Devils haircut

As a late teenager, I had the good fortune to train for many years under one of the greatest martial artists that this country has ever produced. Sensei (Raoul Kent) was a formidable presence and I’m currently reading a book on his life, and it is bringing back all manner of memories from those teenage years spent at his Dojo.

The suburb the Dojo was located in was a seemingly placid place, but my youthful experience suggested otherwise. There was a dark and gritty frustrated sector of that are and some of the other kids no matter how priviledged, were prone to acts of violence. It was not unusual to be dragooned into an after school fight. As a kid who’d been raised in a broken home, there was nobody to turn to and ask the hard questions: How do you respond to an after school fight demand? My older sisters and mother were hardly likely to be able to provide any useful response to such a masculine scenario.

Hindsight suggests that my grandfather, who was a presence in my life, might have provided some useful advice. However being young, the idea to ask him about such matters never even occurred to me. And anyway, I’d long been accustomed to having to ponder the mysteries that is navigating the social niceties of life. Sometimes the niceties are not so nice though, and the solution to the ongoing violence popped into my head in record time, and I decided to take myself off to the local Dojo to train. As far as I was aware, there was only the one business in the suburb offering to train people to learn how to fight, and that business just happened to be run by a paragon.

At first the place was a bit intimidating really, and the awards on the wall of the Dojo meant little to me. I never mentioned the school bully or the after school fights to the Sensei, he just seemed to accept that if a person was there to train several nights per week, they had their reasons.

Friday nights were a favourite, and I always spent those nights training at the Dojo. My peers were skylarking around and doing whatever it is that teenagers do at the commencement of the weekend, whilst I was getting thrown around the Dojo and put through my paces. For me, it was a real pleasure to encounter a male role model who was extraordinarily competent in his field of endeavour, but who also took the time to teach us lesser mortals.

Sensei taught a style of karate that didn’t just cover how to fight, he also taught us students how to defend ourselves. That suited my way of thinking because I’d taken that path not to compete in tournaments, but to have a sure-fire way to get out of physical altercations, especially if they arrived unbidden, as they did.

You see, what that suburb taught me was that despite your personal inclinations, other people bring their troubles to your door, whether you like it or not. I’ve heard people bang on endlessly over the years about human rights this and that, but if some rogue character has decided to punch you in the face, it doesn’t matter how many human rights you might think you have due to you. On the other hand, it might not be a bad idea to know how to respond to the rogue character.

And therein lies the conundrum. Having grown up in a broken home with no father, I had to navigate my own path through life’s random troubles. But on the other hand, that meant that I was free to be able to pick and choose unexpected responses to other people’s rubbish. And there is always metaphorical rubbish.

Speaking of rubbish, but this time the physical stuff, nowadays I merely scan the news so as to get a feel as to what is going on in the world, without becoming overly emotionally affected by the news (which is the intention after all). The news these days is rather dark. Anyway, I spotted an article on landfills in the city of Perth which is on the south western edge of this continent.

Landfills are fascinating places and in my mid twenties the editor and I lived in a gritty inner urban area which was not far from a major landfill. We used to visit the landfill in the suburb of Brooklyn because attached to the landfill was a massive garden supply centre. The business used to take council green waste collections from households, and then process the stuff into compost. There were small hills of compost in various stages of decomposition, and it was always interesting to observe the processes. Plus the compost was very cheap.

The thing is though, landfills have this awful habit of eventually filling up, and then I guess being turned into parkland, if people take the time to do so. New landfills are not so easy to establish, if only because people get upset at the thought of living near to a landfill. After all, it is a rather smelly experience.

It’s all a bit of a problem really, but landfill is simply another word for pollution. At the start of all this current bout of craziness, serious people banged on about the ‘War of Waste’. That noise has gone quiet now (as happens when serious people lose interest) and a lot of plastic is now headed to landfill. There was an article about the subject the other day, and an academic suggested that we perhaps should do better with the waste, except we ain’t.

Pollution isn’t the only untold story. The other day I paid $1.75/litre for petrol (3.8 litres to the US Gallon) and that was the second time now that I’d paid that record high price. In between those times, serious pundits suggested that world oil prices would fall, and I guess they did a bit, for a couple of days, before then climbing back up again. Then I hear strange stories about mysterious supply issues for all manner of previously readily available items. To be honest, it feels a lot to me like the standard run model from the Limits to Growth study from way back in 1972. Here is the graph:

The standard run model from the Limits to Growth study. Source: Wikipedia

It is not a difficult graph to comprehend, and the thing I take away from the graph is that it was something of a Devil’s bargain in the first place to use finite resources to expand the population, because inevitably the population has to suffer a Devil’s haircut. The greater issue perhaps is: how do you respond to this scenario?

This week the weather was no longer winter, but neither was it spring. The sun shone beautifully some days, and it almost felt as if it had some warmth to it.

With warmer weather fast approaching we decided to finish the job of clearing the old log pile and converting the timber into firewood. Regular readers will know that the logs were placed there by the excavator operator who prepared the earthworks for the house almost a dozen years ago. And the despite the timber logs being partially buried, most of them were almost pristine.

Having tackled the remaining large logs we took a break from the hard work

By the time the sun was setting below the horizon for the day, the job was finally completed. As we had just come out of the most recent lockdown (number 5 in fact! Yes, day 170+ of our ongoing incarceration), we then went to the local pub for a pint and a feed to celebrate.

The old log pile has now been converted into almost a years worth of firewood

The impending warmer weather also gave some incentive to complete the soil fertilisation job for the various garden terraces. Mixing up the compost with all of the additional mineral additives was quite a large job which was again just finished as the sun was setting below the horizon.

The garden terraces for vegetables has now been fertilised for the next growing season

Part of that job also involved moving some of the roses from the downhill side of the terraces, to the uphill side. Due to the exposure to the sun, the soil in the downhill sides of the terraces is warmer, and this makes for better growing conditions for the vegetables, so the roses had to make way.

The garden terraces are looking very neat

The lower garden terraces have individual strawberry, raspberry and blackberry enclosures. And the raspberry and blackberry enclosures were also fertilised. In addition to this the raspberry enclosure was thinned of dead canes and pruned.

The raspberry enclosure before pruning. No Ollie.
The raspberry enclosure after pruning. Ollie!!!

Whilst we were mixing up batches of compost with mineral additives, the steel round vegetable beds adjacent to the kitchen were also pruned and fertilised.

The asparagus beds prior to pruning and fertilising. No Ollie.
The steel round vegetable beds after pruning and fertilising. Still no Ollie, but a gargoyle that looks like him.

And just because we hadn’t done enough work around the farm for the week, some of the paths and concrete staircases were pruned of over hanging vegetation.

The concrete stairs leading from the kitchen to the worm farm had become over grown
The stand off between East and West can be more clearly seen now

Onto the flowers:

Lavender produces flowers for most of the year here
The Canary Island foxgloves are having an amazing year
Salvia’s are continuing to provide feed for the Honeyeaters
This daisy was relocated as it was previously had done nothing, but it appears to be enjoying its new digs
This Daisy is enjoying the plentiful rainfall of this year

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 5’C (41’F). So far this year there has been 786.4mm (31.0 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 759.6mm (29.9 inches)

42 thoughts on “Devils haircut”

  1. Hi Lewis,

    That’s the sort of problem that cucumbers present: what to do with them? My mates of the big shed fame maybe a year or two back tipped me off about removing the seeds from the fruit so as to reduce the bitterness of the fruit, and it seems to work. But I dunno, zucchini’s produce just so much more fruit, which keeps for months. We used the last stored zucchini a few days ago. Unless pickled, cucumbers don’t last as well, and like what you say, the results from that process can be not very good. Of course it is possible that we have the wrong varieties for pickling, or we’re just not very good at the process! Always possible. 🙂 I’d imagine that the salt in the dehydrating process removes some of the bitterness in the flavour? We’ve tried that salting process with eggplant and it works well, but nowadays we don’t bother, eggplant kind of tastes like eggplant.

    That’s my thinking too with the peas and beans – that early heatwave you enjoyed would not have also been enjoyed by the peas and beans. They suffer under such hot conditions here, but then the winters are too cold for them. Also there is the possibility that you planted the peas and beans in soil that was too fertile – they don’t like that kind of soil. They grew really well in some seriously mungey soil here last year.

    The interest in the property has been beyond what I can even understand. About every twenty or thirty minutes there was a different car trundling along the road and stopping to check the property out. There has been so much traffic that I’m loath to let the dogs run around and do their thing, it seems imprudent to let that happen. But here’s the thing, the editor and I were discussing the matter and wondered if there were people who just went and camped out on vacant rural blocks of land. We thought that last evening someone was going to do that, but then after dark they left. It would be an odd scam, and I’m sure someone has done it.

    The prices in the property market look to me like the sort of prices paid when foolish people expand the money supply too quickly, as appears to be happening in various locations around the planet. It’s an affliction, you know. 😉 I don’t know about the whole mess, as none of it makes much sense to me any more. Maybe it made sense a couple of decades ago, but now I’m not really certain.

    It’s so old fashioned to have an introduction, the middle chunks and a solid conclusion (excluding The Cell of course, as you noted). The old rules no longer apply and a new writing order will soon replace the dross of stricture. It’ll be so avant-garde that nobody will be able to even understand it, and the critics will applaud, lest they themselves have to admit that they too don’t understand it. Our fortunes are surely made! Except I guess the old writing rules work and have been thoroughly tested. The best I guess we can do is abruptly drop off the conclusion – why ever did you watch the movie knowing that there would be an unsatisfactory ending? 🙂 It may well be proof that a solid conclusion is quite a good idea. You should have heard the editor going on about the conclusion of that particular book, and her suggestion was that it didn’t end well with the experiment and zombies were the new folks.

    Strangely, we don’t tend to get much in the way of food from the land of stuff, although many years back, our friends across the sea on those two little islands with big mountains and stuff, allegedly wanted to sell apples from the land of stuff labelled as their own – or that was the rumour at the time.

    Hmm, that makes sense and is a really great way to get inside your own head and poke some of the stuff in there and find out what is going on. It’s a good strategy, and when I too get stumped by the world, I read up on the subject to see what other people have to say. Insights come from all manner of sources, and you never know. Mind you, the homeless lady with the partner who was shouting a lot and could barely stand straight, didn’t provide any insights and so earned a firm ‘no’ with eye contact from their request for a hamburger – that’s inflation for you, because they wanted not an ordinary hamburger, but a gourmet one. Frankly I didn’t care much for the shouting whilst I ate my dinner this evening. I’d wondered if they were attempting to try a form of protection (from them) racket on the business?

    I’m not convinced that praying away the stuff would work, although I’d be a bit nervous asking for divine intervention in such a circumstance given that the place burning down to the ground is a possible divine outcome. Not wise, and don’t they also say that gawd helps those as helps themselves? Nice tie back with the booster joke, it’s a goodie.

    I’d heard that joke about ageing and memory, and wasn’t ever quite sure what to make about it, mostly because the joke didn’t illicit the usual response of mirth – it’s probably not funny. It is possible that memory is much stronger when you’re younger because there are times that I’m subjected to commercial radio, and when it gets back into the 1970’s to 1990’s music I know most of the lyrics. That’s intense programming, and possibly of little practical value. Although, and this is serious, went to a quiz night years ago, and the editor blitzed the music questions, but were helpless when it came around to the sports questions. There’s only so much the old brain matter can wrap its head around.

    Out of curiosity, in the book on the afterlife, did the dead folks do anything of note? It’s an eerie concept.

    I did a double check today, and yes vehicle registrations are up around the $700 annual fee. Interestingly, that money goes into the state coffers, but roads and bridges are paid for by taxes on fuel (which is one reason why fuel is so expensive down under). I saw some of that money in action today as in a nearby town the level crossing replacement folks look like they’ll tunnel a major road under the railway line. Roads and trains don’t generally make for good interactions, and for the past couple of years the worst places are getting fixed up. Sometimes they tunnel under the train line, and other times they lift up the train line onto a long bridge (which also requires a complete rebuild of the stations).

    Mate, I don’t know much, but I have absolutely no doubt that somewhere you and I have offended someone with out ongoing dialogue. Can you imagine the whingeing? Oh my gawd, the comments are so long! 🙂 And if that doesn’t get ’em, I’ll just mention the failures of solar power around the winter solstice – for some reason that seems to fire people up. Hey, I watched about three quarters of the Bright Green Lies film – had to purchase it on utoobe for $10. Haven’t learned anything new yet, but it is good to see people understanding the predicament. I hope they don’t go for the technology will save us ending…

    My grandfather didn’t actually give a toss! And people seemed to really genuinely like him. They don’t make them like that anymore…

    Nice score with the cheese. Have you tried any yet? Watch out for those oats, they might bite. 🙂

    Thanks for the link to the Vindolanda digs. Always fascinating. And a deity which they could seem to pin a name too. I assume the Romans had local deities? Given it was near to the end for the fort…



  2. Yo, Chris – To your blog post – I wish my parent had sent me to the local Dojo, instead of to accordion lessons and dancing school. 🙂 . Of course, in the 1950s, Dojos were not thick on the ground. It was those dark ages, before Kung Fu / Grasshopper and Bruce Lee. But, I probably wouldn’t have had the sense to get myself to one, had they existed.

    What a rubbish story. Or, should I say, a story about rubbish? 🙂 . Our local landfill, conveniently located between our two towns, close a few years back. But it’s not a park. Just fenced in grassy mounds, with vent pipes for the methane. You think they could use that methane, for something, other than just gassing it into the atmosphere. Now, all our “junk” gets loaded in shipping containers, on 18 wheeler trucks, and is carted to the Magical Land of Away. The old dump (aka landfill) was also in a flood prone area … which made for interesting toxic waters. The local Refuse Collection Station (aka dump / landfill) does make an effort to provide recycling of this and that. When you drive in, you have a choice of the recycling area (mostly free), or up to the tip (into the shipping containers) and are charged by the pound. But as we who are informed, know, recycling is becoming more and more of a dead issue. The turning garbage into energy is an interesting concept, and is in use, here and there. It appears a lot of the kinks have been worked out. Toxic fumes, etc..

    The “Limits of Growth” graph is always interesting. So, we’re a bit more than half way through the cycle. I wonder how climate change figures in? Or, if it did. In 1972, it didn’t seem so pressing.

    A year’s worth of firewood is all well and good, but any plans for that enormous boulder, in the background? Garden art? The soil where the logs were, looks pretty rich. Pitch a bit up around the boulder, and plant something?

    The before picture of the raspberry enclosure, looks like the path to Sleeping Beauty’s castle. 🙂 . Now, at least, the Prince won’t have to dull his blade, hacking is way through.

    Looks, and sounds like, your well into your prep for the upcoming growing season. The Fu Dog (Lion) and gargoyle look like they’re ready to throw down. Soon to appear in your local arena. The Romans would have loved it.

    The flowers, as always, are lovely, and give a lift to one’s day. Cont.

  3. Yo, Chris – To your epistle. Which rhymes with whistle. And, at a stretch, distill. If you’re having an attack of Bad Poetry. 🙂 .

    Soaking cucumbers in salt water overnight, is supposed to “take the burp out.” It also (according to reports), draws water out. At least with zucchini, you can use it in all kinds of baked goods. Cucumbers, not so much.

    I’ve noticed the soil in my beds, in spots, is looking (and feeling) a little sandy. Which says to me (correct me if I’m wrong) that it needs more organic material. All those Siberian sunflowers I planted. Well, most of them languished. Except for two, which are topping 6 feet. And may get as tall as 12.

    If I were buying a chunk of land (and that is a serious amount of money), I might want to spend a night on it. Just to get a real “feel” for the place. Real estate day trippers, may be a tribe related to the infamous leaf peppers. 🙂 . Free entertainment.

    I just watched a few lectures on “How to Write Best Selling Fiction.” By a dude named James Scott Bell. Never heard of him, but he’s published quit a bit, and even made the bestseller lists, a few times. He talked a bit about the difference between Commercial Fiction and Literary Fiction. His take was write Literary Fiction, if you must, but realize the critics may love you, and you may get awards … but probably won’t sell many books. 🙂 . Occasionally, a book may be both. But that’s even rarer than getting published in the first place.

    The rumor about the apples, may have come from some competition. Happens.

    Maybe the shouting lady is taking a page from the book of very bad strolling musicians. Pay them a bit of money, to make them go away. I find human behavior, my own and others, infinitely fascinating. Especially, when they work against their own interests.

    WARNING!!! Fart jokes, ahead! Memory is a funny thing. I often puzzle over why a cartoon, that I probably saw in a “men’s” magazine at the barbershop, has stuck in my head since I was probably eight. It involves three hunters. Two can’t see the third, who is behind some bushes, answering the call of nature. The caption is: “Did you hear a buck snort?” Which I still say, aloud to H, if we’re out for a walk and I have a bit of wind. Why, oh, why, has that silly cartoon, stuck in my head for 60+ years? Oh, my gosh, I could easily find it on the net. In a couple of variations. And even on a coffee mug! I guess it’s a classic?

    I really don’t remember much about the book, except for the premiss. I don’t remember the dead folks, doing anything of note. How they took up their time.

    Our State gas tax, is one of the highest in the country. Hence, we’ve got some of the most expensive gas. And it also goes for roads and bridges. DJ may know more about the ins and outs of that.

    If I’ve offended someone, somewhere with my dialogue, well, I don’t care. Whew! I’ve wanted to say that for along time. 🙂 . “Guilt tripping.” An old hippie phrase, that has a lot of resonance, these days. I read all the commenters, here, and really enjoy all the different viewpoints and talents, they bring to the table. I watched Clair’s video. I’m glad they chucked in a “before” picture. Pictures really do say thousands of words. Pretty much a blank canvas, indeed.

    I haven’t tried the cheese, yet. I try and space out my intake of fats and sugars, over days. There was a recent incident, with celery and peanut butter, so fats are on hold for awhile. By the way, I checked for the Old English cheese product, at my local store. All they had was the whiz, classic. No flavors, at all. I can get it on the River. But I’d have to buy two jars, and, it’s pricey. Maybe too pricey, for a passing fancy.

    The Romans, and other ancient people, were pretty flexible about their gods. As long as things didn’t become political. They weren’t so caught up in the idea of “one true way.” I’d guess some Roman auxiliary troops, from gosh knows where in the Empire, looked at Mercury, maybe spiced it a bit with a local British god and said, “Gee, that sounds a lot like our …” So you get a sculpture with a lot of the attributes … symbols, of a handful of gods. So it’s recognizable to a wider group of people. I have a book called “Sacred Britannia:The Gods andRituals of Roman Britain.” (Aldhouse-Green, 2018). The Roman Empire was very much a melting pot, not only of different peoples, but also of religion.

    Which brings me to an article I saw in the Daily Beast. Which is kind of a satirical publication. At least their headlines, are satirical. I had to laugh when I saw, “Big Stone in Rome Gets Everyone All Excited.” 🙂 . The article was really straight forward. A recently discovered boundary stone, placed by the Emperor Claudius, when he expanded the limits of the city.

    But, I’ll leave you with this. Found in The House of the Faun, Pompeii.

    Positive proof the Romans had Fluffy Collectives. 🙂 Lew

  4. Hi Chris,

    Perhaps Beck knows what to make of the devils haircut?

    To answer your scenario, I think it best to make sure you have a solid claim on what remains of the diminishing resources. Let someone else pay for the haircut! The other options involve too much self reflection.


  5. Hello Chris,
    Decline and fall has a slightly perverse allure… I wonder if it is a hint of schadenfreude that inspires so many authors and thinkers to spend time on this. Or, if it is just a prudent preparation, like watching the weather reports before sailing out to sea. I feel myself torn in this.

    It is crystal clear that we are heading for (materially) difficult times, and I think that the most important preparation is psychological. To roll with the punches, you must accept that they are coming…

    Most people live in denial of the Limits-to-Growth message. (Small aside: I think that the title of the book is misleading. The book describes a limit to the absolute size of the human economic/material activity, not the growth thereof. The absolute, not the derivative.) I have a lot of engineer friends, since I did both a MSc in physics and a PhD in robotics. Almost all of them still worship the Religion of Progress. Human Ingenuity! Ra ra ra! It is getting more and more difficult to relate to them, and they find me more and more peculiar.

    Psychology and expectations determine mood more than the absolute material “welfare” level. When I lived in Russia in the 1990s, I made a ten day trip to Beijing, part business, part private exploration. It was stunning. The absolute economic level was much lower in China, but the direction was positive and people were radiant and energetic. In Russia, most people were “better off” with larger houses, more stuff and choice, but the direction was for most people downwards. The mood was sour, outside of the Moscow “oligarch-and-foreign-money-exuberance” bubble.
    I think that survival and joy depends on luck, preparation and an open mindset. It seems that you and the Editor collect all three of those.

    There have been haircuts in the past, evolutionary bottlenecks of various kinds, and this is hopefully not the last one for humanity.

    For each of us individually, the haircut comes anyway, regardless of any planetary boundaries… The hooded man with a strange implement better suited for cutting hay, than hair… 😉
    “Die wise” as Stephen Jenkinson says. See for example his interview with Michael Dowd:

    In the meantime, we keep planting trees and celebrating the seasons!


  6. Hi Damo,

    Yeah, nice one – you called it. Fortunately titles aren’t subject to copyright, otherwise I’d be in deep doggie poop! 🙂 Being creatively bankrupt and having to come up with new titles every week is not so easy as you’d imagine! 🙂 Hey, did you see I got a nod in to Ocean Alley the other week? Such a great band. Every time I hear Confidence (which sadly isn’t played enough nowadays) my tricksey mind substitutes the words Calvinist. It kind of works. Surely they were singing about 16th century religious nutters? Maybe…

    Ah, very wise. Respect. Decline is not a linear process, and as you wisely note, neither is it evenly distributed. The editor and I were getting hassled last night by someone (let’s call them meth junkie A and B) to buy them a gourmet hamburger. I was in no mood for such nonsense I can tell you, and perhaps the nuisance read the room as they wisely went elsewhere.

    Hey, I eventually recovered (there have been the odd lock down or three over here) backup of the lost songs. Warms my cold accounting heart that does. And in amongst the collection was The Wombats and their song ‘Method to the Madness’. So good and one of my faves from this year.

    How are you going anyway?



  7. Hi Lewis,

    I hear you about that, and few years ago I spoke with a young lady and her mum, and they both recounted the story about how the young lady was getting hassled. Without even thinking about it, the advice proffered was to send her off to a Dojo. Well, you’d think that I’d farted at table by the reaction that chunk of advice received, but you know I’d say the same thing again. 😉

    Hey, it’s not a bad idea to learn the finer arts of street encounters and your parents would have done you a solid, but you know, you’ve managed OK to get where you are today. Dojo’s weren’t thick on the ground down here in the mid 1980’s either. It was sheer chance (or fate) that my feet took me to that particular place. I don’t recall mentioning it before, but in my final year of high school, there was about two to three hours of homework each night. Saturday’s were spent at school sports (as were two nights a week training for the school sports). Then Sunday’s were spent on school assignments. I’m sure other kids dodged the workload, but by the end I was an A grade student and that opened up University placings. But here’s the thing, my mum offered for the first time in my life, weekly pocket money if I gave up the newspaper rounds and retail work so that I could concentrate solely on school work at the beginning of that final year. So I did, and then she reneged on the offer. It was a good but very harsh lesson to learn about trusting other people, and I was broke AF that year, and had no money for the martial arts training which I paid for out of my own pocket. I never forgave her for that ruse. At the age of 17, I entered full time adult work and was able to pay for the martial arts lessons again, but you fall behind and then have to make up for the loss – and there is a loss of face in such a place too. And because I was very young I was embarrassed by the sudden fall from financial grace, and it never occurred to me to ask for help from the Sensei. Thus does the wheel of life turn on a sudden act of random chaos.

    Yeah, there are some methane co-generation processors around, but same, same, the stuff largely gets to float up, up and away into the upper atmosphere. Thanks for the container story, and that’s no good at all. Down under they used to ship plastic for recycling off shore, but the land of stuff finally cracked it because people down under were too careless with the stuff they sent them – too much contamination.

    There’s a local tip shop too, but the vast majority gets chucked into an ex-quarry. People know not what they do, but they feel good about it and somehow believe that it is a superior option. I guess it is a point of view.

    I tend to believe that if we can’t find a re-use for the waste, we might as well burn the stuff off and recover some of the energy which went into producing the stuff in the first place. There is so much noise about the health subject which dares not be named, that it drowns out the other equally as important issues.

    Yup, that’s my thinking too. We’re over the halfway mark and steadily falling down. One thing I took away from the graph is that a zombie apocalypse is hardly likely, instead it will be a slow, steady and accelerating and sure decline in the population. I don’t quite recall 1972 and will have to take your word for that! By 1974, the message would have been heard loud and clear I’m guessing, and I’m yet to experience a punch up at a long line to the local gas station. The martial arts lessons might come to some good in such a circumstance. Did you ever see anything going on like that back in the day?

    You’ve got a sensitive nose for a story. That boulder just happens to have a really nice crack which might produce about nine large rocks, but as the old timers used to quip: Don’t count your rocks until they’s split. 😉 Actually the soil there is pretty good after having some of the log pile decompose for a dozen years. Good forest soil and I’m watching to see what happens with it in the next year or so. It might get some rock dust added to it!

    Carbon steel is a wonderful material for hacking away at vegetation. Take that ye scurvy raspberries! Although the plants scored a very good feed, so they won’t be minerally deprived.

    Thanks, and getting the various growing spaces ready for the coming season gets easier every year.

    I’m kind of chuffed to think that the Roman’s would have loved the the east versus west stone confrontation. Balance is of course (as everyone knows) somewhere in the middle and this is where the stairs can be found. The Gargoyle kind of reminds me of Ollie!

    Your effort is better than what the average Vogon might have come up with, but then I’m likewise guilty of axing perfectly good words in the name of poetry. Sad, but true. Don’t imagine that I’ll ever make the million word challenge in the area of poetry.

    Zucchini are just better all round, I might give up on cucumbers and stick to what works – zucchini. Clearly they are related to Triffids.

    That’s my thinking too, but sometimes sandy soil (if it is a very black looking sand) can be really great for growing vegetables. I’m not really sure is the answer, as some of the oldest garden beds here produce this really deep and almost black looking sand (in hot weather). In the wet weather the stuff holds together better. I’m honestly not sure what it is. The roses I moved the other day came out of soil that looked exactly like what yours sounds like. I tend to believe that vegetable roots can dig deeper and be more resilient in such looser soil, but I’m no expert in this area – it is just how the soil ends up. How does that compare to your oldest and well fed soils?

    It’s a crazy amount of money, but you’re also spot on – it might not be a bad idea to test out the waters so to speak. I’m surprised that none of the folks have stopped to say hello and ask how things are? City folks I’m guessing.

    Never heard of the author either (and noted amusingly that one of his books dealt with the subject of kidnap, spare me!) I reckon he’s right too, if you want to make money produce what the audience wants to hear and tell the critics to go and get stuffed. Did you glean any other good tips from the book?

    Very bad strolling musicians, is that another name for a hustle? 🙂 It’s not a bad one, and I noted later that an older lady had actually bought them burgers to send them on their way and shut them up. I’m not sure what to feel about the situation. Do you have any thoughts to share on this matter?

    Everyone loves a fart joke. What more need be said? 🙂

    Well dead folks hanging around doing not much and making a nuisance of themselves sounds a lot like heaven to me – and there might be better options – just sayin… The Universe rarely allows us to sit on our duff with no cost to that experience.

    Feel free, and I offend people all of the time just by, I dunno why. You know what, some people just bring their troubles to you because that is how they’re wired. I’m not a fan of such a response, but I guess externalising helps such folks get by day to day when they don’t much like themselves. The trick is ensuring that you’re not seen as an easy target. I enjoy the folks and dialogue here too – the length of the blog keeps out the more annoying elements (well it has so far). Actually you don’t hear ‘guilt tripping’ said these days, I guess a lot of folks are doing just that and so they might not want to draw attention to their motivations.

    Oooo. Thanks for not sharing too many details about the peanut butter situation, and discretion is the better part of quietude, or something like that. 🙂

    The Daily Beast sure is a mixed bag, I’d never heard of it. It is odd but down here we don’t have such a political culture as we expect them to be dodge and as the gubamints grow up (i.e. do their terms) we chuck ’em out and try the next batch of hopefuls. But rarely do you encounter a person with strong political views. Big Stone in Rome Gets Everyone All Excited sounds like a scene out of the Big Lebowski! 🙂

    Thanks for the delightful scene from the house of Faun and glad to see that the Roman’s valued their fluffies. Hey, the romatics painters seem to have caught more than their fair share of the sight of plenty of faun’s. Lucky them, or maybe not?



  8. Hi Goran,

    That’s a mind blowing question, but I feel that people talk far more and for far longer than they do making any sensible responses to the information. Seriously, if there is no pressing need, then I doubt many folks are interested in what history has to teach us in this regard. Mate, I’m likewise torn and just have to do a bit of this and then a bit of that, and kind of hope for the best whilst rigorously testing the systems here. From some perspectives developing a measure of resilience to system shocks does provide dividends like say when the electricity grid disappears for five days after an epic storm. People start to concern themselves, but then the electricity mains gets reconnected and other concerns fill peoples minds.

    That’s a nice way of putting the predicament, and being able to not feel too caught up psychologically in the existing arrangements will make the loss a bit easier when it slowly arrives. I suspect that underlying the current craziness is a sense of loss.

    Never thought about the title of the book that way, but maybe the authors were trying to use ‘shock yo momma’ tactics? Dunno, but I see your point about the title. Hmm.

    I hear your pain, and might have gone through a similar thing many long years ago when I first really understood the practical implications of peak oil – and especially as it related to agriculture. What can I say, I’m interested in food! 🙂 I can’t really give you any advice, but like you I walk in both worlds all at once, and somewhere you just have to reach deep down inside yourself and find the old fashioned concept of good grace (and I mean that from a humanistic definition – not the religious definition of the word). Mate, you can’t alter fate or change other peoples perspectives, what you can do is work on yourself first and come to terms with the sense of loss and inevitability. At the moment I’m encountering a huge number of people in a high emotional state, often anger, and there’s a path to find to navigate through that, but isn’t that part of the challenge of life anyway?

    Thanks for the story, and it sounds like it was a real eye opener. We’ve travelled to some very poor countries and I recall the upbeat populace of Cambodia (just after the Vietnamese army left) and that was despite the extraordinary horror they’d just been through. People are surprisingly resilient.

    To collect, one must be open and alert to opportunity! 🙂

    No, not at all, the graph shows me that the decline is inevitable and will take place over years and probably be pretty unpleasant – but it isn’t the zombie apocalypse people would like. I’ve always thought, and I’d be curious as to your opinion in the matter, but people dream of zombies so that they can finally point at a really crazy thing and say to themselves: Yeah, this sh$t’s not good! But a slow and grinding descent into poverty is a rather more frightening prospect.

    When my mother was a single mother many long years ago, she could buy a house, work full time and get a University education, whilst her employer gave her time off during work hours to complete the study. I doubt that is even a remote possibility these days, and people don’t talk about that change.

    Thanks for the link, and I only just finished watching the Bright Green Lies documentary. Didn’t hear anything new, but it might be new information for other folks.

    Yes, what have you planted this season? I’ve got a medlar and carob tree both of which fell over in the recent epic wind storm. I can’t work out whether to dig them out and relocate them, or build the soil up around them. Have you ever had a fruit tree fall over? The medlar is deciduous so that might be easy to move, the carob, maybe not so much.



  9. Hello Chris
    I haven’t had time to read anything yet but Notayesman is dealing with Australia today; I haven’t read that either.


  10. Hi, Chris!

    You were very lucky to even have a dojo anywhere within reach. I don’t recall ever seeing such a thing till the mid 70’s, though I do recall that I was a teenager before you . . .

    I fear that my household is now one of the biggest contributors to our local landfill. With seven people here – my son’s future father-in-law is visiting, a wonderful man originally from Taiwan – and two of them elderly, who never learned anything about conservation, we go through paper and plastic and Stuff and garbage (I can’t keep up with my composting right now), and it is appalling. I am sure that there must be millions of others who are doing the same. And I think of restaurants and nursing homes that need the help of all this paper and plastic.

    We were discussing last night how none of us (that no longer includes me) have been splitting any firewood lately. We do have a 3-year supply, though.

    Your pub visit made me think of a recent visit of mine to our favorite barbeque place to pick up some take-home. I was about to leave with my goodies when an announcement came on over the loudspeaker: “As some of you may know, at noon every day we play the national anthem. We will now do so.” And over the loudspeaker “The Star Spangled Banner” started playing and everyone in the restaurant stood up and faced the flag in the corner, many people put their hand over their hearts, and we sang. You see, this restaurant chain was started, and is run by, veterans, and they still take patriotism seriously. It was so heartening to me to experience such a thing.

    I don’t believe I have ever seen so many peripatetic plants than those at Fernglade. And neat – always neat!

    Thank you for the flowers!


  11. Yo, Chris – Here, we have a grading system … GPA. Grade Point Average. “B” is a 3, and “A” is a 4. When I graduated from high school, my GPA was 3.8. So, it got me into university. Not that I finished, or did much with that. 🙂 . Life, beckoned.

    When I first moved away from home, my Dad would visit, weekly. After announcing that I was “killing my mother,” he’d promise all sorts of inducements, to move back. I’m sure they would have delivered, but there would have been strings … Rubbish what your mother did.

    Same here. The Land of Stuff lost interest, due to too much contamination. I think I mentioned that they once tried a compost heap, here. Didn’t work, as folks didn’t seem to grasp the simple rules of compost. Now that there are so few people gardening, I could probably work up a small heap of my own. But, it seems working well enough to just bury the stuff, and let the worms do their work. I am ever amazed at how fast they work. How fast it breaks down.

    I remember the worst incident, I saw in the gas lines, in California. We were all inching up to the pumps. In a line over from mine, a woman’s foot must have slipped off her clutch, and her car lurched forward and tapped the car in front of her. There was no damage done, and the fellow she tapped, wasn’t upset at all. But she was overwrought, and hit the ground. What happened next, was the corker. Several other people, leaped from their cars, poured her into her vehicle, and shoved it out of line. When she came to, and realized what had happened, she hit the ground, again. By then, I was pumping gas, but could see a nurse, from further back, had come to her aid, along with a few other people. Seeing gas station attendants, sporting side arms, was another common sight. But that incident was my “moment of clarity”, when I decided it was time to move back home. I felt if anything really serious happened down there, it would not be pretty.

    Save me a trip down the rabbit hole. 🙂 . Can carbon steel be sharpened? Does it need to be sharpened?

    Ollie is a lot more handsome, and noble, than the Gargoyle. Don’t tell the Gargoyle.

    My sandy spots are brown. Forms a crust if it gets wet. The well fed spots are dark and rich. Crumbly, and will hold together if squeezed. The sandy plots are where previous “gardeners” have just thrown chemicals at it, and not much organic material. But, I’m working on them.

    The author has plenty of good tips, and I was keeping notes. But, I had to return it to the library, before I finished the lectures. He also has several books on writing, which our library carries. A lot of the stuff I already know, but he organizes it into lists. “Seven Critical Success Factors of Fiction,” “Ten Components of the Writing Life,” Etc.. “Three Types of Protagonists.” This was just the overview part, with brief descriptions. Later on, he’d get into the details. But, the due date approached, and there were holds on it. I’ll get back to it, eventually.

    Back when I did retail (and, later in the libraries), part of our training was “breaking away from the customer.” With grace, and offers of more help, if necessary. Of course, some are harder to shake than a booger off your finger. 🙂 . Sometimes, I’d pray for the phone to ring. Living here at the Institution, breaking away can be a problem. Of course, now that I’m in my dotage, I can play the cranky old man card, and just be downright rude. H provides a good foil, if I decide to be a bit more gentle.

    Well, there was a whole Neoclassical Movement, in the late 1700’s, into the early 1800s. It really began when well set up young men, headed to The Continent, to do their Grand Tours. But the stuff they brought back, had a limited audience. Then, Pompeii was discovered. Printing and media were developing, and really spread the look. It effected everything. Architecture, interior design, fashion, etc. etc..

    I’m reading an interesting book, right now. Or, more like skimming it, for the interesting parts. “Burning the Books: A History of the Deliberate Destruction of Knowledge.” (Ovenden, 2020) The author is the director of the Bodleian library, at Oxford. I ran across an interesting fellow, in the section of the dissolution of the monasteries, during the Reformation, under Henry VIII. John Leland (1503-1552), was trying to curry favor, at court, by researching King Arthur. So, before the dissolution, he traveled to hundreds of religious houses, checking out their manuscript holdings. He wrote a couple of books on King Arthur, that I’ll have to check into. He was very much for the Reformation, but when the dissolution began, he couldn’t be everywhere. It is estimated that up to 80% of the monastery holdings, were destroyed. And later in life, he realized that he had had a hand in it (it is speculated), and he died quit mad.

    I picked my first gallon of blueberries, yesterday. We have about four bushes, out back, where it’s cooler, and the sprinkler system snafu, didn’t seem to impact. I got nearly a gallon, just in back. Then I moved out front. Well, it’s pretty rubbish.What isn’t downright shriveled up, is very small. It’s going to be a long haul, harvesting out there. But, the first gallon is safely in the freezer. Lew

  12. Chris,

    It is VERY smoky here. It is slowing me way down. The Princess returned from 2 weeks away, her normal trip and then she had to help at a funeral. We are catching up with one another and trying to not get smoked out. The indoor filtration systems are helping.



  13. Hello Chris
    If you don’t want bitter cucumbers, remove all male flowers as fertilisation is the problem. You will still get cucumbers.


  14. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for the tip with cucumbers, but I’m considering giving up on growing cucumbers because the only varieties available around these parts are plants which are accustomed to hotter weather than I usually experience on average. I read recently that in your country you actually have a far wider and more diverse stock of edible plant varieties than down here. Biosecurity is taken quite seriously down here and I can’t just import whatever seeds I want from abroad, so we’re kind of stuck with the varieties which we have available.

    There is actually a variety of cucumber which is round and is meant to be an old heirloom variety, and I might try that next. And of course Lewis suggested the cucamelons, but those are an entirely different plant.

    Thanks for mentioning the most excellent notayesman economics blog, and I agree wholeheartedly with the authors analysis. Always appreciate the tip off. And whilst I was there, I read the previous article which discussed house prices and lending practices in your country. It is perhaps forgotten by the banks that it is they whom should exercise restraint with lending. The borrowers will continue asking long after things make no sense.

    Rain, and more rain today. August is the coldest month of them all!



  15. Hi DJ,

    Sorry to hear that things aren’t going so crash hot in your part of the world, and I fully understand what it is like to live with air that stinks of bushfire smoke. Keep that purifier / filtration system working hard. I assume you have to wash the filters out every now and then? For your interest, the farm machine repair dudes recently placed a washable (and then oilable) pre-filter over the air filter of the low centre of gravity mower. Dust had been a problem for the original filter and they are no longer cheap items to throw away.

    Sorry to hear that your lady attended another ceremony for the recently departed. You two have had a rough couple of years on that front, and you have my condolences.



  16. Hi Pam,

    Yes, there is a mild bit of difference in relation to years. I guess you could say that a Dojo was more easily found in the mid 1980’s. The Sensei was a really interesting person and he also conducted women’s self defence courses in addition to the more formal martial arts (as well as some other crazy ways to earn a living, which he ultimately paid the price for venturing into such hot water). For your interest, the ladies who attended training were highly accomplished individuals and they’d all too happily kick my butt. 🙂 It was an equal opportunity thing in the most visceral sense.

    I tell you a funny story, the Dojo had a wait list for newcomers, but I simply ignored that and just turned up and said that I was there to learn. Is that chutzpah?

    Maybe a year or two back via my friends of the big shed fame, one of their family members was a young lady who for all sorts of complicated reasons had to occasionally fend for herself against the odds. Me being me, I recommended that she take herself to the nearest Dojo and begin learning how to carry herself differently so as to avoid the difficulties in the first place. Well everyone looked aghast at the suggestion, but I still reckon I’m right.

    Thank you for your pollution confession and I suggest that you now perform ten “Hail Mary’s”. Oooo, I now feel super bad! 🙂 Hey, I tell you in all seriousness, a friend of the editor once tried to leave a very soiled plastic nappy with us. Like, we don’t have systems to deal with that sort of waste. 🙂 All I can say is that it’s a problem.

    A 3 year supply of firewood is a comfort. The thing with firewood is that we are thinking about that far ahead and then some, although the trees here might be different than your lot. This lot here require two years seasoning, and then one year drying to produce a super hot and clean fire. It is a bit like agriculture in that much depends upon circumstances.

    It is no laughing matter and is something that should be taken seriously, especially if folks have given their lives. I have not served, and have respect for those whom have done so, and my grandfather instilled a seriousness for such service. He was after all involved in the delivery end of the Dresden business and expressed no qualms or second thoughts as to what went on there.

    We do neat here. And incidentally, I must give credit where credit is due. You worked in the very difficult word peripatetic into a reply. Total respect. If I had not been a rusted on fan of the works of the author Jack Vance, I would not know what this word meant, but alas he used it first! 🙂 But whatever, it is a pleasure to be exposed to a wider than the average vocabulary! Maybehaps, it takes one to know one? 🙂

    The flowers will only get better as time goes on. 🙂



  17. Hi Lewis,

    Kudos to you for a good Grade Point Average (and noting that I was in similar waters). It is a really good score, and the diminishing returns to producing a better result aren’t worth it. Well that’s my story anyway. I’d be curious as to your thoughts, but to do better, would sort of suggest that other areas of a persons life may be somewhat lacking?

    Man, I dunno, it is no great loss not to have finished. With the sheer burden of student debt, and the lack of a return on investment from having spent the years and resources on the study, I suggest to people that it might be a better idea to go and do something else with their lives. The main problem with turning those institutions into vocational training grounds is that they have to produce an economic return for the attendees. It wasn’t always this way, and I recall as a younger bloke, employers had to spend time and money on training their staff. Now those costs appear to have been outsourced to the individuals, and I’d imagine that sooner or later people will wake up to this change.

    Everyone has a different experience in that regard and was it not Tolstoy who put pen to paper on that matter and write that: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Love that quote. My mother probably thought to herself that I was killing her with my presence, and not absence – the facts speak for themselves in this case and she seems might happy with the outcome. Some apples are just bad, and you have to learn from that and move further from the tree somehow or other.

    The land of stuff might be recounting to themselves a story about the goose and the golden egg (or headless chicken). In relation to the plastic waste, we as a society were too careless. It happens. And your compost experiment kind of reflects that reality. Hey, I still wonder if the culprit who dropped the gallons of milk into the dumpster was ever apprehended?

    I’m with you too, just bury the scraps and nature will sort it all out.

    Thanks for the experience from that horrific time, and I would have gotten out of there too. Other parts of the world are possibly experiencing similar things now: Beirut was the ‘Paris of the Middle East’. Now it’s in the midst of one of the world’s worst economic collapses in 150 years.

    After much reading on carbon steel, and the making thereof, I’m no wiser as to the exact composition of the metal in the chainsaw chains. However, I can assure you that the steel on the chain can be sharpened with a file. That’s a skill unto itself too, and back in the day some poor apprentice would have spent the entire day in the forest day after day, sharpening tools. And woe to him that got it wrong.

    Ollie has a level of quiet confidence that is impressive to behold.

    Hmm, brown, well I can’t say that I have any experience with your description of the soil. The soils here are closer to your dark and rich soils. Throwing chemicals at soil does work, but sooner or later something more old school needs to be attempted.

    Am I mistaken in believing that you’ll put the book on writing back on hold again at some future time? Did anything stick out in the ten components of the writing life? I guess I’m hedging around the real question: What was the authors work ethic like?

    Hehe! Dunno about your part of the world, but down here on a Saturday morning way back in the day, the shops had to legally shut at 12.30pm. I recall one bloke tapping on the window and making a big carry on after closing, and my boss at the electronics shop told me to go and tell him to get lost. And I did. The fines were epic and in those days the opening hours were policed – it would have been no joke for my boss and I to be embroiled in such a drama.

    “harder to shake than a booger off your finger.” That’s a classic! So when I was back in the big smoke, there was a guy who lived a few doors down. Let’s call him Graham just randomly. Anyway, he caught me off guard initially as he would just talk and talk at me (like your worst customers). After a short while I learned to simply say: “Mate, I gotta go”. And even then, he’d still keep talking at me. It was very weird, but also a solid lesson in the vast complexities of being a human. Eventually the split routine was combined with the physical decampment, and it’s not my usual modus operandi to act so, but yeah – he didn’t seem to care. That was a new experience for me, and I’d imagine some of your fellow residents suffer from a similar affliction? It would be nice if the discussion was something of interest, and occasionally it was, but perhaps not enough. Far out, that bloke did my head in. Very wise to use your fluffy so as to time your escape. 🙂

    The Neoclassicists were an interesting bunch. What a rabbit hole and soon I found myself reading of the ancient Greek tale of Judgement of Paris. My favourite quote was: However, Eris, goddess of discord was not invited, for it was believed she would have made the party unpleasant for everyone. There’s plenty of discord going on down here right now without invoking ancient problems.

    Bookworms across the ages might wonder what had John Leland read during his journeys? The religious institutions possibly failed as they were too successful. I read a weird statistic which suggested that at the time of the dissolution there were an inordinate and – from my perspective – hard to explain percentage of the population in their care or employ. Am I wrong in this belief? Time was not kind to John Leland in his final few years.

    Top score with the blueberries. Yummo! Well at least the cooler and I’m guessing shadier berries did OK. Your description tends to indicate to me exactly what you supposed: Heat and Water stress on those blueberries. Good to hear that the first gallon is safely tucked away in the freezer.



  18. Yo, Chris – Yes, to do better grade-wise, other areas would have suffered. A lot of my high school stuff, was kind of extra curricular. The fun stuff. Directing the senior class play, on the yearbook staff, different singing groups, working part time. I was trying to figure out what class drug my GPA down, a bit. Probably, French. We were required to take two years of a foreign language. But, as long as I stayed in the upper “B” area, I wasn’t too troubled.

    Even now, with all the emphasis on degrees, anyone who tells the truth says that most employment skills are learned, “on the job.” Probably part of the reason I didn’t finish, is because I had a couple of examples of people who made it pretty good. What I didn’t quit grasp is that they started out before all the emphasis on degrees. From time to time, over the years, I did think about maybe picking up my education, again. To discover there were more layers of gatekeeping, that had been added. More bogus hoops to jump through. And I just wasn’t that interested.

    I love that Tolstoy quote. Can’t say I’ve read him, though. 🙂

    The compost experiment, here at the Institution, was well before my time. But, I heard about it. Oddly, in yesterdays paper was an article about our garbage transit station. With a pretty good picture.,270063

    That big blue building, is where you dump your stuff. It’s elevated, so, you drive up a long ramp, back in, and pitch your stuff into an open pit. Below is a shipping container. Vehicles are weighed on the way in, and on the way out. Half way up the right side of the picture, you can see just a bit of where yard waste can be dumped. Out of frame, off to the right, is the old landfill. To the left, is the recycling area. There’s also a “Hazo Hut” for things like chemicals and paints.

    Beirut (and Lebanon) are doing it tough. Cities (and countries), rise and fall. And, occasionally rise again. I was just reading an article, yesterday, about Trieste. It’s a port near Venice. It was quit the place to be, and a literary hub, at one time. Then, for one reason and another, it became kind of a backwater. Now people are getting interested, again, as it’s not so overrun with tourists, and the prices are more reasonable. That won’t last long 🙂 .

    Well, the “book” on writing was actually a DVD lecture series. Part of the Great Courses. Given the amount of books he’s cranked out, he does have a strong work ethic. His advice on a successful writing life kicks of with 1.) Have a burning desire and 2.) Discipline to do. I’m sure I’ll get back to it. Might take me awhile. My hold list is rather full 🙂 .

    We never had national retail hours laws. Local laws, here and there. And just plain old custom. Nothing used to be open on Sundays. And, often if a business was open on Saturday (that was kind of optional), they might close on Monday. But then creeping 24/7 crept in. Quit awhile ago, I read an article on problems with multi-national companies coming into places like Germany and Britain. Then the culture clash between custom and commerce. I also read an article, the other day, on how truly awful customers / consumers are, these days. It was in the Atlantic (which I don’t like, anymore, due to their change of format.) It came about due to the culture of “Have it your way,” and, “the customer is always right.” Well, no. Class also plays into it. People, who’s social status is rather rocky (and, there’s a lot of that going on now), sometimes come unglued if they perceive “lesser status people” (service people) have the upper hand. Sick, but true.

    Boogers and fingers. © Lew. I’m rather proud of that one. Thought it up, all on my own. 🙂 .

    For a long time, the Neoclassicists was where it was happening. I notice there was a bit of Egypto-mania, which puzzled me, at first. I thought that was a “King Tut Effect,” later thing. But then it clicked. Napoleon, Egypt. Duh! He took a lot of scientists and scholars with him, to Egypt. They published lots of lavishly illustrated books. Shipped a lot of stuff back to France.

    Leland kept pretty good records of his travels. What he saw and read, and where. A lot of those volumes, disappeared. Ancient, ancient manuscripts. That’s why I’m interested in what he had to say about King Arthur. He saw stuff, that’s now lost. Some monasteries and convents were huge, sprawling commercial concerns. Industries of one type or another. Agricultural interests and tenant farmers. A lot of it had to do with primogeniture. Say you had three sons. The first, inherits everything. Second and third usually (ideally) took up law, or the clergy. Military service was also an option. A surplus of daughters, or, poor widowed relatives, could be fobbed off on a convent. But on the other hand, monasteries provided a certain amount of protection, in troubled times. Also, if you were a member of the clergy, and committed a crime, you could only be judged by a church court, and not by the civil authorities. So, yes, those statistics are right. A huge number of people were attached to monasteries, for one reason or another.

    I tried that Dutch Hollow cheese, the other night. On celery. It’s billed as a soft cheese, but it’s not spreadable. But it was easy to slice off small bits, that didn’t crumble. My nearly dead taste buds say that it is similar to white cheddar. With not quit the “bite.” I broke into the feta, last night. I made up a casserole, with rice, chopped up fried eggs and veg. Sprinkled the top with some feta. I thought it was quit tasty. Fat, salt … we’re hitting the high points, here.

    Saw an article on a hermit, in our state of New Hampshire, who is having problems.

    There’s a little slide show, that’s pretty interesting. Outliers have it tough. Lew

  19. Chris:

    Chris, if there is one thing you have no lack of, it’s chutzpah.

    Your advice to the Big Shed relative was absolutely right. I wish I had done that.

    Usually one year is enough for split and stacked firewood to cure here. Before that the cut trees have often lain on the ground for awhile and dried out some already.

    I learned “peripatetic” when I worked in a bookstore in college. I learned a lot of things there.


  20. Hi Pam,

    Yes, the audacity of fernglade! 🙂 One can only but do their best. Hehe!

    Oh my gawd, we are in another snap lock down as of 8pm tonight. This makes six now and we’ve been out of jail for only two weeks… Day 180+ of my captivity…

    Yeah, it’s a great idea to teach ladies both young and old how to throw a few punches and kicks around and also how to defend themselves. It is a shame that it is an unpopular perspective.

    Isn’t it fascinating how different tree species require different processing (or methodologies to care for) requirements. It’s a complicated process in order to use them requiring much care and attention not to mention experience and knowledge.

    Ah ha! I detect a story, and hearing that you underwent a bout of retail therapy (from the other side of the counter) warms my heart. Doesn’t it round of your own rough edges to be exposed to the urbanities of the purchasing public?



  21. Hi Lewis,

    I feel we must interrupt this reply with an important whinge message: We’re in another freakin’ lock down. This one was called late this afternoon and came into effect at 8pm or just over an hour ago now. The editor has become something of a lock down whisperer, so with this possibility in mind, we decided to take the day off and visit some local botanical gardens and consume some yummy bakery products, and more importantly replenish the supplies of honey. I happen to be very particular about where I purchase honey as some cheeky scamps substitute the much cheaper sugar syrup – and that is not nice at all. A very pleasant day was had, and at about 5pm we discovered that the editors fears were fully realised, and so we dropped everything, cleaned up and went to the pub for an early feed. To be honest, I don’t usually eat at such an early hour, but in trying times a person must make exceptions as the pub had their orders and was going to shut at 7.30pm sharp probably for two weeks. It warmed my heart to see the place packed with people and yeah, it was nice.

    But yeah, stuck at home for two weeks unable to travel more than 3.1 miles, and there are only two businesses within that distance – and one of them shut this evening… I tend to believe that we are simply delaying the inevitable, and this is truly economic carnage.

    From your account I get the impression that you had quite a rounded and more balanced education, and I salute that. Had to laugh as extra curricular activities were cadets and sports – training twice a week after school and competing on a Saturday. Such an unbalanced mix combined with the heavy workload, but that was their business model. Ah, you’ve mentioned French classes before, and don’t you reckon it would be difficult to pick up another language where you were unable to practice it with a native speaker? English was the subject which brought me low. Alright, I’m not blaming Holden and the book which dare not be named… 🙂 Scathing essays might make me feel good, but are not the path to good marks! An important lesson to learn, don’t you reckon? I wasn’t hung up on the marks either, I just wanted to apply myself as best as I could.

    Years later I put the stomp hard when working at a big corporate on a ‘my University was better than your Uni’ discussion. The people involved looked sheepish afterwards, but I don’t reckon they liked me for having stomping their games.

    It’s true, skills are learnt on the job, and the degrees are really put in place as a barrier to entry, as you no doubt discovered (or that was my understanding of your words). But effectively, employers have outsourced a lot of their training costs onto the individuals. The truth is though, for graduate jobs, the economic return is not there – but people haven’t gotten that memo yet.

    So busted, I haven’t read that Tolstoy. Read the other Tolstoy though. Mr Greer recommended to me years ago to read the most excellent book by Nikolai Tolstoy: The Quest for Merlin. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and I suspect that Mr Greer was setting me straight on the subject as a good Sensei does! 🙂 My first introduction to Arthur and Merlin and the merry cohorts was via the author Marion Zimmer Bradley. It was popular I guess, but my opinion was that the story was a travesty. Anyway, do people actually read Tolstoy nowadays? We probably should do something about that.

    Thanks for the article. Am I correct in interpreting that the transfer station no longer recycles plastic? But will recycle metals? It sounds like an organised setup.

    Oooo, did you see the photograph of the Libreria Antiquaria Umberto Saba in Trieste? It’s a very appealing looking city with at its core an old function as a deep water port. The hordes of tourists in the other city would drive me bonkers. I once lived in a tourist area, and it was a horror story.

    I hadn’t understood that the course was a video course, dunno why I imagined that it was a book. Incidentally if I have not said it before, I’ll say it again: Your library system is amazing. Did you know that points one and two which you made are often useful bits of advice for when a person wishes to master a subject of knowledge or endeavour? A strong work ethic can often succeed where talent lacking the inclination to produce often fails. 😉

    Yes, I agree, that newspaper has some sort of pay wall up now and I’ve noticed that this is occurring more frequently with other publications. Hmm. Their interweb business case previously made no sense to me, but people have this weird expectation that stuff on the interweb should somehow be free. I’d be interested in your perspective in the matter, because I have this odd notion that the fre stuff was part of a larger bait and switch operation. Anyway, free may be true in some tiny corners like here, but it ain’t where I earn my money, and I can’t say for sure how such things earn mad cash. Like take the Zoorm video conferencing application. It works amazingly well, but I have no idea how it makes mad cash. A little whisper suggests that it was akin to the old school priests confessional and maybe mining the conversations going on are the product? Dunno, but it isn’t a charity (as far as I’m aware).

    Exactly, the nouveau riche as a group are a pain in the rear. I’ve seen them compete in social games for no reason whatsoever other than they feel insecure, and occasionally I’ve been embarrassed by their antics. I keep a very low profile and am usually very polite and deferential, that other lot treat that response as a weakness as they seek social advantage. It is an error of judgement, but hey, it happens quite a lot. And yes, the future will be harsh and they might be unprepared for realities, but then they’ll adapt to their new circumstances well enough. Humility and good grace are never out of style.

    Hehe! It’s really funny, and I promise to cite the derivation the next time the line gets wheeled out (or dare I say, flicked off!)

    Napoleon was a bit of a nuisance in his quest for empire, but the English seemed to be quite the thorn in the side to him, so he probably thought they were as much of a nuisance. I must say that French soldiers seemed inappropriately attired for the French campaign in Egypt and Syria, no wonder they were so on the attack all of the time – clearly hot and out of sorts. Still, their attire was probably worse on the ill-fated expedition into the north east. What amazed me was that the quality of the paintings produced from that era were astounding. Is this just my imagination? But some of the paintings were the whole next level of realism. And the colours were astonishing.

    So have you begun the book on Leland’s travels and insights into Arthur? I’ll bet that there is much of interest in those words, and so much would have been lost in the dissolution. The wealthy collectors probably wouldn’t have had the funds for the upkeep of the ancient manuscripts. Thanks for the insights into the monastic circumstances of the time.

    Soft cheese doesn’t ordinarily mean spreadable. In fact down here, very few cheeses are spreadable (Philly comes to mind as an exception). Mostly they are cut or sliced, and soft here generally means not of a crumbly texture. Hope that explains things? Hard cheeses are often grated with a microplane, or old school cheese grater.

    Apparently not all of the taste buds are dead!!! 🙂 The dinner sounds really nice. The editor enjoyed a chicken butter curry this evening (with roti and rice – with a few saffron what is it stamens?). The saffron tasted interesting and not at all like what I’d imagined. I had Linguine with a tomato based vegetable sauce. Quite nice, but the chicken butter curry was superb.

    In a bizarre twist, the hermit if down here would now own that property by the sheer act of long continuous occupancy. It’s pretty rough what they did. They do have it tough. If the owners didn’t know he was there, what possible harm can be occurring? Crazy.



  22. Yo, Chris – The extra curricular activities, that I was able to take part in, were really the difference between moving from the big school, to the little school. Another fringe benefit was, they occasionally got me “off campus”, for a day or afternoon. 🙂 . Also, as part of the college application process, grades were all well and good, but extra curricular activities could give you an extra nudge, to be accepted. Also, any adult overseeing the activities, could usually be counted on for recommendation letters, also an important part of the application circus.

    Sounds like our recycling / garbage depot, is no longer taking plastics. I haven’t been there, in quit awhile. But it used to be they had these big bins, for aluminum cans. A separate one for tin cans. Glass, sorted by color. Cardboard. Mixed paper. They also had a flat rate for dropping off large appliances. Stoves, refrigerators, washing machines, etc.. There was a rack for lighting tubes. Which need a lot of special handling.

    I was surprised I couldn’t renew the “How to Write Best Selling Fiction,” lectures. It was just sitting on the shelf, at my local library. But now I see, that the system only has two copies. Both are checked out to other people, and there are two holds on tap. Not mine. Wonder what the sudden interest was? Just chance, I suppose.

    When you mentioned newspapers and pay walls, were you referring to my local newspaper? That surprises me. I have no problem accessing as many articles as I want. So I don’t know if you’ll be able to read this, or not …,270195

    Which our local newspaper lifted from a Seattle newspaper. It’s about our favorite weather guy. Who, I think, Mr. Greer may have referenced, in his latest post. He also banged on about “The Limits of Growth”, and even had the same graph you referenced.

    I don’t have a problem, with the Atlantic Magazine, as long as I clean out my caches and histories, between reading three articles. Someone at Mr. Greer’s linked to an article there, called “How the Bobos Broke America.” Has a lot to say about class, status, and the way things are going, in general. Actually, I think it applies to a lot of countries, besides America.

    I don’t know how they make any money off the Net, either. But, I think you’re right. A lot goes on in the background, that they can monetize. I write a short e-mail to my friends, in Idaho, every morning. I’ve notice I sure get a lot of stories, on the news page, having to do with Idaho. Funny, that. In that book I read, recently, “Version Zero,” that’s what finally pushed the hero, to break the Net. The company he worked for, was going to start harvesting data, and sell it to the government. Though there were a lot of other reasons, that pushed him over the edge. The toxic anonymity and lack of taking any responsibility, when things go terrible wrong.

    Well, one good thing that came out of Napoleon’s little adventures was canned and bottled foods.

    Yup. I’m for realist paintings, all the way. Or at least, paintings where you know what you’re looking at. The Impressionists weren’t quit realists, but my, they could turn out a pretty painting. 🙂 . Painters know all kinds of techniques, for getting that realist effect.

    I haven’t really looked into Leland’s books on King Arthur. I don’t even know if they still exist. I think I’ll start by checking the indexes of the books I have on Arthur, and see if anyone references him.
    You probably know that Geoffrey of Monmouth said he got his source material from “an ancient book in the British language.” Probably, several. Leland may have been accessing those same books. Now, vanished. Geoffrey had an agenda, so did Leland, and it’s too bad the source material isn’t still kicking around.

    Last night I wanted something fast, for dinner. So, I laid down a bit of rice, dumped in a can of chili, and topped it with more of the feta. Nothing like the nosh you had, but nice. I’m sorry you’re in another lockdown. At least you got some good tucker, in preparation. Not that that’s any major compensation.

    It sounds like the hermit in New Hampshire, must have offended someone’s sense of propriety. The property owner doesn’t seem to upset. More a county council, or, whatever form of local government, they have back there. There are things in property law … prior use and easements. But I think they vary a bit, place to place.

    The sun and the light look quit red, this morning. Smoke. But so far, it’s mostly staying aloft. Nothing like what DJ is suffering. Or, my friends in Idaho. But we had our go-around, last year. It was pretty ghastly. Lew

  23. @Pam
    I have experienced your situation when I had all my brothers living with me. They got better reducing their waste over time. My MIL, Helen, bemoaned the fact that there was so much waste at the care center where she lived for two years. So much plastic and styrofoam.

    Sounds like you have your hands full. Hope you have time for yourself.


  24. Hi Chris,

    Ha, Ollie knows to show up when the job is done – smart dog. Can’t imagine dealing with all these snap lockdowns. At least we had a lot of notice.

    Things have been busier than I like. Doug loves to have people over for dinner and he’s busy making up for lost time. His friend is also coming for 4 days next week. Cucumbers continue to mystify me but there is a bumper crop of beans, summer and winter squash and tomatoes. Doug is also having a banner honey year after the disastrous one last year. He’ll have over 400 lbs from 4 hives with plenty left for the winter.

    Still very dry though we did receive 1.5 inches of rain in two heavy thunderstorms about 10 days ago. Most days are hazy due to all the fires though they are far from us.


  25. Hi Chris
    Lots of topics in this weeks entry! You and your partner have been very busy. The breaking into early spring offers some invigorating outdoor activities and rewarding tasks where the improvements are really nice. Unfortunately the progressive aging process reduces the enjoyment somewhat 🙁.

    It must be a good feeling to get the possible snake pit mitigated and get ahead of future firewood needs.

    Our weather is moderating some what. We had a low 80f temp this morning I was enjoying the weather . The smoke haze was visible but not thick and pungent. My wife popped out the door and handed me a moderately cooled fresh Chocolate Chip cookie she had just baked. That is one of the very best treats there is. 😁😁yum! The world 🌍 wide toll house chocolate chip cookie day was commemorated on August 4th. Who knew! Most of the cookies went to the daughters family although I got a total of three with a glass of cold milk. 😁.

    The solid waste disposal operation in our town is run by the city government they collect three waste streams, household waste and yard waste in separate 100 gallon containers weekly and recycle material bi weekly in a separate container. The recycle stream will likely fail eventually for the same reasons Lew mentioned in his comments.

    The yard waste goes into a city owned compost facility. There the waste and solid Municipal waste. (Sterile sewage sludge) are mixed and fermented into good compost which is sold to private distributors who then sell it to end users at competitive market prices. The landfill space saved by using the waste streams prolongs the life of city landfills. It’s a good program.

    Cheers Al

  26. Hi Inge,

    Finished the book on my old Sensei and have begun reading: “How I live now”. The author has a really lovely way of describing scenes and in particular people. I am however waiting for the descent into the horror genre. Should be fun.

    Hope you are doing well and enjoying some warm weather.



  27. Hi Margaret,

    Ollie is a gentleman, and somehow I’ve trained him to pose for photographs – he loves it as does Plum and Ruby. They’re such a delightful collection of dogs, and for the life of me I’m astounded how much people like Ollie, even though he has some tough-as looks. Beats me, but he has a very gentle nature, although because of the looks people who don’t know him are wary of him. He was barking at a neighbour the other night who was having a jog, so I suggested that the two make friends. Yeah, that was a good idea, but Ollie looked like he was about to run off home with them.

    The lock downs are pretty hard to take, and I’ve had more than a few people check in with me today to see whether the editor and I are doing OK. It’s very nice, but far out it is an economic disaster of major proportions. Sooner or later the tide of opinion may turn and I realise that sounds harsh, but incomes are getting smashed, but them bills don’t go away. We’re barrelling down the road to poverty down here, one lock down at a time. 🙂

    Good stuff! You know I’m coming around to the opinion that something very weird has gone on with the supply of cucumber seeds. Next time I visit the local gardening club, I’m going to ask the hard questions. They didn’t even germinate last growing season. It is a mystery.

    Far out, well done Doug with the honey. I’m genuinely impressed at the harvest.

    Stay safe and keep alert, especially if the wind picks up at your place. But fingers crossed that the fires keep far away.

    Spent many hours today breaking and hauling rocks. Fortunately there was no chain gang! 🙂



  28. Hi Al,

    Thanks, and for a gal raised in the city, the editor is a mighty fine farm gal. We spent many enjoyable hours today splitting and hauling rocks, plus we had a bit of a burn off. All in a days work here. 🙂

    You’re not wrong about the ageing process, but you know another point of view is that the alternatives are far worse! Hehe!

    Last summer, that snake pit kind of scared me a bit, do the local snakes have to be so deadly? Anyway, the job is now done and the rocks gleaned today were from around that area.

    80’F sounds really nice to me right now. 🙂 Although, the signs of an impending spring are seen everywhere, and I kind of like that early hints of the promise of the season to come. I salute your gastronomic prowess, whilst noting that three Anzac biscuits is also my upper limit. There must be something in the water huh? 🙂 Years ago I had a friend up for lunch and without me being aware, he’d managed to scarf through six of the biscuits, whereupon I took them away. My mate was cut off from the supply, and this was probably a wise path to take. It was pretty funny though, and he seemed OK after the over indulgence.

    Yeah, I agree with Lewis in that the recycling stream should not be mixed up and also, a good argument could be made that the diversity of plastics supplied is a self defeating strategy.

    I’m with you too, that sort of compost is a really great option, and I’ve had naysayers over the suggest that it introduces all sorts of nasties – and they are probably correct – but that is what living on a poisoned planet looks like, so I weigh up the do nothing against the do something possibilities – and here we are today.



  29. Hello Chris
    I can’t resist this quote from Erich Kastner:- ‘there is no greater torture for specialists than to listen to a sensible proposal with smiles on their faces… they justifiably feel that common sense is an unlawful intrusion into their spheres of authority which they have worked hard to contrive and guard.’
    It seemed to fit our present world.


  30. Hi Lewis,

    Sorry to hear that the bloke was burned out, and down here the property law is such that due to the sheer continuous length of occupancy, it would have been his land legally. Out of curiosity, why was someone from out of state even holding onto the title for the land? I would have imagined that they’d be subject to obligations merely for owning that property? Anyway, the rule of law is known as: Adverse possession. Absentee landlords have to keep abreast of their holdings as the law cares not a whit for pieces of paper. It’s not a bad law really as it reflects a common sense approach in that what can’t be held, won’t be held.

    I hear you about getting off campus! 🙂 In a similar vein, in my final year, students were sent out into the community on social service. I ended up doing yard work maybe twice a month (I now forget the exact details) for an elderly citizen who seemed pretty happy with the arrangement. I didn’t muck around either with the work, and would have been in trouble had I done so. Also the elderly citizen was related to a school friend of mine so I would have heard about it for sure if I’d posed any difficulties. My school mate attended the local Dojo with me, so repercussions may have been swift and physical, but as I mentioned no offence was given in the first place. Ah, navigating the social complexities! Cadets was kind of fun as I’d earned the rank of Corporal and had about seven kids to look out for. They were a good bunch and I didn’t ask too much of them, and they did quite well and were well rewarded. I used to like the bivouacs as we’d head out into the bush for a few nights and have to eat the most awful of army ration packs. Now, how you’d expect an army to fight after eating that sort of rubbish is a subject that is beyond my ken, but that was standard army feed when on patrol. And I recall being at an army firing range during one bivouac popping off round after round of .303 which was quite an accurate beast. Military service has long been a social tool, and my grandfather managed somehow to survive WWII as a pilot with all the horrors that were involved in that theatre. And he was able to leverage that service time.

    As an interesting contrast, down here by the time I applied for University entrance, it was solely down to marks. I presume that if first and second round entrance offers were not taken up, there was scope for additional information – but prior to that, it was all about that final number earned in the exams. I dunno though, I tend to believe that those institutions are now over subscribed. Failure through being too successful is always a possibility.

    Yeah, from the article it sure seemed like plastic was ending up in the landfill – wherever that was. When I was a kid, scrounging for aluminium cans was a lucrative side hustle as the metal was and still is eminently recyclable. The program used to be called from memory: ‘cash a can’, music to my ears that was.

    Oh yeah those plasma tube things are full of all manner of heavy metals – none of which you want up your guts.

    How to write best selling fiction guides seems like a big call to me as the market can vary greatly depending on the times and sensibilities of the population. Would Fight Club sell well today? Me thinks not. There is an inherent suggestion that the author of the how to series knows the correct answers, and this might be partially true, but unless the ideas be put to the market, it is pure speculation, or otherwise known as talk. What is your take in this matter? Sometimes there is a possibility that you’re just in the right time with the right message, but how to pick such a beast is beyond me. Sometimes things that do really well are straight from the heart – like who would have predicted the success of the rock band Nirvana? They were touring down under when they took off.

    No, I wasn’t referring to your local newspaper, which seems really lovely and doesn’t hide its bushel behind a paywall.

    Oh no! I’m a patreon supporter of the good professor, and the powers that be sure have it in for him. Oh well too bad, do you know, if you take a long enough purview of the variability of the climate, and I’m talking deep time here, the good professor is correct. One of the blind sides of scientists is that they are viewing the climate change as a problem based from today’s and recent decades (or centuries) experience. I can understand that point of view, but on a long enough time frame, what will be in the future has already occurred in another epoch. That’s life, and we muck around with the factors that contribute to less than hospitable environmental outcomes for us humans at our peril. It reminds me of the time the greenpiece guy who was hitting me up for mad cash, when I retorted than none of this (the goings on in the city) is sustainable. I guess the scientists feel sorry for the good professor too. Time will sort it all out.

    Hey, I got there first with the graph!!! But, Mr Greer has a wider audience, and honestly is far more erudite and learned than the likes of little ole me! 🙂 I read the essay this morning, and Mr Greer is correct too.

    What’s a bobo? It sounds like some sort of hard to find primate hidden in a remote jungle? But yes, it’s a problem, and like the author Annie Hawes suggested from her mountain fastness, in a stagnant economy, someone’s gain is someone else’s loss.

    Stuff goes on in the background, otherwise it makes no sense to provide that service. Surely the priests seeking the congregation to confessional knew this to be true, and they would have surely traded gossip. The interweb is a giant artificial social environment and doesn’t reflect the underlying realities. It is quite stupid really. Some of the things that have been said to me on the interweb, well the foolish persons would not dare say to my face for fear of consequences.

    Nicolas Appert was a super clever bloke, and thanks to him I’m still eating last growing seasons harvest of plums and apricots in my breakfast. Napoleon had some curious ideas to have come up with such a competition, and it says much about the bloke.

    Hey, have you noticed that the retreat from Moscow paintings lacked the bright colours and realism of the early southern successes? And yes, I quite like the impressionists too, as it almost feels as if you are getting the taste of a scene, but not quite the vivid detail. They’re good.

    No, I hadn’t known that about Geoffrey of Monmouth. OK, you’ve convinced me, a copy of the Vita Merlini (the scholars edition) is now winging its way to me. It is too bad that the original source works are not to be found.

    Your nosh sounds pretty good to me, and is the sort of basic feed I eat when at home. We had sliders for dinner tonight. The chickens are now producing five eggs per day, and so I now eat a lot of eggs. 🙂 Thanks for saying that, and the storage is more complete with each lock down. This is number six you know, and there is apparently no end in sight with them. Crazy days, but when the centre is abandoned, it cannot hold.

    Smoky air is pretty ghastly, but the sunsets are superb to experience. The air was very clear and cool today, but not too cold. We spent the day breaking up large rocks and also having a burn off. The place is beginning to almost look neat. 🙂



  31. Hi Inge,

    Your comment may have appeared to have disappeared, but no, it was for some odd reason not known to me sidelined, and to be put to the question! 🙂 The same thing happened to Al’s comment, and really I have no idea why it is happening, but the comments aren’t lost if you push the post comment button and don’t close your interweb browser too quickly. The old blogger software did actually eat comments – the thing was free, and I guess that made it super hungry! 🙂

    Loved the quote! So funny, and yet so true. Maybe it is me, but given that the authorities seem hell bent on teaching us the Greek alphabet, and we’re now up to the fourth letter in the alphabet and only a year and a half in, well, I fully expect that by Christmas it would only be reasonable to suggest that the word ‘epsilon’ may be heard?

    I really don’t know much about all of this, but I do know that if things keep going as they will, economically the population will be ground into the dirt. I see in your daughters state that something like 300,000 people have been or will be chucked out of work. As Greater Sydney’s lockdowns impact other states, women and younger workers suffer most job losses.

    I’m a super practical person and would not attempt this path, but I’m also curious that our new friends in Japan are also very cautious about rolling out the vaaccs. That interests me.

    I really do hope that your country doesn’t fall into the trap we seem to be caught in.



  32. Hello Chris
    Actually we are already up to lambda (have I spelt it correctly). I believe that these extra ones are in South America but am not sure.


  33. Yo, Chris – I’d guess the land owner of the hermit’s digs, may have inherited the property … and the family moved on. I’d guess they get a yearly tax assessment, and as long as it’s paid, and, there are no other problems with the property (like an infestation of hermits), The county could care less. Sooner or later, either the heirs will sell it off, or, if the taxes aren’t paid, the county would seize it, and sell it off. River front property? Probably worth a bit.

    Corporal Chris. Has a nice ring to it. 🙂 . I had figured your early forays into the bush, with your grandpa, would put you in good stead. Yup. Military service is a social bonding type of thing. I noticed in this part of the world, when a bunch of old guys get together, they hash out each other’s military service. It creates a kind of pecking order.

    The attrition in universities, as predicted by Mr. Greer, is beginning to happen, here. A lot of small colleges are going out of business, entirely. Or, whole departments are being slashed. Archaeology and the classics seem early to the chopping block. It’s happened before. I forget the exact reasons, but up until the 1980s, just about every state had one accredited (by the American Library Association) library school. A lot of them were closed. Those were master’s degree programs. And probably, pretty unnecessary.

    Mr. Bell, the author, well, nothing convinces like success. Besides his books on writing, he has published many, many fiction books. Some made the best seller lists. So, he knows how to read the market. Like Chuck and Mr. King, Bell doesn’t hide the fact that it takes a bit of luck, and a drop of talent. But if talent is lacking, or in small supply, there are things you can do to make it more likely you’ll see print. And he doesn’t hide the fact that it’s a lot of hard work, that may yield nothing.

    Our local newspaper makes noises, from time to time, about erecting a pay wall. Once I saw a notice, that I had read the “first of three monthly articles,” that I was allowed. Never seemed to happen. I wonder what The Atlantic Magazine’s on-line traffic, looks like, now that they’ve gone to a new format?

    Prof. Mass. Sigh. I think he’s allergic to hysterical headlines, where every little blip in the weather is attributed to global warming. But something is going on. I think.

    Believe it or not, our library system does not have a copy of “Limits to Growth.” When I get a bit of slack in my hold list, I’ll put in a suggestion that they buy it, for the collection. Speaking of the library, I noticed yesterday that after weeks of going unmasked, they’re masking up, again. We had a big outbreak of You Know What, last week. 160+ cases. Mostly based around a food distribution warehouse. And vague reference was made to a “tenacious outbreak in a congregate care setting”. AKA, an old folks home.

    Yesterday, I picked up a new print biography of the author Marjorie Rawlings. She wrote “The Yearling” (won a Pulitzer prize, and was made into a film, back in 1946. It was nominated for several Academy Awards, and Gregory Peck won Best Actor.) A film bio of her life, with Mary Steenburgen, came out in 1983. It was very good. Titled, “Cross Creek.” I also picked up season one of a new “Walking Dead” spin off. Another one. “The World Beyond.” Should be called, “The Walking Dead: The Teenage Version.” 🙂 . I’ll probably watch the whole first season, but beyond that, I don’t know.

    “Bobos” Wik Hoopia provides a concise definition. Ah, the French …

    I see Appert took his prize money, and created a business. I think Appert stumbled into the perfect storm. Glass and metal technology, had reached the point where his ideas were able to bare fruit. 🙂 .

    I checked a few of my books on King Arthur, and didn’t see Leland in the indexes. Hmmmm ….

    Last night, I made pizza, for dinner. Fresh tomatoes (cherry, yellow and red), basil, parsley and garlic, from the garden. Mushrooms and chopped red onions. Three kinds of cheese. Elinor gives me these little sampler packs of some kind of cheese. It’s white, very soft, and has a cow on the label. Beyond that, I don’t know what it is. Some of the Dutch Hollow. And the rest, the feta. The pizza was very tasty, if a bit sweet. Probably the tomatoes. There was none left for breakfast. 🙂 .

    Our weather has taken a decided turn. Clouds moved in, overnight, and when I took H out for her morning walk, wet stuff was falling out of the sky. What I’d call a heavy mist. Lew

  34. Hi Inge,

    Yes, thanks for the correction and you are of course correct. I’m not sure either, and am no expert.

    Interestingly, down here there are serious suggestions that people could become somehow ‘non-persons’ if they don’t comply with official directions. Wow, I’m honestly not sure what to make of such loose talk. How did things fall off the rails so fast?



  35. Hi Lewis,

    Your guess matched what I was considering in relation to ‘new (but still old) owners’ who most likely inherited the property. Adverse possession in this state is I believe, 15 years of continuous possession without permission of the owner. An infestation of hermits! 🙂 It sounds like some sort of dread disease. There’s not really anywhere for such folks to go, and we seriously pondered that problem a decade and a half ago. At the moment, the reach of authority seems to be pretty all encompassing, but that’s an energy intensive proposition, so my gut feeling is that it will decline slowly over the next few years. There’s actually a bit of a push from tame intellectuals to move people out from areas like where we live. I can’t say that I agree with them, but they are consistent and are pushing the whole: ‘it’s for your safety message’. It’s a point of view which always garners a chunk of resistance.

    You’re probably right about the river frontage, although I’d imagine that there is no road access to the hermits abode.

    Actually that’s the interesting thing here too, the county won’t be a problem as long as nobody makes an issue. But once an issue is made, I guess box tickers need to tick a box as to an outcome.

    How funny was that rank? I didn’t mind so much and had seven younger kids reporting to me, and as long as they did what was required of them I was pretty easy going. There was nothing to prove, cadets was more of an experience to be gotten through. And tramping through the bush for a couple of days sure beat school work hands down. That makes sense about establishing the pecking order. Hmm. I guess old habits die hard, or maybe the ranks may have reflected the underlying personalities? Dunno. That kind of played out with my grandfathers WWII buddies.

    Dunno about your part of the world, but down here plenty of Universities relied on foreign students for their revenue, and I’m guessing that income has (or will) soon dry up. There is a bit of delay in that story because the students can complete the already committed to courses remotely. But I reckon if you were a student and could go anywhere on the planet if only because the entire experience is virtual and online, why would you choose some Uni down under? Of course price could come into the story, but those institutions can’t be cheap to run. And there may be price wars when location is not a factor.

    Mate, it wasn’t that long ago that accounting was taught by way of apprenticeship, and I’d met a few older accountants years and years ago who’d travelled that path. The government used to train more than a few of those folks too. The thing with apprenticeships is that there are costs but there are also obligations going in either direction with the relationship. It’s not a bad thing.

    I see that the author James Scott Bell is not a die hard fanatic of the story telling technique of: Show, don’t tell. Did you come across that idea in his writing technique series? My understanding is that sometimes an author should tell, to skip over some of the more boring bits. I guess it would keep the action fast paced, or prevent unnecessary boredom in the reader?

    You know, a lot of projects here can be just like that: a lot of work which may yield nothing. There have been many projects where we’ve tried something and it has flopped or failed, or just wasn’t that useful. It’s always a risk. I’ve always had a sense that the Universe was quite a disinterested spectator, and there are no guarantees about much of anything. And entropy eats away quietly in the background – which is a bit of a nuisance. Speaking of which, the old power wheelbarrow (the yellow one) is playing up and I don’t know if the thing is repairable or not, but I’ll guess I’ll find out. Some machines aren’t made to be repaired, and that might be one of them.

    We moved more rocks today, and the quarry for the local crushed rock with lime is temporarily closed. There’s a very similar product available, and we’ll just use that, but it comes from further away and is a different colour. Oh well.

    Also I did a bit of a massive clean-up in the house today and ended up even mopping the timber floors – they kind of needed it. The timber incidentally was oiled about a decade ago, and there is a bit of a need to re-oil them. It is a job for a warmer month (as the oil cures faster in hot weather), but matching up the oil between one area and the next is going to be a pain. This pain is perhaps the reason the job has not been attempted yet!

    Your local newspaper seems fine to read without a pay wall or limits, so that’s good. Most of the newspapers here now have a limit of 3 or a subscription model. I have to seriously limit my exposure to the news.

    The good professor probably appreciates a level of accuracy that most punters fed on a diet of excitable media, can’t really handle. I think it is as simple as that. But on a long enough perspective, current weather extremes are probably old news, and yes there is something going for sure. For the planet though, it’s business as usual – it is just we probably shouldn’t muck around with the mixture of gases in the atmosphere.

    What? I was just about to ask the hard question: How could they not have a copy of that book, but then do people really want to know. Mr Greer and a commenter made an interesting observation that the decline in industrial output does kind of look like the weird shortages we are experiencing these days.

    Anecdotally, maybe 60% of the population (on the continent) is now under lock down. It is an impressive achievement. Not sure how you guys in your country would handle such an unexpected outcome?

    Inge recommended a book many months ago which I began reading yesterday. A delightfully English and somewhat dark brooding tale, told through the eyes of a somewhat flippant teenager. It’s a really lovely read for the descriptive powers of the author, and as yet there is no direct dialogue between the characters, as every conversation is filtered through the eyes of the protagonist. It’s an interesting way to write a book, and it works. The book is: How I live now. It is a charming setting for the story too.

    Yes, zombies demand close watching – especially the ultra pesky fast zombies. There must something in the water as I’ve had a weird nagging notion thing at the back of my mind to watch Zombieland again. It is probably a brain aneurysm or some such thing.

    Champagne socialist, ah those cheeky French. Nice one. It is possible that those lot have run out of things to feel superior about – thus the oddness of many things going on in the background all unnecessary and stuff. The times sure are strange!

    Thanks for the laughs, yes Appert’s ideas bore fruit. 🙂 But on such things do armies go a roaming.

    Out of sheer curiosity, have you ever had any notion as to why Arthur looms so large in our mythos? I wonder where old Leland had written upon the subject of Arthur?

    Good to hear that the tomatoes have plenty of taste. Yum! It is a thing of resounding good luck that there was no breakfast pizza – the patterns would not have been right for the rest of the day, and you dodged a bullet there. 🙂

    Ah, the pump in the coffee machine has decided to pack it in. A replacement is on order and should be here in the next week or two. Used the emergency use stove top Bialetti machine and might have to reduce the coffee we put into it next time because I was feeling mildly jittery after only getting through half the coffee (and not finishing the rest, perhaps wisely so).

    It was a cloudy day here today too, but the rain only began falling after dark. It was a nice day.



  36. Hello Chris
    Rain and yet more rain. My plants are going mouldy from too much water, particularly the potatoes and tomatoes. We hear that there will be a shortage of potatoes because the crops have been ruined on mainland Europe. At least some of my potatoes have been dug up and safely stowed. I have never before had such a disaster with tomatoes.


  37. Yo, Chris – Here, at least, the County is beginning to rely on drones and satellite images, more and more, to spot new construction … that can then be checked out (building codes) and, maybe, taxed. But given Decline, I’m not sure how much longer that can be sustained. A lot of our land is tied up by the US government, the State government, and timber companies.

    As far as the “it’s for your own safety,” brigade go, a lot depends on how much ammo they have, if children are involved. And old people are often targeted, as, “they’re loosing their faculties.” A lot of the nonsense that goes on, here at the Institution, is justified by, “It’s for your own safety.”

    One of the articles mentioned that the hermit, didn’t have a road to his place. But he did have that superhighway of the past, the river. I think one of the mistakes he made … well, there was some vague allusion to a bit of media attention. Or at least, social media attention. Did you notice he looks a bit like a garden gnome? 🙂 .

    There was a lot of whingeing, here, when the Universities attempted to charge the full rate, for on-line classes, during lockdowns. A lot decided not to go back, until things get back to “normal.” They say they’re not getting the full “University experience.” You know. The parties and networking. 🙂 . A lot of foreign students, have also bailed. As, they’re not getting the full American / University experience. ie: getting out from under mom and dad’s thumb, and maybe government oversight. A lot of American students don’t care for the foreign students, as, well, you know, they’re grade grinds and make the competition, keener. Poor Americans! They might actually have to get out of bed, and attend a few classes. Do the work. Not party so much. The horror, the horror. Ever had a job where you were told not to be so fast and competent, because it made everyone else look bad? I have.

    I really didn’t get far enough into the Bell lectures, to get his take on “show, don’t tell.” But a lot of author’s advise that.

    “Projects that have flopped, or failed.” We’ve all been there. But my philosophy is, “Throw it in the moat, and see if it floats.” 🙂 A quick trip down the rabbit hole indicates that might be a ©Lew. I’ve said it, for years. RIP, old power wheelbarrow?

    I’d guess the library doesn’t have “Limits to Growth,” as it’s so old. They probably had it, the last copy died, and no one else requested it. It’s called weeding. Or, attrition.

    I think I saw a movie version, of “How I Live Now.” Either the library had it (see: attrition, above), or, I might have seen it on my brief foray into Net Flax. Our library system has it … in about 6 different electronic formats. But no print or film copy. But I might be confusing it with “Tomorrow When The War Began.” An Australian film, from 2010. I’ve seen and read, so many teen apocalypse genre items.

    Speaking of the library, I ran across something interesting. Ever day, I search PBS, BBC and Acorn Media. Then I sort out the DVDs. Then I sort for date, newest to oldest. That way, I can spot anything new in the catalog, before anyone else does. Only takes me about 15 minutes, a day. Since “Rams” almost slipped by me, I’ve also added Film Australia, to the mix. Our system has 141 items, from Film Australia. Some of it I haven’t seen, and sounds interesting. Well, I had the brainstorm, the other day, to sort for branch. I can search / sort for how many are sitting on the shelf, in Chehalis. 24. Good to keep in mind, when I have slow library hold weeks. 🙂 .

    About having a hankering to re-watch “Zombieland.” Maybe you just need a Woody fix? 🙂 . Or, maybe, it’s just that I’ve been frolicking among the zombies. Zombie envy? 🙂 . “The World Beyond,” the first season, is pretty good. Will it hold up? I pretty much lost interest in the other two series, in the franchise. It’s interesting, that a bit of a theme, is coming into focus. People seem divided between those who think “this is the end,” and those who think “civilization can be re-established.”

    By the way. I was going to say a bit more about why “Star Trek: Discovery” got more interesting in season three. It’s not so much spoilers, as the set up. Which is revealed in the first 20 minutes. The Discovery is shot almost 1,000 years in the future. Must of been a chunk of time, that none of the other series had colonized. 🙂 . About a hundred years before their arrival, a huge disaster happened. Something unknown swept across the galaxy, and any starship with a dilithium warp drive, blew up. So thousands of starships … poof! Subspace communication relay, also went down. So, without warp drive, and communication, the Federation pretty much fell apart. And local warlords, moved in. The only way to get around, is the old, slow, impulse engines. Except for the Discovery, which runs on a mycelium drive, invented by a crew member, Dr. Paul Stamets. Wink, wink, nudge nudge. 🙂 .

    By the way, I saw on the new library list, a book on “Galaxy Quest.” It’s on my hold list.

    Why is King Arthur so popular? Knights, armor, magic, quests, tragedy, a Golden Age. And the promise that if things get bad, King Arthur will awake, and save us all.

    I’m so sorry about your coffee machine, but, it sounds repairable. You didn’t have a backup pump? I hope you ordered, two. 🙂 . I repaired my shoes, last night. Those comfy modified athletic shoe. The soles were coming loose. I re-glued them. Seem pretty good, this morning. To give you an idea how old they are, I’m on my third set of laces.

    I think I’ll have another pizza, tonight. Maybe, chicken and green pepper, tomatoes and … ? We didn’t get any more rain, yesterday, but I guess it poured a couple of times, over in Centralia. So, I watered, last night. We may get some rain, today. Then it’s going to get warmer, through the week. 80s, 90s, and pushing 100 by next weekend.

    A bit slow on the uptake, but I had another brainstorm. Our apple tree has two or three varieties. The red one’s are beginning to fall. I haven’t checked them for bugs, yet. But, a lot are spoiled. Gee, I could pick them up by the bucket, and bury them in my garden. All that good organic material. Lew

  38. Hi Inge,

    Sorry to hear about the horrendous growing conditions at your place, and your description was an almost word for word description of last summer here. There is a thing known as ‘too much rain’. It is a more difficult beast than ‘too little rain’, because a prudent person may have at least marshalled their water resources with that possibility in mind. But with too much rain, there isn’t a whole lot you can do. Mind you, it is an incentive to grow plants in raised beds if only because they drain well, but even so, wet summers tend to be rather gloomy and cloudy and the plants produce little sugars, and tomatoes go mouldy. I lost about two thirds of the tomato harvest last year and had no fresh eating tomatoes, but just managed to harvest enough for the dehydrator runs and passata sauce. It was as bad a year as I can recall.

    If I had to face such growing conditions again, I’d increase the spacing between plants so as to provide better access to the mediocre sunlight and improve airflow. It might be worth it for you to rip out every second plant right now before things get worse. But the tomatoes here didn’t taste that great last year.

    Incidentally the other thing I’m doing is super feeding the soil with all manner of minerals so that the plants grow faster next year – just in case. My gut feeling is that I’ll face another wet summer next growing season, but I could be wrong.

    How does this year compare to previous summers for you?



  39. Hi Lewis,

    That aerial comparison thing is a bit of an rural legend down here. There is a mob which provides high resolution aerial photos for the likes of the councils and corporates, but the cost is horrendous and so they might not go on fishing expeditions. By sheer chance I came across an invoice for the business one day in my work. Life is like that sometimes. Maybe the difference here is that there are a not many homes in the council area and it covers a huge geographical area.

    I suspect that in the long term, building codes might get to be used as kindling. Down here, they’re kind of written to produce favourable outcomes for the project builders, and anyone trying to navigate the laws so as to produce a one-off outcome is really pushing rocks uphill. I know about that work… There have also been changes recently where owner-builders are only apparently allowed to complete 60% of the job, well that is what someone in the know told me. That doesn’t sound too bad until you have to get someone else to sign off on the other 40% of the job.

    The safety folks would worry about your place, all for your convenience of course, and they sure do worry about people living out of town, even if they’re fairly independent and not connected to the systems, like here. If the worriers had half a brain, they’d realise that the editor and I were making room for others, by not connecting up to the systems, but no.

    Mate, even the big rivers in this dry old continent were used as transport routes way back in the day. And the river ports often connected up to the big cities via the railroad systems. It worked. The cost of maintaining the vast network of roads is probably going to overwhelm society at some point in the future – especially as we import 90% of our oil. Hey, the hermit bloke had the look down pat. 🙂 You have to kind of keep a low profile if you’re trying that path, and then ensure other people do likewise. What do they say about the road to perdition being full of good intentions?

    I’m with the students, they should crack it and get a discount on their fees. We don’t have that live on campus experience thing you guys have going on, and it does sound like a rite of passage, albeit occasionally very debauched rite – if the movies are any guide. National Lampoon’s Animal House is a fave film, so very wrong, but somehow so very right…

    Well, it is a truth that is not universally acknowledged that at some not too distant point in the future, we’re all gonna have to work harder for less. I’m in small business, we are already at that point and there ain’t much mucking around.

    Like it, yes the moat / float experiment. 🙂 Very Monty Python. For your interest, I adjusted the clutch setup on the old yellow power wheelbarrow and the machine is now working properly again. I can foresee a time when I ask the farm machine repair dudes to replace the motor and gearbox with a Honda engine, and that will be an expensive visit. The machine is worth getting properly sorted out.

    Ouch! Attrition is probably only half the story. Nobody is really interested in the Limits to Growth, but I kind of believe that it is an important guide to the future.

    Ah, the book is now a film, and I had not realised that the release date for the book was 2004. Such a lovely book, but with no dialogue. It’s an intriguing view into the mind of the protagonist.

    I forget, did you enjoy the film ‘Rams’? I might have to put it on the to-see list. Yeah, you have to take advantage of slow hold weeks. Your library system is amazing.

    Zombie envy, maybe? Zombie jealousy, possibly? All due to the too loud to ignore noise in the media of late, well, possibly that is why. If I came across a slow moving zombie, it wouldn’t surprise me at all these days, and as anyone knows (and Simon Pegg wisely advised) take the head. I’ve got just the sword for such dirty work.

    Did I posit an alternative theory? No, of course not, it was your words after all. My take is that it will be different this time, and not in a good way, but that isn’t a zombie apocalypse either.

    Hehe! A Paul Stamets, mushroom hyperdrive, cool! 🙂 Well the Federation would be a far more interesting place. So much earnest drive is hardly good for anyone’s health. 🙂 And a book on Galaxy Quest, that film was the space opera spoof to end them all.

    Yeah, I get that, but didn’t King Arthur ultimately fail in the act of attempting to create something wholly new? Maybe, and I throw this idea back at you, was Arthur re-introducing the feudal system in a time of chaos, and so brought a semblance of order in the midst of anarchy? Thus the King stamped his pattern on the workable future, until others got other ideas and then ran with them? Dunno, but am curious on this subject.

    I kept the earlier and original pump, just in case. More on this story later. Hey, it took four attempts on the Bialetti machine to understand how to use it properly. But without the background understanding of the process, it would have taken far longer.

    Hehe! Well done you with the shoe repair. Hey, do you have shoe repair folks in your part of the world? You can still find them down under, although I did once work at a factory in my professional capacity and they produced boots, and the loss of such manufacturing skills is no laughing matter.

    It’s pizza here tonight too! Yum! The missing word was err, cheese? 🙂 Hope the wind keeps down in the eastern part of your state with those sorts of temperatures.

    Exactly with the apples. What did the old hippies used to say: Re-use, repair and recycle. And your effort is the recycle end of that equation. Top work.

    Cheers and better get writing.


  40. Yo, Chris – I think the price of aerial views has really come down. Heck, even real estate ads now have links to Gargle street views … and, aerial views. Oh! Like the one you posted of the neighboring property. Building anything, these days, has layers and layers of (costly) complexity. I wonder if in the future, people will sit around the campfire, and talk about the times when evil warlords, wouldn’t even let a man build his own house? 🙂 .

    Mr. Greer and Mr. Kunstler have talked about how the old river port towns (which have died on the vine), will have a renaissance. We also have quit a canal system, in our NE. Some of it is still useable. Some can be repaired.

    “Animal House,” was genius. “Toga! Toga! Toga!” It also caught the tension, between the fraternities, and, people who weren’t. When I went to university, some of my friends went the fraternity route. The rest of us were referred to as “independents.” It was made very clear to them, that they shouldn’t associate with independents, male or female.

    I’m glad you were able to resurrect the old power wheelbarrow. Chris laid on hands, and the power wheelbarrow was healed! 🙂 . At least, for the time being.

    I thought “Rams,” was very good. I quit liked it.

    Was King Arthur, re-introducing the feudal system? Don’t know. Wasn’t there. 🙂 . And even if Arthur failed, according to the archaeological evidence, things calmed down for about a hundred years, after Arthur’s time. That’s five generations.

    But there were many reasons for the interest in Arthur, in the Middle Ages. Henry VIII (and, I think, one of the earlier Edwards) wanted to legitimize their reigns, by establishing family links, with Arthur. The Tudors hadn’t been on the throne, that long, and the War of the Roses was still fresh in memory. The idea of Arthur, a connection, reinforced the Devine Right of Kings, and the idea that kings were anointed, by God.

    Also, the whole chivalric thing, was a’happening. Knighthood was in flower, and all that. Something interesting I found out, recently, from one of the Great Courses, is that it was the Church, that developed the chivalric code.

    The Church got tired of all the war, squabbling, rape and pillage. It was bad for (Church) business.

    But back to Leland. I did a bit more digging. What your looking for is a copy of his “Assertto inclytissimi Arturii Regis Britannia.” You can stop by the National Library of Australia, and look at a copy. On microfilm. How’s your medieval Latin? 🙂 As near as I can find, it’s never been translated. Wonder why? Then there’s “Leland’s Itinerary.” It’s what books (and, archaeological features), that he saw on his extensive travels. With comments. It was published in five volumes, around 1910. Looks like there’s been other editions, since.

    I think we have one or two shoe repair, shops.

    I’ve been following your conversation, with Mr. Greer. I think you’re right. We are seeing the decline of industrial output, as forecast by “The Limits of Growth.”

    Made my pizza last night. And, yup, feta cheese. I also used plumped up dried tomatoes, instead of fresh. Which made it less sweet. I also used salsa, for my red sauce. It was quit tasty. The ideal nosh for watching the last two episodes, of season one, of “The Walking Dead: World Beyond.” Zombies and pizza. An ideal pairing.

    I picked about half a gallon of blueberries, last night. Pretty sad out there. I’ll be lucky if I get 1/3 the berries, I did last year. Lew

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