The Only Way

The Dirt Rat is dead,
Long live The Dirt Rat!

What the heck? How could this be happening, and now of all times. So, you’ve gotta lower the window all the way down, then keep the switch pressed firmly for a few moments. That will reset the body computer. Then you can wind the window fully back up. Please don’t touch the window controls again.

I’ve got this ongoing joke with pretty much everyone who interacts with me that I’m limited, and as such can only do one thing at a time. Never fails to amuse me, exasperate others, and is inevitably met with disbelief by Sandra. Occasionally exceptions to the general rule have to be made. There we were heading north on the freeway, away from the the direction of the big city. We were headed bush. And the stupid car window was failing to wind back up again. The winter wind at freeway speeds roared into the car through the open window. Whilst driving, instructions were provided as to how to fix the window so as to get it to close. Always wise not to multi-task – you heard it here first.

Fortunately the window was closed, and we could hear ourselves think again. A bit of thinking had been done over the previous ten days. The outcome of the thinking was that we here headed bush on the freeway to pick up a replacement for the Dirt Rat Suzuki. The existing Dirt Rat Suzuki was being traded in for a thousand bucks. The stereo and tyres (tires in US parlance) cost more than that, but best not to quibble about such things in these exciting days of shortages. Also proving that cars are not an investment.

The Eighteen Year Old Dirt Rat Suzuki

The Dirt Rat Suzuki is old enough that it can legally drink at the local pub if it had wanted to. Mechanically the old car used to be fine. Getting the thing serviced every six months, as per the manufacturers advice, meant that the car started, stopped and got me from A to B without hassles. Servicing looks after the mechanical components, and not the other stuff required to keep a vehicle going.

Recently the electrical wiring began playing up. Only important stuff seemed to be failing, like indicator lamps. Fortunately the stereo worked. However, that was when the discovery was made that the local auto-electrician business had closed. The nearest business was two towns away. A phone call was made, and there was a wait of a month for the next available booking, they were getting smashed. Doing two things at once is difficult, but being polite comes naturally. A bit of empathy for the awful awfulness of the businesses workload reduced the wait time from one month to around three weeks.

In the meantime whilst waiting the three weeks for the indicators to get fixed, using the vehicle was an exciting experience. If the cops had noticed, fines and a demand for a roadworthy certificate would have been made. The car would have been taken off the road. And the expense, far out.

During the three week wait for the repairs, the final nail in the coffin was hammered. The old Dirt Rat began having mechanical problems with the clutch, and that was it for me. What’s frustrating is that all of the problems could be fixed, and most of the work is within my abilities, but long term readers may have noticed: I’m busy. The free days with which to do the repairs, just aren’t there. Last Thursday for example was my first day of no-work for the past three weeks. Did I want to spend that no-work day fixing the car, which after all is another name for work? No.

Developing the property, running a business, the blog, spending time with Sandra, friends, and doing the things needful to keep life running. Those things can be done, maybe only one at a time, but they can be done. Repairing the car is a step too far in terms of work load. And it isn’t just me who’s busy, businesses which repair cars are also busy.

So, weeks ago, the realisation dawned that the old Dirt Rat was past it’s economic lifespan. Long term readers will recall that about four years ago, we spent about half the replacement value on the old Dirt Mouse Suzuki (the other car) on repairs. That was a mugs game, because after all that expenditure the thing still broke down one night in the city. The taxi and towing charges to get home again were phenomenal. No point repeating that mistake, we’ll make new and interesting mistakes instead.

Once realisation turned to acceptance of the problem, it’s not unfair to suggest that the term ‘freaking out’ applied to myself. New cars are as rare as hen’s teeth these days. Talk to a car dealer and the words ‘months’ get thrown around casually with abandon. Some people have to wait over a year. Yup, supply of stuff ain’t what it once was.

Sandra and I, discussed the problem. I need some help with this please, was said. Sandra formulated, then implemented a plan. Every car dealer in the state was called. One of them had to have a demo model that they wanted to get rid of. A car dealer up the bush had a demo with a manual gearbox, and discovered that few people nowadays knew how to use such things. We do. Headed bush and nabbed the car. Done – in ten days. It wasn’t the model we would have chosen, and the colour was someone else’s choice – but it was available. It would be nice if this machine lasted for eighteen years, and maybe it will.

The new Dirt Rat Suzuki, which looks more like the first Dirt Rat owned in the late 1990’s

It was the week for replacing faulty machines. Hope the Editor doesn’t notice some of my faults? I’ve got a bit of mileage in me still. The camera used to take all the photos for the blog was doing some very odd things of late.

The old Pentax K-r digital SLR camera used for many years

A replacement second hand camera was sourced from Japan. For some reason, a good supply of second hand high quality cameras in good condition can be found in that part of the world. We nabbed one that was described as in near new condition. The supplier wasn’t lying, and the new blue camera turned up in the mail this week. The new machine takes superb quality photos, but then the old one was no slouch.

The new second hand Pentax K-30 digital SLR camera which will hopefully be used for many years

With all this stuff going on, somehow we managed to find the time to make a batch of Olive Oil soap. Home made soap is superior, nuff said.

A batch of home made soap was made

In the courtyard to the rear of the house grow two large olive trees. They were purchased at a clearance sale for a hire firm about a decade ago. And they’ve grown since then. Actually, they’ve grown quite a lot and needed hacking back lest they take over the world.

The two old Olive trees begin to get a haircut

The height of the trees was reduced by about a third. The trees don’t look all that big until you’re standing on a ladder wielding an electric pole saw and hedge trimmers. At that point you’re wondering to yourself whether you can reach the middle of the tree.

An electric pole saw and hedge trimmer was used to prune the Olive trees

After the haircut, the two Olive trees look pretty good.

Two Olive trees pruned, done!

The pole saw was also used to reach deep into garden beds and cut out feral black berry canes. It’s not really feasible to stop that plant from growing, but it can be managed so that it doesn’t take over.

A couple of wheelbarrow loads of blackberry canes were cut out of garden beds

Generally pruning material like the Olive tree would be chucked onto garden beds, but this time we had a fire going in the brazier, so we burnt all of it off (with the blackberry canes). It was quite pleasant.

Ollie enjoys the winter warmth from the brazier

The weather has again been swinging between wet and cold, and sunny and sort of warm-ish.

Winter generally means 99% humidity
But some mornings, blue skies sit over fog trapped in the valley

The many parrots which call the farm home are waiting for the fruit crop to grow.

Crimson Rosella’s loiter in a bare apple tree dreaming of warmer days

Onto the flowers:

The earliest Apricots have produced some blossoms this week
Almonds continue to shrug off the winter chill
Yellow Rhododendrons are usually the first of the season
The forest is covered in Yellow flowers at this time of year like this Silver Wattle
Daffodils are super cheery

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 9’C (48’F). So far this year there has been 690.4mm (27.2 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 668.4mm (26.3 inches)

40 thoughts on “The Only Way”

  1. I feel your pain- As I’ve mentioned recently, my little 2004 Honda Insight is one needed replacement part from the ash heap. Parts are virtually unavailable since it was such a low production run model.

    So far, the engine is fine, but you never know when one of those circuit boards or sensors will foul up the works. The salt they put on the roads in the winter doesn’t help either.

    Suzuki stopped selling cars here years ago, I think they didn’t burn enough gas or something……….
    Anyway, have been studying the Toyota rav4 hybrid, but any way you slice it, it’s gonna be $$$$.

    Tree pruning- Yeah, my apple trees are about two years overdue. I’m not even going to describe the blackberries.

    Amazing what a pile of branches can be hacked off, and the tree looks like you didn’t touch it. Apple trees have this annoying habit of sprouting all manner of interior criss crossing branches, so it’s a real mess. A powered pole saw has been on my wish list for a while. I think it’s time.

  2. Yo, Chris – There it is again. Blip, and gone! Luckily, only happens when I’m a line or two into a post. Once more into the breach…

    I’m looking forward to tales of new and interesting mistakes. 🙂

    You’ve convinced me! It was high time for a new Dirt Rat. There was no getting around it … you were pushed to the wall. Once you get over the buyer’s remorse, you’ll sleep better. By the way, is the new ride black, or dark blue? Inquiring minds want to know.

    The new camera is not only blue, it’s shiny! Nice loaf of bread in the background, by the way.

    Yup. Time to do something about the olive trees. Reminds me of a book I picked up, at the library. “Lost Places: Images of Bygone America.” Search “Heribert Niehues, photographer.” Click images, and you’ll get a taste of what the book is all about. Now your olive trees look all neat and tidy, and you’re in no danger of not being able to access your shed.

    Black berries. Bane of my existence. Not near as bad as the place I lived before (where I had to resort to goats and a burn barrel), but in my beds I have two small vines. Every year, I dig them out. Sometimes, more than once. And every year they come back. Sigh.

    Those are some beautiful weather pictures. And the parrots are just striking. Little fruit robbers, though they may be.

    Almonds and apricots. Tasty. Daffodils and Forsythia are the first bit of spring color splash, we get. But it’s months until we see those. Lew

  3. Hi Steve,

    Ouch. It is possible to get parts here for the old Dirt Rat, but it was of an age with your Honda Insight and um, well it’s like the old question of: ‘how long is a piece of string?’ It makes no economic sense to keep repairing the vehicle after a while and we tested that perspective with the former Dirt Mouse which cost us half the value of a replacement to repair, and had the audacity to break down. But then there is awfulness of the environmental cost to replacing the thing. The decision would be easier to make with the Insight because the parts rarity issue is a serious problem. Speaking with the car dealer, the old Dirt Rat most likely will be auctioned off and parted out by a wrecker.

    Well exactly. The engine will keep going long after some of the various circuit boards begin to die. An engine bay and even inside the dash is a very difficult place for electronics to survive. Summer heat, engine heat and just sheer quantities of dirt is a tough school for electronics. The main water pump for the household was installed thirteen years ago. At the time I asked the plumber what would break first, the electronic controls for the pump, or the pump itself. Without dwelling upon the subject, he replied that the electronics would fail first. Those however are at least easy to replace with cheaper, reliable mechanical pressure switches. Not so in a car.

    Hehe! Yeah, the old Dirt Rat was easy on the fuel, the new one is physically lighter and even more efficient. People import vehicles from your country, and are they big or what? 🙂 A local has an imported Toyota Tundra and the thing is massive on the narrow dirt roads up here in the mountains. Good luck with the fuel bills with that lot, not to mention all of the consumable items such as tyres and brakes etc.

    Yeah, the RAV4 hybrid is a big seller down here. Be prepared for wait times. It’s a shame they no longer do a three door model, but yeah big bucks, long wait for delivery. Interestingly the towing capacity is about the same as the new Dirt Rat which has a much smaller engine.

    Please excuse the pun, but blackberries can be a thorn in our side! 🙂 They’re unstoppable, so best manage them, enjoy the harvest and when life gives you thorns, make some tasty jam and wine.

    I thoroughly recommend a pole saw, but after two hours of wielding that thing yesterday, I was feeling it in my forearms. They probably sell battery ones nowadays which might be lighter, but mine is powered from the mains – too many batteries makes for one big headache for me. 🙂 Being powered from the mains, it is a gruntier unit than a battery powered machine.

    It ain’t just you with the apple trees, the branches cross, then cross again with alacrity. With over three hundred fruit trees, and the current infrastructure upgrades, not all of the fruit trees have been properly attended too on a pruning front. Plus, I do want the fruit trees bigger so that they put down deeper root systems so that when the occasional drier year happens, they can access water and minerals. Dunno about that, but the experiment is worth the effort.



  4. Hi Lewis,

    With the website, I do try to keep the add-on software to a minimum on the theory that the developers could stuff things up royally, or the various chunks of code don’t play together well. That editing add-on is the suspect bit of software in this instance, so we’ll see how things go. The other recent change was the social media login buttons to make it easier for people to comment, so who knows? But sending my own comment to you into the spam naughty box was almost the unforgivable software sin.

    Hopefully I can keep you entertained with the new and interesting mistakes we make here. 🙂 There have been some doozy’s over the years, and at this stage in history it’s not a bad way to learn.

    Thanks for understanding as to the explanation, the case has been won by the defendant. 🙂 The old Dirt Rat is pronounced guilty as charged with dereliction of duty. Mate, it wasn’t always that way, and at one point the Dirt Rat could be trusted, then the worm turned ugly.

    Fortunately, the stress of wondering whether the transaction would actually take place on the day – having paid in advance of the delivery (very uncomfortable about that and was going to write about that issue, but then I dunno it seemed kind of dull to write of my anxiety with that issue) – kind of took precedence over the buyers remorse. The new machine seems pretty good and unlike most new vehicles, mate the thing oozes character. It has a life of its own, literally. It wanders a bit on the road. Fortunately, this is my third of these machines so I’m familiar with the foibles, there’s a bit of whingeing on the interweb about that issue, but then the character and fun factor seems to always win them over. Makes me wonder how long they’ll live with such foibles? Dunno, but the speakers could be better. Man, it’s hard to shake the old electronics geekery out of me.

    Actually, it is a very dark green. There is a person who comments here occasionally whom suggested to me recently that they’d question my overall person if I was to get a white version. There was no choice in the matter, it was dark green or nothing. I would have taken a white colour if that was the only option. There is a very cool puke yellow colour, which I was kind of fond of.

    Hehe! Yeah, the cheeky Japanese put some metallic finish into the surface of the blue camera. How cool is that? Incidentally, the new camera takes much better photos, by a significant margin. They’re only a few years apart, but the colours of the sunrise are closer to what I observe. In the fog valley photo you can begin to see the pink, orange and red hues in the image.

    That’s my standard daily bread loaf. 🙂 Yummo!

    Thanks for mentioning Heribert Niehues, photographer in my continuing arts education. The images were eerie and enjoyable. There was a sense of: ‘this could be you one day’.

    The Olive trees had it coming, they got too big for their boots. True. 🙂

    Blackberries will out survive all of us, and our species, and the rats and raccoons. And they keep on coming back year after year. That doesn’t surprise me about your persistent blackberries. Even the ones the local council sprays with herbicide, bounce back. Hmm, possibly it would be easier to declare open season on the berries rather than all this furtive spraying with toxic chemicals.

    Ah, yes, first the winter, then the hungry spring, then bounty. Always was it thus. Hope your winter is not too severe. We enjoyed another inch of rain today. Holy carp it is wet out there.

    Nice work with the four bags of produce for the Club members. I hope it all goes to respectful homes and brings warmth to many a gut. Food is such an enjoyment. Went to the post office / general store this morning and sat outside and enjoyed the many comings and goings of the local populace. The coffee was good.

    Had a bonkers day today, where it took well over five hours to do some minor admin for a client. I’ve heard stories about reducing red-tape, but me thinks the stories maybe lies. At one point I was on the phone for an hour with a gobramint department for something really basic. Not a fan, and that lot look under staffed, or have over-reached.

    Ah, grasshopper, you know understand my joy with converting plant matter into soil food. 🙂 Yes, very zen! Hehe!

    Mate, I’m trying to work out whether the computer knows H, or the computer knows H? Much can depend upon the difference. However, H will not care a whit.

    You cut right through the BS to the core of the issue with Max. When I first saw the film, my brain wondered why did Max’s lady run down the centre of the road when there were other options available to her? But then, all part of the story. So it was a classic revenge tale then? Talk about low tolerance indeed. It would seriously annoy me too.

    Hehe! Oh you’re good. Yes, such was the case with the two Kelpie’s. Turns out the runts of the litter are quite astounding. I have a new appreciation for the breed. They’d be useless at what they’re bred for though, but good enough for us. In these uncertain times, ya takes what ya gets – you can quote me on that. 🙂

    I’m trying to imagine you having to check out 50 books with a library card holder, and I dunno. Your country has a lot of good things going for it, and if memory serves me correctly the limit here was 3 items.

    Yes, the starving time is here, except that there are plants to eat, not to mention the citrus fruits. I tell you a weird incident from today. I reckon either a wallaby, or some King parrots ripped into several of the mustard plants. Not happy about that, but the aftermath of broken leaves strewn around was a bit of a blow. Fortunately they can’t get into the greenhouse the little vandals.

    And enjoying the global supply chain whilst it delivers is a not a bad idea. I know of people who are in disbelief about the weird supply issues. The thing is, when all you see are supermarkets and big box stores, you miss out on all the weird supply issues elsewhere. It’s not good.

    Go H! And fingers crossed that the squirrel’s leave the pears alone. I’m looking forward to a growing season with less rats. They ate a lot of fruit last year. Not a fan, and Dame Plum and I are dealing to that lot. Yeah, who’s gonna stop us, say the rats. Me, and Dame Plum, that’s who. 🙂



  5. Yo, Chris – Software. Can’t live with it, can’t live without it. 🙂 They really need to test this stuff, better, with real people.

    So is the center of gravity a bit different, between the old Dirt Rat and the new? When I went from one, older Ford Ranger, to the one I have now, the center of gravity was higher. Made for some interesting times, when I took corners, early on. A new vehicle with character? I’m gobsmacked. That would be like finding a commercial tomato, with flavor. 🙂

    Elinor’s daughter and son-in-law bought some kind of a new vehicle. The color is kind of indescribable. Orange? Bronze? It’s got the same kind of finish as your “new” camera. Anodized? Like those funky old drinking glasses, made of aluminum that came in colors never seen in nature.

    Yes, what is it with speakers, these days? My DVD player … even with the volume cranked to the max, it’s still a bit on the “soft” side. The other night, I tried to watch a new series I wanted to check out. Between the lack of volume, and NO SUB TITLES, I finally gave up and will chuck it back. I keep meaning to try the ear buds that came with the thing. By the way, I started watching “New Gold Mountain”, last night. Bendigo and Ballarat is where it’s supposed to take place. But where is it filmed? Romania and our states of Virginia, North and South Carolina. So much for seeing a slice of your country. 🙁

    I sat down with “Lost Places,” last night. It’s what we in the book trade, would call a “coffee table book.” It’s divided into sections. “Gas Stations,” Diners and Motels,” “Buldings,” and “Automobiles.” A lot of these places were left behind, either because of changing agricultural methods, or, changed travel routes. “Death by Interstate.”

    There were some pictures that were very eerie, as, they were far enough out of the way to avoid vandals. But time and weather take their toll. I really didn’t realize there were so many “classic” cars out there, just moldering away in pastures. I wasn’t particularly upset, but I did ruminate on all the wasted man-hours, money and materials that have, or are going, down the drain.

    The library claims they do things like removing fines and allowing 50 book checkout, to “remove barriers to library use.” Actually, I think it just makes their statistics look good. 🙂

    Maybe the wallaby or King Parrots had a cold, and needed the mustard to flush out their sinuses? 🙂

    I ran across an interesting term, last night. “The Overton Window.” It’s the boundaries of polite discourse. Your “family friendly” policy would be an Overton Window. Interesting concept.

    Well, I’m off to pick tomatoes for the dryer. Now that the blueberries are behind me … other than picking what I can, here at The Institution, to plump up the gallon bags. Lew

  6. @ Lew,

    You are fortunate indeed to have access to fresh fry bread. It is awesome with any type of jam/jelly on it. Yum!


  7. Chris,

    Fairbanks? I had this idea to get a master’s degree in petroleum engineering. Compared to physics, it was very easy. However, a close rellie of the Princess had severe health problems, so we moved back to Spokane. Then it became imperative to get a paying job, and I eventually landed at the job from which I retired.

    Yup, I have extremely fond memories of that science museum job. The hidden passageways and opportunities to explore and maybe even pop out of nowhere to startle the paying customers and coworkers made it enjoyable. Jobs like that are indeed rare to find.

    Okay, the feed at Indigenous Eats. We both had the “Rancher” version, with hamburger. They were very tasty – we ordered ours without cheese, jalapenos and sour cream. We ordered the mild green salsa, which was indeed mild. Unfortunately, the seasoning on the meat was very spicy. We’ve never had such spicy Indian tacos before! We both eventually paid the price for the spiciness. Next time, we’ll get the “Gatherer”, the vegetarian version. I would also guess that once the restaurant is established, there might be a milder version of spiciness available.

    Nice looking new Dirt Rat. I’m glad you were able to get one so quickly. I see that the old one was a Vitara. The first time a Suzuki Vitara drove by me, I thought that the letters on it said “Suzuki Viagra”. Silly me.

    Ollie is a rather large lap dog, no? Although sitting near the fire is one of those enjoyable things I do when the weather gets cooler, also.

    We just had a break from the hot weather. Now it is getting hot again, probably the last 35C spell this summer. Meanwhile, there was a wildfire about 6 miles upwind of us on the edge of town and across the river. A large swathe of apartment buildings were evacuated, but they rapidly got adequate helicopters and airplanes dropping water on the fire and got it under control rather quickly. It DID provide us with smoke for 24 hours. Compared with the last few years, however, this season has seen reduced smoke. We have been free from smoke since Friday evening.


  8. Hi DJ,

    Ah, petroleum engineering, makes sense in that part of the world – especially at that time. Are we talking the drilling and geology side of things, or the chemical side, or maybe both? Physics is so far beyond my brain, that err, I don’t understand it, and will take you word for it. Unfortunate, the Editor’s mother died a few months into our marriage, so yeah, things can change on a dime. However, the future belongs to the adaptable, and so you headed south. I’m scratching my head trying to understand how the physics played into your job? Or was it all round excellent problem solving skills?

    As an interesting side note, after WWII, my grandfather trained and worked as an … accountant. Runs in the blood, like how things are with the Vikings. 🙂

    Yes, how did people get the idea that jobs were meant to be fun? Can’t say with experience, but I’m guessing that even rock stars eventually see playing to audiences as work.

    Haha! So you both went the Rancher, well, all I can say is that you can only but blame yourselves in this instance!!! 🙂 Well done. Truly, the experience sounds as if it was challenging, yet enjoyable. Some people are a bit soft with chilli’s, just sayin. Hehe!!! And he now runs from the field of battle before the Viking battle axes begin to rain down upon the cheeky athletic scamp. We tend to order differently, on the off chance that the other meal is better. I would have chosen the gatherer, or the chicken option, but eventually would have worked my way through the menu – some food challenges demand this dedication.

    Imagine not being able to purchase a Suzuki car. They’ve been absent on the car front in your country for about ten years. Lot’s of lamentations, wailing and gnashing of teeth, but no small proper four wheel drives for you guys. Doesn’t drink enough fuel perhaps?

    Very funny, yes, I can see that. Some names don’t translate well.

    Ollie is a delightful lap dog who tries to make himself smaller than he actually is – and not-so-secretly loves it.

    You’d hope the cladding on the apartment buildings wasn’t flammable with a wildfire lurking around in the vicinity. Mate, even I’ve gotten the impression that there has been less smoke in your part of the world this year. They seem to be predicting a third La Nina (i.e. wet summer for us) this year, not sure what it may mean for you though.



  9. Hi Lewis,

    The software issue is even stranger because somehow the auto-update option has been activated. Having something of an already full brain, now I have to learn about how that happened. Usually I prefer to manually control the update process. Hmm. Ah, easily fixed, but how did the control become auto-update? I’m hearing your advice from over the ocean via some sort of weird telepathy: Wondering about the issue – that way lies madness. 🙂

    It’s possible that the developers just bang out the code and say: She’ll be right mate! Testing in the field is a very tech option, which other industries appear to be utilising.

    The new Dirt Rat is slightly higher and narrower than the old Dirt Rat, but seriously there is not much in it in terms of difference. Candidly, they’re just OK on the road, and can sometimes be err, exciting. But this is my third of this line of vehicles and your Ranger being longer and wider would handle better on the road. Off road, not much will out perform the little Suzi, and nothing will do better at the price. It’s built for a purpose, and that’s getting dirty, thus the Dirt Rat moniker. Speaking of on road performance, I have to switch off the lane departure warning. Seriously, did I not notice where the car is on the road? Do I need to be incessantly told by a robot? Driving here has to accommodate the many birds and animals which share the road and roadsides, and how things are done in the city is one thing, it’s different in the bush.

    Yes, character is a word that springs to mind with that vehicle. Needs new speakers though, not enough doof and my ears are offended by the tinny sound!

    Oh my goodness. Metallic paint is a nightmare on a car. It’s OK, until someone has to repair and respray the panel. Expensive, but looks cool when the sun reflects off it. Colours never seen in nature. Yes, sums up the situation nicely.

    Bendigo, I was there the other day. Lovely inland city. I can’t imagine those other locations look anything like Bendigo and/or Ballarat? The other locations might be nicer, who knows? Not good about the sound level. Hey, there’s an assumption that the people recording the audio, know what they’re doing, but my experience suggests that this is not always the case. Movies with unintelligible audio are a cardinal sin (that’s a super bad sin by way of explanation, who knows what the cardinals are up to?) Shame your DVD player doesn’t have an audio output jack as you could get some external computer speakers and crank that volume.

    They have coffee table books down here. From your book world experience, do people purchase those as presents? Death by Bypass is how the story would be told down here. There’s a really lovely town in the northern part of this council area, and when the town got bypassed, the trade at the bakery plummeted. However, the business persisted and they’re doing OK now. It’s nice not to have all the cars roaring down the main road these days.

    It’s all a bit wasteful isn’t it? Even down here there are a few abandoned and run down houses just mouldering away. The sad thing about the loss is that once the building is destroyed, the local council may not let the property owners replace the house. In a strange way, due to this quirk, the system here forces an artificial value on abandoned houses. But whatever, I do really wonder about the future of this area. The property is too expensive and so that discourages younger people (with more energy) to move into the area. Still, sooner or later the older locals will move out – one way or another. And there is value in all those old materials, they can be reused before they get destroyed.

    Oooo. Yeah, maybe you’re right about the library statistics. I can understand having 50 items on a hold list, but checking out 50 items is possibly more than the ordinary person can read in a short period of time before the items have to be returned.

    Possibly about the King Parrots – bird flu being a thing and all. It’s possible the damage was caused by a wallaby, because whatever done it (!), also trashed a succulent.

    It is an interesting concept, and it is hard not to notice that making ideas acceptable from outside the frame of the window, comes from outsiders, and not politicians. I wonder if they got that memo? Probably not. Anyway, I’d like to believe that we can do polite here, even among us ratbags. 🙂

    Yum! Enjoy the aroma of the dehydrating tomatoes.



  10. Yo, Chris – Your a better man than me, sensei, when it comes to software issues. I bow before you’re oceans of wisdom. 🙂

    “Lane departure warning.” Must be a Mommy Motherboard, somewhere in there. I suppose if you were driving long distances, and had a tendency to nod off, it might come in handy. I had a phone once, that, for no apparent reason, used to announce, “Roaming!” In a very stern female voice. I finally figured out how to silence her.

    Ah, coffee table books. Often bought as gifts, for Christmas. And we had a lot that were “specials” and “markdowns.” Very inexpensive. Piles of them. The specials were usually produced in tropic climes, by little brown people. The buyers would always have us carefully remove the sale price … but leave the original retail price. There were those awkward moments, after Christmas, when someone would return a book, and discover that the $35 book, was only worth $2.98 in credit. And that’s what the gift giver had paid for it.

    Death by Interstate / Death by Bypass. Same, same. Elinor told the story about Chehalis. She was a waitress, where all the downtown Chehalis businessmen went. Now the “old highway” used to run right through Chehalis, and Centralia. As they were building the new Interstate, the businessmen were of the opinion, that nothing would change. The day they opened the Interstate … crickets. Like turning off a light switch. There was lots of wailing and gnashing of teeth. But, I must say, Chehalis still has a healthy CBD (Central Business District). The store mix has changed, but there aren’t any empty spaces. Centralia, not so much. But the Chehalis CBD is very compact. Just two very long blocks.

    Here, the Overton Window shifted, about six years ago. And it came from the politicians. It shifted, very quickly, into daily discourse.

    I finished “The End of the World is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization.” According to the author, the next 20 years are going to be rough. Between climate change the the collapse of the supply lines, some parts of the world are going to be ghastly. Population may be reduced by 2 billion people. Or more.

    Australia (he thinks) will do OK. Spreading desert and wildfires will be a problem. But as far as trade goes, you’ve got New Zealand, which will be very stable. And, of course, us. You may develop new trade networks with stable parts of South America.

    Here, we’ll be pretty ok. Mostly due to our natural resources and having pretty solid trade arrangements with Mexico and Canada. Our food mix, may change. He had a section where he looked at the top 20 or so globally traded agricultural products. Some will increase, some will decrease. Countries will grow, what they can grow, to feed their people. Not so much attention will be paid to crops that depend on global shipping.

    I guess there was a mother and child, at my cherry tomatoes, yesterday. I got two separate reports. I was still able to harvest enough for four full trays, in the dryer. Looks like our blueberries are kind of a loss, this year. I went out out to pick, last night, and only got half a bowl full. I might see if I can buy another flat, tomorrow. There was also a report of homeless people, picking our blueberries.

    I picked up a bag of bone meal, this morning. I’m going to side dress my corn, and see if I can give it a boost. I thought I had another two months, before a possible first frost, but, it’s a bit less than that.

    Forecast is for 90+, today. Then a slow downward trend. We’ll see. Lew

  11. Hi Chris,

    Yeah (from last week) people in general don’t read all that much though it’s heartening to see the book store get quite a few customers. While they tend older there’s quite a mix of ages. People ask how I manage to read so much and I reply that I made one major change. I no longer go online in the morning so I have at least an hour and maybe two for reading. It’s quiet, I have my coffee so I’m actually quite alert and rarely are there other distractions. In the days before the internet we used to get the Chicago Tribune delivered and it was much more substantial in those days. I always got up early enough to read it before work.

    Congrats on the new Dirt Rat and to Sandra for her success with the speedy purchase.

    Apologies in advance to male readers here but I’m of the opinion that women in general are more successful multi-tasking. My theory is that they do the bulk of the child care especially when kids are young. If you can’t multi task in that situation you’re in a lot of trouble. At one point when Doug was downsized from a good job he was able to get a position as a 911 dispatcher. All the dispatchers were women except for one young man. The women had been at their jobs for a pretty long time. Well Doug just couldn’t get the hang of it and ended up leaving the job by his own choice. It was telling that just about all the other dispatchers were women. That being said it’s better to be able to concentrate on one thing at a time.

    We’ve gotten yet more rain and have received just under 10 inches in August. Normal is about 3.5 inches. Tomatoes are splitting.


  12. @ Marg,

    You wrote: “Apologies in advance to male readers here but I’m of the opinion that women in general are more successful multi-tasking.”

    No apology needed. I think your opinion is based on fact. Heck, I can barely do one thing at a time. Multitask? Me? Ha!


  13. Chris,

    I wanted to get into the drilling and geophysics sides of the industry, as I had some geophysics background already. However, it looked as if I would’ve done nothing but write ginormous computer programs in FORTRAN. The physics was applicable for 2 main reasons. First, as you surmised, was the problem-solving ability. The second, and related to it, is that in physics, rather nasty differential equations were solved using theoretical methods. Ick! In petroleum engineering, a numerical answer was required, not a theoretical one. Approximation methods were introduced and “solved” via Fortran programs that I wrote. While the rest of the students were struggling with both the theoretical bits of the mathematics as well as the approximation methods, I had already had a year of graduate level maths doing more advance stuff the hard way. The approximation methods were easy in comparison.

    I’ve seen musicians quit because performing in front of crowds had become work. It’s visible in a lot of high level athletes, also. Doesn’t make sense to me, but I played sports to have fun. Ditto music. If it isn’t fun, why play?

    I think the misreading of the Vitara had to do with the vehicle’s license plate, which had 2 letter G on it. These were in close proximity to the Vitara lettering. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 🙂

    La Nina? Allegedly we get cold and wetter than “normal”. Between 150cm and 250cm of snow, rather than the “normal” 110cm. But I’ve seen some La Nina years bring a lot of rain and maybe only 60cm of snow. A rule of thumb I use has to do with what is happening in the upper midwest/Great Lakes area and the Northeastern US. If those areas are having a severe winter, we don’t. And vice versa. Something about how the storm track runs from the Gulf of Alaska: either it goes north and comes out in the Upper Midwest and Atlantic, or else it goes south and hits us. OR like last year, the worst bypassed us and hit northern California. So I don’t know what to expect. Maybe we will get weather of one kind or another. 😉


  14. Hi Margaret,

    Yeah, exactly, set some time aside to do some activity, and the activity gets done – like regular reading. And isn’t it a real joy too, to read a good book? Lunchtime is the time I set aside for reading, and it’s a nice time for that activity, because (usually) it’s quiet – like your mornings.

    Ugg! Nothing is finer than coffee, a good book and to smote your enemies! 🙂 That’s my best Conan the Barbarian interpretation of your delightful morning routine. Or is it smite your enemies? Not sure really.

    We used to get the physical newspaper too, and I enjoyed the leisurely format of perusing the articles. Dunno about you, but I do wonder about whether the online version of the newspapers are presented in a click-bait format? Certainly the physical newspaper contained more articles than what appears online nowadays.

    Yeah, Sandra did really well and looked at the car problem from an alternative perspective and that was the only one available. There was an article today about how the VW group are apparently going to remove devices from their vehicles which contain microchips in order to reduce the waiting time for customers, but even still there’s a wait time.

    What interested me about the experience was that there are a number of utoob articles discussing the various issues surrounding when a vehicle is beyond its economic life – and I hadn’t noticed until only a few days ago. 🙂 Covered all the issues we’d been cogitating.

    No need to apologise, and I agree with your assessment of the situation. Certainly you’ve outlined a situation that I had not considered, and I tend to agree with your assessment. I said to someone recently (and for the life me I can’t recall who it was), but with monitoring children under your care, nobody will thank you if you get it right, but if you get it wrong…

    You worked in the accounts biz, you’re kind of paid to complete tasks, so a person does have to focus on activities which lead to that outcome. I tell you truly, the job you do introduces subtle changes to your personality.

    Oh no! Youch, sorry to hear that. It’s going to be another La Nina summer, and I’m sure I’ll singing a similar tune in six months time. Oh well. I’m determined to relocate all of the tomato growing activities to a sunnier spot. Better get onto that soon.



  15. Hi DJ,

    Ah, a wise path to choose, and not many people have such skills. Hey, in those days did they do any horizontal drilling, or was it all vertical drilling?

    Hehe! Yes, those petroleum folks do have to deal with practical realities. You made me laugh, but I can almost hear the sentence being spoken: Theories, yes, we’ve heard of those. Practical answers, we demand!

    There’s a blast from the past. Yes, I speak Geek! 🙂 I recall the FORTRAN programming language, it’s sort of similar to the BASIC language in terms of commands and structure. I believe BASIC was based upon it, and to be honest the machine language I knew back in the day wasn’t that great a leap in terms of understanding. I was surprised to read how much the language was still in use today.

    I’ve never seen a musician quit in front of a crowd – that’s brutal. But then maybe it is the best outcome for their mental and physical health? Probably not a smart move to sell the tickets beforehand though, people could get upset about that, although there are always those few who long to see the car crash. Hmm. But I’m with you, in that with sports, it was always for fun, even when it was competitive. I’ll tell ya a little secret (which won’t be secret after I’ve told you, which is now confusing my brain, anyway): I set my own goals without reference to what’s expected by others.

    Sure it did! 🙂 Hehe! He says whilst noting your excellent excuse.

    So I got to the end of your paragraph and agree with your final analysis regarding your future climate. Something will happen. Another goodie… Along those lines: It may be wet next summer, but we’re not entirely sure.

    On Monday 37mm of rain fell. Where the late winter sun doesn’t fall upon the ground, it is very damp now. The plan is to try and do some outside work, but I dunno. Might stick to the sunnier parts of the property. I tell you what was notable about the day, the drainage channel I installed on the uphill side of the large shed had water coming out of the outlet end for about six hours afterwards. For a while there it felt like I’d created some artificial spring, there was just so much water. Glad the drain is there.



  16. Hi Lewis,

    Self confessed Geek from way back in the day, when computers were real computers, and you had to know your bits from your bytes. Especially if you wanted to get the things to do anything. Underneath the hood, they probably haven’t changed all that much over the years. Sure, bigger, faster and more complex, but probably at the core guts same, same.

    I want my mommy! 🙂 Actually, no I don’t. Thanks for the laughs. This morning I’d read the instruction manual and knew how to permanently switch off the lane-departure feature. I’ve got these here eye things and they kind of watch for strange goings on out of the usual. They’re handy. Of course, nothing is ever simple and now a warning light on the dash shows just how naughty I am in my choice of switching the thing off. What’s worse, an orange warning light permanently illuminated, or having the light flash and screen display warnings when the computer decides it’s appropriate to do so?

    Forgot to mention that when at the car dealer, the sales dude offered to connect up the phone to the car radio – like I want that. Anyway, he said it would be easy to do and only take a few moments. I kind of made incoherent noises suggesting this outcome was not what I wanted. Anyway, the Editor piped up and said words along the lines of: “Just do it”. Much to my relief, after a few minutes we all gave up on the idea because it wasn’t working. I hadn’t realised I’d shut the processes down on the phone that much. Kind of felt vindicated. Cool.

    Roaming! Dunno what that means… 🙂 I’d shut the machine down too. At least the car doesn’t beep at me all the time – I’ve seen cars do that.

    Yeah, the coffee table books were very glossy and larger than life. Not suggesting the photos had been enhanced for colour, but some of them may have been. Could people really return books without the receipt? Mate, let them down gently. Diplomats should be forced to do two years of such work with the general public, before being let loose. Imagine that, huh? 🙂 What fine skills they’d learn.

    Ooo! Not good, but perhaps your local CBD now caters to the needs of the locals? Before the nearby freeway was a freeway, it was a highway and used to run through the centre of the nearby township. A lot of traffic. Funnily enough, the shops there are similar to what you wrote about Chehalis, and they mostly cater to local needs. There’s no empty shops on the strip shop, which is of a similar size too. There used to be a hardware shop, but they moved out and were replaced by a German supermarket, I’ll say no more on that subject.

    I agree with what you wrote about the shift about six years ago. It’s hard to know what the end-game of that shift was, but I have a hunch that perhaps it was some sort of extension of the old divide and conquer strategy. And not to mention that some groups who were rather focused and successful in relation to marriage equality, are perhaps getting punished. Lumping disparate groups together and repeating that claim, is a disingenuous activity at best, and kind of evil at worst. Dunno about your perspective, but it is like with the protests last year down here – the symbolic labels applied to the people involved included crazy stuff like 5G, far right etc. All very strange to hear that, mostly because it makes little sense. What stood out to me about the concept was that it has to come from a grass roots level, and not the other way around. They might be giving it a go though, so who knows? I don’t trust that sort of strange talk anyway, and just nod sagely and go on about my business. The problem with it coming from that political corner of the community is that if there is blow back, it might be directed at them. The divide and conquer strategy usually pits one group against another, and not two groups against the third puppet master. That won’t end well.

    The dire outcome is possible, and twenty years huh? Hmm. It interests me that the Limits to Growth standard run model is predicting that sort of outcome, but rather than the 25% decline (2 billion), it looks closer to about 15% for 2050 in the graph (1.2 billion). But that’s baked into the cake now. Certainly, industrial output has I reckon peaked – err, chip shortages… Far out!

    I tend to think both your country and mine will be sort of OK too. The good thing about having a long way to fall, is that it takes a while to hit the ground. I just made that up. Yeah, there’s capital to consume and resources laying around the landscape, so its not all bleak. We’re just not very good at doing the really basic things, but hunger has long been an incentive. Mate, there’s some places in the world I wouldn’t want to travel to, and not all of them are third world countries. When winter hits in Euroland, I seriously wonder about that.

    That’s rough, they knew. There’s not much you can do, although a little sign suggesting that the plants were fertilised with urine might assist matters? Dunno, just a random thought. Was it splashed onto the fruit? A bloke can’t always be careful. 😉 Four full trays of tomatoes, I dream of such harvests. The dehydrator is such a great bit of technology as it really gets rid of all of the moisture, and they taste so good.

    Mate, it’s all happening in your vegie patch. Things must be getting harder for that to happen? Did you end up picking up another tray of blueberries?

    Bone meal is good stuff, and over the past couple of years I’ve used it more often than previously. Those corn are hungry beasties.

    Frost risk is creeping up on you. The roof of the new Dirt Rat had ice on it this morning, although today was a very lovely day (which I spent mostly indoors). Anyway the roof of the car has old school guttering around the edges. On the way to the post office, the ice slipped off the roof and collected in the guttering along the edges. As the car came to a halt, the ice slipped out of the guttering and splashed onto the windows. Never seen that happen before.

    It’s officially spring here tomorrow.



  17. Hi, Chris!

    What a lovely new car. Which is not to say that it isn’t still a Dirt Rat and won’t do its job well. Electrical (mice?) and the clutch can be really big problems. Who knows what was next, so it is a very good thing that Sandra had the idea to find a demo – and that you all did. My favorite, too – an automatic transmission. Ollie appears to think that he is the new owner, he looks so proud.

    My, those are healthy looking olive trees. Going in for topiary, are you? They have such nice forms now.

    Hee, hee! Ollie the lap dog by the brazier!

    Parrots? Surely you mean vultures!

    Aren’t apricots related to almonds? We once had an apricot tree and too often it bloomed very early and the blossoms were ruined by frost. Beautiful yellow flowers. Thanks!


  18. Hello Chris,
    Great to hear that your car adventure landed well.

    Here in North Euroland, we had record prices of electricity the last couple of weeks (1 euro/kWh). And it is low-consumption season. Usually the winter prices are 3-4 times higher than the August prices. I think that this is another indication of the truth of the Limits-to-Growth story. (As an aside: I think that the title of the book is misleading. It describes limits to *size* of the human activity, not really limits to the growth. )
    This winter will be interesting, in many ways, indeed.
    Supply side problems everywhere.

    I suspect that the money-printing by the central banks has been a sneaky trick to pilfer pension funds. The next generation that will try to retire will probably find out that there is no purchasing power left in their “savings”.

    Today I cut down 25 birch trees on the farm and I am tired. It is a good kind of tired, when all muscles whisper: “feed me, protein, water, sugar”…


  19. Yo, Chris – Smote is the past tense of smite. Seen on a t-shirt: “The Past, the Present and the Future Walked into a Bar. It was Tense.” 🙂

    You killed Mommy! You’re lucky it doesn’t have a voice. It would be asking you, time and time again, if you were really SURE you wanted to disconnect the lane change warning. Phone via car radio? As if we need more distracted drivers, on the road. And, phones being a two way thing, what if you left it on, by accident? Anything said in the car … well, it would be as bad as a hot mic.

    If people wanted to return a book, without a receipt, all they would get would be credit. That thwarted shop lifters, who boosted books, and then tried to return them for cash. Also, we’d check to make sure the book was still in our system. In those dark pre-computer days (BC), that meant resorting to microfiche.

    When the CBD met it’s day of reckoning, some businesses collapsed. Drug stores, and such. I really need to walk the CBD from one end to another, just to see what exactly is there. There’s a book / art supply / framers. It’s where I take H to get groomed. Actually, there’s two grooming parlors, in that stretch. A Chinese restaurant. A few bars. A mattress store. One end is anchored by the library, and the city hall/ police station / court. A farmer’s market is held one day a week, on a side street, during the season.

    Winter in Euroland is going to be “interesting.” I saw an article, last night, about all the cut-backs that are already going in place.

    I’ll have to be more vigilant about my garden. Also, pay more attention next year, to sighting. The cherry tomato is too close to the path. Yup. I ran out and picked up another flat of blueberries, this morning. They had a sign up that said, “Last Days.” Sounds rather apocalyptic 🙂 . Saturday will be the last day the fruit stand will be open, for this year. They sell just berries.

    The bone meal also ought to help keep the deer off. They haven’t been a big problem, this year. Maybe because of the blood meal I scatter around. And other more … liquid things. 🙂 Someone said they saw a mother deer with triplets, heading up into our woods! Triplets are not unheard of, but twins are more often seen.

    If I’m not careful to scrap snow off my truck roof, I’m likely to get 4 inches of snow go plop, on my windscreen. Rather disconcerting. Lew

  20. Hi Pam,

    It looks like a Willys Jeep doesn’t it? And is about the same size and weight, but with a few more mod-cons. The first 1982 model Suzuki Dirt Rat I owned was even closer to the Willys Jeep and even had a soft canvas top. As you’d imagine the thing got broken into every other week, and I kept having to install ever cheaper car radios. Eventually I got to a car radio that was so cheap, that even would-be thieves turned their noses up at it. Thus inadvertently proving that poverty is viewed as an unattractive option. 😉

    The electrical problems with the old Dirt Rat possibly did have something to do with actual rodents. I didn’t look into it as the end of life was declared for the machine. A few months ago I found a nest in the engine bay. Really, of all the places to nest, the engine bay? The rat discovered just how hot such environments get. Hmm.

    There’s a bit of sadness to the exchange. Like your Mr Musty and Mr Dumpy and tractor-zilla, I have the skills, tools and knowledge to make the repairs, I just don’t have the time or inclination to do so. I dunno about you, but I have to pick and choose what responsibilities I’ll take on, and I just can’t do everything that is needful. That pains me, but what do you do?

    Ah, automatic transmissions. Pam, I have heard of these things, but no, it’s manual gearboxes all the way here, even with the Dirt mouse.

    Ollie is delightful as usual. He had a lovely day today, supervising the splitting and hauling of much firewood. With Ollie supervising, what could possibly go wrong? Actually, all of the dogs were delightful today – must be something in the water?

    Hehe! You know, I suspect that the very healthy two Olive trees are consuming the plentiful Calcium used in the surface rocks in the courtyard. Truth to tell, there are times I imagine future archaeologists wondering how so much lime got into this location. It’ll give them a proper mystery to ponder, and they’ll shake their heads in wonder at the crazy goings on of the Ancients. 🙂

    Oooo! If you want any parrots, I can spare some? They work wonders in the garden. 🙂 Vultures indeed.

    Yes of course, apricots are related to almonds as they’re all in the Prunus family of plants. Almonds are a peach, rather than a true nut. Met a few true nuts… Haven’t we all, sorry to say? Yup, early blossoms are a problem. But some years they work out, but only some years.



  21. Hi Goran,

    Supply issues in the car world down here are real, and compared to your part of the world, we’re kind of a small market so don’t get the attention. Not all that long ago, we used to design and manufacture cars here, and there aren’t all that many countries which can do that trick. It was a real skill loss, and now we’re completely dependent on imports. Yes, what could possibly go wrong? I keep reading different articles suggesting that the chip shortage problem will be sorted out soon, then a new article comes along pushing the date ever further out. What I take away from how things are playing out is that Industrial output has clearly declined. Dunno how things are in your part of the world on that front? Hope you remembered to make a note to get the replacement wood heater parts? (That’s your conscience speaking!!!!)

    Holy carp!!!!!!!!!!! Mate, 1 euro/kWh retail price is horrendous. I’d heard things were bad in your part of the world, but that bad is a real worry! As a comparison, down here they’re apparently paying about AU$0.25 to AU$0.40 per kWh retail – and there is much whingeing in the media. Far out, your electricity prices are getting closer to off-grid prices, but believe me, they’re still cheaper, but the gap is closing. At this stage, I believe the off-grid system owes me about AU$3 per kWh, but over time that will reduce. Every component is super expensive, but the batteries are the biggest cost. And realistically, that is why most people under size their batteries – and then wonder why the system doesn’t work. 🙂

    It was the first official day of spring today. What the heck is going to happen to your electricity prices come winter? 3 to 4 times higher is an alarming prospect. Did you get the spare parts for your wood heater? Now I sound like I’m nagging you, but did you get them? Hehe!

    An interesting perspective, and yes I tend to agree with you. Growth in culture and the arts takes very little energy and perhaps an argument could be made that access to excessive energy stifles this human endeavour? Years ago I read a fascinating account as to how indigenous cultures valued such things highly ,and they were often traded far and wide. The example in that instance was that a European sourced song and dance was known well in distant locales long before the explorers and settlers had arrived. Hmm.

    Dude, inflation punishes the prudent savers and in some ways rewards the profligate borrowers. The recent interest rate hikes may curtail economic activity, but we’ll see. Already down here there are articles suggesting that the precious house prices are falling. There’s the snowball effect which may come into play, but I don’t really know and am watching how it plays out. The last recession I experienced, decline occurred first at the edges and things like holiday houses and luxury cars got dumped, before the impact moved inwards. This time around, crypto was hit hard recently and now property, we’ll see how bonds and equities go. Dunno, strange days.

    Good stuff, and they’ll hopefully make good firewood. One thing I’ve learned is that vegetables and other annual plants need sunlight. Oh yeah! Spent most of the day splitting and hauling firewood. Tired muscles makes for good, deep, well earned sleep. 🙂



  22. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the joke. Pretty funny, the Editor got a good laugh out of it too! 🙂 Such humour avoids you getting smote. Hopefully that was the correct tense? Isn’t it funny how the brain attunes itself to the language with prolonged use? And I do believe that the written version of the English language is ever so slightly different to the spoke form. I must say that I do worry that the language is so poorly taught, but perhaps literacy is returning to it’s historical norms? Not sure, but I absolutely hated English lessons at school. A terrible experience and it was certainly my lowest grades. Things must have improved since those days, if what I’m observing of the general ability to form cohesive thoughts in a written format (sorry for the sarcasm).

    Mr Greer has mentioned this subject often, and honestly, I have no idea how the subject of English used to be taught. A true mystery now that I consider the matter. Hmm. What is your perspective on this subject? Language is such a fraught subject. At Uni, the Editor took a subject in Botany, and rather than studying plants, she recalls the horror of having to recall a multitude of Latin names for plants, except the course never first taught the Latin language. It was all expected to be learned by rote, and really became a test of memory as distinct from understanding as to the meanings of the names of the plants – some of which tell a story.

    Oh, you’re on fire tonight! Yes, mommy had it coming for sure. 😉 They say a boy’s best friend is his mother, except that is, when she’s breaking your cojones for crossing over the lane to avoid running over the many mountain ducks warming their backsides on the road. Mommy had to go. Sad mommy, now all she can do is project a baleful orange glow symbol of a car skidding on the road with the word ‘off’ below it. Hehe!

    That’s the thing. I said the other day I can do one thing at a time, and it’s true. Taking a phone call and driving at the same time, that’s just not on. How other people can drive and take phone calls and send text messages all at the same time is way beyond me.

    Speaking of language, I may have to reconsider the choice of words I use. As you know, occasionally I’m a gentleman and I’m unfailingly polite to people – unless they piss me off (sorry I couldn’t actually think of a better choice of phrase and would appreciate some suggestions?) Anyway, a guy was on his phone standing in front of the post office boxes today. I couldn’t get past him, and he showed no inclination to move. So I said to him firmly, “Excuse me sir, can you please move?”, and whoa, what a reaction. He looked filthy and called me a ‘tosser’, it was all very uncomfortable. I just looked confused by the reply, but he did move. Upon reflection, it was probably the use of the word ‘sir’. Hmm. Next time I’ll use the word ‘mate’ instead, but that only applies to males. Not appropriate to use that word with females, instead I’d probably say ‘oh. Excuse me’, and then try and move past them if they’re doing nothing and just standing there in the way – which does happen. You learn something new every day. I tell ya, I’ve experienced some very hair trigger responses from all sorts of people lately, and am rapidly adapting to the changed circumstances. Have you noticed that people are a bit more err, tetchy, of late? Stress levels in the populace are on the up.

    Ah, a wise move providing the credit as distinct from the refund. Yes, grifters. 🙂 I’ll tell you a funny story from the manufacturing days. A few people used to send back their well worn shoes, which were clearly a few years old and certainly wouldn’t be what you’d describe as show room condition. Along with the shoes came complaint letters demanding refunds, or replacements. Mate, you’ve gotta love the human species. To work with the public is to understand the vast array of strangeness ‘out there’.

    Your CBD sounds as if it has some life in it. The local nearby town is a pretty busy place, but then it’s a long way to other nearby towns. Interestingly, there are no big box stores in the local nearby town, and they don’t really feature in this council area for some reason. Although I believe a town in the north of the council area is going to get a big box hardware store.

    Mate, they’re gonna be cold in that part of the world come winter. Did you see the price for electricity which Goran is paying now, let alone winter? Far out!

    Heating and energy, I understand this matter. We spent most of the day splitting and hauling firewood. Me tired tonight.

    Yes, relocating the plants is not a bad option for you to avoid such unpleasantness next season. But what do you do other than learn and adapt? Mate, someone had a good look around the terrace gardens the other day, and just to make sure we knew about it, they left the gate wide open. Fortunately the wallabies hadn’t noticed.

    Ooo, last days does all sound rather apocalyptic. Maybe they know something we don’t? 🙂

    Possibly about the bone meal and the deer. They don’t seem deterred by the blood and bone use here, although they might be a bit more skittish in your part of the world due to greater levels of predation. And the foxes dig the stuff up and eat it. From a big picture perspective, at least I’m fertilising the surrounding forest that way… The liquid thing is always a wise idea!

    Who knew that would happen with the snow? Yikes! It happened here with the ice. It’s technically a stop and plop – you heard it here first. The car stops, and the ice plops onto the windscreen. The first time it happened was a ‘what the f…?’ moment. Always fun.



  23. Hi Pam,

    🙂 Even the front flat bug eyed grille reminds me of them. And it’s a forest green colour too.

    Hope the new Dirt Rat goes for 18 years too, but there’s a lot of electronics…



  24. Yo, Chris – Spoken language changes. Written language follows along … sometimes kicking and screaming. (Lew, ©). 🙂 How did language used to be taught? Back in Ye Olde Times, the emphasis was on the basics. The 3 “Rs”. Readin’ Rightin” and Rithmatic. Maybe spelling and penmanship. Nail those down and you could be out of school by ten or twelve and enter the work force. Some people think that’s all you need in this modern age. And that’s all that should be taught. I suppose language was picked up, due to the reading part. And, it seems there was always someone around (usually, in family) to correct language errors. Advanced education might include rhetoric, which has to do with language. And a truly educated person, back then, had a grasp of language through the lens of Latin and Greek. You may remember that Ruth Goodman observed that in the past, people could maybe read … but not write. That was a new concept to me. I’d never considered them to be two different skill sets.

    LOL. I also took Botany at Uni. Twice. We had to have at least one science credit, and it sounded like the easiest. Well, the first professor approached it from a purely chemistry point of view. I bailed after two weeks. And signed up for it again, with a different professor, who I had heard approached it from a more naturalistic (?) point of view. I don’t remember having to memorize a lot of Latin names. LOL. Don’t ask for details. It was well over 50 years ago.

    Are Mountain Ducks tasty?

    I used to be able to multi-task, when much younger. Lost the knack, somewhere along the way. Can’t walk and chew gum.

    The first substitution for “pissed me off” I came up with was “brassed me off.” Which you never hear, and no one uses. Don’t know why that popped into my head, first. But then I thought of the obvious. “Ticked me off.” Often used and heard.

    If your Post Office altercation had happened in America, he would have just shot you. For “dissing” him. Or, you would have shot him. All very neat and tidy. Problem solved. I often run into such situations, at the grocery store. People blocking an aisle, staring off into space. “Hello? Anybody home?” 🙂 I usually scan an aisle, first, to see if there’s a blockage. Sometimes I circle around, to get what I need, from behind them.But usually a fairly firm, “Excuse me,” works.

    Tetchy, indeed. I am SO glad I no longer have to work with the public.

    Yes, I saw what Goran had to say about the price of electricity. Demand destruction? I thought it interesting that you were both getting in your wood, at opposite ends of the world.

    Well, that’s creepy that someone was prowling around your place. No cameras, about? Might want to think about it. They’re getting pretty cheap and simple, these days. You might even discover who is eating your mustard!

    The first batch of blueberries, are on trays in the freezer. When I’m done here, I’ll get the next batch rolling. The weather was a real surprise, this morning. Looked like our first fog. But when I took H out for her walk, there was stuff falling out of the sky. Not in the forecast. Heavy fog, or very light rain? I watered late last night, so won’t have to water this morning. I side dressed the corn, with the bone meal. In about three weeks I might try the nuclear option: ammonium nitrate. There’s still a bit left from the blueberries. Just a touch.

    Stop and plop. (Chris, ©). 🙂 Lew

  25. Chris,

    Yes, horizontal drilling was in vogue back then. It is surprisingly old.

    “I set my own goals without reference to what’s expected by others.” Well said. I’m learning that lesson in my old age. There was one chap a year behind me in high school who clearly demonstrated that attitude back then. Interestingly, like you, he was into martial arts when in his teens. I wonder if that helped to instill that attitude when young.

    Yes, we will have a snowy winter or we won’t. Reminds me of an old physics joke about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle: Heisenberg may have been here, but we’re unsure.

    Glad your drain worked for all that water. They are rather necessary on hillsides in rainy/wet areas. A friend of mine installed some that ran under his driveway. They worked and his driveway ceased getting washed out every spring.


  26. Hi DJ,

    Ah, you know, I had not appreciated that horizontal drilling was a thing back in those days. Thanks for the clarification, and I’m trying to get my head around the sheer difficulty of manoeuvring a drill head in three dimensions when it is operating upon a horizontal well. Now my brain hurts, thanks for that. 🙂 And I can understand how advanced maths would be a requirement for such an activity. The good thing about vertical drilling is that the requisite beginning point is known, and then you go down. Like digging a hole for a stump or fence post, not that complicated. 😉 However, maybe we might suggest (noting that a careless person can always create a building out of square) that it is mostly un-difficult (as in mostly harmless?) 🙂

    Mate, I think I’ve now run out of jokes for this evening, but horizontal drilling is a true feat. Years ago in my first job I worked for the water board (before the recession made the department redundant) and got to visit one of the large sewer mains under construction. The thing was 6.5m in diameter, and I got to travel on the train which removed the spoil from the tunnel boring machine which was slowly grinding away at the basalt and granite. What a fun day. People have no idea what it takes to construct such epic chunks of infrastructure.

    It’s a funny lesson to learn isn’t it? As a kid I used to do long distance running, and ended up captaining the school team (probably not a natural for such things, but yeah it happened). That’s where I learnt to set my own goals and limits. That’s possible with the martial arts, yeah makes sense. The Sensei was of a similar mindset, and on Saturday mornings he used to open the Dojo for challenges – they kept him sharp, that’s for sure. It’s a funny thing to find yourself running your own race. It’s not lost on me that plenty of people seem to gauge their, I dunno what you’d call it, but you know, the over arching social game thing, whatever it is, by comparison to others. It’s my observation that that game may never be won, and so why play it when there are other possibilities? People limit themselves by accepting the general challenge, and the house always wins. Fortunately both you and I have a good grasp of statistics and can see through this matter.

    That’s funny, and I don’t doubt the physicist would have enjoyed the joke. Anyone who would declare such a thing was a perhaps a pragmatic realist, who probably enjoyed dark ale, sitting near to an open fire in the company of friends, on a cold winters evening. Kind of suggests that the model, or representation by way of equation, is not the territory. Brings to mind an old joke I once heard: I used to be uncertain, now I’m not so sure. 🙂

    Yeah, I’m amazed at how well the surface drain worked. I’ll have to install one on the uphill side of the chicken enclosure. Two dead chickens in two days due to the continuing damp, requires that something need be done. It’s all the rats fault. True. Well that may be drawing a long bow, but the pesky rodents did play a part in this story.

    Hope things have settled down in your household and immediate family?



  27. Hi Lewis,

    Hmm, I had not appreciated that the written language could change in that way. I’d had this odd notion that somehow the two had diverged, but honestly I don’t know enough about other languages to comprehend whether this is also the case with those – possibly it is. But then, forgive my naivety, but ye olde written English (it’s all written from those days, der, so obvious from hindsight! 🙂 ) that it’s not incomprehensible, but neither does it flow as well in my mind as the presently used language due to lack of exposure.

    I’ll bet Professor Tolkien had a good grasp of ancient languages? Yikes! His translation of Beowulf with footnotes made the story comprehensible. There were so many subtleties which were lost on me, and he provided an insight into that distant world. I reckon his grasp of languages would have altered his perspective of the world?

    I kind of reckon the little unfortunate interaction due to the careless use of the word ‘Sir’ was something of a language barrier. I had one understanding of the word, and the bloke had another. The reaction was perhaps an emotional expression of insecurity, as the person employs potent symbols which convey a certain upper status, so the word wasn’t inappropriate. It confused me because I couldn’t quite understand why a person would employ such symbols in the first place? A mystery.

    I may have previously retold the story from many decades ago about the stoner friends I had back then? Hanging around with them, I picked up some of their mannerisms, and it was all fun and games until people began asking me if they could buy some weed off me. A refusal often disappointed, and I dropped the mannerisms. But what wasn’t lost on me back then was that people employed and arrayed themselves with symbols with which to convey general messages. It’s complicated, most symbols are pretty useless, but some, convey potency.

    But largely I agree with you, and will be more circumspect next time. Yeah. Dissed. Shot. Not a good, or even a useful ending.

    Hmm. It is possible that we are returning to the long term historic norm, when it comes to the skill of putting pen to paper? So much of our media is provided in a visual format nowadays. You’d mentioned Ruth Goodman and her astute observation in the past, and it is quite shocking, but then if my experience of English lessons was anything to go by, well, it’s not good. And for all I know, things may have gotten worse since those days? (note the use of the word And at the beginning of a sentence).

    Hehe! My friend, I’m having trouble recalling last week, let alone what was going on 50 years ago! 🙂 But yes, I would have enjoyed the subject of Botany from the perspective of ecology.

    You’re like super-bad! 🙂 No, I can’t run over the mountain ducks, although I have noted that other people have different values when it comes to such issues. One of my oldest friends is a very talented cook (who bailed from that industry due to the conditions) and he used to make a very tasty Peking Duck. So good, and I recommend that you take the chance if ever the opportunity is presented to you. Yummo! Mind you, you’ve probably tasted the dish hundreds of times.

    Exactly, doing two things at once is difficult, and I prefer to be in the present – it’s tense. 😉

    Yes, let’s go with ‘ticked me off’ for future usage. Thanks for that, and I have no doubts that someone, somewhere, is going to do just that, at sometime in the future. Best to be prepared for such times

    Mate, if it was just one incident I’d brush it off as an anomaly, but me thinks that people are stressed and acting strangely.

    It’s the snake risk which makes me want to process firewood when the weather is cold and damp. Not natural snake weather at the moment, although I could be surprised, err more likely alarmed, one day. Firewood is a crucial resource here, but with electricity prices like Goran’s, far out, it would be the next level over there.

    Speaking of moist weather. I’ve had two dead chickens in two days now. Why did they die? I dunno, the others seem fine. What I did note was that a few days ago, those two had begun eating eggs, which is often a sure sign that they’re ill. Anyway, they’re dead now and won’t be eating eggs again any time soon. Did a massive clean out of the chicken enclosure and run this morning. Removed a huge amount of soiled sugar cane mulch, and used it to fertilise the area where I’ll plant the tomatoes in a few months time. The soiled litter had become a bit more moist than is good for the chickens health, and I suspect the susceptible chooks, copped it in the neck.

    Given the surface channel drains worked so well on the large shed, we’ve decided to install some around the chicken enclosure so as to dry the area up a bit. Couldn’t hurt.

    Was intending to do paid work today, but could only do that this afternoon. The chicken clean up took many hours. Had to place the coffee ground + agricultural lime mixture on top of the soiled chicken litter because the dogs were too interested in the stuff. Didn’t seem to do the dogs any harm, but still there is a yuk factor involved.

    It happens. And no, no camera’s. People doing such things might encounter Ollie, he’s more effective than a camera. As to the mustard, I believe it is a rogue Sulphur Crested Cockatoo. They live for up to eighty years those birds, and they’re super-smart. But the destruction was crazy. At this time of year, the plants are very light on for protein, so the forest critters get a bit tetchy.

    Ah, perhaps mist rollin’ in from the sea? Sometimes here you can have a mixture of fog and drizzle. I’d give it a go for sure with the ammonium nitrate, but don’t forget the err, urea.



  28. Yo, Chris – Life is complete. I went to the grocery last night, and the pumpkin pie spice ice cream is in!!! Bought two containers. I also did something I hadn’t done, before. I used the self check-out. Eight in the evening, and only one checker, on duty. Two people in front of me, one in a motorized scooter, both with a massive amount of groceries. I had ice cream. What can I say? Anyway. I used the self checkout, without a hitch. But, of course, the charge went on my credit card, and I don’t like to chuck stuff on there. I looked around for anything else pumpkin spice, but only saw a well known biscuit. I tried it a couple of years ago, and it tasted like ca-ca.

    Who cares about other languages? 🙂 Oh, they all have their quirks. Several languages divide their nouns into masculine and feminine. How did that happen? Who decided?

    Yes, Tolkien was a master linguist. Of languages both ancient and modern. His brain must have had interesting wiring. A few years ago, I read a bio about an autistic bloke. Who had a real knack for languages. And, he developed it into a languages teaching program.

    So Tolkien wrote the Cliff Notes for Beowulf? 🙂

    I had a thought about your post office “friend.” Maybe the only time he’s been referred to as “sir,” is by law enforcement or the courts. Or maybe he was just having a really, really bad day. But, yes, people are stressed and acting strangely. You should see our local police reports, in the newspaper. Things are getting weirder and weirder. The filters seem to be off, both in language and behavior.

    Symbols signal you belong to a certain group. It’s so people can identify each other as a member of whatever “tribe.” Young people think they’re being so outrageous and independent. But, basically, they’re just signaling they belong to one tribe or another. Here’s something I’ve found interesting. Tattoos are pretty common, over here. And some are pretty outrageous. But I’ve never once, heard anyone comment on someone else’s tattoos. Neither positive or negative. Not even a “Nice tats!”

    Yes, sounds like you have a chicken mystery. Were they older hens? Eating eggs. Getting enough calcium? But you may be right, you’ve had a really damp year.

    Just to winge a bit … our local weather site didn’t have a single reading, after 6PM. At least, up til midnight. My trip to the grocery, was a bit frustrating. Still no less expensive dark chocolate bars, no “lite” popcorn or the brand of tea I prefer. This has been going on, for weeks. I may make a trip up to their much larger store, and see if the situation is the same, there. Sometimes, I get the feeling our little local store is the end of the supply chain, and may get shorted. But I may be wrong.

    We had another fog, this morning. I think it’s official. Autumn fogs are here. It burns off fairly early. I picked up a bag of pretty good garden soil, the other day. I have plans for working that tank raised bed I have. Plenty of kitchen scraps to do in it. Half a bag of composted chicken poo. I saw my first, very small green string bean, this morning. They’d better get a move on. 🙂 The San Marzano tomato is suddenly loaded, with green tomatoes. But the couple I’ve harvested that were ripe, had blossom end rot.

    I saw Elinor’s daughter, yesterday. She brought me a bag of pears. Elinor is still in hospital. There’s still some loose talk about her coming home … if a care giver can be found.

    We have a three day holiday weekend. Labor Day. Lew

  29. Chris,

    Sorry I made your brain hurt. It was unintentional. I used to make a pointy haired boss’s head hurt. On purpose. He was interested in quantum physics, so I would discuss some ideas. You could see his head beginning to hurt. Even better was the old carrousel/merry-go-round physics. A person near the center of the carrousel takes the same amount of time to complete a circle as does a person on the outside edge of the carrousel. Therefore, the person on the outside edge is travelling faster than the person near the center. He could never grasp how that could be true, even after I explained to him that the person on the edge travels further in the same amount of time, so must be travelling faster. I enjoyed inducing headaches with that concept. Worked every time.

    Oh, nice jokes, by the way.

    Think about subway tunnels for trains. There’s a tremendous amount of work that went into digging and then buttressing those tunnels. Most people don’t get it. Getting to see the equipment that does that type of work is an eye opener, isn’t it?

    It took me a long time to see through it, though. In retrospect, because you’ve got me thinking, I see how I didn’t fit in many places because being part of that truly wasn’t me. Being brainwashed in those days, I still tried to fit in, to play the game of doing what others expected of me. Wasn’t fun, and I’m glad to be doing what I need and want, rather than spinning wheels in some stupid game that can’t be won.

    I think Heisenberg would have enjoyed the joke too, but perhaps not. We’ll never know for sure.

    Reminds me of a shirt I’ve got. It says, “I may not always be right, but I am never wrong.”

    Dead damp chickens? Not good. I can see why more drainage may be needed. And whether the rats are the problem or not, the rats are the problem. Just because. You know, rats.

    Yes, thanks, we’re in a rare calm spell right now. The Princess and I are enjoying just being together, doing the things we like to do and chilling.

    Got to 39C 2 days ago, will get near 38C today. With wind. Thunderstorms this week were without rain, so there are more fires. Our air quality is worsening, with the forecast for it to be “unhealthy for sensitive groups” through the weekend. That means if you have lung problems, asthma, severe allergies, stay out of the smoke. The temperatures are supposed to start dropping soon and should sport highs in the 23C range within 10 days. That is more “average” for this time of year than is 38C!


  30. Hi DJ,

    My brain continues to hurt. Thanks for that. 🙂 Your words induced a thought experiment. The dude at the centre changes direction at the same time that the outer dude travels around the circle. However, the outer dude covers more distance over the same interval of time. Race car drivers the world around know of picking the correct line in order to shorten the distance so as to gain advantage. Your words did not indicate in which direction the outer dude was facing, and the subsequent thought enters my mind: does it matter? The tricksey word you used was faster. It’s a slippery word at best and one which inspires comparison – but faster relative to what? Everything of matter is in motion. My head hurts even more now.

    Thanks, glad to entertain! 😉

    Exactly, most people don’t get it. A bridge here, a road or tunnel there. How hard can it be? Plenty hard. However, such activities can be taken too far, so where is the nice middle ground, that’s an elusive beast that is.

    Glad to hear I prodded you into cogitation upon past experiences, and certainly you’ve returned the favour with the head spin inducing physics discussion. My brain is candidly not wired for such activities. Whatever. As far as I can understand the situation, we’re bombarded with messages regularly suggesting to do this or that, and take this path, not that path, and it’s tiresome. To think at least some of our own thoughts is the challenge we all face. Not as easy to do as you may imagine.

    I’m uncertain what you mean with your wise crack about Heisenberg? Touché! 😉 I’m pretty sure we could keep going like this for years.

    Like the t-shirt slogan. Alas I enjoy being wrong, if only because it opens the possibility to being right later.

    The rats contributed to the chicken-moisture problem. You see I had to remove the guttering from the sides of the roof of the chicken enclosure and hen house. The rats had managed to use it as a super-highway, and I did ask them not to do that, but err, super intelligent creatures sent down to study us humans, and stuff. The rain now falls off the roof and lands on the ground, and I have to make further modifications to support that recent modification. Where will it stop?

    🙂 Happy days to you both! I’m doing a lot of work and giving the Editor time to sort out things following on from the recent death of her dad. But, I’m enjoying myself too. Had a tasty gourmet pie today, but did work either side of that enjoyable experience.

    Hope things cool down soon and that the winds abate. 23’C sounds remarkably pleasant to my ears. You’re probably like here in that the autumn is very short?



  31. Hello Chris
    All well here. I am just very busy, in part with the incredible growth of everything in our hot summer. The lack of rain doesn’t seem to have halted things at all. It has been the best veg. season that I have had for years. I try to look pleased when Son dumps some of his extra stuff on my kitchen table.


    @ Lew
    Did I misunderstand, or were you equating ‘ticked’ off with ‘pissed and brassed’ off? One is pissed, brassed off when ones parents tick one off. I am atrociously bad at humour, to the horror of my family, so may well have missed something.


  32. Hi Lewis,

    When pumpkin pie spice ice cream is in, you know things are gonna be good. So what I want to know is, what film accompanied such dessert excellence? Wise to buy two containers. Supply has been very weird on the more exotic items of late.

    That’s it, well done, and I doff my hat to you. Self check out at the supermarket for me is not an intuitive experience, but I do understand your reticence with standing in line when the odds are stacked against you. Dunno about your part of the world, but down here in supermarkets, the items are somehow weighed and scanned and you have to move them in a certain order. And I’ve long struggled discovering where the instructions are, and the stupid machine beeps at me and then someone has to come over and assist. The indignity of it all. Not a fan, and can only applaud your audacity and experience.

    Ca-ca is not fit for consumption, and some varieties may possibly misrepresent themselves as pumpkin flavoured biscuits. Best avoided, but mileage may vary in this matter.

    Had a gourmet pie today. Yum. Chicken, leek and bacon. So good. Consumed in the early spring sunshine and warmth. The grass in that part of the world has a lovely emerald flush, and I’d not thought to take the camera. Oh well. The phone camera takes OK pictures, but capturing that light and colour is not for the likes of the phone.

    Yes, that was a problem for me with French lessons at school. The teachers were overly fixated on which noun was masculine and which was feminine. So instead of learning the language, we had to learn both the word and the arbitrary gender of the word – like it mattered at that point. Just teach the freakin’ language, but no they really wanted to make the experience difficult. Such things as that gender distinction in the language is applied afterwards, the custom is first learned, but what do I know of such things?

    You’re not wrong about that with Tolkien. Possibly so, but is Beowulf even taught these days? I’ve never used such a book before, although if the subject can be taught more easily via such a book, well, it’s not lost on me that it would take effort to read it. And also there is a presumption that text books, and other books in general are easily understood. I’m sure you’ve encountered a book that was meant to be difficult? Who can forget the day you did the David Foster Wallace filter reply? Holy carp, my brain is still scarred by the sheer footnotes. Surely they weren’t all relevant? 🙂 Me thinks the jest was the book itself, the cheeky scamp. Watched an excellent film about the author: End of the Tour. Really enjoyed it, as it had a haunting sort of quality to it.

    Oooo! Do you recall the name of the program?

    I bow to your observations as to the alleged ‘friend’ incident. You’re probably right. Hope to not have too many more of those things, and have decided to engage less with unknown people in the short term at least. Too many emotional reactions for my sense of quietude. I tend to give him the benefit of the doubt in that he was having a bad day, and seemed highly absorbed in his phone call to the exclusion of blocking the path to the post boxes. Not what I would have done. That’s the good thing about caller ID, you can choose whether it is appropriate to answer the call in a public space, or when you would otherwise be enjoying a coffee served in ceramic – life being too short for take away coffee. 😉

    The symbol was a Bentley, so the average person on the street can be left to make their own judgement as to the meaning of the symbol. In the immortal words of the author Jeff Lindsay, who penned the Dexter series of books, when the protagonist was considering walking out on his kids: There are plenty of those, but you don’t see abandoned Bentley’s. An alarming observation, but then there were some deep issues with the protagonist.

    I agree, the outrage is a desire to signal to others that the person belongs to the tribe. Yes. Interesting. It’s possible that the subject is off limits in your country? Dunno, but I’ve heard that remarked upon down here. Admittedly, it is a culture to which I have little understanding.

    It is possible that the two dead chickens were older hens, and now I can’t be sure having not kept proper records. It’s a tough time of year for the chickens as I have a hunch they prefer drier climates, and every year one or two die. They get regularly replaced, so no great worry – at the moment.

    They get fine shell grit mixed into their feed, but chickens like a lot of protein, and at this stage of the year, protein levels are low in the the plants – due to lack of sunlight and warmth. If I had more time, I’d sprout part of their feed as that converts the starches into more palatable sugars. I do feed them about a pound of mince meat per week, but that’s not cheap for the volume of eggs.

    Whinge away! Occasionally the weather stations go on the blink here. I believe that the machines are located on private properties and the people volunteer their time and possibly some of their resources. It’s a handy arrangement, and I do wonder what volunteers would get out of it? Did you purchase the more expensive choccie? Always a fine choice in my mind. But Holy Carp that’s more than just a few simple shortages. The trip to the larger store might be in order simply to gain a better understanding of the situation. I shop at the smaller, but more expensive supermarket, and they’ve always been well stocked, with a few notable exceptional circumstances.

    It was foggy here this morning as well. Must be something in the water? Top work with the bag of soil and kitchen scraps – it doesn’t get better than that. It might not be too late for the bean, but they’d be nearing the end for me sometime this month (if things were suddenly flipped upside down). Not good about the tomatoes, but things were so bleak here last year that I dare not pretend that I even remotely know what I’m doing.

    Fingers crossed for Elinor, and respect for her hardiness. Just don’t be too hard on the care givers. Ook!

    Happy Labour Day. 🙂



  33. Hi Inge,

    Thank you for taking the time to drop by and say hello. It is your harvest and getting the garden ready for winter time, so I doubly appreciate hearing from you.

    Inge, I hear you about that. The best tomato season that I can recall was that of the Black Summer of 2019/2020. The tomatoes and vegetables loved the extra solar energy. I’ve long suspected that as long as you have access to, and can apply, water, those hot and dry seasons are particularly productive.

    One can only but do their best in trying circumstances. Glad to hear that you’re enjoying your bounty. 🙂

    I laid out the two tomato growing rows yesterday and have begun fertilising them. The dogs have been rather attracted to the mixture. Oh well.



  34. @ Inge – All three seem to be used interchangeably, here. At least, as spoken. But you know how sloppy Americans can be, with our language 🙂 Lew

  35. Yo, Chris – Yes, I’d better stock up a bit, on the pumpkin pie spice ice cream. Though it doesn’t last long around here. And, being harvest season, space is limited in the freezer. But a few years ago, the ice cream made an appearance … and then disappeared for more than a month. What, they were just teasing? There’s also an ice cream sandwich, with the same ice cream in it. But the biscuit surrounding it is soggy. I’ll stick with the regular ice cream.

    LOL. As a bloke, you should be able to muddle through any situation, without assistance. 🙂 Where did we get those ideas? My theory is … John Wayne. Our self check out has both screen prompts, and a voice to guide you through. But I did need some assistance to figure out how to pay. I didn’t have to weigh anything, so I don’t know how that goes. Due to a new law, bags must be paid for, now. 8¢ each. Still a bargain. But they ask you how many bags you used. What if you lied? I used two bags, but what if I had said I only used one?

    David Foster Wallace. I think he was having us all on, a bit. I also saw “The End of the Tour.” He was a complicated guy. And a bit mad, I think. I skimmed through a great deal. And skipped large chunks. If I’m going to read something that big, I’d rather be entertained by a good story. A Stephen King book. Or, even “The Goldfinch.”

    I’ve been reading some English lit, and have resorted to Gargle over several phrases. “Pound store.” Who knew the English have our equivalent of dollar (+) stores. “Ginnel,” and “Snicket.” The alley ways behind and between terrace houses. Though those might both be specific to Yorkshire.

    There’s a non sequitur, if I’ve ever seen one. Animal, vegetable or mineral? Larger than a bread box? Smaller than an elephant? 🙂 Judging from context, you MAY have been referring to the language programs the autistic fellow came up with? Any-who. Daniel Tammet. One article said he speaks 7 languages. Another article said 11. I suppose he added a few more. He taught himself fluent Icelandic, in a week. From what I could see peering down the rabbit hole, his program might be called “Optimnem.” Another article hinted at it being kind of bespoke, and done by e-mail. I read his book “Born on a Blue Day,” a couple of years ago.

    I never read Cliff Notes instead of a book. But used them as an augmentation to reading a book. I also used them when up for a couple of parts from Shakespeare plays. Great for figuring out where the story was going, who all these characters were, and what the meaning of phrases were, that had fallen out of use.

    I have the last of the blueberries, on trays in the freezer, and ready to go into bags. I also picked a big bowl of cherry tomatoes, and will get them in the dehydrator, tomorrow morning.

    Yes, I bought the more expensive chocolate. Two bars. My stash is getting low, and I was nervous. But not happy about it. Lew

    PS: Maybe your post office friend was having a day like that old country western song. Wrecked pickup, dog died, wife ran off with best friend and house burned down. Oh, and a killer hang over, on top of it.

  36. Hi Lewis,

    Now if Brad DeLong mentioned energy, I’d be more enthused at his erudite historical economic exploration. But there was not one single mention of the subject in the article. However, I do appreciate that the journalist could have not appreciated that side of the story – or didn’t want to hear about it. That’s not an uncommon reaction. Whaddya mean about gas supplies peaking then declining? (just kidding with that last bit, but you’ve probably heard similar sentiments?)

    I’ll be interested to hear what you have to say about the book.

    Speaking of books, one of my precious Jack Vance collection turned out to be penned in German. The author was apparently quite widely read and revered there. I can’t but help smile at the recollection of an amusing line from Star Trek VI: “You’ve never heard Shakespeare until you’ve heard it in Klingon”. Sure. 🙂 I’ll contact the book store we got it from. Talk about a mess up with print-on-demand technology. Have you ever seen such a thing?

    Sorry dude, I have done paid work today (Sunday) and finished late. We’re getting smashed and the Editors dad died recently, and you know, I’m trying to give her a break. A bit short of time tonight, but should be plenty tomorrow night.

    Yes, I can recall the horror that was the disappearing spiced pumpkin ice cream. Yikes! Did you ever discover why the supply suddenly vanished?

    Hehe! I don’t think so, but as you rightly point out, plenty of people do. 😉 One of the hardest issues for me to navigate last year with all the craziness and the mandates was that not only did I face the immediate loss of the business I’d built up over a decade and a half, but also my support network which I’d built up and nurtured for the same period of time would have been equally trashed. It looked like coercion to me, and it still does today. I’ll guess we’ll all find out more about the story sometime in the future.

    John Wayne would have needed his diapers changed at some stage in his life. 🙂 Mate, I remain unconvinced about the self checkout supermarket thingee and can only doff my hat to you at your technical superiority. Checkout chicks and dudes need jobs too. The systems used down here just don’t seem that intuitive to me. The big box hardware store (there is only one) has a self checkout which makes sense, but the supermarkets are just weird with the weighing and moving items from one point to another point in sequence. It was like a robot dreamt up the system.

    And, that’s the funny thing about a plastic bag free world. Please excuse my cynicism, but didn’t you used to get those suckers for free? 🙂 That is how it rolls down here. The cloth bags we use have been in regular and continuous use for almost a quarter of a century. When my grandmother used to take me to the Prahan market, she had a shopping jeep – and we walked there. It’s nice to be in such enlightened days.

    I agree, the author was having us all on. The title of the book suggests as much, but your insight is probably correct and I had not considered that angle. From the film, and the effect he had on the Rolling Stones journalist, I got the hint that the author was a very complicated bloke. And absolutely yes: A narrative is required, will a mere essay be remembered? My gut feeling suggests that our brains don’t work that way. Yup! The Goldfinch was excellent and I really enjoyed the story.

    Ah, pound stores, dollar stores, or the two dollar shop (down under equivalent). It’s all the same and meets a need. They have an intriguing smell suggesting off gassing of petrochemically derived substances. An alley here is not one of those options, it’s a lane-way. The Victorian era ones were for the night soil carts and are usually laid with cobbled blue stone (a locally quarried granite).

    Non sequitur, logic – what is this thing? Phooey to that! An abstract of the mind, that is all. The mad poet outrages us all with his yammerings, and let the sensitive seek meaning within them. Need I suggest that the Walrus is ever with us? 🙂

    Sorry man, I’ve gotta get writing. It’s not far from 9pm and not a single word has yet been written. What a shamozzle.



  37. Yo, Chris – I don’t know if DeLong mentions energy, or not. I see the book took a long time, to write, as he kept stumbling across more and more information. But, as they used to say in the movie biz, it might have hit the cutting room floor. 🙂 But I see the book is 624 pages. He’ll probably mention energy in there, somewhere. 🙂 I’ll get it through the library, one way or another. Might take some time. I hope it’s readable.

    I discovered a few years back, that I needed to read River listings, very carefully. Otherwise I’d get a poor copy of a book from print on demand. Ah, I see why you were interested in a language teaching program 🙂

    The case of the disappearing ice cream. There were some vague theories about problems at the production plant. Maybe it was a trial run for our supply line problems? 🙂 . If I were given to conspiracy theories.

    “They” wanted to do away with single use plastic bags. As they were destroying the planet, or something. Can’t say I ever used one, just once. They’re useful for all kinds of things. So, any-who, now we have these bags, that you have to pay for. Sometimes. Some stores just nudge their prices up a bit, and they’re free. But the thing about the new bags is they’re a lot more substantial, than the old bags.

    I don’t like self check-out, either. And wouldn’t have resorted to it, had there not been the issue of melting ice cream. In fact, I went to the store last night, and had a very nice chat with the clerk.

    Prof. Mass mentioned recently, that we’ve had our first day of meteorological fall. I’m not quit seeing it, yet.

    I finished up bagging the frozen blueberries. Fifteen gallon bags, but two are still a bit “light.” I might be able to scrap up enough from our bushes, here at the Institution. To round them out. H gets her bath, today. Lew

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