Where it’s at

Why don’t you write an amusing blog next week? Sandra remarked after editing last week’s blog. I don’t feel funny, was the reply. From hindsight, the reply sounded a bit lame. However, over the past few weeks, my brain has been busy absorbing esoteric knowledge in relation to all aspects of the off grid solar power system. The details fill my mind, and the subject just isn’t funny.

It’s been something of a strange journey. Regular readers will recall that a few weeks ago the house batteries had metal terminals which were running very hot. They’re not meant to run hot at all, occasionally warm, maybe, but burning your fingers on the things if left too long, is way too hot. And the plastic holding the metal battery terminals was showing damage due to the heat. The house was built to withstand bushfires, and there is considerable irony in the possibility that the power system could have burned the house down. Hmm.

Anyway, the problems with the batteries were fixed. The fix required implementing some hillbilly engineering solutions, not exploding the batteries (a real risk), and modifying the design to overcome the issues causing the bonkers hot battery terminals. It’s not a reasonable expectation that a person purchasing a product, such as a battery, should have to understand the entire subject from beginning to end, but that’s what it took to fix the thing. And the distributor appeared to not share my concerns.

Turns out the problem appeared to me to be related to an unusual design issue with the battery itself. A cheeky scamp might quip: “Stuffed from the factory”. It makes a person with a curious mind wonder how all these sorts of energy installations are operating when there isn’t anyone in a household or business who is concerned enough to monitor the system. Fun fact: Most people don’t even realise that certain connections might need to be re-tightened every six months or so, or else bad things can happen. That’s what using different metals with connections causes. It’s cheap, it works, but isn’t necessarily a good thing. And economics is a factor in all of this stuff.

There aren’t a lot of suppliers for this technology, and every device involves a trade off between cost and resilience. You just hope the people making these devices don’t stuff it up. My recent experience suggests that this is a possibility. There’s such a thing as too-cheap. And that caused me to begin considering the entire power system, not just the batteries. Following on from this drama, there is a real need to work out ways to make the system more resilient. We’ve taken a number of steps in that direction, all involving outflows of mad cash. But each step also involves absorbing further esoteric information, because clearly trust in suppliers can be misplaced, yet we bear the consequences – not them.

And the further this journey takes me, the further my trust is diminishing. It was something of a shock the other day to discover that a very long established supplier was selling fuses which the manufacturer only ever certified for AC electricity, not DC. That’s what device specification sheets are for: advising you not to do dumb things, or else. The fuses might work, but then again, they might not. Who knows? And when you want a fuse to blow as a safety mechanism, you’d hope it does.

A recent change we’ve implemented has been to stop dealing with these small suppliers, and instead use industrial suppliers. And they’re great to deal with, in the ‘why didn’t I think of this option before’ category. After all, the power system here is actually an item of industrial plant. It’s not for everyone, and this technology is certainly not something for the careless.

My sleep hasn’t been as sound since the spare capacity of my mind was turned over to considering the entire power system. It’s unsettling, but the modifications to the system here will soon be complete. Then it’s wait, observe, regular maintenance, and see what goes wrong next. Always an exciting prospect. Based on past experience, wrong will eventuate.

It is certainly time for an amusing blog. The dogs are always up to mischief. Strange local ladies will no doubt again be inexplicably smacking me around the back of the head for no apparent reason. The leftover froth on the glass from a pint at the local pub may reveal the future, or at least warn me to duck before being inexplicably smacked. But right now, my brain is full, and that’s where it’s at.

A few days ago, the season changed. We’re no longer in summer, but neither are we in autumn. I’ve heard it said that the local Indigenous folks reckon there are six seasons here, and that sounds right to me. Mornings have been warm and clear, but with thick fog below. The fog looks beautiful as it gathers in the valley below the mountain range.

Fog settles in the valley below the mountain range

Up until this evening, the days have been warm, but not as hot as you’d expect for this time of year. And as this blog is written, the weather has turned cold and rainy. The forecast for the next week or two looks like more of that cool and damp weather.

The sun dropped below the horizon on a warm evening

With the impending early change to cooler weather, we made the decision to increase the firewood stored under cover, whilst the stuff is sun dried.

Ollie looks back at the firewood thinking of toasty winter nights in front of the heater

We continued cleaning up the century or so of logging detritus by grinding out a few more old tree stumps. Those dudes left a lot of mess in the forest. Anyway, it’s really good to clean up that part of the property because it makes maintaining the area easier in the future. It’s an investment in the future.

The trees here are very big, and the old tree stumps are even more massive

Observant readers will note on the left hand side of the above photo, a sort of round shaped grey rock was removed from the paddock. Rocks are very useful items, but if left in the ground, they can easily damage steel mower blades. And steel hitting rocks with steel in dry grass can cause fires.

We’d been putting off cleaning up that area of the property for years as the activity is hard on the body. But for me, it’s easy on the brain. You can zone out whilst doing the work, and cogitate upon anything, it’s quite meditative really. Grinding a tree stump to below ground level can take anywhere from a couple of minutes to four hours. It helps to use a chainsaw to first remove as much of the tree stump as possible because that saves a lot of additional work.

Stump grinding is hard work

The recent sort-of-warm weather has been good for the plants. The greenhouse in particular is looking very lush and full of produce.

The plants in the greenhouse are very productive

Even the ginger tuber has finally produced a single shoot. The turmeric tuber by contrast, has begun to produce something which looks like nodules. Japanese ginger has beaten both of those plants by a country mile.

Ginger, the tuber finally got there and did something

Some plants have astonished me with their growth. And the hops vines must be related to Triffids the way they grow. These vines were purchased over a year ago, kept in pots with very little care and attention, and only planted out maybe a couple of months ago. Don’t go to sleep near these vines, bad things will surely happen if you do, and the plants will be happy with the extra feed. You have been warned.

Hop vines must be related to Triffids

The pumpkins, squashes, melons and tomatoes are growing well. It might be a bit late in the season for the tomatoes, but the pumpkins and squashes will probably produce well. There’s already fruit on the vines with further flowers, so fingers crossed they produce a good quantity of reasonably sized fruit.

Pumpkins, squashes, melons and tomatoes appear to be growing well

Beans are an excellent plant, and they begin producing once the peas are near to the end of their season.

We grow the heritage bean variety: Lazy Housewife. It’s good!

One of the most reliable plants are the zucchini / courgettes. They grow really fast, and the fruit keeps for months, almost up to the following spring.

A zucchini with Ollie for sizing comparison

Apples and pears are the only fruit trees to grow really well in this cool and damp summer. And wow, have they grown or what! We grow a large variety of both trees. The pears are looking particularly good this week, so I thought to chuck in some photos of the different varieties. I can’t recall the exact variety due to lost tags and stuff.

Maybe these are Beurre Bosc Pears
These might be the smaller Josephine Pear
Who knows, this lot might be Packham’s Triumph
Most likely a Shinsui Pear

Who cares what the variety actually is, they’re pears and they taste good. That’s enough for me.

Onto the flowers:

Geraniums love warm weather
This Rose is self seeded and looks like it will produce lovely flowers
Roses also love hot and dry weather
Few Roses are as prolific as this creeping variety

The temperature outside now at about 10am is 13’C (55’F). So far this year there has been 38.0mm (1.5 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 27.8mm (1.1 inches)

43 thoughts on “Where it’s at”

  1. @ Goran – There are several on-line videos, showing the whole chicken caponizing process. Back when I was in the antiques biz, every once in awhile a nifty little oak box would show up, with mysterious instruments in it. Finally, one showed up with the instructions sheet. It was a caponizing kit.

    I see they still make kits, at different price levels. I bet if you wandered into your local feed or hardware store, and asked, they’d probably pull one right off the shelf. Maybe. Otherwise, they’re available on-line. Lew

  2. Yo, Chris – I’ve meant to ask (or, did, and forgot), but does your brush fire sprinkler system rely on a bit of electricity? It would be a Bad Day at Black Rock, if your power system decided to get temperamental, with a fire bearing down.

    Distributor concerns. Or, the lack there of. A newish post over at “The Daily Impact” has to do with what is laughingly called, customer service.

    Well, this weeks post isn’t amusing, but it didn’t put me in a tech coma, either. 🙂 I understood every word of it. Tech for the layman.

    Our fall seemed to go on, forever. Your summer seems to be winding down. And, it looks like you may have some good crops. But it’s the Nervous Season. That’s the official name of one of your six seasons. Will they make it?

    The fog bowl picture and sunset were really very pretty. Calendar worthy.

    Yes. Best stash firewood when it’s dry. “Zen and the Art of Tree Stump Grinding.” Write the book. Your fortune is made. And, if your agent manages to sell the movie rights, your fortune is made. Again. “Zen … Motorcycle Maintenance” was rejected by over 120 publishers. The Harry Potter books were rejected by 12 publishers. Fewer publishers, these days.

    That’s what your greenhouse needed. Plants. It’s good the varieties of pears are tasty. If you like pears. 🙂

    Even though this is the Land of Roses, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one self seed. I’ll have to ask the Master Gardeners, about that, when they show up this year.

    I read another 50 pages, of King’s new book, last night. Things are moving toward some kind of conclusion. Also watched another episode of “Ken Burn’s National Parks.” Tonight will probably be more of the same. Lew

  3. “wrong will eventuate”
    I am so adding this to my phraseology, to go along with
    “No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There’s always a boom tomorrow.” from Babylon5

  4. Hi Lewis,

    Celtic Doohickey works for me. 🙂 They really are quite well made, and the virtual three dimensional model was interesting. Funnily enough as I read the article I was considering the possibility of a coin measurement device, and noted that this possibility had been suggested earlier by others. Shucks, the best ideas are always other peoples! But not being found more widely in the Roman Empire suggests to me that this was possibly not the case. Dunno about you, but I’m still leaning towards the gambling explanation. I noted that wax had been found in some, and wondered if in Roman times the holes were glazed and if the centre contained something of interest? In some ways I reckon the device would reduce the incident of – sleight of hand. Always a problem in games of chance. I don’t play such things, for the reason that usually the house wins.

    I am disinclined to believe that 27’F is warm. Brr! A four or five blanket night, and the book on Colorado has more than a few dead bodies due to exposure. The early miners and settlers would have had quite the shock, but then their origins may have experienced colder winters. A frightening thought! Pea soup and drizzle this morning, then a cloudy and cool day. Summer has left the building. Probably too many cheeseburgers, like Elvis did.

    Wintry weather on the way for southeast Australia There’s a clip from a 1923 newspaper.

    Yes, that’s it exactly. A how-to manual. The closest I’ve come to that so far is from an Indigenous author Victor Steffensen with his book Fire Country. It’s a good read and the bloke is knowledgeable and was taken in by a couple of old timers who knew the trade. I have to agree with you, the books read that way to me too, and flogging a dead horse is a lovely way to put it.

    Wow, has someone in the library book ordering system personally experienced a shortage of eggs? The facts suggest that this may be the case, I mean what’s the chances of those books being a coincidence? And dehydrating eggs is something which I’d never considered. The energy costs on the power system would be prohibitive for the 10 or so hours the dehydrator would run, and I don’t reckon my unit will get that hot. The talk was somewhere around 140’F. But, oh wow there’s a delightful magazine of the sort I used to write for: Backwoods Home. The local magazines here began in the early 1970’s, the times called for them. I believe that there would be a market for them again, and how’s this for a by-line: Too broke for woke, here’s some stuff that’s more useful. 🙂 Candidly, that sounds a bit weird, but getting more self sufficient means chucking out some rubbish. I’m way too busy to take much notice of that movement.

    Mate, the style of the lodge was like catnip and the exterior use in the Shining was a nice touch. I’d love to poke around such a building and see how it’s stood up to the elements of the years. It’s in a challenging environment to say the least. And glad they kept up the St. Bernard tradition. The arts and crafts movement produced some lovely buildings down here too.

    Well, the house can passively resist fire, and quite intense fires at that, so the sprinklers are a nice to have thing rather than a necessity. The place works like a phone book – ever tried burning one of those? Not so easy. And I’d thought about the water issue and there are another two working pumps on this level powered by another power system and from a separate water supply source. All but one of the rooms in the house have two exits. I did a couple of years as a volunteer in the local fire brigade and didn’t see much action, but you get to hear what does and doesn’t work. The thing is, any one system can break down at an inopportune time, but to have all of them break down at once is just a serious bummer – it’s possible though, I acknowledge that. No system is perfect.

    I quite enjoy Tom’s writing, and read each new essay. Always interesting, but yeah did we really ask for such customer service. The Editor once wrote to a company which made that claim, and they ghosted us. The adventurous young foodie lady who tasted Honda’s rodent tape scored a reply from that company (in the best food essay book). The customer is not always right. On this note, we went to the pub for a pizza and pint this evening, except that the gas lines had ruptured, and it genuinely was the mythical pub with no beer (I believe this is an old timey song). Anyway, we made do and didn’t make a fuss. The Editor was telling me about a SNL sketch she’d seen of a lady who was meant to be elegant and beautiful and yet was heard complaining: “I can eat any of this food. And nobody here is interesting”. Run!!!! My tolerance levels would be very low for such sentiments.

    Thank you for saying that. In my first adult job I had a grumpy boss who sat me down and told me firmly that if I was intending to write a message for other people, ensure that it could be understood by the other people. Not sure what he was trying to say there. 🙂 On a serious note I try to steer clear of tech talk. If people want to know the details fine, but it’s not necessary to the larger story. Generally I stick to ‘we did this’ rather than ‘this is how we did this’. I made a recent exception for that with the rock splitting, because Steve asked for some details. But generally this blog is not a ‘how to’ guide. People have to find there own paths, and conditions may not equate to different parts of the world.

    Ooo, that’s good. The nervous season indeed (he says penning that one down for future use). Will they make it? It’s not looking good on that front.

    Really? I reckon times might have to get worse for that book to strike a chord, like the Motorcycle one did. Right now we’re in the hang time. Tell ya what, the pub was quiet tonight. The sort of quiet which makes me wonder if it is economically viable on such nights? Dunno. I have a hunch that the ‘For Sale’ or whatever it said board isn’t helping matters. It is possible that locals are winding back on their support and doing other things instead. The business was closed for many years before the recent owner took over, and memories around here are long. But you’re right about having thick skin in that business, and didn’t the old timers used to love saying: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!” That’s not taught these days. Ah, I’ve heard that what they do teach these days for writing is the TEEL structure. I have a gut feeling that learning such a structure trains a person to exist within a hierarchy. All very nice if you’re at the top of the pile. 😉

    Yes, yes of course, the plants do complete the greenhouse structure. As to your next point, I recall discussing apples with you, and they’re sort of similar to pears. Pears have to be consumed at a certain point in the cycle of the fruit. It is possible that you’ve missed that? Maybe? They’re picked green, left out of the refrigerator and then over the course of a few days the bright colour dulls, and then they’re ready to eat. Not before when they’re crunchy, and not afterwards when they’re over ripe and fermented. They don’t ripen on the tree, and if the tree didn’t get enough water, they end up powdery which is not good either. It’s an art form, and I don’t doubt your skills, well maybe I do just a little bit! 🙂

    We’ve got a couple of volunteer roses in those two garden beds, and that one was the first to flower. What I believe is the parent plant produced a lot of rose hips. I’m very curious to see how the plant grows. I’ll be curious to hear what the master gardeners have to say about the plant. It was an unexpected bonus.

    Good stuff, and the Editor is continuing with Lisey’s Story and she has posited a theory as to the protagonist. Hmm.



  5. Hi Goran,

    Mate, even in the older areas which predominantly smaller blocks with Victorian era terrace houses, those old houses usually had vegetable patches and a fruit tree or two – often a variety of lemon. But even those houses are bigger nowadays, and I see plenty with minimal gardens. The zoning laws I believe allow for outdoor terraces (e.g. roof top decks) to be included as ‘outdoor space’ rather than a garden. Oh well.

    Thanks for the link, and the changes over the years are incredible to see. You would hope that some land had been set aside for food production?

    I’d heard of the process with roosters and I note that Lewis has replied to you in this regard.

    At home we are vegetarians, but when away from the property we consume animal products and don’t make a fuss. Honestly, if we were breeding chickens, I would have to alter my dietary habits so as not to waste the roosters. My friends of the big shed fame are quite handy at processing the animals which they raise, and most certainly they castrate any animals which need that to be done. And they’re hands-on with that work. I’ll ask them about the roosters when next I catch up with them. It is possible that they consume the excess roosters.



  6. Hello Chris
    You asked about insects in gardens. I have no idea. Son drives me from my woodland to the centre of town. There I do everything needful and then get the heck out.

    The people renting fields on the opposite side of our dirt road, have many assorted animals. They have had to bring in water daily as there was no supply. Finally a supply was put in last week. Son rang me later to warn me. He was too late. I had already turned on a tap and wow! An explosion of air and water. Not unusual after work on pipes but never before on such a scale. The sound was deafening and water blasted across my kitchen floor.

    We eat Son’s roosters. Capons would be wonderful and I read up how to do it. The result was ‘I don’t think so’.


  7. Yo, Chris – I think the Celtic doohickey is a posy holder. Sure, they wouldn’t last long, but the ancients were always banging on about how ephemeral life is. 🙂

    It was 21F (-6.1C) when I got up, this morning. But very dry. Hardly any frost, on anything. Unlike yesterday morning. Yesterday, I took H for a walk, and managed to break the Club coffee cup I haul back and forth. I sat it on the raised garden edge, and I either must missed, or due to the frost, it slid off. Shattered on the sidewalk. Oh, well. Bought another one, when I got to the Club. But first, I had to access the truck. The driver side door was frozen shut. But I got in the passenger side. Don’t know if you’ve ever seen the driver / passenger compartment on a Ranger. Even with the seats all the way back, it’s tight. So there were a lot of gymnastics and gyrations, getting over the shift stick. While juggling a dog. H and I are considering a new employment opportunity, with the circus. Thought I was going to rip my drumstick out.

    I manage to get by with one blanket. Our building is pretty warm. My apartment gets so warm, I often pop open a window, in the early evening. Snow is back in for forecast, for Tuesday night / Wednesday morning. We’ll see. It will be interesting to see what Prof. Mass has to say, when he posts, today. That was an interesting article from 1923. So, this summer is a repeat of something that’s happened, before.

    The library has a section on their website, where people can ask for things. I’d guess they had a few requests for “more books on building chicken coops.” Or maybe, the selector pays attention to the news, checked the inventory and discovered that those topics were rather thin. Through a weird set of circumstances, I find myself sitting 🙂 on three dozen eggs. I hope there’s not too many roosters. Think I’ll do a rabbit hole search for “recipes that use a lot of eggs.”

    I’m quit familiar with the magazine “Backwoods Home.” There’s another magazine, with a similar title. So, some of my comments might refer to the wrong one. Often said to be like the early Mother Earth News magazine. Before MEN got all yupped up. For my taste, I found it a bit too … right wing. Occasionally, over the top prepper. But with the occasional very useful article. One of the two magazines is very political. The other steers clear.

    What?! One can’t prepare for every eventuality? I’ll never get a good night’s sleep, again! 🙂

    Sad news about the pub. I wonder. Gas line rupture, or, they didn’t pay the bill? Well, if the pub gets a new owner, and you’re getting to know them, it’s always fun to slip in “So. Have you ever owned (or even worked in) a pub, before? Had any experience in the food business?” I hope no one tries to turn it into a Gourmet Foodie Destination Restaurant. Probably won’t last long.

    Oh, pears. They’re ok, but there are other fruits I’d rather eat. I find the texture … gritty. But, if they’re plopped down in front of me, I’ll eat them with no whinging.

    I got my 6 month bill, for my truck insurance. In past, it’s a coupon that I send in with a check. No coupon, no check. Just four different ways to pay online, or by phone. I think I’ll be having another chat with Robot Man, in the near future. Lew

  8. Hi Inge,

    Hope you are feeling better?

    I hear you about that, and spend more time up in the mountains and associated rural areas nowadays. Have you ever wondered what your life may have been like had you lived in a city? I’d have probably been bored and run out of projects to do. Most certainly the lack of growing space would have been something of a difficulty to surmount.

    Oh my goodness! Bringing in water daily is a challenging exercise. A bit bonkers really. I’m assuming that the land previously wasn’t used for animals given the situation with the water, or had something changed? Yes, air has to be blown out of water pipes. 🙂 You discovered that the hard way. Spare a thought for me, a careless plumber many years ago managed to get a lot of dirt into a water pipe. That’s also an exciting experience.

    Exactly, that’s what I’d do with excess roosters too. It’s been done that way for a very long time and is the easiest option.



  9. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the article on the Algerian Coffee Store in Soho. Talk about kids in the lolly shop, and it really is pleasing upon the eye. That’s what a proper shop looks like. I noted that they sold beans grown down under, and the bloke I get the coffee grounds and husks from, his parents used to own a coffee plantation up north along the coast. There’s even a town in that area (which must have a suitable climate for the plants) which is named: Coffee Camp. I’ll bet that’s where the shops beans come from. Would you visit a shop like that one?

    Hey, don’t believe the hype, turmeric coffee is as disgusting as it sounds. It tastes like turmeric. Far out. The Editor tried one out of curiosity and I felt that it was undrinkable, but people seem to like the stuff. For some reason, a couple of years ago turmeric was being promoted as a super food, whatever that is. It’s turmeric…

    I could have used the Celtic doohickey today, and the posies sure would have brightened things up. Depending upon the number of flowers, you could rotate the dodecahedron until you get the exact sized hole. I reckon you’re onto something there.

    The entire day was spent re-wiring the battery room so that I could add in two additional batteries and a number of ‘save us if all else fails fuses’. Probably necessary given the bonkers amount of energy in there… It was a big day and the culmination of almost a month and half of deep consideration of the issues. All done now, except for the other stuff that needs correction. Seriously. Turns out the old school fuse tech is better and more reliable. The things my brain has had to absorb. Tes’ not natural! 🙂

    Bummer about the coffee cup, probably the frosty weather. Surfaces can be very slippery during frosty weather here. Not a fan. It’s funny you mention that, but we recently purchased a number of stainless steel drink bottles to replace the very old and worn plastic ones. Dare I suggest that there must be something in the water? I have experienced the car door frozen to the body problem, but managed to wrench the thing open. Far out that sounds like a tight squeeze, and I’m curious, how did you stop H bouncing out whilst you were doing your contortionist routine?

    It’s funny you mention that, but when I was kid people used to occasionally mention the old phrase: Running away to the circus. I guess it must have happened?

    Mate, it ain’t just you, I sleep better with the window open, even with all of the night time critter activity. Some of the screeches are blood curdling! And vixen screams make your hair stand on end. But yes, cooler is better than a hot room. I feel a bit embarrassed but one of the reasons that we don’t head into the big smoke overnight any more is because the lovely grand old hotel is just so freakin hot. I guess other folks feel that a hot room is a luxury, but I can’t sleep properly at that temperature (I’m guessing about 75’F) with no air movement. It’s like a form of torture and I see no reason to pay for such experiences, granted other people may enjoy it though.

    Ook. The good professor is facing some troubles at home. Trust me on this, I have walked in the killing fields in Cambodia, seen a tower of human skulls. Near to that tower, articles of clothing stuck out of the ground. The left don’t get a free-pass, their body count is every bit as nasty as their polar opposites. The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum told me everything I needed to know. One of the darker days of my life that one, very sobering. I’m wary of extremes of any forms, and I’d have to suggest that, what was it, 100 DEI (whatever that is) sounds like a bunch of trouble. Economics will kill that initiative, but like your Senator McCarthy, how much trouble will ensue in the meantime?

    This summer is no aberration, we get hot and dry summers, and cold and wet summers, although some years, conditions are just right. You may notice that I’m adapting to conditions as they are, and not how I’d like them to be.

    That’s funny about sitting on eggs. Lewis, are you going broody on me!!!! 🙂 Hehe! Yes, I’d seen the Mother Earth News, rather more glossy than I was expecting. Hey, that sort of thing happened with the hippy publications I used to write for. The magazine I looked up seemed like it had a really down-to-earth vibe, but I wasn’t on the eye for political stuff. Mate, such a magazine would be the last place I’d expect such articles.

    Aren’t preppers an odd bunch? I have this weird notion that they’ll quickly run out of stuff, because what I understand that mindset to be is to buy and hoard lots of stuff. Good if you’re a hoarder? Indulge away! Might make a person a target though.

    Hehe! Very funny, and try not to inadvertently take on new and interesting worries. Like what if aliens land, and plant Triffids which intend to eat all of us? 🙂 Yeah, maybe it was a classic bit of understatement. My mind has been contemplating worst case scenarios with the power system, and then working out what to do about them. Biggerer equals more problems, more rapidly!

    Hang on, aren’t the gas lines in the pub CO2? The staff at the pub seemed to handle the problem well, and I noticed that with new customers if they didn’t require a drink sourced from one of the taps, the customer wasn’t informed. Best not to alarm customers if it’s an unnecessary bit of information. Mate, from what I heard the owner wants for the business, it is unlikely to attract a first time pub owner. Frankly I wonder about the entire business rationale at that asking price. It takes a lot of beers to pay off the necessary loans.

    Yeah, I agree. I doubt a foodie place would do well here. I wonder about the reality of the number of customers who are willing to stump the mad cash for such an outing. Maybe I need to get out more? Dunno.

    Gritty makes me think that you may have had a pear grown in a dry-ish orchard. Those ones are powdery and quite unpleasant. Your mission should you choose to accept it is to find a nicely grown pear. A revelation awaits, probably not like Paul on the road to Damascus sort, but you get the general gist. I reckon you’ve only ever had dodgy pears.

    The robots are taking our jobs and dogs, but have you noticed that they’re not inclined to take our bills? Man, I really gave up on that fight. They got me, and forced me to use this tech, or lose my business. Yeah, they fight dirty.

    Forget about that, it was a glorious day here today. 74’F and clear sunny blue skies. So nice, and the perfect weather for fixing up the battery room. The new batteries were only 25% full and they required a lot of solar energy, which thankfully was there. After the job was done, I walked the dogs for an hour in the late sunshine, and they loved it.



  10. Yo, Chris – I’d go in the coffee shop, just to inhale. Probably get a buzz. 🙂 . I don’t know about buying coffee, unless I needed something for “special.” But I’d probably sample the teas. Yes, to me, it looks like what a proper shop should look like.

    I’d probably skip the Turmeric coffee. But, if offered a thimble full sample, would give it a whirl. Well, Turmeric is full of phytonutrients. As are a lot of other things. I usually put a good sprinkle in whatever I’m having for dinner. I must remember to tell the surgeon, should they ever have to open me up, that if I’m all orange inside, not to panic. It’s just the years of ingesting Turmeric 🙂 .

    Does your battery room glow in the dark? Does it hum with energy? At least it sounds like your past the worst of it, and can set your mind to plants, grinding stumps and splitting rocks. Straight forward kinds of things. Natural things.

    Oh, H doesn’t seem very interested in bouncing out of the truck, once I get her in. I keep her on a leash, and, she’s more interested in angling to sit in my lap. I think she wants to drive. I keep telling her, she has to get her learner’s permit, first.

    Well, I think running away to join the circus, was probably a real thing. People were always running off, somewhere. To sea … to the military … to the gold fields. Way back in 1981, there was a made for TV movie called, “When the Circus Came to Town.” Starring Elizabeth Montgomery. A fine actor. She’s a spinster, and when her overbearing mother finally dies, she settles everything up … and joins the circus. Of course, everyone thinks she’s out of her mind. If I can remember it, after all this time, it was probably a pretty good movie.

    Yeah, I thought I could get a take on the snow probability, from Prof. Mass, and all I got was politics at the U of W. Sigh. Judging from the weather radar, any snow will be north of Seattle. Subject to change.

    LOL. The way you’ve been whinging on about your cool summer, I thought it was a once in a generation event. 🙂

    Horrors! The aliens are landing? Should I break out the good coffee? The Kona? Bake a cake? Speaking of aliens, I got a yen to re-watch “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Turns out our library has a 30th anniversary DVD set. All kinds of extras. I ought to get it in a few days. Speaking of DVDs, I see that a tsunami of DVDs are headed my way. Including “Violent Night.” With a little luck, I’ll pick them up tomorrow afternoon. I see popcorn in my future.

    I finished watching Ken Burn’s “National Parks.” There was an interesting bit. About Yosemite. When the white man showed up, there was a tribe of folks living in the valley, from time immemorial. If they weren’t killed outright, they were moved a good distance away. On the 50th anniversary of the park, they brought a little old lady, who was the last of her tribe, and had grown up in the valley. They asked her about any changes … other than the roads and campgrounds. Not as much game AND that the valley was a lot brushier, than in her time. That the indigenous people had done regular controlled burns, to keep the brush down.

    Oh, I thought you were referring to some kind of petroleum gas. For heat, cooking, etc.. You might be surprised. The little cafe that I lived next to (and, occasionally worked in), in downtown Centralia had changed hands, seven times in 15 years. Each time it sold, it was in the 20 – $25,000 range. The last time it sold, it jumped to $75,000. And, the couple that owned it, got it. They were a rather shifty pair.

    So I don’t have to fall off a horse and go blind, to find a good pear?


    Click on the image to see the whole thing. Caravaggio. Bad boy of the Italian Renaissance. 🙂

    Last night, for dinner, I did my once-a-month Mac & Cheese splurge. I added some chopped broccoli, garlic, dried tomatoes … Turmeric, etc.. Just to convince myself it might be marginally healthy. It is (was) a well thought of organic brand. Just out of curiosity, I checked ownership. Yup. Once a small private company, it is now owned by Big Food Conglomerated / Amalgamated, Inc. LLC.. Often happens to those small private companies. In fact, some hope for it. They can cash in all their chips, for outrageous amounts of money, and retire to the Bahamas. Sometimes, the big company will leave the little company alone, as long as they’re making mad cash. But usually, the small company is gutted, and the product cheapened. Lew

  11. Hello Chris
    Living in cities has its place in ones life. I lived and worked in central London when I first left home at 19. Loved it. Theatres, museums, libraries, shops, great parks, interesting people. Returned to city life when my eldest child was 13 as I felt that the children needed to know more than isolation. Son hated me for doing that. Odd, because he was the last one to return to country living. i reckon that I could make a good life anywhere.

    My health is still leaving a lot to be desired though others I know, seem to be in a similar position.

    51F today which seems ridiculously warm for the end of January.


  12. Chris,

    Nice fog picture. Fog is interesting. Many people get depressed by it. It’s best to stay above it, like you did in the photo. 😉

    Reds and pinks. Beautiful flowers. Beats grey and drab. Although we did have several consecutive days of sunshine and 2.5cm of fresh snow before the sun. It was far from grey and drab, but cold. Monday morning I awoke to -16C. -3C would feel warm about now.

    Hillbilly engineering? Love the term. I grew up with hillbilly engineering. Fun stuff.

    “Wrong will eventuate”. AKA Murphy’s 3rd Law. Or perhaps Marvin the Paranoid Android’s Law of Life, the Universe and Everything. Wrong will eventuate. What do you do when it has eventuated? Accept, adapt and move on, right?

    “The dogs are always up to mischief”, etc. Dang, sounds like a sad Country/Western song, the type that when you play it backwards you get your dog, car, house and wife back. Real tearjerkers they are.

    Strange woman again slapped my head,
    It hurt so much I went to bed.
    When I awoke my sight was bleary,
    My, oh my I was so weary.
    Went to the pub to drink a brew,
    In the extra froth I saw the clue.
    It looked just like the great dog Ollie,
    So I went home feeling very jolly.


  13. Hi DJ,

    Thank you, and I hadn’t heard that about fog, although it is rare to hang around for long in these parts. Occasionally over winter you’ll get a run of days with low thick cloud and drizzle / mist (mizzle, or muzzle, or how about mozzle?) which wreaks havoc on solar power, but it is what it is. I am aware that even in sunny old Melbourne the lack of strong sunlight during winter does have an impact upon people. I assume the same thing goes on in your part of the world?

    Far out! That’s super cold, or maybe super-chill, like that dude in the Big Lebowski. He seemed pretty chilled out under pressure.

    It is fun stuff. Your father was pretty learned with physics, did he have a practical side to him? It’s funny how times have changed, but I grew up fixing cars and electronic stuff. It’s been kind of handy… 🙂

    Maybe. The state of mind of acceptance depends very much upon whether something can be economically done about the state of wrongness (hey, the Murphy fellow knew a thing or three). In this case, I was able to do something about the situation and avoid many huge losses. Over the past few days I’ve been implementing what I’ve learned (over the past two months) of the various risks. I tell you truly, the quality of cheap fuses and cheap circuit breakers is not what it once was. A true decline, some of that cheap stuff is not to be trusted. And I’m having to make a serious investment in stuff that works when it needs to do so. Some of which was made in your country – it seems solid and dependable. Dunno about you, but that working when it needs to aspect seems to be important.

    Well done indeed. Thank you very much for the words and more importantly for the sheer enjoyment of your words. Delightful!

    What would Marvin the Paranoid Android sing instead:

    Life, expect life to slap you all the time,
    Or when you least expect it.
    Diodes ache,
    Transistor buzzing hampers an immense brain,
    Menial tasks await.
    The pub but for a moment, a ray of hope.
    Then dashed, for there was no beer.
    Ollie was jolly,
    Standing still contemplating the unfairness,
    the dog mistook me for a lamp post.
    Life, don’t talk to me about life.


    Marvin the Paranoid Android



  14. Hi Inge,

    You’ve lead an adventurous life. Respect. I’d heard it wistfully spoken about that London in those days was quite an exciting place to be. Wise to also live in Central London. I have a theory about such matters, and I’d be interested in learning your thoughts: Live either right in, or right out. The in between areas lack the amenities of the other two options. Dunno, as I said it’s a theory based on experience.

    It’s been an issue I’ve pondered though. Did the culture of the city change as wealth increased, or was it merely my reaction to that situation, or something else altogether? The inner city locale we used to live before decamping to the bush, used to be rather bohemian in flavour, before slowly ending up a bit snooty.

    Overall, though, like your son, I prefer the rural areas and life there.

    I agree with your sentiment and would do likewise. Life is precious and fleeting.

    Yikes! I do hope your health improves, and can only note that warmer weather is not far away for you. We’re set for an Antarctic summer blast tomorrow and it will be a cold and damp day.

    Yes, about those sorts of temperatures which you are experiencing. Hard to fathom really why it would be almost warmer in your part of the world! 🙂 I’m not really wasting any brain cells on that problem, and will just make-do tomorrow. Your winter weather does sound a lot like what I experience as winter weather, albeit a warmer day during that time of year.



  15. Hi Lewis,

    Oh yes, wouldn’t the aroma be something else in such a shop? Hehe! It would be quite the caffeine buzz. I was speaking with someone this evening about the sheer volume of coffee grounds spread around this property and how you’d imagine that after so many years the place would smell like coffee, but no. Wonder if the soil critters are enjoying the caffeine buzz? Probably… Ooo, they would have teas as well as the coffee, it did look that way. A bit of everything. I felt that the shop was really pleasing upon the eye.

    Mate, a thimble size of the stuff was all it took to convince me not to drink the stuff. And the drink had the same colour as turmeric. Probably a very strong dye, which you are hinting at. Honestly I have no idea how people do such jobs, but every now and then you read about personality traits and that particular career. A lot of fresh leafy greens have phytonutrients too, not to mention a whole bunch of fruit and other vegetables – and garlic. You might be onto something there.

    Yes, yesterday was the last of the worst of it. From here on end I’ll continue to plug away and incrementally improve the power system based on what I’ve learned. And one important thing I’ve learned is that cheap fuses and cheap circuit breakers are at best unreliable. Made a few hard decisions on that front overnight (I woke this morning with a preformed decision) and then put in an order. The changes have to be done incrementally due to the sheer cost of the stuff, and it uses a part of my brain that paid work does. There are other things in life – exactly, natural things. But if the rooster needs killing (a metaphorical bird in this case), no point avoiding the work…

    It’s funny, but I’m reading the epilogue chapter of the book ‘Cheap Land Colorado’, and the author wrote that people went to the prairie for the absence of civilisation, the lack of cities etc. I can see that, there is something very peaceful about the quiet spaces where the rest of the world exists. Sometimes I’m not entirely certain that people heavily invested in the abstract concept of cities, even know such other places exist.

    Hehe! Go H! And you can’t admonish her for her ambitions! Years ago I encountered a bloke in a nearby town who spotted Ollie and had one of the breed sitting in his van. We talked up the breed for a while, and his dog was confidently sitting in the drivers seat peering out at the world. Get your motor running. Head out on the highway. Looking for adventure You may have heard that song?

    I guess what you’re saying is that as a species, we do wander around the place heading off to far horizons, probably just to see what was there. Probably something built into our hard wiring. Thinking about it a bit, my grandfather grew up on a farm during the Great Depression. Hmm, I wonder if his stories were handed down to the next generation – don’t do this! 🙂

    The politics of that place sound particularly unpleasant, and he seems like a decent person to me. Did you get any snow? Apparently there will be snow in the higher areas of this state tomorrow (not here though, just cold and wet).

    Go on, did you watch Violent Night? Was it good? The bad guy in that film was in … Repo Man. It’s intense being a repo-man. Thought I’d seen him before. He’s had quite a well established acting career. I’ll be curious to hear if Close Encounters stacks up. I have vague memories of the Mad Magazine version. Plus who could hate a Moog synthesiser?

    The Indigenous people are correct. The same story gets repeated down here. Game have to eat and also need to be able to travel around. If the brush is too thick they can do neither, then they disappear.

    Yeah that was what I was thinking you were thinking about the gas. Is your story the subtle way of bracing me for disappointment? With that sort of thing I make-do. The old timers used to quip: No point crying over spilt milk. Clearly there are many folks who understand why spilt milk would be a hardship, however the vast majority would have like zero clue. My if economic hard times bite, they’ll be in for a shock.

    The girl with the lute has an expression upon her face which suggests intense dislike of the painter. Clearly she may have been having a bad day, but still. Yes, there is darkness in his paintings. You can see it. But they’re also masterful works.

    The problem with the Bahamas is that you have to live there. I’d dislike the heat all of the time, then the epic storms. But then, I’m not the kind of guy to enjoy putting my feet up for too long. What did the old timers used to say: A rolling stone gathers no moss? Hmm!

    Me sleepy.



  16. Hello Chris
    I agree, isolated rural or centre of a great city. Having written that, I promptly remembered the time when I lived a walk away from the small town of Rye. That was a great little town; one can never generalise haha.


  17. Yo, Chris – Nope. Emilio Estevez was in “Repo Man.” It’s John Leguizamo in “Violent Night.” (Keeping Pop Culture Pure, Since 1949.) 🙂 If the wind is blowing the right direction, I should pick up “Violent Night,” this afternoon. If not, no popcorn for me. 🙁 . I’m almost done with King’s “Fairy Tale.” Less than 50 pages, to go.

    “Fresh Ground Coffee – A Cologne for men.” I wonder if the soil critters have a caffeine stand, on every corner? Do they get testy, if deprived? Your turning them all into java junkies!

    Fuses and circuit breakers. You get what you pay for? Sometimes?

    The National Parks documentary talked a lot about the restorative aspects of nature. And the delicate balance between public access and keeping the wilderness, wild. Never mind all the commercial pressures.

    H: Born to be wild. One of the fellows brought his new dog in for a meet and greet, yesterday. Named Captain. An enormous hound, probably a relative of Ollie’s. Wanted to make friends with H (wagging tail, etc.), but H wasn’t having it. I’ve noticed it takes awhile for her to warm up to other dogs. But, eventually, she does. After giving it a rest for a few months, Elinor started banging on about walking H, four times a day. Nope. No. Not going to happen. Enough of my life has been stolen and disrupted.

    No snow, and the temperatures are getting warmer. But my apartment was really cold, last night. Oh, yeah. Thermal inertia. I also feel sorry for Prof. Mass. But I’ll be glad when he gets back to talking about the weather.

    Caravaggio sent art in a whole new direction. Though there were complaints about his pictures. Oh, my! His models had dirty feet! And he used people right off the street who had “the look” he wanted. I think there was a bit of a row, when he used an easily recognizable working girl, as a stand in for the Virgin Mary. 🙂 Do not look at his painting of the boy bitten by a snake. You just never know what might crawl out of the grapes.

    I watched a Ken Burn’s documentary, about Thomas Jefferson, last night. He was our third president (two terms), and wrote most of our Declaration of Independence. He also founded the University of Virginia, which was the first university to not be founded by a religious organization. He was friends, then enemies, then friends with John Adams. President number two. Now here’s a coincidence: they both died on the same day. On the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Decleration, July 4th. Jefferson was the one who sent Lewis and Clark, across America. And, he was quit the farmer (with the labor of numerous slaves). It was mentioned he had over 270 different vegetables, on his spread. I caught a quote, from him. “But though an old man, I am a young gardener.” He was a meticulous record keeper, but died bankrupt. A bit of an enigma, and a bundle of contradictions. Lew

  18. Hi Inge,

    Yes, if a person seeks to maximise amenities, then that is the path. Ooo, Rye is a fascinating town, and lucky you to have spent time there. You have lived an interesting life. Smugglers back in the day, ships for the crown, Spike Milligan. So many interesting people and events.

    On the other hand, this area seems to be gearing up for the 40th anniversary of the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires. There was a notice for a local church service to remember the day and loss. With that in mind, we spent the day cleaning up the surrounding forest, and the work continues at out own slow and steady pace. It’s looking good, and few people in this mountain range can lay claim to trees that pre-date European settlement. They have a certain magnificence to them. The loggers never touched them because they were damaged in some way, however it is not lost on me that the old trees outlasted the loggers – and probably my good self. 🙂 How do you experience your ancient forest?



  19. Hi Lewis,

    True, Emilo Estevez was the central protagonist in Repo Man, however John Leguizamo played the character Asbury, who was a black-market organs dealer. I now rest my case and retire from the pop culture field with full honours. And note to self, I must re-watch that cult classic film soon. I reckon possibly that Quentin Tarantino ripped off the mysterious glowing vehicle trunk concept and re-used it in his magnum opus: Pulp Fiction, in the infamous briefcase scene. Hashtag just sayin… Hehe! As a prop it was well worth repeating. I see your street credentials and respect them, and hope to have added to your score.

    The Editor is nearing completion of Lisey’s Story and appears to have gotten into the language aspect which protrudes into the narrative. The language works, that’s what I’m told, although the feedback was that the reasoning could have been introduced earlier so as to avoid confusion. I will recommend “Fairy Tale”. My opinion is that if you’ve put the effort into completing the book, it must be good – and Mr King has kept me awake on many a night during my life. Oh yeah, well into the wee-dark-hours when things go bump in the night. What’s going to happen next is what kept me awake.

    Hey, I finished reading ‘Cheap Land Colorado’ this afternoon and so enjoyed the book. The authors wife had a very cheeky take on the book which was mentioned in one sentence in the Epilogue. You know, it was like a very dark spin on the Annie Hawes books which we spoke of many years ago, but life is sometimes very gritty and darkness can lurk in all manner of seemingly ordinary places. The author not only wrote about the land and all human life within it, he was also taken by the land and swept up and away by it. The land clearly got under his skin, and I enjoyed seeing the connection build. The book was ostensibly about the people and circumstances Ted encountered, but really the book was about the author finding others and discovering nuance where before there was someone else’s pre-conceived ideas. In short, I believe the author found himself. It’s a big call, but I’m standing by that.

    It’s not just you who wonder that about the soil critters and their desire for more caffeine! Feed me Chris!!!! It’s of note that Triffids seem to be a rather angry lot of plants. Anyway, I fed the relocated citrus orchard this afternoon as I was aware that some rain was headed our way. The air pressure dropped all day as the Antarctic blast approached, and half an inch of rain fell late in the day. Earlier though, we cracked out the tree stump grinder and continued the long slow clean up process. Very satisfying if I may add.

    Trust me on this tech, you do actually get what you pay for in this instance. Holy carp is that true. It was one of the el-cheapo items failing that sent me on this couple of months correction journey. Mate, the things my brain has had to absorb and then process upon. I can see why the much larger installations of this renewable energy tech have serious issues from time to time. It’s all good, until the poop hits the fan, and that’s when the weak links are put to the test. The heavier duty industrial items arrived in the mail today. Hope to get them installed tomorrow. Best to be safe with this stuff – if that’s actually possible.

    It’s possible that once long ago the wilderness was wild, but during human tenure, I’m dubious of that claim. And before us there was the megafauna.

    Hehe! H probably does think of herself that way. Certainly Ruby does, the cheeky minx. Dame Plum and Ollie are far more civilised. Dogs of the Spitz breed such as H can act a bit superior, not sure why, but that has been my experience with them. Man, I so feel for you. Look it does no harm to ask for the four walks, but a polite refusal often offends. I’ve observed other cultures which pull that asking trick and the most workable response I’ve observed (and tested) is to say yes and do, no. That runs contrary to my cultural upbringing, but a dudes gotta just do sometimes. I’ve observed that people who frequently ask, are very poor managers. Such people’s thoughts tend to end at the request stage. Alas, sorry to advise them, but that is the beginning, and not the end point. They didn’t get that memo, give it a whirl and your life may become easier.

    It ain’t just you, last I checked it was 46’F outside and we had to chuck on the wood heater tonight just to take the edge off the cold. Far out. Hopefully your summer weather is more pleasant. Tomorrow will be colder again. The good Professor is doing it tough on that front, and he is unafraid to speak his mind on such matters.

    Is it just me, or in the baroque painting of Martha and Mary Magdalene, it appears that Mary may be up the duff? Certainly looks that way for the winsome young lady. Carravagio most assuredly pushed at boundaries, the cheeky scamp.

    Oh my goodness! What a man of extremes in relation to Thomas Jefferson.



  20. Hi, Chris!

    You made my hair stand on end with this: “It makes a person with a curious mind wonder how all these sorts of energy installations are operating when there isn’t anyone in a household or business who is concerned enough to monitor the system.” I hope I am not in the vicinity when it all goes wrong from neglect.

    Don’t you have to be an industry to use an industrial supplier? Though Fernglade is the most industrious place I have ever seen . . .

    I’d swear we have 6 seasons, too.

    You and your orange hat and your stump grinder – and a gate with no fence?

    The greenhouse is certainly a lush place. I like the screws used in building the raised wooden bed. Now, that’s smart.

    “Lazy Housewife”, indeed! Don’t you love the names that they come up with? That is an Ollie-sized zucchini. Or a club. Bonk! Lovely pears, and a self-seeded rose. Amazing. Thank you for all the flowers.


  21. Hello Chris
    Walking through my woodland, I get the feeling that it is mentally alive. The feeling is strange.


  22. Yo, Chris – Ah! I see the confusion. Leguizano was in “Repo Men” 2010 (though you said “Man.”) He was not in “Repo Man” 1984, which was the film I thought you were referring to. 🙂 So, we’re both right (kinda).

    I finished “Fairy Tale,” last night. Got me kind of misty, at the end. So, was it a good read? Well, there were a few spots where I thought King could have “killed some of his darlings.” In other words, were 600 pages really necessary, to tell the tale? But, otherwise, I quit liked it.

    I also watched “Violent Night.” Soon to be a major Christmas film classic! If you can stomach the high (and inventive) body count. 🙂 There was a bit of a parallel between “Fairy Tale,” and “Violent Night.” And, I don’t think it’s a spoiler. In both cases, at different points, the hero ways something like, “It’s magic, but I don’t know how it works.”

    “Cheap Land Colorado.” Well, if you’re going to have a mid-life crisis, might as well get finding oneself out of the deal. 🙂 Glad you liked the book. It’s one of those I think about, from time to time.

    Somehow or another, the following all hangs together. Paid my truck insurance yesterday, and had another nice chat with Robot Man. Well, it does save me a postage stamp. I suppose that’s something. And maybe it relates, and maybe it doesn’t, but Atlantic Magazine had an article yesterday, titled “My Printer is Extorting Me.” (Warzel). Which in some ways, is about how business relates to people. Or, not. The phrase that popped out at me was “user-hostile business model.” I imagine a bunch of people sitting around a board room saying, “We really need to develop more of a user-hostile business model.” 🙂 Well, now I know why just about everything I buy on the River, has an option for subscribing to resupply. Which I’ve avoided, though I knew not why.

    Oh, I have no problem drawing a firm line at three walks a day. Sometimes, I’m pretty firm with Elinor. She wants her door locked at all times. Unless she’s got someone coming. Because some random guy might randomly come up to the third floor and randomly pick her door, enter, pick up a knife in the kitchen and stab her to death. So, often at night I ask her does she want me to leave the door locked or unlocked in the morning. So, I get these long convoluted answers. And I end up saying, “That was a yes or no question.” Then I get a firm answer. The cut to the chase. The bottom line.

    We got a food box, yesterday. Well, two. It was the one with produce. It was kind of unexpected. I guess those boxes will come on the first Wednesday, of the month. Which just happened to fall on the 1st, and caught everyone pretty flat footed. The volunteers to deliver to the doors didn’t show. So, they were all just dumped in the community room. I was just leaving with H, and it was swarming with old ladies. I took one look, and beat a hasty retreat. Figured I get Elinor and my boxes, when the dust had settled. So, what treasures were within?

    A pack of four frozen boneless skinless chicken thighs, from a very bougie (or boujee … not to be confused with a probing medical instrument) store. A head of cabbage, bag of small apples, two brown mystery tubers, two red onions, a pound of date pieces, a pound of raisins and two pounds of dried sweet cherries. I guess they’re off the nuts kick. Two green and two red bell peppers. Two pounds of rice. A large plastic pouch of spaghetti sauce. A shelf stable pouch of beef stew (tasty, but too much salt.) A two pound box of processed cheese product. Two quarts of shelf stable milk. Two boxes of dry cereal. A two quart jug of apple drink. Two one pound bags of dry white beans, two one pound bags of elbow pasta. In the tinned stuff, there was one tin of salmon, two tins of apple sauce, one tin of plums and four tins of corn.

    Not a bad haul. The usual highs and lows. I picked up some more bell peppers, off the swap table, and will clean and freeze them up. Some stuff I kept, some I put on the swap table, and some I took to the Club. Lew

  23. Hi Chris and everyone,

    Since we’re talking about energy storage and what might go wrong, here’s what happened with our electric utility on 14 December, 2005.

    Our electric utility used to have a water storage reservoir at the top of one of Missouri’s tallest mountains (not that impressive, since our tallest mountain is only about 1700 feet tall). This reservoir was a mini version of a hydroelectric dam. During lower use periods, like at night in the summer, some of the excess electric capacity of the coal-fired electric plant at that location was used to pump water from the adjoining Black River up the mountain into the reservoir. During the day, the water was allowed to run out of the reservoir through turbines, adding to the electrical power the plant generated when it needed it the most, with the water running back into the Black River. Aside from the damage done to the land at the top of the mountain, it was a clever scheme to transfer excess capacity into the reservoir for later retrieval. What could go wrong?

    What went wrong on that day, at something like 3am, was that the automated system that governed the reservoir’s operation failed. IIRC, the system continued to pump water into the reservoir after its capacity had been reached, causing over-topping and then failure of the dam. The water rushed down the mountain and into the Black River in a flash flood. The flood pushed a passing pickup truck off the road, fortunately with no loss of life. Once it rushed into the Black River, the flood continued downstream through one of Missouri’s prettiest and most-used state parks, Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park. The campground next to the river which is always crowded with campers during season was, fortunately, unoccupied, since it was completely flooded. The park administrator’s house was inundated, tossing the family into the flood, but fortunately everyone survived. While no humans died, the flood scoured all the soil off the mountain as it roared down, destroyed or extensively damaged many of the facilities in the state park, filled the shut-ins with boulders, gravel, and other debris, and altered a state natural area within the park. The park didn’t fully re-open until 2010.

    Considering what happens when a utility stuffs up something as (relatively) simple as a small hydroelectric reservoir on a mountain, let’s just say that I am not overflowing with confidence about their ability to effectively manage a mix of solar and wind power and their associated battery storage along with the existing fossil fuel, nuclear, and proper (dammed river) hydroelectric plants.


  24. Chris,

    Regarding the book you and Lew have been discussing. “Cheap Land Colorado” almost sounds like it could be a mildly humorous remake of that old Lynyrd Skynyrd song “Sweet Home Alabama”.

    Oh, yeah, people hereabouts can suffer from the winter blues. The technical term is Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Getting outdoors regardless of the weather seems to help me. Important to get outside daily. Vitamin D supplements help some people too. One of my friends from early in my career grew up near Spokane. Then he moved to Portland Oregon. A few months later he called me. He was nearly in tears because it had been raining for over 30 consecutive days. SAD hit him hard. I’ve heard it said that the seemingly endless rain in Seattle is why the per capita coffee intake in Seattle is the highest in the USA.

    Yup, dad had a practical side, inherited from his father. Dad was quite the carpenter, tinkered endlessly with practical little thingies, and tackled several larger projects. He and I rewired our house one Christmas break when I was in university.

    He made some wonderful candle holders, some of which I still have: he took an old metal 40 ounce can, left the bottom on it but took off the lid. Half of the vertical part he cut away also, leaving half the can intact. Some nails in the bottom could hold a wide candle. He made a handle out of tree branches. So the candle was portable, had less chance of being extinguished while carrying it, and reflected the light into one direction so it was brighter where you wanted it.

    His idea got me thinking. I took a somewhat smaller metal can, took the lid off and punched 3 or 4 holes in the other end. Carried it in my pack when hiking or hunting. If I needed to heat something up or build a small fire, the can acted like a small stove. I tinkered with the design and found a way to have a flat area, so I could even heat water on it in a small metal cup. I used it a lot.

    Fuses and circuit breakers? Yeah, I’d noticed that the quality issue, or lack thereof, has hit those also. Nasty. Those are things that if they don’t work when they’re supposed to…UGG

    Nice Marvin Song. Well done. Including the aching diodes and his famous phrase at the end was great.


  25. Hi DJ,

    Yes, very amusing and the author went and lived among people who were never intended to be. The forgotten folks. That’s a great song, shame about the aircraft.

    They call it SADS down here too. Oh wow, I’ve never encountered anyone experiencing the effect to that degree, although there is a noticeable impact on peoples health during the darker days of winter down this way, and simple stuff like colds and flu’s increase. Like you, I tend spend as much time outdoors as possible all year around.

    Thanks for the reply and hey, that’s a good environment to grow up in. Makes you wonder how people will re-learn how to tinker again, if they do not first learn how to do so? The risk with specialising to any great degree, is that a person can miss out on the wider skills required to simply just know how to learn. Being fed is not the same thing as understanding how to produce. 😉

    Your design sounds ideal to me, especially if the wind picks up, always something of a drama with candle powered light. I assume your love of wood carving was kindled in your earlier experiences of tinkering?

    Spent a few hours this morning installing the higher quality circuit breakers into the battery room. Those things were not cheap, but I believe they will work when required. It’s not much to ask is it? My trust has been somewhat lost with some aspects of the power system over the past few months, and it really makes me wonder just how many of the dodgier items are out and about in wider circulation, with people who are blissfully unaware of the risk they run? At least I’m able to detect the risk prior to it becoming a far greater problem, and then know enough to do something about it. Mate, the change in quality has been a very gradual slide, very difficult to spot. But it’s there.

    🙂 Marvin was cool. And with the way gobarment and bizness portals are implemented, his personality wasn’t far off the mark. Had an incident along those lines earlier today. Hmm, not a fan. I spend a bit of my time now administering entities systems, because they demanded it to be that way. Nice for some. 😉



  26. Hi Claire,

    Oh, what a nightmare scenario and glad to hear that nobody perished in the ensuing flood incident.

    Yes, what could possibly go wrong is often a question which is not asked. If I may, I have noted that there is a tendency with many people nowadays I interact with, to implement a system or whatever. However the testing side of the story is often considered uneconomical. My how we have declined that testing is viewed as being too expensive to observe and pay for. I picked up the problem and addressed it before it became a much bigger issue. Anyway, systems should be understood under worst case conditions, not best or even average.

    The pumped hydro is an idea which is good in theory, but if anything goes wrong, it will go wrong badly. The results are known to you. A failure of a dam is always awful for people down stream. In this very wet and cold year, I have heard reports of such things happening in various parts of the country. A few months ago there was a story about the authorities frantically pumping out excess water so as to avoid a collapse of the dam wall near to a lot of housing. It’s unwise to construct such things on the cheap.

    Your concerns are valid, and what should raise alarms is that the technology I’m using is what is being scaled up. The differences aren’t all that great. I spent a few hours this morning adding in even more protection and replacing some items I was a bit dubious as to their veracity, just in case. You’d hope that the items aren’t required, but then you’d hope they work when they are necessary. My experiences on that front have not been good, so best to play it even safer.



  27. Hi Inge,

    Living surrounded by tall old forest has had a profound impact upon me as well. Strange is a good way to put it. It’s changed my perspective, but then living in a rural area has likewise had impacts. When we first got to know some of the old timers in the area, they’d ask us: You’re not some greenie, are you? It felt a bit like being put to the question, but I think I now understand where they were coming from. They were in their own way asking me whether I was a hypocrite. Funny way to ask that, but there you go. Things are different up in the bush – and there’s heaps more life energy up here.



  28. Hi Pam,

    Small chance of that, unless… As a general bit of advice, I wouldn’t leave any batteries on continual charge, unless you know that there is an electronic regulator monitoring that charging process. The small lithium batteries used in many devices often are supplied with unregulated chargers – that means the charger doesn’t stop the flow of electricity into the battery, and instead relies upon a fixed voltage output instead. A fair enough arrangement, until something goes wrong and the fixed voltage output rises. The electricity mains in the grid can fluctuate in all manner of unexpected ways. It’s exciting, and those little batteries can explode.

    Hehe! Nah, the industrial supply folks were happy to take my mad cash. They have been really good too. I cannot fault them.

    🙂 I’ve got a theory that the six seasons follows the sine wave curve of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. It’s a theory… Due to the orbit of the planet around the sun, we’re physically closer to the sun during summer and so that season is a bit more intense than what may be experienced in the northern hemisphere. Another thing to be excited about, although for the record that extra energy hasn’t ripened my tomatoes yet.

    Good spotting. It is a gate with no fence. That project is a work in progress. Now if I had a bit more free time, more stuff could get done. I’m sure you know the feeling?

    The screws used in those raised beds are stainless steel, so they should have a very long life. Treated pine is a very harsh environment for metal.

    The name is pretty cheeky – and it’s a heritage variety of bean too. Definitely times have changed! Ollie is lovely and mild mannered, except for when he encountered the two horses the other day. I expect those two won’t be back any time soon, and nobody was harmed in the incident.

    Running the wood heater tonight. Brr! 50’F outside.



  29. Hi Lewis,

    I stand corrected, and you were right. And also proving that reading comprehension is not what it once was. 🙂

    Thanks for doing the trail blazing road test on the book ‘Fairy Tale’. I have discussed this with the Editor. Getting misty at the end is a professional hazard of other genres like say, animal films. You begin watching those stories with great hope, but deep down you know that in the end, big yella is gonna cop it bad, permanent like. Probably why I avoid such films. They’re very upsetting! 😉 Except for maybe the 1980 film Alien, in that case you wanted the beast to die. A scary film.

    Mr King may have some power over his editors these days, and can push on 600 pages without a care in the world.

    That’s funny about the magic. I haven’t read ‘Fairy Tale’ yet, but for some reason my mind was instead screaming a klaxon warning siren for Christmas films with bullet budgets and body counts: ‘Die Hard’. There are parallels there. Anyway, did you notice that the Razzie award nominations were released a week or so ago?

    Do you really believe that about the mid-life crisis? It’s possible that may have been the case with the author, and I did wonder about the domestic arrangements which would allow him to conduct such research. Still, the author is older than I, and I don’t presume to have known him. Mostly he wrote about other people, whilst dropping a sentence or two here and there about his own life. Something must have driven him to want to write such a book, although his earlier books were suggestive.

    Speaking of robot man, have you seen all the chatter about the supposedly chatty robot? I have not bothered with the thing, but have read a couple of replies courtesy of other people. The replies look structured to me in a way that normal people don’t communicate. And the replies ended with a conclusion. Wonder who provided that? If I had to make a wild guess, there may be a push to get the thing into a classroom for the kiddies.

    Incidentally, had to laugh about the ‘user hostile business model’. It’s quite funny really, except when you’re on the wrong end of that story. And I’d never heard of subscriptions for the use of a printer. Who knew? Why would the journalist sign up for such a thing when cartridges and refill bottles are affordable? So many questions, so few answers. And how did the journalist do work without a printer?

    Most such arrangements seek to obtain flows, not once off injections of mad cash. The trick is to navigate that messy sea. It ain’t easy that task, and the bills keep on coming on in.

    Why would anyone want to do such a thing to Elinor? What I heard is that there may possibly be some shady loan shark business going on, so maybe the fear of reprisal is real? 🙂 If a person wants to live in the jungle… Hehe! Just kidding. Wise to cut through to the core of the question and seek a clear response: Yes or No? Which is it to be? Lewis, I respect you on the grounds that you are a more tolerant person than I. Truth to tell, I don’t really know anyone who would give a long convoluted answer to a simple question. Has Elinor always communicated with you that way, or is this a recent thing?

    Nice work getting yours and Elinor’s box. At least the ladies could self organise and the boxes eventually made their way to where they were required to be. Yes, the nuts do seem to have dropped off the radar, but the rest of the produce sounds good to me. Hope the Clubs pantry is over flowing, and fresh bell peppers are a delight. Too good to leave behind. A good haul indeed.

    Spent a few hours this morning adding in the new – and hopefully working – circuit breakers in the power system. The new ones were not cheap. Hmm. It rather alarms me to consider that the original breakers may not have worked when they were required to. In fact the failure of one of those things was what sent me off on the whole journey. What’s that burnt plastic smell is not something that you want to experience – the immediate conclusion raises the blood pressure. Anyway, I’m getting there with improving upon that potential failure aspect of the power system. Always best to ask what happens if things go wrong. The answer may alarm!

    Went to pick up some supply of bone meal and lime to add to the coffee grounds over the next few weeks. Anyway, whilst I was at the nursery I picked up a punnet of alpine strawberries and planted them out in the greenhouse so as to test whether the berries are any good or not. It may be a bit late in the season, but then again, I don’t know. It’s 44’F outside right now and the rainy feels icy. Brr! It may warm up by late next week.

    Higher up in the more elevated parts of the state, it snowed. How cool is that, literally! First Aussie snowfall of 2023



  30. Chris:

    What on earth must have gone through Ollie’s mind when he encountered the horses?

    Thanks for this: “As a general bit of advice, I wouldn’t leave any batteries on continual charge, unless you know that there is an electronic regulator monitoring that charging process.”

    Maybe too much water is slowing your tomatoes down? And the cold.


  31. Yo, Chris – Just to chime in on the discussion of SAD … Being a native of the Wet Side of the Mountains, it doesn’t bother me, too much. Though I can think of two or three winters, where it just went on a bit too long. On one hand, it’s a real thing. On the other, general consensus is, it keeps the riff-raff out. 🙂 And, it’s why we have all this green. Some people get special lamps, to sit under 20 minutes a day, or so. As far as getting outside, on a regular basis, also a good thing. I get out three times a day … if I want to or not. 🙂

    I don’t remember “Repo Men”, but I may have to see if I can round up a copy. See? Shouldn’t buy replacement organs, on credit. Might not end well. Not entirely out of the realm of possibility. I can see one of the conditions of a medical bankruptcy is that you return the slightly used organ …

    “Fairy Tale” is a book I’ll be thinking about, for awhile. And, just as an aside, there’s a bit of AA stuff, here and there. Which of course, has a bit of … appeal, to me. And what’s mentioned, is accurate.

    We don’t hear too much about the Razzie Awards, or Rotten Tomatoes, for that matter. I looked at the lists. Didn’t see anything I really wanted to watch. The only one I took exception to, was the latest “Jurassic Park.” But it was on a minor list. Sequels, or something. Oh, come on. It’s just a lot of fun, and was worth a bowl of popcorn.

    I don’t know about “Die Hard” being a Christmas movie. Scatter a few Christmas Trees around, put carols on the elevator music, frame the time at the end of December, and throw in a party (which just as easily could have been retirement, or something.) Voila! Christmas movie. For me, a bit of a stretch. I bet even “A Christmas Story” had an armaments budget. That B B gun and BB’s must have cost something.

    Mid-life crisis. Most guys just get a hot car, and some new eye candy on the arm. Others run off to Colorado. 🙂 Of course, the whole thing is about …


    Well, there’s been quit a bit in the news about the chatty robot. Or, a robot that writes. More or less. I’ve been ignoring most of it. Probably, at my peril. Might be one of those tech things that might have impact, on me, at some later date. As when I missed the whole vinyl to disc music revolution. Boy, did I feel dumb! Actually, there’s panic in the classrooms. Little blighters might actually not have to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and actually think. Probably just a bump in the road. As with calculators in math classes. For awhile, in some places, they were banned. “We want to see the work!” said some teachers. Well, that didn’t last long. And, there’s another bit of software, that a teacher can run a little blighters magnum opus through, to see if it was artificially generated. There’s some panic, in some industries, that whole sections of employment might be wiped out. Such as people who write click-bait. Hmmm. Sad?

    Oh, I’m sure the journalist whose printer was “bricked” (an interesting new term), made out ok. Heck, there was probably other computers and printers, right in his own home. Or, the office. He could even resort to … his local library. He just couldn’t have, what he wanted, when he wanted it. But I must admit his concern, is a legitimate concern. Are you really buying something? Or just renting it?

    Elinor’s decent into word salad, is kind of random. When I think about it, it’s usually at the end of the day. Some of it, is, I think, the fear of making the wrong decision. We’ve all been there. But when I’m on my way out, with dinner and a movie in sight, I don’t have much patience for dithering. Bad, Lew.

    The food boxes, well, I noticed a few hours later there were still six in the community room. And, I saw a few outside doors, here and there in the hallways. How they managed to get there, I don’t know. But so much for the frozen chicken. Suzanne Who Always Has a Better Idea, thought it was just ducky, that we were back to doing things “the old way.” I’m probably the best one in shape, in the building. But just getting the boxes up to me and Elinor, well, I could feel it in my back.

    Circuit breakers. A good candidate for the Worry-A-Day calendar 🙂 . At least you recognized the problem, and took care of it, before it became critical. Laborious though that was. Now me, today I’m worrying about the Land of Stuff’s ballon, hovering over the north central U.S.. I figure it’s got a small nuclear device in it (it would only take a small one), that will be detonated when it gets more centrally located. There will be a resulting EMP, and it’s goodbye power grid, for two or three years. Or, longer.

    That was a great article, on your first snowfall. Now that’s a respectable looking snowfall. I chuckled over the glove-o-meter and beer-can-o-meter. Highly technical and scientific instruments. 🙂 Lew

  32. Claire,

    That’s a nasty tale about the technology failure. I fear all too common upcoming with what’s getting foisted on us.

    Seriously? 1,700 feet? I live at 2,100 feet. To go west of town, the climb is to 2,400 feet. Where the Snake and Columbia Rivers converge, which is on the path to brother-in-law’s, is 400 feet. Routine climbs and drops out here. “Mountain” is a relative term, I guess.

    My mother was warned about crossing the “big mountain” in Ohio in the early 1950s. She didn’t notice anything other than a rather small hill.


  33. Chris,

    Learning how to tinker…Isn’t that what YouTube is for? 😉 Seriously, however, having to learn from scratch and via trial and error takes a lot of time. And if the tinkering is with electricity via trial and error, well, there is a possibility of lethal errors.

    I never looked at it that way. You may be correct: past time spent tinkering may have led to the woodcarving. Dunno. I remember very clearly that the Princess and I went to many types of arts and crafts shows for years because, in her words, “You need to have a hobby besides gardening. You are NOT going to sit on the sofa and waste away drooling like your dad.” Yes, surprisingly, he had quit tinkering well before the Princess and I met. Of all the things we looked at and tried, carving is what stuck.

    What? WHAT? It’s a good idea to understand things before implementing them? You mean that I can’t just buy a few solar panels and maybe a wind turbine or two and some batteries and have instant access to eternal power? When did that happen?

    Okay, sarcasm off. Unfortunately, for too many things, people are used to “plug and play” without understanding even the basics involved. Something tells me things won’t end well.

    So you were at 44F? We were too. Of course, it has been about 20F at night. Yes, warming trend. And Thanks for the link to Australia’s first 2023 snowfall. Actually looked like home. 😉


  34. Hi DJ,

    True, learning by trial and error can be problematic. I’m not mucking around when mentioning that the market for electrical items has been flooded with stuff, where once they were sparse and hard to find. But the quality now leaves much to be desired, although some stuff is amazingly good. Anyway, I learned that lesson the hard way. In the past there was less stuff, but of higher quality and I had not appreciated that a shift had occurred, until encountering the incident. Everything seemed peachy before the incident. Then there was the incident. It’s a problem trying to work out which is which. Fortunately I’m dealing with extra low DC voltage, but even so a short spark could be a problem for say burns and eyesight.

    Hehe! Your lady is very wise indeed – and brave – to have spoken those words. Respect. I’ve mentioned to you before, but it is always worth reiterating that when people ask me how much money they need for retirement, I reply: They’ll need hobbies, friends and purpose. Some people get quite grumpy about that reply, but it’s good advice all the same. I also recall my mother sitting on the couch with a glass of whiskey night after night watching television. Makes the sensitive person want to do something else with their life. 😉

    Good to try different hobbies, also I tend to believe that the people you encounter form part of your story.

    Hehe! Well you could do that, but err, oh well, best to give things a go. I appreciate the sarcasm. But hey, it might work out too, although your winters, I dunno mate. The winters here worry me. 15 minutes of peak sunlight in a day on some days is not enough to run a household, let alone an industrial civilisation. I’ll chuck some photos in of the work I’ve done this week, you may find it to be of interest?

    Earlier today I was talking with a mate about the requirement to regularly monitor the system. We were discussing the possibility of data loggers, but my issue was that you can’t outsource responsibility with this stuff. Exactly, such an approach won’t end well, but that’s what people want.

    I’ve identified the next items in the power system which require an upgrade / overhaul. And we’ve been talking about how to put the new circuit breakers to the test, possibly next weekend. We want to test out their thermal properties before committing to replacing the remaining four breakers. The things are not cheap, so they have to earn their keep.

    There are plenty of similarities between your part of the world and here. It’s uncanny actually.



  35. Hi Pam,

    It’s really hard to know what goes through Ollie’s mind. The Editor was making a batch of raspberry jam late this afternoon. So I decided not to be a nuisance and absented myself and took the three dogs for a walk. Candidly, with the leads on all three, it may have been them taking me for a walk (possibilities of hitching the dogs together in a team to pull rocks back up the hill occurred to me). Whatever the case may be, Ollie left a big calling card near to a property which has another large dog. They may have met in their travels…

    Yeah, hey, another way to put that would be: If the device doesn’t look like it has a battery charger, it might not. Look, if the power plug pack provides a consistent voltage output, the whole thing might be OK, but I don’t trust those things because weird things can happen to the mains power supply voltages and frequencies. Other people may have greater faith in technology than I.

    I’ve been worrying about supplying too much water, so I absolutely agree that can be a problem. In this instance though the tomatoes are mostly relying upon rainwater this year. Yup, that’s my thinkerin’ too, the air temperatures have just been too cold. And most people think of down under as one huge arid land! Mostly true, but with exceptions, and this mountain range sticks up like a pimple on the backside of the planet. And it catches moist Antarctic derived air, and some bonkers tropical storms from the Indian Ocean, and some super crazy Pacific Ocean storms, and maybe some other stuff from the Southern Ocean. It’s hard to keep up with the storms. 😉



  36. Hi Lewis,

    I agree, that isn’t something I’ve experienced either so I can’t really relate. Possibly like you I have felt that some winters went on a bit long. But then I do spend as much time outside during winter as possible. Other peoples mileage may vary. And when doing hard work, despite being wintry conditions, I’m able to wear a t-shirt and just suck up whatever feeble rays the sun provides at that time of year. The other thing is I’m just not wired to be down. It’s not me. Other people enjoy those feelings, and that’s cool, it would be awkward if we were all the same, like ants or lemmings or something like that.

    A riff-raff filter? That’s good thinking. 😉 Yes, the old timers around these parts have told me on plenty of occasions that if people can survive two winters, they might be around for longer than that. A lot of people just can’t hack the winters, and to my mind it isn’t that cold and damp. A wise choice too, and hey, I do the same. It’s a bit like my regular daily stretching routine. There are some days where other things to do seem to be better options, however common sense suggests that the stretch has to be done, regardless – like your getting outside during the winter months. If there were a better alternative I’d do that, but there ain’t.

    Are you serious about the medical bankruptcy? It is an eerie thought, and truly I would imagine that many folks would hide before returning donate organs purchased on credit. And talk about slightly soiled! Didn’t even know that there was a different film with a similar title. Another mystery to ponder. The films probably isn’t as good, or as quirky.

    I’ll try and somehow sneak the purchase of the book past the Editor for her birthday, she’ll love it. Interestingly, it wasn’t just Mr King who was affected by the lock downs. I really enjoy my quiet time, but at other times enjoy my time spent with other folks – the quiet spaces are the time where the social batteries recharge. But the isolation I noted did not bring me closer to other people. The advertising suggested that: Staying apart, keeps us together, and I wasn’t so sure about that myself. Everyone’s different in that regard, and I’ve spoken with people who thrived during that time. Oh well. Another mystery.

    The folks preparing the Razzie awards might feel pressure to just add nominations? And you’d imagine that sooner or later, they might start taking themselves too seriously. Always a risk.

    Oh no, here I have to differ, and I assure you that a great many people consider that the film: ‘Die Hard’ is a Christmas film. Oh yeah, it’s happening… 🙂 Confirmed. Hehe! Stop it! I almost spat my dinner all over the keyboard whilst laughing about that. Funny stuff, but you might be right there. Things were different in those days.

    Peggy Lee appears to endorse the epicurean school of philosophy. Nothing wrong with that. My leaning is a bit more rock, William Shatner – Common People. Same, same philosophy. Your point does raise some valid questions. Probably gets heaps of people into trouble that observation of yours.

    Me too, like you I’ve been ignoring the chatty bot thing and read someone else’s experience with the thing. Anyway, it is a chatty bot thing, and could be rather dull. It seemed dull and lacked spontaneity to me. I’m guessing that the end point of such programs are to homogenise thoughts. It’s an admirable goal, but life is far more random than the chatty bot could describe – after all the program might not allow for such randomness. I desire to live and experience. Chatty bots are a dead end.

    Hehe! Hey, my accounting teacher in high school banned calculators, even under exam conditions, except for the final state wide exam. He was old school, but I respected him. It interests me that occasionally the interweb bot plagscam turns up here from time to time to suck up the text. Yeah, good on it, it would be super weird if someone pinched an essay of mine. Anyway, had to laugh, a mate and I were discussing English lessons and he said that he’d written an essay on Macbeth at school and was marked poorly not because the essay wasn’t well written, it was because the teacher did not agree with the conclusions of the essay. Bots are a bit like that.

    Bricked is a new term, thanks for mentioning it. I agree, the whinge is twofold, was the author simply whingeing, or was he being shaken down for mad cash? The truth may lay in between the two extremes. Cheap printers are cheap for a reason, but then many things which are surprisingly cheap up front, come with surprises. Your point is incidentally something which bothers me, and I do my best to avoid. Best not to be the source of the flow…

    Ah, thank you for the explanation regarding Elinor’s motives. I assume you’ve had plenty of opportunity to consider that? Like you, I’d probably wind things up.

    Don’t you have a trolley for moving the boxes? And have you done your stretches today?

    Yeah, apparently the official story was that it was a commercial device gone astray. Sure, if you say so… It’s not there for your benefit, that’s almost certain. Probably needs some shooting down, but I’ve heard arguments against that option, but I know what I’d do.

    Glad you enjoyed the basic measurement tech. That stuff works. 🙂



  37. Yo, Chris – Yes, I’ve gathered your not wired to be down. At least you’re not one of those cheery morning people. That would be ghastly.

    Pretty hard to hide, these days. Though there was a recent news report about finally catching up with some Mafioso, who’d been on the lamb for 15 years. He was managing a pizza parlor.

    It’s award season. I saw an article about the Sundance Film Festival. Didn’t see much that would interest me. Though there is an Australian horror film I’ll have to watch out for. “Talk to Me.” One of the other films was described as a “painful viewing experience.” Just what I look for in a film. 🙁 A lot of the offerings this year, tend toward the painfully woke.

    LOL. And a great many people can be wrong. I won’t cite any examples. They are too numerous.

    So, our deathless prose is scooped up and stored somewhere? I worried about that. That all our witty repartee would be lost. A heavily edited version might make a good book, someday. 🙂

    Rather than some loan shark, the key to Elinor’s affliction is “random.” She worries about all kinds of possible random events. “What are the odds,” seems never to occur to her.

    Oh, yes. We have trollies. AKA carts. If someone hasn’t parked them in their apartments for some misguided attempt at decor. But those boxes are heavy. And, I AM 73. But, no, I hadn’t done my stretching. I am re-watching Great Courses / “The Science of Natural Healing.” That always gets me jazzed up an back on track.

    Basic measurement tech. Always handy when you can’t find your measuring tape in the kitchen junk drawer. Every kitchen has one.

    Today’s worry of the day is Co2 detectors. Atlantic Magazine had an article about them. “I bought a Co2 Detector and it Broke Me.” Quit amusing, in spots.

    Yesterday I cleaned the seeds and pith (I do not have a lisp) out of six bell peppers, and they’re on trays in the freezer. I’m watching Ken Burns “Mark Twain.” The weather is the usual wind and rain, but nothing to outrageous. Even Prof. Mass is rather bored. Lew

  38. Hi Chris,

    That picture of Ollie in front of the wood looks so much like Leo and same expression.

    Back from Florida this morning. Good time but much of Florida is disturbing. We did manage to miss an entire week of very cold, snowy weather and now that we’ve returned it’s turning warmer again.

    Cecily and I spent 4 days with my friend in Naples. She really showed us around. Probably my favorite spot of the entire trip was the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Conservancy. https://corkscrew.audubon.org/about/sanctuary

    She took us on a tour of the destruction from the hurricane. Developers are buying up ocean front property that was destroyed and of course have plans to contruct large condo buildings. She’s an experienced kayaker and we went out for a 3+ hour paddle in the backwaters of the Gulf of Mexico and through a Mangrove tunnel that looked like this (not a pic of us)

    We then went about 1 1/2 hours north to stay with my sister and brother-in-law who have taken to renting a place for 3 months each winter. Well, wouldn’t be my cup of tea. It was in a large gated development with a very pretentious entrance. Pretty much cookie-cutter homes. Cecily described it as sterile. Still had a good time and we did enjoy the warmth and visit some of the local areas. Only other time I’ve been to Florida was to take Patrick and Michael to Disneyworld so enjoyed learning about the area and seeing all the different birds, alligators and crocodiles. Still not something I’d rush and do again.


  39. Hi Lewis,

    I gather that you also require some time early on in the day for the morning to come into focus? Hey, here’s a good job to avoid, early morning breakfast radio. Sometimes you just know. How they can be so perky and upbeat at that time of the day is something which is an enduring mystery.

    Yes, the reach is rather extensive these days isn’t it? However, if you were on the run, the hard question needs to be asked: why would a person be out there on social media? A pretty dumb choice really given the sort of dob in mentality which exists now. Some of the stories I heard during the recent bout of crazy over the past couple of years chilled my blood at what our fellow man is capable of. I recall someone posting old holiday photos during the lock down as a sort of cheer up friends and family effort, and the people ended up with a fine for supposedly being where they shouldn’t have been. The fine was later over turned, but still, it’s not good. The old timers have a saying about putting your head up, and it getting chopped off. Was the mafioso dude any good at running the pizza parlour? That’s what I want to know.

    The Sundance folks are a bit arty for my tastes, and fair enough if this year it is all woke this and that, but I dunno, I enjoy films which are themselves enjoyable. Recounting a good story is the primary purpose of a story, although sure there are other aspects. Mate, some books, films, poetry and music are written for a select audience and that’s an economic option. I’m probably not part of that select audience. For a start I’d make candid observations and then everyone would get upset with me, there would be the most dreadful of cancellations, and I’d just get on with my life. And yes exactly, life is short, do we need to subject ourselves to a ‘painful viewing experience’. Self flagellation was never in vogue, until maybe recently… Bad Chris! 🙂

    Hehe! I’ve been wrong plenty of times too. Part of the greater learning experience which is life, unless a person refuses to learn from past mistakes. Makes you wonder what Sun Tzu would quip about such silly business? But yeah, the list is very extensive.

    Well, it’s been said before that people are awful at analysing risks. I’d never really considered that aspect of life before until I read a book authored by a couple of amusing statisticians. Who’d have thunk that lot could be funny? But the authors were. The book was titled: Panicology. The name sort of says it all, and the book was a good read. Nothing new, but sort of highlighted the central tenet of your proposition – possibly good meat for a doctoral thesis?

    Truly, the world would be a darker place without our witty repartee. 🙂 And hasn’t it been fun?

    What? You’re pulling my leg there with the decor bit. An alternative theory suggests that the residents are hoarding them for the most crucial of events: In case the trolleys are needed at some unspecified time in the future. That’s my thinking, and they’d be handy weapons against the undead. Trolleys are made super strong, nice welding.

    I promise you this: If ever the opportunity arises, consider yourself properly nagged about regular stretching. Don’t worry, it’s not just you subject to this, a mate copped an earful the other day on this subject. He took the words pretty well all things considered. And looked thoughtful. I even pulled out the old ‘local earthworks bloke mens yoga story’. He was alright that bloke and we enjoyed many a chat.

    I often use my foot to measure length around here, after all that’s attached and there for use. The tape measure needs to be grabbed from the tool kit box.

    Hehe! I’ve never seen nor heard of a CO2 detector down under. Sure, they’re probably about, but not commonly found items. You do breathe the stuff out you know. Fungi also do that, just thought I’d chuck that probably useless bit of info in.

    That’s funny. What did Ken Burns have to say about Mark Twain (not his real name)? He’s very quotable, and would have been able to sing for his supper, in any echelon. But deep down, I suspect he was happiest with his dogs.

    Better get writing!



  40. Yo, Chris – I figure those early morning cheery radio folks are for an audience who are equally cheery. And, no, that’s not me. Not my people.

    People don’t seem to “get” the reach of social media. When we had the riot, in our capitol building, and I started seeing pictures of people marching around, doing damage, waving their I-devices around and taking selfies … well, my first thought was, “This is not going to end well.” And, it hasn’t, for well over a thousand people. Pretty open and shut cases, when there’s tons of photographic evidence. Also, the locators on their cell phones.

    But what I wonder about the guy with the vacation pictures … someone must have blown the whistle on him. Someone must have tipped off the authorities. Either someone he’d run afoul of, or, some “well meaning” citizen. Gods save me from well meaning citizens.

    Don’t know if the Mafioso dude made a good pizza, or not. As I won’t pay the prices, anymore, for commercial pizza.

    Re: Sundance. I could care less if a director is questioning his / her / their gender. I just want to know if it’s a good movie, or not.

    Humor is likely to pop up in the least expected places. Atlantic had an article, last night, titled “Your Lying Mind.” Actually, not much of an article. Just a survey of interesting books about how the mind works. But, the lead in was kind of funny. Apparently, Wiki-hoopla has an entry titled “List of Cognitive Biases.” Couldn’t check it out, myself, as it has slipped into a temporal anomaly. But they mentioned a couple. “The Zeigarnik Effect.” That’s when “…uncompleted or interrupted tasks are remembered better than completed ones.” (No wonder my mind is all cluttered up.) Or, the “IKEA Effect.” “…the tendency for people to place a disproportionately high value on objects that they partially assembled themselves.” I can think of examples of that. Paint by number sets. The story about cake mixes not being popular, until the manufacturers made them so that you had to add an egg to them. They started off just too easy.

    Yes. It’s been fun. And an ongoing learning experience. And, fun.

    Nag on, Garth. 🙂 I’m just feeling guilty for not keeping my side up.

    We had a smoke detector, and a Co2 detector, in each of our units. Now they’ve been combined into one handy unit. Which were placed last year. I figure they spy on, or listen to us, too. 🙂 Hmm. Might be an interesting rumor, to float.

    The trollies are made of heavy, high impact plastic. They’re pretty old, but seem to be holding up. Maybe we should get new ones, with GPS locating devices?

    Well, Ken Burns had a lot to say about Mark Twain. Or, Mark Twain had a lot to say about Mark Twain. Also, his friends and relatives. And several Mark Twain scholars. I mean, the documentary was a two disc, three hour presentation.

    There’s been some loose talk on here about tinkerers. When they were talking about Twain’s “Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,” they mentioned the time traveler was a tinkerer.

    Speaking of dogs, I suppose you’ve heard about Bobi, the latest, oldest dog in the world. Lives in Portugal. He’s 30+ … and counting.

    I’ve started reading the 20th anniversary edition of “Bowling Alone.” There’s some interesting stuff, in there. The idea of “social capital” was “discovered” at least five times, during the 20th century. And the concept really didn’t go anywhere, until the 1980s. And that social capital can be “bridging” or “bonding.” And, that it can be two sided. Used for good, or evil.

    You’ve got to write. I’ve got to walk the dog and head down to the Club.

    Worry of the day. Since it’s Sunday, I think I’ll worry about declining church attendance. 🙂 Lew

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