Gimme the prize

Rain poured down out of the sky. It was a torrential, almost tropical rain, but at least the day was sort of warm. In those days I didn’t think much about the weather forecast. Who does? Anyway, it was a long time ago, and there I was on my push bike cycling the short ride from my inner urban abode to the city, and I was getting totally drenched.

The destination of my ride was the Melbourne Town Hall, and I can clearly recall that upon reaching my destination, I locked up the push bike outside on the city street, and immediately headed to the bathroom. Under the hand dryers I sought relief from the damp as I was sodden from head to foot, and then back again.

I was there for one of my final University exams. The subject was Accounting Theory, and despite the epic use of the hand dryers, I was still rather damp, but at least I wasn’t dripping water on the floor of the august Town Hall where the exam was held.

After taking my seat, the call “Reading Time” was heard. Quiet swept over the hall. The occasional cough, the nervous shift of a body upon a seat, and the too loud ticking of a clock were all the sounds that could be heard despite the many bodies sitting in that grand hall.

For me it didn’t seem all that long between the call ‘You may commence writing’ to ‘Pens down’. The clock indicated that the time elapsed was three hours, and yet it felt as if it were mere minutes. And I was still damp and uncomfortable from the earlier rainstorm.

There have been many times during my life that I’ve had to just push on through personal discomfiture and just get on with it. It’s not just exams which that technique is useful for, and there are plenty of other life experiences like that. A former Prime Minister of this country once quipped: Life wasn’t meant to be easy. Yeah, tell me about it.

I rode home again on my push bike, and it was a relief to get there without another drenching. Note to self at the time: Take more notice of weather forecasts in the future.

A few months passed, and then I received a letter in the mail from the University. Maybe it is just me, but official looking letters received in the mail usually leave me feeling a bit cold despite the contents. There was a song on the radio last year by the English artist ‘Rex Orange County’, and the song was titled ‘New House’. There were two lines that just resonated with me at that particular moment in my life (and this is a direct quote of the most excellent lyrics): Everybody needs something all the fuckin’ time. Oh yeah. Mate, I’m hearing you man! Anyway, way back as a young bloke when I received the letter from the University I was beyond busy.

Turns out it was unnecessary to feel put upon because the University were congratulating me for the academic achievement on the day of the very wet Accounting Theory exam.

Gimme the prize – Yeah!

Working full time, studying part time at night, and repairing houses on other nights and at weekends. Yeah, busy, plus I kept up my relationships with friends and of course, the editor. People tell me that they are busy, and I suppose it is true, but from hindsight I don’t really know now how I juggled so many things. Less hair back then was an undocumented feature.

It goes without saying that I am an enterprising and resourceful individual, or I’d like to think so, and the degree combined with the prize felt like a ticket to whole another world. Exercising those resourceful traits, I wrote a lovely letter to the nice company which sponsored the prize, after all they were in the business of employing accountants and hello, here I am over here! Then I waited for a reply.

Fortunately I wasn’t holding my breath waiting for a reply, because I would have eventually run out of oxygen, and thus sadly not be here today. Silence was all that was heard on that front. Nothing. It was the tail end of the recession of the 90’s and even in those latter days, things were still tough for people seeking employment. There were no dream jobs, there were just glad-to-have jobs.

The truth was it all meant nothing and I had to continue my basic job as an assistant accountant. Back in those days I had to hand write all of the employees salary cheques (US parlance: checks). Given my understanding of the businesses finances, as soon as that my cheque had a signature on it, I left work immediately without seeking permission and rushed down to the bank to cash it. There were no better jobs to be had at the time.

It is funny the changes to Higher Education which have taken place in only my awareness. It has been a wild ride, that’s for sure. When I was a young child, I recall my mother also studying part time at University so as to earn herself a degree. Not too many years before those days it would have been unheard of for a single mother to be able to study for a degree. But there she was and with a fully paid-for-by-the-public course. Her employer even gave her time off work during the day so as to attend lectures and tutorials. My experience was very different and involved mad cash outlays and late nights spent with strangers in places of learning. Ah, decline is a wonderful thing.

In the years after I completed my degree, the ever increasing number of students completing similar education pumped out by the Universities was mildly alarming to observe. After all, my understanding of economics is sufficient to realise that increasing any supply of labour, will tend to lower the rates paid for that particular labour.

Recently I read that the Federal Government down here has moved to increase the cost of University Humanities subjects, and decrease the costs for other subjects which are actually in demand by employers. Economics is an oddball field of study, but this technique is known as ‘price signalling’. That obscure label generally means letting it be widely known that a product or service is going to be more expensive (or cheaper) than previous, despite the potential for demand destruction (i.e. less people being able to obtain the product or service). University courses are after all in pure economic terms just another service. Whether the demand destruction occurs soon, I really don’t know.

It has also been something of a continuing mystery to me that over many years with various people I’ve spoken, that they are unable to see student debt, as debt. In their minds it is something else, although to be candid I’m honestly not certain what they mean – but it is definitely seen as something else. Possibly people see it as an investment, but the returns these days are candidly not good. A true mystery.

Due to the health subject which dare not be named, I believe that High School students between the years 8 to 10 have been singled out to continue remote learning – whatever that is. All of the other kids have or will return to classrooms.

If I was a cynical bloke, I’d suggest that these youngsters are at about the right age to be shuffled off into apprenticeships. It is possible that this is the outcome so desired by the policy. Certainly there has been a lot of financial support announced for businesses to take on apprentices, so it might be a coincidence, but then again it might not be.

We’re in such strange times. At more amused moments I call these days: The Blameless days. So many cultural and societal things seem to be quietly getting sorted out/or corrected in the background, and all the while the news media is full of stories of the health subject which dare not be named. It’s interesting day’s, that’s for sure…

This week an epic atmospheric river dragged an infeasible quantity of water from the now warmer Indian Ocean up in the far north west of the continent, and dumped that rain all the way from there to down here in the far south east. That’s La Nina for you.

Lot’s of rain and thick cloud this week. And a rainbow.

For most of the week, we received just over an hours peak sunlight. The solar power system here was fine – just. But the thought of running an industrial society on this technology, well it would be like watching a horror show!

In some of the paddocks in the farms in the valley below the farm I can now see standing pools of water. I can’t recall seeing such a thing since the last epic La Nina back in 2010/2011.

A very well run large farm in the valley below now has standing water in a paddock

Despite the rain, it is now getting much warmer and drier here as we move closer to summer. UV is now rated as High each day and the sting of the sun can be felt even when the air is cold. With the forest seriously damp due to the heavy and prolonged rain, we decided to burn off an epic tree stump left behind many decades ago by the loggers.

An epic tree stump left behind by the loggers. The Megalodon!

The mountain range was logged from about the 1850’s to about the 1960’s, with some pockets still producing, and this monster was left behind, sitting up on a rock. Observant readers will note that the tree stump is blackened, and I’m pretty sure the last bushfire through this part of the mountain range was in 1983.

The tree stump must have challenged the loggers because near to it I discovered a broken steel cable which was discarded. I’m assuming that the cable was attached to a bulldozer and the cable broke. The loggers probably decided to leave the tree stump and broken cable there where they stopped.

A broken steel cable left by the loggers

From time to time I get some guys up to work on the farm. Those guys are the ‘tree dudes’. Those guys work as hard as I do, and this week I got them to chop up the massive tree stump into several smaller – yet still bonkers large – pieces.

The author realigning the now smaller/huge pieces of the large tree stump

A six foot steel wrecking bar is used to move the pieces around. The timber is so dense and heavy that, well that’s why the steel cable the loggers used was broken! After the pieces were moved around a little bit, we then began to burn off the stump. The ash will be spread around the area and plants will again be able to grow in the place where the stump sat for all those years.

We began burning off the large tree stump

Earlier in the week the farm machine repair guys gave me a second hand scary old wood chipper to test and see whether I wanted to purchase it. It is a beast of a machine and chewed up all of the various chunks of fallen forest litter found in that area. The chipped up organic material will feed the soil and increase the general fertility of the area.

Scary old wood chipper. Good stuff. Ollie approves but is a little scared

We also set up six more flats in the greenhouse and are now raising corn, peas, artichokes and bean seeds. The greenhouse is only being used at this stage for seed raising purposes, and this is our first year of utilising a greenhouse for this purpose. It’s exciting!

Six more flats were added to the greenhouse with corn and bean seeds
Red Lentils, French Lentils, Chick Peas, and Mung Beans have all sprouted from seed

Produce update:

The strawberry enclosure grows next to this stunning lavender hedge, with the blackberry enclosure seen below and to the right of the photo
The raspberry enclosure is in its first year. Last year this was the corn enclosure
The potato bed has recovered well from the recent transplant

Onto the flowers:

Beautiful Radish flowers
Pineapple sage is beloved of the honeyeaters
Canary Island Foxgloves are tough as
Geraniums form some of the backbone of many of the garden beds
A stunning Ornamental Flowering Quince
With more care and attention given to the forest, the wildflowers are booming
It’s Rhodie time – Rhododendrons that is

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 10’C (50’F). So far this year there has been 960.2mm (37.8 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 894.4mm (35.2 inches).

53 thoughts on “Gimme the prize”

  1. Yo, Chis – It’s the apocalypse! Chris in a suit! I hope the prize yielded some mad cash, and wasn’t just that bit of foolscap the Sargent Major (he is a Sargent Major, isn’t he? What with those three strips on his arm?) is handing you. 🙂 .

    No, life’s not meant to be easy, and, it can be very busy. But, it’s all easier to take, I think, when one is younger. And, if you work at it a bit, and plan ahead, you can carve out the odd moment, here and there, to recharge the old batteries.

    By the way, that bit about getting to the exam, and taking the exam is a fine bit of writing. I don’t know what else to say about it, except it’s excellent.

    First, a disclaimer, over the next bit. Single women with children have a tough roe to hoe. Talk about not having an easy time of it. But, that being said, single women with children often have more … programs available to them. A single bloke, who’s fallen on hard times … well, no one’s holding a place open for you at the trough.

    Well, that may be a hopeful sign. Apprenticeships. Something that hasn’t been heard of, in a long time. Here, I’ve seen a few articles on how some universities (in an attempt to survive) are gutting their humanities programs. I don’t know quit how I feel about that. I think they were a bit overdone, and some nooks and crannies were just plain silly. But, I do hope that they don’t entirely disappear.

    Recently, I see, they’re figuring out ways to actually measure atmospheric rivers. In the past, it’s been “as much water as the Mississippi River! (is that during a flood, or when the water is rather low?). So now they can figure them in “water acres.” The amount of water covering one acre, to a depth of one foot. Or, 43,500 cubic feet, or, 325,851 US gallons, or, for the more metrically inclined, 1233,184 cubic meters.

    Hmmm. Now that I see the thing, I think it’s less of a Megalodon, and more of a giant walrus. You missed a bet there. A bit of chain saw carving, and you could have had your own roadside attraction, with appropriate gate fees.

    Well, if you find a skull out in the brush, you’ll know it was from the cable snapping. At least it was fast. Might be why the stump was left in place. There were other things that demanded attention, at that moment. Or, the stump was left as a memorial.

    So, that’s the wood chipper. (Sniff.) Couldn’t handle a whole body. Without the fuss and bother (and mess) of dismemberment. But, if you’re happy with it.. I’m surprised the fellows at the machine repair outfit let you take it out for a test drive. But then, I suppose you’re a known quantity. They know where you live 🙂 .

    Spring is most decidedly coming to Fern Glade Farm. Everything looks so green, healthy and growing. So do you save some seed from the radish flowers? With the care and attention you’re giving the forest, it will be interesting to see if more varieties of wildflowers, appear. Who knows from where, but in one of my beds, some native wild geranium have popped up. Not a color I care for, but, for some reason I like them, so, I weed around them and give them a drink of water, from time to time. They seem happy with the attention. Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, I’m putting on the cloak of taciturnity but my kryptonite is that I just love a chat – you may have noticed? 🙂 Anyway, I’m trialling that cloak with folks I don’t know and it seems to work. Occasionally I’ve been accosted by rude strangers demanding stuff, and previously I used to send them on their merry way in more or less random directions. The basis for that was that the adventure might do them some good. But nowadays I’ve just been learning to ignore them and don’t engage in the first place. Often they have this underlying motivation which suggests, Look at Moi! And basically I don’t want to do so.

    I hear you about the Canada deal, and the old and very high end FM tuner arrived by way of your country. The freight and customs cost more than the item, but if nobody in your fine country wanted the device, well, who am I to argue? Anyway, I would do no different than your blacklist for people who ignore basic instructions. 🙂 The ebuy situation worked out really well today. So the bloke who won the auction but couldn’t pick it up due to the lockdown situation. He sent me a very shirty email suggesting that I was greedy and wanted more money for the item – without offering such. Talk about projecting the shadow! Another bloke north of here living in a rural area (and thus not in lockdown) had bid on the item. I contacted him and he was absolutely pumped to get the machine and I took the lower price. He came and picked it up today, and the transaction was so normal that the two presumptuous city folks (another bidder was also unable to pick it up) looked very poorly by way of comparison. The guy who picked up the item was a mechanic by trade and had also worked as a machinist, and we had a lovely chat today and I helped him load the machine and wrap it up.

    But exactly, the two city folks probably thought that as you suggest, basic directions don’t apply to them. And they responded like the average two year old would.

    Well spare a thought for the poor rural town where the infected city person allegedly decided to indulge their whims at a local cafe, and apparently infected one of the staff working there. Talk about risks dealing with the public. And unsurprisingly, the state government has used this lesson as a reason to crack down hard. I can’t even begin to imagine what the person was thinking. But I tell ya, over the weekend it was far quieter so I suspect that the back roads were now patrolled. What do they expect would happen?

    Hehe! I doubt the road repair folks were into conspiracy theories, and I’m very pleasant with them. As I heard recounted to me once a few years ago from a local who was wearing inappropriate clothes for the winter conditions: “I just got up in the morning and didn’t think too much about what I wore.” I really heard that said, and it must have been maybe 40’F and the cold wind was blowing. The road repair guys probably didn’t think about the consequences of putting the drain in above the house. I’ll fix it over the next week or so as the rainfall is beginning to ramp up.

    Had a quiet day today, and even managed to spend an enjoyable hour walking around one of the local old historic hill station gardens which was open to the public (with many restrictions in place and the whole place to us). The ebuy guy picked up the machine. And then I spent an enjoyable afternoon just getting all sorts of odds and ends jobs done that had been at the back of my mind for a while. Now the greenhouse project is done and working I can take things a bit easier. 🙂

    Bela Lugosi is a big name in horror films, and thanks to you I’d heard of White Zombie and the origins of the zombie genre. Shuffling zombies are one thing, but they are only one step away from fast zombies like z-nation… Good to hear that the films stand up well, and I reckon your supposition is correct about the early actors having to ensure that their emotional content was projected onto the silent screen. Makes sense to me.

    I might not have told you, but my mate who passed recently, well a whole bunch of us were hanging out at his place one evening and my mates mum turned up. She is a forthright lady, and was not backward about sharing her opinions as to my good character, among other important matters. Anyway, she shouted us all to go and see the musical Hair that evening, which coincidentally was playing at the same Melbourne Town Hall which I wrote about this week. I did quite enjoy the play despite it being a musical and all and having some sort of mental block about such things. But yes, the actors did have to exaggerate their emotional states in order to convey the story, so yeah.

    Edgar Allan Poe is a brilliant author.

    Interesting about the stainless steel cook-wear. It is developing stains which sort of look like the gentle act of seasoning. 😉 An old mate who hails from Hong Kong and worked in commercial kitchens, showed me the seasoning trick with cast iron, but people may expect things to be too clean these days for them to season cook-wear properly. My old mate had a real gift, but he hated the hours as they did a lunch and dinner shift and had a break in between which was not optimal.

    Lewis, in relation to the lockdown, it’s early days yet in this crazy state of being and story. 🙂 Far out. But I freely acknowledge that seven months is a bit different to 200 years. Mind you, international borders look pretty closed, or near to that. Makes me wonder as to what is known and is not being told. Hmm. Thanks for the update on the book, and I can only speak for myself when I suggest that had I married my first girlfriend, things would have ended badly. Others experiences may differ, and that’s cool. So yes, I can well understand that particular predicament – and at least the Japanese society was able to accommodate the reality.

    I’ve heard that story about almonds and water – but here is the thing. I have never watered the almond trees in any meaningful sense and yet they produce well most years. Hmm. Dunno. But yes the larger question as to so much output from such a small area is a recipe for ignoring risk. Yup.

    Shoot, not good. 6 inches of rain is horrendous. I tell ya, too much rain worries me more than too little rain (where I have plenty of stored water).

    Yeah, there have been some odd out-of-stock items and I really do wonder about that story. It’s an important story, but like fuel prices it’s so all over the shop that it is hard to pin down.

    Hehe! Well back in the day I used to wear a suit, but I’m a bit more casual these days. Had less hair back then which was possibly due to ongoing and continual stress which as a young bloke I never really thought about. Actually now that you mention it, there was no mad cash involved in the prize. Still got the foolscap piece of paper, which is now framed but not hanging on the wall due to logistical issues. Never thought to ask for mad cash, but yeah… Didn’t even get me a job upgrade. Oh well.

    It is interesting you say that about carving out quiet moments as a youngster, but that is exactly what we did. We used to like walking around the rather large lake at Ballarat on a Sunday night, which you may have seen in Ms Fisher’s mysteries, but of course with far less dragging bodies out of the lake. There was no other time to rest and recuperate. A local place near to the lake served seriously excellent hamburgers and chips, and the editor and I would munch on the tasty food whilst walking around the lake in the dark and plotting schemes. Not for everyone, but the brief hours of walking and enjoying were pleasant and enjoyable. Most of the time we went around the lake twice and I tend to feel that the act of walking shakes the cobwebs from the brain.

    Thank you very much for saying that about the writing. 🙂 I really enjoy the act of creation with the blog, and it is a pleasure to share that with you.

    By way of explanation, free University education for all was a thing between maybe 1974 and 1988. I tend to believe that this state of affairs set up unrealistic expectations in the populace.

    But I hear you about that in relation to assistance for people who have fallen on hard times, and can’t argue with you. Neither situation is enviable though, male or female. But yes, families of whatever stripe are afforded a greater share of the welfare pie. There is often a beat up in the media about unemployed folks too, but their welfare costs pales when compared to family welfare and the pension. It is just how things are, and I also worry about falling upon hard times as I’ve known the world to fall out beneath me suddenly through no fault of my own. It is a heady experience to fall, which you also know. What do you? Welfare is being reduced down here, and I do wonder at the logic of that decision.

    I doubt the humanities courses will entirely disappear; they have a long and well established history after all. On the other hand it is perhaps unwise to involve an institution in politics and such acts suggests that perhaps the core raison d’être was forgotten? This state by way of comparison seems to be involved in the belt and silk road initiative, and so we look like we are being punished? Hmm.

    Oh no! It was the walrus. Wondered what they were on about – made no sense to me. Hehe! Never thought of the chainsaw art option, it’s a goodie.

    Keep expecting to find a body, but so far never have. I’m guessing the dogs would have discovered and retrieved the body first. After all they have imaginative guts and taste buds. Over the years though I’ve seen some strange things left out in the forest in random spots. Two small stone circles in unlikely spots being one such thing.

    The wood chipper is hardly up for mulching a body. Those machines cost minimum $30k down here, so that’s a bit out of my budget range. Pigs are cheaper by several orders of magnitude!!! 🙂

    No, they trust me with the test of the machine, and I’ve given them no reason not to do so. That’s the thing with longer term relationships, and the boss bloke there knew I wouldn’t muck him around. Now that you mention it, they do have my address. Hehe!

    The radish varieties are all heritage varieties and this was the first year of growing them – and they over wintered just fine. That’s the thing with local wildflowers, you never really know when and where they’ll pop up. I’ve heard some startling tales in relation to viability for well established seed stocks (in the ground). The local spider orchids are having a fun time of it in the forest right now.



  3. Hello Chris
    Belated congratulations on achieving that long ago prize. I am always surprised at how little these things seem to either matter or help one in later life.
    I am also amazed at the work that I got through years ago; alas no longer. At this time of year I am clearing up outdoors before battening down for winter.
    That expensive house nearby has sold for £950,000; the buyers must be completely nuts. There are lovely old farmhouses for sale with outbuildings and land on the Island for similar sums. Son informs me that people want new and not old.
    I find it difficult to comment on things these days as all I want to do is rant about that which shall not be named. We are to be updated this afternoon as to the next ludicrous restrictions.


  4. Yo, Chris – You, chatty? Nooooo!!! Having a conversation with you is like pulling teeth 🙂 .

    Well, all things considered, the Ebuy sale turned out, ok. And, who knows. the Mechanic / Machinist may prove to be a future valuable contact. And, at least you know your “baby” (whatever it was) is going to a good home where it will be used, and looked after. If it went to the city, it would probably have ended up moldering in some suburban garage. Taking a bit lower price may pay off in future dividends, that you can’t even imagine.

    Perhaps the infected city person, should be publicly, beheaded? That would send a message. Televise it. I didn’t realize he had managed to infect one of the staff. He should also pay lost wages, the State should go after the medical costs incurred, and, I don’t know if you have it there, but we have a thing called “pain and suffering.” Usually, the sufferer claims an amount, and a jury or judge either agrees, lowers the amount, or, in some cases, raises the amount.

    “…didn’t think too much about what I wore.” Apparently, he didn’t think much about the weather, either. Which raises the question, what was he thinking about? Perhaps not much goes on in the noggin, except for a lot of white noise?

    On the rare occasions when I think it’s necessary to clean my cast iron, first I put a bit of water in it, bring it to a boil, and scrap off any odd bits of grunge. Then, I scrub it out in the sink, with just hot water. Never touch it with soap of any kind. Then I wipe it as dry as I can get. A bit of olive oil and salt, wiped around the inside, and, voila! seasoned cast iron.

    Split shifts are a b____. Haven’t been in too many situations where I had to put up with that. I’d probably be looking around for another job, and probably did. I mean, sometimes, two hours between shifts? Not enough time to get home and back. Usually. Maybe if there was a convenient place to curl up for a nap. It also screws up a day, for a maybe necessary second job. Another thing I hear about, occasionally, is the job that requires you to be “on-call.” “We can’t tell you when you’ll be working, or how many hours you may end up with in a week, but there it is.” Some say, you’ll have a minimum of “X” hours a week. And, then, don’t deliver.

    One used to hear about “starter homes” and now one hears about “starter marriages.” 🙂 . Why bother with all that marriage folderol when you can just shack-up for awhile and see if it’s a good fit? But even then … marriage changes people. Sometimes.

    Of course, it’s a lot hotter in the California valley. But, also, I wonder how much mulch they have around those trees? To hold the water in?

    In the last 72 hours, we’ve had 7+ inches of rain. I’m surprised I didn’t see any flood warning areas, on the weather map of western Washington. Ground not saturated enough, yet, I guess. And, not much snow melt coming down. Right now, it’s sunny. We’re supposed to have one more day of a bit of rain, and then a week of “mostly sunny.”

    My Idaho friend’s sister, had an theory on the shortage of computers. We’ve got a lot of students, moving on-line. And, a lot of workers are also moving on-line and upgrading. Well, it’s a theory. But, my friend asked me if I had noticed any shortages, over here. Hmmm. I explained to her, not so much, because as a matter of course I buy a lot narrower range of items, than they do. And, I don’t buy meat, at all, which they buy a lot of. Also, over here, I have a lot more shopping options. If something is out at one store, I might pick it up, in another. Or, if it’s out of stock one week, it might be back in stock, the next. But, she observed that it was kind of disconcerting, and wondered if this was the new norm.

    Well, if nothing else, the prize for accounting looks good on your CV. 🙂 . But, with all the work you put in, it’s nice to be recognized.

    The Ballarat mysteries were the circa 1950s, Dr. Blake Mysteries. The Miss Fisher mysteries, are Melbourne in the 1920s. The MS. Fisher mysteries, are Melbourne in the swinging 60’s. I know. You need a scorecard or flow chart. (None of the above to be confused with the Murdoch mysteries (Toronto, 1910) or the Frankie Drake mysteries (Toronto, 1920s.) 🙂 .

    Well, in this part of the world, chainsaw carving is considered “art.” Right along with scenic paintings on old saw blades. Actually, I’ve seen some chainsaw carving that I thought was quit good. Saw paintings, not so much. In fact …

    This is our Packwood Timberland Library. How about that bear? You may notice the library building is actually of log construction. They get a lot of snow up there, hence, the metal roof. Packwood is way out in the east of our county. Almost to White Pass. I never got to work in that branch, as, they had someone local who could fill in, in emergencies.

    I baked 9 dozen peanut butter cookies, last evening. I’ve got to remember to cut that Sunset Cookie Book recipe, in half. Best batch I’ve done, so far, I think. (We won’t talk about the dozen I burned, or the dozen I forgot to impress with a fork.)

    I also watched an interesting documentary. “Capital in the Twenty-First Century.” A look at capital over the last three hundred years, or so. How it started out as land and inheritance. Then moved into factories and production. And now it just circles the globe in the ether. It also makes the point that times are pretty good for more people, when capital is more evenly distributed. But in the past, when capital inequality reaches a tipping point, things change. Governments fall, regimes topple and something else comes out of the (usual) painful mess. Sometimes good (in hindsight), sometimes not so good, but different. I don’t know how available it is, but for someone interested in economics, probably worth a look. Lew

  5. Chris,

    We’ve had two separate storms the past few days, dropping about 15mm of rain. Another one due to hit Tuesday with another 8mm or so expected. But this one is supposed to bring some fierce winds with gusts up to 85km/hour west of here and up to 65 km/hour hereabouts. And the Sunday night storm rained really hard west of here: it took the Princess 4 hours to get home from the Rez, normal 2.5 hours, due to visibility from the hard rain and due to puddles in the highway, leading to hydroplaning risks.

    The storms DID bring enough rain to the fires in Oregon that they’re pretty much contained. That will mean less smoke here. Our air quality Monday morning was exceedingly good.

    Yes, it’s the months of arid that I thought triggered your comparison. You may get twice our rainfall, but you get hotter earlier and for a longer time, ditto drier, so that leeches the wet out of things in a nastier fashion than what we get.

    I was gonna make a quip to Pam along the lines of “martial arts, marital arts, is there a difference?”, but if the Princess read that, well, she’d be using me as a martial arts dummy!

    The free will thing is interesting. Sometimes I think we have it, other times I think maybe on rare occasions in small doses perhaps. It’s another one of those questions that sometimes I think about and then realize I’ll never really know. However, having an illusion of free will when we don’t seems rather a cruel way for our species to have developed. Maybehaps we ARE carbon based life forms that are the matrix of a supercomputer known as Earth designed by the great Deep Thought Computer. Harmless? Mostly harmless?

    What a nicely written story about the bicycle and the test! Twas during a torrential New Mexico thundershower that I had to ride my bicycle about a kilometer downhill to get to my office. You know, what we call a “gullywasher” that dumped about 40mm in 20 minutes. Mate, I was out in that for just a brief amount of time and dried out 2 days later. At least that’s what it felt like.

    My inner snark has a comment about that Ernst & Young Prize. That prize and a few dollars will get you a decent cup of coffee. The Princess keeps me in line with that very snark whenever I find some new and proven genealogy link to some well known historic character. 😉

    I suggested to an appliance repairman the other day that maybe he and some of his cohorts should start apprenticeship programs. He got a very thoughtful look on his face.

    Once upon a time, back when I was in my teens during the Anglo-Saxon conquest, we had what were called “storms”. Sometimes the storm was fierce enough that we called it a “major storm” or an “OOG! Get indoors that’s one wooly mammoth storm coming through!” Now it seems that every storm is an “atmospheric river”. They’re still storms to me.

    Dude, that was one big stump! Sounds like an epic burn to take care of it. No wonder that cable snapped.

    Okay, Lew beat me to it. But seriously. If the wood chipper isn’t large enough to dispose of “evidence”, what good is it?!?

    Quince blooms are so nice. I always enjoy ours.


  6. Hi Chris,

    Nice writing on the exam experience. Brings back recent memories of my time at university, three hours really does go in a flash! If I managed to finish early, I couldn’t help do a mental estimate of my final score before leaving. You usually have a good idea walking out how well (or not) you did… I never had rain to contend with, maybe only took the car two or three times over three years. Hobart is drier than people think!

    I think people do treat student debt differently for the good reason it is different 🙂 of course, “the best loan terms you will ever get” does not mean “never pay it back”, which is what quite a few humanities and game programming graduates seem to have decided!


  7. Hi Damo,

    The dice has been rolled and the wheels have been set in motion. The moons aligned today and the timing felt just right. 🙂 Stay tuned. Of course in this here solar system, there’s a whole bunch of moons, so who knows which planet I’m even talking about. Heck, I don’t even know. It’s confusing these days… 🙂

    Only the truly chatty know that sometimes three hours is not enough to really get to the central tenet of utter mysteries. But you know, in exams, well you kind of have to be more direct and answer the question as so asked in order to please the poor folks doing the marking, and well that means that my general style of prevarication (and yours I’m guessing!) probably won’t go over so well. So yeah, get to the point and all that gear.

    The gentle art of estimation is par for course with your line of work, so I’m thinking it is a DNA thing for you. 😉 However, having just said that I too tend to have a good guess beforehand so I’m not sure really what that all means. But then how does a person confront the psychic wall of post-exam questions which despite being simple, and you know they are inordinately difficult to answer. One such is this: How did you go? At first glance it seems like such a simple question, but on deeper pondering the layers of complexity become ever deeper. Do you skite and bring the wrath of the marking gods down upon your work? Or do you play it safe and suggest ambiguously that you went OK? More questions are raised here than are answered, that’s for sure.

    Hobart is crazy dry for such a southern capital city, so I knew that. Where MONA is, years ago the editor and I once camped along that shoreline in the dead of winter. Nights were spent in Salamanca Place, and it was only the toss of a coin that meant we ended up where we are today.

    Mate, people are bonkers about debt. I am of the economic school of the brutal pragmatist (you may never have heard of this school but it does exist somewhere, or other) and I can only suggest that like you are suggesting, they are wrong. If someone comes for the estate, well that smells like debt spirit to me.



  8. Hi Inge,

    Hehe! You and I have conducted a very pleasant and enjoyable correspondence over many long years and I have appreciated all of that. Over the long years your erudition has shone clearly to me (and hopefully this is reciprocated), so when you suggest that such things as the award don’t matter, well I understand that you posit that theory (which matched my experience to a tee) from a position of one who has been there and done that. It wasn’t lost on me that we currently do not live in a meritocracy. Oh no. Dunno about you, but I accepted that knowledge and lessons, and then utilised the insights from the experience to pave my own path. Is it fair, no. But it is how it is, and that plays out in the world around us. It doesn’t matter though to me and in some ways the outcome provides freedom to act.

    The work you could get through when younger is amazing isn’t it? I take it easier nowadays, which is why I’m endlessly amused when people suggest that: Oh my god, you work so hard! It is more about the person saying it.

    That property story makes little sense to me either. But then, you and your son view living in a rural area as being part of the seasonal cycle, productivity and place. Can’t say for sure, and it is a subject that endlessly fascinates me, but I suspect that few people see things this way. Possibly land is used as a space buffer from other people.

    If you’re not careful your experience could get as crazy-town as Melbourne is. I went there today for work and did all of my stops along the way and spoke to a lot of people I’ve known for a long time. They’re doing OK, but deep down I really worry for their mental health. People are animals after all and they have social needs, and the current restrictions go contrary to those needs. The isolation is punishing for many people. Oh yeah.



  9. Hi DJ,

    The good professors blog suggested that there have been weak tornadoes and Pacific cyclones at least to the west of you, so it hardly surprises me that you’ve had a drenching. But 85km/h wind gusts are frightening and can bring down large trees and woosh cars all over the road. Woosh being the technical word.

    As a former motorbike rider for over a decade, there was one massive bridge over the Yarra River which fell down almost fifty years ago a few days ago. When I used to ride my motorbike over the bridge I could feel the movement of the bridge in my guts, but sometimes wind gusts would blow the bike from one lane to another. It has been a long time since I used that bridge: West Gate Bridge disaster still haunts the men who were there, 50 years on.

    So yes, I can well understand that your lady would have required many more hours to return from the Rez in those weather conditions. Sometimes the rain is so torrential here that driving is not an option and you just have to pull over and wait it out. And also hope that nobody foolishly drives into the rear of the car.

    Glad the smoke is clearing. I note that ‘contained’ does not imply the same meaning as the word ‘extinguished’. Not quibbling with you, but the difference would have great meaning in my part of the world.

    Exactly, it is the arid months that lead me to the conclusion. The differences in rainfall, well they are different, but as I wrote, you have rivers that I don’t have access to so it all balances out in the storms.

    DJ, you are like super brave with your theory! Hey, two words: Good Luck! Hehe! Cue deep voice: You knew the rules… Hehe!

    Mate, I’ve been dwelling upon the subject of free will for many years, and also trying to flex that particular muscle, but it is like defying gravity as you get pulled back into where ever it is that you are, doing whatever is that you are doing. So yeah, small doses and enjoy those. It would perhaps not be too wise to be and act too consciously because you and I both know of the dreaded ‘Total Perspective Vortex’. Oh yeah, only those who know…. I feel, but am unsure about, but perpetuating the perception of free will when there is none seems like a cruel act to me. That’s maybe just me though. The option may have consequences down the track.

    Thank you for the kind words, and sometimes I dig deep to evoke a story. The story arrived in my mind mostly formed and but needed the telling.

    Shoot! Far out man. 40mm in 20 minutes is an horrendous downpour, and yes I can well understand how it might take two days to properly dry out from such a weather event. I have some dark suspicions that this year will produce a 100mm in an hour rainfall here, which I have experienced several times before. Such rainfall brings no joy. Oh well, all hands brace for impact! My little Star Trek joke.

    That was either the final or penultimate subject for the undergraduate program and I’d become quite adept at the requirements for the course, possibly due to a combination of years and age. Anyway, it looked good on my CV, but I can’t honestly say that the award provided any advantage. A cup of coffee would have been appreciated, but I don’t even recall that was on offer – although candidly I didn’t look too hard. Your lady is correct to keep you properly grounded and the editor does likewise. 🙂

    One day in the far future, I might have to get an apprentice here. It’s possible, but who knows?

    Like your style with the storms and keeping it simple.

    We ended up burning maybe somewhere between one third and one half of the large tree stump. The fire was still going the next day, but I didn’t have the energy to keep feeding the beast. Maybe in a few days time I’ll re-ignite it.

    Hehe! The wood chipper is good enough for me. I suggested to Lewis that pigs would be far cheaper and far better for the environment.

    Quince is my favourite fruit (when stewed).



  10. Hey Chris,

    As an arts graduate myself, I had to chuckle at the LNP raising the price of the degree. It was, of course, roundly condemned by the usual suspects. The fact remains, there is not a demographic in the country less likely to vote LNP than an arts student/graduate so, on purely political grounds the move makes a lot of sense.

    Dunno if you saw Lambie’s speech in parliament. I just saw a snippet where she was saying how university was a way out of poverty for young people especially in poorer places like Tasmania. Apparently that message still resonates with a lot of people but it’s been wrong for some time. My cousin, who is the same age as me, became a carpenter while I went to uni. He will definitely earn more money than I will over our lifetimes (unless I get lucky with one of my books) so the economics of a trade vs an arts degree are pretty obviously in favour of the trade and I would bet a lot of money that will become more true in the next decades.

    My understanding is that year 8-10 go back to school in a few weeks. Apparently all high school students now have to wear masks. Good god, high school is tedious and difficult enough as it is but with a mask on it would be next level bad. Would love to see some studies of the effect of reduced oxygen intake on concentration levels. Big argument in favour of homeschooling.

  11. Hi Lewis,

    Entertaining? Well I can do that trick from time to time! Hehe! Hey, just saying, but it takes one to know one. 😉

    The bloke who picked up the item was a lovely bloke despite the crusty and gruff demeanour. Some guys use such an outward projection so that they don’t get hassles from other guys. And the old industrial overlocker I wrote about many years ago ended up going to a good home. We hadn’t used the machine for a few years as the editor purchased a very nice sewing machine for herself a year or two back and it more or less does the same things. And you wrote more truthfully than you might be aware because we originally purchased the machine from someone who had it in their garage in the city.

    Beheadings most certainly send a strong message. But then there becomes the awful conundrum as to whether such a final treatment would be turned on either of our good selves. It is a bit eerie, but you’d hope the blades were sharp. Going back for a second go would be awful.

    Yes, the person did allegedly infect one of the cafe staff. There is probably a criminal offence in there for the person responsible. Kilmore coronavirus outbreak in regional Victoria sends more than 150 people into quarantine.

    Hehe! So true in relation to the clothes and weather quote: what ever were they thinking, is perhaps a more important question than it appears at first glance.

    I hear you about the split shifts, although have not done one. The wasted few hours of the day, each working day put my old mate off that job and he had a real talent in the kitchen too. There was nowhere to take a nap apparently and he told me that by the time he got home from the lunch shift, he’d have to turn around and head back for the dinner shift. Not fun.

    Working hours are a funny issue. The gobarmint can be a bit whacky with a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ approach. It seemed odd to me that it would be expected of volunteers to put in twelve hour shifts with one mob I volunteered with. And that was considered normal. Not many people can put in so many hours without it taking it out of them. And with the electshuns it was considered normal to arrive at 7am and leave at 11pm. That is one heck of a long work day I can tell you. Try doing that with a mask for all those hours due to the health subject which dare not be named, and you’ll know true pain and possibly get other illnesses.

    As an odd side story and riffing from what you wrote, the market for casual labour down here has tanked, so I’m not exactly sure whether that market will rise from the ashes like the proverbial Phoenix.

    I never experienced that expectation change from the editor but we did shack up before hand for about a year and bit so had a rough idea what we were in for. The finer details may have been a bit hazy though. Bizarrely, arranged marriages often have higher success rates than the more expected arrangements. There is an old a slightly disturbing joke about weddings where a bride is walking down the aisle (the editor and I had a very casual ceremony in a botanical garden) and the bride looks at the setting and notes the: Aisle; Altar; and hymn. Horrendous joke, but it does reflect many people’s perceptions of that institution.

    Now that we are on the subject, when we got married why did so many people ask us when we were going to have kids? You don’t have to be married to do that, but clearly expectations were heaped upon us that one thing leads to another. That ain’t necessarily so.

    Well that is the thing isn’t it about the commercial scale almond orchards? Farmers have a pretty hard time investing back into their soils at the sort of returns they get for their produce. That story won’t end well. And top soil retains moisture when the stuff does fall from the sky.

    Far freakin’ out! That is a heck of a lot of rain in a very short period of time. Glad to hear that there were no floods. Did I see that the good Professor mentioned that there is a Pacific cyclone bearing down upon your part of the world?

    Yeah, it’s a theory. But then the facts speak for themselves in relation to the theory that the suppliers just can’t supply, whatever the case may be. A somewhat simpler way to view the world, but possibly more valid. I tell you, people don’t want to touch this subject as it seems to me it hits at core beliefs. Hey, I don’t buy meat at all either except for sometimes a small pack of mince to feed the chickens. A few weeks back the cost for such meat rose by 50%, but looks as though it is more or less back to the previous price. The off cut butchers bones for the dogs have remained the same price.

    Thanks. I don’t really know whether the prize tipped anything in my favour. It is possible that some employers may have seen it as a negative in that they may have somehow considered that I’d get bored with their intellectual challenges. Mind you, I really have been challenged in a work place, and I sure don’t want that experience again…

    Of course, it was the Dr Blake Mysteries and all the bodies in the lake at Ballarat. I must say that I applaud the killers for exercising a sense of aesthetics with the dumping spot. It is after all a beautiful lake, and I found it very calming and serene. The old Victorian era boat house used to serve delightful cakes. Yum!

    I’ve seen that sort of saw blade art, and yeah I hear you. It is not usually a thing down here, possibly due to lack of old saw blades hanging around. A local farm gate many years ago used to sell the most tasty tomatoes in season and they used a saw blade to advertise the sale. It was when they began dropping back supply that we had to ramp up our production, but before then the living sure was good and easy. 😉 That story will play out in the wider society over the next few decades.

    The bear at the library is pretty good. As a comparison, I’ve seen carved wombats in the nearby town of Malmsbury: Wombat sculpture. Good fun huh? That sort of metal roof is a far tougher and hardier profile than what you normally see here. And from what I’ve seen of that profile, the joins are crimped and sealed. Tough as old boots.

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that one always burns their first batch of scones – or peanut butter cookies in your case. I’ll bet the apartment smelled nice when the unburned ones were happily cooking away. Yum!

    To be honest, as a student of economics, I’m frankly a bit hazy on what exactly is capital. It could refer to resources or energy, but also other stuff. So, please bare with me a moment, but people confuse money for wealth. The two items are different. So when people talk about capital, often they mean money, but money is only a claim on wealth, so what the heck is meant by capital? And there is little point having resources and energy if they can’t be utilised at an economic point at which they produce a return. So you see, I have no idea what is actually meant by the word ‘capital’. And in a time of decline when the money supply expands, the story gets even more confusing. Boom! That was the sound of my brain exploding. Thanks. Now I’ll have to clean up the little chunks of grey matter stuck to the walls – and also hope there are no zombies hanging around. They might get ideas after all. 🙂



  12. Yo, Chris – Back in the good old days, when the order “Off with their head!” had some clout, it was customary (and a good idea) to tip your executioner, as lavishly as possible. Before the event. To insure a sharp blade and one “go.” 🙂 .

    The Kilmore article was pretty interesting. It’s a classic case of how epidemics, spread.

    Some young people do it rough. First there’s all the pressure over “When you going to get married?” and then it’s onto, “When are you going to have kids.” Not that it’s anyone else’s business. I had an uncle who I didn’t see very often, who thought polite conversation included the “When are you going to get married?” question. As luck would have it, his oldest son (my cousin, who was older than me) also lived in a state of un-wedded bliss. I finally got tired of his question, and one day snapped at him, “Probably about the same time as Loren.” My cousin. Well, that took the wind out of his sails, and the question was never broached, again. Sometimes, you got to step hard, to send the signal, “Better tread lightly, around this one.”

    Well, as far as our weather goes, I want a refund! I want to speak to the manager! The forecast for the next week changed, overnight. It’s rainy, and, we may even see high winds. A week of “mostly sunny” has shrunk to one day. Prof. Mass reports, this morning, that there was a tornado up on the west side of the Olympics. Lake Quinault is mentioned. Our library system has a branch, up there. I worked in it a time or three. Made out like a bandit, due to travel time and mileage. 🙂 . It was a nice little branch. Even had a wood stove. And, cats! The architect was trying to evoke the idea of a beached whale. Or, a Native American long house.

    All this talk of supply lines, had me checking my toilet paper supply. Down to 44 rolls. Time to pick up another pack, before I fall below the optimum back-up of 42. 🙂 .

    The wombat sculptures made me smile. They look like children’s plastic toys.

    The last place I lived had a metal roof, like that. Tough as. Sounded nice in the rain. Unfortunately, the Evil Stepson had let a barbeque grill get out of hand, which burnt the porch roof and blistered a dinner plate sized spot on the metal roof. Which was rusted, and on it’s way to deterioration, when I moved in. The vacancy due to his inattention. 🙂 .

    Maybe capital is two things. It can be tangible goods, or, an idea. I think I’d rather have tangible goods, in hand. But, we play on both sides of that fence. All that “stuff” shuffling around in my bank account, really doesn’t exist, in the “real world.”

    I’m watching a three disc documentary called “The British Invasion.” I’m just finishing up the first disc, which covers the Beatles. Then onto the Rolling Stones, and finishes up with The Who. Lots of interesting stuff, with people “who were there,” and a lot of good music. Lew

  13. Hello again
    Forgot to comment on the fact that you were given reading time before putting pen to paper in that exam. I have never heard of such a thing. As it is a long time since I have taken an exam I must ask someone younger whether we do that here now.
    I do wonder where the concept of fairness arose as no such thing exists in reality. Fretting about it is a disastrous waste of time.
    I absolutely love your blog and your commentators. The varied subjects and the humour and intelligence displayed by all is stunning.


  14. Hi Everyone,

    The forecast climate down here this summer looks set to become rather, err, interesting: The green blob that paints a grey picture for the Aussie summer. Keep that umbrella handy! The effect even seems to reach into the north east and west coast US. Wow, and um not good.

    What surprises me is that this climate set up does seem to appear after really epic scaled summer bushfires – possibly because so much particulate matter gets chucked into the atmosphere. There was the 2009 massive Black Saturday fires which produced a La Nina the following year, and now last summers epic Summer of fire, which appears to be producing a strong La Nina this year. Bonkers stuff. The 1983 Ash Wednesday fires also seems to have produced a wet year, and likewise so did the 1939 Black Friday fires.

    I dunno, in our desires not to manage the forests we swing from droughts to flooding rains – and then wonder why ever should it be this way? Bonkers, but I’ll give ’em points for hanging onto failed ideology – an impressive achievement.



  15. Hi Chris & Lew,

    The official economics definition of capital is “the produced means of production”. In slightly less formal terms, it just means the stuff you use to make other stuff (a pipe bending machine in a factory, a computer in an accountants office, a dump truck in a mine etc etc).

    This forms the trifecta of land/labour/capital, which for any produced good requires inputs from all three. I note, in recent years, economics textbooks have added “entrepreneurship” to this holy trifecta, this corrupting its purity. I think this is a shameless sop to the 1% overlords who need constant justification for their concentration of wealth. But maybe I am looking into it too much.

    This of course differs from the financial definition of capital which I am not exactly sure on, but would seem to cover money (or IOUs) that is used to obtain land and capital (in the economic sense). I tend to blur both a little bit, and think of capital as income producing assets such as shares (but not land which is its own category).


  16. Hi Chris,

    You might be right about your award scaring off employers due to perceived lack of “challenge” for such an obviously gifted individual 🙂 I have been asked questions at interviews in the past hinting at similar concerns. In a related note, I have also been straight up called a “flight risk”. Understandable, but then you did advertise the job in another country….


  17. Hi Chris,

    Aahhhh, the post exam question. It does feel wrong to tempt the marking gods and proudly declare “I went well, pretty much what I expected”. But, I am told there is value in modest honesty – so who really knows? I tended to split the difference and go with “I think i went well”. Followed by, “what did you do for “. Such a conversation can end in tears at the revelation you made a colossal mistake, or happiness you at least made the same mistake as everyone else 🙂


  18. Hi Simon,

    I am always amazed at the amount that trades can earn in this country. Not saying it is necessarily a bad thing, but a very comfortable life can be obtained for relatively unskilled work if you play your cards right. And if you are actually good at your trade, you can basically set your pay and hours.

    Does it boil down to the insane amount of apartment and house construction we do in this country? I think construction counts for like 8% of GDP – that must have a flow on effect for supply and demand (and thus average hourly rates) for your plumbers/electricians and the like. My university degree has paid off for the most part, but my role (surveying) is ironically more of a trade than traditional white collar. Indeed, most surveyors came up as apprentices not so long ago.


  19. Hi Inge,

    Yes, it might be a down under thing, but 15 minutes reading time was granted before each exam began. That was standard practice and I’ve never known it to be otherwise.

    The animals of the forest don’t concern themselves with fairness, they seem far more interested in shelter, mucking around and food. Although some societies tend to operate better when resources are not as heavily concentrated (or perceived to be so), but what the happy medium point for that is, is a subject that is outside my knowledge. Do you have any clarity on that issue? I’ve also noted that some successful leaders are quite generous, and that may play into the story. Dunno, but culture and thus expectations also plays into the story.

    Thank you and we have a fun time here, and I enjoy myself too. 🙂 I tell you truly that from week to week I have no idea in advance what will be discussed.



  20. Hi Simon,

    That’s funny – and so true! I’d never thought of it that way, but yeah. Isn’t that the problem with being a captive constituency? Better to be part of a swinging electorate. Mate when HECS / HELP debts were first introduced in 1989 (from memory), the students were cracking the sads and sulking their socks off about it, but to no avail. Fees are fees, and that is how it rolled before 1974 (not that I can recall that year!) and the free University education was beggaring the kingdom and the public had no taste to continue funding it. The real problem was as I saw it, that expectations had been created that an undergraduate degree became necessary for many jobs, where previously it was not a requirement. Accounting used to be by apprenticeship, just for one example and I met a few old timers who travelled that path. They seemed pretty cocky just for your information! The other thing that was not lost on me was that corporations had shifted their costs for training first onto the public, and then onto the individuals. It won’t end well you know.

    Your book still hasn’t arrived. I’m pretty certain the distribution centre is down in Dandenong way so hopefully there are no clusters there among the highly casual workforce who has to work in the river of stuff.

    No, I hadn’t heard Jacqui Lambie’s speech. That particular politician has an extraordinary support base for an independent. Few of our politicians have served in the military, and she is one of those few. But in the matter you raised, well I tend to believe that she is wrong. Not to put too fine a point on it, but for a young adult to begin their working life bowed under by the sheer weight of student debt (and things are easier here than in the US on that front), well nobody seems to ask the hard question: How do they recover from that burden? And is it worth it? I paid that baby off as I went, but I had to work full time through the entire part time course which took me seven years. There was no other option, and the requirement looked like a barrier to entry A.K.A. hurdle to jump.

    Now carpenters have not been free of trade-hijacking because the truss producing companies have simplified their jobs to a certain degree. I constructed the house frame and supports here, but the roof more or less had to be supplied as a weird more than life-sized lego kit. But yeah, I concur with your opinion, although if you strike it rich with your linguistic skills, you might do really good. Get your motor running. Head out on the highway. Looking for adventure… That chance to strike it rich is not part of the life of a carpenter, just saying. 😉

    On Tuesday I spoke with a really lovely lady who I’ve known for a few years and we spoke of the mask and the necessity to wear it all day long. She looked really pained, and probably was in need of a hug, but that might have been socially inappropriate for me to do. I see a lot of pain when in Melbourne, and my heart goes out to the people.

    Mate, summer is going to be seriously hard.



  21. Hi Lewis,

    Information like that can only be useful, if say a person was put in the worst of times and situations. Who knew? But in a strange way it makes a weird sort of sense, and perhaps the core truth of the matter is that it is best to disappoint the crowd whilst pleasing the executioner? Blades do get dull if not properly honed.

    In a really strange twist of fate, I’m reading the second book of the World made by hand series, and over lunch I read the infamous Stephen Bullock katana scene with the three pickers. One could suggest that the pickers got a bit uppity, but then lost their heads in the confusion. A solid lesson in not over extending oneself? Oh well and I’ve run out of jokes.

    But it all reminds me of returning through customs years and years ago (like another age, kind of maybe with dinosaurs and stuff). So we returned from Nepal and India, and the customs questionnaire asked about weapons and so I ticked the box as I had the lethal and wickedly sharp gurkha knife in my bags. Anyway, the customs folks opened the bags, checked out the knife and we had a nice chat, and then off I went. They seemed pretty super chill about it all. Should have picked up a katana blade. But wait, what a good idea! Hmm. Can be sorted.

    Looks like the Kilmore person did badder: Shepparton coronavirus cases traced to person linked to Chadstone outbreak who initially hid trip. Examples will be made and strong messages may be sent. What will be the outcome? Dunno. But yes, this morning I was reading the news and thinking about your trademarked quote: Someone will always break quarantine. You called it.

    The problem as I see it with the casualisation of the workforce is that any mishap at all, and an employee on shaky and tenuous employment ground, might attempt to cover over the mishap. This is clearly part of the story.

    I never thought to come straight out and attack the people posing such stupid questions. We were young and just didn’t get the subtext of the questioning in the first place. At best we probably looked mildly confused by the questions. It would be funny if it weren’t true. Say, why do all these people keep asking… But I do agree with your perspective as from time to time I have had to confront some very odd people in this mountain range and basically let them know that I’m not to be trifled with. If there was another way, I’d pursue it, but some folks just push and push and push. They seem a bit oblivious as to the consequences of their actions. Dunno why they’d act that way. Did you ever get any clarity on your pesky old uncle’s motives? Or was he just a pain in the ass?

    Your weather forecast was wrong. Did not the good Professor suggest a relatively strong Pacific cyclone was imminent? I’m not a gambler by nature, but if I had to back a horse, and the good Professor was suddenly turned into a horse by the elder folks of the forest and then forced to run a race (unlikely yes, but perhaps not impossible), well, I’d put my money on him. It’s a safe bet as far as I’m concerned. 🙂

    The library building would not be out of place down here. There are a few businesses around these parts that have cats or dogs lounging around doing their thing and keeping an eye on the businesses. I usually make sure that I say hello to the cats and dogs, if they deign to acknowledge my existence. Having used timber for the past decade to keep the house warm during winter, I’m a real fan of the fuel, but it sure is complicated. The Quinault Rain Forest looks like an awesome place – I’d totally love it.

    Don’t let DJ hear your loose talk about possibly ending up with less than 42 rolls. Mate, it ain’t good to get so close to the foundational number of required rolls. People could get hurt. You are wiser than I, because it is game over down here as there are less than 10 rolls to hand. That’s it, I’m taking my bat and ball and heading off the field with head hanging down knowing the true shame of defeat.

    Exactly, the wombat sculptures are really cool because they make me smile too. And believe it or not, they’re just located in a quiet town not far north of here that was bypassed within the last decade. When the main road went through the town, you could hardly cross from one side of the road to the other side. And the bakery pumped with foot traffic. Nowadays it is a bit quieter, although the town has a juvie jail and that provides a heap of employment. I dunno though, I kind of enjoy the town better now that it is quieter. They have a lovely botanical garden planted out by the great Baron Von Mueller, and an amazing old granite train bridge which is still in use today.

    Some folks are sent to test our resolve. That young bloke you mentioned sounded an awful lot like that to me. I did mention that some folks up here pushed and pushed and pushed until they got a reaction – and then that was that. Strange folks to keep testing boundaries so. It is an unwise strategy.

    That’s the awfulness of it all. You have to play both sides of the game of capital and you never really know whether you are standing on solid ground. If there was an easier way… I’m thinking tangible wealth and goods, plus claims on such stuff, but I see that Damo has chimed in with a more definitive definition.

    Yes, the British invasion was a thing down here too. Those bands were all a thing here as well. Mind you, your country (and mine) produced its fair share of artists. Yup, I hear you, a lot of good music.



  22. Hi Damo,

    Only those who have known the wrath of the exam result gods, know true fear. And hubris has long been known to switch over to nemesis suddenly and without warning.

    Modesty, yeah well it’s an option. I choose the path of obfuscation when asked about forecast exam results, not because it is in my nature to lie, but because the word is a goodie and some people don’t even know what it means – and how ironic is that? 🙂

    But you are made of sterner stuff than I because I can’t say that I’ve gotten into a conversation with another student about the finer points of the exam questions. It’s sort of like being in mortal danger because you just happen to find yourself at a quiz night with a total know-it-all, and who knows if they’re wrong? Their confidence is strong master (said in best Jedi talk tongue)!

    Anyway obfuscation is now officially out for me as a reply option. The editor has banned me from suggesting by way of reply to her rather simple and forthright questions, in that I could possibly be up to: ‘a bit of this, and a bit of that!’. Hope she is not reading this reply as there could be trouble given I just wrote the banned saying out loud. Hehe! One has to occasionally live on the edge.

    Yeah, it is a real problem to over excel. And I mean that seriously. Nobody wants to work with a smarty pants who makes everyone else look bad by way of comparison. Look at Hot Fuzz for one example. Of course my shoulders are big enough to handle the approbation of my peers, although candidly they might mean otherwise, but who cares. 🙂 And yes, I too went through a stage of job hopping as I climbed the ladder, but that is how it is, and strangely enough I’m genuinely surprised that it was even raised as a concern as things seem a bit more chill on that front these days. And yes, I totally agree, what did they expect?

    Entrepreneurship sounds to me like a bunch of kids running a face mask sewing business (I have heard such stories). And to be frank it does sound a bit tacked on to the capital definition possibly so as to support the cult of personality which is sometimes seen in the big end of town. I tend to be more impressed with results, but maybe I’m old fashioned in that regard. Oh, you already knew that about the concentration. Respect!

    I’m not entirely certain what is actually meant by the term financial capital. It is a mystery, because money is only ever a claim on wealth, so dunno. Shares are an interesting item, and of late I have noted that they seem to be producing less return. We’re in interesting times.



  23. Chris,

    Woosh is a wonderful word. It’s highly technical whilst having the added benefit of describing the actual sound of the wind gusts. I checked out of work early Tuesday and ran errands with the Princess. We left a store and a nasty gust wooshed two (luckily unbreakable) items out of our cart. Said items were quickly corralled. Highest local gust was apparently the forecasted 70 km/hr or so. Power did flicker at the house one time, but no damage. But best of all? Prior to the windstorm, another 6mm of rain, making a total from the past few days of about 21mm. Well needed.

    That West Gate Bridge disaster is right up there with the old Tacoma Narrows Bridge, except much worse for loss of life. Reading the article made me wonder what in the blazes those engineers were thinking, trying to compress the bridge to the proper height and taking out supports to do so?!? (The proper words to say cannot be said on this forum.) I said to the civil engineers early in my current career that I know how low they sit on the “Totem Pole of Technical Abilities” – right at the bottom. West Gate Bridge makes my point for me.

    Yes, there’s a huge difference here also between “contained” and “extinguished”. I’ve noticed that they’ve been much slower to label a fire “contained” this year than in past years. Gotta be a story that caused that change.

    Oh no, Chris! I see by some “over the shoulder” reading that you took a note out of my playbook and wrote some things that, well, maybe the Editor and the Princess have common cause to be irritated with us? 😉

    Great point upon too much consciously acting or focus or whatever you want to call it leading to a dread “Total Perspective Vortex” moment. Not enough focus and it causes problems. Too much causes problems. It’s another one of those balancing things. I’m suspicious that the balancing point is unstable, shifting, and never achievable for long. Which sorta implies that “free will” is a nefariously nebulous thing. I dunno, which may actually be the point of it all? I mean, “Silly human! You don’t control anything. Bwahahahaha!”

    Ya know, I read your comment about “Brace for impact” immediately prior to our shopping outing that ended with a literal Woosh Event. Yet, I apparently lost my focus, didn’t exhibit “free will”, so didn’t brace for impact and had those two items wooshed from the shopping cart. 🙂 Or maybe I subconsciously did exhibit “free will” and ignored the brace for impact idea.

    What would we do without the grounding comments from the Princess and the Editor? Best not to find out, methinks!

    Wow, I hadn’t realized that the stump didn’t all burn in the one episode. (The spellcheck thingy on my computer did a Freudian slip or something and initially corrected “stump” to “trump”. Seriously? Another “Silly human, you don’t control anything” moment.) That is One Big Stump. No wonder the cable broke.

    Yes, pigs would be more environmentally friendly. Way back in English Composition (a required “core” course at university), one of our essays had to be a problem-solution paper. I did mine on the problem of lawn care: why water and fertilize the lawn only to cut it every bleeping week in the heat? My solution was to have 2 or 3 goats, who would keep the lawn trimmed and fertilized, maybe provide milk, and then provide meat and hides for clothing for the winter. Although I aced the course, that was the solitary essay that I wrote that the instructor enjoyed.


  24. Yo, Chris – Re: Your green blob. Wet on the ends and dry in the middle? 🙂 .

    I remember once, going to the airport with my Dad (can’t even remember who we were picking up) and Dad stashing a blade he carried, under an ashtray, before we got to the security point. And that was well before all the security shuck and jive we go through these days.

    The article about the Shepparton cases, was very interesting. You’d never see such an article, here. More’s the pity. We seldom get narratives as to how the virus spreads from person to person. The article got that across without violating much of the privacy of people involved (which is a big deal, here). Also I was startled to see businesses named. Never happens here, unless the business steps forward (kudos to Safeway.) So, we really don’t have much information to do a risk analysis. It was like the recent flu shot, I got. Decided to get it here, at the Institution, rather than waltz into my usual clinic. And, it was a conscious weighing of “where am I more likely to contact the virus.” I haven’t seen my friend Susan, since this all started. I used to stop into The Club, every Thursday afternoon for a chat. Well, she dropped me an e-mail that she goes to a meeting, every Saturday night, at the Club, and thought I might like to come. I probably won’t. Even masked, I just don’t feel comfortable in a small room with a large number of people.

    All that questioning about marital status and the results, there-of. Maybe they just want to make sure everyone else is as miserable as they are? 🙂 . Uncle? Pain in the ass.

    During the time I was running courier for the library, I went up to Lake Quinault, a few times. The library was closed, but I had keys to do my drop off and pick up. I usually got there around lunch time, so, I’d take my brown bag and sit out on their back deck, and take in the scenery. One time, I had the distinct feeling of being watched. Turns out there was a raccoon, playing peak-a-boo, from behind a tree. Then it moved closer, and bobbed up and down behind a small bush. Knew how to play the cute card. Got half my apple. 🙂 . Some of the cats around the library were quit feral. With the results of feral cats. But, about once a year, a cougar would come through and clean out the excess population. By the way, did you see …

    Many a highway bypass, killed many a small town. Eleanor talks about what happened here in Chehalis. The main drag was Highway 101, which meandered it’s way from Portland to Seattle. She worked in a restaurant, where all the downtown businessmen, gathered. The whole time they’re building the I-5 interstate, these guys, in their arrogance, didn’t think it would effect their businesses, at all. That downtown was really a hopin’ place on weekends and holidays. The day they opened the freeway, it was like flipping a switch. Crickets …
    It also bypassed Centralia. And, a long list of other small towns, between Portland and Seattle.

    I picked up two zombie movies, from the library, yesterday. haven’t watched either one, yet. I was reading the box of the one made in 1943. It seems some fellow is creating zombies, to gather information to pass onto the Axis powers … So, another genre of zombie film: the propaganda zombie film. 🙂 . Lew

  25. Yo, Chris – We interrupt this regularly scheduled program, to bring you BREAKING NEWS!!! “Dexter” is returning for a limited series of 10 episodes. Should air next fall.

    Let’s see. When last we saw Dexter, he was logging (or fishing?) up in my neck of the woods. Lew

  26. Hi Lewis,

    Aircraft are over rated, so yeah they can have all the security stuff they want. The aircraft business is probably very strange right now, I heard a rumour that one of the big Asian airlines is offering people the experience of dinner and a movie whilst on a parked plane. That sounded weird to me, but I could understand how some folks might want the novel experience. Mind you, in relation to the blade it would be an unwise thing to be caught on the street with a blade by the constabulary. Unpleasant circumstances would ensue and you might end up assisting them with their inquiries – not a good place to be. I discovered that in new rules have been put in place for the purchase of a katana – one must be a member of a club and seek a permit for purchase. Oh well, life wasn’t meant to be easy and my record is unblemished.

    The El Nino / La Nina swing means that there are climate winners and losers. A bit of middle ground would be nice.

    Actually the article sort of hinted at the motivations of the person acting so. I was surprised that there was no photo or name of the person involved, but then a lot of details were released, and I’m guessing people would know. It is a really fine line between getting people to comply with the restrictions and then not making the restrictions so onerous that people simply lie. I noted in the article that it was alleged that the person did not in the first instance disclose the true extent of their travel.

    It’s going to be way hard for that business, but then there is also the suggestion that the business may have had someone ill whilst they worked there. Probably not the smartest thing to do. There is a possibility that in doing so the business might have breached their duty of care to the public and the staff working there. Mate, the whole thing is a hornets nest of possible failures.

    The precautions you take have to be commensurate with the risk you face – that’s life for everyone. The thing about unknowns is that nobody really knows their risk profile and the mortality rate doesn’t seem that high to me relative to the size of the population, but it seems easy to contract this one. So yeah, complex.

    Hehe! Well that is possible, also I feel that people push agendas so that it confirms the choices that they made. Safety in numbers and all that. Anyway, I thought so! 🙂 Haven’t we all met those folks?

    I checked out the list of what to do when confronted by a mountain lion, and the young bloke seems to have done everything on the list and survived. The video didn’t work for me, but the text was good enough to get the gist of what was going on. It amazes me that people have the presence of mind to video such a life and death encounter. Please keep your large and toothy wildlife to your part of the world!

    Freeway bypasses kill small towns, although if you ignore the destroyed trade and lack of jobs, life in a small town with some amenities wouldn’t be all that bad. Sometimes the freeway can exacerbate problems by making some small towns into commuter towns and with the majority of the population gone during the daytime, it is pretty hard for the businesses there to survive. Plus commuters might not necessarily be purchasing locally as they are more able to pick up cheaper goods at a distance from the town (closer to their jobs).

    Zombie propaganda films? Whatever will they think of next? I wonder if anyone has produced a film where zombies are an underclass in the population and they get treated like dirt (note they probably smell rather far from fresh, so dirt might be an improvement on that) and there is a concerned effort on the part of a small group to discover whether zombies have souls and thus should be treated better? Bet nobody has come up with that zombie idea! Our fortunes may be made! 🙂

    People reckon today’s events are weird, 1943 would have been a very strange time.

    Moved a whole heap of plants today. Pulled a few olive trees from garden beds and re-planted them in the new third orchard up near the terraces. Believe it or not, all of the flowers and herbs in the garden beds were growing with enough force that they were toppling the olive trees over. Couldn’t believe it. And I planted out over 40 agapanthus along the path up above the house. By the fortieth hole I was starting to feel the strain of digging. Me tired, and am off to bed for an early night.



  27. @ Damo

    Well, you can earn $170k as a stevedore in Sydney I found out last week. You can even earn six figures driving a forklift if you’re prepared to do the overtime. Is construction really 8% of GDP? That’s crazy. I suppose that’s why the govt has to do infrastructure projects to kick start the economy. Apparently we don’t have any other way to create jobs. Except in the medical field.

    @ Chris

    In my opinion/experience, you learn very little at university. In fact, I may even go so far as to say you end up dumber going to university than if you did a trade. The history of education is quite funny in that it is really a way to get rid of unemployment. That was what was behind rolling out high school to the general public in the 19th century. Used to be the case that teenagers went off to work but then the jobs dried up due to productivity gains from machinery so there were all these bored teenagers around with nothing to do. So they sent them to school. Same principle with uni except that uni then became a very expensive signalling tool. Employers aren’t choosing people because of what they learn at uni but simply using uni as an easy way to filter out candidates. IT is a classic example. Almost everything you learn in a computer science degree is irrelevant for the day-to-day work of a programmer.

    Is the same true for accounting? Have you ever put your accounting theory studies to use in real life?

  28. Hi, Chris!

    That’s a phenomenal achievement, Chris – especially under the circumstances.

    And that’s a lot of rain and one really big tree trunk. How are you burning it off? Are you just keeping a continual fire under it all? Is it done?

    Ha! Already full up in the green house. Do those seed bins have drainage holes in the bottom?

    You have so much lavender that I can smell it way over here!

    Your geraniums are so cheery, with their deep pink and white. One of my geraniums – in a bed – is so happy with his spot that he has become a fairly large shrub, with flowers all over. Very soon he has to be put into a pot and moved indoors. I’ll have to cut most of him back and hope to root the cuttings.


  29. @ Lew:

    Thank you for the site from last week. That looks very useful and I have passed it on.

    That’s a lot of rain that you have had!


  30. Hello again
    Hmm, fairness. I would imagine that there should not be too great a spread in a society although I am amazed at what people have put up with throughout history. I really don’t know. I had been thinking of it on a smaller personal level e.g. ‘Mum that’s not fair!’

    If I vanish for a while it will be because my laptop is playing up, it is approaching the end of its life. Very inconvenient when shopping for a new one will be difficult in the current climate.

    I watched a fox exploring every inch of my garden yesterday.


  31. Yo, Chris – There doesn’t seem to be much of a prohibition on blades here. What with a lot of people, waving around guns, blades are the least of our problems 🙂 . Any prohibitions seem to be a local thing. Some places have laws against switch blade knives, but that seems to date back to the 1950s, when greasers and motor cycle gangs were a popular hysteria. Thank Hollywood, for that. I vaguely remember something local about not selling blades to youngsters under 18.

    Unfortunately, that climate middle ground seems to be mostly ocean. Pitcairn Island? When I was a wee small lad, National Geographic had an article about Pitcairn Island. I was packed and ready to go. Seemed like a nice place to live. Of course, I was under the influence of Brown’s children’s book, “Sailor Dog.” Still have a copy.

    I’ve come up with another pandemic aphorism, to go along with the one about people breaking quarantine. “In a pandemic, people lie.” (Lew, ™). Or a zombie apocalypse, for that matter. How many times have we heard, “Oh, no. I’m not infected. Not even a nip!” Only to have them zombie-out in the middle of a refugee shelter, or something. Two recent zombie movies I’ve watched, have also illustrated the inadvisability of certain kinds of sexual congress, during a zombie apocalypse. Make of that what you will …

    “Mortality rate doesn’t seem high…” Unless it’s you 🙂 . Suzanne-who-has-a-better-idea, never wears a mask, and plays fast and loose with social distancing. As I was reporting recent statistics (4 new cases … one more case and we’ll hit 650. And, two deaths, bringing us to a mortality number of 10), she started prattling on about how it was so much worse, other places, than here. I dead-paned, “Yeah, that’s because we mask up and observe social distancing.” She never likes it when I put down her hobby-horse. 🙂 .

    About the cougar … this film clip might work better. U Tubby usually delivers …

    Freeways bypass towns, the tax base washes out, and it’s all downhill, from there. 🙁 .

    Well, Disney’s “Zombies 2, had the zombies as an underclass. With the head of the high school cheering squad, leading the charge for zombie equality! Then there was “Warm Bodies.” I watched another one, last night. “Eat Brains Love.” Not bad. You might like it. A high school rom-com, without the music. The premiss is, there’s a zombie virus (origin, unknown) which is only transmitted, sexually. And, the zombies appear pretty normal, until they get hungry. Small mammals can be a stop gap measure. The government is suppressing news of the outbreak (gotta avoid panic in the ranks) and hunting down the zombies, using people with psychic ability. Yup. All pretty silly. Hmmm. Oddly, I can’t remember an instance where zombie stench seems to be an issue.

    Sounds like you had a busy day, moving about the plants. Back breaking labor, is more like it. I was reading a bit more about the almond orchards in California, and ran across the term “dust mulch.” Well, it’s a theory. Maybe a bit of wishful thinking.

    Time flies. Magic food boxes, come tomorrow. Treasure?

    We got a swag bag, from our “Community Outreach Person”, yesterday. Mostly silly stuff. Word puzzles, a pen, a bag of candy. Little packets of various teas and hot chocolate. A packet of disposable masks. And, a very smart, black cloth one. That will come in handy, if I have to attend a funeral. I think the bag was a lame attempt at boosting moral. Lew

  32. Hi DJ,

    Autumn, or whatever it is called in your part of the world has suddenly arrived for you and 21mm of rain at your time of year would leave me leaping for joy! Mate, the wind, what is with that though? 70km/h gusts at ground level, is mildly bonkers and yes I can well see how unattended shopping cart items were snatched like a common thief from your shopping cart. I assume that just like here your wind arrives in fits and spurts? The highest wind speed that I’ve recorded at ground level here is 50km/h, and that particular gust arrived in the middle of the night and buffeted the side of the house which is held together with steel – lots of steel. Hope you and your lady weren’t out in the conditions when the peak wind gust hit?

    The West Gate Bridge disaster loomed over the rebuild of the bridge, and for the life of me I can’t understand why the workers sheds were located underneath the spans? Makes no sense whatsoever. Did you notice in the history of the bridge that weights were placed on the unattached bridge deck so as to lower it in the hope that the two sides met? And then apparently the superstructure buckled – yet they still continued to work on the problem. Not good. I approve of your circumspection and reticence because this here after all is a family friendly blog. 😉

    My point exactly, follow the language to see where it leads you. Contained from my experience is definitely not the same as extinguished. Something odd has occurred and we may not ever know what it was. But I reckon someone, somewhere does know.

    DJ, all I can say is that the road is long indeed and we have common cause here and can only do the best we can in the face of adversity. It is a hard road and yet there are many benefits along the way.

    I hear your evil genius chuckle and raise the spectre that control of anything is perhaps a delusion or even worse and allusion. Yes, we peek through the murk of narrative and discover hidden nooks and cranny’s of free will with which to tweak, and then that is about it. A case could be made that we should content ourselves with this outcome, but many decry the injustice of it all whilst continuing along their merry ways of the dominant narrative.

    Bracing oneself for impact can work out well most of the time. Yet at other times it is best to float and bounce with the eddies and currents. 😉

    The editor performs the same grounding function that your lady does. Are we grounded or soaring with the eagles? That is the question here!

    That tree stump has a density of about 700kg/m3, so burning it all in one fire – no matter how hot – was never an option. Despite a number of significant wildfires in this mountain range in the past two centuries, I know of a very old log cabin that to this day remains intact. Not sure whether it is lived in or not and perhaps I should go and take another look and report back. The loggers were made of softer stuff because at least we have reduced the epic stump by over half.

    Your essay supposition is correct and it hints at the dark art that one output must be by sheerest necessity become another input. Always was it thus until very recent times.



  33. @ Simon
    I just wish to second your comments on education. A later school leaving age was definitely used to lessen unemployment figures here in the UK. Even so, many leave unable to read sufficiently well for the basics. University deadening individual thought has become ever more pervasive.


  34. Hi Simon,

    Too true and I had the other side of the coin in that in the very early years of this century I ran the graduate program for a large corporate. Mate, it was such a lovely job and I had eight graduates reporting to me, whilst at the same time they went about their day to day jobs.

    The corporate was a well known household name too, and I tell ya, I had some serious fun with those graduates in getting them to learn to take some time in looking at the world around them. It wasn’t always smooth sailing if only because if they became in any way obstreperous, they were also provided with enough rope with which to hang themselves. That was an ugly but necessary business, but I ask you, how else can common sense be bludgeoned into the graduates?

    At the same time my experience matched yours and the graduates were not trained to ‘look through’ and question the education they were given. The saddest one of all was a young lady who’d spent years working on audit jobs at very low pay and what seemed to me to be outrageous working conditions, for one of the over-scaled audit firms. And she thought that she knew what was going on in businesses accounts better than the internal folks being so audited. She was a lovely young lady too, and I let her down easily and gently, but at the same time I did not baulk at correcting the mismatch between perceptions and skills. I don’t really know whether this was the right thing to do or not, and others may have simply just let it go.

    I agree with your supposition and can add that I believe that the requirement has become a barrier to entry. It is an old trick and you can see it also in use in the rejection of fruit and vegetables that don’t quite match up with some arbitrary standard demanded by the few purchasers.



  35. Hi Pam,

    You know what? There is a part of me that wonders if the deprivation and shock of being caught on a push bike in a torrential downpour on the way to an exam, somehow also didn’t manage to focus my mind in some bizarre way? Stranger things have happened, like err, Mr Dumpy not running down hill and into and over your house. Your story of that initial encounter and eventual halt left me feeling a bit weak in the knees. After all, I’ve seen a huge plastic water tank crash through the orchard and smash into the side of a contractors bulldozer when the delivery guy completely stuffed up the delivery.

    It’s still raining outside right now – this is a very wet and damp year. The tree stump had just the single fire lit underneath it. My gut feeling tells me that another fire will reduce the tree stump to about a third of what it initially was. However, in between the rain, the sun has shone and I’m wary of cooking my head by conducting another fire under the tree stump. What a dilemma!

    Ah, err, no the plastic flats do not have drainage holes and I just have to be careful not to flood the flats. So far, so good, but I may completely stuff that story up. Seedlings I have noted do not mind being flooded, although they must be drained at the earliest opportunity.

    Can you believe that the lavender self seeds? I have volunteer lavender plants growing all over the place. When I see them, I relocate the seedlings and have created many new hedges which need a few years to grow. Began planting out a Chilean Guava hedge today – a truly tasty fruit.

    Cordial flowie respects to your geranium, and may it over winter well inside the house, whilst you remember to keep the King Parrots off the foliage. Those orange and green parrots are the king after all and they have a strange love of geranium foliage.



  36. Hi Inge,

    I too have been amazed at what people have put up with, and that thought arises from my reading of history. Perhaps it reveals that we are a very adaptable species? Imagine the trauma and hardship heaped upon Napoleon’s retreating troops from his disastrous foray into the north east? It amazes me that none of his troops bopped him on the head for such an idiotic and ill-fated adventure. And history is replete with such examples.

    Of course, on a personal level, the statement may have been made so as to an individuals advantage, or perhaps also to up-end the existing social structures. It is not lost on me that in a small unit of people, any advantage gained by any one person, comes at the cost of someone else in the small unit. Of course, said child could be just whingeing so as to exercise their vocal chords?

    Sorry to hear about your technology troubles, and I await your triumphant return with a new, or at least something else serviceable, laptop! 🙂 That is one of my fears too, and I’ve done my best to have multiple fall back plans, but it is a truism that few plans or advanced technology survive engagement with the enemy of entropy.

    Foxes are interesting creatures and I haven’t seen one around here for a while now, but the rabbits, well they are hiding in a neighbours property and venturing to here. Fences stop the dogs from following the rabbits, and they are fast when required to be so. A fox would have no qualms about climbing a neighbouring fence.



  37. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the tip regarding Dexter. So much fun, and so very wrong. I have read all of the books and watched the series, and now await the next instalment of our mischievous and very flawed protagonist. I always knew that it was game over for our anti-hero in the final series (of course I’d read that that was going to be the final series – wrong, and the author suggested that without fan support that would be the final book) when the character proclaimed with serious emotional force (respect to Michael C Hall the actor) “I can control everything”. A fatal quip, and of course things went badly and he ended up working in a logging operation up north.

    Best of all, when the editor bounced into the room this evening with a triumphant look upon her face and announced that there was to be another season of the show, I got to say with all honesty (and cool as a cucumber): “Yeah, I already knew that”. Thanks to you Lewis, I can control everything…. Bawharharhar!!!! No, what was I saying, that was a slip of the typing fingers, I can’t control nuffin! Ah, the fates have been soothed by the correction. Well, that’s the theory, isn’t it? I’d forgotten to mention the 10 new episodes to the editor. It’s exciting!!!!

    We’re pretty heavily regulated about weapons down here after the Port Arthur massacre. The community was outraged to be honest by the episode because of the sheer scale, randomness and meaninglessness of the event – and then we decided to draw a line in the sand. Now it is heavily regulated. To be honest I didn’t realise that swords were regulated as well. I’ll sort something out and it seems to be simply a matter of following a process. Many people fight processes, whereas I can look at such a thing and say to myself: ‘this is stupid as’, and then just give them what they want. You have to sort of pick your battles is how I see things, but plenty of people fly into a high state of emotion at the merest bump in their road of life. It’s an option, but I don’t necessarily agree with it.

    Mate, it has rained here for almost eight solid hours now. Not heavily, but just continuously. I’ve taken advantage of this extraordinary weather to move a few trees and today relocated a Holm Oak that was in the third orchard next to the garden terraces. When I planted the oak tree in that location I didn’t know that an orchard would end up there. Who knew? And also I began planting a Chilean Guava hedge after nabbing another dozen plants. The plants grow so well here and without any attention or care and the fruit is superb tasting – like lemonade, but nicer.

    But as to the blades in your culture, and please excuse the ear worm: Get you motor running, head out on the highway. Looking for adventure…

    Pitcairn Island exists today as a community and it is I believe under the auspices of the New Zealand government. Interestingly enough, a few years ago there was a huge investigation into the goings on there. Hmm. None of my affair. We have Norfolk Island which is not too far away, and has a remarkable penal history. Yeah, when sending convicts to Sydney or Port Arthur didn’t inspire enough fear, well fear not, there were other worse places to end up for the miscreant convict back in the day. A mate of mine visited there last year and told me many interesting stories about the place. My mate is very concerned about the environment, but that trip was on his bucket list, so I guess that makes it OK. He’s a really nice bloke though, so all can be forgiven.

    Oh, your latest aphorism which clearly appears to have been trademarked, is well good! Nice one and so true. The world was a complicated place before the suggestion that zombism could be a sexually transmitted infection (disease was what it used to be called, but snowflakes and all don’t like getting upset at potential consequences), but now after this zombie film revelation things are down-right difficult. What could possibly go wrong next?

    Well yeah, you make a solid point. If you happen to be the fifty, in the one-in-fifty, then that’s no good at all for you personally. It is a truth universally acknowledged that the remaining forty-niners might believe otherwise. Lewis, you are like super-bad, but I respect that! 🙂 Suzanne may be singing (or possibly not) a different tune if she so contracted the virus. One never knows ones fate in advance, and lest ye tempt the gawds of fate. I am unable to spell that correctly on the grounds that this may attract undue attention. Even the use of (sic) may raise awareness. One must never be too careful in this careless old world.

    Oh yeah, I hadn’t considered the demise of the tax base for bypassed towns. Interestingly, I have the suspicion that the local gubormints may adjust to the reduced tax base, by extracting funds from the local residents who may well have out-of-town jobs. Down here that lot are limited to a 5% annual increase, which is still a lot and they seem to take it regardless. There was some dark talk about property valuations rising so as to get above the 5% increase. It won’t end well you know.

    Oh no! Everyone’s zombie ideas are better – guess I’m fresh out of spare brain cells! Thanks for mentioning that. And um strangely I was thinking about the film warm bodies when I mentioned to you the airline meal and film deal. Well, Eat, brains, love is on the too-watch list, but free time is a bit tight right now. Will post a review when I get a chance to see it.

    Well that’s the thing isn’t it? All that rotting and decaying flesh would amount to a notable stench. Ollie the Bull Arab dog who is happily asleep behind me right now, has a sensitive enough snotter that he can apparently smell a feral pig at 4 miles away. Such a beast could be trained to sniff out zombies. I recall that dogs were used in the Terminator franchise of films, and you’d think zombies would smell far worse than robots?

    Dust mulch! What even is that? The mulch here is quite three dimensional and smells quite aromatic – even when it arrives by way of the green waste collections from down in the big smoke (they know not what they do). The more I read about the subject of dust mulch, the more it sounds like a ‘thing’ to me. Mulch is mulch as far as I’m concerned.

    Beware the Pandora’s box conundrum, but on the other hand if there is tasty stuff contained therein, stuff it I say and enjoy. 🙂

    Mate, if morale has dropped low in your part of the world, you should see what it is like in the big smoke of Melbourne. Rock bottom is a good way to describe the vibe there. It sometimes is quite shocking for me to encounter this when visiting that fine city (a rare thing nowadays).

    Thought you might like this: Turkey coast becomes graveyard of disused cruise ships. Wow!



  38. Chris:

    I buy those same kind of flats/bins for starting seeds at the Dollar Store here (I think they are sold as dish pans). I do drill some holes in the bottoms as I have drowned – being an over enthusiastic waterer (more is always better!) – too many things. But then you have to have trays under them.

    I have no worries about King Parrots and my geraniums.


  39. Chris,

    Autumn, fall, the Time of Colorful Leaves, many different names for this season. At least we get variety from one year to the next. Last year we’d had 3 (minor) snow episodes by this time, so autumn was more correctly “winter’s precursor”! This year? I’ll let you know after.

    Oh yeah, I noticed the unattaching of the bridge deck and adding weights to it. That’s why I had to turn on the censors in my previous post. I mean, really? That was like, really, really stoopid. The only thing worse was that the eejits in charge allowed the workers’ sheds underneath the construction, as you mentioned. Any little boy who has played with cars and made “bridges” out of plastic tracks (like the old Hot Wheels toys) could’ve predicted the result of adding weight to unattached decks, as well as the demolition of anything lying underneath.

    Oh, what happens hereabouts with the big fires is that when it is “contained” or at least 95% of “contained”, give or take, is that the hired guns, the State and Federal firefighters, leave and the fire passes back to the local jurisdictions. That tells me that the chances that the fire will reignite and blow out of control are very microscopic when the Big Guys leave. The locals then continue dealing with internal hotspots, rebuilding infrastructure, etc. Some of these fires were large enough and hot enough for long enough that they won’t truly be extinguished until after a winter’s worth of rain and/or snow.

    Isn’t a good portion of life slogging through things and about HOW we face up to challenges? Our common cause fits this, with a lot of wonderful benefits, of course. But so does free will, or the lack thereof, and being content to work with what you can, rather than trying to make it fit everything, is one of those lessons of limits and balance we all are faced with. Due to current events here, I’ve been thinking about the entire focus, attention, but not too much of it but enough so that complacency and carelessness don’t pop up, that type of subject. It’s deep, no one answer, and I’m not far enough along with it to even articulate much of it to myself yet! It’s one of those deep thinking things that one sort of mulls over from time to time until something clicks.

    When I did whitewater kayaking, bobbing about in the current, avoiding the rocks, and then making proper use of eddies was fun. I knew full well what my limits were, and never approached them. Water is mighty powerful and it is to be respected! And bobbing and playing in the eddies was much more enjoyable than impacts, whether braced for or not.

    Grounded or soaring with eagles? That might not be an either/or question. There’s a time and a need for both.

    Thanks, I never looked at the essay that way. Output to input to a different output to someone else’s input. True that.


  40. Yo, Chris – First round of boxes, here, that the good Rev, brought from our local food bank. Stuff I kept, for me: a jar of organic honey, a big can of Bush’s baked beans, a jar of chunky peanut butter, a weird yuppie packet and jar of “gourmet” tuna, a can of tamales. I also kept a bag of “Earthy Choice / Great Day” nut flour blend. 4 different kinds of nut flour, gluten free. There’s a recipe for banana muffins on the pack, and none of the other ingredients are weird, so, I thought I’d give it a spin. I also kept 4 pork boneless cutlets. Might decide to give those away, as I have a bad habit of holding onto meat, and then never using it.

    I took the baked goods, candy, margarine and eggs, down to our lobby. The rest can go to the Club. There’s peanut butter and jelly, canned veg & fruit, a bag of dehydrated refried beans (!), pasta, a box of Ritz crackers, a box of mac & cheese, a bottle of ketchup, an industrial sized can of black beans, etc..

    LOL. Well, I hope you didn’t lord if over the Editor, too much, about your first strike, “Dexter” news. You’ll pay for that, you know 🙂 .

    Following a process, smoothly, may also include asking a jumped up bureaucrat’s advice, on some process that you may already know the answer to. Some positively preen, to impart nuggets of “wisdom.”

    Well, I settled into watching “King of the Zombies”, last night. Brand new disc, first viewer … and the darned thing is defective. Kept stalling out. So, I watched some Rolling Stones and a documentary on Quakers, instead. Sigh. Eleanor asked me to explain zombies, to her, last night. So, I gave her a brief overview. Haiti, where they were more of the mesmerized, sleep walking variety. And then, George Romero shaking up the whole genre, with his shambling undead mob.

    Are feral pigs much of a problem, there? There’s been several articles, here, about our feral pig problem. Hoards of them are spreading out of the SE, and a lot of places are setting up early warning and first strike systems, to keep them out of … wherever. Speaking of “interesting” wildlife you’d rather avoid, they also just caught a python, down in Florida, that set a record. 18’8″. Wouldn’t want to run into one of those, out in the garden.

    I didn’t go very far down the dust mulch rabbit hole, but judging from the headers on some of the articles, some people are very skeptical.

    I’d seen a couple of headlines about the graveyard of cruise ships. Good that they’re recycling so much of them. Some years back I read some speculative futuristic novel about masses of climate refugees in California, who were impoverished by the collapse of the insurance companies. But, they had bright, new futures, being packed into cruise ships, anchored along the California coast. At least that was the PR that was put out. Didn’t quit live up to expectations.

    Went to our Safeway store, last night, to get the items that were out of stock and the big store, over in Centralia. Found something new. Yogurt dipped pumpkin spice pretzels. Oh, wow. Food of the gawds. Lew

  41. @ Inge

    The government here just announced funding for tens of thousands of new student places at trade school and university. All part of the ‘recovery from corona’ but the cynic in me is quite sure it’s about getting the unemployment numbers down before the next election.

    @ Chris

    I like that fruit metaphor. Last year I had an epic crop of Julienne pears. The Julienne pear tastes great but its shape is not the traditional pear shape. It’s more round like an apple and when they have a good year they get very big.

    Anyway, I took some to my sister’s house and offered them to my nieces who refused to eat them cos they “didn’t look like a real pear” (based on the supermarket pears). Joke’s on them – Julienne pears taste better than anything they would get from the supermarket.

  42. Hi Pam,

    The plastic seed flats are great aren’t they? And quite a number of them are well over a decade old so they are super tough as.

    And that’s funny, just proving that things are cheaper in your fine country. Down here, your Dollar Store is known as a Two Dollar Shop. I couldn’t make that up if I tried. 🙂 Are they the same thing as a ‘five and dime’ store? Funny stuff, but yeah if you’re in need of some sort of plastic something or other, well those are the shops to go to.

    When I was at the shop about three weeks ago there was a guy who was sniffling and snuffling and taking his mask down and wiping his nose with a handkerchief, and I looked at him and thought to myself: mate you look sick as. Anyway this was at the height of the folks from the big smoke stealing out into the countryside. I just kept away from him although he kept edging closer, what else do you do?

    The first tomato seed germinated today! Yay! And as a bonus it was one of our saved seeds rather than the gardening clubs seeds. Happy days. It looks like one of the peanuts has sprouted too. Sir Poopy ate the last batch I grew here.

    Well, we’ve all done that – and one year I left the seed flats on the veranda and a huge stormed rolled in. The seedlings ended up underwater and the flat was quite complicated to drain. The seedlings didn’t seem to mind – too much… Although I did over-sow that particular flat, and that’s another story of disaster.

    King Parrots are lovely to look at and entertaining in their antics, but do they have to eat the geraniums?

    Hope the weather is continuing to be warm and give you an Indian summer.



  43. Hi DJ,

    How is the autumn leaf change / fall show going on in your part of the world? Some years down here the show has been epic and gone on for too long (the downside of which is lots of tourists), but some years the leaves change colour quickly and then fall from the branch. Have you noticed that variation in the display and do you have any idea why it may be that way?

    As a kid I recall that a mate of mine had an electric race car set. The cars used to drive on a track (two tracks to the plastic roadway) which supplied the electricity and the trick was to ensure that the little electric cars stayed on the track (not always easy). But there was a whole of fun to be had just crashing the toy cars too.

    The thing was with the collapse of the bridge deck was that a number of workers expressed their concerns in the days leading up to the collapse. But in those days, the latter investigation discovered that the concerns were largely ignored. But I must say that placing the lunch sheds under the bridge deck as it was constructed seemed like a foolhardy exercise. Some people I have noted are careless and the word means exactly what it suggests.

    I’ve had my own brush with learning new technologies on the fly today as I swapped over the decade plus old lead acid batteries for the new lithium batteries. Let’s just say that it has been a unique and interesting learning experience. My brain was quite acquainted with the lead acid technology, but this lithium stuff is something else altogether. I had a bit of a heart starter this afternoon as I delved deep into the charge programs for the batteries – and the voltage was bouncing all over the shop indicating that I’d stuffed something up. The inverter baulked and dropped the power three times. Anyway, three hours later, things had settled down as I got my head around the technology on the fly so to speak. No bridge deck collapsed in the meantime, but when the sun hits the solar panels tomorrow, you betcha I’ll be keeping a sharp eagle eye on the system, although it is now in a more stable state. If I’m reading the system right I may have scored well with the individual cell chemistry in the new batteries. People believe that lithium batteries are all the same, but it ain’t true.

    Things are different down under with the fires and it is the state government that firstly and foremost has responsibility for the land and fire management. The federal government can have opinions and ask for international help, but that is about it. But yup, sometimes only the autumn and winter rains are enough to extinguish an epic scaled fire – may we all never experience such a thing. Fingers crossed.

    In a reply to Lewis, I linked to an article on the demise of some not-that-old cruise ships. Not sure really, but the mismatch between expectations and reasonable goals does seem to produce a huge dynamic chunk of emotion. And I agree with you when you posit the theory to work with what you can do. This is the essence of understanding the limitations placed upon us all really. And when you think about it a bit, the narrative of Fight Club suggests an answer: Sir, avoid the onion soup. At face value a shallow act, but on deeper consideration it reveals layers. Oh, and onions have layers apparently…

    Earlier this evening I sat in a toasty hot bath and watched a tiny magpie attack a huge wedge tail eagle. It was a true David and Goliath battle, but there are times when the Magpies and Kookaburra’s need to keep their eyes on the ground looking for snakes which they can eat. They’re OK those birds and we have an understanding.

    Well, after all in a closed system like this planet (ignoring the energy from the sun), one output really is another’s input. Yum, yum! 🙂



  44. Hi Simon,

    I swapped over the new lithium batteries and replaced out the decade old lead acid batteries today and my brain is fried. Get this, after the physical work of doing that – and incidentally moving almost 1,400kg of metal in the process, I spent three hours trying to work out the correct charge program for the batteries on the fly. It seems stable now, but my brain is genuinely fried.

    You’d know, are some computer systems programmed on the fly in the face of an urgent need?

    What the… Pears are a real fave of mine. And Julienne pears have a great reputation for taste. You might laugh, but I didn’t always realise that pears improve in taste off the tree – they mildly ferment I guess and convert the starches to sugars. When I was a kid I was fed horrid under ripe pears, and that was definitely not how they were ever meant to be eaten, so I can see how the messages that society and parents give to kids, messes with their heads. 🙂

    It would be good if that was where the craziness ended, but yeah…



  45. Hi Lewis,

    Organic honey would be a thing of greatness, so that win alone suggests that you scored well. I’ve seen those packets of tuna, and I’d suggest that as a society we have become so accustomed to solid cans, that air tight and possibly nitrogen filled plastic pouches are kind of odd.

    Did I ever mention that years ago I was at a mate’s house and the lady of the house was on some diet whereby the manufacturer supplied individually cut and packed tomatoes and eggs. From my perspective I was intrigued at how the cut up stuff could have been so stored, delivered and still look fresh. ‘Tes not natural.

    The seeds in the greenhouse are doing well, and both basil and the first tomatoes have germinated today. Yay! Honestly, I had no idea whether the greenhouse was a good idea or not, but I had to do something due to the difficulties of getting to the seedling supplier this year. It looks as though one of the peanuts have sprouted too. The old timers had a saying about getting tomatoes in the ground by Melbourne Cup Day (first Tuesday in November), and climate aside, the sunlight is still the same as way back then.

    It was meant to rain and thunderstorm and all sorts of horrid general weather Armageddon, but no, about 1/10th of an inch of rain fell and the rest of the day was mild and warm – and very humid. So we decided that today was the day and we swapped out the now very old lead acid batteries and installed the newer lithium batteries for the house. Then I spent three hours mucking around with the charging program for the batteries until the system finally stabilised! I lost the power to the house about four times… This stuff is way complicated.

    Dogs and chickens ensure that no meat goes un-eaten here. 🙂 And they’re not shy about pork chops either… We had to do a bit of home surgery on one of the chickens today as a ball of hardened chook poo became attached to her foot. The stuff was like concrete and we got the metal hand file out and just ripped into it. The smell, well zombies may smell fresher. 😉 Do you miss your chooks? Given all the other general craziness going on in the wider society, we’re now having to consider breeding both dogs and chickens. Far out doing that is my worst fears and nightmares, realised! My brain is occasionally full and may pop like a tube of toothpaste that was accidentally stomped upon. Zombies would definitely be into that – given it makes feeding on brains all that much easier.

    What, why would anyone dehydrate refried beans? The embodied energy in the meal is kind of impressive to consider. I get that such a meal might be taken on a hiking trip, but err, yeah. Hope some at the Club appreciates it.

    Thank you for the words of wisdom regarding Chris and Editor interactions, and Dexter, and yes you are quite correct. Best not to harp on too much about the small wins. We have a huge area here to wander around in and do our own thing, but I really do wonder how other folks in smaller and confined abodes handle the current restrictions? Like you, I’d do OK by myself, but everyone else, well, all I can say is that I am seeing a lot of mental health issues out there. Sometimes it is all I can do to shut out the emotional overload from rare trips into the big smoke. Shake it off, shake it off…

    Exactly, in the old days that used to be most impolitely described as ‘brown nosing’ to the bureaucrat’s. After all, as you suggest they came up with the system in the first place and are possibly defenders of said system. It’s an option, I guess. Adding successive layers of complexity onto an already complex system rarely ends well. You should see the planning laws down here in relation to seeking approval for constructing a dwelling. Bonkers, and it took four folders of paperwork just for this house, but like you say, I gave ’em what they wanted, and they lapped it up. It genuinely surprises me that other people I’ve spoken to over the years take the fight approach, and end up losing and not getting their permit. So weird, but maybe they only have one tool in the toolbox?

    Bummer about the DVD, and yes technology is good when it works (see battery talk above). 🙂 The Rolling Stones, is that a documentary or recorded live gig? The Quakers are an interesting bunch, and they were down here too. The first I encountered that lot was in the series Six Feet Under, where the Quakers became a sub-plot. And out of curiosity, would Eleanor watch a zombie film? That is the real question here!

    Up north, feral pigs are a problem, thus why Ollie’s breed was produced, although Ollie is a gentleman and wouldn’t have the faintest idea as to what to do with a feral pig. This far south, the pigs are not a problem at all, although a few months back I read that some feral pigs were loose in the Wombat State Forest to the west of here. I guess the pigs turn the soil in the forest, just like bush turkeys and lyrebirds, so there is probably some gain in there.

    I’d imagine that feral pigs are hunted in your country? Incidentally the beasties formed a minor sub plot in the New Zealand film ‘The Hunt for the Wilderpeople’. I believe they are having an election over there today.

    Florida = interesting and toothy wildlife. And yes, there are similarities to the fauna up in the north east of this continent. And pythons have been known to eat pets. But that one is epic scaled.

    I sort of looked at the headings and synopsis of the dust mulch story, and it probably works, it is just that mulch is mulch in my mind, and all that really matters is the composition of minerals, the timing and placement of the materials.

    Maybe it is just because of the convict history down here, but “cruise ships, anchored along the California coast” it kind of sounds like prison hulks to me. I was frankly expecting someone to re-invent that idea as a use for the unused cruise ships…

    Yummo! Is this a sign that you are now in pumpkin season? Halloween is coming up soon.



  46. Hello again
    Re: your comment to Lew. You are so right! It has been suggested here that cruise ships could be used to house immigrants or perhaps they mean ‘contain’.


  47. Yo, Chris – Well, I figure I can take the packaged tuna weirdness, and toss it in a casserole. The quality of the tuna, sounds pretty good. Wild caught, blah, blah, blah. We got more boxes, in the afternoon. Overall, this months boxes were a bit … blah. No one’s going to starve, but the variety and occasional interesting weirdness, is missing. But then, we hear the food banks are doing it hard, due to overwhelming demand. In the afternoon, we get a box that’s usually fresh veg and dairy. This time around, there was a bag of potatoes, a bag of onions and a bag of baby carrots. And that was it.

    Overall, there was no variety of canned beans. Just a few cans of pinto beans. No tomato to speak of, other than a few small cans of tomato sauce. The dehydrated refried beans looked like they were bound for an institutional kitchen. We occasionally get things that are packaged to look like they were bound for a prison, or something. Third rate boarding school? In the afternoon, there was an industrial sized bag of potato flakes. Occasionally, there are huge cans of … something or other. But, I was able to still take three boxes down to the Club, for the pantry.

    Builder’s remorse? 🙂 . Of course the greenhouse was a good idea, and it will (mostly) be an asset.

    Right now, it’s sunny, here. Subject to change … on a dime. Still no frosts, or any forecast. I’m glad you got your solar electric system, pretty much sorted. I know I’m anthropomorphizing , but it probably just needs to settle in and hit it’s stride. 🙂 . The most excellent Atlantic Magazine had an article about our love of technology. Some of the side bar articles also look interesting.

    Do I miss my chooks? Now I shall be very sad, and have to take to my bed, for a day or two 🙁 . I’m sure you’ll be a most excellent dog and chicken breeder. I never quit got to the chicken breeding stage, due to a (believe it or not) problem with peak roosters. Or, at least a single rooster of a variety I wanted. Over a two year period, many were promised, and none were sourced.

    Yup. Mental health issues are becoming apparent, among the troops. The feeling that this is never going to end, is kind of settling in. Some people have a harder time handling “life on life’s terms,” more than others. Even my mate Scott, who I always considered a kind of rock, is getting a bit weird and whimpy, around the edges. LOL, but then, I think he’s always been a bit of a “people” person, and, deep down, I think he needs a bit of the “acclaim of the crowd.” I heard on the radio that New Zealand re-elected their prime muppet. Good on em. Oh, gosh. You’re going to hate this. Today’s ear worm …

    Reminds me of a cartoon, I saw once. A fellow is tinkling the ivories in a piano lounge. He’s got a sign next to his tip jar. “Requests $1. “Feelings” $20.” 🙂 .

    Yup. Building a house isn’t what it used to be. Even now, I still run across people who say something like, “And then my father (or grandfather) built the house.” No fuss, no bother. No bending the knee, or, assuming the position for some jumped up bureaucrat.

    I’ve been watching the Rolling Stones on a three disc DVD documentary I picked up from the library. One disc covered the Beatles, and one the Rolling Stones. The third disc is this and that about “The British Invasion” (the title of the set.) It’s not so much full performances, as snippets of those, and interviews with family, friends, writers, critics, etc.. Biographical information and the ins and outs of band members coming and going. The ups and downs of their personal lives, and also, the music.

    Well, I’ve always been interested in different religious groups. Years ago, I read a trilogy that was a novelized account of their formation and history. Jan de Hartog, a Dutch writer.

    He was one of those writers who was very popular, back in the day, and now is virtually unknown. Anytime I happen to run across one of his books in a used book store, I pick it up, as it’s always a good read.

    Who can forget the feral pig gutting scene from “The Hunt for the Wilderpeople?” A cinematic (and acting) stroke of genius. 🙂 .

    Those Florida pythons have been known to take down small Florida deer and even the occasional alligator.

    The thought of the old prison hulks, did cross my mind, when I read about the cruise ships.

    Eleanor might watch about 5 minutes of a zombie movie, if she happened to run across it, channel surfing. Until things got too tense. Or, gory.

    Yup. Pumpkin (orange, round) season is in full swing. They’re heaped around the entrances of most stores. 39¢ a pound. The vast majority of them will go for jack-o-lanterns. But, I search for that which is pumpkin spiced. I am such a junkie for that stuff. I’m sure it’s the nutmeg. Slightly psychotropic, you know 🙂 . Lew

  48. Hi Inge,

    Just goes to prove that everything old is new again. Way back in the convict transportation days, prisoners were kept on decommissioned British naval ships before being transported down under. The living conditions were frankly not good, but ending up down here back in the day would have been akin to being dumped on the planet Mars for the convicts, albeit a fictional planet that was actually inhabitable for our species. It would have been almost impossible for them to return and I guess that was the core idea behind the policy. It has been said before that necessity is the mother of invention, but I am truly amazed that the idea was even floated (excuse the pun) with the general public in your part of the world.

    Dunno, but part of me suggests that one of the core reasons behind the current events is a desire to reduce the movement of people around the planet. Nowadays you don’t hear the ‘bring them here’ chorus, possibly because such folks might have been defunded. One of our state premiers made the candid observation for residents to: ‘come back now, or don’t come back at all.’ A truly unambiguous statement, but plenty of citizens failed to take heed of that advice. Dunno.

    I read a few blogs from your part of the world where citizens travelled into Europe on holidays and then returned again, and that isn’t an option down here. I was actually surprised that they’d managed to do so.

    Such odd times that we live in. Would you ever have considered these days as a remote possibility?



  49. Hi Lewis,

    The editor and I just came back in from the orchard where we’d had to clip the nails of one of the older chickens. This was the chicken we’d cleaned off the mites and also the crusted on hard chunk of poop the other day. The other chickens seem to sort their business out and have clean legs, but not that particular chicken. Oh well. Never had to do this job before. Surprisingly the chicken’s nails are actually pretty tough and so we used wire clippers in the first instance. One of the nails pinged off and hit me in the forehead, which when you think about it is actually better than getting in the open mouth… Ook!

    Absolutely, packaged tuna weirdness is still pretty tasty and best not waste the meat due to ideological issues relating to the packaging. Which to be clear is something that neither you nor I would do in the first instance. The war of waste cannot be fought if we actually go about wasting perfectly good, albeit oddly packaged, food. And I’m quite fond of casseroles. Which reminds me that I haven’t picked up an electric slow cooker. I could chuck a solid pan on the top of the wood heater if necessary and that would slow cook over the day so well. I’m salivating thinking about it, but tough cuts of meat would tenderise and be entirely delicious, chuck in some root vegetables, a bit of stock and you’d be onto a serious winner. Yum!

    I’m hearing similar accounts from food banks down here. Actually the situation with the under supply of workers on farms this season will be an interesting problem. Interesting in a bad way, that is. I don’t actually know what it will take for people to head out of the cities in search of rural employment. It is like the Grapes of Wrath, but in reverse.

    Onions are super weird, and a month or two back I scored at a market a 22 pound bag of brown onions for $5. That is below cost as far as I’m concerned. I’m guessing the demand issues with restaurants have produced that particular outcome, but don’t really know. Next week I’ll fertilise the growing beds and the cost of the compost would exceed the income from the produce by a fair margin.

    I have no experience with prison food, but my gut feeling tells me that driving costs down would produce some very odd outcomes in such an institution. If for some unforeseen reason I ended up in such a place, I’d volunteer for the edible garden if there was one and spend as much of my day there as possible. I like food, and such a place could wean a person off that enjoyment.

    You are an astute observer to have suggested that. Yes, the greenhouse is an asset, which at the same time is not cost free to enjoy. You’re good!

    The article from the Atlantic was very good, except for the last paragraph which ventured onto editorially accepted subjects which were not quite related to the central tenet of the essay but there all the same. Authors have to pay the bills I guess. And the side articles, were they lifted from Mr Greer’s fine blog essays of the past? Hmm.

    No, the new batteries are simply finicky chunks of technology which after many hours of mucking around with I’d felt as if I had been out wrangling cattle for an entire day. I seem to have gotten them to work correctly today.

    Ooo! Well, as you know upset folks did that back in the day and nobody blinked otherwise or tried to intervene. I hear you about the rooster problem. Actually it is the inability to source replacement chickens and dogs that has given me the kick up the backside to get onto this task. I was busy doing other stuff – that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. 😉 My solution at this stage is to wait for a chicken to go broody and then purchase some fertilised eggs – it is a bit of a crap shoot really.

    You nailed it – yes, the feeling that things will never end, is at the core of the mental health issues. I was intending to write about that, but not yet. And like in Inge’s country you can go backwards if the population were too forward as I suspect occurred there. Barbra Streisand has a beguiling face, and what a voice. The lady makes an excellent point. Not everyone feels that way though.

    Hey, the kids nowadays would say that the music gives them the ‘feels’. The cartoon is very clever.

    ‘Assuming the position’ – oh yeah, and so unnecessary and the arrangements add a huge cost to society. Down in Tasmania I first became aware of that situation when I met an old timer who was an expert in quinces and apples, and he just happened to mention that he’d just built the house, just over there – like that was a normal thing to do. We had such a fun day that day and spent hours swapping stories of cider making and building. But yeah, sometimes ya just dare not explode at the difficulties, knowing you’re outnumbered.

    Thank you for introducing me to Jan de Hartog. What a character and also a fine author. His life experiences would certainly put many of today’s difficulties into an unflattering light.

    The pig skewering scene was memorable! With the odd collection of dogs here (one pig dog and two sheep dogs) there are times I feel I’m living in a recreation of the New Zealand comic strip about a sheep dog: ‘Footrot Flats’.

    My tolerance for scary films is not so good, although for some reason zombies don’t seem so scary to me – not sure why. But fast zombies are definitely scarier than the shambling sort that you can enjoy a discussion about before dispatching to where ever they go. An interesting thought, where do zombie souls go after being cut down in their prime?

    Down here, most pumpkins are for consumption and you never see one carved as a jack-o-lantern. And yes, I knew that about nutmeg, although I too enjoy the taste and had never noticed the err, subtle side effects. Mind you, there are plenty of herbs growing in the garden that have their potent uses should one so desire. It amazes me how little is now known in society about plants and their uses. And the fear is quite palpable, so I don’t usually talk about such things.



  50. Yo, Chris – Sounds like you have a chicken with poor personal hygiene. If she has a name, you can start referring to her as “Dirty ____.” Best wear your welding goggles, when next you have a go at her toes. 🙂 .

    I’d say a good half of my dinners are casseroles (aka: one dish meals). Last night I took some rice, threw in some peas and garlic, a can of chicken and some mushrooms. Sprinkled some nutritional yeast on top, and called it dinner.

    Yeah, potatoes and onions are always way cheaper in the store, than you can grow them, yourself. I plant potatoes, as, they’re a nice dependable crop and, I think, taste better right out of the ground. I haven’t gotten around to growing onions. But then, I have garlic all over the place, and, a couple of clumps of chives.

    In the ever expanding movement to privatize anything that moves, many prisons here have been privatized. So, where do they cut corners to yield obscene profits? The staff and the kitchen.

    Mr. Greer is, to quote a quaint old phrase, a “man before his time.” Some are born too late, in history. Some, too early.

    Yesterday’s Covid Count was Lucky Number Thirteen. There were also two more deaths, giving us four in a week. The most so far. All in their 80’s. On the Inmate front, “Dick” (get the inflection, right) had a operable brain tumor. I guess he’s in rehab / assisted living, now, and I wonder if he’ll be back. When I think of all the nice people in the world, who have inoperable brain tumors … Bad Lew!

    I remember when you referred to “Footrot Flats”, before. A very, very funny cartoon series.

    Well, as zombies are dead, before they are zombies, I’d guess the soul has long departed. Which may explain a lot of their behavior.

    I’m surprised jack-o-lanterns haven’t caught on, down there. Here, there’s the standard lantern, but some of the carving has been elevated to an art form. I noticed most of the grocery stores also have carving tool kits, to get different effects. Interesting when you consider their origins are from Ireland. Only there, pre Columbian contact, people carved turnips. “We were so poor, we couldn’t afford a pumpkin, so we had to carve turnips.” 🙂 .

    Plants and their uses are endlessly fascinating. Salad is on the menu, for tonight, and I was wondering if that head of lettuce still had enough life in it, to be used. Then I remembered that I can use the horseradish leaves, to fill in, or, use entire.

    H gets her fortnightly bath, this afternoon. It’s filthy, outside, so she won’t get her usual romp in the sun, to dry out. Needs must. Lew

  51. Excuse my butting in, although I am not of course a goat, but did I catch a passing reference to breeding dogs at Fernglade?

    Would this be with those two charming, and oh so delightfully mischievous young ladies, Miss Ruby and Miss Plum, in whom, I must now confess, I have for some time taken an interest?

    If so, and I am not labouring under a misapprehension, might I be permitted to register an interest, so to speak?

    My pedigree is impeccable, and I believe I will be not accused of unseemly vanity in expressing a belief that my reputation as a -perfectly honourable – Smoocher may well have preceded me!

    I am sure we could overcome mere geographical difficulties if we put our minds to it.

    Yours in (considerable) hope

    Sir Sancho Panza, of Mudingley Rise.

    PS Cordial tail wags to the faithful Ollie.

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