Last week a whole bunch of scrap materials (including an old car radio), were used to produce a boom box powered by the sun. It’s for the new shed. Not a bad idea, although some of the details were a bit dodgy. Take for instance the car radio itself. One of the two audio channels didn’t work, and the stupid thing had a radio design which was so poorly contrived, that it couldn’t pick up any signals from the national youth broadcaster: Triple J. Basically, the thing could play mp3 audio files through one speaker, but other than that, it was useless.
Sandra saw the despair in my face at the lack of Triple J reception and dodgy sound, and made the friendly suggestion: Why don’t you just get a better car radio? A top idea! Thursday morning we headed out of the hills, stopped off at a few places along the way, but more importantly dropped into a car parts retailer in a nearby township. Who needs to pop some tags when high quality car radio’s are crazy cheap nowadays?
Saw a high quality radio for not much mad cash, bought a high quality car radio for not much mad cash. Installed it later that day. Triple J was being received loud and clear, that was until I did something weird to the antenna. Time was short, and the kitchen at the local pub closes for last orders at 8pm sharp, and so the mystery as to what went wrong with the antenna had to wait for another day.
Being something of an amateur electronics geek from way back in the day I was eventually able to work out what had gone wrong with the antenna. Electronic detective work necessitated dismantling the thing and taking a good look at each of the components. Turns out the antenna wasn’t properly grounded. So I attached it to a large metal shelving unit and Triple J is now being received clear as!
The physical design of car radios in that format hasn’t changed much in three decades. As I installed the new car radio, the thought popped into my head: With the high quality unit costing very little mad cash, why did the fascia panel need to be detachable? A removable fascia panel was originally considered a deterrent to theft. There’s no point stealing a car radio without the controls (on the removable fascia) with which to operate the thing. Way back in the day, car radio’s were actually regularly stolen from cars, and then fenced. Being fenced means that the crim would sell your high quality expensive car radio at the pub – possibly not the local pub – or in the classifieds (a weekly printed form of eBay) to someone else for a tidy profit. But when car radios cost very little, and there doesn’t seem to be much of a market for them anyway, why keep up the design of the removable fascia panel with all the additional manufacturing complexity and cost that design would entail?
But mostly, the detachable fascia panel reminded me of a car radio (one of many) that was stolen almost three decades ago.
Time changes us, and way back in those days I had a falling out with a mate who I’d known since primary school. We didn’t fight or anything like that, but maybe the experience of having him in the same share house gave me too much of an insight into the guy. Whatever the case, after moving out of the share house, we drifted apart and things were never really the same again.
We’d kept in touch, but I avoided him, there were other friends I’d prefer to spend time with. Then he asked me if I wanted to hang out with him and his girlfriend. My mate was living at his grandmothers place in return for helping out around the household. I thought to myself that maybe this is a good chance to reconnect and just plain old hang out and talk rubbish for the evening.
I parked the car on the street outside the house. The vibe was a bit weird, but we talked some rubbish, and my mate seemed insistent on watching an episode of an odd cartoon: ‘Powdered Toast Man’. People who know me well, know I rarely sit down to watch television, but I made an exception then due to the friendship issues. The cartoon didn’t appeal, and my mate had the volume way up loud.
The night finished not long after the cartoon ended. I said my goodbyes and may even have mumbled something about doing that again sometime soon. We went back out onto the street, and yeah, someone had ripped off my car radio. And it was an expensive car radio. My mate seemed ever so slightly too interested in my emotional reaction to the loss. A little Devil on my shoulder whispered that he’d set this up, but I didn’t really know. I did know that his brother was a car nut and was at that time restoring a car. Anyway, so whilst I set out to reconnect with my old mate, someone disconnected and thefted off with my expensive car radio.
The visit was not long. And I made a decision then and there that I’d made the right decision in the first place to pull away from that friendship. All those thoughts took place in moments, but seeing my mate look for an emotional response gave me the creeps, and so I gave little away other than an utterance of some appropriate profanity.
Headed out of there, and went to file a police report thinking I could claim the expensive car radio theft on insurance. That was when I learned that some policemen have no sense of humour. During the filing of the report, I humorously remarked that: “Even worse was that they stole my Bob Marley CD”. It sounded funny to me, but Mr no-humour gave me a look and asked: Have you been drinking? We were all business after that. And the insurance didn’t cover the theft of car radio no matter how expensive the thing was. So in some ways, I’m kind of glad that these car radio things have little apparent value nowadays, and I get to listen to Triple J loud and clear.
The earthworks for the greenhouse expansion project continued this week. Another 8 foot long steel rock gabion cage was relocated. The cages and rocks are being moved from the site of the current greenhouse.
It takes about a day of work to relocate a rock gabion cage. The previous weeks cage has to be sewn up with heavy duty wire. A flat site is then prepared for the next empty steel cage, and then the empty cage is place there on a bed of rock crusher dust, and then levelled. An existing full rock gabion cage is cut open (without damaging the cage itself) and the rocks are removed and relocated. At the conclusion of the work, we are left with an empty steel cage to which we’ll do the same thing over again next week.
After a lot of work, the steel cage gets filled with carefully placed rocks. The rocks may look randomly placed, but the reality is otherwise.
With two rock gabion cages now in place, I spent a few hours installing the ground level storm water drain which runs around the new shed.
The new shed project has allowed us to de-clutter some of the other sheds. Sandra seems to have taken over the cantina shed, which I have now nicknamed: The Chick Cave. It seems appropriate, to me at least! We had a steel shelving unit which was converted into a work bench using some scrap plywood and timber. It looks good and is super strong.
Many of the raised garden beds adjacent to the kitchen were given a hard prune. One of the very best summer leafy green plants is perennial rocket, but towards the end of the season it has to be ruthlessly cut back hard where it will then produce another flush of leaves. All other Brassica species of plants are destroyed by cabbage moth larvae – it’s brutal.
The Globe Artichokes were also cut back hard. The older stems die off and dry, whilst new growth appears at the base of the plant. All of the older stems were put through the 9hp scary old wood chipper. That machine is a beast of a machine, and it chipped up all but one huge base of dried stem that was four inches in diameter and it was so tough that you could have milled floorboards from the thing. The chipped up material was chucked back onto the garden bed soil.
The corn was a bit weird this year. The plants produced Corn Ear Tassels. I’ve never seen that before:
We didn’t plant that much corn this year compared to previous years. Earlier years produced too much corn which soon went starchy tasting. In those earlier years there were more cobs than we could eat or preserve, and so we planted less plants this year.
This week included a few warmer days, and the very first tomatoes have slowly begun to ripen.
Ruby managed to scale a six foot soil embankment so as to clamber into the tomato enclosure. She must have had fun chasing a rat in there, because her fur ended up becoming tinged with a green hue from coming into contact with the tomato plants. Many of the tomato plants were squashed in the process.
The other day we spotted a kangaroo enjoying the plants in the paddock below where the new gabions were installed.
It’s been a cold summer which hasn’t suited the tomatoes, but the beans have loved the conditions: We’ve been experimenting with bean salad, and have settled on a fermented bean salad. It’s very good.
Despite the dry conditions of the past few weeks, Kale seedlings are springing up all over the place.
And I needn’t have worried about the zucchini. The plants really are related to Triffid’s – turn your back on them for a moment and they’ll produce monster fruit.
And adjacent to the terraces that contain the many varieties of rose plants, a self seeded rose has grown. I’ve never seen that happen before. It’s a pink flowering form, and I may have to relocate it.
Onto the flowers:
The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 16’C (61’F). So far this year there has been 104.0mm (4.1 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 103.0mm (4.0 inches)