Breaking it slowly

Every right thinking person knows how civilised it is to enjoy coffee served in a ceramic mug. A cup barely supplies enough caffeine to get the brain into first gear, so only a mug will do. Such times are improved when accompanied with a delightful book, perhaps with maybe a muffin, if you’re lucky. The best muffins have a sour cream base in order to give the flavour just that little hint of tang. Canny cafes use coffee cups to bake the muffins. What better use for a cup where the handle has broken, or the rim chipped? Not much else use for a cup given the paucity of caffeine they hold!

At such times before sipping too much of the contents from the mug, then delving into a good book, the mail can be perused. A blissful experience. What the f!@#? Sandra, am I’m reading this bill correctly? Yes, came the reply. Not good, was the response.

And they say inflation is not much of a problem

It is unwise to let a large bill ruin your coffee, and so I buried my head in the amusing dystopian stoner buddy book I was reading, authored by a mate of mine: Simon Sheridan (a link to his blog is on the edge of this screen: For a dissenting opinion). Yeah, I’ll look into the bill later. Checkout the antics of these characters.

Thinking about it later, if inflation is officially running at 6.1%, how come my house insurance bill has risen on average about 18% now year after year, for years? Beats me. Anyway, all I know is that at such a compounding increase, it won’t be too many more years before I can’t afford the bill. For those readers who are mathematically inclined (you know who you are – looking at you DJ!), at that compounding increase, in two decades time, the bill is utterly bonkers. Possibly western civilisation will have collapsed long before that time, zombies were all that was left to roam the empty cities, or hopefully the bills somehow became more realistic relative to income. Possibly the insurance industry may have collapsed instead?

One of the things I really like about living in this remote location is that there are only a few services, and as such there are few regular bills. Living in a bushfire prone area means that it is probably a wise idea to pay for the house insurance. I guess the local council maintains the dirt roads and so they have the legal power to recover any unpaid council taxes, despite them not opening the library after hours. That lot also have to be also kept paid. And then there is the mysterious water bill which began arriving many years ago. That one is a bit of an insult given we have to provide our own water, manage drainage and process our own sewage. Those water funsters have the backing of the state government, so yeah does anyone really want to find out what their debt collection powers are?

A lot of the other bills are theoretically, discretionary. That means that if we chose not to continue with whatever services are being offered, we could theoretically ditch them and not face future bills. That’s the theory anyway. One of the lessons we both took away from the recession of the early 1990’s was that it was not a wise move to be over extended, because you never really know when circumstances can change abruptly.

Anyway, back to the house insurance bill. Sandra did a ring around with the large insurance providers and discovered to our horror that the bill was actually pretty cheap. One insurer was insistent that we could not nullify the flood cover risk. Now being on the side of a mountain saddle about 700m / 2,300ft above sea level suggests that the risk of being flooded is probably pretty remote, if not non-existent. Honestly, not even zombies would survive such an epic flood. I doubt much of humanity would, but there you go, they said we had to have it, and their premium was eye-wateringly expensive (almost $9,000 for the curious readers).

One of the insurers made an off-handed remark about how increasing the excess would lower the bill. The excess is the amount you have to pay (or deduct) in order to make an insurance claim. Ah, the little light bulb went on. Of course, grifters. All is now explained. What the nice insurance company was saying in not so many words, was that if you only pester them when you need to make a really big and proper claim, they’ll reduce your bill. I can do that, because that’s already how I roll and they know it, and so the bill was halved. We breathed a sigh of relief.

Many long years ago an old mate of mine lived not too far away. One evening a super cell storm hit the area. That meant 100mm / 4in of rain fell in an hour. It just so happened that I had all of the kitchen cupboards stored in the back yard that evening (and a couch – the green couch some long term readers may recall). And unsurprisingly, they got damaged. I didn’t make an insurance claim for the damage. It was after all unwise that day not to have taken a closer look at the weather forecast. The backyard was effectively underwater and I had other problems on my mind at that time. Anyway, it wouldn’t have been worth the bother.

My old mate on the other hand probably hadn’t cleaned the leaves out of the guttering on his roof for years. After the storm, there was a bit of water stain damage on the inside roof of his house. Nothing a bit of paint wouldn’t fix. He put in an insurance claim for the repairs, and we had a disagreement about that. I guess such things are why we’re no longer friends.

What my old mate didn’t appreciate was that the nice insurers keep databases on both people and locations, and I believe they share that data between them. Claims stick to both people and locations as well, and so it is best to only make claims when there is no other choice. But what do I know, my old mate didn’t believe me. However, it is always wise to know how systems and arrangements work. So many people believe that they do hold such knowledge.

Again, this week has been very wet (but not floodingly so). And that’s despite it being officially spring. On Thursday the sun shone, and we continued at the job of splitting and hauling firewood. The pile of firewood left to err, maybe dry, in the sunlight is growing.

Ollie poses in front of the drying firewood pile

Firewood takes about two years to properly cure here. And it’s prudent to keep more supply than that available just in case we get injured or sick and need to draw down upon the reserves.

The chicken enclosure continues to be rat free. I’ve thwarted those pesky rodents, for now. It took fifteen different attempts at modifying the chicken enclosure before the thing was declared rodent-free. However, one of the modifications was removing the external roof guttering which collected rainfall. The rats had been using it as a super highway. Unfortunately, without the guttering the rainfall is falling to the ground around the chicken enclosure and it has been a very wet couple of years. A future project is to install ground water drains.

In the meantime, some of the chicken’s deep litter mulch inside the enclosure had become damp. Two chickens died this week, maybe due to the damp conditions. With that in mind, I did a massive clean up of the chickens enclosure. The soiled deep litter mulch was used as fertiliser for the location I intend to plant the tomatoes in a few months time.

The chickens soiled deep litter mulch was spread over the tomato growing area

The dogs enjoyed the chickens soiled deep litter mulch so much (yummy!) that I spread a combination of coffee grounds mixed with agricultural lime (Calcium Carbonate) on top so as to deter them from consuming the stuff (yukky!)

The ground water drains work really well. We first tested one near to the large shed, and it’s no exaggeration to say that the drain ran for about eight hours following a recent storm. Next up, we’ll add one to the chicken enclosure.

Ground water drains work really well

In breaking spring produce news:

The very first asparagus spears have poked their heads above the soil. We also applied a good quantity of salt to the asparagus beds. Apparently it is an old timer soil amendment for asparagus.

An Asparagus spear pokes it’s nose from the soil – like a Womble

A Plumcot (Apricot / Plum hybrid) has produced an excellent flower display. This fruit tree tends to flower just that little bit too early, and every year a late frost knocks the blossoms off the tree. Fingers crossed that this year will be different, and maybe it might be.

A large Plumcot tree has produced a huge amount of blossoms

An early variety of almond has also produced a good crop of blossoms.

An early variety of Almond has produced a good quantity of blossoms

A Sulphur Crested Cockatoo made a smash and grab style raid on some of the plants earlier in the week. The local magpie family sent them packing, but not before significant acts of vandalism had occurred.

Don’t ever feed Cockatoos – they live for eighty years and will remember any perceived injustice

Onto the flowers:

Echium flowers, and they’re blue!
Leucodendron’s are a very flashy flower
Daffodils light up the paddock

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 6’C (43’F). So far this year there has been 736.2mm (29.0 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 690.4mm (27.2 inches)

54 thoughts on “Breaking it slowly”

  1. The best thing you’ve done to reduce your snake population is to get rid of the rats. No food in the area, no reason to hang around, well some of your marsupials might be snake edible, but a swarm (or pack) of well fed rats is like an ice cream truck for snakes. 🙂


  2. Yo, Chris – I’m surprised you didn’t take a bit out of that ceramic cup, when you got the bill. Or smashed it against the wall.

    So, you upped your deductible. A wise move, as long as you can cover any mishaps up to that amount. Of course, I’m sure you realize insurance is a pool. Your not only covering your possible losses, but I’d bet they’re still paying off the brush fire claims. And any yob that hits a roo, going 100mph, drunk out of his mind. Yup. Like it or not, we’re all in this together. Not that I mess with the stock market, but insurance stocks seem a pretty sure thing. 🙂

    …and Triffids wander the countryside.

    Looks like a good deposit in the Fernglade Farm Bank of Firewood.

    Re: Rats. Shhhh! Hubris, hubris.

    Sparrow grass. Tasty! That’s interesting about the salt. I wonder if their ancestors took the air, at the seaside?

    Well, even if the plumcot doesn’t produce fruit, at least the blossoms are pretty. I forgot to mention I saw a peach, at the veg store, shaped like a donut. Ah, a look down the rabbit hole indicates they’re from the Land of Stuff. But not a genetic modification. Called a donut peach. Tasty, according to reports.

    The Cockatoos eat cactus? Must have tough mouths.

    The Echium is very pretty. Such an intense blue. We have a Hydrangia that’s about that color.

    I put off H’s bath, a day. Picked blueberries, instead. Got a fairly good bowl full, but had to leave off as the cat from across the street wanted to “help.” Don’t know if they’ll fill the last two “light” bags, but it will be close. Lew

  3. Chris,

    You keep me entertained. I am keeping your headache going. It’s good to be trading free services to one another. 😉

    Inflation and exponential growth. Ugh! I’m sure you’ve heard of the Rule of 72? For those that haven’t… Basically, take the average rate of increase of something, in this case the 18% per annum average increase in your insurance bill. Divide 72 by the annual rate and you get how many years it will take to double your bill. 72 divided by 18 equals 4. If this high rate of increases keeps up, your bill would be double what it is today in 4 years, double that in 8 years, double that in 12 years, etc…or 2 times 2 times 2 is 8 times as much as today’s bill in 12 years. Nasty stuff, isn’t it? For a $4,000 bill, that translates to an expected $32,000 12 years from now. Something has to change, right? The 20 year (2 decade) scenario you mentioned above? The bill would be 32 times what it is today, or 32 times $4,000 equals $128,000!!! Utterly Bonkers, as you suggested.

    AS you do, I also tend to pay out of pocket for minor things that many would go through insurance for. Make claims, rates go up. Some of the things I can fix myself anyway. Others I hire out, hiring the people I want to hire.

    Yes, we can certainly keep the Heisenberg jokes going indefinitely. That would risk the idea turning rather stale, however.

    The t shirt slogan is fun. It doesn’t match with my reality, that’s for sure. I’ve found it a good idea to be the first to admit when I am wrong. That usually keeps the chorus of voices chanting “DJ was wrong! DJ was wrong!” to a minimum. 😉

    Oh icky ugh ugh ugh! The air quality deteriorated Friday night. Much of Saturday got into the officially “unhealthy” range. Then it rained for a few minutes. Allegedly the air quality improved, but it brought in a heavy smoke odor. The air filters have sure been helping. The air quality now (Sunday evening) is very good. We should be able to open windows for the night!

    Meanwhile, there are 2 large fires near here. An hour or so north, near a small town named Cusick, there is a fire called Boulder Mountain. I used to camp and hunt for elk there. Lightning caused it. Very rugged area, mountainous with thick trees and undergrowth. The other is near where the Spokane River enters the Columbia, about an hour westerly of here. It started near a camping area called Hawk Creek. I used to camp and hike and fish there. Used to hunt deer about 8 km east of there each September. Mixed sage, wheat fields and pine trees. It gets bone dry there anyhow, but it has got to be a tinderbox this year after the long hot spell we’ve had. It’s moving fast, and there are several ranches and other houses that have been told to evacuate.

    2021 was hot. I just got the bill from the utility company for August 2022. Higher than the 2021 bill, and not solely due to rate increases. The bill gives comparative data for the same billing period last year. My electric usage was higher in 2022. Why? Because the average temperature for the entire month of August 2021 was 74F, whereas the average temperature for August 2022 was 78F. The AC ran more as a result. According to the government weather folks, the average daily mean temperature for August from 1991 to 2020 was 70.3F. So we WERE hot this August.

    There’s also a big wildfire in northern California. It has burned part of the small town of Weed. I’ve been through Weed many times, as it is at the junction of 2 major highways. You may be starting to see a trend here: if DJ has been there in the past, it is burning. Never having been in Australia, Fernglade Farm might be safe, at least from me. 🙂


  4. Hi Ann,

    Respect, and spot on. 😉 Exactly, no rats reduces the incidence of snakes because there is little for them to eat here, although there are plenty of rodent like marsupials around, but they’re found deeper in the forest where the grass trees are. It’s too open in the immediate area for the marsupials because the owls will hunt them down when they’re active at night. You may also note that there are no dams or pools of water around for our slithery friends to drink at. Apparently snakes have an amazing ability to sniff out rodents from a remarkable distance away. Best for everyone here if conditions are optimal for the snakes in the wonderful land of elsewhere.

    Thanks for the visuals of the ice cream truck for snakes! 🙂

    I suspect that the rats – and there were at least twenty that Dame Plum and I have hunted down – were consuming a huge quantity of apples and pears. It’ll be interesting to see what effect the hunt has on this years fruit crop?



  5. Hello Chris
    I thought that I must have pressed the wrong key, your heading was so different.
    We had our first storm last night; a number of dead branches have fallen. At least I’ll only have to water in the greenhouses this evening.
    I have the tv on as I wait to see who our new prime minister will be. I am not particularly keen on either of the 2 hopefuls.
    Am appalled that you have to pay for water and sewage when you don’t get it supplied. There is no main sewage to the properties here so we don’t pay for that part of the water bill.
    Our current nightmare is the energy bill.


  6. Hi DJ,

    Dude, trading entertainment for a headache seems like a bad deal to me. 🙂 If you were here, and be glad you ain’t, well, I’d put your fertile mind to work! That would stop the headaches, for me at least. Hehe!

    Your rule of 72 reminds me that there is something special regarding the number nine and division, but I can no longer recall the details. Something about getting other numbers the wrong way around, like 45, instead of 54. Now my brain is hurting even more than before.

    Thanks for confirming my back of the envelope calculations because your twenty year number was around the the number I worked out. An alarming number, and clearly something that I cannot pay! Hey, what’s the doubling in seven years rule again?

    Exactly. I can’t go into details, but I was once privy to one of those databases, and yes they do exist, and yes they are relied upon. People are bonkers about this issue, but then I guess they are outsourcing their short term costs. Both you and I play the long game. Ours is a functional response to a real problem. And yeah, you can choose to hire the people whom you have a relationship with, or where you get a good vibe as to the outcome, or whom is recommended. It’s kind of like the tree dudes, I have a long standing obligation to them, as do they to me. A very complicated relationship, which I’m guessing your lady has to navigate with her extended family. I walk that walk too being in an old school rural area, but then I apply a level of care to perceptions. It isn’t enough to do well, you have to also be perceived to do well – and that’s no easy feat.

    Ah, we’ve declared that Heisenberg is stale, and you have to admit, it sounds like a good description for an off lager! Sorry, I will stop here and now. 🙂 No further shall we go, but hey, I did get the final word in. 😉

    I do that too. There’s no point pretending that you know, when you don’t know. Trouble inevitably ensues from that point onwards. And I may have made that error when very young and learned that it was a bad deal, the hard way. Maybe you also know what it means to learn the hard way?

    DJ, sorry to hear that you’re suffering from smoke from the nearby fires. It’s a hard time of year for foolishness, or bad luck (i.e. lightening strike). Sage bush, wheat and pine is an inflammatory mixture at this time of year.

    Spare a thought for me who does not have AC and just deals. Some summer nights are brutal, and that isn’t far off the average temperature here in a hot summer. I dunno man, things are escalating on that front, and it may be wet and cold this year, but I have no idea what future seasons will hold in store.

    As an amusing break from the dire situation, you could at least say that you’ve enjoyed Hot August Nights? Sorry I grew up listening to that album and probably know every song inside out and back to front. Mate, it was the tension breaker which needed to just be!

    Seriously, a town in California with the name: ‘Weed’. You’re pulling my leg aren’t you? Oh, you’re not, and the fire is real. Look, the annual average precipitation there is on the low side, and it is not as if there have not been several dry summers in a row.

    Mate, seriously, even today I worked at the future fire risk situation. It’s hard work, that’s why nobody does it. I’ve been working long and hard at paid work so as to give the Editor a break. He dad died recently and in small business few people cut you any slack. I’d worked all weekend, and took today off and headed out into the forest. A lovely place to be, but there are many issues there. Oh well.

    Glad to hear that I’m safe from the curse of DJ. The last big fire we had was almost forty years ago: Ash Wednesday bushfires. Plenty of trees still bear the scars – for those who can see.



  7. Hi Inge,

    Sandra picks the heading image each week, and I have no say in the matter. It’s part of the cost of editing the essays. The image was rather striking wasn’t it? Imagine my horror at opening the envelope the bill was stored in and peering in at the contents? Although I’d known in advance that the bill would progress in that direction and written about it last year, and the year before, and maybe even the year before that. The pathway to cheaper bills was unknown, and we’ll do our best to balance the problem. I expect that industry to collapse, or get much smaller over the next few years.

    Storms are nature’s pruning tool. Think not of the fallen dead limbs, think only of the free firewood. 😉 Your part of the world will need it this coming winter. Has you son got the ability to heat his place with firewood? To his respect, he knows how to process the stuff.

    The partying during lock downs was a poor decision, but then from some perspectives it suggests that the quantum of the risk was known, and the risk was lower than spruiked. For the life of me, I cannot imagine why anyone would even want that job. The predicaments are unsolvable, and everyone remembers who was at the helm of the sinking ship – the architects leading up to that point, maybe not so much.

    Electricity is a problem. I can’t say for sure why the current ideology is being pursued so aggressively, when it’s wrong. Beats me. Out of curiosity, how much are you paying per kWh?



  8. Hi Lewis,

    It’s the mark of a gentleman to keep their cool in the face of adversity. 😉 Internally after discovering my earlier bill predictions had become unpleasantly true (not a difficult prediction made each year for several years) and using some very family unfriendly language in the inner confines of my head, the outer exterior was to all intents and considerations, unperturbed at the news. Yes, the Titanic has sunk, awful news ol’ chap. Did you perchance catch the cricket score?

    One day, I’ll break a mug (not likely a cup), and apologies will be made, and no doubt the locals will speak of the incident in thirty years time. Always a risk in rural areas. 🙂 I can’t but help shake the awful image of breaking the last item of porcelain following the departure of the legions in Britain. Recriminations would have ensued.

    Exactly, we upped the deductible so that the bill came down to a more reasonable amount. Of course the higher deductible gives that insurance mob a sense of comfort that I won’t make a spurious claim, unless absolutely necessary – and that is in fact the case, which they already knew based on my history. And that is the thing, we plan for that possibility accordingly. And I do understand that aspect of the industry, of course that is possibly why I believe that it will fall on hard times soon. People are being shaken out of it. It’s one of those things that other people can’t see, like treating maintenance and servicing of important stuff as if it were a guideline!

    Hey, that was spoken well and in the local vernacular: “any yob that hits a roo”. You’d fly under the radar down here with such talk. I’m impressed. You may not be aware, but yob is actually short hand for Yobbo. There’s something about the Urban Dictionary which I quite like. Never fails to hit the mark, and the word yobbo used in context in the example provided by them is brilliant.

    Oh no! I forgot to mention the Triffids. Thanks for the reminder. Hope they don’t come and get us!

    Back pedalling furiously. It was all loose talk about the rats. I didn’t mean nothin’ dude, just twitchy pointy little noses getting up to mischief. And we’re mates with the rats, yeah maybe we are. Dame Plum did it!!! The war will be long, there will be sacrifices, but we shall prevail against the rodents, maybe.

    Sparrow grass indeed! 🙂 We get heaps of spears from the asparagus plants and fry them in olive oil with pepper and a bit of chilli. And yes, that is my belief with the plants. Not sure why they require a bit of salt, but if the old timers did that, well it’s good enough for me. Probably kill the weeds in those beds too.

    We appear to be due for a frost tomorrow morning, but who knows how things will roll. Hopefully the plumcott is OK?

    Yes, Cockatoos are not to be trifled with. The local magpie family here on the farm have a zero tolerance policy with Cockatoos. I saw them chasing one off today. I’ve heard of people feeding Cockatoos, and things go well, that is until you forget to feed them – they’ve been known to chew timber window frames, timber corners of houses, chew through cables etc. And they live to a ripe old age. Some people down here teach them to speak and they invariably say very naughty things. And yes, they can eat cactus and other succulents.

    Hydrangea is a lovely plant, and super hardy.

    Why did you put off H’s bath today? Are we talking about a feline here, or a person?

    I worked all weekend on paid work. Today was better weather so I took the day off and headed down below. Hauled the stump grinder machine out and tackled two large and old tree stumps. By about 5pm the job was done, and there was saw dust everywhere. Cleaned it up and had a bath to wash off all the saw dust. It’s hard work that machine. Me feeling pleasantly tired this evening. The weather has been all over the shop lately, so I’m trying to take advantage whenever the sun shines – as it did today.

    I’ll be curious to hear what you have to say about the DeLong history book. And yes, the article mentioned how the book had ballooned and the publishers cracked the sads. Makes you wonder if the publishers organised someone other than the author to make the cuts? There is some advantage in that option, but pacifying the author would be hard and it would be better if they had done the job themselves. Sometimes the Editor here takes the knife to my essays. Anyway, surely he mentioned energy? Maybe? And readable is always a consideration.

    Hehe! Yes, why not learn another language? How hard can it be… Ook! The book retailer was very good about the book and has admitted error and put another book on order, this time in English. The retailer has been nothing but awesome with getting that huge order put through and delivered. The Dutch version of the book, well tis but a teething issue, although I can’t read a single word of the book. They didn’t want it back either, and worked out through their systems where things went wrong.

    I really like where you’re going with the Great Pumpkin Ice Cream mystery of last year. Conspiracy theories – very funny! 😉 Who says you don’t have a sense of humour? 🙂 Thanks for the laughs. I’m sure if we put some brain cells towards the ice cream issue, we could work aliens in the story there somewhere?

    No we’ve never used such plastic bag things a single time either. They’re pretty handy. The free bags might induce customers to shop at the establishment? I reckon the local independent supermarket I go to uses mince meat (which I buy for the chickens and dogs once per week) as a customer draw card – not easy to know why the price would change so much from week to week otherwise.

    Oh yeah, melting ice cream is never good, and everyone knows it doesn’t refreeze the same. A wise choice to run the gauntlet of the self check out.

    Ah, I see the good professor discusses meteorological fall in his podcast. Not seeing it yet? Did you check behind the couch? It might be under H’s cave too?



  9. Yo, Chris – Repaired Roman pottery is often seen in strata, from after the Roman’s left Britain. Family heirlooms and things that were utilitarian enough to not be just cast aside. The same goes for glass. The Roman’s did have a pottery industry, in Britain. But, so far, we’ve found no evidence of making glass there. The earliest glass found, that was manufactured in Britain, is from about 680 CE.

    Pottery was pretty much made, both before and after the Romans. The Anglo-Saxons were handy with it. There were some imports of pottery, and some glass. Mostly from the Med world.

    Thanks for the compliment. I can probably pull off local vernacular, due to all the Australian films I watch. And the company I keep 🙂 .

    We’ve had light frosts as early as September 28th. Just enough to kill the tomatoes. That was two years ago. Last year, the first light frost was October 21st. We’re having some of those days where the weather is just perfect. Coolish, nice breeze. Fairly sunny.

    We have many colors of Hydrangea. Put in by the Master Gardeners. I think I mentioned they even have a Hydrangea workshop, each year, open to the public.

    Feline “help” picking the blueberries. Kitty kat. Moogie. There’s a black one that comes over (reminds me so much of Nell), She behaves herself, and just wants a tummy rub. This one was a ring tailed cat, and wanted to get into everything. I was afraid she was going to spill my bowl. Next time, I’ll run her off, early.

    Sounded more like DeLong’s publisher just said, cut it or we won’t publish. Well, even if he doesn’t mention energy, he may have some other interesting things to say.

    Lots of people say I don’t have a sense of humor. I carefully cultivate that perception, in some quarters. 🙂

    “Customer Draw Card” aka “Loss Leader.” There’s actually a kind of cycle to regular markdowns. If you’re observant, you can usually figure it out. But the standard is about every twelve weeks. I’ve never studied it, but when I find something on sale, that I regularly use, I buy a lot.

    Blueberries are on trays, in the freezer. Don’t know if they’ll be enough to top the last two bags up, but we’ll see. After that, load the dryer with tomatoes. Get the next batch going. Lew

  10. Chris,

    I’m quite happy being entertained without headaches. 🙂

    9 is an interesting number. Take any number, we’ll use 683 as an example. Scramble the order of the digits to get 368. 683 – 368 is 315. 315 divided by 9 is 35, with NO remainder. Works every time regardless of how many digits there are. It’s easier to see with 2 digit numbers that are reversals of one another, such as 45 and 54.

    Also, take the difference between the 683 and 368…315. 3+1+5=9. Take ANY number. Add its digits together. If the digits are divisible by 9, so is the original number. Take 3,258. 3+2+5+8=18. 1+8=9. Therefore 3258 is evenly divisible by 9.

    Finally, 1/9=0.11111… (Here the … means repeated forever.) 2/9=0.22222… This happens for each digit between 1 and 8 inclusive. These also look similar to 1 times 11, 2 times 11, etc. It gets more interesting, as 1/11=0.090909… 2/11=0.181818… Which also looks similar to 1 times 9, 2 times 9, etc. Numbers can be frighteningly weird.

    Also, you asked about the 7 year thing. Refer to the rule of 72. What interest rate is required for, say, your savings to double in 7 years? 72 divided by 7 is 10.286. So, close enough is that if your savings compounds annually at an interest rate of 10%, it will approximately double in value in 7 years. Or if the price of something increases by 10% per year, then the price will approximately double in 7 years.

    That’s enough for this post. More to follow without arithmetic lessons.


  11. Chris,

    No math in this post. IIRC, you asked me last week a question regarding how long autumn lasts here. Well, it varies every year. The actual length of each season varies year by year. When things act somewhat “normal”, I divide the year into 8 seasons of 6 or 7 weeks. Winter, late winter/early spring, spring, late spring/early summer, etc. That actually used to work okay about 2/3 of the time. Now, I’d rather just say we have 2 seasons: one starts Nov. 1 and ends April 30. The other from May 1 to October 31. Those dates approximately account for the vast majority of cold and snow extremes as well as hot and dry extremes. There can be some exceptions, but right now that is working okay. Heck, I’ve raked my leaves as early as the first week of November and as late as middle of December depending on the year.

    I prefer building relationships with good companies, have them do the work for me when I need to hire someone. I know what I get, and they know the house, the furnace guys know the furnace and heat pump. At least it works well for me.

    Okay, sorry, but it’s your fault. I was fully intending to drop any references to Heisenberg (who was going stale), but you went and mentioned Hot August Nights. And lager. So I offer this:
    On those Hot August Nights, when you have a thirst that won’t be quenched, don’t reach for just any libation. Help yourself to a Heisenberg. Heisenberg Lager is good year-round, but Heisenberg Stale Ale is especially crafted to relieve the thirst of those Hot August Nights. Share and Enjoy!

    If we didn’t have AC, we would do what we’ve done when the power goes out during the heat – retire to the cooler basement. Those with neither basements nor AC? Ouch, that is harsh. Although I bet you are more resilient than I am as a result.

    There is something ironic about a town in California named Weed, isn’t there? And when Weed is burning, do the firefighters get high from the smoke?

    Good on you for giving Sandra a break to do what she needs, to mourn how she needs. That is VERY important.

    Fire risk mitigation in your living situation never ends. Ever. I’ve seen that where my sister lives, about 30 minutes from here on 20 acres of lightly forested property well out of town. Her husband never quits on the preventative stuff.

    Thanks for the Ash Wednesday Fire link. That was devastating. It made the news here, I remember.


  12. Hello Chris
    Son uses very little electricity. He has a wood stove and cooks and showers using bottled gas. I am the idiot who is entirely dependant on electricity.
    The energy situation in this country is now a disaster beyond belief. I was moved to another supplier, no choice involved. Have no idea what I am paying per kw. Meter readings are ignored and bills amounts seem to be pulled from fairyland. Large numbers of people are refusing to pay and debt collectors are arriving on doorsteps.
    Just in case I don’t have enough to worry about. my washing machine has just given up.
    It is pouring with rain outside. Heigh ho.


    I remember discovering with joy (when I was about 8 years old) that I didn’t need to learn my 9 times table. 6 x 9 go 1 down from the 6 result 5, how much to 9? 4. Answer 54 and so on.


  13. Hi Lewis,

    Don’t you think that it’s quite astounding that there was evidence for glass manufacture in Britain from 680 CE? It is possible that the Dark Ages weren’t all that dark, but perhaps more undocumented, disorganised, or maybe even the historical accounts didn’t survive. Or they may even have been destroyed in later periods of history – it’s possible that there were ideological reasons for that given the groups preserving the records and books. Dunno, but you read accounts suggesting that groups such as the Tintagel folks trading with mainland Europe. Just speculating, but I suspect that part of history was messier than we can imagine, or know.

    Hehe! My mother always told me to be careful of the company you keep. Of course, she never seemed to take her own advice, so yeah. Thanks, and it was well done. Not many people know how to use the word ‘yob’ correctly. A yob is possibly also a bogan, that most mysterious of critters. When I was an early teenager they used to have the sharps and the mods, although candidly I didn’t know anyone who professed that they belonged to either group (possibly a sign they were on the way out). You did used to see punks though in those days. Looked like they’d come from a Sex Pistols gig. 🙂

    Youch! Hope your tomatoes ripen before the risk of first frost. The frost didn’t materialise this morning, although it was as cold as 36’F. Not sure why, but some cold mornings don’t get frosty. Dunno why? I’m sure the same thing happens in your part of the world.

    Mate, I’m only keeping one step ahead of the media, or they’re getting ideas from the blogosphere? There was an article in the news today about insurance costs in the live music biz. The report said something like a ten fold increase in costs for venues. I don’t know much, but I do know the government does not like the music industry based on the treatment of them the past few years.

    Yay for perfect weather. Warm, but not hot autumn days are really pleasant after a hot summer.

    It’s pretty fun changing the colours of hydrangeas. My mates of the big shed fame do that with their hydrangeas. Did you ever attend one of their courses? Changing the soil is difficult here due to the sheer size of the place. It’s like truffles, they’d grow really well here, and not far from here there are some very successful truffle farms – growing the worlds largest – but the lime required to do so. Yikes! The lime I add to the coffee grounds is a cost to me at about $800 per year, but overall it’s a good investment. And has sped up the growth of the fruit trees.

    Some of the King Parrots decided they didn’t much like apricot blossoms today. I’m surrounded by an inordinate number of forest vandals.

    Lewis, I broke and replaced the speakers in the new car. The ones that came with the car were a manufacturing abomination. My ears were offended by the noise. Now they are soothed. Put them in this afternoon.

    Ah Nell, I hope she did OK. She seemed like a nice spirit. And then there’s the ring tailed cat. Yeah, bad feline attitudes are no good.

    That was my take on the authors book. Finish the book. Cut the book short. Get it published. Don’t do that, and well, there are other authors out there. The publishing business is complicated.

    Nice one about the sense of humour. Yes, out front of a rock ‘n roll band is where you hide. I try to make people I know laugh, but sometimes my humour falls flat.

    We tend to stock up on things too. And honestly with the supply issues of the last few years, it’s not a bad option.

    Fingers crossed that you can still pick or buy some more blueberries. And this tomato business, what are these things? 😉



  14. Hi DJ,

    The local climate does shift around a lot doesn’t it? I hear you about breaking the year into two phases. It’s hard to know here what the next month will be like here, let alone season. But we’re kind of in the same ball park as my gut feeling is that we have six seasons here, which includes a very long spring. I’ve read that the First Nations folks say the same, and I may even have unconsciously picked the idea up from that source – but it fits. The four seasons model does not work here, that I know. But I can’t say for sure where it would work, mostly due to lack of experience in those parts of the world.

    Exactly, I too follow a similar path with building relationships with people and local businesses. To be honest, it fits my brain wiring better. Things go astray when I have no contacts, and the auto electrical one threw me, especially because it ended up being such a pain.

    Oh my gawd! You win! You win! I admit defeat, although candidly the last joke extending it into the realms of beer was a nifty innovation. However, I now bow to you, admit defeat and depart from the field having done my best. And you ended it with a Hitchhikers Guide joke! Nice one. 🙂

    Ah, a basement would work well on hot nights. Yeah, I can see that. Very few people down under have basements. Out of curiosity, how do you keep such a room dry and keep the ground water moisture out? I’m assuming the room has a damp proof course between the soil and the walls?

    We can do hot weather, that’s for sure. You get used to it, but once past body temperature things become ever more difficult. The funny thing for me, is your extreme cold spells would leave me wondering how to cope with them. The smoke here takes a lot of getting used to as well. I’d reckon the aftermath smell of charred forest would be worse though, and possibly take many long months to recover from.

    The town name is a hoot! Dunno what it says about me because I don’t partake of the stuff, but it was also the first thing that popped into my head when I read your comment. I’d have to suggest that you might be right there!

    Ya gotta do, what’s ya gotta do. And that’s what ya do. I have to laugh, I read Mr Greer and Mr Kunstler and they’ve made some predictions about certain health matters, and um, well, probably doing too much hard work might get me first. That prediction business might get me second.

    Dry forest, Rainforest, it all burns under the right conditions. The trick is modifying the forests so that the right conditions are that much harder to coalesce. Yikes! Your sister is in some drier conditions in your part of the world, but good to hear that they’re onto it. I find it very strange that the First Nations folks down here aren’t listened too in this matter.

    Yeah, Ash Wednesday tore through here. The government takes on board the monopoly for doing the forestry work, and if track record of large scale bushfires is anything to by, they’ve stuffed it up completely for so many long years it’s embarrassing. The joke the protesters never seem to get is that if nothing is done, and a fire sweeps through – it all gets toasted.



  15. Hi Chris,
    Like Inge I took a double take at this weeks’ blog. Our homeowners insurance went up 15% this year though it didn’t start out as high. We also have high deductibles for home and auto insurance.

    I used to have caged birds. My first was an African parrot which I got before Cecily was born. Well when she arrived that parrot was not happy. Everytime I walked by his cage with her he would screech and slam himself into the cage beak open. He started screeching all the time. I lived in a third floor apartment and you could hear him on the first floor. Needless to say he found a new home.

    The japanese and corn rootworm beetles are finally dwindling but not without leaving behind quite a bit of damage.


  16. @DJ

    We moved to our last house in 1988 in the midst of a major drought and heatwave. There was no AC so we spent a lot of time in the basement. That house had very little shade. Our present home also has a great basement which is good as this property has been hit twice by tornadoes. It rarely gets hot enough that we need AC except for the humidity which has been pretty bad the last couple of years.


  17. I went through the same cycle of disbelief over my home insurance bill several years ago, and increased the deductable. I live on the side of a hill about 50 meters above sea level, but they have offered flood insurance. Were all of Greenland and Antartica to melt, I suspect the insurance company would no longer be available to compensate me.

    Things are getting interesting. Where I live (about 2 miles from JMG), as of yesterday morning, we were running about 15 cm of rainfall below the annual average. We made up the entire deficit in the past 24 hours, most of which fell in 2 hours.

  18. Yo, Chris – Yes, the term “Dark Ages,” is falling out of favor. Now it’s “Late Classical” and “Early Medieval.” Because it’s becoming clearer that there was still a lot happening, even after the western Roman empire, collapsed. And the monasteries played a big role. That early glass making in Britain, happened at the monastery of Jarrow. I saw an article recently, that a windmill (for grinding grain) was discovered near a monastery. From a very early date.

    Glass has a long history. The earliest glass was made in Mesopotamia, around 2,500 BCE. Beads mostly. The Egyptians started making glass vessels, around 1450 BCE. Then there’s the Uluburun shipwreck, off the coast of Turkey. From 3,400 years ago. It’s very exotic cargo included about 175 glass ingots that were on there way to … somewhere. They were cobalt blue and turquoise. The colors are quit stunning. Analysis has recently revealed they were mostly made in Egypt.

    But where glass making really took off was in Alexandria, Egypt, around the time of Cleopatra and Anthony. Their glass makers were celebrated, the world over. They even developed the “cameo” glass, by cutting or grinding through different layers of color. See: “The Portland Vase.” Some of them moved to Italy, and worked there.

    Onto another bit of history. Speaking of names and styles of young men. Who can forget the Rockers and the Mods? And somewhere in there, fit the Teddy Boys. A good view of that milieu is the movie, “Quadrophenia” (1979). I recently re-watched it, and it’s held up remarkably well. It takes place before and during the Mod / Rocker riots of 1964. Now we have Chavs and Scallies. Who aren’t near so interesting. 🙂

    I usually only go to the workshops on blueberries and tool sharpening. Hydrangeas and Rhodies are pretty, and all, but you can’t eat them. 🙂 But I’m happy other people take an interest, and keep them going.

    I often wonder if we have any truffles, in the oak grove, up behind the Institution. Not having a truffle pig, or dog, I don’t know how you’d go about finding them. Hmmm. Maybe I should give H a go? She might have a hidden talent.

    Speaking of H, I saw Elinor’s daughter, yesterday. She says her Mum thinks she’s coming home, next week or the week after. I don’t know how realistic that is. For one hot minute, I thought about grabbing H and going on the lamb. 🙂

    Forest vandals, indeed. This morning I saw a squirrel come charging out of the Rhodies, from the direction of the garden. He scrambled up a light pole. And was carrying something round and green in his mouth. I figure it was either a green tomato, or one of my tomatillos.

    I think my cherry tomatoes will keep producing, right up until the frost. Looks like I can get a dryer load, every 3 or 4 days. If not too many are stolen.

    The blueberries I picked didn’t quit fill the two “light” gallon bags. I might have to have another go. Lew

  19. Inge,

    Thanks! That is a neat short cut. It works for the numbers 1 to 10. I’ll have to play around with that to see if/how it works for numbers bigger than 10.


  20. Hi Chris;
    In the middle of hazelnut harvest, processing apples from the loaded trees, as well as winding down the garden, so just a brief note.

    Funny thing, insurance. As a general concept, a good idea, but the balance between shared risk and leaving some to take the consequences of their choices will be forever problematic. Oh, and make a profit at providing that service. Oh, and no opt out for us …….

    The mason seems to be doing a fine job, he comes back today to close in the last bricks after letting the refractory get a good cure.


  21. Hi, Chris!

    I love sour cream muffins. We might call the ones you had “cupcakes” . . .

    Our home insurance hasn’t been going up as rapidly as yours. We have never made a claim in 30 years. Waiting for the Big One . . . While we were still paying for private health insurance, though – before we got on Medicare a year ago – that was going up about 25% annually, for quite a few years in a row.

    We have two property-related bills that we have – besides property taxes (that also includes vehicles) – is our garbage collection bill. We could do without that and do what the occupants of our neighborhood were doing until we moved in: Bury, or pile up, the trash. We have such historic collections on our 5 acre property. That is discounting composting (which I am very behind on because I don’t have time to fight wild animals) and all the paper and cardboard that I use as mulch. They didn’t have plastic, though . . . The other bill is electricity.

    A beautiful pile of firewood, Ollie! Sweet Thing would be impressed. And you would be impressed with Sweet Thing. He is one very big white cat with big black spots, here from Long Island, and his job is catching the nefarious mousies, which he does very well. Hmm, Chris has already taken care of the chook rats or S.T. would have offered advice. I suspect that might be: “Get a cat!”(S.T. is my son’s fiancee’s cat).

    Asparagus – yay! Spring is here!

    It doesn’t look like the cockatoo even ate anything. Vengeance, you say? What did you do?

    Thanks for the flowers!


  22. Hi DJ,

    DJ, mate, I read your dissertation upon the sheer wonder that is the number nine, and the number seven, and far out, I got a headache. What the heck! 🙂 Respect, and your words will indeed prove that no good deed goes unpunished. 🙂

    It’s probably the way my brain has been trained by what I do for mad cash, but I don’t see (or more likely won’t see) patterns in numbers. My day to day existence is swamped by numbers and if I put any thoughts towards the details en masse, my brain might explode.

    Instead I see stories in numbers. What story is told by this collection of numbers. And please spare a kind thought for me, sometimes I have to recount the story the numbers are telling me, to the people who are responsible for them. At such times, I don’t dress the story up – it’s been my experience that nobody will thank you for doing so afterwards.

    Thanks for sparing my over worked brain from further mathematics lessons. 🙂



  23. Hi Inge,

    Ah, thank you for the explanation. Honestly, if I had to pick between gas or electricity as to which will be more disrupted, I’d pick gas, so it’s not a bad arrangement at your place. Any chance of putting in a wood stove?

    Inge, it is a disaster here too. Supply for gas in this state has exceeded demand, and other states have to export their surplus so that we can import oil products. It’s a mess. And ideology seems to have some sort of issue against coal. The same arguments could be applied to electricity generated from gas too. I don’t get it.

    But then, I was listening to the youth news and they’re concerned about climate change – probably rightly so – and yet lamenting the lack of cheap flights overseas. It’s a complicated worldview.

    That’s the probable so called ‘estimated bill’, whatever that means. Reality as to usage could be different in any direction. For your interest on that subject, I noted an article in the local newspaper about council rate (property tax) arrears have been on the increase of late.

    Oh no! It is possible that your washing machine might benefit from a factory reset. They can do that, you know – as long as the control board and motor hasn’t been damaged.

    The rain will be good for your forest. Today was a very pleasant day here, and it almost felt sort of warm. But fear not, the rain is returning tomorrow, with between one to two inches in the forecast. What do you do?



  24. Hi Margaret,

    It’s quite striking that heading image? Such bills are not good for my stress levels. 🙂 Seriously. I knew it was heading in that direction, but to see the bill was a bit of a worry. But fear not, I’m made of stoic stuff and refused to let that bill take away from the enjoyment of my coffee. Life is too short for such worries.

    The deductibles are in place to stop people making stupid claims. I kind of think what is going to happen in the next few years with this issue is that both the premium and the deductibles will increase, and at some point it will stop making sense.

    Interest rates are on the up here, and they increased them again yesterday. Hmm. I suspect that there will be some lag time of a few months before the proverbial hits the fan.

    Parrots can kick up a fuss for sure, and someone I know has a parrot which screeches quite loudly. The parrot has been somewhat mollified by now having a friend. There are several types of parrots here, and they’re all whip smart. Keeps the old brain challenged, that’s for sure. Hey, I’ve heard that story about pets going to farm! 🙂 I’m sure your parrot was re-homed, but far out the stories I heard when I was a kid.

    Good to hear the beetle numbers are declining. Do you reckon it was the rain which knocked back their population?

    More rain for tomorrow, and it was just beginning to dry out a bit today. Oh well.



  25. Hi Peter,

    That’s pretty funny! Imagine my reaction when they were suggesting I needed flood insurance, at 700m above sea level. Like you, I had serious concerns that under those conditions that they’d be able to pay. Imagine asking the insurer for insurance on their policy in the case of their insolvency due to the very environmental disaster they were insuring you against? 🙂 That request will keep them on their toes!

    Ouch. Sorry to say, but those sorts of deluges are becoming more common down here too. Droughts are bad, but if you have plentiful water, they’re fine. But heavy rain. That causes a lot of damage. Down here it can bring down very large and old trees. Yup, No good. Did you end up being OK? It’s a lot of rain in a short period of time.



  26. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for taking the time to drop by. Autumn is the busiest time of the year, and best wishes for your harvest.

    The no opt out bit is not good, although down here our annual vehicle registration is bonkers expensive because it covers personal injury in on road vehicle accidents. And everyone chips in 2% of their income towards the public health system – which isn’t a bad system – could do better, but could also do worse. Probably not a bad thing, but your medical system scares the daylights out of me. Good luck. I don’t know what else to say about that matter, it’s genuinely a frightening situation.

    Nice! I do hope you provide some photos of the masonry work? Hope he was careful with the type of mortar used due to the temperatures.



  27. Hi Pam,

    Yes, a very astute observation, and very funny! I’ll tell them that next time and see what they say. 🙂 Report to follow sometime next week.

    Well, I mean the nice companies do track your claim history and that factors into the premium charged. Most people are either oblivious to that situation, or they don’t think that far into the future. Either way, the outcome is bad.

    It’s funny but we have exorbitant house prices, and you have exorbitant medical costs. Same, same, but different. And there are times I wonder if it was some sort of deliberate decision to disappear excess mad cash which might otherwise be pushing up prices for other goods and services? Dunno, but down here interest rates are on the up (went up yesterday). Perhaps it might not have been such a bright move to print all that extra mad cash in the first place?

    Oh no! That used to happen here too, and I tell ya, heavy rain is a fascinating insight into the crazy stuff which went on in the past. There’s a spot on the property where I swear a car was destroyed in the 1983 bushfires. Bits of car keep getting ejected from the soil. I’m just glad that no bodies have ever floated to the surface. Imagine finding one at your place? What a drama that would be.

    Yes, get everything you can into the soil. Don’t knock cardboard as I read somewhere a long while ago that it had useful amounts of the mineral Boron, which all plants need. The worst rubbish here is plastic, nuff said.

    … Electricity. Sounds either alarming or intriguing. Can’t quite figure out which it is?

    Ollie sends you and yours cordial tail wags! With a woof! woof! He loves the camera. 🙂 What was that Ollie? Oh! Ollie says to convey his respects to the noble feline Sweet Thing, and also to tell her: You go Girl – take them varmints out. Thanks for that Ollie. The cats I’ve known in the past have lorded it over the dogs. Fascinating personalities. Congrats to your son too! 🙂

    No, the local magpie family dealt to the Cockatoos. I’m on very friendly terms with the magpies, and I warn them whenever the Kelpies are running around like the little athletes they are. The magpies also swoop the Kelpies. I doubt that they’ll ever be friends.



  28. Hi Lewis,

    Ah, a change of name for the period of time. Makes sense. I guess there is a desire in some folks to believe that the Dark Ages were total anarchy and chaos after the Roman legions left Britain, and western Rome fell. The problem with that perspective is that it assumes that the Romans were the only players and that everyone else were Barbarians, and possibly of little consequence (that is until they begin destroying towns and villages). Hmm.

    Had to laugh about Monkwearmouth–Jarrow Abbey, the Benedict was described as being “was well travelled in mainland Europe, and brought books and other materials from Rome”. Not quite the picture of the Dark Ages with peasants scratching a subsistence from the infertile soils. 🙂

    Wind power is an obvious solution for grinding grains, if you know how to do the stone work to hold the building up under the pressures inflicted up on it. There’s even an old school granite windmill not too far from here. And before that, having a draught animal turn a stone grain mill is not a high tech thing to construct. I’d call that an obvious technology. And the Roman’s had their water powered mills, so I don’t see why they wouldn’t have been in Britain as well. That lot though may have been damaged in floods. It wouldn’t take too many floods to destroy a mill. And why would anyone leave the convenient stones all nicely cut and/or chosen?

    OK, wow, the glass ingots are an amazing shade of blue. Seriously deep colour. Do they know how the ingots were used? Like would they be melted and converted into glass objects?

    The Portland vase is also a stunning work. I’d assume that due to the sheer detail, the vase was a high end object. Although, perhaps the makers may have had the ability to reproduce the amphora’s from a cast? What’s your thoughts as to that? The level of detail suggests to me that the vase originated from a cast, and the artist would have had to have produced the cast design – which would have been back to front if you understand my meaning (an even more prodigious feat).

    Quadrophenia is a musical and my brain is not quite wired right for such things – not sure why and somehow the instruction manual got lost, somewhere. 🙂 I note Sting performed in the film. Mind you, the origins of The Who, suggest a decent pedigree, so maybe.

    Chavs are Bogans and vice versa. As a person who is neither brash, nor loudly spoken, such behaviour irritates me.

    Sorry, run out of time. Will speak tomorrow.



  29. Yo, Chris – I saw an article that your having a bad flu season, down there. Interesting as your season generally reflects what ours is going to be like.

    Judging fro the cargo, the Uluburun shipwreck might have originated in Egypt, and then traded up the coast of the Middle East. It appears to have had a port call in Turkey, and then headed west. To ???. Maybe / probably it was on the way to a Mycenaean port. As those folks were about the only people doing much with glass, in that direction, at that time. They made a lot of beads. So, I’d guess the ingots would have been melted down, to produce beads.

    It’s speculated that the Portland vase was a blob of blue glass (on the end of a pipe … as modern blown glass makers do), that was dipped in white glass, and then blown. The white glass was cut or ground away, to create the pattern. If you search “Roman Cameo Glass,” there are other examples. Although I noticed the images had a lot of Victorian cameo glass, mixed in.

    The Romans also made a glass, that looked red when lit from one direction, and green when lit from another direction. See: Lycurgus Cup. And just for poops and giggles, you might check out “Roman Cage Cups.” 🙂

    “Quadrophenia” isn’t exactly a musical. The music is more background to set mood.

    I had an adventure I didn’t need, last night. Went down to shop the two thrift food stores, rather late. Stopped at the first one, and, while loading bags in the truck, managed to leave my keys on the seat … and lock them inside. Had the store call a cab, raced home and got my spare set. Back we went. And, as my second planned stop was still open, I continued my planned night. The round trip was only $12. I gave the nice young man, $20. I need a better plan “B”. At least I hadn’t bought ice cream 🙂 .

    Our weather is hardly worth commenting on, as we’ve had some real Goldilocks days. Night time lows are around 50F. So, it’s getting cooler, at night.

    I’ve been watching a new mystery series. “Signora Volpe.” The episode I watched last night had an interesting sub-plot. The search for a stolen truffle pig! 🙂 Lew

  30. Chris,

    Numbers can tell a story. Being wired on the “weird fringe”, I found toying around with the properties of 9 or 11 or 7 a lot of fun. I drove some of my undergrad physics professors to long sessions of rolling their eyes because I tried doing strange things with the quadratic formula. (Don’t ask. The story is long, complicated and gets deeply theoretical.) I had fun. They developed strong eye rolling muscles. Another one of those trade offs, right?

    Interestingly, there once were 3 beers brewed in the greater Seattle area. One of them, alas, was not Heisenberg. However, there WAS one called Heidelberg. Apparently all 3 are in production again.

    The other 2 are Rainier Beer and Olympia Beer. My dad, on the rare occasions he wanted a beer, drank Olympia (Oly for short.) Oly was the first beer I drank: he was on vacation, so I pilfered the last remaining one from the refrigerator even though I was younger than legal drinking age. Note: NEVER drink the last remaining beer in your dad’s refrigerator. Later, I preferred Rainier – it had a richer flavor than Oly’s apple-tinged lightness. Never had Heisenberg, er Heidelberg.

    The outer walls of the basement are concrete. I dunno how they built them, but the only leaky basements I’ve seen in both this neighborhood and the one where I grew up had one of two problems. First, for some reason a neighbor’s basement wall had a hole the size of a fist in it. Things would get wet every spring. Eventually, one owner of that house dug that entire wall down to the bottom, filled that hole and a few other tiny ones, then sealed the outer wall before backfilling. The other? A different neighbor bought a rather large plastic pool to fill with water, then lie on an air mattress in the pool in the summer while drinking too much cheap beer. The first time he decided the water needed changing, he dumped the pool out TOWARD the house. It all flowed through an open basement window. The resultant ginormous mess was his own fault.

    Yeah, I’ve never tried that wacky tobacky stuff either. Yet, my family has been telling that same joke about Weed, California for decades.

    Predictions. Bah! Strange things. I’ve seen some of the “health related” and “the unnameable” related predictions Mr. Greer has made. I agree with your take on too much hard work likely to cause a demise first. That said, I’ve got a lifetime of seeing trends, following them to their logical conclusion, then raising warnings about the likely results if something doesn’t change. And being roundly ignored. Later laughing and saying “I told you so” didn’t win me any popularity contests! I eventually learned to keep those logical “prognostications” to myself and to enjoy the discomfiture of the powers that be in a very quiet manner when things didn’t work.


  31. Hello Chris
    Son and I looked at the possibility of putting a wood stove in my home a few years ago. We both agreed that it wasn’t possible and remember that my son is a builder.
    As for the washing machine suggestion:- no chance. Apart from the fact that it has definitely had its day there is the disadvantage of living on an island. New inhabitants can get a nasty shock when they discover that some firm refuses to ship to the Island or collect from. If they do agree to do so, the cost is usually exorbitant. To be fair, I believe that our ferries are some of the most expensive in the world.
    The rain is tipping down and my tomatoes seem to have stopped ripening.


  32. Hi Lewis,

    Yup, something’s going around that’s for sure. It got me many weeks ago now, but you know Soldier On and all that. Had to laugh though, it was a week when I had no plans to go anywhere, and that’s when it got me. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I worked every day, and it’s not like I made a big fuss or anything like that. My voice was pretty shot, and so I had to stay home and just ride it out. I’m too well known around these parts and people would have throttled me for being out in the community. But it’s going around and I see plenty of people with it, and they’re not waiting it out at home – otherwise I wouldn’t see them, and know.

    Actually, I thought that we followed the northern hemisphere countries in that regard? Dunno, maybe things are different this year?

    I read that the glass ingots in the Uluburun shipwreck were intended to be used as a cheaper form of inlay than actual precious stones. It was interesting that the ship contained good quantities of copper and tin, both of which would have been useful metals. It’s amazing that the wreck remained unplundered, but it was fairly deep, despite being close to shore. Makes you wonder if the people on board survived the shipwreck? Most certainly, someone would have missed the cargo.

    Wow, whoever cut away (etched or ground away) the white glass of the Portland Vase was a superb craftsman. I suspect that the vase would have been a high end product and probably not for everyday use? But dunno. Ah, the suggestion is that the vase took two years to make, and it is possible that the two layers of glass were blown together. A tricky business. I see that Rubens got his hands on the vase, makes you wonder what he would have thought about it?

    The Roman Cage Cups are again extraordinary workmanship. Makes you wonder how good our products will look in several millennia’s time?

    Apologies, my brain recoiled at the word ‘rock opera’ which had been only very loosely applied to some of the source of the material for the narrative. They were wrong, and I was also wrong. Sounds like an intriguing film. Steph sounds delightful, but candidly you wouldn’t want her in your life. Things were less sedate in those days.

    Youch, what a nightmare, but you know, you handled it pretty well all things considered. And yup, no ice cream situations was something of a bonus. I’d suggest that things could have been worse – you could have left the keys in the ignition with the lights on and arrived back with the spare keys only to discover a flat battery. That would have been worse for sure. Do you know how you left the keys inside the car – that’s hard to do these days?

    Goldilocks days sound like music to my ears. By way of comparison. It rained here today, a lot. The local sand and soil biz delivered the groundwater drains this morning. Ordinarily I’d pick them up with the trailer, but err, running the new motor in (and trailers aren’t part of that story). So we spent hours in the rain installing the ground water drains around the uphill side of the chicken enclosure and hen house. Hope that helps keep it a bit drier. The two dead chickens last week was perhaps something of a nadir in the annual climate? We ended up getting rather wet, and thank gawd for gumboots. I hate mud.

    I’ve forwarded on the series recommendation to the Editor. It sounds good.

    Had the two Kelpies out with us, and they barely noticed the rain, although they did want to be towelled down before being let back in the house. So much mud today. All done now, well mostly all done. We have to put in a rock wall above the chicken enclosure – that will help too.



  33. Hi DJ,

    I enjoyed the math lesson, but spare a thought for my poor overloaded brain. It’s already full, and like a tube of toothpaste, if you put any more in, then something else has to ooze out. Not good. You have good underlying pattern recognition, and puzzle resolution skills I’m guessing? Instead, I see stories in things, as in what is this thing or circumstances suggesting? You’re seeing the stories in the numbers and patterns I’m guessing. The Editor has an uncanny ability to resolve puzzles, which can be quite handy here, given the entire property is one vast puzzle. We learn as we go. 🙂 Share and enjoy perhaps?

    Heidelberg is a fine name for a beer – it also happens to be the name of a suburb in the big smoke down here. How good is the name 7 seas brewing? Went to the pub tonight and had a fine pint of Chilli Chocolate Stout. It was quite zingy in the mouth, and apparently I was the first brave soul to attempt a pint of the stuff. I’ll let you in on a little secret, the alcohol content numbed the tongue, so no more zingy, just good stout. Three cheers for innovative brewing solutions! It’s a good hobby, and given your science background…

    Yes, exactly a wise thing to learn early on. 🙂 Of course, all of the good stuff had already been consumed. How did you dad react to the loss?

    Very curious. Concrete inevitably has fine hairline cracks. However it is possible that between the wall and the soil there is a damp proof course? Dunno, I’d probably have to install such a membrane. Some people use thick plastic, but back in the day they used to use some sort of asphalt lined err, something or other. Not sure what the material was. A really fine clay like bentonite might do the trick. They use that to seal dams (ponds) in this area, because none of them hold water otherwise. I’m curious about the issue because I never see them down here, and maybe one day I might construct an underground cool store / root cellar.

    What a mess. Well, you only do that once. It sounded a bit like the time the panel beater / repairer sprayed an old car we had, and had left the window open. The electrics were never the same after that incident.

    It’s a pretty funny joke. I’ve known plenty of people to indulge, something though tells me not to mess with my mental health. My sister went off the deep end, and do I want to find out whether I’m also susceptible? Plenty of people have been very cavalier about my concerns in this regard, but I’m firm on that matter. But basically couldn’t care less what others do. Seems like no big deal to me.

    I agree with predictions, and yup nobody appreciates hearing ‘I told you so’. But on that front, I reckon over work will get me before the other does, but then I could be wrong too. All I know is that something will get me, and based on my mother and grandfather, my lot don’t live all that long. I accept that fate will be what it will be, and am happy.

    Worked out in the rain today. A lot of rain. A whole lot of rain. Have I mentioned that it is rather wet outside? 🙂 Far out!



  34. Hi Inge,

    Fair enough, best to take local advice, and your son would know given his skills. Building is such a funny activity because there are always others trying to muscle in on the activity. I’m a pretty handy carpenter and we made all of the floor and wall frames with the house here. But the roof, far out, we had to get a manufacturer to construct all of the roof frames off site and then deliver them. What a pain that was.

    Do you have any white good retailers on the island? The area I live is probably best described as a hamlet, and someone once asked me in all seriousness: What sort of shops do you have there? Err, like none, that’s how many. The lock downs were a serious pain on that front, and I can’t say that the rural areas were fans of the policy. Oh well, mustn’t grumble. Getting deliveries here is a pain too, and due to the remoteness, some courier companies charge a small fortune to deliver here. Fortunately the local post office will accept deliveries on my behalf, but you couldn’t expect to get a washing machine delivered there. Do you reckon your son will pop over to the mainland and pick you up a replacement machine?

    It’s raining here a lot too, and sorry to hear about your tomatoes. They hate that sort of weather, sorry to say. I haven’t even begun the seedlings for this coming growing season, and already I fear for them due to the sheer moisture levels in the soil.

    Had to install groundwater drains around the chicken enclosure today – in the rain, which was quite heavy at times. Oh well, mustn’t grumble. Hopefully the chickens will be drier.



  35. Hello Chris
    Most things can be bought in town, about 4 miles away so hopefully, getting a new machine will not be a problem except for the fact that I am fussy as to the make.


    @ DJ
    I had a passion for codes when I was young. They still fascinate me though I long ago gave up giving time to them.


  36. Yo, Chris – Nope. You didn’t mention you were under the weather. Must not have been the dreaded Man Flu. 🙂 I think it’s a kind of round robin thing. Flu mutates so fast. During your flu season, our vaccine people are looking at it, and trying to decide which direction the mutations are headed in. I’d guess your scientists do the same thing, toward the end of our flu season. Sometimes it’s a hit (pretty effective vaccine) and sometimes it’s a miss.

    No human remains were found on the Uluburun shipwreck. But it’s pretty old. Don’t know how much would be left. The ship was far from home, and, sailors being sailors, if they survived, they probably just signed onto the next available ship. Heck, the owner of the ship might have gone down with it, and been swept away. Now the Antikythera shipwreck, had human remains. It’s the one where they found the early Greek “computer.” But it went down around 100BC. It’s cargo might have been loot, from the Roman piecemeal conquest of Greece.

    Yes, the Roman cameo glass would have been pretty high end stuff. There’s more around, than the Portland Vase, but it’s still pretty rare. The origin of the Portland Vase are pretty murky. Said to have been found in a tomb, outside of Rome. Based on no evidence at all, it was occasionally described as belonging to the Emperor Augustus.

    There’s an interesting story about Augustus, fancy glass … and eels.

    After the Romans, a lot of glass techniques were lost. Not to be rediscovered for 1,500 years. Oh, the Arabs and Chinese were doing some glass. But not much.

    I had locked the drivers side door, when I went into the store. I loaded my sacks on the passenger side, and was fiddling with the contents. What was going to the Club, what was coming home. I had set the keys on the seat, finished fiddling and locked and shut the door. If the keys had been in the ignition, there would have been a chime, if the door was open.

    Goldilocks has left the building! 🙂 Friday and Saturday are going to be hot. I thought we were done with this carp. All of western Washington and Oregon is under a severe fire watch. Prof. Mass explains what’s going on. We’re going to get a strong hot wind from the east. We’ve already got a fire going, out in our east county. It’s in an area called Goat Rocks. Very close to the town of Packwood. We have a really nice little library, there. I’d never worked there, but it’s a log cabin. I think I sent you a picture, once, of the chain saw carving, out front. Of a bear and salmon.

    The first season of “Volpe”, isn’t very long. Just three longish episodes.

    I went out and got gas this morning ($4.90 a gallon, with the 10% for cash discount.) Then I stopped at one of the cheap food stores. Didn’t find what I was looking for, but found good stuff, anyway. Tins of Coleman’s mustard. Some of H’s Very Special Food. Malt vinegar. The tinned food was in very short supply. I heard the clerk, telling the man in front of me that they’ve just had trouble finding staff, to get the product on the shelves. She mentioned the staff they do have are working 9 hours a day, six days a week. Lew

  37. Hi Inge,

    I’m hearing of shortages with white goods, but have no recent first hand experience. Bizarrely, most of the big box stores down here tend to appear to be reasonably well stocked. Plus it’s always wise to support local businesses, as they’ll hopefully look after you – that’s the theory anyway (I find it to be true).

    For your interest, the nearest shop to here that sells white goods is about 18 miles away.

    I’m assuming that your fussiness is based on previous experience? Mine is…

    I see that you and I now have a King.



  38. Hi Lewis,

    How prophetic were the words two weeks ago? Must have been something in the water?

    The Queen is dead,
    Long live the King!

    It just wasn’t that bad, and I was left wondering what all the fuss was about. Of course other people have different experiences. Years ago, I had actual influenza and slept / drowsed for almost two days during the worst part. That evening I asked the Editor to leave you a message because I was in no condition to do anything. Pretty unpleasant. The recent bout, ’tis but a flesh wound.

    That man flu thing was a funny experience. The Editor was seriously suggesting I wasn’t all that sick, that was until she got it. Yeah, learn the hard way. 🙂 Something, something about hubris!

    But yeah, that’s my understanding too, and you know, it affects people, peoples and geographical areas differently. There’s no one size fits all, and yeah, like any biological system, it depends, is possibly as good an answer as you’ll find.

    I was wondering that, thanks for your thoughts in the matter. Did the Uluburun sailors go down with the ship? Possibly not, given the proximity to shore, but the seas may have been very rough that fateful day, and the coast a wall of cliffs (imagine facing that in the swelling waters?) There was a shipwreck along the Victorian coastline Loch Ard (ship), which was not far at all off the coast and yet only two people survived. A large decorative porcelain peacock made by Minton in England, was washed ashore. The waters are strange and unforgiving.

    Far out! Who knew? The Antikythera mechanism is astounding. Makes you wonder what else they had developed which we have no idea about? Our technology will probably seem that way in many millennia’s time. I’d read that the cargo was possibly loot on the way to Rome. Did I read correctly somewhere (I now forget) that there was some sort of robot?

    I suppose the origins of such items as the Portland Vase are invariably obscured on the off chance that the country asks for it back, or other claims are made upon the item. Always a risk. Would Indiana Jones worry about such niceties?

    Vedius Pollio appears to have been a rather malicious, and I believe the word ‘evil’ applies here, person. Of course his wealth and influence would have attracted the ire of his betters who left the records we know of today. However, given his humble origins, I have noted that some people have a propensity to push hard downwards upon people below them in the social hierarchy, thus is their insecurity expressed. It’s not uncommon to see that, even today.

    I noticed that the analogue computer had a similar gap. The lesson perhaps is that it takes a lot of wealth and plunder to produce such artefacts?

    Youch! Yeah, that can happen with car keys. One thing about remote bopper unlockers is that that situation is unlikely to be a problem. Instead you can accidentally leave the vehicle unlocked! Have you ever seen one of those fob devices for key-less ignition? All you have to do to start the car is have the fob and press a button. What could possibly go wrong? Never had such a system, but I heard a story that when drivers swapped, one person stayed with the car and drove off, the other person kept the fob – the car couldn’t be stopped or locked. Yeah, what a great system. What ever will they think of next?

    Weekends are doubly never good for such hot weather. I’ve noticed that there are more people out and about on a weekend, and they can do foolish things. Fingers crossed that nothing happens. Did the smoke get bad?

    It’s true, goats do rock. Sorry, that was the tension breaker. Hope the library stays out of trouble, and yes I do recall the log cabin building.

    Yeah, I forwarded on the series recommendation to the Editor. Intrigued was the response.

    Fuel here is about AU$6.50 per gallon. Fortunately the new Suzuki is lighter, smaller and more fuel efficient than the old one. Nice hunting and gathering! 🙂 Yes, you know that observation is one that I don’t understand. We’re getting smashed, and I can’t explain it as it is not an unusual (as you recount) experience. Certainly there is something going on, that’s for sure. It’s a mystery, but I’m pondering it. It’s not fun to be on the wrong end of that arrangement.



  39. Yo, Chris – The Queen is dead! Long live the King (but perhaps not too long.) I can’t say it was a shock, as her health hasn’t been all that good. But, gee, just on Tuesday she met her new Prime Minister. Now I have never been a subject of the Queen, but her going still gave me pause. I mean, she’s always been there. My whole long life. And, one must not overlook the entertainment value. Longest running soap opera, in history. Now that she’s gone, you may eventually be facing a referendum to leave the empire.

    The Loc Ard wreck was pretty tragic. I wonder if the Minton peacock survived, intact? Just out of curiosity, I looked it up. My gosh! It was life sized. There are pictures. Only 12 were made, and only 9 still survive.

    I don’t remember anything about a robot, on the Antikythera wreck. Yes, to develop such devices, you need wealth … and free time. Oh, I’m sure there were bits of technology, developed here and there, that just didn’t “take off.”

    Repatriation of looted objects are in the news, right now. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (NY City), just had 27 items seized, to be returned to their countries of origin. There was also a huge mosaic (in it’s packing crates) uncovered in Los Angeles. It’s been kicking around storage, for decades.

    To get into this building, I use a key card. Or, talk about old school, an actual key. When I moved in I was offered either the card, or a fob. I went with the card. What could possibly go wrong, indeed?

    So far, we’re still getting an onshore flow, so no smoke, yet. It’s quit pleasant, this morning. I’m going to get out there and pick another round of cherry tomatoes, for the dryer.

    Yesterday seemed busy. I picked another round of blueberries. Only got half a bowl. But, that may top up the gallon sacks. Did laundry. Went to the store, walked the dog, watered the garden, changed the page on the calendar…. Odds and ends. Lew

  40. Hello Chris,

    Congratulations with the drains. Here they go by the name “French drains”, for some reason. And they are good for surface runoff.
    For my brain it is somewhat confusing that you call them groundwater drains, since they *are* placed in the ground, but *are not* connected to any groundwater source.

    Anyway, thanks for the “baffled” recommendations! I finally got my mind focussed on the wood burner enough to order a replacement set of the baffle, the mechanical temperature control “controller” and a gasket kit to re-seal the doors when they start to leak. According to the repair-men’s discussions online, those three things are the most common replacement parts, as far as I understood the situation. And I hesitate whether or not I should also already now order a new catalyst for the afterburner. Since I hesitate, maybe it means that I should just bite the bullet. Or not. That is why I hesitate. Hmmm.

    Even better, I found a neighbour who has the exact same wood stove, and he told me that he has done complete teardown-buildback of this kind of stove twice before. That is an experience and skill that I dont think I could buy on the market. As soon as weather permits, we’ll do a test burn to check the conditions of the stove. Apparently it is an American design from Vermont Castings that was traded by a company nearby, and was sold with a local brand name. The global supply chain for spare parts does not warm my heart. I might already start looking for alternatives.

    I finally got started writing about our new farmlet on You are really a great source of inspiration. I imagine that after years of practice I could maybe one day pen a story as captivating as your bill-story above. At least I keep the dream alive. As a technical platform I try “pelican” with a hosted discussion platform called “remarkbox”. Let’s see if it works. I have used pelican intermittently before, but remarkbox is new to me. Let’s see how it works out. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

    Here in Sweden, the public debate is hallucinatory. We have general elections on Sunday, but there is no real serious talk about energy. Just that the government should “compensate” people who suffer from heart-stoppingly high bills like the ones you talked about above. Nobody talks conservation. JMG’s timely piece should be mandatory reading for anybody who considers public office.
    Winter is coming, and I am happy to have a shed full of dry wood, but I am sad that many don’t. I am also very happy with a drawer full of soft and warm woolly long underwear and a wife that is even more tolerant to low indoor temperatures than me.
    We are so lucky!


  41. @ Inge,

    I had a similar passion for and experience with codes. There are other activities that I prefer today, though.


  42. Chris,

    Yes, patterns in numbers, codes, puzzles. Fun stuff. I’m fortunate to be able to see the story in numbers also but seeing the patterns and being able to solve puzzles is much more fun.

    The Chili Chocolate Stout sounds good. I tried something similar once. The zing adds something, although I wouldn’t want to drink something like that regularly.

    How did dad react to the Incident of the Missing Oly? He stared inside the refrigerator, then looked at me, then he looked at the fridge, then at me. This went on for several minutes. I got the message. No words were exchanged. Or needed.

    My paternal great grandfather had some form of dementia. Ditto my paternal grandmother. And my dad. And my mum. Do I want to know if I will eventually suffer from it? Nope. Knowing such things before they occur would likely drive me totally bat doodoo insane. All I can do is eat decently, stay physically active, socialize, keep my brain active, try to get adequate sleep. Then live my life. Some things are so far beyond control that I try not to even let them register. A stanza in the Poetic (Elder) Edda says: “His fate beforehand, let no man know, if would keep his heart from care.” Lots of wisdom to that idea.

    I’d say congrats on the rain, but you’ve had a LOT of it. Almost too much? Please send some our direction. We’ve had the first temperature break, and next week should drop into the “average” range for September. Nights have been getting comfortable, cool even, below +10C.

    Unfortunately, the smoke has rolled back into the area. Not anywhere near as bad as previous years, not even close. Just bad enough to keep the windows closed and run the air cleaners. Couldn’t walk on Thursday due to the smoke, but Avalanche and I were able to enjoy a long walk Friday morning before the air quality deteriorated again.


  43. Hi DJ,

    The Editor and I have an ongoing joke between us which goes along the lines of: “Life is not a problem to be solved”. Of course those are my words, not the Editors. 🙂 At such times I’m sort of asking for another tool to be brought to the fore, other than problem solving. Except that here’s the joke on me, life often is a problem to be solved. So, all up I applaud the ability of a person to solve puzzles, and my life is certainly the easier for it. Respect to you, and I am in awe of such skills. No doubts your lady appreciates your abilities as well? However, nothing is ever quite that simple, and the beauty of relationships is that sometimes you’re ahead, and sometimes you’re behind – and the other party has to carry the load depending on where the cards fall. Hope that all makes sense? If I had to sum it all up, life is rarely smooth.

    No, I agree. Mate, it was sheer bravado (or perhaps idiocy?) on my part to consume the pint of chilli stout. The challenge was there, I was up for the challenge, and took it on with aplomb. But you’re right, is this what I want all of the time, and the answer is in the ‘no’ category.

    Lucky you to dodge the words, but then you had to endure: ‘the look’. You didn’t really go into details, but I was left wondering, was your dad disappointed or upset? My guess is disappointed. But then, was he disappointed at him missing out on enjoying the beer himself, or you taking the beer? We’ll never know, because it appears that no words were entered into. Possibly it was a combination of many concerns? It was a bold move on your part, and one I’d never have made due to the most awful of repercussions – sometimes you just know things will end badly. 😉

    Yeah, I hear you about that concern. Look, life has to be lived on life’s terms. Mate, both my mother and my grandfather died at around yours and Lewis’s age. Based on those facts, the odds are candidly not good for me, but please spare a moment to consider Alfred E Neumann’s most excellent advice: What? Me Worry? Years ago, I had an older mate who helped me out with the bees and edible gardening here. He was a good guy, and mentor, and yeah he too worried about dementia. We shared some good laughs, I learned a lot, and hey, that’s life, you have to enjoy the time we get to hang out and talk rubbish knowing that eventually tragedy hangs like a sword over us all. Worries don’t tend to produce anything productive. Why waste the time that you do have? However, remember when I told you to recall that you need to stretch. Mate, you need to keep stretching your brain as well. Is this fair? Nope, it is how it is.

    Nice weather, sounds delightful. And at least the house will cool down over night at such temperatures.

    Wait the smoke out, it won’t be all that long before it is gone. And Avalanche demands walkies. 🙂 The Fluffy’s sure do.



  44. Hi Goran,

    Ah, the French drains are very clever, but not quite the same as what was installed here. It’s a storm water drain which sits at soil level (rather than below soil level): RELN STORM DRAIN. That was their capitalisation and not mine. They just work by stopping the surface water getting into the soil in the first place by channelling it elsewhere. We use a variety of the French drains for the black water output from the worm farm, but that probably should be below soil level. And the thing is, with that type of under soil drain, plant roots will eventually make their way into the French style drains and the water flow will become impeded. The surface water one’s used are a very clever design.

    I had to use that description, mostly because they’re hard to describe using words! I’ll chuck in a photo as to how it all looks on the next blog.

    Hehe! Mate, it isn’t just you who was baffled! It took eight months from the placement of the order to having the spare parts in my hands. And things may be worse now. The reason I was poking you hard about your wood heater spares was because your part of the world may have intermittent heating this winter, and um, well, you probably know better than I, just how cold it gets there? The lowest temperature I’ve experienced here is -2’C, and with a well insulated house and a wood heater, it’s quite comfortable. I’ve heard that things get colder elsewhere – like where you are! 🙂

    Yes, those were the exact spare parts I was also suggesting might not be a bad idea to have on hand. No matter how good a wood heater is, or the quality of the steel used in the manufacture, the consumable parts will get consumed. Better to have these parts ready to hand when needed, than need them but not have them. Heating is kind of important in cold climates! 😉 Ask me how I know this? People in the big smoke think I’m mad for wanting to live up here in the hills, but I could say the same thing about them.

    Sorry, but I do not know what a catalyst for an afterburner is in a wood heater, or how such a thing would even work. But then in a dire situation, do you really imagine anyone would give a hoot about whether combustion is complete if circumstances were sub-optimal? Burning seasoned, dry hardwood (about 14% moisture content) without throttling the oxygen supply, produces low emissions. It doesn’t get much better than that.

    Holy carp! Your neighbour is awesome to have such skills. What else does the neighbour know how to do? That’s what I want to know! 🙂 I dunno about replacing the machine, due to the sheer cost of doing so, and err, your timing might not be all that great depending on how your fellow countrymen react to the impending energy crunch. Wait and see with the machine, test, then you’ll know and have a better understanding of the situation. You can do that any time. Make sure the top baffle plate doesn’t have a heap of creosote and ash sitting on it, and that the flue is clean (or mostly clean). Because you don’t know the history of usage, you can’t say for sure what the previous owners used to burn in the thing or how they treated it.

    Thanks! I’ve been writing since the early 2000’s, but before the blog was actually published in hippy magazines. Hmm. The photos from your part of the world are stunning. I was attempting to work out whether your website does RSS feeds (i.e. it’s a way a blog announces new entries) but couldn’t seem to work it out. I’ll have another look, but do you know about RSS feeds from your website?

    Apparently your webiste uses ATOM feeds instead of the RSS feeds. I’ll have to do some research as I tried to add it to the blog feed list here. Hmm. Homework!

    Good luck with the outcome of the general elections, and mate, the same is true down here too. People appear to be oblivious in relation to energy and resource issues. I can’t for the life of me understand why this may be, but it is all the same. And yes, any response which does not begin with using less, is in for a world of hurt. But then maybe people need to learn the hard way?

    Wool is good. No, wool is great! 🙂 Not much will keep you warmer. My lady is OK with lower house temperatures too. It’s not that hard to acclimate to, but I see fear in other people about this matter. What do you do?



  45. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! You’re like super-bad! 🙂 Frankly (and please excuse the unintended Norman pun there), they do seem to be a rather long lived bunch of folks. The sensitive person might suggest that lot enjoy far better health care than either you or I are likely to ever experience! 🙂 Possibly they consume better quality food too? It wasn’t a shock to me either, and you’re spot on. The final image of the Queen with the new Prime Minister kind of suggested as much. And realistically, I doubt I’ll make it to 96 years of age, and um, turning up to work at such an august age is a commendable act of sheer toughness.

    Mate, in their dysfunctional way, that lot do provide a certain sort of stability, and solidity. In some ways I have a greater belief that they’d hold a longer term vision than the numpty politicians we seem to have been lumped with lately. Like, do you trust that short term leader lot? At this moment in time, I’m not feeling as if I’m into trusting the politicians, if only because they seem to be a touch clueless. They might get better. Here’s hoping that happens, but in the meantime…

    We had a referendum on becoming a republic down here, maybe in the late 1990’s. I wasn’t a fan, and the job of the president was apparently elected by the politicians themselves. Clearly the folks coming up with the mad plans didn’t appear to trust the public to make the decision, or that was how it looked to me. Talk about a job for the boys! Far out. Anyway, the public didn’t trust the politicians, and the referendum was shot down. There has been more talk about this subject lately since the left leaning federal gobarnumpty (!) came to power. Miss pelling is not a person, but a good way to fool the interweb search indexes. Silly things, and we can have fun whilst messing around with them!

    Yes, the Minton peacock did in fact survive, intact. It floated to the beach, and thus fate stayed its awful hand. The item is on display at a maritime museum over in the south west of the state.

    Had some friends visit for a long and leisurely lunch today. A lovely time was had, convivial conversation, and nobody left the table with an empty stomach. 🙂

    Ah! I was confused, the ancient Greek robot was a myth: Talos. Those Ancient Greek gods were of a lusty inclination, always getting up to mischief. 🙂 I had this weird thought that some ancient craftsman had produced such a monster, which probably didn’t work, but he’d put around the myth that it did work – thus the thing kind of worked in a way, but not like the myth suggested.

    Hmm, repatriation of items suggests that concessions are being quietly made in the background? Why else would they be returned? At least that is what the cynical side of my mind suggests to me.

    Hehe! Imagine losing a fob to your building? So much to go wrong, and so quickly. What’s wrong with keys anyway? As a technology, they don’t appear to have gone out of fashion to me.

    Good to hear that you’ve dodged the smoke. We dodged the rain today, which was nice for the guests. The rain fell in the hours before I woke up this morning – I’ve heard that the sky is dark at such hours, but can’t confirm that detail. 🙂 At some points today the sun actually peeked through from behind the thick clouds, and that made for some pleasant moments. Did you manage to dodge the smoke today?

    Hope that big rains hold off and your cherry tomatoes don’t split. That’s one of my big worries here, but what do you do? You can’t control the weather.

    Odds and ends days can be very pleasant experiences, especially if there are no looming deadlines. I call those types of days ‘pottering days’. Which does remind me, soon I will have to get the seeds started in pots in the greenhouse. We’ve decided this year to trial using seeds only in forestry tubes. We’ve damaged some root systems of seedlings by cutting them up to remove from the soil, and that sets the seedling back several weeks (which we may not have to waste). Dunno, at the end of the growing season, we’ll know how the experiment worked out. But we have lots of forestry tubes, so why not put them to work?

    Hope H enjoyed her walk.



  46. Hello Chris
    Yes, my fussiness about a whole host of things is due to past experience. At my age there has been rather a lot of past experience.


  47. Hello Chris,

    Thanks for the kind invitation to be part of your blog-excerpt-sidebar. I realized that I had forgotten to activate the rss-feeds, but they are now available here:
    I apologize for the clunky url, maybe one day it will improve.

    Here on the countryside, I get to know neighbours with amazing skills, that I could only dream of in the town-life. Yesterday four horses broke free, and gallopped across road just outside my window when I was having lunch, so I joined in the neighbourly game of corralling. I pretended I knew what I was doing, and imitated the others, flapping my arms, while the skilled ones caught the running mares.
    Probably my neighbours don’t have as many academic titles as me, but I am humbled again and again by their skills and experiences…


  48. Yo, Chris – The Goat Rocks fire, burns merrily on … as far as I know. There hasn’t been an update since yesterday. Several small communities (well, housing developments, actually) to the east (an actual town) of Packwood have been evacuated. Last I heard from Packwood, the residents were under Level 2 orders. Which is, be packed and ready to go. Level 3 is, “Run!!!” I do fret for their library.

    A major highway, Highway 12 (the White Pass Highway), is closed. So the usual route over the mountains, to Yakima, is a no go.

    Heavy smoke rolled in, yesterday afternoon. The sun and moon were an ominous color. But then in the evening, we got an onshore flow, and it blew most of the smoke out. But, it’s now around noon and it looks like the smoke is building up, again.

    Well, if King Charles can keep it together, I think the hip and with it younger royals, will keep the show on the road. Some have stepped up, already. Princess Anne’s daughter has been assuming a lot of duties.

    So now we’ll have the pomp and circumstance of the funeral, and then the coronation. The spectacle. I guess it’s all about continuity.

    Mr. Bill, our Club manager and I were talking about Britain, royalty and history, this morning. He was just full of questions. Which reminds me, I asked him (since he’s a life long brick layer), what it is about brick that people find appealing. He said it radiates strength. And, also, since it’s really pretty expensive, it also radiates wealth.

    The story of Talos is interesting. I guess people have always been fascinated with the idea of artificial beings. There was Pygmalion and Galatea. Family Friendly Warning. You may see naked people in paintings.

    And the Jewish created Golem. Who has made his way into many aspects of popular culture.

    Repatriations. I see now that the Queen has passed, India wants the Kohinoor diamond, back. Greece wants the Parthenon marbles back. That discussion has been going on, on archaeology and classics boards for years. Ad nauseam. Egypt wants back the sculpture of Nefertiti, which Germany acquired in 1912. I thought of a term for these “changes of heart”, but, it’s considered not polite, so I’ll let that lay. But since I’ve segued into language, there was an short, interesting article on terms that are now accepted into English language. “Pumpkin spice” is on the list. 🙂 About time …

    I just loaded another 4 trays of cherry tomatoes, into my dryer. Picked them yesterday. A few were split. I halve them along the split, and it doesn’t seem to be a problem. But there are other problems in the garden. I have a few pepper plants, that don’t seem to be doing much. But the other day, I noticed a flash of red among the leaves. Yup. I had an actual pepper. But on closer examination, I discovered that it’s got some kind of rot. Sigh.

    What are forestry tubes? I looked them up, but didn’t see anything that looks like you’d use it in a greenhouse. Mostly it was protective barriers for young trees. Maybe we call them something else, here? Lew

  49. Hi Inge,

    That’s what may sometimes colloquially be known as: ‘an advantage’! Yesterday, I was discussing this very issue with a mate, and one of the things we’ve learned over the years is how to do things such as projects, faster around the property. Better to get there late to such experience, than to never make it there. Of course, don’t you reckon that it is very difficult to hand on such hard won experience? I’ve trained plenty of people over the years, and it is a slow process. Oh well.



  50. Hi Goran,

    Yes, that fixed the RSS feeds. 🙂 They’re an older interweb technology, but are still widely used. You can look into the back-end of the publicly accessible part of your website, and yesterday, it had no reference to RSS. Glad to hear it was an easy fix at your end, sometimes this is not always the case.

    Well done and corralling a horse is a great way to get to know your neighbours. Mate, I wouldn’t know what to do in such a circumstance, but spare a thought for Sandra who was once inadvertently faced with a local farmers run away bull. An old timer later said: “That was (I now forget who owned it) bull. Why didn’t you stop it?” And he was serious, but not unhappy about it or anything like that. In some respects it’s good they thought you’d be up for being involved, and that says something, doesn’t it?

    🙂 Nothing wrong with being over educated! Respect for the titles, you earned them.



  51. Hi Lewis,

    It’s interesting you call them housing developments rather than communities – makes sense. Hey, I’ve noticed that in some of the housing estates constructed on the outer edges of the big smoke, it’s just like some farmer sold a huge paddock and the developer stuck a housing estate in it, and it’s surrounded by other paddocks. It’s kind of weird because they’re distant to townships, shops, transport etc. The oddest thing I’ve ever heard remarked upon about such places is that they: “were OK before the other houses got built around them”. How people can get to such a state of disconnect is beyond me, and I failed to ask the hard question: “what did you expect was going to happen?”

    Fingers crossed the charming library stays out of harms way. Being in town, you’d think it would have a lower chance of getting into trouble?

    Sorry to hear about the smoke. Hope it clears up, and the fires don’t get too feral.

    The Royals have to work too, just like the rest of us. I can’t see how Charles couldn’t keep it together, he’s had a long apprenticeship and they do perform a useful function. Sacked a Federal Government in 1975, can you imagine that happening in your country? Far out! Hey, we’re getting a public holiday on 22nd September to mourn the passing of the Queen, and the following day is also a public holiday for the footy finals in this state. Very convenient. And in other news: Charles III proclaimed King of Australia.

    Thanks for asking Mr Bill that question as it has bothered me. Hmm, radiating wealth (and heat/cold on bonkers extreme weather days). That makes a lot of sense. I’ve done a lot of building over the years, and I’m no fan of thermal mass in this part of the world – it is a very unpopular view too. An old bloke from around here who used to help me with the bees and vegetables, but got mild dementia and didn’t want to talk no more, said to me once that my place: “was not a posh house”. He was alright that guy.

    Those ancients (and countless others) sure knew how to capture a winsome lass. I can’t shake the feeling that Pygmalion was unduly rewarded for extraordinary expectations. Yes, sure we all deserve the best, but should we get the best? I think not.

    Haven’t we all met folks who remind us of Golem’s? Incidentally upon encountering the word my mind read: Gollum, of Professor Tolkien’s wit. Oil is sadly perhaps our Golem.

    It doesn’t hurt to ask for stuff back (AKA reparations). A refusal may offend. I read that sign which was common place in local milk bars (the 1970’s down under version of a convenience store). The sign urged customers not to ask for credit, as a refusal often offends. They didn’t muck around in those days.

    Interestingly, down here the word ‘sus’ is normally spelled ‘suss’ with the double ss. Always good to differentiate the language, you never know what innovations may arise. Pumpkin spice added to the dictionary sounds like a good move.

    I’d do the same with split tomatoes and wouldn’t otherwise worry about it. The dehydrator extracts pretty much all moisture, so they’re chip like and the split doesn’t become a problem.

    Pepper plants, well, if you got any fruit, you’re doing better than what I have enjoyed over the past two years. Crazy days my friend, crazy days. Prior to that, I used to be able to grow slim varieties of peppers.

    0.2L Forestry (50mm). Less disturbance of the root system. I have to do something… I keep them in plastic containers which stop them from falling over and retain water.

    Cheers and better get writing. It’s almost 9pm. Ook!


  52. Hello Chris
    I agree that it is very hard to pass on hard won experience. Unfortunately we seem to have to learn things by ourselves the hardest of ways. Is that our arrogance or is it a safety mechanism, protecting us from ill intentions? Probably a mixture of both like most things.


  53. Yo, Chris – Housing developments, housing estates. Actually, I saw a news report that referred to the areas outside of Packwood as “neighborhoods.” Which might be fairly accurate. Packwood only has a population of 294. LOL. I suppose you could call them suburbs?

    The smoke did about the same thing. Came in in the day, and blew out in the evening. I think towns are defended a with a bit more effort. Even small towns. The land around there makes it very hard to fight fires. High ridges, and deep, deep ravines. Here’s an article ….,299617

    I had a thought. Those small libraries often predate the Timberland Library system. They were often city libraries or even maybe a county library. A lot of them are repositories of their local history. I do hope someone remembers to pack it up, to move. I wonder if the chain saw bear sculpture can be unbolted and saved?

    I thought you were King of Australia? Will there be civil war? 🙂

    That’s funny that the old timer thought your house wasn’t posh … in an approving manner. He’s probably not the only old duffer to think so. Might help grease the skids to local acceptance. Or, as close as you’ll get 🙂 .

    “Extraordinary expectations.” I watched a pretty good movie, the other night, but wasn’t going to mention it, as I know how you feel about those kinds of expectations. “Phantom of the Open.” Based on a true story.

    My credit union has still not relocated. And they were supposed to move the 15th of last month. I stopped by the old branch, yesterday. The young lady said they were waiting on the internet. So, the entire move depends on the internet? I mean, on some level, I realize that. But, I guess not in such stark terms. Again, I got the feeling that, “This will not end well.”

    I took a look at Mr. Greer’s post, this week. Must be catnip, to you 🙂 I just did a fast scroll through, to see what you had to say. I’d like to go back and re-read move of the comments. Lots of good stuff, in there. What did you mean by all the rain bringing changes to your forest? Inquiring Minds Want to Know. 🙂 Lew

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