Tales of the unexpected

A couple of days ago the median (which is the exact middle price point) for house prices in the big smoke of Melbourne just passed the million dollar price tag: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-04-16/the-median-house-price-in-melbourne-has-just-passed-1-million/100073806. That’s inflation for you, and I guess a million bucks isn’t worth what it once was!

For some reason, the article took me on a journey into the now far distant past. Times were simpler back then. My mother had had enough of me getting drunk with my mates and making noise late at night. And I had been getting drunk with my mates late on weeknights and plotting plans. The ultimate confrontational conversation with my mum went something like this: ‘It’s about time you moved out’. To which I replied: ‘Moving out Saturday’.

And true to my word, that Saturday a truck driven by a mate turned up, parked in the lane way behind the house, removed all my stuff and relocated it to a new abode. The timing was a total coincidence, but perhaps it is also true that the wise man knows when it is time to make a run for it.

All the same, it felt super-cool to be fleeing the family house. I was 19 years old and my mothers weekly board demands were sending me broke, if only because they represented about 40% of my meager salary. In those days it was actually cheaper to move out and live in a share house with complete strangers.

Except that they weren’t all complete strangers, only three of the five other people in the household were strangers. The mate who introduced me to the nightmare collective, well, I used to walk to school with him way back in primary school. We were the same age and traversed the same route to primary school, so we became best mates.

Living with utter strangers is a good way to round off the worst edges of your personality, if only because utter strangers won’t put up with the sort of stuff which you might get away with, within the cozy familial environment. I’d like to think that I had no worst edges to smooth away, but then don’t we all think that?

Unexpected things can happen when in the close proximity of strangers. Exhibit A: At that house my bath towel was never quite dry. Now my thinking at the time was that the bathroom where the towel was left to dry after use was a very humid room, so it was therefore hardly surprising that the towel never quite dried properly. Reality was that a young lady who was also a resident of the household had also been using my bath towel. After a year at the house, I felt so much closer to my housemates.

Yup, unexpected things sure can happen, and that’s part of this here thing called life.

Many years ago, I recall a very different account from a work colleague who was attempting to evict his now adult son. The adult son, let’s call him Garth for the purposes of this story (the name has been changed to protect the identity), was clearly disinclined to leave the familial nest. After all, home life for Garth by all accounts appeared to be far better than my own experience. So my work colleague suggested to Garth that he was to move out of home once he passed his final undergraduate University exams.

At face value, it seemed like a simple enough suggestion. The long dead military genius Sun Tzu (and everyone needs such a guide) wrote: In conflict, direct confrontation will lead to engagement and surprise will lead to victory. Those who are skilled in producing surprises will win. Garth apparently (as far as I’m aware) never sat his final University exams. Why would he? To do so, would also mean to be evicted from a very sweet and beneficial domestic arrangement possibly involving much hardship such as sharing of bathroom towels!

Talk about unintended consequences, but I see people making plans for other people all the time, and have strong reservations about the wisdom of this strategy.

In business the technique is known as top down directives i.e. You tell someone else lower down the food chain what they are going to do. If the lessons of Sun Tzu can be taken to heart and then employed, it becomes clear that failure, as an option, is always a surprise possibility.

Maybe I’m just old school? Dunno. But if I wanted another person to do something, I would first ensure that they understood the need and then had the desire to do whatever needed doing. Without motivation and the other persons committment, nothing expected will ever happen. Way back in my days at the big end of town I regularly sat down and had a chat with my staff in order to get their views on the world. That regular chat alerted me as to whether the staff wanted to do what they were being paid to do. It also provided a formal setting where they could raise any problems they were encountering which required my (or other) assistance. For various reasons, some folks needed more regular chats than other folks, and that was how life goes. Everyone just understood what they had to do, and that’s how things more or less got done.

Confrontation by way of contrast, rarely works. Even Sun Tzu may have suggested that instead of confrontation, I keep my bathroom towel in my bedroom. Another problem solved!

Last week the editor and I went to an agricultural expo in a town a bit over an hours drive from here. We love agricultural expos, and lunch was a particularly tasty cheese and chilli Kransky served in a bun with onions, cheese and mustard. Yum! Followed by a soft serve icecream dipped in chocolate with a feature ‘flake’ chocolate, served in a waffle cone. With a lunch like that on offer, how could you not like an agricultural expo?

A working dog breeder and trainer struts his stuff

A bloke who breeds and trains working sheep dogs (i.e. Kelpie dogs – hello Plum and Ruby) was at the expo and he put on a display of his dogs in action. During the demonstration, the bloke mentioned to the crowd that some dogs have the working instinct, and others, well he sells them off to be pets. This confirmed my worst fears in relation to the most recent additions to the Fluffy Collective – the Kelpie sheep dogs: Plum and Ruby. Just to prove his point, he brought out a couple of puppies (so cute) and you could see that even at fourteen weeks, some dogs have the work instinct, and others ran into the crowd to be petted. It was an awesome sales technique and I could see that kids loved the puppies who escaped into the crowd. Oh well, fortunately we don’t have any sheep for the two Fluffy’s to have to round up.

The Seymour poultry group has a shed at the expo set aside to sell chickens. Chookflation is real, but the editor and I needed to restock the chicken collective, so we purchased six new chickens. They were well priced relative to the other extensive/expensive offerings, and let’s just say that our new chickens have uncertain parentage, but they’ll be fine layers.

I don’t really fuss around too much when introducing new chickens. My secret technique involves just adding them into the enclosure and letting the chickens sort out their own business.

One box of three chickens was added to the chicken collective
Another box of three chickens was unceremoniously unloaded

Of course chickens have their own funny ideas about the world. For a while everything seemed calm as the old guard surveyed the new comers.

All very pleasant. The old guard survey the new comers

Eventually one of the new comers always gets a bit uppity, and that’s when the feathers fly.

The feathers fly! The super tough light Sussex takes on the new comer

After a few minutes of action, the new comers were put firmly in their place, quiet reigned, and then everyone went about the important chicken business of the day.

A further three feet of soil was excavated from the developing shed site.

A further three feet of soil was excavated from the future shed site

Sometimes it is hard to remember just how much soil has been excavated from the future shed site, but excavation cam tells no lies:

The amount of soil excavated and relocated is quite mind boggling

All of the excavated soil has been very useful in constructing a low gradient ramp leading from the house and down into the orchards.

The low gradient ramp is nearing completion

The relocated soil is also being used to construct a flat utility area.

A flat utility area is also being constructed using the excavated soil and rocks

From a position standing on the utility area, you can see how the various projects combine relative to the house.

Looking from the developing flat utility area to the low gradient ramp where I am standing

The autumn weather has been really good for this sort of work. Cool and wet, but not so wet that the excavation and relocation of soil has been difficult due to mud. The old timers used to suggest to: Make hay whilst the sun shines, and we’re excavating whilst the conditions are right to do so.

Unfortunately autumn weather also brings on the dreaded leaf change. And leaf change brings out the tourists.

Leaf change is here, and it’s real

Onto the flowers:

Nasturtium is always lovely – and edible, although not a favourite green
Salvia’s are really enjoying the recent conditions here on the farm
Lavender, Geraniums and a Salvia brighten up a garden bed
This daisy is difficult to photograph for some reason. The colour is superb
Geraniums liven up any garden

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 10’C (50’F). So far this year there has been 324.6mm (12.8 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 322.4mm (12.7 inches).

50 thoughts on “Tales of the unexpected”

  1. Yo, Chris – Granola Shotgun has an interesting post about the history of money. It’s all relative. Value, that is.

    So, did it take the wind out of your mum’s sails, a bit? 🙂 . There she is, all primed for controversy, and you’ve spoiled it, by saying, “Gone by Saturday.” As I’ve mentioned, morning of my 18th birthday (legal age of emancipation), I was out the door and gone. With mum clinging to my leg. By then, I’d already arranged for my first apartment, painted it, and rounded up the bare bones necessities.

    Can’t say I ever had problems with roommates. And, thinking about it, I’d say it might be a generational thing. I won’t say we were raised better, but, were more …. mannerly. A year later when I moved to Seattle, housing was VERY tight. I ended up sharing a house with 5 strangers. I really don’t remember any friction, except I had nothing in common, with any of them. And, there were three to a bedroom and one bathroom. Within a couple of months, a garage under the house, that had been converted to a one room apartment, opened up. I jumped at it. But, after about 1980, I never had a roommate, again.

    The “Working Dog Breeder…” picture? I really like the little fellow in the plaid shirt with the GREAT BIG HAT! 🙂 .

    But, I see Chris has lost his hat, again. 🙁 . Don’t you know those things cost money? They don’t grow on trees, you know. Was it stolen by monkeys?


    A classic!

    Yes, best leave the chicken business, to the chickens. As in domestic disputes, they’re libel to all turn on you at once.

    How big is that shed going to be? Are you trying to outdo your mates of Big Shed, fame?

    Leaf Peepers. Best just stay in and off the roads, until, like swarms of locusts, they have passed by.

    The flowers, as usual, are lovely. Lew

  2. Hey Chris,

    That’s a great photo of Chicken Fight Club.

    My chooks have caught a couple of mice in the last few days. I tightened up the feed situation and also removed most of the straw from the coop as the mice seemed to be sleeping in it. This has had the effect of drawing the mice outdoors. I was wondering how a chook would eat a mouse but of course they just wolf them down in one go.

    Do you have mice in your coop? I’m wondering how to get a feeder that protects against both mice and birds for free range chickens. If I leave the feeder in the coop, the mice get to it. If I leave it outside in the open, the birds (sparrows and doves) get to it. I might try this design next although I doubt it would keep mice out – https://www.instructables.com/PVC-Chicken-Feeder/

    On the weekend, a friend of mine who is a bit of a Japan-o-phile was telling me how many young Japanese, apparently up to 10%, not only stay living with their parents but never actually leave the house. Because Japan has a very strong shame culture, the parents try to cover the whole thing up and just let the kid (who is really an adult) stay in their room while they bring him or her food. Perhaps a little more direct confrontation is needed there.

    @ Goran

    Thanks again for the info. Let the great Espaliered Chestnut Experiment begin!

  3. Hi Simon,

    Kudos for beginning the great chestnut experiment. 🙂

    Chickens are pretty tough birds, but the thing with their fights is that they don’t last long and the fight generally resolves the differences. And most of it is about the maintenance of the pecking order.

    Yes, I do get field mice inside the chicken run and hen house. They’re really hard to keep out due to the super fine gaps they can squeeze through, in fact it is easier to keep out the rats. Although the rats probe every weakness, and I’m only just keeping marginally ahead of them.

    Never seen a chicken gulp down a mouse, although with mice babies they most certainly can do that. It’s a bit eerie to observe the chickens watching their prey – and then striking. Given their lineage stretches back to the dinosaurs, I reckon Jurassic Park would not have been such a crash hot holiday destination! With larger mice, the chickens will play a game of chasy around the enclosure with the aim of ripping the mouse apart – they have no teeth and this is one way they’ve learned to consume larger prey. They all know the game.

    That feeder looks pretty clever and it sure would stop a lot of grain wastage (he says whilst filing away the idea). I factor in a bit of grain wastage because the chickens don’t enjoy all of the mixed grains I feed them and they leave some. Rats could definitely get into that feeder, but don’t let that put you off – the rats have 24/7 + 365 to consider the problem, and all the incentive in the world to do so.

    In the old chicken enclosure the crimson rosellas used to fly into the chicken enclosure when the door was opened so as to get an easy feed. Birds, like rats are pretty smart.

    I don’t get lock-ins, but it suits some parents – and it happens down here too. You might occasionally get a person with an in built hard wired sense of fear and anxiety, but it is more likely that the parents instilled such programs for their own purposes.



  4. Hi Lewis,

    It is probably a touch marginal for almonds as far north as where you are. I see that some varieties are grown in Germany, but that country has a diverse climate from north to south, so who knows where the plants are actually grown? Down under the almond trees are generally grown in far hotter locations than where I am, but those locations have less natural rainfall and so the orchards rely heavily on irrigation. There is often a bit of a beat-up about how much water the trees use, but compared to dairy production, it’s a piffle. In fact most years I don’t provide the trees with any additional water and they produce pretty well with a bigger harvest every second year.

    Hope your elderberry grows strongly. They’re an impressive shrub once they get going.

    Never heard of the Yelmsters before, but it seems like a big call to ‘create their own reality’. I note that will can only be used against physical stuff via the process of hard work, although this is a somewhat unpopular perspective.

    From memory, Albert didn’t look all that crash hot when viewed from the rear view mirror. Whereas the character played by Meryl Streep was always viewed with a forgiving soft focus. You’re right about class and hierarchy as that did play into the story, and the film was enjoyable, it is just that nobody is consistently that good – or otherwise. Were the pies any good, that is the question from me?

    The price tag for one season of that series is so great that I can’t quite get my head around it. Even the three films didn’t cost that much to make. The book was an engaging tale and I enjoyed it.

    Yes, Chuck is really pulling no punches with the Fight Club story. It’s an engrossing read. I doubt very much whether such a book or film could be written today without the author getting cancelled. Makes you wonder if there is a committee deciding who gets cancelled this week! Crazy folks. I’ve heard of such cancelling acts happening in school yards.

    Well spotted, it was the cheery but rather deranged Koala cover. The band took pride in spoofing folks, and in that particular case I believe that it was a spoof of the artist: Ken Done. The band had quite an underground sort of following. Agreed, the original album title did lack good taste, and the band I reckon had produced much better music before and after that EP.

    Thanks for the free-lunch education. I’d read of this practice previously and noted that there was a social welfare aspect to this practice in turn supported by the labour unions. You may have a different opinion, but I’m no fan of the temperance folks and their words. It sounds too much like a fire and brimstone style religious sermon for my tastes, but as I noted, that might be just my perspective.

    I’ll be very curious to hear what you have to say about the authors latest book.

    Greens attract insects, that’s for sure. I’ve long since suspected that people prefer greens purchased from shops because of the reduced possibility that something else is consuming the leaves. Don’t you have enough slugs already? 🙂 Pesky critters, and I evicted a few slugs from the many massive zucchini I harvested earlier today. If the slug was still alive, an alternative perspective is that the greens were fresh!

    The ancient Roman digs look fascinating, and it is fortunate that the developer did not commence excavation work. The history buffs are intrigued by the find and it is good that they are unable to clearly categorise the purpose of the original buildings.

    Johnny’s a good writer and I enjoy his sense of pragmatism and ability to see past what is there in the built environment today.

    Oh yeah, taking the wind out of the sails was half the fun. It genuinely was cheaper to move out – and I got more space to boot. My bedroom at home was the old granite detached laundry which had been converted for my purpose – boy germs or something like that. The shed barely had enough space for a single bed, chest of draws and a desk, but I got by. Winters were pretty cold out there. But on the plus side of that arrangement, I could come and go as I pleased – and I did.

    Mate, you know when the time is right to act. I hear ya! Although I have never painted a rental property – the landlords would have a fit. It is not much fun renting down here because the laws favour the landlords, although that is slowly shifting.

    Yup! The farming expo was country as! Generally we avoid the weekends because that is when the city folks hit the expo. And with no overseas travel, city folks are heading out of town.

    What a great hat story! Thanks for mentioning it. Might have to get out the hats for the next round of photos?

    The chickens know their business better than I do, and I’m happy for them to sort it out between themselves. The only bad experience I’ve had on that front were a commercial breed and I’ve experienced three of them going cannibal – the breed requires far more protein than I’m prepared to give the birds.

    I did an experiment today and cracked one of my chickens eggs and a commercially acquired egg into a cup. The difference between the two yolks was quite astounding, and if I buy eggs, I don’t get the cheap ones either. I was surprised that the difference was that great in terms of size and colour of the yolk. Dunno.

    Hehe! Who knows how big the new shed will be, but I do know that it won’t be that big. 🙂

    Thanks and glad to hear that you are enjoying the flowers. The Geraniums are stunners aren’t they? The wallabies used to eat that particular variety, but haven’t done so for many years now as that area is quite confusing for a wallaby to get into.



  5. Hi Chris,

    I got my first vaccine for what I can’t name, the P version, on the 15th. The only side effect was a very sore arm that lasted most of the following day. Mike had the same reaction to his first shot, also P. He gets the second shot this coming Friday. My 2nd shot is on May 4.

    Who dares to steal spring from hardworking gardeners??!!?? We are under a freeze watch for Wednesday morning. In fact it is possible we will experience some snow tomorrow (Tuesday) morning before it warms up enough that it becomes a cold rain. The very cold weather will continue on Thursday morning, with at least a frost if not a freeze. I will have to cover the strawberry bed, which is in full flower. This has interrupted planting the garden, though I expect to be back at that on Thursday and Friday after the worst of the cold goes away.

    My parents told me that I had a choice: if I went to college I could stay at home during breaks but would have to leave after graduation, or I could not go to college and leave after high school graduation. The last summer I stayed at home was the summer between college and grad school, which was OK because we all knew I wouldn’t be living at home once grad school began. My sister left home as soon as she earned enough money to pay for an efficiency apartment, within a year or so of her high school graduation, and my youngest brother left home after he graduated from college and began his first job. Somehow our other brother managed to live at home after finishing college and beginning his first job. He claimed high cost of living due to being in Connecticut as his reason for not renting an apartment. The rest of us were a little suspicious, but I suppose our parents liked having him there, or they would have kicked him out. To be fair, he paid some rent and helped with some of the work. He didn’t move out until he became engaged, when he and his fiancee rented an apartment. They’ve been together since, more than 30 years, so he has never lived on his own.


  6. Yo, Chris – Just to check my facts, I looked into growing almonds in Washington State. Found a list of each state, how many farms grew almonds, and what the acreage is. Us? 6 farms with a total of 5 acres. Not what you’d call a big commercial crop. But, due to climate change, maybe by 2050 …

    Back when I worked out at the Yelm library branch, the Yelmsters were a pain in the … ear. All self absorbed, a lot of Euro trash, and oh, so entitled as they had “The Answer.” The first time I ran across them, was well before then. When I worked at the Dalton bookstore in Olympia, we got a new manager. Little did we know he was a cult member. Slowly began replacing staff with other cult members. All completely inappropriate to the book trade … or any retail for that matter. Three of us managed to hang on … and gave him enough rope to hang himself. He was eventually fired, and the rest of us picked up the pieces and got on with book selling.

    All food in Judgement City was wonderful. You could eat as much as you wanted, and never gain an once. Sounds like heaven, to me 🙂 .

    Well, Ken Done, as an artist, is not my cup of tea. But, I must say his stuff is … bright!

    I read one of Chuck’s newer books, “Adjustment Day.” And wondered how he got away with that. It really stuck it (literally) to the SJW and PC crowd. But the “rebels” don’t come off so well, in the end. Maybe that’s why it slipped under the radar?

    I have a new King book, that should be in, this week. A paranormal one. Titled, “Later.” He has another coming out in August, called “Billy Summers,” which is advertised as a crime novel. His “Lisey’s Story” is being done as a mini-series.

    The free beer / lunch was also a good way to buy votes. Temperance, to my opinion, was a dead end. But I do like some of the temperance Currier and Ives prints.

    I’m pretty sure in England, you’ve got to have an archaeological survey done, before you can start digging stuff up, for a project. You need to build in those costs, to your costs of project. And be prepared for changes, if anything of national importance, is found.

    It was 80F, yesterday. Today is supposed to be 73F (22.77C). Which is pretty much what it’s going to be for the rest of the week. Overnight lows in the mid 40’s (4.44+ C). We may see some rain by next weekend. It will be an ideal week, weather wise, to work in the garden. The missing garden room key appeared, over the week-end. Gosh knows where it vanished to, but I suspect the Garden Goddess. I got the flexible stainless steel garden hoses, deployed, yesterday. They came with spigots. Of course, from the Land of Stuff. Hope they hold up. Master Guardener’s come, tomorrow. Lew

  7. Hi Chris,

    Good to hear the new chooks are settling in and finding their place. I see Ollie took his role as supervisor very seriously this week.

    I don’t think my mother would have ever kicked me out as I was the in house baby sitter. Decided I had enough of that and got married too young which didn’t work out but one learns from those experiences. I did have my share of roommates in college though. The dorm I lived in was an old apartment building. We didn’t have full kitchens but had most other amenities. As a freshman you got assigned a roommate or roommates but after that you were free to choose who you wanted to live with.

    Our neighbors across the street took in their daughter and granddaughter after, from what I gather, a very messy divorce. This was some years before we moved here and they still remain. The couple, Al and Sandi, are older than us and they have a pretty large house, outbuildings and 40 acres and it’s become too much for them to handle. They should sell but don’t know what will happen to the daughter and granddaughter. From my observation the daughter doesn’t do all that much to help. The granddaughter has some pretty major mental health issues and chronic lyme disease. The daughter goes to stay with her boyfriend every weekend but only takes the daughter one of those weekends so Al and Sandi end up being responsible for her. We can’t figure out why they put up with this situation.

    Got freeze warnings for Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Glad I don’t have anything up that can’t withstand it. Still next to no rain.


  8. @Simon
    At our old place the cats often half killed mice and we’d throw them into the chickens and watch the flock chase the lucky chicken who snatched up the mouse first. Get a laugh out of the “vegetarian” eggs in the store.


  9. Hello Chris
    Only 40%, lucky you. I took 50% from my young. If they weren’t in work, I left a list of what I expected to find done when I returned home from work. They actually found themselves worse off when they left home. All left from 17 to 20 years although there were some returns for a while in tough times. I have seen disasters when the young stayed idly at home contributing nothing, certainly doesn’t fit them for the big wild world.

    Down to 34F last night which is really ridiculously cold and I have started to plant things out. Nice sunny day today though. My first outing since all shops could open and it wasn’t particularly crowded. People must have done their shopping last week when it first opened up.


  10. Chris,

    I still like Windows 95. That was probably the best version. 98 wasn’t too much of a decay. But with 95 I could still get into DOS easily and right little routines that enhanced things. And upgrading Office? No. Not doing that. Every change to that does less and is confusing.

    Machines and Terminator movies. There was a WEIRD cartoon movie that was released in the late 1960s: Jack and the Witch. It starts with Jack (a child) driving his Model T car in the house and up the staircase, and it gets stranger from there. There was a strange machine that the baddies tried to force everyone into, and when you were spewed out of the machine, you, too were a mindless baddie. And the mindless baddies chanted/shrieked “Into the machine! Into the machine!” Twas a very weird children’s film for 9 year old DJ and his 6 year old sister to watch, but our parents watched it with us and thought it harmless. Makes the old WABAK machine or Terminator thingies seem normal and harmless in comparison. I’ll take a good TARDIS any day, though.

    Thor versus the Terminator? Agreed, no comparison. No “I’ll be back” by the time T. Odinsson is finished with the Terminator.

    I wrote the lyrics to “Share and Enjoy” in the break room at a science museum job I once had. The director was NOT amused, but all of his employees student at university who WERE amused. I sorta needed the job so I removed it. Oh, well.

    Yes, it’s finding a balance between keeping things healthy, including a lawn, and using appropriate amounts of water. Jings! The CITY wastes more water in evaporation in one day of watering a park during the heat than I will use in a year.

    Nice Chicken Fight Club photos! Good call about how chickens, and birds in general, are direct descendants of the dinosaurs. A vacation in Jurassic Park doesn’t sound good after watching birds have a go at reptiles or rodents.

    Speaking of fighting birds…the Corvid Wars of 2021 are in full swing. The crows keep trying to drive a pair of nesting ravens out of the area. At times the ravens get into an impregnable place and start croaking, driving the entire murder of crows into a frenzy. The ravens also seem to be aware of where many of the crow nests are. There have also been a few aerial battles and pursuits. Nobody has gotten hurt, yet, at least that I’m aware of.

    Okay, the Friday Night Food Adventure turned form take out to a request for my home made nachos. So off to the store for the ingredients. The Princess said it was the best batch I’ve made yet. And a bonus: a friend of ours whom I haven’t seen for a long time was there. We had a good visit. Saturday had us try out the local “Texas Roadhouse” restaurant for take out. We’d eaten at one in Colorado when on vacation in 2012. Spokane recently got one. That was one tasty meal on Saturday! The Princess said that we’re changing locations for our celebration dinners to this place. The food is better, easier on the pocketbook, and closer to home.

    The Princess enjoyed looking at the pictures of your projects, agreeing with me about how much work that is. She noticed the bench near the Moby Rock and thought that was a good idea. She also wonders what happened to your hats. However, as I spent a couple hours digging more leaves into the garden without my hat, well, sometimes a hat is not conducive to the job at hand.

    We made a haul at the thrift store on Monday. As an added bonus, cousins of the Princess were there. We all had a good reunion in the store.

    The late season flowers and the colorful leaves? Wow! We don’t often get flowers and colorful leaves at the same time. Enjoy the bursts of autumn colors.


  11. Hello Chris
    32F last night and it is very dry, my pond is drying up.
    A friend of mine who lives at the most basic level possible, has been informed by his electricity supplier that he is not using enough electricity! I believe that his usage is one light bulb. Am guessing that he cooks with bottled gas. What a ludicrous world we live in these days.


  12. Hi Inge,

    Sorry to hear that it is so dry in your part of the world. If I could, I would send you some excess fresh water – we’ve had plenty of rainfall already this year. And it rained quite heavily again here tonight as the sun set. It is now dark outside and the weather is a chilly 39’F – winter is fast approaching.

    April would be a good time to start seeds for you (I’m guessing), so it is good that you have access to town water.

    We had a similar experience with utility companies when we lived in the big smoke. The bills comprised two components – the connection fee + the usage fee. I used to rail at the exorbitant connection fee, but then discovered the sheer scale and cost of providing the services myself. Ook! There was a very whiney sounding article in the newspaper today about electric vehicles, and it turns out that they are cheaper on the European continent than down here because they enjoy a massive subsidy. And the claim that $50,000+ for a vehicle is an achievable goal for most people is a ludicrous claim. Now where was it: Australians want to buy electric cars, but car makers say government policy blocks supply. I’d have to suggest that it is not the governments role to support the vehicle purchases of the population. A far smaller and cheaper vehicle with a basic petrol engine will have a smaller life cost than a more expensive vehicle. That’s just common sense.

    Inge, thank you for the correction and I am now grateful that 50% was not demanded of me. Appreciate the wake up call. 🙂

    I tend to believe that children want to contribute to the running of a household, and it is the parents role to insert a workable series of expectations. So yes, I absolutely agree with your sentiment.

    It looks like the brief Indian Summer is now in the rear view mirror. Snow was reported falling in the elevated alpine areas of the state tonight.



  13. Hi Claire,

    Word on the street down here is that the gobarmint has put its weight behind the P method. A lady in her 40’s who allegedly had diabetes has apparently died from blood clotting allegedly due to the method used on her. I’d call this sort of thing: implementation testing on the fly. Had my influenza vaccine the other day, and yeah, it was different this year, that’s for sure.

    At least you two aren’t getting the second shot at the same time and can thus look after one another if there are any side effects – which hopefully there aren’t. That’s good planning.

    Late frosts can be a real pain, and one such event took out the apricot crop here last year (in a stroke of bad luck that frost was immediately followed by a hailstorm). What a year. Good to hear that most of the garden wasn’t yet planted. My thinking is that the strawberries will recover if damaged. Good stuff with covering the strawberry bed. Fingers crossed for you. It’s 39’F here tonight. Brr!

    Your parents stipulated the finer details of the arrangement for you leaving you little uncertainty and/or wiggle room. People can be a bit super-loose about such things nowadays. Remembering back to when I was a young bloke, it was expected that kids moved out of the family home upon becoming adults. That was just how it was. I dunno, but I tend to wonder how the whole house price inflation thing will work out for peoples kids – and usually raise that issue if the topic is discussed. As you can imagine, people get pretty grumpy, but it is an important question which is being evaded.

    It is possible that your other brother could sing for his supper?



  14. Hi Margaret,

    🙂 The new chickens are doing well and finding their place at the bottom of the pecking order. Even the ten year old Silkie chicken gives the new comers ‘what for?’ How tough are Silkies, you wouldn’t expect it of something so fluffy. One of the new chickens may eventually become the boss chook as she has the makings of leadership about her. I’ve called her ‘upright tail, bronze neck’ and of all the new comers, that chicken stands tall (and was the one in the Fight Club chooks style photo). I believe that she is an Australorp / Araucana mix.

    Of course, and I appreciate the correction. Your circumstances would have been very difficult having a widow for a mother with a number of younger siblings, no doubts about it. And your contribution to the household would have been outstanding and irreplaceable. I get the impression that your mother was quite appreciative of the work that you performed in very difficult and trying circumstances.

    Margaret, if I’d married early I would have travelled a similar path which would have ended in a similar outcome. It is hard to advise people, but I found that it kind of takes a bit of effort and experience to know the sort of people you can get along with. And nobody teaches you that knowledge when you’re young.

    Ah! Thanks for the insight into your College system. As a comparison, most people live off site down here when attending University. And part time at night was a get in, and get out mentality. Group assignments were an absolute pain.

    It is always a touch odd seeming to me how one person in a family can absorb everyone’s energy. One of my sisters went right off the rails, and there was so much focus and attention on her that there just wasn’t any space leftover for anyone else. That’s not a whinge either – I took a good hard look at the crazy goings on and said to myself: No thanks! And went off and did something different with my life. Dunno why so much energy goes into the one that got away, but I suspect at the base of it all lies a lot of guilt.

    I’d send you some rain if I could. And glad to hear that you are prepared for the frost risk. Fingers crossed for you! The growing season is almost done here.



  15. Hi DJ,

    Yeah Windows 95 was a decent operating system and from memory had few if any faults (at my user level). I’ve still got an old laptop with Windows XP installed on it, but the machine is of no great value sorry to say. Believe it or not, the work laptop which gets lugged around all over the place is now 12 years old and after much care and attention, it runs just fine. It will not however run Windows 10, which is a waste of an otherwise perfectly good laptop. But for now, the laptop hums along just fine.

    Ah, manga! What a lovely story and with mates like Barnaby Bear, how can you possibly go wrong? Jack also shows uncommon compassion for Allegra who seeks to do him an injustice. It is hard not to note that Die Hard with a Vengeance utilised a similar epic conclusion explosion for the baddies! Few can live up to the erudite Sherman and Peabody and their way back machine.

    The returns policy of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation leaves much to be desired. Incidentally, penning the lyrics was a very Fight Club-esque move on your part, although I can understand the unwillingness to be sacked. Some people just don’t have much of a sense of humour and you have to read the room as they say.

    Exactly! As a society we’ve become rather used to expecting parks in arid lands to look bright green when all around is not kept to that high standard. I’ve often wondered why councils don’t utilise waste water more often for such activities? At a nearby botanical garden, they have purple hoses which depict that treated waste water is being used. It is a vast untapped resource, but cleaning the stuff can be tricky and the rich minerals in the waste water can produce algal blooms.

    If I were a crow, I’d be a bit nervous about having some Ravens move into my turf. The battle will be long, there will be sacrifices, the outcome is uncertain, but sally forth ye murder of Crows! Thanks for the Corvid update.

    Tis a thing of beauty to have good food at reasonable prices in your local area. But always, always, keep a critical eye open lest change sneak up upon ye all quiet and stuff! Enjoyed a very tasty muffin this morning! Yum!

    Thanks for the appreciative words regarding the projects from you two. 🙂 It’s a pleasure to walk upon and use all of the many projects, and really the output of one activity is the input for another activity. The low gradient ramp is almost done, but requires some extra soil, a row of edge rocks and the surface will be lined with the locally quarried crushed rock with lime. The utility area has a long way to go yet, and there is that other path which needs attending to which I have not mentioned before.

    The lack of hats was a sad loss, and it reminds me of a lack of Ollie in the photos. Ollie just adds that something little extra to photos, and he is a sweet natured dog. After work tonight, I fell asleep on the couch, and Ollie jumped up, pushed me over and snuggled in. He almost pushed me off the couch the cheeky scamp. His canine intervention was a good thing because it is quite cold now down here: 37’F outside and dropping! Warm inside the house though.

    Chance encounters with people who you actually want to meet is always fun. Glad to read that you’ve made off with some booty! The dread pirate DJ and his lady the First Mate (although it is possible that she is the captain and you are the first mate – an enviable outcome) sailing the wide consumer forgotten seas. 🙂

    Well hopefully the flowers continue right through the winter and into spring. Although in the latter part of winter it is a hard job not to repeat flower images. Fortunately the forest (for its own reasons) other than Eucalyptus species decides to flower at that wintery time of year.



  16. Hi Lewis,

    I agree about the climate change possibility, as I’ve read that once ambient air temperatures in the shade exceed 113’F (which I’ve experienced here in 2018) the plants begin to shut down. Too much of that sort of weather, and the trees begin to drop their leaves and fruit from water and heat stress. 5 acres isn’t much, but I’m guessing that if push came to shove, they could rapidly expand their productive area. One thing always concerns me, and I’m guilty of this myself, is that orchardists bring in their trees from outside the area. The old timers used to do things differently as they grew the root stocks and then grafted known cultivars to those plants. I guess people could learn that again easy enough – it’s not that hard. Road testing the varieties of fruit trees in an area, that is a hard thing as it takes a lot of years of trial and error.

    Actually, I’m hoping that eventually the orchards produce a more or less solid but diverse canopy of trees. The shading of the ground will reduce water and heat stress if the weather goes super crazy hot and dry – as it does some years. This stuff is really complicated and chancy.

    Ooo! You did well to survive the onslaught of the Yelmsters, actually very well. When such a person gets in the top dog position with the intention of making sure the minions are paid, look out. Incidentally, that was how the Radio Shack job ended for me, although the boss wasn’t in a cult. He just wanted his former off-sider to work with him (the boss was new to the store), and I got the don’t come Monday story. There was nothing else offered, I had work one day, then I didn’t have work and was broke as I’d assumed the mad cash would keep on rolling on in, but no it suddenly dried up and I had to work out how to get by being a poverty stricken teenager. A rookie mistake. 😉

    There is a business in a town a little bit to the north of here which rumour has it is the financing vehicle for a cult. Surprisingly, I haven’t heard bad things about the business itself and I see their work around the area, but yeah. Large tracts of land used to be quite affordable in that area (back in the day it wasn’t that expensive here either now that I think about it a bit).

    The pies were clearly good then! Ah yes, limits at table, such an awful thing. The Roman’s knew how to do that gear, but oh my their tooth enamel must have suffered greatly. Now that I consider the matter further, limits are good. Had a really tasty muffin today! Yum!

    Ken Done is not to my taste either. I prefer a bit more realism. I was recounting the story of the Dutch Masters cheeky scamp artist to the editor the other day. You know, if his work is indistinguishable from the originals, well he’s every bit as good as they were and maybe better.

    Chuck is subversive as. Maybe the SJW crowd fear him for the Sun Tzu possible response which they might elicit? Certainly he taps into primal responses, that’s for sure. Almost finished the book and am really enjoying it. The book was made for the big screen.

    I had no idea: Nigerian dwarf goats selling for up to $15,000 as pets and for high-quality milk. Milk sorted, just need a bit more global warming so that coffee shrubs survive the occasional snowfall (they grow very well here, until it snows and then they die). 🙂 Just kidding (please excuse the pun) as I’m not sure that I’m ready for any new livestock. My mates of the big shed fame tend to always have new and interesting animals on their farm.

    Mr King is a truly prolific author and worthy of respect. The editor is about four-fifths of the way through ‘The Stand’ and she is engrossed with the story. It’s an epic novel.

    The temperance league was about as effective as the abstinence folks. It sounds good in theory… And maybe gives something for those folks to do?

    Ah of course, the developers have to do such a dig before commencing a project. They do that in the Melbourne CBD, and the stuff that is found is quite remarkable. Ah, the rail tunnel project in the CBD has a webpage dedicated to the stuff which is found: Archaeology and heritage.

    Lewis, you’ve taken our nice weather and in return given us 37’F outside right now. Brr! Be nice to the summer weather as we’ll want it back again once you’ve finished with it. 🙂

    It looks like the postal service no longer wants to freight perishable items.



  17. Yo, Chris – Smart move. Trees are the way to go, at your place. Besides the shade, probably always a crop of one sort, or another, available. And then there’s the leaves, adding to the biomass. Here, recently, they ripped out most of the dominant variety of apple, in Washington State, and replaced it with a new variety. Someone, somewhere, decided it was more marketable.

    Here’s a factoid to file away for that sudden death round of a pub trivia contest. The Roman “vomitorium” was not a purpose build room, to offload some of your dinner. It was “A series of entrances or exit passages in an ancient Roman amphitheater or theatre.” And by the way, Roman amphitheater, theatre and stadium, are distinct and separate architectural forms. Classicists and archaeologists get pretty raspy, when they are misidentified. When they have nothing better to do. 🙂 .

    Nigerian dwarf goats sound like a high end of town, foible.

    Notice how the temperance movement kind of died, when the ladies got the vote? 🙂 .

    That’s interesting about the Melbourne CBD excavations. It’s always interesting when there’s a big project, and the archaeologists are scrambling ahead of the dump trucks and steam shovels. They’re building some big road, in Britain, and they’re finding all kinds of stuff. A recent subway, in Rome, yielded a wealth of objects. What’s interesting, is when the old stuff is incorporated into the new.

    Well, if the postal system doesn’t want to ship perishables, I’m sure the other two big shippers will pick up the slack. For a price. In my last River order, I also ordered two five pound sacks of pumpkin seeds. Got tired trying to a.) source them, and b.) pay through the nose. They were tucked in next to the dental floss 🙂 .

    I was reading an article about the “new” western movies. Not so much cowboys, as, films set in the west. A line jumped out at me. “Society’s skepticism toward anyone who rejects it.” How true.

    I see there’s going to be a prequel to “Mad Max”. Supposed to be the most expensive film, ever filmed in Australia.

    The Master Gardener’s await…. Lew

  18. Hi Lewis,

    Firstly, I feel that I must complain about the dwindling stores of whatever passed for the previous growing season. Yes, it is important to get these things off your chest. This morning when I awoke the temperature had plummeted overnight to 35’F down from last nights 37’F. Brr! Ice on the dirt rat and dirt mouse Suzuki’s and I was grateful not to have to go anywhere today (more grateful than I’m letting on, believe me!)

    Turns out that it was far colder elsewhere on the continent: Sub-zero temps in five states, as Tassie dips to minus 7.4. Those measurements are in metric, so -7.4 x 1.8 + 32 = 18’F! Woo Hoo, cold as! Triple brr, and glad I was nowhere near that locale.

    The sun shone all day, although the air was crispy cold. The solar power system hadn’t been performing recently as I’d expect it should. The final 15% charge into the batteries was going in far slower than I’d anticipated, and turns out that I’d not considered some aspects of the charge program when I first chucked in the newfangled batteries last October. After cogitating on the problem for a bit, the solution presented itself, and changes were made to the charging programs on the four controllers. Mate, when you cut your ties from the umbilical cord that is the widely distributed and enjoyed supplies, you have to be onto the detail with everything. People don’t really consider that aspect of the situation, which is why they can talk so much rubbish about future greatness of stuff yet invented.

    That’s my thinking too with the orchards and the way they are set out. Someone may have remarked somewhere before that what is resilient, is not necessarily the same arrangements as an efficient system.

    My gut feeling is that such top down directives to agricultural producers is a policy that doesn’t have much shelf life. Ripping out perfectly good fruit trees because someone decided that the variety isn’t what the market demands, is utter foolishness. I mean, most people aren’t even aware of the wide variety of fruits that can be grown. Originally there were something like 7,000 varieties of apples, so claiming that one is better or more preferred than another is just a bonkers claim. My gut feel suggests that such practices are along the same lines as demanding that fruits look a certain way and be a certain size and weight – it is like a giant neg to keep producers on their toes. Nature is pretty random so yeah good luck with those practices.

    When our former English overlords became new best friends forever mates with their European mates, the impact on the apple orchards down here was pretty severe. Almost overnight, the international markets for fruit evaporated. And look how that arrangement turned out for them.

    Oh no! I kind of liked the idea that the Roman’s were such gluttons that they barfed up their dinner before going back for more punishment at table. It sets the gold standard for hedonism, but no, scholars got it wrong, and the Latin word was for a functional and innocuous component of a much larger building. And thanks to you, I went on a deep rabbit hole dive into Roman buildings used for entertainment. I was particularly taken by: Pollice Verso (Thumbs Down) by Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1872. I can just imagine the victorious gladiator yelling back at the hecklers: If ya don’t like the result – get in the ring! 🙂 Hard to please crowds that’s for sure.

    Yeah, you’re probably right about the miniature goats. As I was reading the article my mind was getting flashbacks of the Ostrich craze which was a thing in the 1990’s. I couldn’t understand who was buying the Ostrich products, and kind of suspected that the birds were being sold to others, sort of like the dodgy old airplane game. Even as a kid the concept seemed stupid, but you know people want what they want.

    Ooo! That would be a clever ploy and you’re probably correct. The timing is quite close. Hmm, you’ve got a sharp eye. 🙂

    One of the things which jumped out at me regarding the Colosseum was that parts of the building where re-used elsewhere, especially after an earthquake made the salvage process that much easier.

    The previous house we fixed up before building this place was an old double red brick Victorian era terrace. With the rear room (which replaced the former bathroom, toilet and laundry some of which was constructed sturdily with packing crates) we left the red brick wall exposed on the inside of the building. I was advised that this touch of character was a bit quirky and to slap some white paint over the brick walls. Yeah, it is a hard thing to discover that your tastes don’t quite match up to the expected norm in society. This house we did just for ourselves because it seemed like the right thing to do at the time – and the house works well enough.

    I don’t generally order anything perishable through the mail anyway, but there’d be some businesses (such as live plant sellers) suffering a bit of consternation at increased freight costs. I had a vague feeling that the postal folks (a Federal service) were trying to use this removal of services as a lever so that the states got their acts together and harmonised the differing laws between the states. Basically reading between the lines, they appear to have had enough.

    You scoff about dental floss, but if you don’t have it when you need it! 🙂 Hehe! I get that, and I’m no purist about the river. I avoid using it like the plague, but sometimes it’s a monopoly and so you have to play monopoly games with them. Many print on demand books come from the belly of that beast – even when the front is different.

    Mind you spending that much on a series is possibly a very good way to go broke.

    It seems like a brittle worldview to me, society that is: “Society’s skepticism toward anyone who rejects it.” I guess the beast demands compliance. I thought we tackled all that stuff in the 1960’s and 1970’s? Probably didn’t work out all that well given how things are nowadays. I kind of reckon the only reason such a worldview can be implemented en masse is due to cheap energy. Take that away, and no doubts culture will once again flourish.

    Maybe an American moving to France back in the day didn’t have to worry so much about being thought of as poor? Other values carried greater weight? Dunno, just guessing.

    Cool, Max was mad. Let’s find out just how mad he was. 🙂 I loved those films for their nihilism. Speaking of which I sat in a very hot bath this morning and finished reading Fight Club. I rather enjoyed it, and the book concluded differently to the film. I didn’t see that one coming. Chuck’s good, and the book you mentioned employed a similar ending. An intriguing mind could produce such works.



  19. Yo, Chris – “Dwindling stories of … previous growing season.” Well, it’s in the rear view mirror. 🙂 . To quote that little know, and highly underrated Greek philosopher, Mediocrates, “Ehh. Good enough.” Aren’t familiar with him? Well, let me enlighten you. A bit of bad language, ahead.


    To avoid splitting maths headaches (and blood running out of my nose and ears), I just resort to the Gargle temperature converter. I either search “convert f to c” or, vice versa.

    I’m glad you got the solar whipped into shape. On my way to the library, I see a sad little sign, almost overcome with foliage, that says, “We’ve gone solar!!!” I always wonder, “How’s that working out for you?”

    Ripping out apple trees to try and follow consumer trends, seems like a fool’s errand. I’m sure somewhere along the way, someone told a tiny little fib … “It’s what are customers are asking for.” Or, “It’s what all the cool kids are doing.”

    Well, not to destroy another myth (I promise to leave Santa and the Easter Bunny, alone), but just in the interest of accuracy, the whole thumbs up, thumbs down thing is … controversial. I just skimmed through a book, “”A Fatal Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: Murder in Ancient Rome.” (Southon, 2021.) In all the contemporary Roman literature we have, it’s only mentioned once. And the author didn’t enlighten us as to which direction of the thumb was positive, and which negative. The painting is quite monumental, and at least you didn’t resort to that “Gladiator” film clip, that’s really overdone on the web. “Are we entertained?”

    The pet du jour thing is always a ponzi, pyramid or bubble. Once the backyard chicken people realize the downsides, I’m sure chook prices will collapse, too. I just watched “Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics.” It’s mostly about DC and Marvel. A multi-part documentary. It talks about the collapse of comic sales in the mid 1990s, due to them being flogged as “collectible” (send your kids to college!) and when people tried to cash in, discovering those boxes in the basement were worth pennies on the dollar. If you were going to invest in comics, go for something old and rare. Like “Superman #1.”

    Well, after the Fall of Rome, you had all this nice dressed stone laying about. Why not quarry it? I was just reading about a middle ages church, and the floor of the crypt is paved with Roman tombstones. Looking for missing pieces of Hadrian’s Wall? Check the local barns and churches.

    As far as your exposed brick, you must have hit that period either before or after it became all the rage. Exposed brick. It’s what all the cool kids, are doing. I started reading a book, last night. “House Lessons: Renovating a Life.” (Bauermeister, 2020). It’s about a family (mum, dad, two kids) who buy a falling down house in Port Townsend, Washington. There’s a lot of family dynamics, but enough renovation (as opposed to restoration or remodeling) stories, to keep me interested. I’m about half way through it. The author mentions seeing Sarah and Gabriel (the couple who live like it’s 1900), around the town, and how, against all those historic buildings, they just look … “right.”

    I don’t know about your postal service, but with ours, you can insure shipments. Maybe the posties just got tired, paying out money for wilted plants?

    Master Gardener’s came yesterday. I spent my time emptying out large pots of Elinor’s (they are going to her daughter and son-in-law) and weeding this and that. Elinor’s tub is about half full of dirt, so far. Maybe we can start moving plants, next week? I went out last night, to empty some garbage. The apple and pear are in full bloom. There’s a street light, nearby, and it just lit those trees up. Quit striking. Yesterday I saw two female hummingbirds, pulling moss off the apple tree. Nesting time! Lew

  20. Chris,

    Windows 10? That’s what we run, and that’s what we used on the job. I can make no public comments about Windows 10: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.” Thumper the rabbit in Disney’s Bambi said that.

    Yes, let’s hear it for Sherman and Peabody.

    Yes, gotta read the room. The director did grow a sense of humor, however. I would creep through secret passages at that place and show up rather unexpectedly, apparently from thin air. There was also an empty piece of conduit in one such secret passage, the conduit running from the passage to near the main office where it ended in a wall. I would blow into the secret passage end of the conduit as if it were a trumpet. It echoed crazily good in the wall and made a nice musical racket in the office. The director grew a sense of humor when I “played the pipe” one day when his boss was in the office berating him over nothing. She about had an accident and ran away when the wall started “moaning”. I scored big points with the director for that. Yes, I knew the boss lady was there. 🙂

    We had a World’s Fair in Spokane for 6 months in 1974. The grounds, in the center of downtown at the river’s waterfalls, became the jewel of Spokane. Recent grant money was used to “renovate” the park. The only flat huge grassy area that always sported people of all ages playing or lazing around is now concrete. The theme of the 1974 Fair? Environmentalism. Yup, take out the trees and grass and flowers and turn it to concrete is very environmental?!?

    We always keep an eye on the food thing, especially where we have our birthday and anniversary dinners. When the quality starts to suffer, we find another place.

    Sounds like your low temperatures and our low temperatures are nearly the same, at least for a few days. Whereas you have Ollie keeping you warm, we’re keeping windows open. Warm days and cold nights, windows open, and we enjoy the indoors +18C give or take with no mechanical heating or cooling required.

    Oh, the Princess is the captain. I’m the crew, the first mate, and the chief cook and bottle washer. It works well.

    Wednesday I had some plumbers coming to the house. Very minor job but above my skill level. Then, when cleaning dishes in the morning, the kitchen sink started leaking. Investigation showed that it was well over my skill level to repair, so I called the plumbing people and got that added to the work order. I’m a repeat customer of theirs, so they didn’t charge me for the initial minor job, just the kitchen sink. Usually, the additional things pop up after they leave.


  21. Hey Chris,

    It’s interesting that it takes the birds quite a long time to learn what can and can’t be eaten. Even the chickens took several days to learn that they could eat what was in the feeder. But once they have learned, they never forget. Seems like I have a choice between feeding mice or birds. Pretty sure it’s better to feed the birds as they won’t reproduce as fast. Plus, when the feeder is outside, the chickens will sometimes chase the other birds away from it. This is definitely in the predicament, not problem, category. There is no solution, only least bad options.

    @ Marg

    I’ve never seen the chickens so excited as when they have caught mice. Obviously, mice are really tasty if you’re a chicken. Actually, do chickens even have taste buds?

    I wonder if chickens can even survive on a ‘vegetarian’ diet? Apparently some vegetarian cat owners try to feed their cats without meat and that cats will die if they are not allowed outside to find their own source of protein.

  22. Hi Lewis,

    Ooo! That’s good – you had me for a moment there, and I thought that there was actually an ancient Greek philosopher who inspired the word! Very funny. Trawling through their amusing website I noticed that there was a very naughty explanation of: Suburbia. Always knew that there was something odd lurking just out of sight in those places. 🙂 Oh, and the zombie entry was total fun – oh my goodness who knew there was a biblical explanation for zombies. It’s all so clear to me now.

    Lewis, I’m a broken man in this regard. I too travelled the gargle temperature converter path, and way back in the day when interweb bandwidths were a bit on the tight side and users had to be careful otherwise they were politely travelled upon (note that this is like being volunteered) the dark snails road of slowness but sureness, the freaking conversion equation got tattooed into my brain. Mathematics… You know the day I’ve got dementia, I won’t remember anything except that conversion formula. And probably because my brain won’t have anything else to do at that stage, so I’ll probably be able to run the calculation as well, which might incidentally be handy for others (maybe). It’s not right you know! 🙂 Thanks for the laughs.

    Herding cats is what converting photons into electrons and then trying to store them for later use is kind of like. And everyone knows that cats have complicated personalities and can be occasionally quite difficult (ah, poor Nell). My gut feeling suggests that it probably isn’t working out that well for them. Mate, on a serious note I really wish it did work out for them, it just doesn’t. Oh well.

    Haha! You could also have added that the change in apple trees was: ‘for your convenience’! 🙂 Years ago I came across a bloke ripping out grape vines. So I politely introduced myself as a local and asked if he’d mind if I helped myself to a few of the vines before he burned them all. But no, it was his call and I respect that, but neither did I understand it. If there was some sort of soil disease, the vineyard is pretty close so I reckon it would have worked its way up here already. The paddock was cleared, sold and a house built on it. Vines are still grown in the adjacent paddocks. Dunno.

    Destroy away! I didn’t know that, and just assumed that thumbs up was good, thumbs down was bad. A true mystery! This is so un-Australian, but I have to fess up: I’ve never seen the Gladiator film. Is it any good? As an amusing side story, Russell Crowe is a Kiwi, but has lived most of his life in Australia. Now Australians are pretty cheeky and sometimes just to stir up our New Zealand mates, we claim their successes. It’s all in good fun, maybe. Anyway, it works like this: Russell Crowe, he’s Aussie as, mate. That’s the lob of the nuisance factor eight, and then you just sit back and watch the sparks fly. 🙂 Very naughty. There is a travel bubble between the two countries now. It only kicked off this week. The world is a far smaller place all of a sudden over the past year and a bit.

    Over the past year I’ve known a few high profile promoters of backyard chickens who have had their chickens taken by foxes. Some of those high profile folks have even written books (one of which I own) about the joys of backyard chickens. I respected their honesty in fessing up, and hope that they have recovered from the loss and rectified the situation.

    Wise advice about the comics, and I’m with you. Comics, like my pulp fiction collection, was meant to be enjoyed – not looked at. Of course if someone offered me a mint copy of Superman #1, mate I’d definitely flog it as a collectable. Like cats, it’s a complicated series of motives!

    More rabbit holes – this time the Roman’s occupation of Scotland. Well that was a mare’s nest for sure and I bet it cost them more than they ever earned. And the Scots do seem to like their stonework – so why not avoid Peak Rocks by extracting from unused Roman fortifications? I for one, see the appeal.

    Ah, all is now explained. I had known of the difference between restoration (something I’ve not attempted due to specific masterly skills required to achieve a better than new finish) versus renovation. But remodelling was a new word for me. Interesting. I tended to work in both of those worlds, but I gave up trying to second guess what people would want. Is that a smart move? Dunno, but the appeal of rooms that look like hotel suites is something that I’ve never really understood – but all the same people love that stuff.

    Respect to those two folks as well. Interestingly on Monday by sheer chance I spoke to a bloke I’d seen around over the years. I’m actually slow to warm to people, believe it or not. He picked that I was a local as I was sitting outside in the cold air enjoying a book and coffee. He said something or other about having chickens instead of an ornamental garden! He seems OK.

    You’re probably right about the wilted plants – people can be quite expectational.

    Ah, apples are smart enough to know when it is safe to bloom! I’d take that as a good omen for the growing season.

    Spent most of the day doing stuff that need doing (what I call the admin of life) and paid work. A rather dull day, but then who needs the excitement of ravening zombies? In my travels (I line up all the places that require a visit and then usually do only the single run) I stopped at the nursery where they finally had the larger bags of agricultural lime and dolomite. The guy mentioned he could get me a pallet load. Might think about trying that once the new shed is built (if there is any room left in there).



  23. Hi Simon,

    It’s pretty cool isn’t it? The chickens teach each other, so the longer you have a coherent flock, the better adapted to your conditions the birds will become. If one or two of the chickens drop off their perch so to speak, I’d replace them in twos or threes. A new lone chicken probably doesn’t do so well from my experience, but if it is a choice of that or the axe, well it’s not a hard decision to make and introduce the new lone bird late in the day.

    Yeah, you nailed it and that really is what it gets down to. There is a huge amount of bird life here, and the winter months sets the upper limit on their populations, so I picked feeding the mice instead. But the mice attract snakes, so as you wisely point out – it’s a predicament. Still people have lived with this problem for a long time, so the benefits outweigh the costs (I’m guessing).

    In your area, I’d do exactly as you’ve done.

    Incidentally, you know I reckon you’re writing about a predicament of the farmer in that you can’t expect to ever harvest 100% of your crop. There will always be something that also wants to consume it. How they managed that problem back a couple of hundred years ago is a true mystery to me. I’m attempting to out produce the wildlife and some years it works – but as with everything in agriculture, it all depends.



  24. Hi DJ,

    A very astute concern, and we’d hate for the boffins at the Big-Geek to take offense and cancel us. I for one would miss the ongoing and often amusing conversations! 🙂 And who else would I have to make Hitchhikers Guide jokes with?

    Incidentally, my mum used to say that exact saying to me. She didn’t apply the same sentiment to herself, mind you. And to think that it originated with the Dusney folks – well that explains a thing or two.

    Oh you would have been a fun and occasionally mischievous employee. Like your style with the eerie wall noise emanations. You’re good too in protecting your bosses back. Years ago I read a quote from a now jailed crime king pin down here, and it went something along the lines of: I don’t collect debts, I collect favours. Well done you! 🙂

    Cool! Thanks for the blast from the past. A website had put together a series of photographs from that World Fair. It looked like fun: 30 Amazing Color Snaps of the Spokane’s World’s Fair – Expo ’74. Environmentalism, mate that’s so 70’s it hurts. Sorry to hear that about the park. It’s a sad loss. Joni Mitchell had something to say about that in 1970, and in primary school they used to get us kids to sing along. Even today I know most of the words – the national anthem, nope not a clue. That one is easy to hide though as you make incoherent noises sort along the lines of the melody which is simple enough. Our national anthem is really dull, it is almost as if it were penned by a bunch of funeral directors.

    That happens to me with the food too. A favourite Vietnamese restaurant a few months ago began loading the food with salts, and I can’t stomach much of that gear, and so we found another place.

    Yeah, that always kind of happens at this time of year and we’re hovering around the same sort of temperatures. Of course, we’re nice and we don’t send you the super-crazy-hot summer temperatures. Of course, if ever you send us your bonkers-cold-snow-frozen-factor-twenty, well all bets are off. Just sayin… 🙂

    Wise and makes for a smoother life to boot.

    Hope that nothing additional plumbing wise popped after they left? Some of those plumbing jobs are highly skilled and I’d don’t really muck around with that stuff (unless it is the outdoor garden water systems which are an entirely separate and much simpler system). Plumbing was the most expensive item when constructing the house here. You wouldn’t think it would be, but it was. Two words DJ: Good Luck, and may the water be with (as distinct from leaking out everywhere all over the shop and thus against you).



  25. Hi Claire,

    If you are reading, I’m trying to comment on your most excellent blog, but gargle has deleted my old gargle account and your blog settings don’t allow for anonymous comments (which I can understand). Oh well…



  26. Hi Chris,
    I do have a bit of a correction. My father died less than a year after I got married, just after I graduated from college. My mother really wasn’t all that maternal (interestingly two of my sisters are the same with the rest of us falling in the middle). Those were the days of less that reliable birth control and apparently my parents were quite fertile because there were eight of us more or less two years apart. My mother once told me as cautionary advice, “Nothing works!!” Anyway she relied on me a lot to help out with my younger siblings as there were always two in diapers. I also started babysitting for the entire crew when I was 12. This continued while home for college breaks. Marty was the next oldest and well, he had his own challenges. The next in line was my sister, Nora, four years younger than me. She was less than responsible spending her time getting in trouble and being suspended from school on a regular basis so the responsibilities didn’t filter down too much.

    My aunt that lives in downtown Chicago who I’ve talked about from time to time had brain surgery on Monday. She’s been suffering from transgeminal neuralgia for some time and medication no longer works. The pain was so bad she couldn’t eat and barely drink so surgery was the last option. Seems it has been successful but as she’s 77 and has some other health issues recovery looks like it’ll take longer than she hoped. My cousin, her only child, is in from California but just until next week and we don’t think my aunt will be able to be alone. Anyway this has been taking up family time and discussion this week.

    We had a pretty hard freeze last night but luckily there’s really nothing up that couldn’t withstand it. The buds on the fruit trees haven’t opened up either so I think we’re good. Looks like things will be improving with possibly some rain next week.


  27. Hi Chris,

    I’m having a hard time signing up to my own blog account. Today I was told the browser I use doesn’t support coffee-scripts so it won’t let me sign on. Except that it does support it, according to the help info. I’ll try again from another browser that it claims is supported.

    Beyond that, the blog’s days on Booger are numbered. I’ve been informed that Booger will no longer support the widget that allows people to receive updates by email as of sometime in July. Say what???? I mean, how can something so small and so important to building an audience not be supported???? Apparently Booger no longer has any interest in blogs. Fine, then I no longer have any interest in Booger. After I make the next post, toward the end of this month or beginning of May, I’ll announce that it will go offline for a while while I decide which of the two potential platforms that I know anything about will host the blog. Then I’ll get the blog up and running in time to make an announcement about its new location while the widget is still operational. What a pain. At least I’ll have time to do it as the final major writing effort I had on my schedule for this year is wrapping up this month. I won’t change the comment settings because some people try to sneak in ads disguised as comments, but I’m glad to know you are reading and enjoying the posts.

    We had actual accumulating snow on Tuesday! Not the latest in spring that St. Louis has received accumulating snow, but pretty close. I’ll put a pic on my next blog post.


  28. Yo, Chris – That website is a bit of a rabbit hole. I liked that the anthem is REM’s “Bright, Shiny People.” 🙂 , for Suburbia. So many novels and films dissect the bleakness and ennui of suburbia. Even painters give it a go (see: Eric Fischl.) The website needs to update it’s entry on “Consumerism.” It bangs on about shopping malls, when the world has moved on to on-line shopping. The “Zombie” entry was quit enlightening.

    Well, I haven’t seen “The Gladiator” in 20 years. But I do remember the opening scene (five minutes).


    So, the opening scene really kicks things off, but I remember the closing scene was kind of hokey. In between, there’s a lot of blood on the sand.

    Ah, the Roman occupation of Scotland. I recently picked up a book, that I dip into, from time to time. “Septimius Severus in Scotland: The Northern Campaigns of the First Hammer of the Scots.” (Elliott, 2018). Basically, it was a scorched earth and genocidal campaign that kept things quiet up there, for a good 40 years. The book is already a bit dated, as a couple of drought years and the deployment of Lidar, have revealed how much more extensive the campaign was, then previously thought.

    Restoration. If you fancy living in a museum 🙂 . In Chuck’s book “Choke,” the hero works in a cut rate American colonial reenactment museum. The author of “House Lessons” was a real estate agent, for awhile. She talks about that, a bit, at the beginning of the book. She observes, from her experience, that home buyers, for the most part, lie. They give you this list of wants and needs, and then buy something entirely from out of left field. The oddest small things can trigger the “this is the place”, moment. A lot of it probably has to do with buried memories.

    Ran across an interesting article, yesterday, about an experiment that’s been running since 1879 on the viability of … weed seeds.


    I wish they’d talked more about varieties in the study. Lew

  29. Chris
    The overnight temps are getting close the 55 F here . The take off and grow temp allowed by most folks. Fix or repair decision time for long unused oak wine half barrels. Heavily amended soils to be mixed and heritage tomato plants bought while available. All must be achieved In timely manner. It will be fun! two barrels six to eight plants mixed cherry and salad sized. All grown with powder coated cages about 5 feet in height. I got used to the great flavored but ugly appearing heritage tomato varieties that were available previously from a now retired local source?

    My parents had financially planned to provide full ride 4 year bachelor college level education to me and my 2 siblings. When I signed up and was selected for a craft apprenticeship at the local nuke facility there was disappointment and acceptance both that I wasn’t going into an engineering career. But being relieved of the monetary commitment for my formal education was ok with them. I lived there and few requirements were placed. No curfews . No loud cars. Notifications when absent. No required payments for room and board. It Worked till I got married to my wife in the last year of the apprenticeship. We started a household at that time. It wasn’t too unusual a circumstance in that era.

    The median single family Home costs in my area are about $360,000 . 36% of your one million$ Au . We have combined annual real property tax rates and an equivalent excise tax (Stamp tax). collected on the sale due at closing time. Lot of money on a Million bucks. Thanks for the link! Always like to see how others live.?

    I have attended a number of ag expo type events just too see the stuff. And of course the critters. There are county fairs and ag trade shows of machinery and tools mostly. Equipment with Enclosed air filtered and cooled and reduced noise cabs What a life.?

    You have mentioned the rising cost of all things Chicken down there. I saw a local farm store ad recently for baby chicks @ 6.50 USD ea. 60years ago my relatives in the state of West Virginia paid about $20 per 100 as I remember. So I guess it is normal inflation. Like all produce supply and demand rules.

    Chris that big brown round rock in the machine shed excavation still looks like a GREAT place to anchor a wood fired brick bread/ pizza oven. Really it does mate!

    When you make programming tweaks to the solar charge controllers do you get into all of them in one serial bus connection with your PC.
    On my experimental setup which has the 0-20vdc 0- 20 amp out adjustable power supply I’ve been limiting max charge to 14.0 volts (56volts for 48 volt sys ) what is your setting that you made recently? I usually drain the charge back to 12.8vols or so . That 15% increase you made should make you happier?


  30. Chris,

    Thanks, those wall emanations and other mischievous endeavors kept us entertained. The boss’s boss episode? Oh, that had a dual purpose. One was to have my boss’s back. The other, of course, was that his boss was a nasty person and needed to be, um, the recipient of some creative mischief.

    Thanks for the link to the 1974 Fair! That brought back memories. You may note that in one photo, it appears that somebody is feeding garbage to a metal goat. Yes, it was a metal garbage sucking goat. It is still there and it still sucks garbage. There was also an amphitheater with newly planted trees in the pictures. My high school graduation was held there four years later. And that large sorta tent-like thingy? That was the US Pavilion. Still there, although there’s rarely a cover on it. The winters are too much for the materials. The science museum I mentioned and worked at in 1984 and 1985 was in the US Pavilion.

    Okay, a deal…If we send you our -20C winter weather complete with deep snow, you can send us your scorching hot summer weather. That said, we may get your summer temperatures anyhow in a few decades. IIRC, Al’s area can rival your temps at times. I’ve driven through Tri-Cities when it was +45C.

    Eavesdropping on the conversation about Romans and rocks in Scotland. I always thought that our Scottish ancestors were total geniuses when the Romans first happened by. They irritated the Romans just enough, conning them into invading and building these stone walls and stone roads and stone fortresses. Then, our smart ancestors kicked the Romans out and confiscated the stones the Romans had worked so hard to quarry and distribute. It was all part of the plan! And the Romans fell for it. “Oi, Fergus! We need stones fer tae be buildin’ wi. Hae ye got any?” Nae, Duncan, we’ve hit peak rocks, sae we hiv.” After a thoughtful silence…”Oi, Fergus, let’s entice them weird Roman blokes that played hob wi oor southron cousins. Maybes aye we can goad them intae invadin’ us sae they quarry the stones and distribute them for roads and forts like they did furtha south. Give it a generation and we can throw them oot an take the stanes fer oorselves. We’ll get some braw fightin’ in at the end and get tae scavange all the stanes they worked hard fer.”

    “Hope that nothing additional plumbing wise popped after they left?” Mate, that question jinxed me! Had a steady trickle from one of the outdoor spigots this morning. Never had a leak there before. So, turned off the outside water, took the spigot apart. I figured that it would be an easy fix, a moderately easy fix, or something over my head. If easy or moderately easy, I could do it, and the results would be that it was fixed, no change, or worse. Cleaned the gizmo out a bit, put it back together and no leak, no drip. Whew.

    I’ve been listening to the chickadees and the pine siskins singing lately. Both have enjoyable and unique songs. Happy music when I’m doing outdoor work.


  31. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks for the correction, but even so you were young to face such a loss. The editor suffered similarly with the loss of her mum at an equally young age. Life deals you a hand and you have to play it. It is pretty tough on women who aren’t all that maternal, but are thrust into the role. To be candid, my mum also should have probably avoided having kids, as she didn’t seem like the caring sort to me, but all the same you and I, well we turned out OK.

    That’s funny about the advice. Tell ya what, when I was a young bloke, contraception was super difficult to obtain. The advent of the convenience store, was actually more convenient than what it might at first appear to be! 🙂 Far out. The local pharmacy, what you call the ‘drug store’, was the last place you wanted to go as the old bloke behind the counter usually had an ideological axe to grind. What a fine joke was being played on all of us.

    You did really well. It is interesting you mention that about Nora, as my sister likewise went right off the rails, and her presence – even when not present, which incidentally was most of the time – was like a unhappy ghost eating everyone’s energy and attention. Mostly, I kept to myself and did my own thing and was more or less responsible.

    Margaret, that sounds awful. Hope your aunt is OK? Surgery at an advanced age is always risky, ain’t no way around that one. But glad she seems to have come through OK. Remember to take some time out for yourself.



  32. Hi Claire,

    Nice to hear from you, and yeah I jumped from that sinking ship a while back. Sorry to say, but it was a steep learning curve going to a new website and software platform, but nowadays for me it seems all routine. If you choose WordPress and need any assistance I’m only an email away. There was an option with WordPress to import data from the blogger platform so you can get to keep the words you’ve written. Best of luck with the decision.

    Thanks for the laughs! Coffee scripts and Booger indeed. 🙂 I’m not sure, but it kind of looked to me like gargle had lost interest in supporting the platform a fair while back – and comments were disappearing which was weird. It is after all a free service with all that entails. I hear you, my seldom used gargle account was unceremoniously closed. Seldom used does not imply no use.

    The thing you have to brace yourself with a new platform is the never ending customisation (the WordPress software is also used for normal websites so that is how that came to be), but it is easy enough. I keep things simple on that front, but cover the basics.

    🙂 Fully understood, and you’d be amazed at the long list of pharmaceuticals I have on the automatic ‘Trash’ comments list!

    I look forward to reading about your snowfall.

    Oh, I began reading Steve Solomon’s The Intelligent Gardener a few days ago. It’s good!



  33. Hi Al,

    Things are definitely warming up for you – whilst cooling down here. Powdered coated cages is pretty fancy – how good is powder coating? 🙂 Al, it is a truth universally acknowledged that tomatoes purchased from a supermarket generally taste like cardboard. Home grown is the easiest way to get tasty tomatoes.

    Mate, that happened to me too with the loss of a long time local tomato grower. I was like Pavlov’s dogs and began drooling whenever I was near to the roadside honesty store for those tomatoes. The loss of that grower likewise caused me to wise up and get into tomato growing.

    You seem to have come out of that experience pretty well. 🙂 I tend nowadays to advise people to go and get into an apprenticeship and avoid Uni. Anyway, just going with my gut feeling here based on our conversations – you have a practical mindset of someone who gets stuff done with things.

    The median house price thing was pretty scary. It does not bode well for the future, but I could be wrong there. The other day I read an article about electric cars and a claim was made that a $50,000 vehicle was somehow generally affordable. Not so sure about that claim myself.

    Al, you would have loved the ag expo. We get a lot of ideas from those expo’s and it’s always good to see what is on offer in terms of machinery and critters. That particular expo is flogged as an ‘alternative farming expo’ so it is well placed for small holders. What do you call them? Is it homesteaders?

    $20 per 100 chicks!!!! Far out, I still pine for the days of the AU$20 heritage breed chook! US$6.50 each for a chick is frightening chookflation – and it’s enough to get a person into chicken breeding.

    Moby rock, is gonna get dealt to one way or another. This here shed site ain’t big enough for Moby rock, it’s gotta go. You made an excellent suggestion though.

    I gave up using the computer to reprogram the charge controllers because the RS-232 to USB conversion cable was a total pain. It’s easier to use the controls on the front panel.

    14V sounds about right to me, although it depends on the exact chemistry used in the batteries so I can’t really say for sure. That is the maximum voltage setting I’ve used, although occasionally it does jump a little bit past that (probably 56.4V) for a few seconds when big loads are suddenly disconnected at high charge rates. The over rating is nowhere near the high voltage cut off in the batteries.

    12.8V sounds pretty good to me too, but again it depends on the exact chemistry of the batteries.

    Told ya you like the details about how stuff is done with things! The charging process is three stages. Boost – take in whatever charge the solar is supplying. Absorb – hold the charge at the maximum battery voltage for a set period of time (say 2 or 3 hours). And Float – keep the battery voltage at a level which is lower than the Absorb charge.

    So what happened was that the battery voltage wasn’t dropping low enough to trigger the Boost or Absorb stage, the controllers were hanging around in Float charging mode day after day. As such the charge process was long and drawn out – and that works in late spring to early autumn when there is plenty of sun. It doesn’t work now. So I upped the Float voltage to a higher level and return to Boost setting and the problem went away as the batteries recharged faster (as they’re meant to).



  34. Hi DJ,

    It sounded like a fun trick to play on someone. Years ago I watched a TV show (it may have been Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected series or Hammer House of Horrors, oh it was the episode: The House That Bled to Death) and a couple lived in this creepy looking house. As you’d imagine there was a back story and the house was haunted, and there was a lot of blood for some reason. A whole lot of blood. The couple made some mad cash from writing about their experiences (with the revelation that the haunting was staged by them for that purpose) and were then living large. Except the traumatised daughter took revenge and bopped them both. All very Sun Tzu, and glad that your bosses boss didn’t likewise wreak revenge upon your good selves!

    Actually I did take note of the steel goat because the photos came with no explanation. That particular photo was accompanied by a thought bubble which sort of went along the lines of: ‘What the?’ 🙂 Are you suggesting that there is actually a metal goat that sucks garbage? The suggestion raises so many unanswered questions like: How could that possibly be? Wasn’t there an enormous space goat in Hitchhikers Guide? So many questions, so few answers…

    The large tent like building was pretty cool, but sun, wind and rain is harsh on such materials. Ah, I assume from your words that the cover is removable?

    Were the trees in the amphitheatre kept with all of the recent concrete works?

    What? I didn’t agree to that. No way, you keep your -20’C please. It does occasionally get that cold on this continent: How cold can it get in Australia? Mate, there’d be an awful lot of whingeing about the weather from down this way if that happened here. Hehe!

    The Roman campaigns would have been brutal and drawn out that far north. Their supply lines would have been soooo long and starving out the locals just ensures that they fight all that much harder. But yeah after the softies left, all that stone would have been excellent recompense. Liked your story too! Very amusing.

    Oh no! The plumbing kiss of death. Oh well, worse things happen at sea, you know. Nice work with the repairs. Speaking of plumbing I recently discovered that a bit of lanolin sprayed on the moving parts in the toilet cistern performs wonders – of course before this knowledge was gained the now impossible to find specific to that particular unit push button broke. I glued it back together but some of the epoxy resin dripped into the push button shaft and the spring now isn’t good enough to return the button if depressed. The fix – replace the outlet valve with a generic outlet valve and generic push button. At least I didn’t have to chuck out the cistern.

    🙂 Birds are lovely and nice to hear that the crows and ravens aren’t hassling the smaller birds.



  35. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the space junk story, and that’s what I call investigative journalism. Go Hankey, Howard and Ward too, because they’re awesome. The sheer size of the chunks which crash landed was mildly alarming. I was quite astounded by the finger pointing and ‘not my problem’ mentality. When some of that junk hits a big building in a large city, it sure will then be someone’s problem, but until then, it’s probably a bit like the old pinto story. And after reading Fight Club I have a very dubious perspective on risk assessors.

    The website was a superb rabbit hole. So very naughty. I always enjoyed REM and Green is an all time fave album. Hey, not to go into too much detail, but when I first heard that particular song with the lady from the B-52’s, I thought it was meant to be ironic. So did others, and turns out we were all wrong with that opinion. It was actually about shiny happy people – bless their souls.

    How are you going after the trials and tribulations of the second jab? Are you feeling better now?

    Suburbia was clearly pretty racy back in those days! Eric Fischl has an astounding eye for humanity, and the backgrounds often appear merely incidental to my eye. And oh boy, does he go for shock yo momma value or what? I’m not actually sure what is even meant by the word “Suburbia”, but my experience of it seemed pretty tame to me. I’ve got this sort of belief that you live right in where there are amenities, but considerable downsides. Or you live right out, where there are amenities, but considerable downsides. But by and large most people live in the middle, and that’s cool, but I just don’t get it.

    Mate the decline in bricks and mortar retailing is a sad story. High property prices translates to unaffordable commercial leases (rents), and it is a downwards spiral. But as we’ve spoken about before, economic losses doesn’t necessarily translate to physical losses in the built environment. So I’m guessing commercial leases will eventually have to get affordable. For all we know, the push back from the posties over perishables might be the beginning of the big weaning-off of online shopping? Dunno.

    When the big river turned up down under, that’s when it sort of looked like delivery days reduced, so to believe that policies are stuck in place and that odd things won’t change to reduce advantages, is perhaps an error. The retailers possibly relying on overseas tax havens might one day find their advantages taken away. It can happen.

    Brutal stuff. The Roman’s fought pretty hard. I just need a few moments to process that battle scene. The toll was epic.

    Exactly, what the heck would the Roman’s have gained from the far northern territory? The campaigns would have bled the coffers – and for what? And scorched earth leads to starvation and would have made the locals alert for any weakness. Hmm. A precarious situation to be in for all participants. The loss of oats would have been rough, but a lot of calories came from the sea too, and it’s a big place that sea.

    Yeah, nah! That’s was my thought too about restoration. And the work is only ever as good as the day it was completed, and then entropy kicks back into gear. But you know, if money is no object, then restoration is a fine goal. Adaption is a cheaper objective by far. Incidentally the same is true in relation to our built infrastructure.

    Thanks for the link to the experiment, and I’ll have a look at that now.

    Had a quiet day today again. Just feeling the need to recharge my own batteries. Might not get much work at all done this week. No work is a bit like not having Ollie or a hat in a photograph. It’s just not cricket! 🙂

    Incidentally in the enjoyment today we ordered a scone, and usually the place is superb and at one time in the past had a big name chef. This time the scone was not a scone, but some sort of bread like scone shaped product. And the jam, I swear it was some sort of sugary caramel concoction with no particular taste. I had not expected that, and perhaps economic realities are beginning to bite in some sectors? Very disappointing and such fare did not sit well in my guts.



  36. Yo, Chris – A bit early, today, as H is going to the groomer. If Elinor doesn’t cancel at the last minute. 🙂 . Can’t stand to have “Baby” out of her sight. So, I show up earlier, than usual, to give her a walk. She’s “Oh, early mate? Well, let’s get on with it.” She’s far more flexible and adaptable, than Elinor gives her credit. You know, I’ve been thinking. Pets are great for older people. Relieves stress and all that. But, I think there’s a line … where they create more stress than relieve. Diminishing returns. But that’s on the owner.

    Space junk hitting a city? You’ve got it!


    Bruce Willis, “Armageddon,” 1998. “Deep Impact” came out about the same time, and I think it was better.

    Yup. REM’s “Green” was genius. I think I’ve got the CD in my small stack. Shiny Happy People? Drugs, prescribed by a physician, of course. Available at your local chemist 🙂 .

    I’ve been having some back problems, but I don’t think it has anything to do with the second jab. Otherwise, all’s right with my world. Two weeks, since my second jab. Guess I can throw away my mask. Not! Here in the county, our cases are rising (173 last week) and the hospital is getting a bit glutted. It’s beginning to hit the youngsters. The Governor is making noises about knocking us back a level, as far as lockdown goes. The county is a bit over 50% vaccinated, but slots for the jab are going begging.

    I read an autobiography of the artist Eric Fischl, a couple of years back. Kind of whiney. But, it was an interesting take on the art world. First he becomes kind of a super-star. Then, not so much. And, he was bucking the trend. A little too figurative, for the abstract expressionist crowd. But, now that he’s got the perspective of age, and a little snow on the roof, he seems a bit more mellow. People don’t strew roses in his path, anymore, but he’s got a following and has a pretty comfortable life.

    Ah, the Burbs. One could write a book, or make a film. 🙂 And, many have. Of course, the whole thing is lubricated with cheap oil. How’s that for a pun? And, I think like small towns, a lot of people think there’s a lot of nastiness, just below the shiny surface. There’s the film, “The Swimmer (1968.) Burt Lancaster, from a short story by John Cheever. “Stepford Wives.” Heck, even “The Graduate.”

    There are suburbs, and then there are suburbs. They run the gamit from Levittowns to gated communities. Which suburb you live in has a lot to say about status and class.

    The River and our postoffice. They have a lot of political clout, and bought politicians. So, they get special rates from the post office. And priority, when it comes to shipping times. Usually, I just go with the free shipping / no special handling. But, this time, I wanted those hoses ASAP, so I sprung for the extra $20 … which claimed I’d get everything by Friday. Well, it ended up being shipped from three different places, and dribbled in Saturday to Monday. So what did my $20 get me? (and that’s not the most expensive shipping option). Not anything as advertised. Oh, well. Lesson learned.

    You and DJ were talking about supply lines, and Severus’s campaign. Actually, he (or someone) was pretty sharp. He established a beach head, in the far north (about where he’d build his wall), and supply came in by ship. Curtesy of the Classis Britannica, the Roman channel fleet.


    So, why invade Scotland? In general, military victories legitimized regimes. It was probably more than half the reason Claudius invaded Britain, in the first place. And, the people of Rome liked a good military triumph. There are whole books written about the institution of the Triumph. The plebs got lots of days off, a nifty triumphal arch was built, there was a spectacular parade, and lots of free games, food and wine. The cost of slaves, went down. Public monuments were built. There’s a lot of speculation that Vespasian built the Colosseum, paying for it with loot from Jerusalem. And, used a lot of Jewish slaves, to build it. Then his son Titus kicked off the grand opening, by using those redundant slaves as fodder for the opening games.

    That’s very sad about the scone. Creeping Crapification? In an interesting parallel, I think, there’s been a change in the high octane chocolate, I buy. 85% octane 🙂 . I buy the store brand, and something has changed. It’s glossier, and harder to get a clean break along the score lines. The package looks the same, but I’ve also noticed they’re going heavier on the glue, to keep it closed. It’s harder to get open. Unfortunately, I don’t have an old package to compare the ingredients. The taste is the same, but it makes one wonder …

    I watched “Spontaneous,” last night. That’s the film about the randomly exploding teen agers. It was ok, but I don’t think I’d recommend it. It couldn’t seem to settle on what genre of film, it was. Comedy? Rom-com? Horror film? And, lots of angsty teens asking Big Questions. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a pretty high rating. But, I’d say, proceed at your own risk. Lew

  37. Chris,

    Nice story about the haunted house. The traumatized child often does end up on a rage later.

    The Sucking Metal Goat of Spokane and the Giant Space Goat. It does make me wonder if Douglas Adams perhaps visited Spokane and viewed that goat. Twas the Golgafrinchans who thought that maybe their planet was about to be eaten by a giant space goat, so the hairdressers and stockbrokers and telephone sanitizers were talked into embarking on ships that eventually land on Earth, that mostly harmless planet.

    It was always the winters – freeze, thaw, freeze thaw – that destroyed the pavilion covers. They were removable, but not easily. As in “with great difficulty”. New technologies eventually led to longer lasting materials.

    IIRC, the amphitheater was removed maybe 15 years ago? Not sure. But the amphitheater was in the NE corner of the park, and the recently concreted area was at the SW corner.

    Ok, be that way. 😉 You keep your heat, we’ll keep our cold. For heat is heat, and cold is cold, and never the twain shall swap. Or something like that.

    Thanks. I’m finding that as I’m engaged in the best job I’ve ever had, my relaxation level is increasing, with a corresponding increase in my creative impulses. My imagination decided to reappear. That is a Good Thing.

    Although I do see that Lewis gave a link to an article about the Roman Navy in Britain. Which led me down the rabbit hole, where I found that there were German soldiers in the Roman invasion of Britain in 43CE. And Germanic soldiers always in Roman Britain after that. I knew there had been German soldiers present circa 150CE, but from the start, well, it’s nice to learn something new.

    Plumbing is weird. The pipes are mostly not visible. What goes on in the hidden depths of those pipes?

    We got some rain Thursday night. And it is supposed to rain most of Saturday.


  38. Hi DJ,

    Way back (not as far back as the way back machine would take a person and a genius dog) it used to be a thing to have tales with dark twists at the end. In these enlightened times we expect neat and clean endings, and I do wonder if George RR Martin was entirely pleased with the ending of his epic series? I guess that’s the problem with not finishing a job and someone else does so on your behalf, you can’t necessarily dictate the direction and quality. 🙂 For the record, I have not watched the series, only read the books. However, with the authors propensity to kill off major characters, I could well have imagined a scenario where all of the bad eggs bumped each other off their mortal coils! Maybe not Peter Dinklage, he’s alright and would have made a fine King, but the others – yeah get rid of them! Can you imagine the outrage that would followed such an ending of the TV series? Hehe!

    Maybe the mutant space goat was a coincidence, but then again maybe not. Just read Spokane History – Getting a Goat. Turns out the goat stirred the pot, but at the same time made cleaning up fun.

    It’s not a bad strategy, and I try to make some of the mundane tasks around here fun. This fun can often take the form of long known about and utterly expected tricks. You kind of have to build into the tricksey practices, and the sighs and sounds of utter exasperation (with ever so barely concealed smiles) are the outcome you want to seek. Exhibit A: I declare to the editor: “who else could make making the bed a fun activity?”, as I do something mischievous like pulling the blankets so that they are not quite sitting where they should be. Of course this has to be accompanied by a big cheesy grin of the person fully expecting a reprisal. Fun times! Work up to it slowly though.

    The extreme UV from the summer sun would destroy those materials here, and the wind would do the rest. Some plastics are now UV stable, but the wind and random objects, such as impacts with space junk, can still cause damage.

    I guess your city Councillors ultimately have to maintain the site, and so maybe they got sick of mowing or maintaining the grass? Concrete parks are rarely full of people, whereas grassy parks with established shade trees are usually full of people. The cynic in me might suggest that the land will be worth more if it has less public value? One of the problems in outer suburban areas is that large Eucalyptus trees are planted on ideological grounds in parks, and they provide no summer shade and the parks always look blasted.

    Yes, well Mark Twain has probably commented upon swaps of hot and cold weather. He could talk and talk that bloke, and made a living out of it.

    You’ve discovered an interesting thing there. Hmm. This is of course part of the very reason for the cult of busyness.

    The Roman’s seemed rather unfussy as to where their legions came from, so that hardly surprises me. The Roman battle scene which Lewis linked to in the Gladiator film was a bit of a shock to the system. You know what, a frontal assault against such a disciplined response seems like suicide. Best to draw them out and away from their preferred tactic – not engage them.

    An interesting conundrum. If there was a leak just out of sight, how would you know? This problem has implications for myself, the water stored and the pumps and solar power system. When on town water a leak is an annoyance, but with a finite amount of water a leak is far more than that. The plumbing here was expensive, but hopefully done well.

    Did the rain make much impact on the garden? Rained here again today.



  39. Hi Lewis,

    Dogs will be dogs, nothing is surer than that! 🙂 You’re probably right, but you know… Look, last Friday when we were at the farming expo, the editor and I were watching the Kelpie dogs do their thing with the sheep. Maybe I’ve got a friendly face or something, but the guy standing next to me (a total stranger) all country tough and stuff with big hat, was shedding a few quiet tears as he watched the Kelpies, when he turns to me and says: I lost my Kelpie last week. Now, I reckon the bloke was in his late 60’s, so in my best grief counselling mode, which candidly could be better, I said to him: Mate, get another dog, this guy over there is selling Kelpie puppies.

    I hadn’t even noticed the guy was shedding a few tears until he brought attention to himself, but he may also have said something else which I now forget. A simple and direct approach is often the best, which is why he received the free advice from me. But then the grieving bloke continues the conversation and says: She was the best dog, I couldn’t get another dog. Yes you could, I’m thinking to myself.

    Fortunately the Kelpie breeder / trainer was finishing the show and I managed to grab his attention so I could grab a business card. And because I’m sometimes favouring of direct action, I said: This bloke here is looking to buy a puppy so can he have a card? And the breeder/ trainer duly gave him a card and we decided not to hang around any longer. Does anyone thank me for such random acts of kindness – no.

    Mate I’ve seen a fair chunk of death (human and animal) and have noted that many in their extended grief also forget to live, but everyone is different in that regard. Speaking of which I do have to go a funeral next week.

    On the other hand, Lewis, you and I are like a good bottle of wine and we can only but get better as we age. 🙂 That’s probably not an appropriate metaphor, but all the same, it’s a goodie.

    Those Armageddon folks didn’t like NYc given what they did to it in the film, but Paris seems to have copped it much harder. Not a good day to visit, that’s for sure. I really enjoyed the film Deep Impact and saw it on the big screen. Big Meteor, big splash.

    🙂 Hehe! Better living through chemistry. Not for me thanks very much!

    That’s not much good about your back, but on the other hand, things could be worse. We’re still required to wear masks on public transport (I was on the train into and out of the big smoke today for the Green Wizards). What a lovely group of people. The talk was fun today as a long term member moved to a farm and discussed her experiences. And there was tiramisu! It was quiet in the city today.

    50% is pretty good, and well beyond how things look down here. Damo’s part of the world, sorry to say is in lock down today and we’ll be lucky to avoid that fate as a traveller returned to here from there. Oh well, it happens.

    Makes you wonder if the artist Eric Fischl, had the biography written now whether it would have a different less whiney voice? The thing with fame is that to me it looks as though it follows the inverted bell shaped curve. Peaking too early can lead to expectations which can’t be met again and pressures that are unrealistic. Glad to hear that he’s comfortable and mellow. I tend to believe that people mellow as they age, although I’ve met plenty who go down the grumpier than thou path. Maybe I’m a cynic, but such a grumpy path appears to be a need to be noticed. But then some folks just are grumpy for the entire journey, and I avoid that lot! Too much like hard work to me.

    It’s a top pun! 🙂 It’s funny you mention that, but I was mentioning today to find out the lay of the land before ruffling any local feathers. Small town memories can be long, but they can also be ignored, maybe – it depends. Hey, have you managed to get a copy of the film: The Dry? You’ll like it.

    Yeah true. The tongue-in-cheek mention of the fashionable end of the mountain range, is also true.

    The river is not widely regarded down under. The alleged employment practices have not reflected well upon them as it is beneath societies expectations. But then that might be just the people I hang out with? One of the big problems with that river lot is that the tentacles extend widely, so for all I know the recent Jack Vance books could have come via a wholly owned subsidiary. Dunno, it’s a murky world, but I wonder what sort of legs that business model has for what they have done to others just gives a template for a leaner and meaner competitor.

    I had no idea that the Roman British navy employed so many people and ships and was run by the tax collectors (there is a story there for sure). Still there is a lot of coastline to patrol and the ships can’t be everywhere at once and keep up transport to and from the mainland. Such forces would have bled the coffers. Especially if the biremes had to be rebuilt after the cunning German tribes burned the unattended ones.

    I defer to your greater knowledge, whilst considering the inverted bell shaped curve which tracks so many things. It would make the other Roman slaves nervous to see slaves being used as fodder, don’t you reckon? The point wouldn’t be lost on me.

    The scone was a sad experience. Harder to break is certainly a sign that all is not as before. Chocolate incidentally can vary from country to country and in the warmer Asian countries it tastes different to the usual stuff I get here. I suspected that there are different mixtures which have higher melting points due to higher ambient temperatures in those regions. Melted chocolate is fine if that was what one was after. The different recipes tasted different to me, but it wasn’t a deal breaker.

    Yeah! Thanks for the film review. It’s time I watched a film as it’s been a while now.



  40. Hi, Chris!

    I’m still here! Well, I’m not here, I’m there – still in Fort Collins, Colorado. I’ve hardly had time to sit down there is so much to do to get my parents ready to move. And we have decided that they must live with us at our house, so there is extra work. I think we’ll be here another 2 weeks before we drive them back to Charlottesville.

    Anyhoo, I see that there are chooks this week – yay! – and thank you for the flowers.


  41. Hi Chris
    Those powder coated tomato cages have been here for about 20 years . They are manufactured of 6mm CRS round stock. powder coated forest green. No rust they nest together for off season storage. Powder coating is a great process. Melbourne may have large number of small and large providers. It’s pretty cheap for DIY Metal projects. The process involves sand blasting with appropriate grit so there is some prep cost built in. You may have some clients that do powder coating in-house . Ya gotta shop mate!

    Thanks for the nice compliment in your third paragraph. Much appreciated ?.

    My Dad took me to local engineering trade shows at an early age. Richland hosted several public welcomed events annually. He would have us handle samples and take home freeby vendor stuff which was a big deal for a kid. I learned the value of all trade shows. Which i still attend.

    The best was in the 1980 s when I got attend 6 years of the winter Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas. I was a partner in a early Home Video / Video Game (Intellevision) retail store.
    My kids owned every Mattel game they wanted. ? Spoiled? Maybe?

    Thanks for the detailed explanation of the charging process. Very interesting. Your knowledge base serves you well?.
    The time dependent button push method will still work. Even when all the Windows are broke and recycled ?. Hopefully the winter Solar power season is an improvement from the past.

  42. Hello Chris
    I always understood that the melting point of chocolate was supposed to be body temperature and that that is one of the reasons that it is so delicious. It is completely ruined if placed in the frig. US and Australian chocolate is horrible.


  43. Yo, Chris – Well, as far as grief counselor mode goes, I’d say you did ok. Given Australia’s cultural roots of “stiff upper lip” and overlay of “bloke culture.” 🙂 . The guy probably just had something in his eye. 🙂 . Dusty expo grounds, and all.

    Well, as far as random acts of kindness go, best remain as anonymous, as possible. Otherwise, people expect too much of you. Anonymous, and you can bestow them, when and as you see fit.

    I don’t do funerals, or memorial services. The heck with societal expectations. Apparently, I don’t need “closure.”

    I think I’m opting for curdled, like cheese. Which, like fine wine, can also be aged. 🙂 .

    A doctor would have to talk long and hard, to get me to take a drug on a regular basis. And such a decision would also be backed up by research on my own. Which leads us to today’s ear worm. Follow the bouncing ball … About three minutes.


    The back felt a lot better, yesterday. I just keep doing those stretching exercises, and walking. But like DJ, it’s rain, rain and more rain, into next week. A Green Wizard meet up AND Tiramisu. Can life get any better?

    I knew about the Classis Britannica, but was also startled by the size. Of course, that was for the Claudian invasion. I suppose the strength waxed and waned, over the years. Then there’s this guy …


    Fiddled the Classis Britannica to finance his stab at the Empire. (PS: Units from the Classis Britannica also built some of Hadrian’s Wall.)

    Right now, I’m reading a book I got on interlibrary loan. “The Freedman in the Roman World.” (Mouritsen, 2011). It’s pretty scholarly (ie: dense). But I’m skimming through it, and picking out the bits that interest me. Slavery and emancipation was different, at different points in the history of Rome. And the laws (ever changing) were often vague on some points. So the author is also trying to tease out societal expectations, at different points in time. But granting freedom, wasn’t that unusual, to the Romans. In fact, sometimes the number of freed people, became a bit of a problem. Of one sort or another.

    As you probably know, store brands (the generic stuff you see in the grocery store – called “private label” in the biz), are produced and packed by national brands. I’d guess when it comes to my chocolate, they switched from one national brand to another. Maybe.

    Well, H came back from the groomer looking pretty spiffy. And, most importantly, Elinor is pleased. I floated the theory last night, that perhaps our ideas of what we think different breeds should look like, is an artificial construct. Based on show dogs, owned by rich people, who probably have a groomer “on staff.” She’s not having any of it. Her theory is, because of the way the dog’s hair grows, it should look a certain way. Never mind that the last time (when H was so far gone) that she came back looking like a terrier. Which was a lot easier to maintain.

    “The Dry” is coming to our theaters, next month. No date on when the DVD might be released in the US. But, looking at the “new” library list, which was posted last night, I ran across an Australian film. “Rams.” Sounds good. Sam Neil is in it. I put it on my hold list. If your unaware of it, it might be worth checking out. Gotta be better than “Spontaneous.” Lew

  44. Hi Pam,

    Nice to hear from you. Respect. 😉

    The new chickens send greetings to you and it sounded something like: Bok, bok, bok, bok-eh! This roughly translates into English to mean: Have a safe and uneventful journey home again.

    More flowers this week as well as the dreaded leaf change!



  45. Hi Inge,

    The average ambient temperatures are slightly warmer here than in your delightful part of the world, and so the chocolate just has to accommodate this reality. I have no idea as to how it is achieved, but the word emulsifier springs to mind.

    And there are vast differences here as to the quality of chocolate available for purchase, and you really do get what you pay for in that regard.

    Anyway, chocolate tastes differently in every country which I have visited. The research to gain this knowledge was important and required some testing and sacrifices on my part. 🙂

    I’m guessing local tastes adapt to the recipe changes. Also, dairy is produced on vastly different soils across the planet, and yeah milk (which is a major ingredient) can taste kind of weird in other countries – if they even sell fresh milk. Fresh milk is widely available down under, but other countries supply the long life Ultra-Heat-Treated variety of milk and that doesn’t taste the same to me. Yet other countries again supply milk as condensed milk, and in Vietnam the coffee and condensed milk was an acquired taste. Some countries it just isn’t part of the culture as lactose intolerance is a very real issue for the locals. Not everyone across the planet has the ability to even consume dairy products.

    I appreciate your use of the sweeping generalisation, but would add that comparative tastes is a very complicated subject.



  46. Hi Al,

    I salute your awesome powder coated steel tomato cages. An excellent idea. Hmm. The bright yellow trailer could probably benefit from a sand blast and then powder coat. I might make some inquiries as I know of such a place.


    Well there is a blast from the past. Wanted – Atari 2600. Got – Intellivision, and eventually added on the voice module and the computer module. Learned the BASIC programming language on that machine, all massive 2K of memory. I hit my granddad up for the machine, pleaded, wheedled and/or outright sooked – embarrassing stuff, but it worked and he caved in. They were a fun bit of technology. Your kids did pretty well. 🙂

    Al, I don’t really understand how people could live with this sort of renewable energy technology without understanding the ins and outs of it. It is just too complicated and finicky to be a set and forget type of arrangement, unless it was so over specified that nothing could possibly go wrong – until it does. And who would want to pay for such a system?

    For your info, on average we expect to use about 1kW less than what the system can generate in a peak hour of sunlight. As a strategy it’s not bad, but if there are too many winter days in a row where only 15 minutes or half an hour of peak sunlight is received, the battery storage gets flogged, and the batteries don’t hold that much energy.



  47. Hi Lewis,

    I’d never thought about the interaction that way, but it makes a great deal of sense and I appreciate your insight from afar. The culture is probably a bit repressed on that front and public displays of grief is not really the way of things. Mind you, there are plenty of circumstances where it is OK to do so, and it would be very weird if there wasn’t that pressure outlet. For your interest, some people do take the stiff upper lip policy a bit too far, and they can display very odd mental states which I’m assuming is their internal pressure release mechanism. Some of those odd mental states can be aggressive or also obsessive like over working, and I try to treat such people gently and not get sucked into their worlds.

    In the past year as you’d imagine, I’ve done quite a lot of counselling and listening.

    Exactly! Couldn’t have put it better. Managing other peoples expectations is a tough thing for both the editor and myself. Ah (and I mention this not in the literary mode of the words, you’ll know what I mean) great expectations, can be a great pain. Seriously. Over the years for work places I’ve occasionally done some amazing work, and then they inevitably go: Awesome, now for the next trick. And I’m invariably left thinking to myself: That was as good as it gets. But no, give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.

    Had a gobarmint bill increase from $250 only 3 years ago to $700 today and they provide very little for the mad cash. Well done them. Sent them a please explain yourself letter today. That could turn out very badly.

    My friend who took her family to a farm in Tasmania, has an interesting problem. The neighbours are agisting their cattle in what is now her pastures. And the terms of the arrangement are unknown. In such a circumstance there should be something in it for her other than mowing services, but you never know what people will try. My friend wants to run her own stock on the pastures. I suggested finding out who the neighbours are and whom they are connected to in the area before making an issue about the arrangement. Memories can be long in small towns. How would you handle that situation? The problem she has is that if she does nothing, then there is the perception of being a sucker, and that can stick too.

    I’d prefer not to do funerals either. Closure at a funeral is a big call and I agree with you, it ain’t to be found there. Grief is a long and varied road. Hey years ago, I saw a comedy and the actor Tilda Swinton who was the boss of the protagonist (who’s dad in the film had only recently died) where she said: “Are we still talking about this? I was over it four days ago!” So politically incorrect, but very amusing.

    Vintage tasty cheese is very good indeed! I salute your curdled cheeseness, and can only but hope to live up to such excellence! Thanks for the laughs.

    I’ve seen enough errors in that profession that I take my own health more seriously than they do. And yes, gravy train and all that. Hmm. Love that song. 🙂

    Stretching and walking is very good for your back. There isn’t much else which works nearly as well. Life’s pretty good, it is nice catching up with friends, especially when you can have searching discussions about the state of the world. Most people I encounter don’t wish to explore issues, or talk chickens. 🙂

    It is a shame that his finance minister did Carausius in. It is funny how the Roman’s kept thinking that if they just get the right person in place at the top of the heap, then all will be restored to order. And they occasionally got an ambitious and talented commander like Carausius, and the knives get brought out. My guess is that he starved the flow of funds, an error not without consequences. It interested me that already by that time, the northmen (your Finnish ancestors) were raiding the coasts.

    You’ve got my attention. What sort of problems occurred from the large (I’m guessing) number of freedmen?

    Yeah, I knew that about the private label thing, but never really understood the why of it all? It seems pointless to me and only seeks to cannibalise a market and shift profits. Of course, I’ve long wondered if keeping food prices low has been a specific, yet unstated, policy?

    Haha! Poor H, only fluffies know true pain. 🙂 Please tell me that H does not have to suffer the ignominy of a pom-pom for a tail? Ah, logic can only take you so far, and that is when you have to get sneaky. 🙂 Good luck!

    Rams looks like my kind of film, and Sam Neil, he’s good. I was unaware of the film.

    Cheers and better get writing


  48. Hello Chris
    I wasn’t sufficiently clear. The point is that chocolate should start to melt the instant it enters ones mouth.


  49. Yo, Chris – Yup, it’s a balancing act, between stiff upper lip and wild grief. In some ways (at least here), we’ve become a “culture of grief.” Some kid pops his clogs, and the school calls in the Grief Counselors. In my day, (etc. etc.) … Well, I suppose it keeps a lot of those superfluous college grads, employed.

    That thought has often crossed my mind, over the last year. “I bet Chris is doing a lot of counseling and listening.” And it’s probably not much fun. I suppose sometimes there are options, and other times, no options. Being the bearer of bad news isn’t a good position to be in.

    Elinor and I were just talking the other night about how competent people are often taken advantage of. In employment. And often, the incompetent higher ups get all the credit.

    Well, the response to your “Please explain yourself” letter, ought to be interesting. You might get a simple “Because we can.” Or, the more waffling, “increased costs”, blah, blah, blah. You might take a look around on the net and see if anyone else (or, a group of people) are also asking for an explanation.

    The Tasmania stock situation is delicate. If the push is coming from some recent arrivals from the city, I’d say ignore them. Run your stock. If some well connected older family, more inquiry will need to be done.

    That was a great line, from Swinton. I found out long ago, when a relationship ends, your friends are good for about three weeks, of whinging. After that, not so much. And the “friend” that keeps stoking the fires of grievance, is probably just one of those people who thrives on drama.

    Gotta watch those finance ministers (ie: accountants.) 🙂 . I think early on in the Camulod Chronicles, there was a discussion of that whole episode. News from afar. You may also remember Stilicho, the competent Roman military leader who ended up being done in by palace politics.

    Such a simple question, such a complicated answer. LOL, I had to take a walk to put my thoughts in order. OK. The father, the head of the family, the pater, was the end all and be all of Roman society. He was only answerable to the State. Which is why some of the laws were so vague. The Senate didn’t want to infringe on his rights and duties. When a person was “freed” there were all kinds of degrees of freedom. Which varied from situation to situation.

    There was this idea, that pater and freedman had obligations, to each other. I flowed both ways. A Roman household might have a mix of slave and free, living under one roof. I mean, even if your free, you’ve maybe been there for years, and might have friends and family, under that roof. Plus, you got that roof, and food on your table.

    Sometimes, freed people became entirely free. Say they were a “bad” freeman, and had been entirely cut loose. Or, the head of the household died, and their were no other family members to attach yourself to. Sometimes, people were freed by last will and testament. And, at different times, laws were passed to limit the number of people that could be “freed” under that method. Because the State got to feeling that perhaps there were just too many freed people running around (who may not have been citizens), with no one to oversee them. But still, they ended up on the grain dole. Which cost the State a lot of money.

    As early as Julius Caesar, freedmen were shipped off to establish colonies. Thousands of them, at a time. But this wasn’t just a “round up and ship.” There were inducements. Full Roman citizenship, for one. And, in Rome, Freedmen couldn’t participate in government. In the colonies, they could. We have lists of colony city counselors, and often, there is indications that they were freemen. Clear? Well, I’m glad we’ve got that settled. 🙂 .

    The private label grocery store stuff, provides another (cheaper) price point, for a product. They appeal to the bargain shopper. And with a little trial and error, one finds out which store brand products, are just as good as the name brands. And the name brand is still racking in a profit, and the costs are lower. No national advertising, etc. etc.. I haven’t been able to find out, who pays for the labels on store brands. The store, or the national brand? That would be another cost that someone has to assume.

    H doesn’t have a pom-pom. More of a flag. I have been forbidden (on pain of gruesome death) from touching the tail. And I pretty much agree, with that. H has a dense lump of muscle, where her tail attaches to her back. So, her “flag” is always up and out of the way. It also telegraphs her emotional state. I do keep her trimmed up, close, under her tail. Around her pooper. For obvious reasons. I get a little push back, on that, but not much. Not enough to take any notice of. Lew

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