Stuck in limbo

It’s been remarked upon before that it is always darkest just before the dawn. Well that sure is true. It is really hard for people not directly involved to understand what it feels like to have been couped up in isolation for, what is it now? That’s right 222 days. Not that I’m counting.

Unlike many people, during this awkward time I get out and about and talk with other people. Or at least as many folks as I’m legally able to speak with. A young bloke who I’ve known for many years asked me this week in all seriousness whether he could pitch a tent here in exchange for some work and a feed. This morning produced glorious sunshine, albeit with cold mountain air, but after lunch the heavens opened and it is now rather wet and freezing cold outside. For such a prospect to be appealing was a rather heart wrenching experience.

Lately, I’ve been reassuring other people that nobody’s mental health has been improved by the current circumstances, and then just quietly taking the time to listen to them and all of their concerns. There’s not much else that I can do. After eighteen months of continuous craziness, it’s taken an emotional toll on me too. My resources are not without their limits.

However, it all came to a bit of a nadir for me about maybe about two weeks ago. A person previously unknown to me attempted a catfishing expedition on me. Wow, that act sure takes some cheek. For those who are unaware, catfishing is an attempt to identify a vulnerable person for all manner of nefarious purposes. Rest assured that I did not reply. But the brief contact with a person who would attempt such a ruse kind of revolted me. For the past eighteen months I’ve been helping others get through a pretty rough time of it, and then some piece of shit attempts an act of evil on me. I guess that is the times were now living in.

And the act has been dealt with.

On Friday, the rural areas were let out of lock down. The city of five million inhabitants just to the south of here is still in lock down with a 9pm to 5am curfew. It’s utterly bonkers. With the rural areas now out of lock down, the editor and I went to the nearby touristy town of Daylesford to walk around the beautiful lake there. We’re unable to legally visit friends, but we could walk around the lake, and so we did. It’s a big lake for this part of the world and it really is very charming and picturesque.

Prior to the walk around the lake, we picked up lunch comprising of a tasty roll each and a chunk of cake to share. At the business selling the rolls and cake, we were asked for ID by the young lady behind the counter. The young lady then made the astounding claim that our address was within the metropolitan area. Geography sure wasn’t her forte! The unstated implication was that she would not serve us if we were from a metropolitan area. Perhaps next time I will present my gun licence instead of my drivers licence. Anyway, that was weird. And despite the minor misunderstanding, the lunch was very good and the day was very pleasant.

The township was pretty quiet given it is such a massive tourist trap, and you’d hardly go half an hour without encountering a police vehicle. Fortunately for our stress levels, the police seem to have a better grasp of the finer points of geography.

Whilst out and about that day, we stopped off at some farm gates in order to purchase supplies which we don’t produce ourselves. Many of the farm gates we’d been purchasing stuff from for a decade or more, and we’re known there. Most people we encountered had also been feeling the weight of the lock downs and pretty much everyone was up for a long chat.

Heading back home we were able to take the main route over the peak of this mountain range. Regular readers will recall that almost two months ago, an epic wind storm arriving unexpectedly from the south east direction knocked flat parts of the forest in this mountain range. The clean up is still going on, even today, and there is a long way to go before the tracks and some of the roads are even opened again. It was almost as if a giant had levelled parts of the forest. I’ve never seen such a thing before.

You wouldn’t have wanted to be there the day this tree fell

In the above photo I’m standing in front of the butt of a very large and old Eucalyptus Obliqua tree (messmate) which fell in the recent epic wind storm. Those are the main tall tree species which grow on the farm. However in the background of the photo is what looks to me like a Eucalyptus Regnans forest (mountain ash, the tallest flowering trees on the planet). I don’t quite know where the huge tree butt came from, but I’m suspecting that due to the sheer mass of tree, it wasn’t all that far.

Heading back down the main road over the mountain range, we discovered that despite the rural areas being given a brief reprieve, the local pub doesn’t appear to have reopened. As an accountant who works with small business, I do wonder how many repeated body blows such businesses can handle. The thing is, every time the business starts up again and then is promptly shut down, there are huge stock losses if only because the business sells perishable items. And let’s not forget that the good folks who staff such businesses may despair of sitting around at home waiting for the business to possibly reopen again. Not many people can afford be stuck in limbo, waiting. But here we all are, just the same, doing exactly that.

Long term readers may recall that at the beginning of all this bout of craziness, the editor and I purchased a one-off bathroom cabinet from a cabinet maker who was desperate to off load it. The cabinet was made as a special order for a builder who had wound up business due to the lock downs.

The bathroom cabinet is constructed from the Western Australian timber species Eucalyptus diversicolor, or otherwise known as Karri. It is a beautiful dense hardwood timber and the cabinet is well constructed and really lovely to look at. The cabinet maker stained the timber Japan Black, and light almost falls into it. Anyway, a few months ago we installed the cabinet but then had no real idea how the rest of the bathroom should look or work.

Inspiration struck one day out of the blue, and in between lock downs we were able to place an order for another cabinet, this time one that was attached to the wall and had mirrors on each of the three doors. Upon placing the order we were told that the order could take a month or two to fill. Three days later however, we were in lock down again, and the store contacted us to say that the cabinet was surprisingly ready to pick up.

Picking up an item from a store whilst in lock down, involved hanging around outside the shop during the depths of winter, whilst the staff brought the item out and then for some reason unknown to me and unexplained, they had to load it into the car. Apparently I’m not allowed to assist with this loading. That was weird. The cabinet then sat around the next to the dining room table for many weeks, simply waiting to be installed.

This week, we hung the cabinet on the wall in the bathroom. I won’t even mention that the local timber yard had no structural timber for sale.

A mirrored wall cabinet has now been installed in the bathroom

During the week, we also did many of the tasks that need doing around a farm at this time of the year. Much of that work is not notable, but it needs doing all the same. Vegetation was cut back from many of the paths and staircases. An order for a replacement low centre of gravity mower was made. Wallaby cages were removed from some trees in the orchard. The soil was fed. Grass was removed from around the trunks of some of the fruit trees. Materials were sourced for seed raising. The list goes on and on…

Whilst sitting in the hot bath one day after a hard days work, I noticed that a nearby cloud looked like a tick or a spider.

A cloud masquerading as a tick or a spider

There are plenty of spiders and a few ticks on the farm. Some of the spiders are alarmingly fast and large. Other spiders are just plain old deadly. The other evening I spotted one of the fast and large variety of spiders (a Huntsman spider).

A Huntsman spider alert for prey

As it is early spring, this blog is also a special spring flower edition! Onto the flowers:

The garden beds are a riot of flowers and diverse plants
The Leucodendron’s produce mass flower displays
This succulent produces plenty of colourful flowers
Daffodils grow right throughout the orchards
African Daisies are early and very welcome
This flowering Quince promises a great display of flowers
This Daisy is usually very shy, but not this week
A pink form of Rosemary
This weeping ornamental Cherry is spectacular

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 5’C (41’F). So far this year there has been 886.8mm (34.9 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 882.6mm (34.7 inches)

72 thoughts on “Stuck in limbo”

  1. Hi Lew,

    That steamship cat sure is a strange beast! Never heard of anyone doing that, it is a lot of effort to make two hulls instead of one!

    I watched a movie the other night called Pig, with Nicholas Cage. It is set in the Portland area, and involves the gastronomic scene, so you might recognise some of the haunts? I loved the movie, but a lot of people were expecting John Wick and experienced disappointment. IMO he should win an award for it. I find it funny how he has appeared in so much rubbish the past 20 years, but can still end up in a ‘proper’ movie every now and then.


  2. Hi Chris,

    It couldn’t be further from your situation over here in the Western Republic. Mrs Damo and I just got back from an epic 2500km round trip through the wheat belt, outback and coral coast. But before one remarks on the relative merits of my position, recall that I did spend a month in real lockdown (aka hotel ‘prison’)! Give it another 100 days or so of your Clayton lockdowns, and we will call it even 🙂

    I think that cloud is an octopus.

    If anyone is interested in some pics of what western Australia looks like in winter, I have a few uploaded from the road trip :
    The wild flowers and humpback whale were definitely the highlights. (plus we saw 24 new lifer bird species, but no one is interested in that 🙂


  3. I am sympathising with those 222 days of lockdown, and so glad you are out of it. My oldest two kiddos are in Melbourne, locked down, then last week my daughter found herself at a tier one exposure site at the local medical clinic, so now the whole household is in quarantine for two weeks.. and it goes on..

  4. @ Damo – Dodging pay walls, left and right, I did scrape together more info on the steam cat. It was built by “Commodore” William Voohis (old New York Dutch family … see: “The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow), around 1880. That Commodore title was bestowed on him, by the New York Yacht Club. And, why not? His first class schooner won a regatta. It was called “The Tidal Wave.” Besides the title, he got a nifty silver cup, from Tiffany Co.. Recently auctioned off at Christie’s.

    But back to the Longfellow. It was supposed to run passengers, up and down the Hudson River. It was 120′ long, and carried 874 passengers. It had two test runs and then … dropped out of history, as near as I could tell.

    Your pictures are really nifty. The one’s I was able to peruse, before Instagram rudely told me to sign in, sign up, or get lost. 🙂 . You do gazing soulfully off into the distance, as well as The Rock.

    “Pig” is on my library hold list. Mr. Cage has a lot to answer for. I don’t think I’ll ever forgive him for “Colors Out of Space.” It will be nice to see my hometown, and old stomping grounds. Haven’t been down for 15 years, or so. I’m sure some of it will look familiar.

    I’m sure Chris will enjoy the pictures of assorted baked goods. You sure know how to do them, down in Oz. Lew

  5. Yo, Chris – Decades from now, your epitaph will read, “He listened.” and that’s not a bad way to be remembered.

    Catfishing is to remind us that there are truly evil people in the world. They specialize in the lonely … and, the elderly. I get a couple of magazines from the AARP (American Association of Retired People), each month. They’re always running articles about one scam, or another. How to identify them. How to avoid them. Some of them are truly inventive … in a twisted kind of a way. Somewhere I read that criminals work harder at their scams, than they would at a regular job. I guess it’s the challenge.

    I have a slight bit of sympathy, for the geographically challenged, young lady. In our five county library system, there were a few towns, that decided not to kick into the system, via their property taxes. People living within those areas, had to pay for their library cards. Sometimes, determining if they lived inside, or outside their town, could be quit challenging. Maps were consulted, etc. etc.. If we had to deliver bad news, we always urged them to go to their city council meetings, and raise hell! I doubt if any did.

    Lumber shortage? What lumber shortage? Sure, it’s all lying busted up on the ground, but there seems to be plenty of it about. 🙂 . The power of nature, is truly awesome. Reminds me of what it looked like, after our Columbus Day Storm. Was there a lot of damage, in Melbourne?

    I do hope your local pub reopens. And under local ownership, and not some private-equity company. I’ve been reading how the traditional English pubs have been pretty much spoiled, by being bought up by such people. Hundreds of them. There’s been a couple of places where the locals have fought back. Banded together, and bought their own village pub.

    The mirrored tryptic, is truly awesome. Paired with a hand mirror, and you’ll be able to monitor any ever expanding bald patches. Every once in awhile, in the tat business, I’d run across a small, traveling tryptic mirror. They were cleverly made, and had that “ain’t it cool,” factor.

    You had one of those weeks. I go here, I go there, I do this, I do that. All those maintenance things that keep life rolling along.

    Tick or spider? You do have some odd insects down there. I don’t see it … Oh! Now I do! And once seen, it can’t be unseen.

    I’d hate to fall over that Huntsman spider, in the dark. Oh, dear. You did.

    The flowers are putting on quit a show, for you. Something to give you a much needed lift. The African daisies? What’s that little blue fellow, down toward the bottom? Lew

  6. Hi Al,

    We’re thinking along similar lines here, and I did stump the mad cash for the 21hp machine with the external oil cooler for the transmission. The ROPS is not a bad idea, but then the machine is rated to 30 degree inclines and also has a very low centre of gravity, without the weird steering issues of the former machine. We’ll have a test run on the machine in low range whilst we get used to it, and see how it goes. My impressions are that the thing is very sure footed what with all wheel drive and a diff lock just to be sure… No doubt the machine can go far harder than I am comfortable with.

    Exactly, there is a very large MOSFET transistor attached to an inordinately large heat sink in the amplifier – and not much else. Which is probably why it has continued to work for three decades until very recently (and even then it continues to work just fine, albeit with a mild ozone smell).

    So I was intending to do the work of recapping the amplifier because the weather forecast looked truly awful. But weirdly the mountain range was in a bubble of sunshine, and so I got outside into the orchard and maintained and fed the fruit trees for several hours instead. I’m waiting for a truly miserable day weather wise before I get the job done. It is hardly like the editor and I can go many places due to you know what.

    Al, getting ratted out by your daughter was a rookie mistake which I hope that you were wise enough not to repeat?



  7. Hi Goran,

    Thanks. The coding for the suggestion you made worked out alright. Other folks have suggested nested comments, but I don’t really do nested comments, only because it makes life easier for me in that I don’t have to track where all the new comments are. And anything which makes life easier for me is way cool, but the nested comments is actually not a bad idea. We’ll see what the future holds on that front. Dunno. It isn’t too difficult to make the change.

    Yeah, your thoughts are running parallel to mine. I can’t really say for sure how such an arrangement would work, but you’re correct in that we probably do need to think about such a thing. A mentor recently advised me that when a teacher is needed, sometimes the Universe provides. And I believe that the flip side of this story is the same for the student. So, we’ll see is how things will roll, so yeah let’s talk about it when we get there. I absolutely agree.

    Wow. Glad to hear that the weather dried up and the sun poked it’s shy face from behind otherwise thick summer clouds. A great way to end the growing season.



  8. Hi Damo,

    You make an excellent point, and who knew that we were a federation of differing states? Truth to tell, there is a school of thought which suggests that we might rebrand ourselves as the United Federation of Australian States? Sorry for the dodgy Star Trek joke, but it is true all the same and your good self as well as Mrs Damo, have chosen well a path from among many uncertain futures. I and Mrs Chris, can only look upon your western republic with envy knowing that the local pub here will not reopen under current conditions. Kudos to you. I’m getting to the point that I can no longer recall doing something as simple as going out for dinner.

    Hehe! Nobody here will understand the Clayton’s reference, but I did rather enjoy your valiant attempt at gallows humour. So, are you seriously suggesting that we need to endure 322 days of lock down (222 days + another 100 days just for good measure) before we can relate to your hardship? Always knew that you were super cheeky! 🙂 Respect!

    I can see that, but I’m still leaning towards interpreting the cloud as a tick. A few years ago, I once spotted a cloud which looked like a girl riding a dragon whilst holding a lance. Wish I’d had the camera with me, but then I had the same problem one Christmas day long ago when a minor tornado did a visit and drive by smash. Mind you, that particular day I had other perhaps more urgent things on my mind, but there was one point just before it hit when I thought to myself: That’s a funny looking cloud! Far out! Minor tornadoes are quite common in this part of the world. Who knew?

    Damo, how good was the full sized Lego pirate ship? Thanks for the photos, and all we can but do over in this palice state is to look upon you in wonder. Greetings to Mrs Damo too, who looks as though she was enjoying herself in the warm sun! I remember the warm sun… 🙂 It is 4’C outside right now. Brr! I told you that I’d done something really bad in a past life, now you know! 🙂



  9. Hi Jo,

    Thank you for the kind words and also the understanding. People in other states may not be aware of the sheer craziness. A mate of mine mentioned the other day that he was considering decamping to Launceston, and if I were younger, I’d flee this mad house. Anyway, moving on, nothing to see here.

    The rural areas are now out of lock down with one or two exceptions, but many establishments are still shut. The rules are that there can only be ten patrons inside a venue and with twenty outside, and my grasp of accounting is good enough to understand that few businesses can make money on that basis. So they remain shut. It’s really quiet up here.

    Ouch. And then double ouch. Jo, I too have known people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and as a consequence were compelled into isolation for two weeks. It’s pretty rough and your daughter has my sympathies. I seriously hope that she is OK, and that you maintain regular daily contact. We’re a social species and even for those of us who are content on their own, it can present challenges. At least a household suggests that she is not alone at such a time, and I have known of people who were separated from their families for such periods of time.

    Glad to hear that Paul is feeling better. And yes, get into that vegie garden! 🙂



  10. Hi Lewis,

    You’re probably right about the previous belief systems creating a sort of inertia as to change. I tend to believe that a lot of what is going on right now has that particular problem at its core. And it is hard to ignore that the land of stuff is again stirring up trouble in the sea nearest to their shores.

    Hope the acrobat who survived the Hindenburg disaster went on to great things? Although there is also a school of thought which suggests that luck should not be pushed too far!

    I’m reading Jack Vance’s book Emphyrio now, and surely it is a story for the times. Over lunch today I read an astounding paragraph which almost whacked me in the head.

    Found out why the local pub is shut. The rules are that they can’t have more than 10 patrons inside with another 20 outside. With that sort of revenue stream, I doubt they’ll reopen any time soon. Crazy days my friend, crazy days.

    It is a rather narrow world view to suggest that if such a thing can not be proven in a particular field of purview, then it was never thus. Myth’s have much to inform us, and of course they also contain elements of the truth, otherwise nobody would have bothered to go to the effort of preserving them. And given the current poor outcomes for science, I’d have to suggest that such folks are on very shaky ground. It’s kind of sad really, because the scientific method is an amazing achievement.

    Oh really? I hadn’t understood that the demise of Thera and the existence of Plato were almost a millennia apart. Makes you wonder what the future folks will say about us lot? I hope it is nice myths, but then that might be a massive pipe dream.

    That’s really true. Two decades ago the facts speak for themselves, I had no access to news before arriving at work. Of course there were the newspapers and as a kid I learned about the Shuttle disasters way before most other people in the big smoke. You know, I’m not entirely convinced that it is such a great idea that people have access to so much news. Certainly the news these days raises my blood pressure, and this is not personally good, but the larger point bears stating: People down here are stuck in their homes with only screens to mediate their view of world events. It’s not good. And folks are tuning out. But mate, if you’d had to have the conversations today that I experienced… Far out.

    I’m really quite uncertain why nobody seems to notice that we are heading rather quickly into the Great Recession. It won’t be the same as the Great Depression, if only because the powers that be appear to be expanding the money supply by five billion per week. But neither will it end well. It’s actually quite audacious really, and at each new unfolding of the story I’m left gobsmacked. It’s utterly bonkers. Oh well.

    It is interesting you mention maple syrup as I grow a few sugar maples here, and they love the conditions. At your suggestion (and it has been said before that you are a bad influence, but in a good way!) I picked up an old school book on backyard sugaring. The sap has only about 2% sugar and so takes a bit of energy to boil down. As an industry I don’t really think that it could scale well and is probably done best at a home or local scale, if only because as you say it is a bit of a dance with nature. And our society doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to such arrangements.

    Really? I hadn’t known that about strawberries. But it is astounding at how developments with plants have shaped our daily lives. Did you know that the strawberries on your print look exactly like the earliest cultivated varieties? The French were big into breeding the fruit as well, but you guys had the better luck with good plant genetics. Who knew that a few people can get seriously ill from eating strawberries? I hope the wowsers don’t try and ban them…

    What a weird looking ship. Makes me wonder if it toppled over from time to time. That would be awkward. I thought catamarans sough stability by being wider, not longer… Out of curiosity, was this the same bloke as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow? It is pretty awesome to consider that the print might be the same copy as yours?

    Well that is interesting. So I read a bit about Saint Gildas this evening, and it turns out that some of our scholarly friends were leaning hard on this character to disprove Arthur, whom also has the air of hagiography about him and his life – and he had apparent reason to dislike Arthur before eventually fleeing to nearby shores. Well there you go. Who knew bias could be such a strong force?

    Thanks and it is a fine epitaph. I’d like to believe that some friends would rock up to the funeral and later drink a toast to times well had (it needn’t set back one’s date if say it was cranberry juice!) My grandfather had quite the turn out to his funeral and it went that way and he was quoted on the day as saying something like: You only pay top dollar once, although candidly I didn’t really understand what he was going on about. I was mildly astounded that so many folks knew him.

    Not sure about your opinions in this matter, but I believe that listening, like small talk, is a skill.

    The catfishing thing annoyed the daylights out of me, and such a person would not try something like that to my face. For obvious reasons I didn’t engage at all. Hmm, but yeah it’s a problem that such people are at large. And you might be right there about the crims! Who knew they had a warped work ethic? 🙂

    Well obviously the library arrangement is quite complicated, and I can sympathise there because this property is on the far northern boundary of a township. Across the road is a different area altogether. Crazy stuff, and spare a thought for anyone who has to deliver something to this area? For a start, they believe that I’m 6 miles south of where I actually am. It’s confusing these days… Actually your advice is pretty good, and I often advise disgruntled folks to go and speak or write to their local Members of Parliament. After all, that’s what that lot get paid for, not I.

    Hehe! Yeah, there is a bit of the stuff lying around the place. And one day I shall probably get a portable timber mill, or more likely, hire a crew to run one. Timber shortages can be gotten around if a person has access to trees.

    Yes, there were similarities to the Columbus Day storm, particularly the length of hours the storm pummelled the area. What interested me about the storm was how intense but also how localised it was. As you know, I had a few trees down, but nothing like other parts of the Central Highlands of Victoria. Some parts were smashed flat. The farm is in a somewhat protected amphitheatre. The minor tornado I often mentioned arrived via way of the south west which is the most exposed aspect here. The recent wind storm arrived via the south east, which is extraordinarily rare.

    Ooo! I had no idea that a Triptych mirror was a thing. And now I’ve inadvertently invited one into the house. Hope that it is a nice guest. I had fun taking the photo too. Rarely if ever do you get to see the camera.

    How cool was the huntsman spider? Mate, they’re fast and it can be fun discovering one in your car, whilst you are driving. From time to time they can drop from a height too. Ook! Usually they are found at night if only because the lights of the house draw them in for an easy feed.

    The little blue flower is also an African daisy. Super hardy.



  11. Hello Chris
    Hurrah for the numbered comments and, of course, thanks to Goran. I am frequently interrupted when reading them and used to have to track through to find the point where I left off.

    Just interrupted again.


  12. Yo, Chris – The Hindenburg acrobat was Joseph Spah. Here’s a pretty good article about his life …

    There’s even a bit of silent footage, of him doing his drunken toff / swaying light pole, act. It’s just over a minute.

    Plato heard the Atlantis story, from a fellow, who’s grandfather had a friend, who traveled to Egypt, and heard the story. Lots of room for embroidered detail and forgotten bits. The Greeks were aware of the Minoans, but it had become all myth. Theseus, the Minotaur and the Labyrinth. The Labyrinth is easy to explain. The Palace at Knossos (Create) had around 1.500 rooms. Easy to get lost in. And, the Minotaur? The bull dancers. Which was an athletic event, with religious overtones.

    Easy-peasy. Grab the bulls horns, as it charges at you. Do a somersault over the bulls head, and land upright, on the bulls rump. Disembark off the backend.

    I try and just catch the headlines, and not read many articles. Having a high intolerance to click-bait, helps. I get a bit exasperated with our local newspaper, from time to time. Seems like they’re always reporting some lurid sex crime … that happened in some far distant place. Do I need to know about this, or read about it? No. Can’t we work up our own local lurid sex crimes? Someone should get on that.

    Recession / Depression …somethings got to give.

    The yield of sugar to sap is about 40 to 1. As the author found out, when he tried rendering some sap, in his parents kitchen. The condensation damaged the ceiling 🙂 .

    The poet Longfellow, was all the rage in the 1800s. They slapped his name on a lot of things.

    Re: St. Gildas. Even saints have agendas. 🙂

    Cranberry juice with a shot of 7-Up. Stirred, not shaken. It’s my go to drug-of-choice, when I happen to wash up in a bar.

    There’s a technique called “active listening.” The basics are all over the Net. Every once in awhile, in Libraryland, they’d have a staff seminar. It did come in handy. But they could have eased up on the dreaded “roll playing.” Few people have a natural thespian bent.

    During Victorian and Edwardian times, they often slapped adjustable triple mirrors, on vanities or dressing tables. And they were hot again, in the Art Deco period. Milady could sit in front of her vanity, and channel Jean Harlow 🙂 . If you Gargle “vintage triple mirror dressing table,” and check the images, you can see a lot of really beautiful examples.

    Score! I went to the grocery, night before last, and discovered the yogurt dipped pretzels … pumpkin spice flavored. I had them last year, and they are very good. Pricey, though. They also had the old-fashioned, glazed donuts … pumpkin spice flavored. But, I passed on those. I tried them last year, and they didn’t have much “kick.” Can the pumpkin pie ice cream, be far behind? Lew

  13. Chris,

    We got about 8mm of rain over the weekend! It looks like we’ll get more rain Friday through Sunday. That would be nice.

    Glad to hear (from your last reply to me) that the Editor can do those quick calculations in her head It’s a great talent to have. I learned how to do that from my maths teacher when I was 12.

    Nice title for this week’s installment. Limbo. Continuing weirdness. This has got to be how people felt during certain portion’s of Rome’s decline. I’m reading a book by Neil Price about the Viking Age, “Children of Ash and Elm: A History of the Vikings”. He starts well before the Viking Age in an attempt to explain how the Viking Age came to be. There was a series of events. First, a LOT of Scandinavian men were mercenaries of the Romans. They went to the Empire and returned home, so that there was a more martial culture on the fringes of developing. Then, there were a series of volcanic eruptions circa 530CE to 545 CE that were globally catastrophic – no summers in many locations. (Probably the origin of the Norse mythic Fimbulwinter.) This led to severe famines, loss of life, social upheaval, and insane supply line disruptions. The mercenary veterans of the Roman and other Continental campaigns took over in order to establish some sort of stability. And eventually, Vikings.

    The changes and various economic and corvid disruptions are somewhat reminiscent of this. And there is some obvious fraying of the social fabric. Today’s shortage at the grocery store: canned fruit.

    That is one BIG tree you were standing near. I bet the ground shook when that hit the ground!

    That cloud photo is definitely 8-legged. I vote for a tick. Why? One of my coworkers had to make some field trips at various times of the year to wooded areas during tick season. She was deathly afraid of ticks. After her return from her first field trip of the year, it became a tradition for some of us to parade past her office muttering “tick, tick, tick, tick”. We always scored a good reaction.

    I really dislike spiders. Especially large, ugly ones (all large spiders are ugly) who can run fast and are probably venomous. Like that huntsman. So, on to the flowers. 😉

    Our thyme is still blooming, as is the Russian sage. The bees are happy. Glad to see that your beautiful succulents are flowering now. That pink against the succulent green is a nice contrast. The various daisies are also colorful.

    I was outside to water some plants and give the birds fresh water. As I was about to start toward the bird baths, a black-capped chickadee decided it was time for a drink. So I sat on the grass and watched him drink. The chickadees are much more comfortable close to humans than are the other birds.


  14. Hello Chris,

    What a great photo of you in the mirror. I had a good laugh. It reminded me of the “first generation selfies” in the 1990’s. You never really saw who it was in the picture.
    There are lots of jokes with mirror selfies.

    And @Inge – I did not do anything – Chris is the comment-numbering-hero, all on his own. Credit to whom credit is due.

    And I am impressed by the massive trees you still have there. Here in Europe, almost all trees are harvested at smaller size, just to make shipping and handling easier. Old grandfather trees with girth of more than a few meters are very rare.

    I hope for you that the pub will not close for ever.


  15. Hi Inge,

    Goran made a good suggestion with the numbering of comments. I can implement such ideas, but if you’d left me for a hundred years to contemplate the matter the idea would not have occurred to me.

    Feel free to make any suggestions with the format and layout of the website. It is not a thing that is fixed in stone.

    I note that the passport idea has been shelved in your country. There is some push back against the idea here too, from unexpected areas – i.e. the people who would be forced to do the checking! I do hope that this marks a turn in the narrative as last week really hit super crazy on that front. I’ve not experienced such a wall of noise before, and it has not won friends.



  16. Hi Goran,

    Oh yeah, it really is a mirror selfie! Never intended that, but there you go. Always something new and exciting here. 🙂 And the jokes are pretty funny.

    Many of the trees here are large and some even pre-date European settlement:

    There are times when I get hints about what the area used to look like and the contrast can be quite astounding.

    With a limit of ten patrons indoors and twenty outdoors, there is no possible way that the pub can reopen. Time will sort all of this craziness out.



  17. Hello Chris
    I consider that the format of your blog is now perfect. The only problem is realising the size of something in some photos. i.e that Huntsman. I remember them as huge and it didn’t look huge. Oddly enough I quite like spiders apart from the deadly ones and even they are good to look at.

    My first interruption was Son coming to show me an entertaining text that he had received. There is a very local residents association to which I and my immediate neighbours do not belong. They want info. on some building that is going on by the beach. Son said ‘Do they think that I am a snitch?’ He told the enquirer to go and look for himself.

    Second interruption was wonderful. My television has not been functioning for a while and I had given up trying to work out what the problem is. (Son even more hopeless than me in such matters, actually monumentally more hopeless). Spotted the son of a neighbour when I went to see if I had any post and he came down to look. Hurrah he finally dealt with the problem after a lot of effort. I admired his persistence.

    Had a second small yellow tomato! That is it now as I have pulled up the rotting plants.

    I still try hard to keep away from the dominant subject as it gets ever more illogical and completely nuts. My sister in the US, informed me that everyone one who gets the virus, goes to hospital. She is a human being who doesn’t leave even a sliver of room for discussion. I love her, so never argue.

    It is raining.


  18. Hi DJ,

    Glad to hear that the weather has turned for you and the land there. Hot and dry summers are a seriously tough school.

    The editor has a better brain for mathematics than I. However, many long years ago I was at the Queen Victoria Market in the big smoke and purchasing fresh food items, and that was when the little light bulb went on in my head. Perhaps it was rather something of a klaxon warning sound instead. The stall holders at the market were way faster at mental arithmetic than I, and so I took that experience as a wake up call, and then began to relearn the process of doing this stuff in my head without a calculator. The use of such machines is all well and good, but it is a form of a crutch, and there gets a point where people say: The machine says this, so it must be right. Except if a person can’t at least estimate an answer, they’ll have no hope whatsoever if the machine gets it all wrong.

    Out of curiosity, how did you learn that? My accounting teacher in High School was so old school that he forbade the use of calculators, even in exam conditions. That caused a few melt downs, but I reckon the old bloke was onto a good idea.

    Thanks, and it is a fun word is it not? 🙂 Unfortunately, it is also not lost on me that despite being stuck in limbo, other forces such as energy, pollution and resource depletion continue upon their merry independent paths and so I noted that petrol had reached $1.759 a litre today (3.8 litres to the gallon). It is always rather alarming to consider what the future has in store! Oh well, nothing to see and moving on.

    Ook! That would have been a rough few years to have experienced. And I note that Arthur also raises his head during that time, and in latter days was written about by Robert Wace: “I neither know who lost, nor who gained that day. No man wists the name of overthrower or of overthrown. All alike are forgotten, the victor with him who died.” Mate, thanks for the history, and it sure is how things go during such a time. Nobody really wants to encounter a Fimbulwinter. By the third year of no summer, food stocks would have been down to vapour. I’ll note that really large scale bushfires here have that effect too, and thus my previous cool and very damp summer last season.

    It is very early in the season to be short on canned fruit. Hmm. The previous shortage was white vinegar, and basic mince meat was something crazy like $16/kg last week. I buy some each week for the dogs and chickens. Chickens are definitely not vegetarians!

    Yup, wouldn’t have wanted to be there the day that centuries old tree toppled over. The forest at the time of the arrival of the Europeans would have been astounding to see.

    Hehe! Very cheeky. The ticks here don’t seem to carry disease, but up north in the warmer parts of the country, for some reason they are described as paralysis ticks. Sounds all very unpleasant. Ruby had a small patch of tick seed the other day which we dealt to.

    Mate, those huntsman spiders can run very fast indeed. I don’t believe that they are venomous (unlike the red back spiders), but their fangs are often covered in very unpleasant bacteria due to their diets and which can probably cause a great deal of illness if not thoroughly cleaned.

    Good stuff that your bees continue to be happy with the good work at your place. 🙂

    Hey, the black-capped chickadee’s look the same as the little robins and/or wrens here. Those birds work hard in your garden eating all of the many insects. In a side story, a family of those birds sought out the editor a few days ago because Ruby was being an idiot and harassing them. They needed some help, which was provided and Ruby was confined for her youthful hijinks.



  19. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the link, and Joseph Spah led a fascinating life. The telegram episode was particularly poignant. Years ago I knew someone who attended a car crash as a responder. Anyway from what I was told, the person driving the vehicle died at the scene yet the mobile phone survived and during the clean up the phone rang. I could see that the incident haunted the person who recounted the story. It’s a bit grim really, and you never know what you were going to encounter at an incident. Probably not for me that volunteer work. And thanks very much for the video of Joseph Spah in action high above the New York skyline. You’d hope there was a safety net below, just in case, but then that may have thrown off the performance of the artist. Wow he must have been super strong to have hung onto the lamp post single handedly. And his face did not betray any strain whatsoever. An accomplished performer. And I can’t believe the captain of the airship was trying to pin the blame onto him.

    I defer to your greater knowledge in this area, but also note that encountering a monstrous Minotaur hungry for human flesh would be a terrifying experience. And also possibly a final experience. The scholars have other views regarding the labyrinth, but then they do about Arthur as well, so who knows, and the best conjecture might rule the day – for a while. It also should be stated for the record that Bull leaping appears to be an activity for younger and possibly more agile folks than you or I! One must of course be careful to take the bull by the horns. 🙂

    The article on Merlin was a good teaser, and I note that the good folks have released a book upon the subject. In your book days did you ever discover some hidden gems?

    It is very possible that someone is actually getting on with lurid sex crimes in your part of the world and the matter has not been reported upon in your local newspaper. You must remedy this lack by demanding that the journalists pick up their game and do some investigating, or at least make some stuff up. Man, I’m seriously struggling to even look at the news. I can read the headlines, and that is about it.

    On the other hand, it does appear that a local taboo has been broken apart recently, and nowadays I speak with all manner of folks about their mental health, if only because recent events have been smashing away at that pretty hard. I reckon that having more people speaking more openly about such matters (with folks they trust) is not a bad thing at all. But yeah, it really is super crazy in Melbourne, although it looks as though things have eased off a bit this week.

    But you’re right about: Recession / Depression …somethings got to give. I noticed that despite widespread demand destruction in the country, petrol was $1.759 / litre today (3.8 litres to the gallon). That’s as high as I’ve seen it. Rationing by price is an option for sure.

    And exactly. 40 to 1 is 2.5% by weight of sugar. Had to laugh about reducing the water content in a kitchen! Not good, and possibly something the bloke won’t repeat. Traditionally the boiling down was done outside. 🙂 Sugar is a sort of easy to obtain material and very useful too. Plenty of grains can be converted from starches into sugars using bacteria, but then the temperature has to be dropped so that fermentation doesn’t take place. Of course there is always honey which is 80% sugar. The canny French produced a sugar beet that is 20% sugar – which is genuinely an amazing achievement of plant breeding. The beets are rather large too. A mate put that to the test and produced a passable sugar beet syrup. Never had Sorghum syrup but by all accounts that plant grows well down under, and from references here and there (from memory) the syrup tastes better than sugar beet syrup. It’s a fascinating area of plant breeding and cultural history.

    Longfellow didn’t seem short of a buck, that’s for sure.

    Who knew that some naughty saints had their own agendas. That probably wouldn’t go over all that well in the final accounting with the big bloke? I’m sure they have their reasons too, but will those suffice seems the important question here.

    It is nice to have a coping mechanism ready to hand if placed in a difficult situation. I hear you about that. And respect for facing the situation too.

    Ooo, active listening, yeah well it sounds like it would work. Mate, I dunno, in my first share house for some reason unknown to me, even today, two of the housemates took me under their wing and guided me in the social graces, and just basically taught me how to do small talk and be at ease in all manner of social situations. Those guys were dodgy AF, in a good way, but also great fun too. They had real charisma. I tend to believe that anything in that area which works and gets good results has to be good, and a person needs more than one tool in their mental toolbox for sure.

    Kidney disease sounds pretty unpleasant, and Jean Harlow had an untimely end. I note that Mr King included Jean Harlow as a character who had once stayed at the Hotel in the Shining!

    Yogurt dipped pretzels sounds intriguing. Yes, where is the pumpkin ice cream indeed? Halloween is fast approaching. 🙂



  20. Hi Chris
    Your one large MOSFET mounted on a large heat sink is a sure sign of a Class A output stage power amp. 25 Watt pure sine wave max out put or so for living room listening. Even at your rapidly seeming advancing age😨😱🥲 .

    There is likely a large ceramic fixed power resistor mounted inside the unit with a possibly variable screw retained adjustable tap device mounted on the resistor body . The resistor is designed to be adjusted to pass the full output current through the output MOSFET and that load resistor when the amp is at zero input signal level. As the the input signal varies the output follows on the output terminal after passing through a computer grade high quality (Large in size and capacitance value ) electrolytic capacitor.
    If you are lucky and have the manufacturers original owners book you may have a good schematic showing part numbers and wire color or number labels. You may also be lucky enough to have full detailed instructions on adjusting any other bias setting potentiometers inside the bowels of the old beast of an amplifier. I think your electronic knowledge will serve you well in this matter.Good Luck Mate! If I lived in the neighborhood I would be glad to help out to the extent of my ability.

    Cheers and happy spring!! and hope I was some help.

  21. Yo, Chris – Various odds and ends, from near and far. My friends in Idaho, think their son-in-laws medical bills have been covered, by being patched together from here and there. But just in case, they consulted a “medical bankruptcy attorney.” Now, I knew lawyers specialized in different areas of the law, but I had never heard of such a thing. But, given the state of our health services, it makes sense. In a twisted kind of a way.

    Saw a good quote, yesterday. “A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows.” Doug Larson (1926-2017). So who was Doug Larson? As near as I can figure, he was a “Wisconsin newspaper columnist.”

    I had a banging headache, on one side, for two days. It’s just easing off, now. Brain aneurysm? Tumor? You Know What? Actually, I think it’s a combo of a bad tooth, and sinuses. The tooth isn’t infected, so, it can wait til things get a bit more back to normal. Or, at least until the county numbers go down.

    About a year ago, my friend Scott heard a terrible crash, down at the end of his drive. So, he went down to take a look. There was a young man, dead in the ditch. To trowel on the irony, the fellow had been at a wedding reception, and had been hitting the sauce, pretty hard. There but for luck, go I. And Scott. And anyone else who really ties one on and drives. Gave Scott quit a turn.

    I watched a bit of another video, where Joseph Spah’s grand daughter, let the cat out of the bag, over that particular piece of film. There was a structure, on the rooftop, and if Spah had fallen, it would have been about 20′. Still no fun, but not as dangerous as a very clever photographer made it look. Oddly, I have two pieces of tat, that may (or may not) relate to Spah. Both are cast iron, probably from the 1930’s. They’re little figures of a worse for wear toff, clinging to a sign post. Though I’ve seen them clinging to lamp posts. One’s an ashtray, and the other is just a figure. The signposts have city names, on them. I think they were souvenirs, from some souvenir shop. What is it about travel, that makes one want to buy silly tat, to remember your trip? It’s got a long, long history, and the forms are infinite. There are enameled cups, with Hadrian’s wall forts names, around the rim. They’re found all over Europe … except for Hadreian’s wall. As they are in geographical order, it’s how we know the names of some of the forts.

    “Take the bull by the horns.” One wonders how far back that saying goes. Eons?

    Well, we have our lurid sex crimes, but being a small place, without much population, they don’t happen all that often enough, to keep the newspaper readers interested. As far as making stuff up, the world is weird enough to provide plenty of fodder, without resorting to invention.

    It’s good for mental health to let down a bit, and talk about what’s going on. People do better with at least one trusted confidante, that they can tell anything, to. The only danger lies in if the trusted confidante doesn’t have anyone to talk to. You do, don’t you?

    LOL. I ran across a reference to where that “old world garden” was, where strawberries came into their own. Brittany. I was going to mention that our wild strawberries here, are rather disappointing. Just a hint of strawberry flavor, and a smidgen of sweetness. There texture reminds me of cardboard.

    Your housemates may have taken you under their wing, as you elicited the same impulse one has, when a baby bird falls out of it’s nest. 🙂 . We were once all young and naive. For the most part.

    The yogurt dipped pretzel rack, has many flavors. Chocolate, strawberry, just yogurt, etc.. But, it’s basically junk food, and I have no problem resisting … except when it comes to the pumpkin spice. Which appears only at this time of the year.

    The Errol Flynn bio is “in transit,” to me. Better buckle my swash. Ought to show up some time this week. As will the documentary on zombies. Sharpen my machete? Lew

  22. Hi Chris,

    That’s a great spider picture! Unlike some, I am a fan of spiders. We don’t have any super deadly spiders here although a few of them, the black widows and the brown recluses, are venomous. Some people have died from their bites, but the percentage of deaths is quite small.

    I’m familiar with brown recluses because they are common around here and like to come into the house during autumn to find a place to live during the winter. None have bitten us so far, but they do receive ruder treatment than other spiders who come into the house. We kill the brown recluses but attempt to capture and release outside other kinds of spiders.

    Do you have any jumping spiders in Oz? These are quite small and they don’t build webs. Instead, they are fast on their feet and run down their prey. We are fascinated by them.

    Warmer and drier than normal here. It’s not a good autumn from the standpoint of growing cool weather crops. Such is life.


  23. Chris,

    Who am I to question your grasp of rudimentary arithmetic, come back to me in 100 days 🙂

    I note that October celebrations (Halloween and Octoberfest) are getting touted by local grocery shops now. I am particularly interested in an Aldi special for Hefeweizen beer at a sensible price. I don’t think many people like it, and the cans are normally $7 (ouch)!


  24. Hi Inge,

    That’s a good point, and as far as I understand things camera’s reproduce an image of the world that differs slightly from what you see with your eyes. A few years ago I began noticing that the camera lens produces a good image, but at the edges of an image, the angles are a bit off – probably due to the curvature of the lens itself. I only noticed this effect because we’d been taking so many photos for the blog. Whenever there is a photo of fences or a building, I kind of work out in my mind an average fudge factor so that things look more or less vertical. The editor on the other hand does not bother with such things and the photos are as they are.

    And you’re right, scale is really hard to interpret, which is why I plonk myself and/or the dogs in the photos. Otherwise, how would anyone know whether a rock is large or small or otherwise?

    The huntsman spiders actually are pretty huge so your memory is correct. It can be quite startling to enjoy their unexpected company within a vehicle whilst on the move. And they’re fast. There are some pretty unpleasant spiders in and around the gardens and so I usually wear thick riggers gloves when working in such environments. Need I mention the Red Back Spider – which I’ve seen around here. It probably won’t kill you, but you’ll get very ill.

    Your son was wise to dodge that particular trap. If such folks want to know, they can use their own senses as they were properly informed. I’ve never heard of such a thing around these parts.

    Good stuff with the television repairs. I haven’t used a television for over a dozen years now and it didn’t seem like a great loss. Even before that I was never much of a fan. Probably I just never got into the habit with first heavy workloads during high school and then part time University. There are only so many hours in the day.

    Ouch. A year without a summer would be a frightful thing to experience.

    I hear you about that and don’t argue either. There seems little point in applying logic to that story. It is far better to step to the side and let the winds of oddness slip on past before then getting on with what you had intended to do in the first place.



  25. Hi Al,

    🙂 Yup! You called it correctly, and Class A is correct. The amplifier is worth restoring because it is such a work horse. It is not among the best of the best, but it can hold its own.

    Ha! A person must always consider the remainder of their hearing prowess before destroying it with loud music and/or the noises of farm machinery.

    Actually I have not discovered a large ceramic fixed power resistor with a variable power screw within the guts of the amplifier. That I would have noticed, and in fact there are no trim pots that I have encountered. The amplifier is a fascinating and really basic design which has withstood the tests of time. I will have a second look though with what you wrote in mind.

    Mate, I do have the original owners manual however the cheeky scamps who designed the amplifier didn’t provide a schematic. Back in those days they were commonly supplied in the manual too. Alas. For your info the amplifier is a Technics SU-610 which I have owned since new (almost 30 years ago).

    Well that interests me is that I did not find any potentiometers inside the circuit board (of course many of the controls are such items).

    And I would thoroughly appreciate your assistance with the repairs. 🙂 The goal is to build up enough skills to tackle the Yamaha T-80 next (oooo! a top unit, albeit not quite as good as the T-85, but good enough for me and probably far beyond the rubbish constructed in these enlightened days) before then getting stuck into the Kenwood KT-1100SD. There is a method to the madness you know. 😉

    It is a real shame that few people have these skills any more. And if I stuff it up, there are only one or two places that I can call upon for help. Ook!



  26. Hi Claire,

    I mostly like the spiders for the work they do around the garden and those huntsman spiders are mostly harmless (despite being alarmingly large and fast), but sometimes their bites can produce very unpleasant reactions if only because of the bacteria on their fangs. So it can be a mixed bag really, and I would much prefer it if they kept outside of the house which they mostly do. There is nothing for them to eat inside, so it is a bit of a death sentence for them to enter the household.

    As you’d imagine we have very deadly spiders here, but it is worth noting that spider bites in this corner of the continent at are more common and less deadly than snake bites.

    I hear you about that treatment! 🙂 The early settlers brought with them the European daddy long legs spider and they get into the house for sure (and I can see one now) and they seem mostly harmless and clean up a lot of the flying insects.

    Yes, there are jumping spiders in Australia, but they are usually found in warmer areas than here. Certainly out in the orchard, there are a lot of species of spiders… And they often get annoyed by my actions thus I wear leather riggers gloves as well as oil skin gaiters over my leather boots – even during hot weather.

    That can happen. I’ve had seasons like that too, and I’ve noticed that more and more of late that autumn is becoming a very short season. Sometimes as short as only a few weeks.



  27. Hi Damo,

    Very amusing! And you are probably correct. 🙂 I applaud both your personal choices and your logic chopping, and valiantly attempt to retreat from the field without suffering a further 100 days, but knowing that my wishes are but a pipe dream.

    Petrol was $1.759/litre yesterday! Far out.

    And in keeping with this essay’s spider theme, you do know that you aren’t far from the local producer of a German style hefeweizen style or wheat beer? So to cut a long story short I used to live around the corner from the Redback Brewery Hotel in North Melbourne and was known to frequent there with my house mates. They used to serve pints (a pot, what is this thing?) of the Redback cloudy ale, which dare I say is far more than the equal of such footling wannabies as the ultra commercial Hefeweizen style of beers. Of course having just said that I am unable to venture to any pubs right now, because as you know: The pub is shut, and that’s not on. Yes, our fearful leader…



  28. Hi Lewis,

    My memory is not the sharp tool that it used to be, and of course this is a mixture of the ageing process as well as the 220-something days in lock down. Life is blurring, and perhaps this is why I can’t recall how your experiment with French Lentils worked out?

    Oooo, the medical bankruptcy thing is actually a thing in your country. Yeah, not good and I noticed whilst reading upon this most macabre of subjects that other debts in your country were unable to be discharged through bankruptcy. I thought that it was just student loans, but apparently not. What is the point of a process that does not work? My opinion in this matter is that the greater burden lays upon the lender, and not the borrower, although this is probably an unfashionable perspective. Anyway, the rate that gubarmints are printing money these days kind of devalues all those IOU’s out there. I really do wonder about that story, and am watching it closely. House prices jump $52,600 in three months, and the Reserve Bank says it can’t do much about it. The fundamentals are now so strange that I don’t understand any of it. Of course I’m old fashioned and kind of believe that the gubarmint has a social obligation to the population to manage its powers in a way that is sort of at least a bit in the interests of the public. However, in this matter they really do seem to have lost the plot and it ain’t just us.

    That’s a great line about the definition of weeds. Another goodie that I’ve heard about the abstract collection of plants is that they are a ‘plant out of place’. And that seems like an apt observation as well.

    Actually it is funny you say that about your guess in relation to teeth and sinuses and I have heard that very story also recounted from some folks who have had replacement teeth attached to metal posts drilled into their jaw lines. Dental work, I hate going to the dentist. And actually I went for a visit just for a check up and clean maybe three or four months ago. The business which I’ve going to for years had only just reopened (due to you know what), and there must have been a back log as they rushed me in and then out again. It was a bit rough, but I’ve had worse.

    Sorry to hear that with your mate Scott, and that can happen and it is very confronting. And he’s right too, and down here the police have breath testing kits and can measure that alcohol content pretty accurately. It is odd though how we relate to death. When I was a young kid, people used to occasionally drop dead and it was common enough that you’d experience the circumstances sooner or later. I don’t know when things changed but somehow people get whisked out of their homes in their final days nowadays. It wasn’t always that way. And nowadays, people are often being isolated from their families during that time even when it has nothing to do with you know what. From some respects that is a very cruel system.

    That may be so about the fail safe structure for Joseph Spah and his roof top antics, but the camera angles were so good that it made my guts churn just watching it. And he must have been super strong and agile to act so entertainingly.

    🙂 They’re little figures of a worse for wear toff, clinging to a sign post. That’s funny and yeah many of the figurines were attached to ash trays. Oh yeah, hey do you recall the days of the collect-a-spoon from various townships you’d visited? Makes you wonder what ever happened to them all? I recall that in the 1970’s kids used to wear black wool duffel jackets with hoods (you looked like the grim reaper, but were at least warm) and it used to be a thing for patches to be sewn all over them.

    Err, there is a story there about why the enamelled cups for Hadrian’s wall were not found in the vicinity of the wall? Can you speculate as to why this may be the case?

    I was thinking the same thing, and getting gored by a bulls horns in ancient days would have been a very chancy thing to survive.

    Hehe! Yes, yes of course it was merely an idle thought spoken hastily aloud. I stand corrected, and in defence point at many a news article. 😉

    Thanks for asking and yes I do have plenty of people to talk to about such mental health matters. And probably for all sorts of very valid reasons would not discuss such matters on a public forum anyway. Had to have a sort of sad laugh about the active listening thing you mentioned the other day, as I’ve been doing a lot of just listening for the past eighteen months. And things on the subject that dare not be mentioned seem to be getting better, but you know the underlying problems aren’t going anywhere or even being addressed, so I really don’t know what the future holds. There are times that I do wonder if we are crashing hard down here right now so as to create breathing room later. It is possible, but I’m not privy to such knowledge. I’ve noticed that some very senior politicians have been caught not taking their own advice recently, and actions tend to speak much louder than words.

    The wild strawberry varieties are by and large disappointing tasting, and my experience mirrors what you wrote. Cardboard is brought to mind. There are however some cultivars of alpine strawberries which are meant to be pretty good, but I’ve only ever tasted one or two wild plants that piqued my interest. If I were quicker thinking I would have grabbed a sample of the plants in that area and planted them out here.

    Hehe! Well that probably was how things rolled. 🙂 I had some rough edges and those two mates chipped away at them until I’d like to say that I’m a more rounded person! 🙂 One of those guys was the one who died late last year. It’s funny but as we all got older we could still catch up and things just kicked off like they used to be and there were plenty of laughs. It’s really good to have known people like that who you can be really comfortable around and just talk rubbish. And that is so true about our youthful selves! 🙂

    Enjoy your few and brief forays into the world of junk food. And yes, where is the spiced pumpkin? That is the question.

    I couldn’t quite discover the derivation of the word ‘swashbuckle’. You have to admit that it does sound like a rather odd word. Hmm. Do you have any ideas regarding this matter? Anyway, watch out for the swashes and deploy some buckles me hearties! 🙂

    Definitely sharpen the machete and remove the head. There is no other option.



  29. Hello Chris
    The wild strawberries around here, are tiny like pinheads but they are delicious.
    Very noisy yesterday; an air ambulance was circling very lowdown. Son has just come and told me the story. It appears that the bull which had sometime previously been out in the road, had put someone into hospital. Son doesn’t know whether it is the farmer or the owner of the field. The police have shot the bull which Son thinks is wrong. He says that it was a magnificent bull and must have been worth a fortune.


  30. Yo, Damo – Thanks for the information on the Longfellow. Well, you can’t say Commodore Vooris didn’t give it the old college try. I liked those sections, “Travel was a gamble …” There are many Currier and Ives lithographs of steam boat disasters. The worst was probably The Sultana.

    You know, you can hunt truffles, with dogs. Probably not as much fun as a pig. Our library picked up a recent film, “The Truffle Hunters.” But, it slipped by me, and the hold list is long. So long, I may not see it in this lifetime 🙂 . There’s also a recent book, called, “Truffle Boy.” A real Horatio Alger type story. Lew

  31. Yo, Chris – Working from the backend of the horse … Here’s a pretty good exploration into the origin of swashbuckling. Ignore the political part, at the beginning, and skip down to the brass tacks.

    French Lentils. Saving them for a cold winer night. Which might not be that far off.

    “….at least a bit in the interests of the public.” Nope. The government works in the interests of the rich and powerful (to make them more rich and powerful), not the public. Why does the public put up with it? Because they all expect to be rich and powerful, any day now.

    Here’s a bit of the e-mail, I got from Idaho, this morning …

    “Yep, lawyers for every occasion. With Medical Bankruptcy it’s all about the staggering numbers. Shalen’s bills have already been “discounted” up to 30%. Here are some of the totals now….hospital $342,000, medical group (docs) $55,000, lifeflight $65,000 (so far making good faith pymts of $100/mo until OneShare pays) and a couple others they’ve already paid to cover the $5000 deductible to OneShare. If they sell everything it won’t cover these bills. Thank goodness they can’t take their house, but could potentially put a lean on it. It’s daunting to say the least with Shalen not working and Real Estate sales down. But they won’t starve. We’re doing our part helping buying groceries and paying bills. As for Gwen and Doran, they bring a few groceries once in a while and things for Shalen to fix 💩. We just need to see what OneShare is going to pay…. they need to get going!!! May not need bankruptcy.
    The kids came for a visit after talking to a bankruptcy lawyer. Very enlightening what they say you need to liquidate. You can only have a home if under $175,000, must sell your cars, can keep one each valued at $10,000 and on and on.” (Gwen & Doran are Shalen’s mother and step-father.)

    I’ve had to have a couple of teeth extracted, in the last few years. I go to the poor people’s clinic. To pull a tooth is about $90. They do limited dental work. Drilling and filling cavities, extractions. The simple stuff. Usually, when I’m talking to the dentist, when it becomes apparent that I need one pulled, they usually say, “You could get an implant, from a dentist.” Then we both go quiet, and sigh. If I could afford the $4,000-$5,000 for an implant, I wouldn’t be sitting in the cheap seats. 🙂 .

    Here, we’ve had the alcohol breath test, for quit awhile. And, after they legalized mara-hochie, they developed a test for that, too. They’ve also invented a clever device, that you have to blow into, before your car will start. Won’t start if your alcohol levels, are too high.

    Sure, souvenir spoons. Collect one from all 50 states! You could even get nifty purpose built wood racks, to hold them all. They’ve been around for a long time, but the only one’s that have value are the old one’s made of sterling silver. And the value is only in the silver. Otherwise, the value is zip … nada … bumpus. World’s fairs were great little souvenir generators. Everything from fancy glass toothpick holders (engraved with the name of the fair, and the date) and … sterling silver spoons.

    There was a recent episode of the New Zealand “Brokenwood Mysteries.” One of those TV antiques appraisers was very nasty and belittling of some bloke who brought in “Mum’s souvenir spoon collection.” Which he took as a direct insult, to Mum. So, when the nasty appraiser ended up murdered, he was one of the suspects. Given the personality of the appraiser, there were many, many suspects.

    You don’t find the bowls, up on Hadrian’s Wall, as they were sold up there as souvenirs. To be taken home. “I visited Hadrian’s Wall and all I got was a lousy t-shirt and this enameled bowl.” 🙂 .

    Confidentiality. Something I take pretty seriously, having been in the mental health racket, from time to time. People won’t talk to you, unless they trust you. And sometimes, that trust is a matter of life and death.

    Yes, we have a wonderful library system, but they let me down twice, today. Not worth going into, but one was a rogue algorithm, and the other an employee asleep at the switch.

    According to a weather map on Prof. Mass’s blog, we may get up to 3″ of rain, over the weekend. I’d say the fall rains are here. Suzanne Who Has A Better Idea, is running around telling people we’re going to have a frost, Saturday night. Not according to the National Weather Service. They say, overnight low, 50. But she heard it on the local radio! Yeah, probably said it was going to be freezing up at White Pass.

    Here’s a trailer for a new film, that ought to send you screaming into the woods …

    Here’s an article from yesterday, about paper shortages …

    I don’t see it. The last few times I’ve gone to the grocery, I’ve picked up a single 12 pack, like a rational human being. The cheap stuff, off the bottom shelf, with the wood chips. Less than $6 a pack. I have now attained that state of nirvana, 42 (50, actually.)

    And, lastly, one of the Ladies, here at the Institution was cleaning out her pantry. So, I grabbed some stuff for the Club. There was a box of cereal. Looking at the expiration date, it’s brand new. One of those cereals that throws around words like “organic,” “heritage,” and “legacy.” But what caught my eye, was the back of the box. “Real Crunchy Cereal (and it’s not just for hippies)” I thought they were extinct? When’s the last time someone caught sight of one, in the wild? 🙂 Lew

  32. Chris,

    Hot and dry summers are nasty for growing plants. The weeds do fine. I like the previously mentioned definition of a weed. However, I have a different one: “A weed is a plant that grows where you don’t want it to. A plant will NOT grow where you want it to grow because it gets overrun by weeds.”

    That’s along the lines of the difference between a cult and a religion. A cult is a wannabe religion that is so tiny that it can be stomped out. A religion is a cult that grew beyond the tiny stage and is here to stay.

    Here’s how I learned to do arithmetic in my head…My 7th grade maths teacher was a math wizard and a nun. And a great actress and a great singer. Oh, her uncle was named Bing Crosby. (Sorry, my moment of name dropping is now passing rapidly.) Anyhow Sister, at the beginning of our 8th grade and advanced 7th grade class (we were combined), had us clear our desks. 7th graders only session, Sister would rattle off a list of numbers and math operations very rapidly. (7 times 6 plus 9 divided by 3 minus 17 plus 9 times 4 is an example.) First kid to blurt out the right answer got a candy tossed at him/her by Sister. I didn’t do well in these, but did better at the 8th grade problems which were open to the 7th grade students. These were more “story problems) than simply a string of numbers and operators. I enjoyed both types, so kept at it the next year on my own, even though Sister had been transferred. And kept at it throughout high school, too.

    I had to learn logarithms and all of the trigonometry stuff by using the tables at the back of our textbook. No calculators allowed. My sister was 3 years behind me, same teacher, and her group used calculators. To this day, I believe that I understood those functions better by having to slog through the tables and learn how to interpolate.

    In 1974, there were a LOT of cheap and rather worthless calculators. But, as you mentioned, because it’s a calculator, the answer is correct. I got in a rather heated discussion with the owner of one of those cheap machines, as he maintained, due to his stupid machine, that zero divided by 9 is zero (correct) AND that 9 divided by zero is zero. Ummmm, eventually the argument continued until the maths teacher overheard us and straightened things out. Gotta know the numbers and how they work lest disaster occur.

    Our petrol is breathtakingly inexpensive compared to yours. Americans have a God given right to cheap petrol and drive (or fly) wherever we want whenever we want, don’t ya know? (okay, I’ve now turned the sarcasm off.) I paid $3.74 per gallon the other day, which is expensive by our standards.

    Yup, Arthur and other warlord types tend to pop up whenever that type of disaster/decline is occurring. Makes for interesting history and a lot of interesting speculation.

    I expected the store brand of canned fruit to be in low supply, as that grocery chain had a sale on their brand. I was surprised to find the entire stock of every brand had been ravaged. We typically don’t have shortages of canned fruit. Until the, umm, I guess I won’t mention it. 😉

    We have black widow spiders here, as well as the dread Hobo spider. I sprayed a black widow with insecticide once and had to run for my life! The insecticide sped up the bug’s metabolism and it could RUN! The Hobo spider looks almost identical to the brown wolf spider. The local wolf spiders are skittish and will flee from humans, normally. The hobo spider will attack anything that gets too close. The 2 look very similar. Getting close enough to tell the difference between them places the observer within the hobo spider attack zone.

    Oh, that’s funny! So your birds are like the crows here, and know which humans will help them. Smart birds. And good job, Editor!


  33. Hi Inge,

    Lucky you having wild strawberries which taste nice! The variety here really does taste and like and have the texture of cardboard, although I’d be almost certain this lack of flavour could be overcome with good selection. The reason I suggest that is a possibility is that I have had one or two wild alpine strawberries which have excellent flavour, but most don’t. Just for your interest, the usual variety of strawberries do run slightly wild in some parts of the farm. They were escapees from pruning and clearing efforts. I’m not convinced that they’ll get very far, but they have established a distant beach head in one or two spots and I’m curious to see how that works out for them. The wildlife loves strawberries.

    Far out. I’m with your son in that regard, and you take your chances and most times you are OK, but sometimes you’re not, and that is how life rolls. Shark attacks upon surfers often end that way. Hey, saying that, I could easily startle a deadly snake and end up very dead, or imagine startling a Sambar deer stag as they run through the orchard. The antlers aren’t just for show.



  34. Hi DJ,

    Recently I read a book by the author Bruce Pascoe which was titled: “Dark Emu”. He made many interesting references to varieties of grains which grow very well in the sort of conditions that you and also Al, experience each year. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that your part of the world has all manner of curious and interesting edible plants which aren’t usually included in the western diet. Hehe! Yes, over run by weeds is a problem. 🙂 You may note that I’m slowly removing grasses from around the bases of many of the fruit trees. With so many trees it is quite a lot of work, but you just put one step in front of the other, and eventually the job gets done. Of course you then have to start all over again.

    That’s a pretty amusing observation about cults versus religions. 🙂 We need to put them in a cage and let them duke it out.

    Fascinating, and many thanks for the story. The candy trick is an excellent one, and I too used to throw small chocolates at the heads of some of the assistant accountants just to keep them more alert than they’d otherwise be. It’s good fun, and let’s just say that practice makes perfect! Rattling off instructions and expecting an accurate reply is pretty clever, but not for everybody. Out of curiosity, did you attempt to resolve the question by writing down the instruction/equation in your own form of maths shorthand, or did you do the calculation as it was recounted? Nice name drop too!

    I’m with you too. Reliance upon a machine to do a persons thinking can only end in laziness. And it is my opinion that you have to be at least able to estimate the answer, otherwise how would you know whether the machine is even close to the correct answer?

    DJ, please humour me here for a second. In 1974 I was so young that I probably would have barfed on a calculator. 🙂 What exactly do you mean that some of the devices were worthless? I’m intrigued by this reference.

    Hehe! Thanks for the laughs and honestly I can’t recall when petrol was that cheap down here. Although there was that one brief moment of weirdness not that long ago when the futures market was trying to offload oil because nobody had anywhere to store the stuff. That was weird. But we’re getting back to expenso land with everything that that entails. I became interested in the subject of oil way back in around 2005 when I learned to my dismay that peak conventional oil had arrived. Thus my continuing jokes about Peak Rocks, except that the jokes represent the reality on the ground. Hey, discovered about four easy large rocks today due to me being stupid with the new mower (so much fun that machine).

    Never met such a person as Arthur, however I do recognise that they walk among us just waiting in the shadows for their day in the sun. It’s a bit eerie isn’t it?

    Wise to not mention it. The walls have ears and some very strange things have been going on down here of late. Best not to be involved is my thinking. 😉

    Ooooooooo!!!!! At least you survived the experience and the facts here speak for themselves. Some varieties of spiders here are inordinately fast too. Makes for an exciting existence.

    Ruby pushed things too far that day and the local birds were displeased and sought help, whilst Ruby was restrained. The birds are mostly on my side and they give me plenty of warning most of the time if that needs being done. The birds aren’t fussed about Ollie, but Plum and Ruby love giving chase, so the birds also need some respite so that they can get about their day to day activities.



  35. Hi Lewis,

    The likely origins of word ‘swashbuckler’ made for a great read. Not to worry about the political side of the story, my eyes glaze over whenever I encounter such tracts of text. It is a useful skill to learn and I recommend it highly. Although, candidly in your country the skill might cause more havoc and mayhem. It looks like you guys are selling us some nuclear submarines – that’ll be exciting. Hope they work.

    Yes, things are warming up here and today the editor and I enjoyed a leisurely lunch sitting out in the sun of crunchy rolls with some pulled pork, coleslaw, chilli and onion flakes. So tasty… Picked up the new mower and have had a lot of fun driving the machine around the place. It’s a beast of a machine and looks really well thought out and constructed. As you’d imagine, we can’t go far these days and so just try to enjoy ourselves as we can, whilst we can. A large regional town to the west of here has been placed into lock down.

    Yeah, you raise some cogent issues there and will get no argument from me. Long ago I took many backward steps and it was detrimental from some social respects, but freeing in others. And overall if I had to do things over again, I wouldn’t change much. Maybe some aspects of the design of this house I’d change, if only because I’ve learned how things could have been done slightly easier construction wise.

    That maybe so about rich and powerful aspirations. I just hope to be poor and left alone. It is not really that much to ask for is it? 🙂 I’m being serious too.

    Out of curiosity, what is OneShare? Mate, that story is a mares nest. And I’d imagine that plenty of people would opt not to get tangled up in that system in the first place – despite the consequences. After the editors mum died, the surgeon got us in for a final discussion, which I believe was charged for, and then proceeded to say nothing much at all. At the time I did wonder why we were even there, and now I’m older I still wonder why. But back then I had an inkling of a suspicion, and my gut feeling has not changed on that matter all these years later.

    Anyway, yeah, bankruptcy is a painful path, but then if it is an option out of the mares nest he’s stuck in?

    If the job gets done, there is nothing inherently wrong with the cheap seats. And yes the facts do speak for themselves. Hey, would you actually enjoy working as a dentist? I’m not sure that I could do such a job even if the remuneration was pretty tidy.

    They’ve got the marihoochie test down here. It some sort of saliva based test and dunno if profiling plays into the story, but I’ve never been tested for that so have no idea how it all works. Anyway, I don’t smoke so this is hardly an issue. Years ago I used to ride motorbikes, and I can remember having one beer (an being under the legal alcohol limit) and then not thinking about it and getting on the bike – that was a very unwise idea. You have to be sharp when on those machines.

    I have heard of people getting around the clever device by getting their kids to blow into the machine. Yep, some folks see such systems not as an obstacle, but rather as a personal challenge to be gotten around. Mate, the things I’ve heard over the years…

    Oh no, they used to have those wooden display racks down here too for the souvenir spoons. Silver is commonly found in all sorts of weird places – it has quite a lot of industrial uses, you know. Hey, I reckon the interest in the tourist spoon collection thing faded by the late 1970’s. I blame the Bee Gees and the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack – and am sticking to that story!

    That’s funny about the appraiser with the bad attitude in the story. If I’ve learned one thing in life it is that it is unwise to annoy strangers if only because you don’t know what they are capable of.

    No way! I’d heard that the Roman’s used to do a bit of tourism, but Hadrian’s wall could hardly have been a touristy site? Are you sure it wasn’t returning legionnaires going home to far distant countries?

    I take confidentiality pretty seriously too, and it is a very rare thing when I recount another persons story. And even then I make sure that I get their permission in advance.

    Are you entirely certain that it wasn’t the algorithm which was asleep and a rogue employee? Can’t be too sure these days. 😉

    That is a lot of rain, and hopefully it is spread out over many hours. I’ll have a look to see what the good professor has to say. If Suzanne is incorrect in her assertions, will she admit it?

    Writers make the worst assistants!!!! 🙂 Look, you know I have mixed feelings about that film due to the subject matter. 🙂 Did enjoy the no computer bit and manual type writer, a nice touch.

    I expected as much and that is why I took the plunge on replacing my precious Jack Vance collection with low acid paper editions? I don’t know what people expect will happen. It is not lost on me that it doesn’t matter, until it matters. And then it matters. Respect for reaching 42, we are under a dozen now. Anyway, weren’t they banging on about the paperless office way back in the day when less paper was actually used than what is done today? When at the big end of town I used my influence to convert them to using only recycled office paper – and the sooking which took place led me to believe that: mate, we’re f@#$%d! Of course using less paper will be the outcome of this story, and that is not a bad thing.

    Yes, where are the hippies. It’s a good question.



  36. Good afternoon!

    Further to ‘swashbuckling’, I happen to own a proper buckler, and regularly exercise with it and various swords.

    One thing about the steel buckler is that you can move it around a lot, at various angles, being no more than 12 inches in width (but thick heavy steel) punch at the opponent, stick it right up in their face and obscure what your sword arm is doing.

    Also, some classic techniques bring the sword and buckler hands close together, to make a nice sliding ringing sound of steel on steel.

    So, ‘swashing’ about with a buckler makes more sense than with any other shield, all much bigger if not heavier.

    The Ancient Iberians of Spain also had very small round shields, and the Romans said they were ‘athletic’ in their fighting, so they probably also knew how to swash with true Southern panache….

    There was a YT channel ‘The Dimicator’ who shows some of this, although to my mind he is a bit too elegant in his techniques, if beautiful to watch – a real bout would be bang bang, bang bang – and someone is dead/crippled.

    Everything mad here, and set to get worse as we are plunged into more restrictions and lock-downs: but as I am probably madder than anything a government could possibly inflict on me, I feel quite fine…..

    All the best


    PS ‘Panache’ is a good word in these times: as Cyrano de Bergerac says when fatally wounded ‘I fought, I loved, and I always kept my panache!’

  37. Hi, Chris!

    I would like to say something about the people who run your country – come to think of it, I would like to say something about the people who run my country . . . – but I know I cannot, and maybe I should not, so I will not.

    That is an absolutely monstrous tree. Or was.

    Your bathroom looks wonderful. And thank you for all the flowers.


  38. Yo, Chris – Yes, I saw that the UK and US were urging you lot to get your very own nuclear submarine. Didn’t they see (or read), “On the Beach?” New toys. But not as useful, as mowers 🙂 .

    OneShare is some kind of a religious “health sharing plan.” There are a few, around. They’re always careful to point out that they are NOT an insurance company. Which may have more to do with rules and regs, than with actual practice. Frankly (Frank), the difference escapes me. I’d guess they’re similar to the health care offered by fraternal organizations, which Mr. Greer mentions, from time to time. But I bet they’re pretty hard pressed, right about now.

    Something I hadn’t thought about … in a startling reversal, a conservative state governor back east (switching horses mid-stream) pointed out that the vaccine is free. A trip to the hospital, not so much. I hadn’t really trigged to that aspect. I think medical bankruptcy lawyers are going to do a land office business. And what about funeral expenses? They’re pretty eye watering, too, now that a large chunk of the industry has been taken over by financial investment corporations (as outlined in “Six Feet Under.”) There’s going to be a lot of shuffling around of assets. Although how much of it remains in the hands of the general population, remains to be seen. I’ve opted out of the system, as much as possible, to pass along my meager assets to organizations of my choice. Not shareholders in medical stocks.

    And the gods forgive me, but, being a pragmatist, I imagine a lot of interesting estate material, is going to hit the market. But unlike the Great Depression, I don’t think a market for that stuff, will ever recover.

    Our county numbers were down, last week. But still, high. 325.

    Oh, I don’t know. Steve Martin’s character, in “Little Shop of Horrors,” seemed to really like his work, as a dentist 🙂 .

    Having a kid blow into your alcohol auto lock device, is kind of a bit of twisted genius. Right up there with getting a straight arrow friend to lend you a bit of clean self produced liquid nitrogen, for a drug test. 🙂 . There’s actually a market for that stuff.

    I think we can blame the Bee Gees … and disco. 🙂 Though I sure danced my tush off to the beat, back in the day.

    Tourist or returning soldier? Could it be both?

    Suzanne admit she’s wrong? Not in her character or nature. Though I had a bit of fun when I saw her in the parking lot, later, after checking the National Weather Sevice. I yelled at her, “You’re wrong, wrong, wrong!!!” Oh, well. She just moved herself from the “questionable” column of Inmates I carry around in my head. To the “moron” column. Elinor doesn’t want me to let H get to close to Suzanne, as H will get You Know What. Elinor is thoroughly convinced, that the virus hitches a ride in cigarette smoke. You see what I put up with.

    I gaze at my 42+ rolls of paper products and see … guns, gold and canned goods. It’s a form of wealth, that Mr. Greer is banging on about, this week.

    Yup. Looks like our fall rains are about to arrive. I need to get out this afternoon and pick another round of blueberries (if there’s any left) and tomatoes. Lew

  39. Hello Chris,
    Regarding wild strawberries – I would like to share some observations.
    Back in Sweden where I grew up, we only have the true wild strawberries – Fragaria vesca – “smultron”.

    Here in Holland, where I am now, many people have planted an ornamental plant that looks very similar. “Mock strawberry” – Potentilla indica, supposedly South Asian. The fruit looks the same, but the flower is yellow instead of white.
    Why anyone would want to plant these ones is beyond my imagination.

    Next time that you are disappointed with a small strawberry – check the colour of the flower. If it is yellow – my advice – pull out the whole plant and all the suckers.

    Here, the apple harvest is started and most of the hazelnuts are in the dryer. Beautiful crisp mornings.


  40. Hi Chris,
    At least with warmer weather being on lockdown, if it happens again, won’t be quite as bad. Yeah, only allowing a few customers at a time isn’t going to work. Things continue pretty much normally now. There’s no restriction regarding how many can be in any place that I know of – only that one must wear a mask inside. We continue to hear of breakthrough cases of the unmentionable but they have mostly been pretty mild.

    Today I made my monthly trip to Costco. There was no diced tomatoes or tomato paste only a few #10 cans of crushed tomatoes and Marinara sauce. Toilet paper seemed in shorter supply and there was a limit of one per customer. Of course that is for a package of 30 rolls. I decided to get one because who knows so I’m now up to 60 rolls but who’s counting. We usually get the large cans of peanuts and there’s always plenty on display but not so today – only a small stack. I generally keep twice as much of staples on hand than I used to. We have a specific list of items we get at Costco.

    Things continue to be way busier than I like. There’s the garden clean up and harvesting what’s left. We’ve had two nights of overnight guests in the last week though it was just family so wasn’t a need to fuss much. My sister is moving to the town southeast of us from the city so I’ve helped her some as well.

    There’s plenty of spiders around here and they’re busy spinning away all through the house and basement. Claire mentioned Brown Recluse spiders. We had a friend who got bitten by one when he put his shoe on which was in his garage. It took quite awhile for him to recover. I always check my boots and shoes especially if they’re not in the house. One time I was going to do some trimming so put on my ear protectors. I kept hearing this weird noise which ended up being a spider. Believe me I always look now.

    Doug recently had to go to his ENT physician as one of his ears keeps filling with fluid and he can’t hear from it. There was also a crackling sound in the other ear and of course he was worried the same thing was happening. The doctor took a look and pulled out a dog hair. As it was tan it was Leo’s. Anyway looks like he’s going to have a tube put in but not for a few weeks. Subsequently the TV is now even louder. Now my hearing isn’t quite like it used to be either so I’ve put on subtitles so the volume can be quite low but Doug’s a slow reader so he can’t always keep up. I’m not a huge fan of TV but he is probably because he doesn’t get that much pleasure from reading. Also his family had the TV on a lot! They even had it on during dinner which is a no go here. Weird because both his parents were avid readers as well. I don’t find much on anymore that interests me other than some movies or documentaries. If it were up to me I’d just have a TV to watch DVDs.

    Sure hope you’re not locked down again. Looking forward to seeing the new mower.


  41. @ Marg,

    When my sister in law was staying with us in 202, the TV was much too loud. I bought some Sony headphones from Amazon that link to the TV. The TV volume can be set at a comfortable level (or even muted), while the headphones can be adjusted as needed. Sister liked them. She’s moved in with her brother, but we kept the headphones. The Princess loves them. They are comfortable and allow her to listen to the TV when doing dishes or even in the basement doing laundry. I’ve used them a few times and also find them comfortable and the sound is quite amazing.


  42. Chris,

    Degrassing an area is a never ending process. As to foods in the area…there are a lot of wild plants that are edible. Many different types of edible roots grow here. Many are very tasty. Alas! I no not what they look like before being cooked.

    Oh, the math problems Sister had us do were purely in our heads. The desks were cleared. Nary a paper or pencil or pen allowed. You either learned to keep up with her pace, or you sank.

    My first bosses always made sure that I’d done the “Dumb Test” before submitting a spreadsheet to them. Meaning, the answers better look reasonable. I mean, couldn’t have us charging people to have their road paved if the charges were higher than the actual cost!

    Worthless calculators…Top of the list were the ones that allowed you to divide BY zero and give zero for an answer. Others? Their keys would stick. Some gave wrong answers on occasion: “What do you get when you multiply six by 9?” and these stupid machines would give neither 54 nor 42!

    My dad got into the peak oil and alternatives ideas back in 1971/1972, before the Arab oil embargo. They had some computer game in his physics lab about peak oil, food, population growth issues. There was one way to win, and it worked every time: put at least 80% of your money into “new technology”. In other words, the game was set up so that “They’ll think of something” was the winning play. We had solar hot water in the warmer months. His air conditioner was pretty neat. He took a car radiator, ran water through it with a fan behind it. The water that ran out of the radiator watered the fruit trees and vegetable garden.

    Your “Arthur” scenario is quite eerie. Maybe they should redo “Sixth Sense” and have the little boy change his line from “I see dead people” to “I see future warlords”.

    The relationship you have with the birds is wonderful. The birds here have realized that they can drink and take dust baths even if I’m outside. Especially if I’m sitting or at the other side of the yard. Even the skittish sparrows and some extremely skittish doves have gotten used to my being around when they want to drink. The squirrels take one look at me and actually calm down when I’m outside. They know I’ll chase any cats away.


  43. Hi Xabier,

    Yes, a buckler would be a handy bit of kit in a scrap. I’m quite partial to the katana, it casts a rather permanent shadow upon an opponent. 😉 That’s some good thinking with the use of a buckler, yes I can see that would be a problem for the other party.

    I’d doubt that you’d want a heavy shield if fighting hand to hand at sea if deep into pirate life. There would be a not minor issue with retaining balance especially if a blow was to be deflected.

    Hey, it is odd that you mention that bit about the bouts being quickly decided. Earlier forms of martial arts originating from the East were rather quick and decisive. It only becomes a long and drawn out contest if the form moves to more of a sport than a practical method of despatching ones opponents. And there is a decisive difference between the two philosophies.

    What? Didn’t you guys just have freedom day? I keep telling people down here to expect more of the same in the future, but they have this weird program in their heads which suggests that if we but do this one thing (and each step downwards has been a descent), then everything will go back to normal – except other countries are proving this path to be the falsehood that it is. There is an old story about giving and inch and losing a mile. Mate, I tell you truly, in times such as these, it is no bad thing to be a little bit mad. Anyway, by comparison, such an august state is astoundingly sane. 🙂 And thanks for the excellent word of the day. I see your word and raise you: Gumption!



  44. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for mentioning the most excellent blog, and I will be very curious to learn what is being said about us. The Reserve Bank apparently recently backed away from its tapering off objectives in relation to our quantitative easing – and few things suggest ‘messed up’ like that. They’re addicted to the free money stuff and will most likely eventually blow the economy up at some point in the future. The easy option, it should be noted, is more often than not the hard road somehow made to look more appealing than it actually is.



  45. Hi Pam,

    Very wise. It serves no purpose to act so, and events are running away on their merry journey anyway, and where they’ll end up is anyone’s guess.

    We do trees big here. 🙂 Did you see the photo of the grandmother tree I put into the reply to Goran earlier this week? That tree is probably several centuries old and is one of the biggest and oldest in the area. Some of the fruit trees in the orchards have put on a bit of size over the past decade and a bit, but compared to the surrounding forest, they’re babies. 🙂 There are times in which I wonder whether other orchards have to work around such large trees?

    Thanks for saying that about the bathroom. It is one of my favourite rooms to sit in a hot tub of water, gaze out the window (and the view extends easily 30 miles) and just think. Mind you, sometimes the water is super toasty from the solar and/or firewood and I doze. All very pleasant. In the mirror you can see a fun bit of art work which I wrote about years ago. It is called ‘Having a ball’. It always brings a smile to my face.

    It’s early days for the flowers too. 🙂



  46. Hi Al,

    You are a total champion! 🙂 Thanks very much for the link to the service manuals. Do you know that that website doesn’t appear in my searches? Oh well.

    Anyway, you deserve a medal or something like that. The PDF for the amplifier service manual has resolved a number of issues.

    In some ways the amplifier is a bit like myself in that it is not the best of the best quality, but all the same, it is a serious workhorse. With a bit of rain forecast in my immediate future…

    Cheers (and many thanks)


  47. Hi Goran,

    For your interest, those particular variety of strawberry plants have made their way down under, and the local gardening club offers a mix of them for sale: Strawberry Alpine Collection. You’ve intrigued me, and I’ll try to get some – although things are getting sort of difficult down here right now. They’d probably grow well near to the fern gully.

    Thanks for mentioning the mock strawberry as I have never encountered such a plant before. I note that the plant apparently has medicinal uses in relation to eczema. I hear you about that concern, and also note that garden space and fertile soil are not without their limits, as you’d also know. 🙂

    The strawberry plants are coming into flower over the next month or so, so I’ll keep an eye out for the colour of the flowers.

    Out of curiosity, do you preserve your apple harvest? Hazelnuts! Yummo!



  48. Hi Margaret,

    The weather at the moment is swinging between very pleasant, and occasionally quite cold and rainy. Today was pleasant, and so the editor and I headed out and about the nearby area (whilst we could do so). I’m not mucking around when I tell you how quiet it all was. Oh well.

    Your BIL (or was it SIL?) would probably have a fit if he had to run his two restaurants with such limited seating capacity. That particular business is a volume business and relies on the number of covers so as to produce a profit. I’d be certain that this situation was known about when the decision was made. The local pub is still very shut.

    Glad to hear that the health subject which dares not be named has been rather mild in your part of the world. Masks are mandatory inside or outside here, and there are now so many restrictions right across the board that candidly I have failed to keep up with the latest news and developments and so are guided by other peoples actions.

    That doesn’t surprise me because tomatoes had a very rough season last growing season, although I have no idea as to how things rolled in your part of the world? Who’s counting? Well, I have it on good authority that the correct number of rolls to control is 42. Everyone acknowledges this to be true. 🙂 As a thrill seeker I note that I have less than a dozen rolls and am left wondering what everyone uses the stuff for! 😉 No need to reply to that as my imagination fills in the details, plus there was a house mate years ago in my misbegotten youth who was extraordinarily wasteful in her use of toilet paper. Hard questions were asked as I had no desire to pay for such profligacy. And yes, I too am keeping a far greater supply of staples, just in case.

    Nice to hear. Things are very quiet here on a social front, so I am now living vicariously or over the interweb! Hope your sisters move works out OK, and I’m glad to hear that they are out of Chicago, or its suburbs.

    The ear muff spider incident is also a risk down here too. Isn’t it fun to have so many deadly critters accompanying ones journey through life? 🙂 An old mates brother who lives about an hour west of here had a similar ear muff incident. Except that it was a Redback spider which was in his ear muff, and he had to have a section of his ear eventually lopped off. The funny thing was that he was very cool about it all. Not sure that I would have been that cool about such an incident.

    Oh my! Hope Doug is OK. And naughty Leo and also there is a story there for sure. I have absolutely no idea what you mean by ‘putting in a tube’. It sounds rather invasive. There is no TV here, but this is unusual and when I was actually able to visit friends, some friends had their TV on in the background – even if nobody was watching it. And one couple I know occasionally plays some sort of TV with 90’s music videos going on continuously. It’s mesmerising.

    Not to worry, we’ll be locked down again before you know it. And the new mower is a little ripper. 🙂



  49. Hi DJ,

    With the wild foods in this area, I’m in the same boat as I know of only a few. What do you do? It’s a bit like the wild mushrooms growing here in that I’d be certain that at least some are edible, but nobody nowadays really knows. Just thinking out aloud, I’m guessing that the original testing regime for the mushrooms (and other wild foods) was something that individuals were forced into, and there is another school of thought to suggest that the individuals most likely brought such experiments onto their own heads. That’s a wild guess, and some knowledge is hard won, that’s for sure.

    Out of curiosity, did the sister begin the exercises slowly so that people had the chance to warm up that part of their brains? Somebody mentioned to me recently that the times tables are no longer taught in school. That seemed odd to me. When I was a kid, the times tables were taught as a sort of cadence, almost like a marching tune.

    Now, you said ‘your first bosses’. I assume that after this early experience you learned the knack and that was that? There is much left unsaid here, but you needn’t discuss the matter, I hear you. I once began work at a business which had not produced any meaningful set of accounts for at least a year, and that was one holy mess. In these enlightened times, I’d run a mile from such a business. The term ‘internal controls’ has much to recommend it.

    What? Well those calculations are a new one to me. Mind you, a very long time ago I worked for a business that had calendars printed on the cheap as a marketing exercise. And the fun thing was that the calendars had the wrong number of dates for some months! I had some serious laughs from that bit of craziness and note that there is a thing as ‘too cheap’.

    You know, if the dodgy calculator just spewed out the answer – to any question – as the number 42, how much fun would that be? 🙂 I’ll bet somebody has made such a machine.

    You were lucky to have had a dad who understood at least some of the issues we are facing nowadays. Most people I speak with are utterly clueless about such matters, and the old worn out trope about: ‘they’ll think of something’, kind of gets alarmingly tiresome. The problem with the oil embargo in those days was that the problem was never resolved, and here we are today. A month or so ago I watched an interview with the sci-fi author, Frank Herbert where he discussed such matters way back in those days. I was intrigued to note that the interviewer engaged him in earnest conversation as distinct from merely parroting a few questions and not engaging meaningfully with the responses. I’d make an awful interviewer, at least from what is expected these days! 🙂 The short video can be seen here: DUNE Author Frank Herbert on Environmentalism.

    The heat exchanger your dad set up is genius. 🙂 People use evaporative coolers down here, but water is very precious here on the farm.

    Hehe! I’m yet to meet any, but will alert you if the occasion comes to pass. 🙂

    Good to hear that the birds and squirrels understand you. Hey, how are you enjoying retirement?



  50. Hi Lewis,

    It is possible that the film was a bit before the decision makers time. 😉 I sort of interpreted the abrupt change in our policies in relation to that technology as perhaps a realistic nod to the fact that we are almost 90% reliant on overseas supplies of oil. Let’s face facts, you can have all the diesel electric submarines you want, and they can be super effective and take out carriers in war games, but if there is no fuel with which to run them, things can get pretty hairy. Our supply lines are extraordinarily long and fragile, and I reckon the folks making the decisions know this.

    The mower is super nifty! Peak oil is very much like Peak Rocks in that it does not mean that there are no rocks to be had or found, it just means that rocks will get increasingly harder and more expensive to obtain. And at some point it will make no economic sense to recover what rocks there are actually left to be recovered. Woe is me.

    Mr Greer has written about the health side of fraternal orders, and it made a lot of sense to me in that they contracted services for the specific use of their members – and turfed them out on their ear if they were no good. People’s expectations are somewhat high in relation to those services these days. Best not to be involved with such a system in the first place. Insurers and re-insurers I reckon are the canary in the coal mine in that they have to deal with reailities.

    The other day I spoke with a young bloke who mentioned that whilst the first are free, it is very unlikely that the situation will remain that way indefinitely. He makes a good point based on past records. Yeah, you’re not wrong there and I reckon there is a bit of smash and grab going on. When I was a kid, people used to die in their own homes. I read a while back some suggestion that one of the big church groups was involved in palliative care. Hmm.

    Hehe! Well, pragmatist or whatever, if someone purchases the items from an estate, it probably saves them ending up in landfill. Think not of yourself as a pragmatist, but think of yourself as assisting the families. Better by far than useful items ending up in landfill. I’m with you too in that matter. The recession in the early 90’s went on for five years before stabilising out at the flat broke level, and people who didn’t have to work through it, don’t realise how long and painful things can go on for. This one brewing might be a hum dinger – whatever that means.

    Hey, today was really nice and sunny, but a touch windy. It is of course now raining outside as you’d expect. We went and checked out a few interesting things in the nearby area. We’ve begun to produce a list of things to do in the area, and today we marked one of them off. Turpins Falls. We couldn’t get too close because a huge fallen tree had closed off a very difficult and precarious section of the track, but what we did see was amazing. I’ll be really interested to see it after a big rainfall event, although even so it was rocking along quite well.

    That’s quite a lot of people given the small size of your population. The other day I heard somewhere that there are now dozens of variants in circulation.

    Oh yeah, you’re right the evil dentist as portrayed by Steve Martin. Was it Bill Murray who defied Steve his enjoyment, by taking even greater enjoyment in the experience?

    What? Who knew there was a market for such nefarious and yet at the same time, everyday items. This might beat working for mad cash! 🙂 It is evil genius isn’t it.

    It is rather amusing to me that the Bee Gees raised an insightful question in their song “Staying Alive” with the lyrics: “We can try to understand – The New York Times’ effect on man”. Very prescient indeed.

    Probably both tourists and returning Roman soldiers now that I consider the matter. Given what came after the fall of the Roman Empire, it kind of seems really weird that folks in the Roman Empire had enough spare resources to go sight seeing to distant parts of the Empire. Although given the near shut down of international travel in and out of this country right now, the subsequent lack of tourists doesn’t seem that far off the mark.

    Hehe! Actually it’s pretty funny really. Imagine how dull things would be if all that stuff wasn’t going on?

    Yes, yes too true, although I’m pretty sure Mr Greer suggests to maintain prudent stocks, but not so much stocks as to present a target, and then to have enough practical and useful skills so that a lucky person can then replenish those stocks before they peter out. There’s a lot of ifs, buts and chance in there, but well that’s the future. Honestly I keep hearing of all these stashes of 42 rolls and admit to feeling vastly underprepared for any and all eventualities. It should be noted that this makes for a somewhat nervous existence.

    Did the rain arrive? And dare I ask: Was there any frost?



  51. Good afternoon again!

    Gumption. An excellent Old English word, which one never hears these days.

    Having said that, I bet it is Norman-French in origin. The learned Lew can probably enlighten us…….

    Well, what state wants ‘citizens’ with gumption, let alone the bold bravura of panache? Ha ha! Have at you, sir! I fear no man (or virus)!

    Cyrano de Bergerac was a Gascon, who are basically very talkative, brave, soldierly, Frenchified, Basques, so I like him.

    But the pure Basques are reputed to be silent on the whole: ‘Few words, big deeds’ is the proverb: contact with Latin civilisation resulted in the proverbial Gascon.

    Much trepidation here, as Sir Sancho Dogge has just swallowed a WHOLE bone from a lamb chop, which was dropped accidentally, and he snapped it up instantly . He didn’t even chew it first – how on earth is that physically possible!?

    On the one hand, I feel it must surely cause perhaps fatal harm to his intestines: or maybe it will just lodge in his stomach? As a puppy he safely swallowed a whole biro pen – so who knows? Maybe the biro is still in there?

    Dogs can be so innately canny; and yet, so lacking in sense and caution sometimes. Just like us, in fact.

    If the English were what they used to be, they would have laughed at Boris’s so-called, and much postponed, ‘Freedom Day’: it was just a set-up for the predictable winter lock-down, as far as I can see. We were told to be ‘cautious’ and not get ‘de-mob happy’ (yes, Boris does say such imbecilic things) and we weren’t and so…… punishment time.

    All the best


  52. Hi Chris
    I’m so glad you got the manual! There was was whole lot of blind luck button pushing involved in finding the rare free source for old manuals.
    In one of Lew’s recent comments he successfully copied and pasted a very long URL into his text. I hadn’t ever done that trick on my tablet before. When I had the whole manual loaded as a PDF and made a printed copy of it I then highlighted the whole long URL, then pasted it into a blank comment box. That was then addressed to you.

    Now that you see that the inside of that amp is considerably more involved, I think you may want try to identify the component that is emitting the hot part odor and replacing it first. Could be a power resistor that is failing but still letting the unit work. Not uncommon. Even if it is available in the next power rating up as long as the value is the same. If the visual inspection of the existing electrolytic caps show no swelling or opened blowout seals you might want to continue to enjoy the old friend longer. If you had to find a NOS replacement for that 14 pin power IC which contains the 2 MOSFET power amps, or other of the special parts, I think the hassle and expense would be surprising. 30 years is along time in electronics development. 😄
    On my home front we are having the beginning of fall. The 7:30 am temp is 49 F. Tonight we have a forecast for possible rain up to a whole 0.1 inch total WOW!!.

    Cheers Al

  53. @DJ
    Thanks for the suggestion. We gave Doug’s mom headphones like that when she was in the care center. It was a great place and she got wonderful care but she did have a roommate and each of them had a TV so headphones were kind of a necessity. After she passed away I guess we must have given them away.


  54. Hi Chris,

    It’s my BIL who owns the restaurants. There was quite a long time when the number of people inside was restricted and months when no inside dining was allowed. I think it was June when the number restriction went away.

    There are a lot of cases of the unmentionable but those who are vaccinated that come down with it seem to mostly have mild cases. Considering there’s a different story each day who knows what’s really going on.

    You really are living on the edge with only 12 rolls.

    Doug should be fine. He’ll have a tube inserted in his ear to keep it draining I guess. It’ll have to be checked periodically. Young kids who got recurring ear infections commonly had tubes in their ears for awhile though I don’t know if that’s still a practice.


  55. Yo, Chris – Reading over your shoulder / News of the World …

    The Frank Herbert interview was very interesting. So many points he touched on. That there was a time when you could go out and get a job and learn the ropes. No higher education, required. There are still a few good interviewers around, but they’re hard to find. And most of the good old ones, have retired … or died. Charlie Rose was really good. Herbert lived for quit awhile, up in Port Townsend, on our Olympic Peninsula. I see they’re remaking “Dune.” Hope they do a bitter job of it, than the original movie. What a hash.

    Another use for the state National Guards. In some places, they’ve been called out to drive … school buses. 🙂 . Probably not what they signed up for, but they’ll discover those ankle biters can be just as vicious as the Taliban.

    As I didn’t want to drag 12 roll packs of paper products, through the streets, I pretty much found out (for me) how long 42 rolls last. Of course, some of it was trade goods. 🙂 . But, it figures out to about a roll a week. Over nine months.

    “On the Beach” was remade as a TV movie, in 2000. I think I saw it. Couldn’t hold a candle, to the original film. There was also a TV series, 2014-18 called “The Last Ship.” But it was about a pandemic and a US Navy destroyer. I watched a couple of seasons, and got bored with it.

    The folks making decisions know your supply lines are long and fragile? Are you sure about that?

    People can decide, and many do, to die at home. But you have to be cagey, setting up the paper work, while your still compos mentis. And don’t have any obstructive relatives, around. My mother, when she got liver cancer, decided to go that route. Here, we have an organization called “Visiting Nurses,” (which can apply to many different organizations, worldwide. Apparently, no one trade marked the name). Anyway. Here, they provide palliative hospice, in home care. Mostly, free. It can start when they figure your within six months of your departure date.

    When Victorian and Edwardian furniture prices, took a plunge, I thought it might be profitable to buy up a lot of it, warehouse it, and sell it off, later. But, given my age … and lack of faith that any kind of market will return … I think I’ve mentioned I kind of grew up in a high end antique shop. Museum quality stuff. Well, the owner, when she was young, during the Great Depression, lived in Chicago. Her family was in hops, so, had money during that time. She was discrete, and so, quietly bought up high end tat from old families, that were trying to keep up a front. She warehoused it, and when her husband retired from the hop business, and times were better, they opened a high end antique shop. Did quit well. Or, at least, were comfortable. But I can’t see that happening, again. Although, in the last AARP magazine, (American Association of Retire Persons) there was a sidebar claiming a return to … fussy? Here’s a different article that talks about it.

    Blue and white china and china cupboards are coming back? We’ll see.

    Turpins Falls is really beautiful. Nice place for a picnic. Wonder if it was named after a notorious English highwayman, named Dick Turpin? 🙂 Early 18th century.

    The Romans traveled for a lot of reasons, and they had all those roads … Diplomats, government officials, soldiers … People visiting healing sites, or, visiting an oracle. I happen to have a book, “The Edge of the Empire: A Journey to Britannia from the Heart of Rome to Hadrian’s Wall.” (Riley, 2015). From the dust jacket: “What awaits the traveler to Britannia? How will you get there? What do you need to pack? What language will you speak? How does London compare to Rome? Are there any tourist attractions? And what dangers lurk behind Hadrian’s new Wall?” This speculated journey takes place around 130 CE.

    I just happened to see a bit about one of those enamel cups, yesterday. It’s a twitter feed, so, I can’t link to it. Some of the comments were interesting. And, amusing. Someone wondered if they weren’t given to old retiring soldiers. (My thought: As gold watches hadn’t been invented, yet.) Another observed that this must have been before souvenir spoons were invented 🙂 .

    It started raining, last night. My barometer is plunging into territory it hasn’t seen in months. H is skeptical of her winter plaid coat. I picked a gallon of blueberries, yesterday. I’m pretty much stripping the bushes. The Inmates have had their chance, and the foliage is beginning to turn color. I also picked about a gallon of tomatoes, which are just coming out of the dehydrator. One of the Master Gardeners just dropped off a bag of Elderberries.

    I happened to see Suzanne Who Always Has a Better Idea, just as I was finishing picking the tomatoes. I told her I thought I’d better pick the blueberries and tomatoes, before the freeze 🙂 . She finally caved and said she installed a weather ap. Of course, since she Always Has a Better Idea, she installed the NOAA one, instead the the National Weather Service, that I’ve been advising all along. I didn’t tell her they’re one in the same 🙂 .

    Well, I just zombied out, last night. First I watched “Exhumed: A History of Zombies.” Not a bad documentary. A little heavy on the “…slave trade…” blah, blah, blah, “…cultural appropriation…” blah, blah, blah. “…slave trade…” blah, blah, blah. But there were some interesting bits. Zombie movies, as they change and evolve, really mirror whatever is going on in society. When “Night of the Living Dead” came out in the 1960s, it really had a subtext about the Civil Rights Movement. When “Dawn of the Dead” came out in 1978, it had a lot to say about consumer culture.

    Then I watched “Dead Again,” which was a total waste of time. An English zombie film, that, I think, was trying to be a mash up between “Shaun of the Dead,” Hot Fuzz,” and “The World’s End.” Lousy acting, abysmal special effects, muddled plot … what there was of it. I fast forwarded through massive swatches of it. Lew

  56. Chris,

    I can just see it now.
    King: Cook, how do ya KNOW that’s a eatable mushroom? Have yer eaten any?
    Cook: Nope, not me. But I gave some to that no good scamp of a cook’s assistant yer just captured from those numpties south of Hadrian’s Wall.
    King: And???
    Cook: Well, um, he’s okay now.
    King: Now? What about before the now?
    Cook: Well, he was in no good condition when ye gave him ta me, yer remember, and them mushrooms, well, he ferted rather loudly fer an hour efter he et them and then he was finer than when I got him.
    King: Oh, so they CAN be ate! And the be musical, too? So serve them wi’ some of them beans and we won’t need the troubador for musical entertainment, hahaha!
    (Author’s note: that took an unexpected turn. Sometimes the story takes over.)

    Time to mentally warm up? Oh, heck no. Sister started at full speed ahead. Every day, every time. She also roamed the hallways during her “class preparation hour”. She’d sneak into the back of a classroom and stand there, motioning to any observant students to shut up or else! My other 7th grade teacher was always engrossed in grading papers when Sister walked in. After a couple minutes, Sister would let out with a cheery “HELLOOOOO!” at full voice, the poor teacher jumping the most. Sister would laugh and then tell her that she needs to look up and pay attention every now and then lest the entire class disappear on her.

    Yes, we tried that once. It almost worked, too, except the class dunce, near the last to sneak out, started laughing which got the teacher’s attention. Great idea Sister had, though!

    From the Small World Department…I lived until I was 7 in Whittier, California, near the roundabout end of a cul-de-sac. In the house next to the corner house before turning onto our street was a family with 3 teenage girls. Imagine our total surprise when I began at Sister’s school find that my 7th grade teacher was the oldest of those 3 from Whittier!

    The first bosses had never seen me work. And the Big Boss had been on medical leave from heart surgery when I started there. Now, when I was doing the spreadsheet, I not only concocted the formulas, but I made sure all the answers made intuitive sense. Gotta make sure things make sense before moving them to the bosses. Just because that’s how they taught us in my high school math classes and forever in physics. But the first bosses didn’t know that. When Big Boss saw my first spreadsheet, that was the first question he asked, if I’d done the “dumb test”. Didn’t take him long to understand that “The Kid”, as he called me, relied on intuition and old school methods more than on the computer, and that the “dumb test” was second nature to The Kid.

    Any doubts got erased about 5 months into my employment. We had a HUGE open house for the neighborhood potentially involved in a joint sewer/paving project, much of the cost to the home owners. The first bosses scored the 2 calculators our group had, leaving me to rely on Sister’s methods, so to speak. The Assistant Biggest Boss shadowed me for about 45 minutes but kept behind me where I didn’t see him. I answered multiple questions along the lines of how much the paving would cost that individual, how much total if payments were made over 10 years rather than up front in a lump sum, how much to save per month to make the annual payment, etc. Assistant Big Boss finally told me he’d been checking my answers with his calculator and was amazed that not only did I give correct answers, but I was faster than he could enter the numbers. So he told my first bosses that I was competent. Then as a “reward” he gave me special projects to do that nobody else could figure out. Those special projects were actually fun.

    Back when I was teaching physics labs and some physics lecture courses, I mentioned the 42 thing early in every term. Each homework assignment and each test had at least one answer that was 42 in some form, like 420 km per hour, or maybe, 0.042 ohms or something like that. The students all thought I was loony.

    Ah yes, Frank Herbert. Thanks for the link to the interview. I enjoyed it. Oh, and I’ve heard from various people, teachers, students and parents, that the multiplication tables are no longer being taught. I, too, remember those cadenced memory drills for the tables. They don’t need to learn those any longer, because there are calculators and computers everywhere that can do it for them. Erm, I kinda see another type of “Frank Herbert Moment” hitting us upside the head, leading to the Butlerian Jihad or something. (Don’t rely on machines made in the likeness of human minds.) I don’t consider my abilities to have been spectacular – familiarity with numbers and a lot of practice, but not close at all to the Rainman category – but compared with the younger generations I’m some kind of mentat. Sorta sad and eerie.

    I enjoyed the tinkering dad did, and wish that I’d learned better how he made things. That heat exchanger he made was my favorite. At least a lot of the ideas – properly insulated house, grow some of your own food, things like that – many of those ideas stuck and are part of me. I’m fortunate.

    Retirement? Best job I ever had! I no longer have to rush on household chores and overexert as a result. Now, spend a few hours here, some time there, and I’m catching up and enjoying the activities. With the added benefit of having a better overall fitness level than when I was at the office daily, even with a lot of daily exercise back then. I’m busier than when I had a job, and enjoying it. Thanks for asking.


  57. Hi Xabier,

    It’s a great word isn’t it? A shame it is not heard often in these enlightened days.

    Mate, I don’t understand any of it, but all the same a lack of understanding does not preclude being caught up in an intricate web of unpleasantness. I tend to look at the unfolding situation from the point of view of: what does the standard run model of the Limits to Growth have to say about our present conditions. It’s remarkably accurate, and it unfortunately suggests that more strangeness is to come. However the current arrangements are only really possible because there are just so many little clever devices which cause all manner of mischief for people. They’ll be harder to replace, every single year. Just take modem/routers, my experience over the past decade is that they last for about two years before then getting a little bit weird (I use the mobile phone network to connect up) and needing replacement. Let alone all those lithium cobalt batteries people rely upon.

    Down here that personality trait is described as taciturn. Here I have to out myself as being a very chatty individual, you may have noticed? 🙂 Anyway, they say still waters run deep, but the cynic in me suggests that such people have nothing to say…

    Hope Sir Sancho recovered from his greedy guts lamb chop incident? You’d have to imagine that he knew his business well enough to know what he was doing? Ruby is in a total state about this unexpected turn of events, and she sends her best wishes for a speedy recovery.

    There is a sense of punishment being meted out down here too. After 230 days in lock down, I can’t remember the last time we went out for dinner. You’re probably right. Honestly, there are so many variants to this story that you can never cover them all, how could we expect a smooth end point? And always those Limits to Growth lurk away in the background, whether we acknowledge them or no.



  58. Hi Al,

    You’re right about luck playing into the story. When I looked into the story a while ago, many of the websites required a person to log in in order to access the manuals. Interestingly the power amp IC SV13102B is still available. How amazing is that? It’s probably a good design.

    The website comments can take HTML code for URL’s and that is how I get a weblink up. This excellent website provides instructions on the exact format of the command (which just sits anywhere in the text with your comment): HTML Links Hyperlinks

    Oh, I knew the circuit was fairly complicated, but compared to more modern equipment, it is kind of basic and thus easy to repair. And thanks for the advice. I’ll replace the caps if only because I understand that they cannot be tested in circuit and sometimes failed caps don’t necessarily display as you’d expect failed caps to look. Then I’ll use my nose to suss out what other components are a bit dodgy.

    Brr! Very soon our temperatures will be roughly the same. I’d appreciate the lost hour back again once you’ve finished with it.



  59. Hi Margaret,

    Hope he is doing OK. I’ll be curious to see if the dining limits are returned. You never know what strange things the future will hold.

    Thanks for the update on events from your part of the world. It is on the increase down here, that’s for sure. After so many days in lock down (230 days as a reminder), it kind of feels like a new normal. And the underlying predicaments facing our civilisation were never really addressed – unless of course this is how we are going about addressing them. That’s possible.

    Yes, thanks. With only less than 12 rolls near to hand I do feel kind of vulnerable. 🙂 Of all the things for people to concern themselves with, that concern just seems super odd to me. Flour (for those who can tolerate gluten) seems kind of important. Fresh fruit and vegetables (which not that many people eat in these enlightened days, although here I buck the trend) – also important. Canned tomatoes – yeah I get that. But toilet paper – I don’t get that, but it seems like a harmless enough thing for people to concern themselves with.

    Thanks for the explanation, and I hope that the tube works out for Doug and drains the fluid in his ears. Sight and hearing are pretty important senses, and age is not kind to them.



  60. Hi DJ,

    Exactly! And thanks for the laughs. It’s pretty funny and very Blazing Saddles. 🙂 There’s always room for flatulence jokes, and anyway everyone loves a good fart joke. But yeah, you just know deep down that testing for food toxicity was a necessary step in the search for greater knowledge. I read somewhere years ago that when tomato plants were first introduced to Europe, people used to dare each other to consume the leaves, only to become quite ill. Not a wise move.

    What? The Sister was a lively one, that’s for sure. Dunno about your perspective, but when I ran the graduate program I really tried to make the learning fun for the graduates, but the thing is, making learning fun does not also equate to making learning comfortable. By its very definition, there becomes a need to stretch ones former self when learning, and this is not usually a comfortable experience.

    Hehe! I hear you about that, and it really is a small world sometimes. There are persons that I work with now, who know people up in this part of the world whom I interact with regularly. As a general rule I am invariably polite with everyone, except for the occasional folks who let me know in no uncertain terms that this policy is an unwise course of action. Then that lot get dealt to on my terms. Even today it surprises me that people would act so, but they do.

    The dumb test sorts out the men from the boys, the women from the girls, and the real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri from the everyday juvenile sort of small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri! I too stress test my spreadsheets, and a few weeks ago was brought in to sort out an epic spreadsheet – which I did over a few weeks. Haven’t heard much about it since then if only because folks have other things on their minds right now. It is crazy down here…

    Well done you, and it should be noted that competency is a trait which is in rather short supply these days. I had a somewhat different experience. I mentioned working as a really young bloke for some folks who had not produced any meaningful accounts for at least a year. Nowadays I would run a mile from such a circumstance, but back then I was young and dumb and sought to test my mettle against the world. Anyway, each month they had tens of thousands of transactions and there was money flowing all over the place (much of it in cash), but slowly and surely the team and I (at the head of the team) brought order to the chaos. Once it was put to order and regular processes and internal controls were sorted out, I was in need of a mental break. Yet they wanted more from me and pushed hard for that outcome. You can see how this ended up. I had to leave. It surprised me that they were not content with the win, but then that also alludes to how they arrived where they were in the first place. I now have a saying that: The difficult I can do, the impossible might just take a bit longer!

    The 42 thing is genuinely funny, and also it would have provided a neat cross check as to their answers (if the students had considered the matter further).

    Exactly, the film RoboCop taught me everything I need to know about, how did you put it again, “machines made in the likeness of human minds”. Yes, these are not human minds, but rather machines which ape a human mind, and who knows what dark thoughts they have in the wee hours of the night, and when they’ll act out upon those?

    Mate, we are all here to test our mettle against the flow of the fates and none of us can know in advance where those currents will take us. I’m currently reading Geoffrey of Monmouth’s book Vita Merlini on the life of Merlin. I’m about half way through the text and so far, and Merlin’s foreknowledge has protected him, but also equally exposed him to continual harm. The young folks will be just fine. How could it be otherwise? You need not worry about them.

    Hehe! Well haven’t we had similar experiences. I too wished that I’d paid more attention to my grandfather when he was effortlessly growing things in his super neat garden (formerly a tennis court). All we can do is put our shoulders to the load and do our best. A strong memory from my early years was plucking out ripe pink radishes and eating them raw for the sheer mouth zing. Our regrets are also mirrored in the future events. How could it be otherwise?

    Glad to hear and respect for your enjoyment. 🙂



  61. Hi Lewis,

    It was a bit weird, but by the sheerest of random chances I came across the Frank Herbert interview a week or two back. What really interested me about the interview was that back in 1977, he was talking about future events which are now over a decade in the past. Ook! That was awkward. But what I liked about the interview was that it was almost as if two old mates had gotten together and decided to have a chat about the world. Interviewers these days generally don’t engage in dialogue, and mate I’ve listened to politicians taking advantage of that inadequacy and they drone on and on. Boring. The national youth broadcaster has a few of them which conduct dialogue and usually it is with musicians, but the skill to do that engagement becomes rarer. The news folks appear to just want to score points, but maybe I’m being harsh as they don’t have that much time allocated for each subject and therein lays a trap of sorts. I tend to reduce the number of things I set out to achieve, and there is a sort of freedom in doing so. I note that folks were outwitting the constabulary today in the big smoke in protests, but you know the system will come unglued in its own time and in its own way, this is an inevitable outcome of the strategies being pursued and the background circumstances. Better to go off in a different direction and do something else with your time than that. Although it is not lost on me that the folks protesting and the folks arrayed against them are also consuming precious and finite resources including time itself. They all just can’t see it.

    I enjoyed the original Dune film, but it was perhaps a bit short to fully encompass the sheer complexity of Frank Herbert’s epic universe. He was a good mate of Jack Vance too! And both of them had worked at odd jobs here and there with no formal education other than what they took from books, but you know I sort of suspect that that imbued their writings with a worldliness that other authors lacked. For example, Jack Vance can recount a story of an inn keeper playing dastardly tricks upon the customers, if only because he had been in just such a situation himself and been ripped off. On the other hand, I do not believe that an author has to suffer the indignities visited upon the fictional characters in order to be authentic. This is taking the viewpoint a step too far, but all the same I have heard the preposterous claim be made.

    The idea of the National Guard driving school buses kind of seems a bit odd. Mate, I’m not equal to those rapscallions either. 🙂

    The barter and exchange system is strong with this one… (spoken in my best evil emperor voice). You and Margaret are miles ahead of me there, and candidly it makes for a nervous existence. Plus I use the recycled office paper sourced variety of wipey stuff and have had visitors appalled at the outrage to their delicate bits. I’m sure I’ve recounted the story of coercing by sheer force of personality a very large business into using 100% recycled paper for their printing. The push back was real. And it was then that I knew our fate was preordained. There is a lot of talk about respect for the environment, but not much action.

    Speaking of which, I let the young and obstreperous Plum out into the orchard to go wee last evening. As a lady of the purest breeding, it is unseemly to speak of her necessary bathroom matters, but stuff it. So the little bitch decided to flush out a wombat who was in the orchard hiding from the obstreperous sheep dog and then proceeded to chase the wombat. Fool me once… Now Plum has earned the right to be let out on a long retractable string. Serves her right.

    Thanks for the local film recommendation. The actors had quite the fun time of it back in the day. The editor wishes to watch The Station Agent this evening, and so a second viewing is in store. Plus home made pizza. I’m looking forward to delving back into that fictional world. And Peter Dinklage like Woody, can do no wrong. Of late I’ve had a hankering to watch an old film with Woody. Doc Hollywood. I rather enjoyed it back in the day.

    No, I’m not sure about that. But on the other hand it was an abrupt policy change not put to the public. So this is suggestive of the larger realities.

    Ah, of course, down here we have the Royal District Nursing Services, and I had not understood their role until I read your comment. The editor is very clear on my intentions in this regard, as I am with hers. But yes, I have heard of interfering and well meaning relatives extending pain and suffering well beyond its use by date.

    No, I can’t recall you mentioning that before. No wonder you enjoyed the Goldfinch film! The owner of the shop followed the same route during that time as some famous families in your country. To be able to see where the wind is blowing whilst not also blowing your own resources is a skill commanded by only a few.

    Oh my gawd! Lewis, the link to interior decor is kind of scaring me a bit. So the last big recession in the early 90’s down here, people retreated into a shabby chic style of decorating which was part farm house and part floral overload. And what did you just link to?

    Turpin “behav’d himself with amazing assurance”, and “bow’d to the spectators as he passed”. What more can a person do at such a time? I note that body snatchers attempted to take the corpse, which was recovered by a mob…

    Yeah, it amazes me that the ancient Romans travelled as far and as widely as they did. In many ways they were a lot like us. I rarely travel far these days. And like Merlin of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s narrative, I appreciate the forest and mountains.

    But yeah, that is pretty funny about the souvenir spoons, albeit a millennia and a whole lot ago.

    But did you get much rain? The weather station here predicted a storm last evening, but only 1/5th of an inch actually fell. H is a lady sensitive to her environment and well aware of the coming colder days. I too would strip the blueberry bushes. You can inform your inmates that talk does not cook the rice, and hope without backbone sounds kind of lazy.

    Oh no! You’ve gotten to the bottom of Suzanne’s difficulties and discovered further difficulties. It is a complicated road you have ventured upon.

    Zombies do have their origins in that part of the world, and best not mess with that stuff. But I get that about reflecting the times, and being able to talk about otherwise unmentionable problems. The undead are good like that.

    The film sounds horrific! Yikes.



  62. Hi Chris
    When the weather and all moon phases and signs of nature are auspicious for the recapping of the SU 610. You will be able with your Soldapulit solder sucker and solder wick. To cleanly remove each electrolytic capacitor. If your digital multimeter has a capacitor checking function you will be able to establish if it is still within its value range. It is truly amazing that even the least expensive of these hand held devices are so equipped compared to what was available when I was in my youth.

    When you get to the Yamaha T80 or 85 you will be fine!
    Glad to help where I could
    Cheers Al

  63. Yo, Chris – Had to haul three boxes of food, down to the pantry, at the Club. And, there was the off-chance that Scott might show up. Which he did. One box was from Elinor’s pantry clean out, one was stuff off the swap table and the last was my entire box, that I got yesterday. There were a few things in there I usually use, but my pantry is well stocked with those items. So why not share the wealth?

    The produce box from yesterday, was pretty good. Celery, carrots, a bag of apples, a small clam shell of cherry tomatoes, and lots of single things. Green pepper, zucchini, cucumber. I grabbed enough cucumbers off the swap table, that I can do another round of cucumber Harvester salad.

    Yes, I saw a headline or two about more Melbourne protests. Today, there’s supposed to be a big rally in our nation’s and state capitols. I don’t expect they’ll be much of a turnout, but, I might be surprised. After the last go-around on January 6th, people have discovered there are consequences. The Powers That Be are still hunting them down. The cases are hitting the courts, right now, and there are prison terms being handed out. When I saw all those devices being waved about, and selfies being taken, I thought to myself, “This will not end well.”

    Re: The wipey stuff. Might want to lay in a supply of Sear’s catalogues. As our grandparents did. Ooops! They don’t publish those, anymore. Might want to plant a lot of corn, this year. I’ve been told the cobs were often pressed into service. Or, you could plant a lot of Mullein. The leaves can be applied to tender bits. Though it seems to self seed quit nicely, on it’s own. Speaking of Mullein, I ran across something interesting, the other day. If you crush the seeds of the Mullein, and cast it on still waters, the fish will float to the top, stunned. No messing about with fishing tackle.

    I’ll be interested to hear the Editor’s take, on “The Station Agent.” Since I’m old and can take a long view, on some things, it’s really interesting, to me, that actors in Ye Olde Days had such a strong screen presence. I really notice it, when I compare an old movie, with one that’s been re-done. As with, “On the Beach.” Or even when I watched the film, “Chocolate.” I couldn’t help but consider how some of the old male actors, would have been so much better in the Johnny Depp role. I mean, he was fine, but, how much more depth would have been brought to the part, had it been Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart or even Errol Flynn?

    Yup. Chintz is back! 🙂 . Time was, in the tat trade, I could get a premium price for chintz china. Especially if English made.

    I mentioned the Staffordshire figures, that were so popular with the middling folk, in the mid 19th century. Well, even though it was a hundred years, or more, on, Dick Turpin was a popular Staffordshire figure. Given the number that are still kicking around. Clearly, he lived on in memory. I was curious as to if Currier & Ives did any lithographs, of Dick Turpin. Couldn’t find out, but, I see numerous films were done, about him. Including a number of silent films.

    220 days in lockdown, and not a decent sit down restaurant meal? Wasn’t there a night out at a posh hotel, with some dining involved? 🙂 . But my memory may be faulty. Lew

  64. Hi Al,

    🙂 You guessed it correctly. And yes, indeed I do have a capacitance tester sitting in front of me (or just over to the side). A mate of mine suggested that I should sell off the old capacitors as some folks are interested in purchasing such items. I recall the earlier days when testing devices were very, very expensive.

    Actually the ultimate goal is to build up enough skills so as to be able to service the household DC to AC inverter – should it requires that.



  65. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks very much for the fascinating article on male labour participation in the workforce. It sure tells a story and the comparison to the wealth graph was astounding. And yeah, all those stories, I hear them in one form or another.

    At your suggestion I delved into the murky world of the news in relation to happenings in your part of the world and noted that nothing was reported upon.

    You’ve done some good work there with the sharing of food (I almost typed doof instead – go figure). It’s such a primal urge, and some folks unbeknownst to themselves right now are probably going to score some free eggs this week. It’s nice to spread the spring joy and bounty.

    When reading Vita Merlini, I did notice that the successful King died of old age and was noted for sharing his wealth. There is a lesson there.

    Did the cherry tomatoes have taste? How could they not? Your larder is replete after such actions.

    As I previously mentioned, the matter has not been reported upon in this corner of the planet. The local constabulary are expressing their concerns at being used as a shield (or a focus depending upon a persons perspective): Victorian police union says officers treated like ‘punching bags’ at violent Melbourne anti-lockdown protests. It is not lost on me that some folks channel their frustration via violence, and that is how they roll. I would not poke such folks, but that is me. If they are not careful, they’ll be sucked into a vortex of escalation and more fool them if they do. It is not hard to avoid that trap.

    And yeah, you’re right, why ever would you put your face to such an event given the propensity for control such as facial recognition and the weirdness that is anti-social media? It makes no sense to me.

    Hehe! Yes, I am well aware that mail order catalogues used to be used to wipe ones delicate bits after having excreted some night soil. From what I understood the mail order catalogues served a dual purpose with reading and wiping.

    Mullein is a fascinating plant which I reckon grows here all unassisted and stuff. Certainly it looks familiar, and has some very interesting traditional uses.

    The Editor rather enjoyed the film. We’re in a crazy lock down and so social bonds have been broken and we just make do as best as we can. And the film spoke to that story. Actors aren’t there are set pieces, and they have to earn their living by projecting an emotional state for the audience to appreciate. Looks I have noted are not enough in such an industry, and I’ve noted that character actors have a longer shelf life. In the Station Agent, when Peter Dinklage hit the local tavern, he totally projected ‘bad boy Peter’, and then in the shocking aftermath projected the seriousness of utter despair. That’s great acting, and the best of the best now, are still pretty excellent. I quite enjoyed the Chocolate film, but yeah I take your point.

    Go the Chintz, and may your pockets be lined with gold, or at least something else that is equally valuable. 🙂 The times call for such outcomes.

    OK. So what exactly was it about Dick Turpin that engendered feelings of respect with the general population. Certainly he had done some heinous deeds. Has anybody addressed what factors drove him to such an outcome?

    As a minor correction, I’ll posit 230 days is closer to the correct number. But yes, you are correct in your supposition. What was only recently considered normal is so far from the long term historic norm, that plenty of people are having a melt down. Or had you not noticed this? 🙂

    Better get writing.



  66. Yo, Chris – Yes, I thought that was an interesting article about the workforce. I linked to it, over at Mr. Greer’s. It will be interesting what he or the Commentariate have to say about it. One could almost say men have a choice of rolls? Though it may be more circumstance, than choice.

    Yes. In our nation’s capitol, and on the local front, things were pretty quiet. In both places, there were more police and media, than demonstrators.

    I have another bag to take down to the Club, this morning. Someone else cleaned out their pantry. And there’s plenty left to take to the Mission and the Women’s Shelter. The “Mission” is the Union Gospel Mission, which I don’t know too much about. But, a quick look into the rabbit hole says they were founded here in the Pacific Northwest. They’re kind of like the Salvation Army.

    I see other people are starting to contribute to the pantry. Good. I’d hoped that that would happen. We also have a few gardeners, bringing in extra stuff from their gardens. But, that’s pretty seasonal.

    I’ve often had the opinion that character actors, who show up again and again in films, are people who a.) show up on time b.) know their lines and c.) are pleasant to everyone.

    I watched “In Like Flynn” last night. Lots of fist fights and shot outs. Great photography. Worth a look.

    Dick Turpin had a good PR man 🙂 . Very soon after his execution, someone came out with a book, which pretty much fictionalized his life. Sensationalism, sells. And then there were ballads. Printed as single sheets and widely circulated. He became a kind of Robin Hood character.

    Well, in some places, you said 220 and in others, 230. Time marches on, I suppose 🙂 . Meltdowns? One hears stories …

    It was announced in the newspaper, last night, that the shopping center where the Club rents space, has been sold.,272863

    Doesn’t sound like much will change. At least it wasn’t bought by some financial investment corporation. Lew

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