four year old crowns. Since you have two rows of plants in the enclosure, you could try mowing one row and not the other after they fruit the next time and see what effect that has on each row for the following year.

    I’m in agreement with your position on renewable energy: good stuff, but not good enough to provide anywhere near our current per-capita energy usage. Which means the first thing to do is to lower per-capita energy usage, which requires lowering expectations. Which is exactly the problem: who wants to lower expectations? Mike and I are sitting in an 82F / 28C living room as I type, with a breeze going through it to keep it that cool. We have yet to turn on the AC, and we aren’t even running a fan since we can open up windows and doors on all four sides of the house and get enough of a breeze going through to feel it. I can tell you how many other people are willing to lower their expectations even the minor amount it takes to do what we are doing: very few.

    Last week I harvested the potato onions and garlic. Yesterday I planted seeds of cucumbers, zucchini, sunflowers, zinnias, and a variety of soybean used for edamame where the alliums had been. The soil is warm and moist from previous rain, to give the seeds a good start. It’s supposed to rain this afternoon or evening as well.

    I am looking forward to seeing the pictures of your greenhouse as you and the editor construct it!


  8. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for sharing a bit of your past. While the trip was a bust I imagine that an important lesson was learned. Doug went on a trip with three buddies in an old school bus to the west coast at the age of 16. I still can’t believe his parents let him go. As it was in the late 1960’s it was quite the trip. I heard there was much hope that they would “get lucky” (free love and all that) but apparently no luck was had in that regard anyway. I think he had a much better time than you.

    I met for the first time in person with my book club that doesn’t read books (well a few). We met at my friend’s home and listened to a podcast which of course pushed th idea that solar will save us. At least the fact that individuals have to change their ways as well as pushing TPTB toward more systemic change was also emphasized (that’s been working well, hasn’t it). Anyway it’s a subject that I don’t push back much on anymore as for the most part that’s what the group believes. I do consider them friends and it’s not worth ruining friendships. Time will tell who’s right.

    I may have mentioned a few weeks ago that Leo had a reaction to his rabies vaccination. While he’s much better he’s not been the same since. Maybe it’s just a coincidence as he’s getting up there but he’s definitely lost some energy and even his over enthusiastic response to any food that comes his way.

    It continues to be dry here. Several times the forecast has included an inch of rain which hasn’t materialized including today. The township mowed the roadsides fairly recently so I’ve been collecting the grass for mulch. I used to have all I needed when there were goats and more chickens but not so anymore.

    Funny, Doug asked me if I planned to grow strawberries. Told him no. As you said birds love them and they have to be replaced regularly. As we don’t really eat much in the way of jams or jellies it just doesn’t make sense. Plus the whole lack of sunny areas near water.

    My aunt who does love being a Debbie Downer just sent many of us the personal list of the chief of Illinois Health of when she would feel safe partaking in certain activities during this time of that which won’t be mentioned. Included was visiting a parent over 65. She wouldn’t do it for a year. So I guess if you’re over 65 you shouldn’t have contact with anyone that you don’t live with in her eyes. Well my kids have broke that one and I’m fine with it.

    On that happy note, Happy Solstice to you and all the other readers.


  9. Yo, Chris – So, if I nick a pie, I get a free trip to Australia? Sounds like a win/win, situation. 🙂 . Although the travel accommodations might not be to my liking.

    “Fell of the back of a truck” can also mean, stolen. “Fell off the back of a turnip truck,” can mean a country bumpkin. (Not to be confused with pumpkins, which are round and orange.) When my Dad worked at the cookie factory, they had occasional sales, to the staff, of damaged cookies. So, if Dad got a hankering for, oh, say graham crackers, he’d call down to the warehouse and request a case of graham crackers, be “dropped off the fork lift.”

    Viewmaster! Hadn’t thought of those in awhile. They were made in Portland, Oregon, my home town. By Sawyer, company. But I can’t remember it being made a big deal of. Just another small local business, that kept small cities humming along, back in the day. Sawyer also expanded into slide cameras, and such.

    If you want to take a short interesting trip down a rabbit hole, Gargle “stereoscope” images. Then, “stereoscope card”, images. The most common stereoscope (wooden handle, wooden and wire slide) show up at auction, from time to time. Also, piles or albums of the cards. I feel a slight “pull” when they turn up. But, have successfully resisted the urge to collect. It’s one of those collecting areas where one could get into for very little money … in the beginning. Stereoscopes could be quit simple … or, very elaborate. Viewmasters also hit the auctions.

    Oh, I remember dropping film off, at the drugstore. Usually rolls of vacation pics. Then there was a wait (imagine! having to wait to see your pics!) and ceremonial occasion of seeing what turned out, and what didn’t. Maybe that’s why post cards were so popular in tourist gift shops. Hedge your bets … just in case …

    So, since I’ve got all this social credit, can I swap some of it? Hmm. maybe for a parrot? Though I suppose I should plump for something more useful. 🙁 . Ooooh. Maybe a box of gourmet pies!

    Don’t get me started on the general decline of deportment. Or, dress. Ratty wool jumpers, are exempt. Seems a shame to consign it to the dogs bed. You could have it archivally framed, and hang it on the wall. It’s fun (?) to look at old advertisements from the 1940s and 50s, for train and plane travel. People “dressed” to travel. It was an occasion.

    I was just banging on to someone, today, about how renewable energy would never be able to support the level of civilization, that we have today. If you keep saying it, and I keep saying it, and Mr. Lewis keeps banging on about it (etc.), maybe it will leak from way out here on the fringes, and into mainstream discourse?

    Speaking of heading off into the wilderness, I see the “Into the Wild” (book, movie) bus has been removed. They airlifted it out. It was just drawing too many tourists and the morbidly curious, who often got themselves in trouble. It hasn’t been decided, what to do with it, yet.

    Re: Magic wands. Given the current situation, perhaps Hogwarts School has gone on-line? Do you remember that Mickey Mouse cartoon, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice?” It was part of the “Fantasia”, film. But, it’s often run by itself. A cautionary tale of what can go wrong, if you fool with magic and not know what you’re doing. I remember “The Night on Bald Mountain” section of “Fantasia” scared the bejesus, out of me.

    LOL. You assume I haven’t traded off my soul, long ago. Given my current circumstances, I must have made a bad deal 🙂 .

    That’s quit an article about the temperature, in the arctic circle. Does not bode well, for our upcoming summer.

    Just for your edification, and, maybe amusement …

    I know you’re a fan of the big guy. “Atlantic Magazine”. The gift that keeps on giving. Lew

    PS: I kind of like “plague ridden hole.”

  10. Hi Lew,

    The internet also showed me the “Into the Wild” bus getting taken away, by a helicopter no less. I enjoyed the movie, and the book it was based on. He was a lost soul, and easy to mock, but he gave it a go (not exactly sure what it was he was giving a go to, but he tried it anyway!).

    Apparently the bus was not that far off the beaten track, he just more or less got trapped by the flooding river and ate something he shouldn’t have…


  11. Hi Claire,

    Happy summer solstice to you! 🙂

    The birds sure do have their favourites, and raspberries and blackberries for some reason are avoided by the birds. It might be the dense thorns on the raspberries and the sheer availability of blackberries elsewhere? But strawberries are a done deal as the parrots are onto them. The decision was made to construct a steel cage when the various fluffies had also decided that they enjoyed strawberries as much as the parrots did. Plus let’s not discuss the ticks and leeches that took up residence in the old strawberry patch – probably introduced by the wallabies and wombats feasting upon the forest berries.

    Yes, blueberries also grow well here, and my experience matches yours with the bird predation. It is feral out there!

    Mowing the tops off the strawberries is a fine idea and thank you for the excellent suggestion. Based on your earlier suggestions, this year I cleared 50% of the entire enclosure and then replanted the newer runners. I’m learning, so who knows how it will go? We’ll find out shortly!

    Respect. 🙂 Basically people lie to themselves, and pretend that it all somehow doesn’t matter or that nobody will notice, or they have exceptional circumstances which grants them magical rights over others. Good luck with that. It gets that hot inside the house over summer down here too, although most nights it cools down and then the cross breezes cool the building. The vast majority of the housing stock is not well considered enough that it will survive the demise of mechanical heating and cooling. Cross flow ventilation just works and has long been practiced, although it is certainly not as good as chilled out air conditioning. Adapt, adapt, adapt! What else can one but do?

    You’re having lovely growing conditions and it makes for pleasant reading when it is 4’C outside. Lovely stuff.

    Thank you and we’re going to have to consider how big to construct the greenhouse and what the proportions should be. The editor mentioned the other day that the original design may not be big enough, and we’ll also have to factor in aesthetics and the Golden Mean. Just because it is a practical shed does not mean that it should not also look beautiful.

    Respect for the work that you do. 🙂



  12. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks, and you betcha I learned a good lesson about asking hard questions about the finer details of arrangements. Some folks may feel that this makes for awkward conversations, but as a tolerant chap of some minor life experience it is hardly lost on me that problems are best nipped in the bud. Once they’re problems, well the initiative is lost, and then resignation sets in. 🙂

    Yeah, good luck with that aspiration, but you know it does nobody any harm to pit their charms against the realities and then discover how they may fare. 🙂 Doug clearly had a better road trip than I, but then honestly I was a bit out of sorts from the lack of sleep and so wasn’t the greatest boon companion on the road.

    Ordinarily I’m a fairly upbeat character, but back in those days I worked full time and then studied two nights a week at University. There were late nights at lectures when my eyes nodded off, and it was all I could do to stay awake and recall to take notes. My girlfriend at the time wanted to go clubbing on Thursday nights too and so I pretended to be able to dance away those nights to thumping dance beats. The drinks certainly helped on those nights, but after a year or two of that I was done in and had nothing more to give. She was surprised when I called it quits on the relationship and then sought a quieter companion, but you know, what do you do? I had no desire to burn out and it was a real risk.

    Books are beautiful things and worthy of care and attention. It ain’t just you, I speak with plenty of people who have high ideals – but then reality kicks them hard. I used to get discouraged by such matters, but now acceptance and good grace seems to be a useful response. Exactly, it is not worth pushing on the subject as you quite rightly point out, there is no upside to doing so. And what does it matter anyway, and yes you are right, time will sort the entire situation out and you won’t be in the automatic bad person role. There are times when it is wise to think like a sheep dog and just shepherd the flock and that is about the best you can achieve. If the flock wants to run off the cliff, well you did advise them against doing so. But then it is not possible to live the way most folks do and also then seriously examine the realities.

    How is your recycling organisation coping with the current state of affairs?

    I’m really sorry to hear that about Leo, and maybe time will sort it out. Scritchy is coming to the end of the road, but at 19 years she has had a very fine life.

    What a horror summer in relation to your weather forecasts – dry summers are never good things. The local council here has probably graded the dirt road twice in maybe a decade, so over mowing is clearly an activity that can be reduced in your part of the world. Grass clippings are valuable organic materials.

    Everything loves strawberries – it is what the old timers might have described as a maxim. I’d bet anything that Leo and Salve would also love sun ripened strawberries – if they could get to them before the birds do. 🙂 Only those that have experienced the unrelenting onslaught know what we are talking about.

    Well that is the thing isn’t it? Life is inherently risky and nobody provides any sort of guarantee. You just have to do the best you can and whilst folks are afraid of dying, they also have to remember to live. It is a really complicated and very risky situation.

    Happy solstice to you too.



  13. Hi Lewis,

    A fine choice on your part, although cabins with portals and ensuites might not necessarily be part of the picture. In fact if history serves as any guide, prison hulks used to be a thing before hapless folks were transported. So yeah, the accommodations might not be to your liking – or mine for that matter. Descriptions of bilge water sounded particularly unpleasant to me and a person would arrive at the end of their journey – far from fresh. Still from what I understand the English never lost a single transport ship to down under. Mind you the prisoners were often starved so that their provisions could be sold upon arrival.

    Stolen was definitely my understanding of how such black markets operated back in the day. There was another word you’d hear used for dodgy goods and that was ‘fenced’, although being very young I was not aware of the finer nuances of the word. Dropped off the fork lift sounds like a good scam back in the day. In Hobart there is a huge chocolate factory which you can visit as they do organised tours. At the end of the tour they dump you in a factory outlet shop, and it is a place full of chocolate seconds bargains. So much chocolate, so little time… Mind you, I rarely if ever consume chocolate. Lack of access more than anything else. You have an iron constitution with chocolate and dole it out in small but regular amounts. 😉

    Really? I had no idea they were made in your part of the world. The discs with all of the negatives were very expensive and so you’d only ever have a viewing device with a few discs. The quality was very good, from memory anyway. And yup, slide cameras were a thing too as they could project an image from a negative onto a wall.

    The Color lithograph’s were quite amazing: Stereo view card pictures. I assume that the stereocards are the same thing? The detail captured in the photos are really good given how old they are. It was interesting to note that collectors could identify what many of the depicted items were.

    Yeah, towards the end of the ‘wait’, the wait was reduced to an hour and was described as fast processing, but before those days it often took days from dropping the film off to getting the photos (and negatives) returned. The quality was usually pretty good, and one thing that I have noticed about digital photography is that there are a lot of misses for all of the hits. The camera on the phone is frankly not good compared to the SLR.

    I’d be happy to loan you a flock of parrots, but you might not like them! 🙂 Good luck and be careful what you wish for! Hehe! Gourmet pies are much nicer all things considered, and I would recommend the rabbit pie.

    Actually deportment has two descriptions: Over here it refers to general presentation, but as well as that, in your country it refers to manners. What a hornets nest of a conversation swallowing beast that topic is! Next we might begin discussing the relative merits of punctuality. I have friends who demand on being spontaneous, and as a result, we rarely catch up. They believe I’m uptight about such things and should just chill out, they use spontaneity as an excuse to not do very much. And all the while life speeds onwards… Some folks thing that when I’m working at a clients I can just stop and have a yak on the phone because it is convenient with them. Not so.

    Thanks for the exemption of ratty wool jumpers. The two pups have done their utmost to obtain that jumper for their own selfish reasons, and one one of the sleeves my hand can extend through at a point where it should not do so. Hmm.

    Well that is the thing, back in the day when I was a kid only the jetset could actually travel, and I was not a part of that story. We never really travelled much as a kid and that was probably as much due to economics as to the social circumstances. It was no great loss, but plenty of folks are mourning the lack of travel right now. I always wonder the horrid question: What if there is no toilet?

    Toilets are getting shut down, and in the big smoke the other day there was a natty official sign suggesting that it was a bad idea to use the public toilets. What did they expect me to do? I guess there were some very large and old elm trees next to the kiddies playground which could use the minerals. Can you imagine the drama that that would create? I think there is a bit of cost cutting going on on that front. I read an account of the streets of London and please correct me if I’m wrong there was only 1 toilet per 12,000 persons. That is one dirty loo.

    It is possible that the discussion of the realities of renewable energy will leak from the fringes to the mainstream. But then the wanton shut down of large scale generators without replacing them due to resource, pollution and ideological concerns is most certainly going to cause some problems that might not be easily worked around. Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve lost til it’s gone…

    Well there you go, I have never heard of the film. Education these days… What are your thoughts about the film, and most importantly should it be on the ‘to-see’ list?

    I recall being dragged to the drive in cinema to watch Fantasia, but I don’t recall fond feelings about the film either.

    Hey, De’il might have had only a few souls to deal with and you looked pretty good by way of comparison? 🙂

    No it’s not good about the temperature, and I saw an article about dust storms arising in the middle east and reaching your country. Sort of like the smoke from the fires here during January.

    Thanks for the link, the article was as poetic as the story itself.

    Hehe! My friend informs me that the draw bridges at a certain road should be raised.



  14. Hi DJ,

    Yup, I was aware that the author was raised and lived around your part of the world. The story is good and I recommend it. The film was excellent too and I seriously doubt whether it’s like would be made nowadays.

    What do they say about the map not being the territory? Gaggle is indicative around here, and seriously the road I live on is shown as a loop road when there ain’t no such thing. The road used to continue as an old Cobb and Co coach road over the mountain, but it has been long since terminated at one end. Interestingly, you can still see the remnants of the track leading up the mountain, but can you imagine stage coaches travelling in the mud over winter?

    Your advice is sound, and where accuracy is required, accuracy is called for. 😉

    Had to work late tonight, so unfortunately I have less time to chat. Bummer. You’ve been lucky that the rain has been fairly good this growing season. Things could be worse.

    Sorry to hear about your wife’s cousin’s bout of the dread disease. Mate, I’m not going to talk it up or down, that is apparently viral pneumonia which is different beast from bacterial pneumonia. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

    What a great name! Haven’t we all felt like that from time to time? It is funny when and where inspiration strikes, and hope the carving ends up looking great.

    Thanks about the windows, and scrounging it’s been said is a practiced art form.

    Yes, who would have thought buses could be so uncomfortable, and your trip sounded far more epic than my own. How many days did that trip take? Oh my, that’s 2,840km. Can’t do that in a day that’s for sure!!! Did you have fun when you got to Chicago? Gee, you travelled across some interesting parts of your country. I hear you about the noise and flashing lights, it is mildly disconcerting, but candidly I’ve never been able to shake off the creepy feelings I get whenever I set foot in such a building.

    Ah, low stakes poker. Well, that is card games pure and simple and if the stakes are not high then it is sheer entertainment. Card games used to be more common when I was a kid if only because a pack of cards were easy to carry around. When I was a kid they used to play: Snap. It was apparently a fixture of The Goon show.

    Well Ruby had to be cleaned out of the cage. The first I noticed the chomp was when I discovered grape leaves on the ground, and thought to myself: They shouldn’t be there…

    Plum is the better behaved of the two, but I suspect Ruby will be the next boss dog – and sooner than you may all expect. Scritchy is not well.

    Thanks! The Echium are really hardy plants, and some of their relatives have a poor reputation, but these ones don’t seem too troublesome to me, and the bees love the flowers. The swarming around the flowers in high summer is clearly audible. The alpine heath is a local plant and has a very long flowering season. Actually, the local plants are fairly smart as many of them flower at this time of year, thus avoiding the unpleasant summers. Mind you, plenty of them flower over summer too and the smell of honey can sometimes hang in the air when the Eucalyptus trees flower.



  15. Hi Chris,
    The organization is taking quite a financial hit along with all other non profits. My friend, the Exec. Director of the Land Conservancy said she expects donations will be down 50% though a lot of their funding is through grants.

    The recycling organization (not the same as the Land Conservancy) doesn’t do all that much anymore as the municipalities and county has taken much of that over. We will have a drive in July along with a couple others this year. They have sites where people can drop off styrofoam and have been overwhelmed as they only recently reopened. I’m not even sure they have anywhere to send it.

    Leo’s doing OK but just doesn’t have the same pep and it changed rather suddenly. You can’t go in with your pet now at the vet rather one waits in the car and one of the assistants comes out to get the pet and return when finished.


  16. @ Damo – I saw the helicopter footage. Awesome.

    If Candless had had a decent map, he’d have known that there was a cable car, across the flooded river, not to many miles away. Also, a cabin stocked with supplies.

    Some people shouldn’t go out in the woods … or the bush, by themselves. Lew

  17. Yo, Chris – No ensuite? I demand to see the Captain! 🙂 .

    As part of my health regime, I have two small squares of dark chocolate, daily. Something well north of 70% cocoa. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    The Viewmasters were pretty indestructible. The early ones were almost solid chunks of bakelite, with few moving parts. Yup, the viewers didn’t cost much, but the reels …

    That was an interesting collection of stereo view cards. The one titled “Evolution of the sickle and flail”? That’s from over DJ’s way. I think my favorite is, “Gossip: At every sip, a reputation dies.” You probably gather that some of them were a bit “naughty.” A bit risque. One could put together an album. “The History of Victorian Ladies Undergarments.” 🙂 . I find the one’s of old Japan, fascinating. I think, like Currier and Ives prints, the cards passed for what was mass media, “back in the day.” A treasure trove for social historians. Ebay currently has 700+ viewers and 2,000+ cards, on offer.

    I have no idea how many loos, per capita, London has (had?). We have a public loo, down on our main floor. Closed for the duration. Ladies who are afraid of being “caught short” dare not venture out of their apartments. I have no idea what our poor postie is doing.

    Three more cases in our county, yesterday. 2 in their 20s. One of our county counselors, in his infinite wisdom, stated that people were coming over Highway 12 to access our “services.” Unspecified. As Yakima is locked down tighter than we are. So, I guess we need to blockade Highway 12. Or, maybe blow out a section. Of course, early on I stated that maybe we should blockade the off ramps, from Interstate 5.

    “They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot.” Thought you’d slip an ear worm, past me? 🙂 .

    Can I recommend the film? Hmmm. Given your low tolerance for sheer stupidity, probably, not. It would drive you bonkers.

    It was 82F (27.77C) yesterday. Supposed to be warmer, today.

    It’s all about the soil.

    I think they should have gave the money, to you. Lew

  18. PS: We do not have Gazania. But, one of the Master Gardeners said she grows it. We DO have Echium. But, it’s a miniature variety. But it IS blue! 🙂 .

    We also have a plant called Mullein. So does Australia. Anywhere English colonists went, they took it along, as, it was such a useful medicinal. Our Native Americans incorporated it into their medicine chest. I mention the plant, because one of it’s alternative names is “Cowboy Toilet Paper.” 🙂 . So, I’ll never worry again about another toilet paper famine. Lew

  19. Hi, Chris!

    I still have a package of Y2K napkins not used at a Y2K party.

    Oh, Chris! You are so funny, and your life has been so funny, though I know none of it was at the time, but it surely makes for fun reading. And how you tied Chris’ Barmy Bus Trip to 100% renewables was sheer genius.

    Will get back to you later.


  20. Hi Margaret,

    Yes, a lot of organisations are taking a hit right now, and my gut feeling from the view on the street is that on average things are down to about 60% roughly on where they used to be. The thing is, peoples’ costs and probably more technically their entire cost base is based on a higher income. We’re in very strange waters nowadays and who knows how it will turn out.

    The recycling story has just evaporated down here. I wonder about it, you wonder about it, and that’s further than most people get… Is it just me or do hate the dry feeling and scratchy sounds that Styrofoam makes? I’ve noticed that the stuff appears to be used in peoples concrete foundations in their houses, and I’m dubious about that as the stuff compresses readily.

    Good to hear that Leo is struggling on. On such news Scritchy is not good, her body is OK, but at 19 years of age she has lost the plot. I’ve never been faced with that decision before. It is hard.



  21. Hi Lewis,

    Can you imagine being unceremoniously chucked onto a prison hulk or transport ship way back in the day, and then demanding to ‘see the Captain’ to redress some minor matter relating to personal comfort? Oh no, the response would be rapid, possibly decisive and rather painful.

    I have some vague memory of an English prisoner way back in the day who was reasonably well to do, and his accommodation reflected his ability to pay. But for the life me, I can’t recall who it was. It probably wasn’t a debtors’ prison given that the bloke retained the ability to pay. You wouldn’t have wanted to have been in one of those places.

    Your chocolate is a fine story, and a fine choice of chocolate. A rich taste too. Yum! There are specialist high end chocolate shops down here, they may use a French sounding word to describe the trade: Chocolatier. The chocolate is good and at one workplace I used to keep the troops happy by buying the stuff on the company coin and letting them go wild like a bunch of marauding zombies clamouring for brains. Actually they were a bit more orderly than that, maybe. Gotta be some benefits to having all that responsibility.

    The Viewfinders did seem pretty indestructible. Very sturdy design. What is Bakelite? There were a few references to the material, some sort of plastic I presume? Ah, it was the first plastic made from synthetic components.

    My eyes fell onto that particular gossip card as well, and the comment was very pithy, and possibly true although we cannot test the veracity of the claim! Those ones were a bit naughty weren’t they? Just a touch of flesh, hmm. It amazes me that as soon as there is a medium available for capturing images, someone else comes along and says: Hey, I’ve got this great idea… 🙂 Mr Greer has remarked before that that particular use made the early interweb economically viable.

    The images from old Japan were quite striking as a contrast, and the faces of the people in the images were anything but demure. In fact the contrast to me was that the Western folks back in the day never cracked a smile and they all appeared to be rather serious looking bunch of ladies and gentlemen. Surely they couldn’t have all been so dour in their outlooks on life? Surely their passions were not so serious that they didn’t take time out to muck around? You may think that we work hard, but sometimes we do very frivolous activities just for enjoyments sake.

    None other than the most august institution, the BBC, tackled the toilet issue: Coronavirus: Toilet fears hamper high street return for some. I see strong words such as ‘human rights and human needs’ being chucked around in the article. And I do wonder whether the young ladies confession as to her condition will affect her dating prospects? A very brave public admission that one and the lady has a very earnest expression on her face. The gut is not to be messed around and trifled with, although many people are careless in that regard. Sometimes there is no going back to where they started. I read somewhere a while back that over half the population has health issues in relation to their guts. That is otherwise known as a warning sign for our cultures relationship to food.

    The editor tells me that the local supermarket may begin carding people, although I succumbed to reality months back and just maintain the regularity of visits to the business. I’ve heard a few people suggest that the toilet paper mania has taken off again. Not sure how you feel about it, but mania is a good choice to describe the activity.

    Big yellow taxi! 🙂 At school the teachers used to get us to sing that song. Some of the students may even have used recorders (as in the musical instruments, to produce accompanying err, possibly music) as we sang. Good fun.

    Thank you for your honesty, as the ending intrigued me. It raised questions like: Why? You picked my reaction to the letter. I wouldn’t head into such an area lightly and without being aware of what was around me.

    Hehe! Thanks, and I’d put the money to good use. The bloke sounds alright, and the article was enjoyable. And all those things he mentioned just work, although the more you put back into the soil, the less economic return there is. The final sentence of the article was very telling, but then the distance between producer and consumer is such nowadays (and the article touched upon that) that people don’t wish to pay higher prices for basic food items.

    I’ve long since wondered about the road of activism and/or education. At the core of the dilemma for me is that if certain options, such as building top soil by sheer necessity, were self-evident, then we’d being pursuing the option on a society wide basis and nobody would need to agitate for the option. Such systems that evolve to address those sorts of problems are often quite elegant like the system used in Edo-era Japan where the farmers purchased human manure from the city folks for use as a fertiliser, and it is frankly a very sensible system. The book further went on to suggest that groups that ate better and more diverse diets were paid higher for their manure. We get our manure into the top soil here via the worm farm.



  22. Hi Pam,

    Hehe! 🙂 Hey, given the craziness around toilet paper purchasing, those Y2K napkins could come in handy. Just sayin… Hehe! They may even become valuable?

    Thanks, and from hindsight, the two housemates not involved in the trip may have had the right of the matter regarding the trip. It wasn’t fun at all, but then it was a learning experience. 😉

    It was actually a lot of fun to write the story and link all the ideas together, so it is nice to receive your feedback. Thank you and glad to entertain you.



  23. Hi Folks
    I Think the Editor would have Been one of the people in the 17 100s who stirred the Chamber pot just before flinging the contents on her favorite chosen victim 😂😂

    I must now start a new branch of the cult of the “left over pizza. “
    Al’ s “:micro wave AND oven broiler pizza restoration”
    Details latter.
    I must oven bake about 24 peeled, sliced, wedge cut. Fuji Apples first.

    Cheers Al

  24. Hello again
    What does ‘carding people’ mean?
    It is 84F outside and 82F inside. At least I have a breeze coming in the window onto me.


  25. Chris,

    I see that Lew mentioned that wonderful plant, mullein. I’ve tried mullein tea during some severe allergy-sinus episodes. It gave some relief, but I actually find that chamomile does a bit better. Inhaling voluminous amounts of steam works best.

    Gaggle maps and GPS for phones/cars…A retired coworker, who has family in Goldendale, Washington and visits there often, got a new GPS for his car when they were first coming out. So, he tried it. It took him on this road which narrowed, became gravel , then unimproved dirt, then just a couple tracks in the grass through the trees. Knowing the area, he slowed way down and knew when to stop: Goldendale is at a lower elevation than he was, and the “road” ended at a cliff with no guardrail. It continued below from the base of the cliff. Gaggle satellite didn’t notice the elevation change and the “road” continued on GPS as a continuous line.

    Hot yesterday, like about +32C. Drizzle overnight, hot again until Saturday. The drizzle meant that the clouds started forming late afternoon, so it didn’t cool down overnight.

    Thanks about the cousin. When/if we know more I’ll mention it. I’m not terribly optimistic. I think Lew has the right idea for his area: destroy the highways between him and Yakima, Portland and Seattle, especially anything connecting to the east side.

    Gotta go into the office today. The Big Boss called a meeting, so it’ll be MC and the Techs. I have a total lack of enthusiasm to go there in light of our area going exponential regarding that which shall not be named. Some kind of meeting to set up training of my jobs for the junior techs.

    If scrounging is a practiced art form, methinks you have become a master artist. Ya know, like the character Red from Shawshank Redemption, the man who knew how to get things. It is a good skill to have.

    The Chicago bus trip? About 36 hours one way. Left here about 11:00 pm, sunrise near Butte, Montana, well, it got less dark as the first 18 hours was in steadily falling snow. Then all of North Dakota was at night. Had a very good travelling companion that boarded in Missoula, Montana, which made the trip enjoyable.

    Casinos, ugh. Yes, I pick up on the creepy feelings at those places, too. There are many better places to be, in my opinion.

    Snap? I remember that game. As kids we played a simplified version called “Slapjack”. The game could border on violence when it got too competitive, but we had a lot of fun with it. My parents would occasionally join in. My sister and I always liked letting dad slap the jack first and then play whack-a-mole on his hand. He wasn’t so amused.

    Interesting that you mention Plum is better behaved, but Ruby will be the next boss dog. I noticed that growing up, and still see it: the well behaved people do not become the leaders. Rather, the leaders were often the jerks and troublemakers as children.

    Alpine heath plus eucalyptus fragrance sounds enchanting. I like some of our fragrant blooms here. The mock orange is at peak bloom right now. The flowers smell like oranges. I prefer these to roses for the aroma, and I like roses. This year the entire yard has smelled of orange when the wind was just right. I cut a few and brought them into the house and placed in water. We used to have entire hillsides covered with these, but a few wildfires and a lot of development, well, you know.

    Gotta get ready for my first visit to the office in over 3 months…


  26. Yo, Chris – We were talking about Roman obligations and oaths. Check out this fellow.

    Who you had to reckon with, if you broke an oath. The Romans didn’t say, “There’s an ap, for that.” They often said, “There’s a god (or goddess) for that.” 🙂 .

    It was 88F (31.11C), yesterday. Supposed to be cooler, today. Maybe some rain tonight. And, with all that out of the way, to your epistle.

    Oliver Twist: “Please, sir, I want some more!” Didn’t get him very far. Whiny child. Oh, it was pretty standard practice, in prisons, if you (or your friends and relatives) paid a bit, you could get better digs, food. Lighter chains. Even a bit of “company”, delivered to your cell door. 🙂 .

    I did a survey (highly technical and scientific … generally, poking around on the net) and discovered a lot of the chocolate that claims to be “dark” is usually around 45% cocoa. For maximum good health effect, it should be north of 70%. As a rule of thumb, the companies that proudly emblazon the high percentages on the package, are the way to go. On sale, the high octane stuff isn’t much more expensive than the low octane. I stock up, when it’s on sale. I usually have a dozen or so bars, stacked discretely in a corner of the fridge. One bar lasts 5 days.

    Bakelite was the most popular chemical plastic, but there were others. Radios with Bakelite cases, are quit collectible. The Editor might enjoy taking a look at the Bakelite jewelry on EBay.

    What is politely called the “Adult Entertainment Industry” drives technology. This became apparent to a lot of people when VHS superseded BETA.

    Poor Mr. Martin! What a conversation stopper that must be when someone asks him what he does. “I’m the managing director of the British Toilet Association.” Well, being a mild sufferer of paruresis and parcopresis, I can sympathize. Of course, I just call it by it’s highly scientific and technical term, OMB. (Old Man’s Bladder.) But, it is one of the fringe benefits of aging. When caught in a completely boring conversation (the kind that make you want to keel over in a stupor), I just claim OMB and make a graceful exit.

    I meant to mention that I can see Mulch Mountain, from outer space. Yup. There is is on Gargle Earth. 🙂 . It’s good the hounds guard it. The evil neighbor may try and filch some of it, in the dark of night. Maybe toothy traps are called for?

    You just keep clinging to your belief that cold pizza is a bad thing. That’s ok. Just means more for the rest of us.

    Our State Governor made a proclamation, yesterday. All people are to wear masks, in public. Not a bad thing, I think, but the administration here at the Institution is positively smirky. I don’t think that wearing masks is a bad thing. But, I’m sure there will be plenty of push back. Maybe firing squads will be involved? Lew

    PS: I have FOUR items, in transit, in the library system. Will Tuesday ever get here?

  27. Hi Chris,

    I won’t say you are wrong about cold pizza, but well, there is a distinct lack of rightness in your opinion!

    I see you cheeky Victorians have gone ahead and got re-infected with Covid. Toilet paper panic stations in some suburbs again. Is this a preview of the much feared second wave that will hit everyone? All I know, a compulsory 14 day hotel stay courtesy of our lovely government is in my very near future 🙁


  28. Hi Lew,

    Candless was woefully under-prepared wasn’t he? But then, I am a bit of a romantic and reflect on the lovely story we got out of his mis-adventures. Not many people can say they made an impact, and he certainly did.

    Started watching a new show the other day, “The Rookie”, staring Nathan Fillian (of Firefly and Castle fame). About a 40 year old divorcee who decides to join the LAPD due to mid-life crisis. Treads the line between drama/comedy and light-weight entertainment and weighty morality plays. In a strange way, it reminds me of The Next Generation (basically good people working together to solve tricky conundrums and mysteries).


  29. Hi Inge,

    ‘Carding’ in this context means requesting ID to prove that you are a local. The supermarket issues store cards to regular customers, and they record each purchase that you make. I have no doubt they data mine the information, but this is the world I live in. What do you do, I avoid such store / loyalty cards and usually give the reason that I don’t want the advertising, but without the cards for that store, you were stopped from entering and buying stuff.

    82’F inside is quite warm. Did you have a warm overnight temperature? Or has it been warm for many days in a row? For it to get to that temperature inside the house here you have to have three days in a row over 100’F – and no overnight relief of cooler air.

    Outside it is cold and wet.



  30. Hi Al,

    I cannot confirm or deny your supposition. 😉

    Not a fan of reheated and/or cold pizza, but mate the masses have ruled and produced a verdict, and it ain’t in my favour. What do you do?

    Ah, that’s what you do: enjoy the baked apple.



  31. Hi Lewis,

    Hey, the Uther book turned up in the mail this morning and so I may get onto reading that weighty tome / door stop next after first completing ‘Just Enough’.

    Hairy bearded giants in the Roman times probably had origins from where your folks derived from? Although there were probably more than a few of them up my ancestors way too. I also see that Orcus sort of provided the word Orc which Tolkien used to describe the evil grunt warrior race, although the author, and nay Professors, own words appear to dispute that origin. I was left confused by the quotes in the link and was wondering whether this was an example of obfuscation?

    Makes you wonder if Orcus provided meaty ideas for the Christians version of Hades? I can’t see why not, and breaking oaths is probably about on par with breaking rules. The Romans could rely on scores being settled in the after-life, but as you once may have quipped after a 1,000 years is the concern so great that old scores still need settling? The concept of eternal damnation seems a bit of an extreme over reaction.

    Really? I read that historical observation about the old English goals many years ago and appreciate you confirming the vague memory. The brain is not the sharp tool that it once was, and as new stuff gets pushed into the thing, other chunks fall out. Who knows where the old information stored in the grey matter goes, but it might as well have fallen behind the couch given the difficulty of accessing the lost bits. 🙂

    Very wise, and the chocolate makers make the same claims down here when the cocoa levels are right up there. You’ve inspired me to experiment with such a rich chocolate when the opportunity next presents itself.

    Actually the editor isn’t into jewellery, dunno why and never thought to ask. It is of interest to me that many of the plastics currently in use were developed in the late 19th and early 20th century and then innovation seems to have slowed somewhat as I guess production processes and problems such as toxic additives were adjusted.

    Ah, well there you go I had no idea that that story played out in the VHS versus Beta standard show down. I’ve often wondered whether the take up of compressed digital movie and audio formats were driven in part by piracy. Probably? What do you reckon? It is a bit hard to do that trick with actual vinyl records…

    Like your style. I can just imagine that you’re not that blunt and instead employ a bit of diplomacy skills. So, there you are having a conversation that you desperately want to extricate yourself from, when you blurt out: Do you happen to know where the toilets are, old chap? 😉 Hehe!

    The Gaagle Urth images are regularly updated and it is amazing what can be seen. I’ll use that image to draw the rough outline of the map. Not too high tech, but accuracy is not required in this instance.

    I doubt very much whether the aggrieved neighbour will take any of it. It’s not like a I didn’t offer him some, and if he’d been less of a prat that day, I would have helped him. But no, he just wanted to whinge whilst in a high state of emotion and may have said something about such an option not being convenient. If the shoe was on the other foot, I would have hauled the stuff away, given a hand moving some for them, and then everyone would have been happy. Everyone is different I guess, but his response was hardly useful.

    The editor is on your side in this important matter of cold or reheated pizza’s. The article did explain why some foods taste better the next day. Some stews are like that. And some ferments like the imitation KFC three bean salad taste better the next day after 24 hours of fermentation.

    Go your library system! Any sign of Alaric at the gates of the Chehalis library?

    I had to get Scritchy the boss dog put down this morning. She went peacefully and her physical and mental health had been declining for a fair while. Vale little Scritchy mate. We planted a white flowering cherry-tree over her grave. Tragedy walks as always among us.



  32. Hi Damo,

    Mate, the tide of public opinion is not in my favour and yeah I freely admit that mine is not a cold / reheated pizza slice choice that most people would make. What can I say, I have good taste? 🙂

    Yes, it is crazy down here. It makes a great smoke screen for the recent not-a-good-look branch stacking allegations leveled at the party that forms the majority in the state government. Not nice words were chucked around such as: ‘industrial scale’ although I have no idea what they are talking about…

    Please do enjoy your hotel stay and before you go write a note to yourself and Mrs Damo: Get a new laptop. How else are you going to last the distance? And take it easy on yourselves during and especially after the quarantine. It would be a bit of a shock.



  33. Hello again
    I trust that Scritchy is happy in dog heaven.
    We don’t have carding (so far) thank goodness.
    Today it is 86F outside and 83F indoors; it has not been cooling much at night. There are thunderstorms predicted for tonight but they may not reach sufficiently far south. No breeze at all at the moment.
    My erstwhile worker has just done some work for me. I can tempt him with a job that can be done sitting on a machine; he has many machines. I don’t understand the male passion for being on a machine.


  34. Hi Chris,

    My condolences regarding Scritchy. She had a long and excellent life thanks to you and the editor and to her packmates over the years. May she enjoy taking on the boss dog role again in the otherworld.


  35. Chris,

    I think the reply I made yesterday got lost in the ethernet or somewhere. (:

    Anyhow, a gent I know was travelling to a regular (for him) travel spot many years back and decided to try out the new GPS device in his car. It took him off the main roads, onto a smaller paved road, which turned to gravel, then unimproved dirt, then a track through the weeds and trees. He did NOT, however, drive over the upcoming cliff, although GPS was urging him to continue forward. The “road” continued onward from the base of the cliff. At least he was smarter than the average bear and stopped.

    Meanwhile, the main street near us was torn up for installation of new water lines several years ago. There were barriers and “Road Closed” signs all over the place. A typical evening’s entertainment was to sit on the front porch and watch drivers peering at their GPS, looking at the signs and barriers, move a barrier, drive into the hole and get stuck in the sand, then need to get pulled out by a tow truck. These people were NOT smarter than the average bear.

    The Chicago bus ride was about 36 hours one way. The trip to Chicago was fun, as a female student boarded the bus in Missoula, Montana and shared a seat with me until Chicago. Her stories were hugely entertaining and we had some common academic interests. Unfortunately, I had no such fun company on the return trip, so spent much of that reading, staring out the window and actually sleeping. Yes, sleeping, as the night before I left Chicago, my friends had an all night party then took me to the bus station.

    And yes, Chicago was fun. I had met several people from the area at some event once. One guy let me stay at his home about 45 minutes via commuter train from Chicago proper. I spent a fair amount of time roaming Chicago, visiting a few people I knew at their jobs. And, downtown Chicago is the only place I’ve ever gotten lost! I’ve never gotten lost in the forests and mountains, nor in other large cities I’ve visited, but with skyscrapers, heavy clouds and snow, on one occasion I felt like I was underground and I got totally turned around. I found a cab and had him take me back to someplace I knew.

    When we were children, we played a simplified version of Snap called Slapjack. Occasionally our parents would join in. My sister and I would let dad slap the jack first so that we could slap his hand. We were amused. He wasn’t.

    Something I noticed when growing up was that the leaders in our peer group were rarely the smartest or the best behaved, but were often those who misbehaved the most but were the popular kids. As those are the type that test limits the most, that often seems to occur with many different animals. Although I could be operating from a limited data set.

    The honey smell you describe sounds enchanting. Our mock orange plant just peaked for the year. For some reason, the breeze for a few days was very light and from the northwest, which is rare. This had the welcome effect of blowing the orange fragrance toward the house and throughout the yard.


  36. Yo, Chris – Let me know when you launch “Urther”, and I’ll pick mine up, again. Right now I’m wading through one of the Great Courses DVD series of lectures. “Food: A Cultural Culinary History.” Great stuff.

    I think the Romans thought up their hairy bearded giants, all on their own. 🙂 . Hmmm. Interesting how most cultures have hairy bearded giants, somewhere in their folklore. Think of David and Goliath. Gotta keep up on your conspiracy theories. There’s a whole branch of pseudoarchaeology involving giants walking the earth. The Smithsonian museum in Washington, DC has giant skeletons hidden in their collection, because they don’t match the “official” archaeology party line. Don’t ya know. 🙂 . But, if you really want to check out the latest conspiracy theory … well, we’re coming up on our 4th of July. Fireworks time. Gargle “Fireworks, conspiracy theory.” There may not be giants among us, but there are plenty of whack jobs.

    “A hundred years from now, we’ll never know the difference.” Mom used to say that, and she probably lifted it from somewhere. Chunks in, chunks out. Heck, a week from now, I’ll probably not know the difference.

    On sale, I can usually find the high octane chocolate bars for $1.60-$2.00. As I mentioned, I keep them in the fridge, so they don’t get all melty. I break each square into four pieces, and they last longer that way. Might contribute to why I can limit myself to two squares a day. Can you? 🙂 . Will you take the chocolate challenge?

    Given The Editor’s Very Cool Shoes (not to be confused with Steve Martin’s “Cruel Shoes” sketch), I thought she’d maybe be partial to the Bakelite jewelry. Some of it is very Art Deco looking. Some is just whimsical, as in the bracelet I saw that looked exactly like clusters of cherries.

    LOL. I am that blunt. Usually, I say “Gotta go. OMB.” I wait for that puzzled look, and then hit them with, “Old Man’s Bladder.” It’s all in the timing.

    I was going to mention that when you do the map, to be sure and include the pet cemetery. And, I wasn’t being flip. No smiley face. To remind me to give a thought to the residents, from time to time. And then the news about Skritchy. I am so sorry at the news. But I understand, it was time. The last of the Old Guard.

    The only “Alaric the Goth” the library has, so far, is all 1’s and 0’s. Not my cup of tea, at all. If they don’t come to their senses, I’ll interlibrary loan it. On the form, there’s a comment box. They’ll get an ear full.

    Reading over your shoulder, to Damo, what is “branch stacking?” Sounds like something the Tree Dudes, do. But I have a feeling it has something to do with government?

    We had three more cases, in our county. 26 of the American states recorded the highest number of cases, in one day. Our State governor announced that starting tomorrow, no one should go out in public without a mask. The push back is gearing up.

    I always thought rather highly of our county sheriff. But, yesterday, he made a statement that he’s not wearing a mask, and won’t enforce the order. I’m beginning to feel like the government (and, the people) are just going to let this thing run rampant, until it burns itself out. I’m thinking of doing another two week stay in. Other than a trip to the library 🙂 . Which sounds like they’re putting a pretty stringent no contact exchange, in place. But do I have 42 rolls of toilet paper? 🙂 .

    I made 4 1/2 dozen peanut butter cookies, last night. This batch were just about perfect, I think. I’ll run them past Eleanor, to see what she thinks. Lew

  37. Hi Chris,
    Very sorry to read about Scritchy but then she had a long, good life. So now Ollie is top dog, hmmm.

    In breaking news here our daughter and fiance have come to their senses and have decided to have their wedding here as we offered (though we may have lost our senses offering). It won’t be till next summer. It will cost way less and there’s flexibility regarding whatever state we are in due to that which is not to be mentioned. They figured that you can’t have a gathering of more than 50 until their is a vaccine or reliable treatment and that’s not likely for awhile.

    Still pretty dry here though we did get .6 inch of rain the other day. Had some beautiful days but starting tomorrow the heat and humidity returns. I’ll try to send some your way.


    PS Cold pizza is fine except for one with a gluten free crust which is what I need. They are just soggy the 2nd day either cold or reheated. We found a cauliflower crust pizza that Doug doctors up which we really like. He actually cooks it on the grill.

  38. Chris:

    I am so sorry to hear about Scritchy; another hard duty performed. I will always remember her fondly, most likely in the beanbag.


  39. Chris,

    I just saw the news about Scritchy. Condolences. These things are always hard. I know you’ll prepare a proper tribute to her on the farm.


  40. @ Lew,

    Our libraries recently “opened” to curbside pick up. I already had something we ordered long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away become available. If your library does something similar to what the City library did, there will be NO contact and no chance for contact. I also dropped something off at a County library and watched their pick up system. Also very free from contact. May your library be just as good.


  41. Chris:

    So sorry about Scritchy . I liked that picture of you and her on your lap sitting in the low cg lawn mower. your little girl!


  42. Hi Inge,

    Thank you for your kind thoughts, and where ever Scritchy happens to be right now, I hope that she is bossing around other canine spirits. She’d like that. I miss her feisty little spirit.

    Being on an island you have a natural advantage, which carries with it some risks. The thing is, the story goes that back when panic buying was a thing, people from the outer suburbs were descending upon the local supermarket and it is not set up to cater for such demand. So the supermarket instituted a locals only policy, thus the card.

    Out of curiosity, I assume that the summer holiday makers have not descended on your island this summer? That happened with the tourists here, and when they did eventually turn up it was quite the shock as I’d become adjusted to how quiet it is up here.

    Ah, yes if the weather does not cool at night then the materials used in the construction of your house, don’t get the chance to cool down. In really hot climates, light weight buildings with cross ventilation and very little thermal mass tend to work better, although our culture has an unfortunate preference for brick buildings due to fears of fire. In very cold climates, unless the thermal mass is heated constantly, it reverts to the average temperature – and that is usually very cold.

    As to male passions in that regard, I can’t make any sensible observations. Most of the work here is performed with human labour, although I do hang off small machines and direct them – but it is really hard physical work directing a machine like say the 18 horsepower stump grinder. The machine kicks and bucks, but it can do work that I have done for enough years using an axe. And so the job gets done faster, with less wear and tear on my shoulders, but it is still not easy. The only machine that I can sit upon is the low centre of gravity mower, and even then because of the slope of the land you have to constantly be moving around in the seat. Machines introduce risks to the operators.

    The editor and I have been discussing whether we should breed from the two sheep dogs. You have swayed my thinking in this regard. How does your son ensure that his dogs do not inbreed?



  43. Hi Claire,

    Thank you for your kind words. Scritchy will be much missed here, and the Fluffy collective is now bereft of its rudder. Ollie decided that he wanted to consume his dinner in Scritchy’s usual spot, but then Ruby did the same at breakfast time.

    19 years is such a good innings for a dog, and up until her final weeks she was a sprightly and feisty little character. No doubt things will be as you suggest and right now she is bossing around other dog spirits.



  44. Hi Margaret,

    Thank you too for the lovely words. Scritchy lived to 19 years of age, which is a very impressive effort for a dog and as they say in the English game cricket: A very good innings. Towards the end of her life, Ruby took up spending time with Scritchy and sometimes attempted to co-opt her bedding. But then this afternoon Ollie decided that he wanted to have his dinner where Scritchy customarily took it. I sense drama there. So there is this power fluff struggle going on for supremacy because Ruby took her breakfast where Scritchy customarily took it. My money is on Ruby if only because she has a mischievous streak a mile wide, which Ollie does not. Ollie is unfortunately a far more powerful dog than Ruby – at the moment. Ruby is however able to cajole Plum into doing her bidding and so they gang up on Ollie, although they all get along like a house on fire. For the record, Plum is not in contention because she is a follower rather than a leader, but then she may be playing the long game. Dog politics… I miss Scritchy.

    A wise decision on the part of your daughter and her fiancé. Such are the choices made during economic tough times (been there and done that and enjoyed it), and between you and I, it makes for a far more enjoyable wedding. Large scale weddings all look the same to me. Such a waste of money too.

    As to a vaccine, well I wouldn’t be holding your breath. I’ll bet this little sucker mutates given the family of viruses it is from, but I am no expert. About the best I reckon we’ll get is something like the flu vaccine.

    We’ll do our best to catch some of your promised heat.

    I hear you about that, even with the gluten, but soggy pizza crusts do not do it for me. Yup, the grill would do a fine job of heating such a pizza base. Cauliflower has been in high demand of late and would make for a good cash crop. Something to do with the Paleo folks.



  45. Hi Pam,

    Thank you for your kind thoughts and Scritchy is much missed!

    You might get a laugh out of this. I first encountered Scritchy at a dog shelter about a decade ago. The boss dog ‘Old Fluffy’ had just passed on and she left big paw prints to fill. So the editor and I were in the dog shelter looking for another female dog to bring the obstreperous male fluffies into line. All that was available was Scritchy and we looked at her and went, I guess she’d do a fine job of keeping the other dogs in line, but we really had no idea.

    So recall that this all occurred about a decade ago. The dog shelter made me sign a waiver because Scritchy back then was already an older dog – and yet at the same time they offered no discount.

    We just thought to ourselves, you guys don’t know nuffin, and took her anyway. And Scritchy was a lovely dog with just the right amount of feisty bad attitude. What more do you need in a boss dog?

    Secretly between you and I, I’m kind of glad the beanbag is now gone. Twas Sir Poopy’s bane that beanbag. But I’ll tell ya what, Scritchy sure loved the beanbag all the same.



  46. Hi Al,

    Many thanks for the kind words and also the nice recollection of Scritchy enjoying a ride around on the low centre of gravity mower. She loved that ride, and the other dogs looked on at her with a sense of envy. She is much missed mate.



  47. Hello again
    Holiday makers are to be allowed back on the Island from 4th July. It has been lovely and quiet without them. Swimming pools and spas will still not be permitted.
    Son says that it is easy to tell when Tess is coming on heat as she becomes extremely affectionate. Also male dogs become interested before she is ready and she would just snarl at them. He then keeps her rigidly separated so that they can’t get at her. Having said that, I do know that her second litter was not intended as Flyn broke down the barrier. More serious now that 2 of her sons are there.


  48. Chris:

    No discount for an already old Scritchy! Obviously they knew that she had a GREAT deal of life left in her. You could tell by her very stance that there would be trouble for those who crossed her.

    If I had ever had a beanbag I would be glad that it was gone, too.


  49. @ Inge:

    I think we all like riding on things as it gives us a sense of control. And makes life easier. Maybe.


  50. Hi DJ,

    Thanks, and your perspicacity is as sharp as ever. The editor, Ollie and I, planted a flowering cherry tree over her grave. And Scritchy would be happy to note that her grave is near to, but ever so slightly higher than Sir Poopy, Sir Scruffy, and her best mate Toothy (the un-titled). She would most certainly enjoy the location.

    No your reply wasn’t lost at all, my brain was just in melt down mode yesterday and I failed to check the lost comment section of the website. You may have to forgive my minor slip up. 🙂

    Some folks tend to outsource their brains entirely to technology. I can’t suggest that it will end well, but at least right up to the final moments they can maintain their faith. Here is a classic from my corner of the world from about five years ago (it has links to other err, notable incidents): GPS fail results in Melbourne train crash.

    You know if an old mate of mine hadn’t argued so strongly with me about a poor choice that a GPS computer made regarding a supposed short cut around here many long years ago, well I would have thought that the whole thing was one giant urban legend. The track that the computer wanted to send us down was abominable (I knew it to be) – and was no short cut. But my mate was convinced that the computer could do no wrong. What do you?

    Boon companions upon the road are a thing of joy and they arrive with such unexpectedness. But then good books are companions when there are none to be found, and I tell you this: I have travelled to many far places and times in books when a good story has enthralled me. Often when travelling I took Tolkien’s work: The Lord of the Rings, as it is both epic and sprawling, and more practically can’t be easily read in a day. 😉 Do you have a similar strategy? At times long ago when my spirit needed recharging I’ve camped in a quiet glade in the forest and enjoyed a good book, and maybe a brew or two.

    Hehe! Oh yeah, I hear you about that. Even the winds probably can’t give any indication as to direction in a city like Chicago. 🙂 I too orient myself according to the topography around me and the position of the sun in the sky, but mate if you can’t see them then, well lost is the state you’ll soon arrive in. Melbourne has a long established grid pattern and that makes it easier for me to know where I am there, but for newcomers it could be confusing.

    Hehe! Yeah, slapping the back of the hands was the fun part of the card game. 🙂 I can well understand that your dad was merely indulging you lot. My grandmother introduced me to the card games, we used to go and stay with her during school holidays so as to give my mum a break.

    Dunno where I read it, but long ago I read an essay on dog politics and it may even have related to wolves. Anyway, the essay mentioned that the leadership role in a pack was usually given to the dog that could lead and entertain the other members in the pack. So that sort of matches what you were saying about ‘popular’ folks. The thing is though, I reckon it would be a burden to be popular because sooner or later someone would come along who was better suited to the role. That’s life, and like you I tend to feel that the best days are yet to come! 😉

    Never heard of a mock-orange before. An interesting plant of the lilac family and closely related to jasmine. No wonder it smells nice, I like the aroma of jasmine flowers.

    Ha! So do you get many people travelling to your area from Seattle and Portland? Good luck with the barriers and moats.

    How did the meeting go? I assume that you are MC Tech and the propeller heads? Sounds like a good name for a rock band. 🙂 Well, I spent a few hours of yesterday and today trying to get software to do what it was meant to do. But unbeknownest to me, the nice programmers had instituted new data validation points and it was impossible to discover what they were, or that they were even going on in the first place. Red tape overdrive…

    Red sounds like he’s alright and had to travel his own unique and long and winding path. Glad he caught up with Andy at the end. Good stuff. I know nothing about smuggling, but then with so much good stuff wasted in our society… Makes it easy as.

    Yes, such places have a very creepy vibe, although very few people seem to want to notice.



  51. Hi Lewis,

    No problems at all, and the book Uther may be begun in about another week, more or less. The lack of sit in cafes is really eating into my book reading time. Still, one mustn’t complain and/or grumble about things over which they have no control over. I’m actually enjoying the ‘Just Enough’ book on Edo-era Japan. The only criticism I have of the book is when the author banged on for a bit about if the culture and systems worked well in Japan, surely we should take them all up in the West. It seemed like a naive call to arms, but at the same time the systems and arrangements are beautiful and whilst lacking of social mobility, nobody is left out of a role. And the large scale lack of waste is an excellent thing to see in practice.

    How is the Great Course DVD going? Food is such a fascinating subject, and it is also representative of the ecological state of our soils and oceans.

    I’m dubious of the claim that the Romans thought up the big hairy giants. Neanderthal’s spring to mind, and like our giant wombats or Diprotodont’s, they may be the source of legends such as the ‘Bunyip’. Encountering an angry 3 tonne wombat would be something that I’d rather not see. And no doubts the ancient Neanderthal’s were good fighters, although their small group size would have been a limiting factor against our more numerous species.

    I’m not really into conspiracy theories, but freely acknowledge that there has been plenty of work put into mis-information over the years. Think UFO’s where sightings often correlated with testing of new air force technologies. The Smithsonian sounds like a dodgy group! 🙂 What? No? Mate, it’s not good about the fireworks. The Atlantic had a nice article on the subject and the line I enjoyed the most was: “Even in the face of benign explanations, the idea of a government conspiracy has proved compelling.” Wasn’t there a much quoted line in the play Hamlet: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”? Such thinking ensures that they are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t. Fireworks are actually quite dangerous up here over summer due to the fire risk, but in a city, not so much.

    You’re thinking one week out from now, I’m having trouble remembering last week. Maybe like the Roman’s remarked about their rocks, they are where they are because they are there. When you think about it for a bit, it is quite a pragmatic line of inquiry and avoids a lot of difficult messiness when considering causation. Your mom’s timeline was perhaps somewhat longer than you and I can wrap our heads around. Who is wrong, and who is right seems like an important question here? Dunno.

    Keeping chocolate in the fridge is a wise move. You know in different countries chocolate bars which are labelled the same, taste different. A mate long ago pointed out that the environmental factors – such as seriously hot climates – tends to lead to a different composition of ingredients. It always amazed me that no matter where we went in Nepal, no matter how remote and unpopulated a place was, we were always able to avail ourselves of a Mars or Snickers bar. And at the end of a long days up hill walk, such chocolate purchased along the way was a real treat. I’m pretty sure they burned the packaging, but the soft drink bottles were endlessly re-used and you could tell because the labels which were etched into the glass (old school style) were quite scratched. Use once drink containers seems a bit dodgy to me, but then another mate once mentioned long ago that it is hard to distil diesel from crude oil without working out what to do with the rest of the products distilled at different points in the process. Sort of makes sense when you consider the sheer melt down that went on recently when nobody had anywhere to put the oil stuff due to demand destruction and naughtiness in the futures markets.

    So, yes, I intend to take up the high octane chocolate challenge and will check back in again next week on the matter.

    Wanted a quiet day today and so after battling an overly red-tape heavy process this morning, we went out into the forest to do some work. It was nice having the pups and Ollie running around like crazy dogs. Takes your mind off things for a while.

    Steve Martin was pretty funny and he must have had a ring of power as he always looked much the same.

    An excellent use of the timely pause before delivering the punch line. It ain’t called a punch line for no reason ya know! 😉 Watch out for that OMB, because what if there is no toilet? You may laugh, but it is a serious consideration. I now plan my city trips around where the possible toilet stops are. I was actually seriously annoyed the other day at the sign imploring people not to use the toilet facilities. And the cheeky council scamps failed to top up the soap dispenser. A bit of cost cutting in the wrong place.

    Thank you for the kind words, and yup you called it correctly: She was the last of the old guard. I was curious to observe the other dogs reactions and Ollie hung with the editor and I during the burial, and he looked righteously sad and knew exactly what was going on. For most of the day today, Ollie has been shadowing me, and he hasn’t fully recovered – neither have I for that matter. Plum was mildly curious, whilst Ruby really didn’t care much. Those two are young though and such thoughts probably don’t enter their brains. Ollie has seen how this story plays out twice before. This morning on our walk of the property, Ollie and I stopped for a moment by Scritchy’s grave and paid our respects.

    Alaric I would never put up with such outrages from mere bureaucrats… He would have simply placed an inter-library loan order, and then once the book was safely in his possession heads would have rolled.

    Branch stacking is a weird process whereby the candidate with the most money can probably win pre-selection for an election. There is a neat article in Woozypedia which provides all manner of Branch Stacking Methods: Branch stacking. Most voters in the electorate tend to vote for a particular party in their electorate, so not many people care about who the person is that they are voting for – as long as they are not widely hated, as has happened. The branch stacking business looks to me to be a system whereby the political parties determine who is to run in that electorate, plus it also involves influencing internal party decisions. There are quiet things going on in the background in politics down here which relate to geo-politics: NSW Labor MP Shaoquett Moselmane’s home, office raided by police . The article also mentions our spy agency which looks both here and abroad.

    What? I don’t believe that compulsory wearing of masks would fly down here, but it might be tried. For one thing we don’t have enough masks to go around. People I’m speaking to are self-isolating anyway, and the pub last night was quieter I guess on the back of the news release.

    I tend to feel that this virus won’t go away as it is part of our background ecology of stuff that is doing its best to live off us. There are heaps of things looking for that opportunity and it astounds me that peoples health is as good as it.

    But as you are in a high risk group, it is probably not a bad idea to stay safe and keep a low profile.

    What did Eleanor think about your peanut butter cookies? They sound yummo to me.



  52. @ DJ – Well, I’ll find out on Tuesday, how our library is going to manage it. But, it sounds like a similar system to yours. If the items that are “in transit” actually make it to my branch, and get sorted onto a pick up shelf. No signs of life in the courier end of things, yet.

    I enjoyed your tale of your trip to Chicago. Young ladies accosting you on busses. Strange women pulling on your beard. You’re just a regular chick magnet! 🙂 . It’s a wonder The Princess, lets you out of the house!

    Before the Current Unpleasantness, I had toyed with the idea of taking a train to Chicago, just to see the Chicago Art Institute. Kind of an idle, bucket list thing, that will probably never come to fruition. Back in the realm of reality, there’s gardening to do! Lew

  53. Yo, Chris – Well, of course. Drop everything you’re doing, and head off in an entirely different direction. “Everybody” can see the wisdom of that (whatever “that” is.) I like that bit at the beginning of Mr. Greer’s posts. “…proclaiming the infallible truth of fill in the blank.”

    The Great Course on food, is pretty interesting. Of course, we’re in early days where a lot is speculative. But, tonight I’ll get to the Roman Republic and Empire. I started nodding off, and it was time to go to bed. Speaking of which, I saw this article on how an Alaskan volcano brought about the end of the Roman Republic. Or, at least contributed.

    And, just to neatly book end things, here’s another article on how a volcano contributed to the end of the Empire. Someone should do something about those pesky volcanos 🙂 .

    Yes, I read the article about the Great Fireworks Conspiracy of 2020, over at the Atlantic. Even linked to it on Mr. Greer’s blog.

    I did a bit of poking around to try and discover the origin of “A hundred years from now …” etc.. Boy, not much to go on. A few obituaries, a few “My grandmother always said,” and one tale of a street hot dog vendor in some city or another. Maybe it’s just a blip in Jung’s universal consciousness? 🙂 .

    Good luck with the chocolate. Some people find it too bitter. But, they’re wimps. Or, maybe my taste buds are so dead, I don’t notice.

    Maybe Steve Martin has a portrait in the attic that looks a bit worse for wear? Perhaps deals with Old Scratch were involved? Maybe he’s had “work?” What appears to be his mouth is actually what used to be his navel? Good genes?

    Ah, branch stacking. We have all the highlights, I think, but here just call them “graft and corruption.” Not that anyone pays much attention. “Infiltrated by Chinese agents” sounds rather ominous.

    Well, we had five MORE cases, yesterday. Mostly in the SW part of the county. Interesting. They’ve had a couple of large demonstrations down that way (don’t ask.) Pictures in the newspaper had a lot of people prancing around, waving signs, and generally working themselves into a frenzy. And, no masks. I don’t care what people peacefully demonstrate for (or against) but wear the darned masks! There was another demonstration last weekend, and, with the 4th of July coming up, I expect to see more spikes in the numbers.

    I had forgot it was Eleanor’s birthday, yesterday. (93). Haven’t heard how the peanut butter cookies went over. She had five generations, jammed in her apartment. Don’t know how wise that was, but … To me, they don’t taste very … peanut buttery. But, see “dead taste buds”, above.

    I planted a couple of tomatoes for her, this morning. A bit of alpaca poo, stove ash, a pinch of lime. A sprinkling of egg shells. Throw them in the ground, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. Lew

  54. Chris,

    That sounds like a wonderful tribute for her. I like how you plant trees with your dogs.

    Dunno if I would’ve even been posting yet if I’d lost a dog. No way would I have thought to look in the “lost post” file. 🙂

    I’ve read many accounts like the link you gave me. People’s brains are, well, disconnected from reality. A few years ago, probably November, I was raking leaves in the front yard. A car came down the street from the main street. Soon it came back the other way, then repeated. Finally it stopped across from me, facing the direction it had originally come from. Both occupants had to have seen me. They kept staring at one’s phone GPS. I surmised that they were looking for a house and were lost. House numbers are on the houses, and there are numbers on the street signs. I learned all of that before I could read. Eventually, one of them got out and started walking, crossed the main street, looked at the numbers on a house and signaled that that was the right house. They followed GPS rather than the actual street and house numbers. Oh, and these people were my age and should’ve known how to do this. They could’ve asked me for directions, which happens often. But they had GPS!

    About a year ago, a coworker’s stepdaughter was in an unfamiliar part of town and talking to her mother while following her car GPS, which said the road kept going. It was after dark. The road ended and she began driving on grass. Not wild grass, somebody’s tidy yard! She slowed but kept driving and her mother did NOT suggest that she stop and turn around. After another 1,500 meters, the road ended, she drove off a small ledge and into the Spokane River, where she drowned. A bit of common sense would’ve helped a lot? At least you had some common sense with your mate versus his GPS.

    I generally have a book with me. I’ve done a lot of reading on busses and airplanes. Long trips often require multiple books. Sometimes the best thing is a book while sitting next to a campfire, as you’ve experienced.

    Yeah, getting lost in Chicago felt weird. There are some places in the mountains north of here that I used to know exceedingly well. Back in the day, I could’ve been blindfolded, dropped off in that area at midnight on a moonless and cloudy night, and likely have figured out where I was within a few minutes. But not Chicago.

    That study may be onto something. It certainly fits with my recollection of the past, as well as some current events. I wouldn’t know about the burden of being popular, as I’ve never been in that category. 😉

    We get Seattle people here, not so many from Portland. A higher percentage of east siders go to Seattle than vice versa. Right now they need to put up barriers to keep the east siders, well, east of the mountains. We’re getting pretty exponential in a few places, like the Yakima area, Al’s area, and Spokane, and I don’t think Seattle wants the virus back.

    The meeting was interesting. MC announced quickly that the meeting had to do solely with stuff for the other 2 techs, stuff I’ve never done, but that he wants me there because I’ve been there 28 years and know enough about how things work that I might be able to contribute. Good vote of confidence, I guess, and I did solve 2 problems and clarified 2 or 3 others things so that the most junior tech came up with the solutions that I was trying to steer things to. MC wants to do this weekly, but his track record for “weekly” meetings tends to the meetings being “whenever”.

    Dang, don’t you just “adore” programmers? Sometimes leaving things the way the were is a Good Thing, but that is a fact that programmers seem to have had programmed out of their awareness.

    Hot and windy, sucking all the moisture out of the ground. The grass is turning brown already. Too windy to do much watering. Supposed to get some rain starting Sunday.


  55. Hi Inge,

    I took a straw poll with some friends this afternoon on the most pressing question: Do they miss the sound of aircraft flying overhead? Do you know, overwhelmingly most folks did not miss the invasive roar of the jet engines. I certainly don’t. When I lived in the big smoke, due to an odd quirk of geology and also the topography, the sound of aircraft taking off was quite audible. It was an impressive effort given that the airport was 20 miles away.

    My neighbour at the time was a pilot and of course he alerted me to the noise (as you do) as he had an interest in such things and he then told me that some rock formations over vast areas used to transmit the take off noise and it had proved to be a problem in some parts of the world.

    Thank you for writing about your sons experience with Tess. As you know my experience is only with fixed up dogs so this will be an interesting learning experience for sure. And yes, things can go wrong. For your interest, Plum is the better looking in the traditional sense of what is expected of the Kelpie breed, but Ruby is by far the smarter of the two dogs and by a significant margin too. I prefer my dogs to be smart as they are better able to manage their own business. Interestingly, the farmer that we got the pups from was more interested in breeding from Plum, so perhaps my desired outcome is different from what is required of a working dog. Dunno.



  56. Hi Pam,

    Yes, it was a bit cheeky of the animal shelter folks to make such an impolite observation of the lady, but then they did. Mind you I have had some strange interactions with folks at animal shelters over the years, and collectively they are pushing me in other directions – such as breeding dogs. The most notable interaction was the animal shelter that requested so many personal details that they could have easily stolen my identity and caused all manner of mayhem. I balked at providing the details, and some good dogs lost opportunities to retire to the farm.

    You have a sensitive soul to have so noticed. Scritchy was not to be messed with lightly, and even only a week ago she was attacking Plum and Ruby who are now twice her size. They eyed her warily almost as if to say: “Gal, you like super bad!” Oh she was one tightly coiled muscular old dog who knew what it meant to give the other dogs: What for?

    For the life of me, I still don’t know whether it was the ultraviolet radiation from the sun which broke the vinyl down on the bean bag? Maybe it was the Scritchy wee? Or possibly it was the Scritchy claws? But whatever the case when the guts of the beanbag began issuing forth from inside the vinyl covering, I knew true pain. Those tiny little Styrofoam balls probably have a half life of over a million years. No doubts it will provide much mystery for future archaeologists.



  57. Hi DJ,

    Thanks, and a flowering cherry tree seems somehow appropriate for old Scritchy. You wait until you see the photo of the tree, from her grave she can look off into the far distance, but in the near distance she looks down upon her mates when they are confined to their dog enclosure. She’d definitely like that. 😉

    No worries. Mate, I feel the pain I can assure you, but living on a farm I have become mildly inured to death. In two years I’ve buried three dogs and about eight chickens. Although the chickens were a bit easier as I chucked them in the worm farm. And I’ve seen more than my fair share of human death over the years. I dunno, death is a constant companion and I use that unsubtle reminder to get off the couch and keep living. It is not lost on me at all that many people have put their lives on hold right now, and I accept and understand the reasons for why that is, but at the same time I’m uncomfortable with it.

    People’s brains are, well, disconnected from reality. I believe that classic work of understatement wins you the award for the most amusing thing that I have read today. As someone who worked as a kid delivering newspapers and also prescriptions for the local pharmacy, I kind of also noticed that houses indicate one way or another way as to their physical street number. The numbers are a really useful guide so as to differentiate one house from the other. Such an elegant and very simple technology.

    So sorry to read that particular story. Wow, but yeah. You know, my mate was arguing with me heatedly about the GPS computers choice of dodgy road. He had his phone out, whilst I already knew the route, and his phone was not part of my worldview. Even looking at the dodgy dirt road was not enough to convince him that it was a really bad idea. I have actually used GPS technology maybe a handful of times in very unfamiliar areas, but it was a compliment to what I could see around me and not given more than its due.

    Books are good, and you’re never alone in a strange place if you have a good book. 🙂 Long ago when I felt overwhelmed or out of sorts, I used to head up into the bush and sit out for a few days. On one such trip long ago, the timing belt on the very old Suzuki four wheel drive at the time was just about on the verge of breaking when some folks came along out of nowhere and helped get the car started. The timing belt broke the following day when I was back in the city – a very easy, if laborious fix – but a total show stopper. Synchronicity…

    My experience in the city of Sydney is very much like your experience in Chicago. Not easy at all.

    Me neither, and so you are in good company. 🙂 Hehe! The ascète living in a remote mountain location is hardly an appealing story! 🙂

    Perhaps the Seattle folks have decided that the virus can be expunged by taking it eastwards? Stoicism has much to say on this particular subject.

    You are a better man than I, and thanks for the meeting story from the trenches. My tolerance for work meetings is low, but social meetings I’m happy to yak on for hours. This is a personal failing which limited my professional career as I’d just blurt out whatever came into my head, such as: “I’m not doing that, and you can… !” Yeah, possibly not a good example to copy. After all, it is not a strategy that works.

    There was more to the programmers story. So the system hit the toilet. The nice government department failed to take any phone calls, and I had been on hold for over an hour waiting to speak to someone about something that needed to happen very urgently. Alas I eventually hung up as the writing was clearly on the wall. Then overnight miraculously their programmers must have attacked the problem with both zeal and zest, and the next day the reasons for the software issues became clear to the users. Now of course a day had passed and urgent had turned into super-urgent, and I can’t charge for any of this sort of systems mucking around business and it eats my time more and more. And it has been happening a lot of late.

    Bizarrely, as a contrast the entire area around here is emerald hued. Despite being cold, this winter feels slightly warmer than what I’d normally expect, but then there is a bit of winter left to go.



  58. Hi Lewis,

    Oh! I’d never quite considered cultural change from that perspective, but yes I agree. The few times I’ve had to institute real cultural change within a business, mate it was something that everybody talked about, but nobody really wanted – mostly that was why the business was in trouble. And then here’s me dragging everyone kicking and screaming through the cultural change process by the very scruff of their necks. And nobody thanked me for it either, even when the outcomes were good. Nope, they need to find their own way back to the future! Hey, I used to know somebody who said that when they were El Presidente they’d do this and they’d also do that. A lot of big talk, which you’ve probably encountered at some point? Yeah, well the problem is that it sounded to me like a whole lot of big talk about something or other to do with gulags. Of course I could have misunderstood the person, but I don’t believe that was the case.

    Mr Greer’s moderation policy is to be commended, and I would never have posted anything under his auspices if had he not instituted that sensible policy. I also enjoyed the discussion on abusing the commons, and he’s right.

    DJ raised an interesting question in relation to posting / continuing dialogue after the loss of Scritchy, and despite my reply to him, I am left wondering about the subject. I don’t really know how other people relate to such a loss. I do tend to obtain solace from friends in these times, and it is a healing balm, but I can understand that everyone grieves differently. It’s complex.

    Bizarrely enough I enjoyed both articles you linked to whilst eating breakfast earlier today. The mountain Gods were clearly happy with the Roman Republic and felt that change was required, and then much later deeply unhappy with the Roman Empire and decided that err, change was required. Yes, something should be done about those pesky and very troublesome volcanoes. You go first though… 🙂 They seem like nasty customers which should not be messed around with!

    I see your volcanoes and raise you a vegetable garden consuming groundhog: Animals eating your vegetables? Here’s what Chunk the groundhog can teach you about gardening. The bloke mentioned in the article is a notable gardening guru from around here. His nursery is next to the local general store and I see him around all of the time. A nice bloke. The other bloke Costa Georgiadis who has taken over hosting the Gardening Australia show from the local bloke. He’s enthusiastic about edible gardens and I respect that. Plus one of the other female hosts has a dog just Ollie (and is probably related to as the Ollie as the person lives not far from here) with the nice name Squid. A good strong name for a dog who is just like Ollie. Anyway, it’s a small world sometimes and I hope that neither of us ever encounter a groundhog in our gardens…

    Can’t say for sure that I’m entirely comfortable with Jung’s concept of the collective unconscious. For sure, there is plenty of baggage that accompanies our journey and plenty of repeating stories over time, like say the Wild Man or even Arthur. But then some folks have a tiny window of free will to exercise their own conscious, and this is not at all being unconscious. But then he is also correct in his assertion that: “lived out its symbols and clothed them in meaning through their experiences” Ouch symbols are powerful items just like narrative is, but there is more to the story and Jung’s perspective is a track and not an end point. One of the great tasks appointed to us is to be able to acknowledge Jung’s concept, but then be able to discern it and then so choose accordingly. Not so easy, but it is possible.

    Hehe! You’ve upped the ante on the chocolate challenge with this strong talk of wimpery! I may have a report for you on Monday evening.

    What a choice you’ve left me with there. Hmm. I’d make a better choice if there were 70% cocoa infused chocolate on hand, but no. Portrait in attic. Sorry, No! Good genes. There, phew…

    As I wrote yesterday people don’t tend to understand that when they vote, they’re not voting for the Prime Muppet (unless that person happens to be sitting in the electorate), they’re voting for the eligible candidates in the electorate from the various parties. So basically I don’t believe it matters that much. The main problem which the political parties have to deal with is that the process involves money, and as such they need money. Once you need money to make that sort of decision, nefarious folks turn up to provide it. Yet the nefarious folks want their pound of flesh too, and so it goes in the world of horse trading, and people end up eating horse flesh. Much like Napoleon’s retreating army from his ill-fated Russian misadventure. And the feedback loop which the members could have provided by way of internal votes gets hijacked. And if the party gets into power, then nefarious folks might call upon favours. It is an ugly look and easily stopped by outlawing donations to political parties. The problem is, if they get their acts together the political parties still have to deal with the angry mountain Gods. And they’re not up for that. 😉

    Yeah, the incubation period is quite long at a fortnight or more. I dunno, being sensible for you is an option, as you are in a higher risk category than the protestors. In any system you are only as good as the weakest link.

    Hehe! I chuck roasted unsalted peanuts into the Anzac biscuits and they are a fine addition. Not very crunchy after the baking process either. Glad to read that Eleanor is doing well and getting support from her family.

    Good stuff, and is it a bit late to plant tomatoes? Anyway, they’ll probably do fine as they do most of their growing in the next two months for you (at a guess).

    Hey, I’m getting to the cross your fingers and hope for the best stage too with plants! 🙂 It works…

    You called it. The photos on the blog are actually eating up the interweb, and the website backup process was taking longer and longer. I had it running for four hours last night and it just failed abysmally. Anyway, put my propeller hat on and delved further and deeper into the land of the interweb, and worked out a much better and far quicker solution. The whole lot was done in half an hour, so at least I can back up this behemoth of a construction a bit more regularly.



  59. Yo, Chris – I wouldn’t muck around with El Presidente. Might as well just shot for King of theWorld! Mere El Presidentes would be my minions. 🙂 . I suppose one can either resist change, or accept change. Another course, I suppose, would be “I guess I’ll go do something else.” More whinging on change, further down, when I get to our library.

    Grief. Funny stuff. Way back when I was a young (was I ever THAT young?) bookstore manager (my first) one of the even younger fellows that worked for me, had been raised by wild hippies. Well, one day he took a call, and, his wild hippie dad was running on the beach, keeled over, and died. Well, of course I sent him home, but back he was the next day. I told him if he needed time off (paid) he could take more time. No, he said he’d rather work. And, he did. That was my first lesson in “People handle grief, differently.” And you never quit know how things are going to hit you.

    Re: Mountain Gods, volcanos. I think, in some cases, there’s a distinct lack of virgins, to toss in the volcano. Peak virgins? 🙂 .

    Chunk’s a star! But, it does bring up the wisdom of turning a pest, into a pet. Where I lived before, burrowing creatures were a problem I never overcame. Here, with the raised beds, and all, they’re not (knock on wood), a problem. There are the squirrels, but they seem to prefer their nuts, to anything we grow. But they do like to plant their acorns in our plots. Spring is devoted to digging them out.

    Let’s face it. These days, us little people have very little to do with the electoral process.

    Four more cases, in our county, yesterday. And the beat goes on.

    Good news / bad news (to me) from the library. For the first time in a couple of months, the “new” title list went up on Friday night. In the DVD section, I’m first on the hold list, for four series that I follow. Then I started looking at the “books.” Nothing but wall to wall electronic resources. Makes me sad … and angry at the same time.

    Also, on the electronic front, next week the auction is going to go “live” again. So, I tried to access there web site, last night, to take a look at the pictures. I get a screen that says, “This site cannot provide a secure connection. Protocol error.” I tried two different browsers, with the same result. So, I guess I’ll give them a call this afternoon, and see if it’s just me, or something more in general.

    Well, the tomato plants already have blossoms on them, so, I think they’ll be ok. I have to plant corn, this coming week. Seems late, I know, but I planted it around the 4th of July, last year, and got plenty of cobs and 12 foot stocks. Besides … the moon is with me! 🙂

    Well, here’s something else we can thank (blame?) Australia, for. 🙂 Motorcycle chariot racing!

    Unfortunately, no pictures with this link. But, they’re out there. Lew

  60. @DJ

    It took my sister three years to navigate Chicago without a map but them she is very direction-ally challenged.


    You would really enjoy the Art Institute and it’s a reasonable walk from the train. You’d also enjoy the Harold Washington Library and the Chicago Cultural Center (which used to be the library).


  61. @Pam

    I was quite the horse nut in my youth. My parents raised Arabian horses though that endeavor ended when my father died at a young age. My mother, who lived in an apartment in Chicago, developed her interest when she took riding classes while attending Mundelein College there. Riding classes was one of the Physical Education classes. Back when we traveled on Doug’s miles we went on a trip to Costa Rica. While there we went on a two hour horse back ride through different terrain ending with a canter along the ocean, a high point of the trip for me.


  62. @ Pam
    No to horses. In my infancy, before my father died and finances collapsed, I had riding lessons. I can still remember feeling terrified.


  63. Hello Chris
    Which dog to breed is an interesting problem: looks or intelligence. One would assume intelligence but I suppose that it depends on the customer base. Most people are probably seduced by appearance. Which are wanted most, working dogs or pets?


  64. Hi Kris
    It might be an interesting exercise to take the Kelpie Kids to a local sheep farm and have them demonstrate their herding instincts. It might be surprising to see . I once saw an amazing demonstration where a 6 month old Samoyed pup (same breed as one of Dj’s dog , I believe) herded and controlled three young sheep that had escaped from a next door fence until the owner came to take them home. The Sammy had never seen a sheep previously. Strong inbred skills. Just an idea!
    Just think! Soon puppyhood will soon be out grown. Well maybe soon BawwHa Ha Ha.
    Cheers! Al

  65. Hi Inge,

    I’m leaning towards intelligence as it is easier on me if the dogs can understand the risks that they take on board in everyday farm life and activities. There is a place here for dogs that are not that bright, but dogs that can learn easily (not always linked to intelligence) are just better able to navigate new and complicated situations without coming unstuck.

    From some perspectives your final question is more important than most people would reckon. Docile animals are very good in an entirely controlled environment, but I do wonder what would be the better attributes to have in a less controlled environment? Dunno. What do you reckon?



  66. Hi Al,

    The two pups have already attempted to jump onto the back of the much larger Ollie as if he was a sheep. I’ve dissuaded them from jumping onto me and the editor, but yeah good point.

    We’ve pencilled in the calendar to visit the nearby sheep dog trials, which hopefully will actually be held later in the year, all being well.

    Ruby and Plum aren’t up to that competition dog standard, but then I expect them to do other tasks around the farm such as rabbit hunting and/or deterring, and so far combined with Ollie, they’re 100% successful.



  67. Hi Lewis,

    Yes, go for broke. Why settle at the job of a piddling El Presidente, when King of the World is near to hand. Not a bad point, but then the story of over reach in the Arthurian tales rings alarm bells in my mind. So maybe I’ll just be content with thwarting the marauding wallabies and leave it at that? It is a personal failure to lack such high falutin ambitions, but then if Arthur couldn’t pull it off with his natural superiority in terms of leadership, generalship, and don’t mess with him reputation, mate I’d be crushed. Well that’s my excuse anyway and I’m sticking to it. Queen Victoria managed a third of the surface of the planet and it is a worthy goal to compare oneself to. What does the word infinitesimal mean though? 😉

    No, whinge away as I do so love a good whinge. It is an act of catharsis after all. Someone recently told me in no uncertain terms that developmentally it was not a good outcome, and was to be stamped out in the younger folks, but then that made me want to whinge about how hard such expectations were on the kids. It is complicated.

    Yes, I’d have to suggest that at one stage both you and I were actually young. The facts in this case speak for themselves. 🙂 Thanks for the story, and yes, different deaths hit me differently and so I suppose other people feel the same, but we have this awful taboo on such topics and rarely get the chance to compare notes. For your curiosity value, I took Sir Poopy’s death much harder because his lazy nature lead him to an early demise. Scritchy is missed, but she lived to a ripe old age for any dog, and with her dementia in my mind she died months before she physically performed the act. I’ve had months to prepare for the day it actually happened, and the resulting acts from her dementia took away energy from Ollie and pups. From a certain perspective, we all paid the price for her ongoing existence, and that is hard to acknowledge, but it is also true.

    Calls to abstinence rarely succeed, but you know the folks so doing probably have their own dark hungry ghosts which pester them on this journey that is life. For the record, the state of virginity was a true waste of life energy.

    Did you notice that Chunk had attracted a mate and produced mini-chunks? Good luck with that garden!!! Feed them and they will come. Down here we are mucking around trying to find the mid-point where production is good enough to out produce the various critters. Winter sets the upper limit on the number of critters that can live on the farm.

    The electoral process here is very honest and entirely paper based and I have worked in such duties so as to see what goes on behind the scenes. What occurs prior to the candidates getting onto the ballot paper is a whole different story.

    Damo looks set to spend some time in quarantine in Melbourne. I’ll see what I can do to help him.

    Ouch! I have not read an electronic book so would not partake of such an option either, and yes it is a loss. The Kübler-Ross model is relevant for you, but I suspect that the libraries will re-open if only because the folks running it will want to keep their jobs.

    Protocol error sounds like the craziness that confronted me on Thursday and then on Friday, which ate a huge amount of time and earned me zip. Yes, the future is going to be great.

    Yeah, absolutely, you’ll be fine with the plants and they do most of their growing in the next two months anyway so I wouldn’t even think about it. The only thing to recall is to stick them in soil which has been nicely treated for the past three years, but even then, the plants are really hardy and adaptable and will do fine.

    Mate, people riding those contraptions had cojones!!! Wow. There was a bit of a thing down here recently which was low cost and probably heaps of fun: Lawnmower racing — Tassie style! Hehe!

    And some of the cloud formations at this time of year are stunning: Cloud waterfalls, the beautiful result of sinking air, not that uncommon but rare to see. Cool, huh?

    Better get writing!



  68. Hello again
    I really don’t know enough about dogs to personally comment further, though I don’t much care for the word ‘docile’ in any context.
    However I have just been talking to Son. He says that if they come from the same litter it probably doesn’t matter which one you breed. He adds the proviso that female dogs are healthier if they have had one or two litters. You can have them spayed afterwards.
    He then said that if you are going to breed them he would like one of the progeny. I said ‘Are you serious?’ He said ‘Semi-serious; do we still have quarantine laws?’ I don’t know the answer to that.

    My freezer failed to cope with the 2 successive days of 83F where it is situated. I had a very stressful time thinking that it had given up the ghost and trying to do something about it. Finally succeeded after 3 re-starts and it is fine now that the weather has cooled down quite a lot. I had not known that a freezer could find the surrounds too hot to cope with.


  69. Yo, Chris – One must face off rampaging wallabies, with the sword Excalibur. Or, any old sword laying about, as long as it’s made from a skystone. 🙂 .

    Sir Poopy is a cautionary tale. Use it or lose it.

    Odd you should mention hungry ghosts. A few years ago, I read a book called, “In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction” (Gabor Mate, 2008). He’s a doctor who’s worked with mostly indigenous people, up on Vancouver, B.C.’s skid row. LOL. What I remember is his own very serious addiction to … classical music CDs. The man has a serious Jones, going. Not really a book recommendation, as it appeals to a specific and rarified taste.

    I noticed Chunk had a mate, who was constantly upstaging him, in front of the camera. Mrs. Chunk is quit the ham. Well, I guess the gardener may have to go into the fur trade.

    Damo in Melbourne. Take him pies. 🙂 . More on your pies, later.

    Books. Well, I’m old enough that I’ll probably never have to face a lack of books. But, I hate to see the libraries head down that path. I guess they’ll start calling them, Electronic Media Repositories. (Not to be confused with suppositories. There’s probably toilet humor, in there, somewhere.) They don’t give “library degrees”, anymore. They’re now “information technology degrees.” Well, that sounds all modern, hip and with it.

    I called Garrison Auctions, yesterday. Talked to Kendra, who I’ve known, for years. They are officially changing the name to Mercury Auctions. So, they’ve set up a new web site, but the redirect is still wonky. She gave me the new URL, and it works fine. Not near the time and agony you went through. But I just got lucky.

    The lawnmower racing was a hoot. But I think the competition was a bit unfair. Lawnmower? The behemoth they were up against was more like a tractor. I can’t come up with anything near as fun, but there is this …

    The Briefcase (Attache case) drill team! I surprised they don’t have coffee trolly ladies as cheer leaders.

    The cloud waterfall video was spectacular. I’ve never seen the like, except on film. Especially the sunrise shots. You have to live right, and be very lucky, to catch something like that.

    But more important, in the second film … there are pies in Albany! Just for future reference. 🙂 . I paused the film and took a good long look at the pie case. How can you decide? I’ll take three of each, please, slathered with horseradish mustard. So, are they eaten cold, or do they give them a quick nuke, to warm them up? We have nothing similar, here. As far as I know. Oh, there are “things” in the frozen food case. Hot pockets and chicken pot pies. But, they’re mass produced and, I am sure, not as good. Lew

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