Beyond Comprehension

It was a sunny day way back in 1997 when an inkling that not all was right with the world, sneakily crept into my awareness. Sandra and I were at an auction for a house just around the corner. In Melbourne, house auctions are often a very public display of the actual monetary value of a property. It takes nerves of steel to ride through one of those things, but in some ways it’s a great equaliser because anyone in the audience can see who’s placing a bid. This auction sure drew the crowds. Two street frontages, and near to the local train station and shops. Big backyard too, not something you’d usually see in a house in the grungy, but up and coming inner city suburb of Yarraville.

The auctioneer called for final bids. Going Once, Going Twice, Going Three Times, Sold! A solid thwack could be heard as the auctioneer swished a heavy rolled pamphlet in a graceful downwards arc. His free hand stopped the momentum. A Samurai grand master could not have trained as hard and executed the swing as precisely. The crowd clapped politely at the free street theatre. The highest bidders were quickly whisked away to sign the paperwork lest they escape. Excited chatting people happily dispersed, possibly on the hunt for the perfect latte.

The thing is, the auction left me with an awful question to ponder. How was the house suddenly worth more than expectations, when nothing of any note had been done to it? It was a brand new experience. Twenty six years later and that big old balloon has just been going up, up, and away into the clouds. It’s a bit bonkers really, if only because wages have never kept up with that increase in house prices. But also on a more practical note, the things are there to keep the rain off your head, and warm on an otherwise cold spring evening.

Plenty of people have made a lot of mad cash on this housing bubble. That’s called speculation: The idea that something will be worth more, just because. A few elections ago one of the major parties campaigned on changing some tax laws so as to make speculation on houses less attractive. They didn’t win the election, and the policy got dumped. I’m left wondering at what point the system no longer makes any sense.

Every year at about this time, the bill for the house insurance arrives in the mail. What horror have they got in store for us this year? Two years ago, we shopped around, saved some mad cash, but again the amount is back on the right track – upwards. And the quotes are worse elsewhere. Anyway, this year the premium increased 32%. Serious people advise us, and they might even believe it, that inflation is only hovering around 7%. Sure, whatever. But a 32% annual rise is pretty impressive in anyone’s books.

Maths isn’t my thing, but I can use a spreadsheet and the back of an envelope. A rough rule of thumb suggests that a 7% annual increase means prices will double in 10 years. But what the heck will an annual 32% increase do over the same time period? Probably blow my mad cash reserves and income right out of the water, that’s what! Anyway, here’s what I worked out:

Graph of actual and forecast house insurance

The green line projects just how much of my annual income would be required to pay for this single insurance bill. On that basis, by 2031 half an hour of every paid hour I’d work, anywhere, would go towards that one bill. An impressive achievement. It’s worth noting, that instead of applying the trend-line of the increasing % each year, I just used this years increase to keep things simple. The results would have been a whole lot worse had I used the trend-line.

It’s truly and utterly bonkers. One of economic issues during The Great Depression was that there was too little mad cash, chasing too much stuff. I’m guessing that sooner or later, Western civilisation might just get to find out what the other end of that story looks like. And people voted for this outcome.

I was feeling a little bit unwell when I received the bill in the mail. Afterwards, I went down hill health-wise for a few days and just rested up. I’d like to say the bill was responsible for my ill health, but that would be telling tall tales. It was a good time to be sick because the weather was awful.

Rain and cold air swept in from the Southern Ocean

By the time the sun shone, I was feeling better, and was able to potter around the place, just doing maintenance activities. All of the farm machines had their air filters cleaned, oil levels checked and fuel taps tested. A fuel tap which had failed, was replaced on a walk behind slasher / mower. All of the machines were run for a few minutes each, and I’m aiming to do this maintenance work every two months. It’s cheaper and quicker than sending them off for expensive repairs because they’ve sat unused for too long.

Washed foam air filters drying in front of the wood heater

We’re getting pretty good at repairing these small farm machines, and last week Sandra and I determined which exact component of a small mower had failed. Respect to the good people (Chickanic / Steve’s Small Engine Saloon / TheRepairSpecialist / Clever Fix) who produce astounding quality YouTube videos providing solid advice and guidance. An order for the replacement $15 part was placed with a supplier. The part arrived in the mail during the week. And on a sunny day over the weekend, Sandra installed the part whilst Dame Plum and I sat to the side enjoying the warm spring sunshine. The previously dead machine started up first pull, and I’m pretty sure we all did a happy dance to celebrate the achievement, even Dame Plum joined in.

Not all machines are made to be repairable. We had a failed batch of yoghurt last week. We back slop from one batch of yoghurt to the next, as well as adding a tiny bit of new bacteria each week. But with a ruined batch, you can’t back slop because of the contamination. You just have to start all over again. The next batch worked. Then the batch afterwards didn’t work. In order to discover where the fault lay, we eliminated every possibility but one. The machine was stuffed. As Sherlock Holmes was wont to arrogantly quip: “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” Personality flaws aside, the fictional dude was correct!

The Digital Display shows 44’C / 111’F
A more accurate thermometer shows 31’C / 88’F

The batch felt hot, but it wasn’t hot enough for the bacteria to set the yoghurt properly. The lesson here: Digital displays are perhaps sometimes indicative only, and accuracy is to be found elsewhere. I hold some doubts as to whether I’ll be able to fix this machine, or even whether it is economically worthwhile to do so given it has worked continuously for nearly a decade.

We squeezed a small bucket of the Meyer lemons and froze the juice for later use. I have rather been enjoying a splash of lemon juice in my tea during my hours of need!

Meyer Lemon Juice gets frozen and used as necessary

Spring is certainly here. The very first of the seasons asparagus spears have begun poking their heads through the soil, and gracing our meals.

Asparagus, lovely stuff

Onto the flowers:

Rosemary soaks up the extra spring warmth
A lovely Ruby flower and some Daffodils
Cherry blossoms with Echium’s off to the side
Acer Negundo flowers hang from the branches
The surrounding forest is full of the bright colour of Silver Wattles
The first Rhododendron of the season

The temperature outside now at about 10am is 11’C (52’F). So far this year there has been 622.0mm (24.5 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 610.2mm (24.0 inches)

36 thoughts on “Beyond Comprehension”

  1. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the correction with Chicory Coffee over in the south east of your country. It has an even longer tradition from what I was reading, having it’s origins in France with the English naval blockade during the Napoleonic Wars. The French then brought the Chicory root concept to Louisiana where it was implemented during the Union blockades. It always fascinates me to read about how people adapt to circumstances when sudden new conditions present themselves. A lot of caffeine withdrawal headaches would have ensued once supplies first ran out. You’d be fine. 🙂 Have you ever come across chicory coffee in your travels? I noticed in the article that there was a suggestion that the wealthy during the blockades, somehow still had access to coffee. True, tea camellia doesn’t grow well enough here to be a worthy substitute – even in the greenhouse. Probably back to Chicory… I reckon it would grow well in your part of the world? I’ve seen it growing wild on the roadsides around these parts. Might have to cultivate some.

    Hehe! Your rat observation caused a good laugh. I can’t argue with your logic. Save the rats! 🙂 Oh, far out.

    It’s such a good concept, the psychology of previous investment. It’s funny you mention “What I was looking for was some kind of nostalgia for previous prices”. Years ago, it might have been during the recession of the 1990’s, I read a book which discussed not quite that issue, but it was sort of similar. There’d been research into how during hard economic times, consumers had a return to nostalgia with their choices and it applied to things such as a move in consumption to old styles of chocolate bars (Cherry Ripe was the example used, if memory serves me correctly) and all sorts of products you wouldn’t expect. As to the economics though, I suspect that people adapt to lower quality, before they reduce quantity – but there is only so far you can take that response.

    Hopefully the weather co-operates with the transport of the stuff for auction. Easier at this time of year than later on though, I get that. Hopefully no roundabouts of death are involved in the journey? Hey, just for something different, it rained tonight. Just took Ollie out in the dark to see what’s going on, and I reckon I spotted a large ginger cat. Don’t know how I feel about that. I was going to send Dame Plum out on an intercept, but honestly, cats are the whole next level to foxes, so I don’t really know how it would turn out, and so hesitated. Dame Plum is in a bad mood this evening. I think she’s bored because of the recent illness in the household which has restricted her activities. Anyway, the dogs smelled something earlier this evening which had them on high alert, and that was near to where Ollie and I spotted the cat. Hmm.

    Did you end getting all the packing and labelling done?

    They’re not a commonly found genre of books. Does the book work for you in that format? It’s an intriguing concept. A friend of mine is into graphic novels, and they’re pretty astounding, but fictional.

    Oh, began a new book today. A collection of Jack Vance short stories: The Moon Moth and other stories. So far, the short stories are pretty good. Punchy, and they deliver. One of the stories made absolutely no sense whatsoever, until the final chapter when all was explained and the protagonist was shown to be something of a monster (as in a very noble, but single minded character, and thus deeply flawed). What was it called again, err, The New Prime. Quite good. I don’t mind the short story format because authors have to get to the point. It would be excellent training of the narrative facility.

    Go Lewis! Respect. Double respect. 🙂 But yes, I agree the beets have to be preserved in vinegar, or strangely even the freshly sliced beetroot’s don’t taste all that different to the preserved. Fried egg, yes that is commonly seen in burgers down under, although with a runny yoke it can be messy – and a good one usually achieves an egg which is just past the runny stage. Flattening the daylights out of an egg is seen, but is it correct? Wars have been fought over less! 😉 Nice work, and I’m serious about the respect bit because you’ve always sounded very dubious about the entire beetroot in burgers concept.

    Hope the Chef was in fine form?

    88% humidity near to 90’F makes for very unpleasant conditions. And such days we get up early and, finish work early. If anyone can work out a better way, I’d be happy to hear. And we don’t have air con cooling either, just ceiling fans.

    Oh no! Disaster has struck. The Editor now has you-know-what. She seemed fine this morning, but has now crashed out. Fortunately we were able to cancel all of her work and social stuff for the coming week. On a positive note for the household, I feel good and can keep things running sort of smoothly. Maybe…



  2. Hello Chris
    I am pleased to hear that you are feeling better and hope that Sandra will soon be better also.
    Summer has finally returned here after 2 dreadful months. My elder daughter is here for 2 months from Australia. She is swimming in the sea every day.
    My tomatoes plants are rotting, it has been far too wet.


  3. Yo, Chris – Yes, I know exactly what being priced out of the real estate market feels like. No wonder people are so cranky, these days. Makes me cranky.

    That’s a pretty eye watering rise in your house insurance. I belong to a retired Washington State employees lobbying group, and I get their news letters. They offer some kind of health insurance, that I’d been meaning to look into. But there last newsletter said it jumped 22%, this year. They had a chart of premiums. Well beyond my income.

    It’s interesting looking at % of income spent for this and that. Of course, it’s all averages. Americans spend 11.3% of their income on food. Back in 1960, it was 17.5%. Dropped due to all those lush agricultural subsidies. 30% of income is spent on rent. Which is a whack figure, as I know people who spend far, far more. But, averages, again. Medical care? The average American spends $12,914 per year, on health care. The medical / pharma industrial complex eats up 18.3% of our GDP. Gross Domestic Product. So, what happens when all those percentages add up to more than 100%? That’s where were headed, and a lot of people are already there.

    Emotional stress and even heavy duty brain work, burn off a heck of a lot of calories.

    I thought the photo was of some weird, Australian kind of donut. 🙂 I see. Drying fuel filters.

    RIP, yogurt maker. Though a decade is a pretty good run. But it does tic one off. As with, my computer. Perfectly fine, if they didn’t keep diddling with the software. Well, I suppose they have to make money, somehow. Planned obsolescence, indeed.

    I envy your asparagus. But, one needs a bit of space and a long term plan. The Rosemary is very pretty. Our venerable old Rosemary bush is doing it’s resting period. I give it a shot of water, every once in awhile. But not too often.

    The Daffodils and Rhodies are quit pretty. We won’t see the like for months, yet. Lew

  4. Yo, Chris – But to your epistle … Caffeine withdrawal. The major contributing cause of murder and mayhem 🙂 . Chicory coffee, as I remember it, was very dark and bitter. Almost like a Kona blend. But I’m sure what I had was a chicory / coffee blend.

    The book I’m reading states that nostalgia is a big player in sales. Evoking tastes, smells, feelings. Plays on our wants, real or manipulated.

    No round-abouts-of-death, between here and the auction house. They’re down in an industrial district, so, unregulated rail crossings are about all I have to watch out for. I was done packing up by 7, last night, so got a good night’s sleep. Five boxes of Christmas tat, plus an artificial 6′ tree. I was really sweating the weather, and keeping a sharp eye on the forecast and radar. Managed to hit a little dry patch. I did keep a few of the Barclay lead miniature figures of skiers, skaters, sledders and one of the Santa. I got some of those from Uncle Larry. They don’t take up much space. The auction folks said to give them a call, around Thansgiving (the end of November) to arrange for a pick up of the stuff to go to the New Year’s Day auction. So I’ve got about a month and a half of lead time. I’ll need it. 🙂

    Feral kitties can be a problem. So can bored dogs. I wonder where the Moggie came from? People tend to dump them out in the country. Julia, who lies pretty far out is always finding cats, dogs and chickens, that people have dumped.

    Do graphic novels work. Some do, some don’t. I don’t care for anime, at all, which is a big thing, here. Stephen King’s kid, Joe Hill, did one called “Locke and Key,” which was quit good. It ran several volumes. Soon to be a TV series, I think. Last week, I picked up a volume of “The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.” LOL. That was a walk down memory lane. Not exactly a graphic novel. They were a LONG running cartoon series, in the underground newspapers. The library got 5 hardbound collections. I got one. That’s enough.

    I just wasn’t tasting much of the sharp tang of vinegar. Which I prefer. I also just stuck to lettuce and tomatoes. I didn’t want to “muddy” the flavors. There were fried onions on offer, but I even passed on those. I’ll eventually give it another whirl, if I can find some good pickled beets.

    I’m sorry to hear about the Editor, going down. Yup, you’ll be picking up the slack, for a few days. She should have made you sleep in the chicken coop 🙂 . Our You Know What numbers are climbing. There’s loose talk around about bringing back the mask mandates. OK by me. I don’t have a problem with them. Lew

  5. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for your kind thoughts and words. Sandra was entirely out of action today, and slept for most of it. Here’s hoping that tomorrow will be better. Made a lovely rice noodle and vegetable soup for dinner this evening. It seemed to be appreciated. What food would you recommend in such circumstances?

    Hmm. Hope you and your daughter enjoy a lovely visit, and dare I say it, but I feel must lodge a formal complaint (or at least a minor whinge) if your daughter cheekily took the weather with her! 🙂

    Sorry to hear that, and after three wet and cold growing seasons I can empathise with your tomato plight. Hmm, it is possible you may have a warmer winter this year. Climate extremes are something of a pain, but what do you do, other than keep on going.



  6. Hi Lewis,

    People are cranky alright, and I reckon the whole destroying of the social dream is at the heart of the matter. And if the dream becomes unobtainable, I reckon people start to drop out. The insurance story is a much bigger story than it appears, because after all I can drop that expense and take my chances – but if you have a mortgage, you are legally obliged to pay for insurance to cover the risk of the lender (whom has an ownership interest in the asset), or else a person might find themselves technically in default. I have a gut feeling that people haven’t thought the problem through that far, but they will. I hear you about the crankiness.

    Whoa! Isn’t the cost of the health insurance already sky-high? And exactly, that is my entire point: What happens when obligations exceed the 100% mark (of whatever basis)?

    They sure do! I’d read an article long ago discussing people in psych wards who used to do repetitive behaviours for most of the day, like rocking back and forth. Apparently those folks burn through a huge amount of energy each day. If there are ever any supply issues, then things might get grim. I’m kind of reminded of the awful prison scene in Mr King’s ‘The Stand’ – creates quite the lasting memory of where not to be caught during a serious pandemic.

    I like how your brain works! 🙂 Your doughnut idea might finally make our fortunes, because we could tap into the mechanics and industrial market by producing doughnuts that look like air filters. Except that occasionally the two products might get mixed up, and then there’d be labelling issues. It’s starting to sound like a headache producing scheme, don’t you reckon? Drats, foiled again!

    The yoghurt maker worked for a decade, so it’s not a bad machine, so yeah RIP and stuff. “Alas, poor Yoghurt Maker. I knew it, Chris.” 😉 Hey, fortunately, unlike your computer, the yoghurt maker doesn’t require software upgrades – that I’m aware of. How’s the hunt for a new computer going? You haven’t mentioned it for a while, so I kind of guessed that your noble steed was still doing the rounds.

    Are you entirely certain you don’t want some sulphur crested cockatoos? Little vandals, they ripped off all of the new fronds on the recently planted out tree fern. I’ve now wrapped chicken wire around the top of the plant to stop the damage, and set Ollie onto three of them the other day. They have no business being here, and all the other birds hate on them, and will attack them on sight. Oh, and some years they will cut the asparagus spears at ground level, and not consume the spears, and just leave them there half munched. We’ve got three well established beds of asparagus, and they’re a real giver of a plant. We feed the soil in those beds a couple of hand fulls of sea salt every year. Not quite Epsom salts! 🙂

    Good stuff with the Rosemary. They’re tough as old boots, but can be over-watered.

    Caffeine withdrawal may in fact be the core reason for the overall general cranky / tanty episodes seen in the public sphere? Murder and Mayhem! Very funny. Thanks for the on the ground report as to chicory coffee. I might see if I can track down some so as to see what it’s like. There’s a school of thought which suggests that the bitter flavours early in a meal ease overall digestion, but who knows whether that is an old-wives tale? Dunno.

    Speaking of digestion, the Editor crashed and burned today and slept most of the day. I was feeling fine, but had to go and work (I’m booked weeks in advance, and have little fat in the schedule). Anyway, got home tonight and pretty much ran the household single handedly (not a state of affairs I’d enjoy on a permanent basis, but one can adapt) and everything ran smoothly. The Editor woke up to find a coffee and a little tiny slice of New York cheesecake which I picked up whilst in the big smoke. Fortunately, she was well enough to consume both. And with your chicken soup idea at the back of my mind (thanks!), I made a flat rice noodle, vegetable, mushroom and salmon soup. It was pretty nice actually. Mushrooms are a bit cheaper at the moment, due to some sort of incident over in the eastern part of the state. Apparently, it was wild mushrooms, not the ones you buy at the store, but people can get a bit freaked out from time to time.

    Hmm, do you think a return to nostalgia, is a kind of reaching for a sense of comfort (when things were perhaps simpler?) Mate, trust me on this, and hopefully you can relate, but when people hanker back for the good ol’ days of their youth, I tell you truly, they aren’t thinking about my household childhood situation. Best forgotten, if I may say so! 😉 Far out.

    Well there is something I’d never expect in your country: unregulated rail crossings. Seriously. Every rail crossing here (excluding perhaps tourist rail lines) has boom gates and flashing lights when a train is approaching. Now whether people ignore those boom gates is another issue… They’re doing a huge project to separate out major train crossings from roads, and usually they tunnel the road under and put the train line on a bridge (without changing the original grade). In some parts of the city, they’ve put the trains on elevated lines so as to remove the crossings. That work must be costing a small fortune, but the more of them that get done (and they’ve done a huge number of them so far) you’d imagine they’d get better at it? Maybe.

    An industrial area is a good locale for the auction house, especially if it is on line as well. Ah, I he was your favourite uncle, right. Those miniature figures have sentimental value, and that’s important as a link to the memories, so good idea. Time goes fast.

    Yeah, it is a problem. Tonight there were two sets of eyes, maybe about fifty feet apart (the sets, not the eyes, probably true for Godzilla! 🙂 ). Like most new forest experiences, I’m observing and learning. I could simply head out and shoot them, but the thing is, where there is one, there are bound to be more. Best to know what I’m dealing with before acting. Might also ask around to see if anyone has an orange cat.

    A friend has one volume of “The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.” LOL indeed! I might read that one day. The cartoons were accompanied by a lot of text from what I recollect of it. Probably very subversive!

    When I was ill, the Editor removed herself to the couch, and now it’s my turn, so no need for the chicken coop. Thankfully, and I’m not passing on your idea, lest it sprout! Gawd, it would have been cold some nights. The masks freak me out a bit. Deep down I think I’ve got a bit much cave man in my DNA, and when wearing the mask it messes with my peripheral vision and I always feel a bit jumpy as if a big cat is circling in with intentions to dine upon my corpse. So yeah, I could do without them, but if other people want to, totally cool with me.



  7. Hi Lewis cont…

    Forgot to mention, when I served the noodle soup dinner, I chucked a lit candle in a silver holder on the table for a bit of ambience. 🙂 I think it went over well, for the Editor is now once again asleep!



  8. Hello Chris
    I have no idea as to what to offer to eat to anyone with what shall not be named. I suppose, whatever they are prepared to eat. It is very individual. I’ll never forget that a small pizza was what I ate for my Christmas dinner.
    My apologies for asking daughter to bring your weather with her, but we are enjoying it.


  9. Yo, Chris – Speaking of insurance and all, there was this article, yesterday.

    The thing that caught my eye was the “…build stronger and better.” Maybe build lighter and more easily replaceable? I can think of a lot of cultures that build with more flimsy (?) materials, in case a structure has to be replaced. The reason the Japanese went the paper / bamboo route, was the frequent earthquakes and typhoons.

    I see Lake Titicaca is drying up. That high lake up in the Andes, on the Peru / Bolivia border.

    A long time ago, I read an article that naturally thin people move more. Fidget, actually. That whole knee bounce thing. Burns up incredible amounts of calories, over time.

    Maybe donuts could be adapted as air filters? 🙂

    I’m kind of hoping I can wait til the auction money comes in, before I take the plunge on a computer. I have enough in savings, now, but don’t want to take such a big hit, until I have more of a cushion.

    More than happy to take some Sulfur Crested Cockatoos off your hands. Then our fortunes would REALLY be made.

    Stranger things than coffee withdraw has been blamed for murder and mayhem. See: The Twinkie Defense.

    I read about your mushroom “incident.” Accident, or murder?

    It’s nice you’re doing nice things for the Editor. The candle was a nice touch. I think I mentioned, a few times at the Club, when some young dude is complaining about his “old lady,” I ask when was the last time he left a rose on her pillow, for no particular reason. Some guys are clueless.

    I finished the book on toys and advertising, etc.. And, figured something out about myself. Back when I was a kid (say, under 12), and long before that, children’s toys relied pretty much on imagination. You played with them, and made the stories up, as you went along. Then came branding. Everything from Star Wars to He-Man to the Transformers. And, due to TV and movies, they came with a predigested story line.

    So, I got to thinking about the toys we got, back in the 1950s. Every couple of years, we’d get some kind of a play set, either my brother or I. Usually, for Christmas. I remember the gas station, a prehistoric world, knight’s castle, American Civil War, and a western fort. Anyway. None of this stuff was a particular “brand.” It was all pretty generic, with stamped out plastic figures and animals. And plenty of infrastructure. But it occurred to me, I think I’ve finally figured out where my love of all things miniature comes from. It’s from the play sets.

    The tracks in the industrial areas, are, I think, considered “spur” lines. Not as heavily regulated.

    Yes, the Freak Brothers were pretty underground and alternative. I had forgotten that several of the adventures revolved around Fat Fredey’s cat. Who seemed to have no name, other than cat. 🙂 Lew

  10. Chris,

    32% insurance premium increase? Egad! Gadzooks! UGG! I checked your math and came to the same conclusions that you did. What I also calculated was that if the premium before the increase was $1.00, the premium after 10 years of 32% increase each year would be $16.06. Yes, after a decade the cost would be 16 times greater than it was before those increases began.

    Also your chart. If you had extended it 2 more years…the annual insurance premium would be about 87% of your pay rather than half! This is, as you know, not sustainable. Condolences.

    There was one glaring issue that the Idaho folks had with the Feds. At least to me it was the biggest thing. There was no mechanism to ask questions, to appeal, to have a day in court. Rather, the bureaucrat levied a “stop” order and an insane fine that escalated daily. No means to appeal? No problem! Illegal to sue this agency? No problem! Hence the first court case got the Federal Supreme Court to find that they could sue the agency. The second case, also decided by the Supremes, determined that there site was not a wetland. What is needed is a scientific definition of wetland, not something so nebulous that a bunch of lawyers have to fight about it.

    The other issue I saw was, based on personal knowledge of their location, either the previously built homes and roads were in violation of the wetlands thing also, or else none were. The EPA knew nothing about that location until a neighbor complained, and the agent who visited determined that it was a wetland. There was and is no central wetlands map in that agency.

    About 20 years ago, maybe a bit more, Malwart wanted to build one of their superstores in the southeast corner of Spokane. The land they chose was a large flat field full of dry land grasses and weeds. The locals didn’t want Malwart there. Under cover of night during the spring thaw and rains, someone dug a depression that was about 5 square meters, maybe less. Water and wetland plants were added to the depression. A few months later EPA and local agencies were called and the project was kiboshed because it was now a wetland due to the wetland plants in the field.

    The plants died within a few hot and dry summers. No more wetland plants, no more damp depression, no more wetland. It was either Target, Lowe’s or Home Depot that eventually went in there. Yup, another big box retailer, but not Malwart.

    The point is that some of the wetland thing is very cynical and has ample room to be arbitrary. And that statement was just made by someone who normally falls on the side of preserving wetlands.

    Glad you’re feeling better. Now to get Sandra back on the mend and healthy.

    More rain most of the weekend. Not large amounts, but enough to keep the weather cool and damp. I’m rather enjoying having late September temperatures early, although that is ending soon.

    RIP Trusted Yogurt Machine! That’s a sad one to lose. My guess is it is not repairable and that the replacement won’t be as functional nor last as long. I hope you can tell me that I’m wrong on at least one of those predictions!

    Lew mentioned Packwood and its big “flea market”. Guess where the Princess and her brother were this past weekend? Yup, at the Packwood sale. They had a good time. The Princess spent an extra day with brother. The fantastic craft store in Toppenish is going out of business. There are certain items we are unable to find anywhere else, even online. I’m hoping she stocked up on some of those things.

    Nice Ruby flower. Sometimes I see some similarly shaped Avalanche flowers. In fact, I saw several today. She was happy, as papa spent some time outside weeding and trimming things. Yup, the hand continues to improve and actually feels better when I use it for yard work and such.


  11. Hi Inge,

    No worries and I’d meant to say the more usual suspects, rather than that which shall not be named. And that’s good advice: ‘what they’re prepared to eat’ (he says whilst noting it down for future use). I get that it is an individual thing, I was merely canvassing opinions because Lewis’s mention of chicken soup, gave me the noodle soup idea. Now pizza, that’s an idea! Pizza dough is very simple to make. Hmm.

    Sounds like a lovely Christmas dinner, and the joy is to be found in the company we keep, and life itself.

    Enjoy the weather. Please return the weather after you’ve both properly enjoyed it. 🙂



  12. Hi DJ,

    Inwardly I was prepared for a 20%-ish increase, so 32% was a real bummer for the treasury – and future treasury. Thanks for confirming the maths (cue little happy dance for good maths!), and candidly, I didn’t include those two years because the compounding effect basically frightened me, and the graph also began to look a whole lot strange. It’s quite sobering isn’t it? Is there anything in the fact that 32% numerically speaking is related to the number 16 – as in half? Or is it just coincidence that the decade increase is 16x?

    Thanks for the condolences too, and it will be very interesting in some ways to see how it all works out. Probably badly, just going with my gut feeling there.

    Mate, I can so relate to the Idaho story. Settle in and let me share a little side story about obtaining the planning permission to construct the house here. During the months the planning application was in with the local council, we had the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. A planet wide record breaking event for the number of deceased. That’s a very bad thing. Anyway, The title said I could use the land to build a house. The council didn’t seem to have any objections. And then out of nowhere, the fire authority (of whom I and the Editor were volunteer members) out of the blue just said no on the basis that it is unsafe, except the mountain range has heaps of houses, like what the f@#%?. I think everyone was blind-sided by that. Sounding familiar? An extraordinarily expensive consultant report later, not to mention probably double the building costs, and the fire authority relented. It was utterly bonkers that they were even part of the story, and yup right to appeal was non existent, so yeah I get the Idaho story, it just worked out differently here. Sun Tzu, my friend, Sun Tzu.

    Complaints and objections are always something of an issue, which probably needs to be dealt with up-front. Sometimes people can object, because they are getting something for nothing (like an empty paddock next to them) – and best to know who those folks are.

    Ah, thus perhaps not all big box stores are equal? We don’t really have anything on that sort of scale. It’s always sounded to me like as if a department store had barfed up it’s dinner and somehow been set up in a huge warehouse with industrial racking. But I don’t really know and am only guessing.

    Sandra is feeling better today, thanks for asking. Still slept for most of the day. I had a long day of paid work.

    Good to hear about the rain, and yes, cooler weather is always more pleasant. Dame Avalanche would no doubt also agree? Just in case the weather hasn’t messed with my head enough, Friday sounds dodgy: Winter about to hit back in southeastern Australia. Perhaps if you can tell the nice folks in Valhalla that there are a lot of fruit trees in blossom right now, so if they could not get too extreme that would be nice? 🙂

    The replacement machine arrived in the mail today, and it err, works. Always good. Ran a batch of yoghurt through today. I suspect one of the elements in the old machine has failed based on how the inside of the new yoghurt maker felt – temperature wise. Well, I too hope that you are incorrect there, but as you note, time will sort the matter out for us all to see.

    Sounds like fun, and have you heard whether the requisite items were nabbed? Sorry to hear the store is winding up, not good.

    That’s great news about your hand healing up. Is it feeling stronger now? And I was kind of curious as to whether you’ve got the full feeling back now? Hope you are keeping away from gouges, and hey, at least you now know your nemesis!



  13. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the article on the volunteers. Yeah, all of the above, if I may add. 🙂 But it also looks a bit like an unpaid job to me. If giving back to the community means being heckled by them, well that’s what I experienced on one job. We were busy clearing fallen trees off the road, and the poor dears were in a hurry. Hard to forget that incident. But from a larger perspective, the social elements was stomped out, and then you ask the hard question: why am I doing this? It’s probably not for me that culture, if only because it made little sense to my brain. And there was no recompense for fuel used, and they’d have you driving all over the place.

    Yeah, insurance companies pulling out of risky areas is a problem, but then when everywhere is risky, what happens to that industry? I suspect that codes will have to go sooner or later, but it might happen organically, by being outright disregarded. We’re not seeing pull-out practices yet, more go-away prices especially in flood prone regions. And compared to flood prone land, my premiums are cheap.

    That’s exactly what I also meant about codes being widely abandoned in the face of an utter failure to enforce them. It’s not like other parts of the world can’t manage that issue, although there may be complaints. People are pretty adaptable I reckon, they’ll be fine. And if everyone is in the same boat, where’s the loss-of-status-horror? You got me thinking about the Japanese response long ago given similar circumstances, and it’s quite adaptive to reality I believe. Anyway, the codes don’t necessarily produce buildings which are suitable for the location, so are they all that good in the first place.

    That’s not good about Lake Titicaca drying up. They don’t call that surrounding area the altiplano for no reason. I’ve been there and stayed with a local family near to the shore. We politely communicated in hand signals, and they didn’t expect much from us. I always recall the drying of the potatoes in the sun. They kept a huge pile of them on a mat outside. The potatoes were nothing like what you and I would expect. Crunchy, actually but quite nice. The lake was massive. Wow. It’s a fragile area to live.

    That’s possible about the fidgetyness. And now you mention it! 🙂 I’m probably too active for my profession… Oh well. The brain use from that burns up some calories too, I can tell you.

    Oh, I like where you’re going with the doughnut / air filter thing. Might be onto something there. Hmm.

    That makes sense about not destroying the treasury through computer purchases, they already seem good enough at that work from what I’ve noticed.

    Hehe! Yeah, it sounds like a great idea, we’d just get into a lot of trouble, so definitely not worth it. Except, would it stop the cheeky scamps from destroying the new tree fern? I’d like to think so. Do they pay the same amount for taxidermied specimens (note they were volunteered!)?

    That gave me goosebumps. Yeah, who could forget the Twinkie Defence? And as to the more local events, let’s just say that I have some strong suspicions there. Hapless? Careless? Intentional? So many options, none of which are any good. Families, huh?

    Thanks. The Editor is feeling a bit better today. I did what I could today, and also put in a long paid work day. Me tired tonight, but the house is running smoothly, and this is a good thing. The dogs are bored. Spotted a large wombat in the orchard tonight whilst walking the dogs. The wildlife knows when the dogs are attached to strings. 🙂 Cheeky scamps!

    Holy carp! Yes, I agree. Not all toys were like that though. I had a much loved meccano set, and of course there was lego. Those two things can get your mind working, but they’re more the exceptions than the general rule. Hey, if you want to get really worried, a lot of computer games have err, predigested stories too. Kind of also builds on the pressure to conform, don’t you reckon?

    We had play sets too, I remember those. And you’d keep the miniatures in a tin box. Might even have been hand me downs because they had WWII soldier figurines. I’m sure you remember those things, they were even a uniform camouflage green colour? You’re probably right there. 🙂 It’s amazing where such interests get in under the hood of the brain.

    Right. That makes sense, why waste the money on a simple spur line. A lot of those spur lines were decomissioned down under. One day, our society will live to regret that loss.

    What does the cat get up to? Sounds mysterious.

    Friday looks set to be a rather unpleasant day weather wise here: Winter about to hit back in southeastern Australia. Man, I was only just warming up.



  14. Yo, Chris – Volunteer firefighters are saints in waiting. Respect.

    Who knows how the codes will shake out. A heavy handed last gasp of the bureaucracy. But, as long as no children are involved, and you stay on the right side of your neighbors, things can go well. I figure the folks who lodge those kinds of complaints are the same type that would turn Jewish folks over to the Nazis.

    I remembered you had been to Peru, and thought the news about the lake might be of interest, to you. I wonder if they’re finding anything archaeological, given the low water levels. Once upon a time, the grand high poobah, used to cover himself in gold dust, raft off the lake shore, and dive in, to wash the dust off. Lots of gold and other precious items were chucked in the lake. Sun god stuff. There have been many finds, in past.

    Sending a stuffed bird would probably be as onerous as sending a live one. I’m sure there are all sorts of permits and permissions, involved. With hefty fees.

    I’m happy to hear the Editor is on the mend. Don’t overdo, either of you. Ease back into your usual frenetic pace. 🙂

    There was one bit of cartoon in the book, where one little kid is giving another a raft, because he strayed from the action figure script. Were you’re old toy soldiers, lead? I’m sure they’re long gone, but they might be worth a little jingle, by now. The Christmas figures (which I kept a few of), were originally made to go along with train sets. There were also sets of “townspeople”, news boys, etc.. I always meant to get around to getting some of the country / farm / village figures. Never did. There were even figures of the town drunk, and village idiot. 🙂

    Oh, Fat Fredies cat, was up to all sorts. He liked to poop on Fredies pillow, when he was miffed with him. Or in his shoe.

    Well, that’s a cherry forecast … not! I do hope your fruit trees will ride it through. I think you said the bees have been out.

    I picked a bit bowl of cherry tomatoes, early this morning. They are all in the dehydrator. We had a fire sprinkler inspection, this morning. So, I had to put the dryer, on the counter, instead of on the stove under the stove fan. As, nothing can be on the stove, not even my frying pan. Can’t store it in the oven, either. So, they’ve been in and out, and my dehydrator is in it’s proper place. I also harvested some green beans. All seven (7) of them. Oh, well, they’re cleaned and on a plate in the freezer. I’ll add them to the bag I’ve got going. Might end up with a gallon, by the end of the season. Maybe.

    Tis the season. I went to one of the cheap food stores, last night. I always check the pet aisle, to see if they have any of H’s Very Special Food. They never do. But they do have her dental chews, Greenies. She gets half of one in the morning, and half at night. They really keep her teeth and breath in good shape. But they never have the grain free ones. But, I was checking anyway, and low and behold … pumpkin spice flavored Greenies! Even if they had been grain free, I probably wouldn’t have bought them. One pumpkin spice junkie in the house, is enough. Lew

  15. Hi Lewis,

    The total annual insurance spend of $22k by the lady in that article you linked to, kind of scared me. It makes me wonder what happens when the demands exceed 100% of income and/or savings (candidly I had the impression from the article that savings may not have been a priority). It was hard not to notice that a few people had already dropped off the radar when there was some mention of a survey which showed 17% of folks driving without any insurance. Doesn’t sound like much, until you get to thinking that it’s almost one in every five people. Sooner or later, if cuts need to be made on whatever front, but I’m thinking energy, those folks may find themselves rather challenged by the authoritas, although they probably already are.

    The cost here was up around 20%, maybe a bit higher, on last year. Insurance is a way to spread risk, but when the overall risk increases, there’s only so many warm bodies to pay for the shared risk.

    You have a very good memory, and it just so happens that I’m a member of a guild – you have to be down here or else there are some unpleasant troubles. What a find, OK, I’m impressed, and do you see all the smiles on the faces of the archaeologists. It’s like hitting the motherlode that find. The Roman swords look pretty handy too. That handle would be equally good for bludgeoning the rebels.

    The bankrupt big Birmingham mess is yeah, something of a problem. Just listened to a local news report on the matter (4 min audio), and they’re claiming that there was an issue with equal pay, stretching back at least a decade, plus some other business I couldn’t really follow. Numbers in the 700m pounds were mooted. Sounds expensive. The researcher said it was one of five already, and there may be another twenty more to go. Hmm. Very expensive for the local rate (property tax) payers to fix up. Sometimes cost bases become too great a burden, and there is an awful reset. If benefits exceed the ability to pay for employees, then sometimes they spill them, and rehire them on lesser contracts. It can happen. And I was made redundant in the early 1990’s recession, and learned from that experience. People may wonder at my caution and conservative nature, but it all gets back to those days. It’s the old school value of prudence, rather unfashionable these days though! You know what I mean too.

    All rather gloomy, hey, here’s an interesting story on long term tree modification: Specially pruned for centuries in Western Australia, marri trees provide a vital source of water for traditional owners. How clever is that? And did you notice that the idea of ‘cleaning up’ was mentioned? I’m all for that.

    I agree, don’t annoy the neighbours should be rule number one if you’re going to embark on such a journey. Man, I think the code thing is just weird. Over the years I learned how things used to be done when building was a bit more loose and free, and honestly the outcomes just weren’t all that bad. In some ways those houses are actually better in that they’re generally repairable. I dunno about the things being built nowadays – and put my mad cash where my mouth is there by using an older school building technique. But I remember talking to a, I guess you could call him a hippy with an interest in apple trees, in the island state of Tasmania many long years ago. And he cheekily told me that he just built his house in the early 1970’s, no permits and only a couple of plans. It was still standing and looked in good condition. And I absolutely agree, those folks would merrily press the button on us all and not think twice about it. Not good. I read somewhere that rule followers (people who like rules) make up about 30% of the population.

    Just for something different, it’s raining! Fortunately earlier today was drier, so we got the sapling fenced enclosure ready for the coming growing season. Weeded, fed, and mulched. I put down a path between the two growing row beds made from sugar cane mulch. That should provide an all weather walking surface. I reckon we’ll grow our pumpkins in there – you may call them squashes! Not sure really what you mean by that word! 🙂 Hehe!

    Nice finds, and I do hope that some of the locals find a few gold offerings to the sun god. However, given the perilously low state of the lake, would they remove the ancient offerings and risk offending the same? Makes you wonder.

    Those forms sound like too much hassle. Drats, we’ve been foiled yet again! One day our fortunes will be made, but maybe not today. Oh well.

    Thanks for the kind words, the Editor was well enough to be out with me today cleaning up the enclosure.

    Straying from the official script is perhaps not allowed in such mediums? It’s a pretty insightful observation. Batman is good and all, but maybe if the dude didn’t require so much wealth from the population to fight the badies in that city, there might not be that many badies in the city, or as extreme as they seem to be, and you know, a normal official response may suffice? Does that ruin the official script?

    You know, some of them were metal, although I hadn’t appreciated that they were lead. Probably the paint was a lead based paint too. Ook! No, they’re long gone. The village idiot!!! I can see that.

    Best not annoy Fat Freddies cat, the feline seems as if he has a malicious streak.

    Frost risk, loss of blossoms etc. It’s rained for about four hours now. Half an inch fell, and it’s kind of warm-ish outside. Looks like the big frost risk is Friday night into Saturday morning. We’ll see. Interestingly, given it’s been a warmer winter, despite the continuing damp, other insects are out doing early pollination duties. Nature can adapt to circumstances.

    Well, it’s better getting those sprinklers tested, and them not being needed, than needing them, and not having them working. I’m trying to understand how the stove top is involved in the fire sprinkler test, and am failing. What was that all about? Anyway, good stuff with the dehydrating of the tomatoes. Have you noticed that tomatoes that are about half ripened, tend to fully ripen in the dehydrator? Not sure what is going on there, but it works.

    Good to see that the beans have begun to produce. Have you had any thoughts as to the state of the soil that they’re grown in?

    Hehe! Dogs love their chews, and respect for dodging chew-flation! Nice work. Noooo! Wise to avoid the awful awfulness of two pumpkin spice addicts in one household. 🙂 Who knows what might happen!



  16. Hi, Chris!

    A home – that one lives in – as an investment is a really sketchy idea since investments are only realized when cashed in and, if you do that with a home, then you are out of a place to live. Though it seems to work for hedge funds. But they live by different “rules” than you and I.

    Our house insurance goes up about 22% a year. I wonder if they would ever actually pay out if something happened? We have never called on them to do so in the 34 years that we’ve owned this house. Think how much they have made off of us.

    I am so sorry that you, and now the Editor, have been sick. I think you are better? I hope she is soon, also.

    Your machine maintenence and repair efforts seem to be going well. It’s time to dry tomatoes in our cheap, old dehydrator. It was working well when I dried chard earlier. There’s not much that can go wrong with it as all it does is blow hot air. After your dried tomatoes are thoroughly dry, you put them in olive oil, right?

    Thanks for the flowers, especially the silver wattle. I have never seen a yellow rhodie around us, though rhododendrons grow well here.

    It’s hot, hot, hot here. Soon to change in a couple of days.


  17. Yo, Chris – Sooner or later, I think “insurance” will be smaller and more local. The Amish and other similar groups aren’t “high” on carrying insurance. If someone’s house or barn burns down, the community gets together and rebuilds. Medical insurance? They seem to have grasped the concept, that people die, and heroic (and expensive) medical intervention doesn’t change the end result. Mr. Greer has mentioned how many of the fraternal organizations were pretty much self insured. Even the Romans had burial societies.

    Standard issue Roman swords, were often mass produced by state run factories. And the quality could really vary. Here and there I’ve run across references that a smart soldier, would arrange for his own sword, privately, for better arms. Did you see the article about the Roman “castle” in Turkey? I wonder what they’ll find, underground?

    There’s also been a discovery of a huge temple complex, up in northern Italy.

    Of course, though not mentioned, I suppose the libraries in Birmingham will take a big hit. They’re always a soft target.

    That was a fascinating article about the marri trees. A lot of the songlines seem to be concerned with finding one water source or another.

    Hannah Arendt had a lot to say about people who were most likely to curry to the authoritas (I like the word, by the way.)

    There was an article she wrote, that I read quit awhile back. But, couldn’t find it. People’s motivations for taking up causes, and going off the deep end. And how some of them seemed to be the most unlikely. But, yes, rule followers. Or people angling for personal advantage, at the often great expense of others.

    Ah! I was wrong. It was an article by Dorothy Thompson, published in Harper’s Magazine, August, 1941. Titled: “Who Goes Nazi.” Unfortunately, I can’t link to it as it has slipped into a temporal anomaly. 🙂 Ah, here’s a pretty good overview of the article.

    I noticed a whole pile of what we call pumpkins (round, orange), in front of the veg store, yesterday. Strangely, our trees haven’t really started turning colors, yet. No geese honking overhead. All the robins have disappeared. But I’m seeing more of the LBBs (Little Brown Birds), that overwinter here. Weather wise, it looks to be about a perfect week. Humid, from time to time. Even though we’ve had a lot of fires, in the county, smoke hasn’t been a problem. I don’t know where it’s all going.

    I still like that great quote, from one of the Batman movies. “What’s your super power?” “I’m rich.” 🙂

    Well, the state of my stove top really has nothing to do with the checking of the fire sprinklers. But it might trigger another inspection, just to make sure I’ve fallen in line. Why I don’t like them coming into my apartment for any reason.

    At least today will be an “on schedule,” day. No fire sprinkler inspections. And, yesterday we got a food box, which kind of throws everything off. We got two really large boxes. It’s the one with the produce, which was a cabbage apples and carrots. A pound each of frozen beef and pork. The reason the boxes were so bulky, was due to massive amounts of tinned yams, apple sauce, and tomato sauce. None of which is very popular on the Institution’s swap table … or at the Club pantry. It usually all ends up at a local soup kitchen.

    “The Daily Impact” has an interesting new article on humanity’s bottleneck. A time in prehistory, when there were hardly more than 1,000 people, planet wide. I’d read about it before, several years back, but new work has been done. Lew

  18. Chris,

    I had a reply mostly written last night. Then…the keyboard and the computer quit communicating. Tried new batteries in the keyboard. No change. Tried a few other things. No change. Finally had to go “Commodore 64” on things and restarted the computer. That fixed the problem, still using the old batteries. The cost? Lost the post so have to start over today, as it was getting late. Drat.

    Happy dances due to good maths are fun. The 16 and 32 relationship in this case is most likely a coincidence. Numbers are funny and all sorts of these things pop up without having any underlying significance or cosmic meaning. But they ARE enjoyable to discover and play with.

    Example: take any number. Add up its digits. Then add up the digits of the result. Eventually, you will get a single digit number. If it is 9, then the original number is evenly divisible by 9. So, 7,785 is our number. 7+7+8+5=27. Then repeat for 27. 2+7=9. Ding! So 7,785 is evenly divisible by 9. (865*9=7,785) Works every time.

    Or look at the relationship between 9 and 11. 1/9, 2/9…8/9. Then compare 1/11, 2/11…10/11. I’ve always found those to be fascinating.

    If my memory is working, the dirt/gravel roads in your area are somewhat regularly graded by a government agency? Early in my gummint career, there was something related to what happened to you with your home construction issue. There were 6 or 7 homes built on a County road. However, said road was officially listed as “Summer Only”. Meaning that it was maybe graded in the spring and maybe graded again before winter set in. NO plowing in the winter. At all. None. And if conditions required the resources to be used elsewhere, the spring and/or fall grading might get cancelled. The road could be a rutted, squishy, gooey quagmire for all but the driest times of the year. That could cause emergency vehicle response, including fire vehicle response, to be impossible.

    Some developers bought several hundred acres and wanted to develop a few hundred expensive homes on “view lots”, all taking access from the “summer only” road. (Yes, some of these lots have spectacular views.)” They spent a small fortune on the interior roads, bringing in natural gas, etc. Then they found that they could NOT get building permits for these properties. Why? The County Fire Marshall said that the drastically increased traffic on the “summer only” road would only make it worse and make emergency services impossible. No emergency services, no new homes allowed.

    My program was already involved, but the developers didn’t want to play ball with us. Until the Elected Official told them to work with us or pound sand, thereby losing the ton of money they had invested. We ended up improving and paving the “summer only” road, mostly at the expense of the developers, and then maintaining it all year. Of course, they passed these costs on to the buyers and made oodles of money.

    Hopefully Sandra continues to get better.

    Ewwww, those late winter storms following an otherwise mild winter. We get those occasionally. Those can be extra nasty, bringing in an entire winter’s worth of winter weather in a matter of 2 or 3 weeks. Hope it’s not that bad for you. Alas! My connection with the Valhalla Group falls far short of making reasonable requests and getting the desired results. Usually, cosmic laughter follows such requests, with clear signals to “Accept, adapt and move on.”

    The closing craft store was closed for the week due to a holiday. It also sounds like they told their regular customers so that they would have first crack at things. No “official” notice has been posted. The Princess will take another look when she visits brother in a couple weeks. It could be well picked over by then.

    Yes, the hand is getting stronger. The more I use it, the better it feels. And the stronger it gets. Although I’m nowhere near having all feeling back, I do get some brief tingling sensations in the previously totally numb areas. Not often, not for long periods of time, but it does happen. Encouraging, that is. And it makes it easier to continue with the therapy exercises, massages and therapy vibrator.

    We got down to +8C two consecutive nights. Warming a bit for the next 5 or 7 days, but nights should still be in the 10C to 12C range. Good sleeping weather. Don’t need to use the AC or fans. And we can keep the windows open all day, as the air quality is superb. This is why late August through Halloween has been my favorite time of year when there’s no smoke.


  19. Hi DJ,

    Ah, attack of the killer keyboard, strikes again. I’d be curious as to your perspective, but banging the keys hard using the old Commodore 64 users trick sure feels satisfying to me. The pesky rats deserve it. And what I’m left wondering from your experience was, how does a computer suffer a software glitch from a keyboard of all things? You’d think that tech would be absolutely rock solid, maybe… Ah, but here I have a preference for wired devices, boring old USB cables. Mind you, in the past I’ve experienced dead USB ports on a motherboard.

    Thanks for considering the numerical coincidence. Was wondering if it was some sort of base 2 progression, with the next number being 64. Yikes, those years of bits and bytes machine language coding on said Commodore 64 machine, never quite go away, next 128, then 256… A bit like Dungeons and Dragon’s rules, if you ask me, but less fun. Ooo, that’s uncanny about those numbers being divisible by 9, it’s probably hard wired into our base ten numbering system, or hands (or feet), if I may cheekily suggest.

    Someone long ago told me about a numerical error rule of thumb where if the number is divisible by 9. It had something to do with the numbers being swapped around like 45, instead of 54. Am I making this memory up, or is it a real thing?

    Candidly, my head is now spinning Exorcist style. Absolutely filthy weather today. Not a day to be working outside, the cold moist winds from that frozen continent way to the south of here swept up north and just made the local conditions today rather horrid. If it wasn’t freezing cold rain, the winds just blew and blew. Decided to spend the day doing paid work on the basis things are just better inside the warm house on such days. Seemed only sensible, you may agree? The dogs were all in agreement with the plan.

    They only get around to grading the road, maybe about once a year, and due to the huge distance of roads in the shire, and low number of rateable houses hanging off them, sometimes it is less than once per year. Anywhoo, occasionally they stuff it up by grading just prior to a big storm. Work programs don’t necessarily take in the weather conditions. It’s amazing how much water volcanic clay can store at such times, and the roads kind of then fall apart. At such times, the capabilities of the little dirt Rat Suzuki come to the fore. It can be pretty slushy.

    But yes, exactly. Nobody ever wants to be living off a ‘summer only’ road. There are some roads around here which are physically closed off for the winter months. Much safer to do so. There’s a local road known colloquially as ‘the chute’, and it has a warning sign on either side suggesting that it is a ‘dry weather only road’. Do people listen? And the locals bear the cost of road maintenance, whilst outsiders try and pit their machines against nature. Bonkers.

    Well, what you are describing is perhaps best stated as thus: It is a truth universally acknowledged that properly deployed road base, gentle inclines and culverts are not cheap! That’s the only way to keep such roads in good condition all year around, as you already know. But I do wonder, if such engineering solutions are employed, it doesn’t mean that the water falling from the sky doesn’t go away. The flows of water in that area get changed, and that can have dramatic impacts which might not even be considered. I’m loath to change any flows of water here lest there are unforeseen consequences, and you never know man.

    Had to laugh about bringing in natural gas lines. In such remote spots they should be forced upon their own resources. The expense of extending civilisation to such remote spots, is too great a burden for the rest of the community to bear.

    Sandra is doing much better today thanks for asking. Almost completely back to normal.

    I appreciate you considering the petition, and did I mention that it is now 3’C outside? But we might avoid the overnight frost because the sheer humidity has socked us in with thick fog. Watching the blossoms fly off the early fruit trees was a bit dispiriting, but we’ll see how things go. There is a 24’C day coming up in the forecast. Yay, for warmer weather.

    Fingers crossed that there is something left at the craft store. The owners may be retiring given that the closure is being done on the quiet and only regulars were notified?

    That does sound encouraging about the slowly returning feeling and strength in your hand. It is encouraging, yeah. And I see you’ve somehow managed to pre-emptively squash my whinge number seven, which is: Have you done your rehab? Respect. 🙂

    It sounds like a lovely time of year, and glad to hear that the smoke is no longer bothering you. You’re passing on the weather batten to us down here. I’ll check for scratch marks and dents before I sign away your liabilities for this batten you know! 😉



  20. Hi Pam,

    That’s a great point, and as I was reading ‘The Big Short’ recently one amusing observation was made: Bond holders view bonds as a cash asset, except that they’re not, despite them being classified as ‘cash assets’. The arcane world of finance, sees things differently than you and I might. Therefore I agree, a house is something to keep you warm on a cold night, and the rain off your head when it’s raining – which it has a lot today. That big frozen continent to the south of here sent us a little weather present. Yay for us! Far out it was cold, but hopefully not cold enough to snow or freeze. So many early fruit trees are in blossom right now that it could be a problem, again.

    Anywhoo, again I agree, the arrangements benefit those whom have more than a single house, and that is often the case with policy makers. The only way to cash out when you have a single home is to do what they call downsizing. But, far out when everything costs heaps of mad cash, where do you even go? It’s a mystery that, and I’m pretty certain that most people are happy with the circumstances, despite yours and my misgivings. Your multi-generation solution is most excellent, and I applaud your common sense.

    Yours is a rhetorical question, but the technical description is perhaps described thus: the increase might get worse. Ook! The premium after all is based on the history of the house, and also your claims history. The history of the house may not be when you even owned the thing. I once got to see one of their databases. Fascinating. Had a friend who’d happily lodge a claim at the most minor inconvenience, and we discussed the matter, but the discussion produced an emotional response in him, so I dropped the subject – he raised it, not me. Far out.

    I’m fine now, and the Editor is in the final stages of the thing. It’s been a rough few weeks for the household, but people force me to work with people who are ill, and that’s what being the ‘help’ looks like sometimes. Thank you for asking.

    It’s interesting you mentioned the dehydrator, but they do have a few easily replaceable components inside them, especially if they’re not micro-processor controlled. I cracked open the machine last year and had a poke around inside. A super simple machine. The yoghurt maker on the other hand has left me with a case of the vapours! 🙂

    As to the tomatoes, that’s it. We dry them to chips. You can easily tell when the tomatoes need more dehydrating time because they’re a bit soft still, even partially soft is perhaps no good. They call that semi-sun-dried, I believe. That’s a bit risky. But we chuck the dried chips in quality olive oil, but I believe you can store them also in a cool and dry place in that state too, but haven’t tested or looked into that. We just use the olive oil in cooking as well, it gets a nice tomato flavour.

    The forest can put on quite a show with all those bright yellow flowers! Interestingly the Silver wattles tend to grow in disturbed areas, like near to the roads. The more subdued, taller and longer lived Blackwoods (Acacia Melanoxylon) are huge understory trees, and have less brightly coloured flowers. Those tall trees can capture nitrogen out of the atmosphere, very clever that, and the forest needs them to survive. Long ago, I believe they were the boss tree here. I’m sure you’ve got boss trees and support trees where you are?

    Enjoy your heat, and hope your visitors are also enjoying the summer conditions. Winter isn’t all that far away. Today was winter-like here! 🙂



  21. Chris:

    Maybe bonds are classified as cash assets so that they can be taxed more heavily?

    Yeah, frozen blossoms, again – we don’t want that.

    I love our multi-generational set-up. I think of it as a cooperative venture. It works really well for us, but it would not have done so if my husband and I had tried to do the same thing with his parents or mine. Maybe this works as the younger parties are 39 and 40, of an age to have learned a good deal of wisdom already. And we all have mostly the same values and interests.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for the tomato-drying advice. I have stored dried tomatoes just as they were – dried – and it worked well, but the olive oil way sounds so much more appealing.

    I am not sure about boss trees. They seem to take turns, And we have no understory to speak of because of the deer eating all the ones that come up, so it’s kind of a strange situation, unlike the heavy undergrowth and variety that was here when we moved in over 30 years ago, when there was still alot of deer hunting going on.


  22. Hi Lewis,

    That’s a sensible response to the coming insurance crisis. Smaller and more local is how things will roll. Yeah, I can see that. Of course, those arrangements involve reciprocal social obligations, and it has been my experience that people run a mile from such things. I guess they will, until they won’t be able to! 🙂 I remember when the power dropped out here during a big storm for about five days. That would have been about maybe three years ago, I now forget. Anyway, we still had power for obvious reasons, and I put the word out if anyone needed anything charged, or whatever, they come around. But no. It was winter and I observed people in their cars idling the motors and enjoying the warmth of the engines waste heat, whilst charging their USB devices. That really surprised me, and it wasn’t a warm time of year. I guess every other last option has to be exhausted first, is what I took away from that experience.

    I can well understand the benefits of fraternal organisations.

    Who knows what the archaeologists will discover at that Roman era dig in Turkey. It looks like dry country, although I liked the siting of the castle at such a high point in the area. Did you note that the canal ran several miles? It’d have to, otherwise a siege would end rather rapidly with all those people. Hey, that northern Italian pagan temple is really something else. Are those the remains of marble slabs in some of the photos? The craftsmanship with the rock work is quite astounding. The article did kind of mention that the rocks were used at various Roman sites as an unofficial quarry over the long years, but not that one. Makes you wonder if the locals deliberately buried the temple?

    Yes, sadly, libraries are a soft target for budget cuts. Given the local rate payers have to cough up the mad cash for the equal pay claim, you’d think that they’d have that question put to the vote? I mean, the question I have is whether the equal pay applies just to the council workers, or the locals who have to eventually stump the mad cash? The cynic in me suggests that such benefits are often not equally distributed, even when the costs are.

    It was pretty cold and wet here today, and the wind howled, although it was more of a strong wind, than an extreme wind – like that minor tornado all those years ago, that was fun. The cold air came all the way from Antarctica, and it felt cold. Spent the day inside doing paid work. Seemed appropriate.

    You’re not wrong. I’ve long presumed that the song lines would have lined up the water, food, useful items and places of worship, physically right across the country. Western culture has ruined a lot of that, no getting around it. I tend to take the longer term perspective in that the land down here tends to be problematic enough, that such useful ways of interacting with the land will sooner or later be brought back into use.

    Thanks for the link, and it was an excellent interview, although I read the text, and not the podcast (there were rights attached to that audio file). Hmm. Anyway, Hannah Arendt has a lot of interesting things to say, and a lack of compassion and empathy with others is not something which our society encourages, for obvious reasons. During you-know-what, I was asked by someone as to ‘how I could be friends with someone who had not been given the shots’. So I replied, ‘I don’t have enough friends to be that stupid’. It was real killer reply, but all the same I understood then and there that plenty of people will push the button. And I also wasn’t trying to score points or even defend my position, and we had a good conversation afterwards about friends and the need for friends. Hmm. I don’t need other people to agree with me, and I certainly don’t agree with everything I hear. That’s life, but yeah, that button pushing thing is a real worry. It’s also worth mentioning that Hannah Arendt speaks of social isolation, and that is something that unpleasant people can do to their partners, so it does not surprise me that it also works on the larger society.

    I tend to believe that the rule followers in our society take great comfort from their beliefs and actions in the face of a complicated world. It’s like a twisted form of ritual. Dunno. What do you reckon?

    Ouch! What an article, look candidly the article scared me. The original article perhaps made much more sense. When the media seeks to discuss only one side of any argument, that’s activism. And it has long scared the heck out of me that the media talks in terms that are contemptuous of people that they just don’t like. Dude, that’s a massive red flag. And again, just saying, there are some dodgy folks in society who pull such tricks on their partners, so yes it can probably work as a much more widely distributed tool. I thought that they were better than that. As far as I can understand things, at any one time there are a lot of people seeking power and control. We had in place limits on behaviour and sort of shared values, and those seem to have been chucked out the window. I don’t really know what is left, but it doesn’t look all that great to me.

    The pumpkins, they are calling you! Lewis. Lewis! Oi, Lewis! Pumpkin spice, dead ahead this season. 🙂

    Your weather sounds rather nice. It’s dropped to 35’F outside. Brr! Well, there goes the early fruit again… That makes it four years in a row. Is this a new pattern? It will warm up from tomorrow onwards.

    Hehe! It’s a great Batman quote, and so true. I see that they’re making a new instalment and bringing back Michael Keaton. Plus did you see that there is a new Mutant Ninja Turtle movie, written I believe by none other than the great Seth Rogen. Go Seth!

    Please don’t trigger the inspectors. 😉

    Very good to hear that the patterns have been restored, always unsettling when the patterns are wrong. Oh, I would have thought that those tins are staples, although tomato sauce in a can does seem a bit weird to me. How much sauce can one use in a meal, probably not that much.

    I read the essay. A bit of a problem, and I hope our ancestors were smart enough to have avoided certain problems which may arise in small groups. Sounds like horrendous conditions. I’ve often wondered if we ever got out of control enough in the long distant past to have burned a big chunk of the forests on the planet and changed the atmosphere and climate? Makes you wonder.



  23. Yo, Chris – Reciprocal social obligations can be a real balancing act. One can incur an obligation, but how to pay it back? And how much? And what if what is expected is entirely out of line with the original “favor?”

    I thought you’d like the stone work on the Roman temple. Gives you something to aspire to. 🙂 One of the articles I read speculated that there had been little stone robbing, as the place became a bit of a backwater, and transportation was a problem. And, maybe the locals had a bit of a taboo feeling, when it came to messing with stuff that belonged to the gods. Even if they were no longer worshipped.

    Sorry about your weather. But aren’t storms just a little bit exciting? I hope your bees got enough early pollination done, to provide some fruit. I think that’s why some of our blueberries, didn’t produce. Early varieties that didn’t get pollinated, due to the bees not going out in the weather. When I took H out for her 9am walk, I wished I had thrown on my light coat.

    Well, yes. Certain topics I don’t discuss with certain people. If they come up, I change the subject. Best if one is to remain friends, or at least, civil.

    Yes, too much loneliness, and for some people, things can get a bit crazy. Those who have an overwhelming need to belong to a group. It’s all a bit part and parcel. Loneliness, social obligations, rule following, “Bowling alone.” There’s comfort (for some people) in a completed world, where everything is laid out, and you don’t have to think too much. As it makes your head hurt. 🙂

    There’s also … well, I’m reading a book right now. Actually, it’s humor. “How to Stay Productive When the World is Ending: Productivity, Burnout, and Why Everyone Needs to Relax More Except You.” (Reductress (a magazine), 2023?) Any-who, in 1869, a neurologist, Dr. George Beard “…identified an illness called “neurasthenia” which was later coined in the 1970s as “burnout,” and fifty years later, we know it as “regular life.” “…to warn that modern civilization is making humans straight up lose their minds.”

    Speaking of books, reviews are beginning to appear for Mr. King’s “Holly.” I should see if from the library, pretty soon.

    Power plays. Some leaders accrue power by designating and dehumanizing an “other.” And they come in every flavor.

    I’ll watch the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” and skip the Batman. I was never much of a fan, and the story lines are getting way to complicated.

    Tomato sauce: pasta, pizza and … ? It never moved very well, from the Club pantry … until I had the bright idea of putting the dried pasta, next to it. So, I guess some people were going, “Oh, yeah …” Go figure. Yams haven’t ever moved, at the Club. So, I put my four cans on the swap table. Checked last night, and … all the yams are gone from the food pantry. So, four cans off the swap table, and I’ll take them into the Club, tomorrow morning. Sigh.

    I hear there’s no biscuits and gravy, this Sunday morning 🙁 First they change the day, because the chef had a change in work schedule. And now she’s bailing because it’s her daughter’s birthday. Although maybe someone else might cook. Maybe. Oh, well, looks like burgers are still on for tomorrow night. Lew

  24. Chris,

    Remember Brendan Kavanaugh and the “Don’t Bash the Piano” series? Now we have the “Don’t bash the keyboard keys” scenario. Like you, I prefer USB ports and cables.

    Well, doubling IS a base 2 progression. In your case of 32% increase, the doubling time would be close to 2.5 years. (It’s slightly less, but close enough.) Of course, the premium only increases annually, so the next double past 16 wouldn’t happen exactly. But it would be 32 in 2.5 years. Meaning, go out to a total of 15 years, and an additional double after 2.5 years, and you have your 64. Yup, 15 years from now, if the rate of increase continued exactly at 32% per annum, then in 15 years from now you would be paying 64 times what it was prior to the recent increase.

    Okay, the 9 thing you asked about. Take a number. Mix up its digits. Subtract the new number from the original. The result will ALWAYS be evenly divisible by 9.

    Example A: 73 and 37. Neither is divisible by 9. But their difference is 36 which IS evenly divisible by 9.
    Example B: 4,738 and 3,487. The difference is 1,251. 1+2+5+1=9, so 1,251 is evenly divisible by 9. (139 is the answer.)
    I could probably play around with this for a few weeks of spare time (whatever that is) and come up with a proof. But that’s work. 😉

    Filthy weather with hard rain or high winds or both? Gotta stay indoors on days like that. Isn’t that like Rule 42 from the “How to Survive Life and Remain Sane” book?

    But, but, but it is more fun to challenge the elements, ignore the signs, and try to drive down the steep, slick road during the winter! Well, at least for some people it is. I was on a mountain in winter and the road froze up as I was leaving. Limited steering and couldn’t stop. It was terrifying. I was finally able to stop the vehicle, put it in “4 Wheel Drive Low”, place it in low gear and walk it down the mountain. Did I say that it was terrifying? Oh, and it was a private road. Near the bottom there was a vehicle ahead of me. They saw me, gave me the MFS (Middle Finger Salute) and locked the gate. With me on the wrong side. I was able to pile downed branches in the ditch, drive into a field, and return to the road on the good side of the gate.

    I totally agree about those natural gas lines. That development was several miles from the nearest main line. It cost the developers a small fortune to have gas in that area. However, the ritzy people didn’t want to deal with furnace oil, propane or firewood. Heating with electricity only in that area was a bad idea, as the power could go out during any and every thunderstorm. I would have used firewood.

    Mr. Miyagi says that rehab exercises are like breathing: very important. Best to listen to the Miyagis of this world.

    Dang, you’re checking the batten for scratches? Scratches are a sign of it actually being used. Normal wear and tear. Now Dame Avalanche’s tooth marks on it are a different story.


  25. Hi DJ,

    With hard wiring, there are just less things to go wrong. On consideration, the fact those wireless keyboards and mice work as long as they do given the tiny batteries, is quite the technical achievement. As you’d expect I only ever use rechargeable batteries and know way too much about that technology, but still. As it is I rely way too heavily on battery technology, and I know that eventually they’ll all let you down sooner or later. Hopefully you just have enough warning to ensure that nothing too horrid happens. On that note, not all lithium batteries share the same chemistry, and the ones with cobalt in them seem a bit exciting from my opinion, and like say a Wyvern, they take a bit of careful watching. May bite without warning!

    Oh yeah, silly me, that’s so obvious, but if you hadn’t pointed that fact out, I would not have noticed. Yes, doubling is hard wired into that number. 🙂 Thanks for stating the obvious! I agree, the numbers after about six years were bonkers, but fifteen years out, and it’s just totally crazy. But based on past experience, that’s where it’s all heading. It’s exciting! Like a roller coaster that has a high probability of jumping the tracks at the wrong moment. It’s gonna hurt.

    What is this spare time thing? I’ve heard of this… 😉 Doubly thanks (please excuse the numerical pun I worked in)! That was the rule of thumb that someone in my profession told me about long years ago.

    Rule 42 makes a lot of sense on windy days. Stay out from under tall trees. I’ve actually seen a lot of squashed houses around these parts to take that rule seriously. But a person needs to generally stay alert when among tall trees anyway, they might not like us lot which go around on two legs. You’d hope they’d know the difference with humans that were working towards their betterment, but to a tall tree, we might all look the same.

    Just out of curiosity, do you have any idea why the person in front of you locked the gate? You’re lucky that you weren’t bogged in the field. Yours is a Subaru isn’t it? They’re much like Suzuki’s in that they’re reasonably light weight and less prone to getting bogged, but with less ground clearance. And low range gearing is what you need in those conditions, that’s for sure. I’m not sure that they put transfer case gearboxes in Subaru’s these days.

    And yes, I totally agree. When in a remote area, there is no substitute for locally sourced firewood as a heating fuel. Now, that does make a lot of assumptions, one being that ritzy people know how to harvest usable firewood. It took me a lot of years to get that process exactly right, I can tell you. Spent several hours today sharpening all of the various saws and chains. There was that pile of chains which needed attending too. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but the dudes that sold me the electric chainsaw sharpener many years ago sent me a bit astray. The grinding disc was for 3/8 low profile chains (which are quite common), rather than 3/8 chains (which are for bigger saws). Now you might not think that 1.6mm isn’t much of a difference, but I can assure you that the tolerances are very fine indeed with chains. An amazing technology.

    Wax on, wax off! Such a great film. 🙂

    What? This is an outrage! Look, we gave you that batten all nice and stuff, with only a few chew marks (please ignore those, and anyway did anyone dispute them at the time of handover? Hmm?) So are you suggesting that Dame Avalanche has contributed more chew marks? This batten thing is getting right soiled. I may demand a refund! Yeah!



  26. Hi Pam,

    I like how your brain works, but as far as I’m aware down here, income is income is income! 😉 In some ways I believe the situation to be much worse, they’re thus described maybe so as to provide a level of comfort. I’ve heard some stories about just exactly what constitutes ‘cash’, and it all sounded a bit scary to me. Anyway, maybe it is me, I just have a different definition of what mad cash is.

    Pam, it was 1’C / 34’F this morning, but there was a bit of wind, so no frost was observed anywhere. We have a lot of apricot trees and they’re really early in the season and in blossom right now, so it would be kind of nice to get some fruit this year, maybe… It’s been about four years since we got any fruit from those trees.

    Yeah, it sounds great, and I’m rather envious of your arrangements. It’s such a good idea, but truth to tell, it would not have worked for either Sandra or I with any of our parents (who have all now passed on). They were a lot of trouble those people, and not for any good reason, that’s just how they were wired. Bonkers. At least we turned out OK.

    I’ll be interested to hear what you have to say about the olive oil when you get around to using it. The tomatoes impart such a lovely flavour. We use a little plastic sort of grate which keeps the tomatoes pushed down below the olive oil surface in jars, but mostly they sink in the oil anyway. Not sure how you feel about eggs, but adding the tomatoes during the winter months to an omelette is just superb, and you can cook the thing using the olive oil.

    Well, as a society we’re becoming more of an urbanised population all the time. Even the folks who head bush try to bring the city values with them. If I may suggest, too many deer spoils the forest. 😉 It might be that your forest may have an open understory anyway? It’s really hard to know what is normal for a forest in your area, and from my reading of early settlers accounts in these parts, it’s quite variable anyway. Are there any forested areas in your part of the world that are considered ‘old growth’? Larger trees generally prefer a more open forest so as to reduce competition, but it is really hard to say as each area is different.

    Deer culls go on around here, and there is no season for such things.



  27. Chris:

    I LOVE eggs. I eat a soft-boiled one every morning with sweet potatoes and cooked whatever greens are growing. Thanks for mentioning the plastic thingee to put in the olive oil to hold the dried tomatoes down. That might be important.

    We do have some old trees on the edge of our property. There are a couple of tulip poplars that look to be between 150 and 200 years old. I think they escaped felling (this hamlet was farmed by freed-slaves) because they were next to a now-abandoned farm road and a tiny house behind us. Along our dirt road that runs to the 2-lane highway there are a couple of venerable oak trees, one is reputed to be well over 200 years old. I cringe whenever a branch comes off of it.


  28. Hi Lewis,

    Well exactly, that’s the nub of the problem with social obligations. It would be like incurring a debt to the err, say the honoured society and then having them demand some appalling price for repayment of said debt. Of course the system can be abused, but then that is why reputation becomes important. People don’t want to have to worry about that either. But seriously, sooner or later, those are the arrangements which will be in place.

    Those Roman’s sure knew how to handle stone. I’m rather envious actually. I was thinking about breaking some rocks tomorrow, and every time I get stuck into that work I’m left thinking about the Roman’s and their feathers and wedges (which I have some – and the things do work). Such a clever technology, and even the cutting drill I use has a similar head to the cross headed steel bit the Romans used. Must have just worked.

    I’d also read that the northern Italian town was a bit out of the way, but at the same time was some sort of important ancient cross-roads. The rocks were hauled up to the temple, so transport must have been a much later problem, than it may have been during the construction. I reckon the local taboo would have been something of a bigger issue. For example, look at the dead English Kings found buried in car parks. We spoke about that a few months ago, and I reckon you’re right about the taboo on building on such sites. People know, but perhaps supermarket chains aren’t as concerned about such things? I’ve seen the Poltergeist film. Didn’t end well.

    Storms are very exciting, and it was a good day yesterday to spend indoors working on paid work. Today was drier, although still cold and cloudy. I spent several hours sharpening all of the various saws and chains (for the chainsaws) and felt pretty good about it all. A few weeks ago I did a deep dive on just exactly how do these cutting teeth work. Now I know. The folks who sold me the electric chainsaw sharpener, forgot to mention that the grinding disc supplied was only good for the same pitch but for low profile chains (which are more commonly found in smaller err, home saws). I’ve got some machines which use low profile chains, but most of them use the much bigger 3/8″ chain. Another reason the sharpener wasn’t quite doing what it should have been. I can sharpen the things by hand and have the tools to do so, but when you’re facing a dozen of the chains, the electric machine does assist expediting matters. Lesson learned, don’t take things for granted with these machines, there is no substitute for knowing.

    It was a warmer winter, so not only were the bees out and about for the past few weeks, but some of the native bees and other insects were also flying around doing their thing. This gives me some hope for the future given that varroa mite is now only several hundred kilometres away. Within a year or two at most, the mite things will wipe out the colony.

    You’re in autumn now, if a coat is needed. 🙂 Mind you, it was 1’C / 34’F this morning, and you sort of get used to the cold weather after a while. Hey, there was a bit of wind this morning, so I didn’t spot any frost, despite the cooler temperatures. Hope the blossoms survive.

    Man, I don’t go out of my way to have controversial discussions with the people I know. They bring that gear to me, and often I’ll casually shut the discussion down depending upon how open minded they are. It’s easy to re-direct a conversation like you’re saying, and that is just one option on the table. Sometimes I do want to ask people as to where did they get that opinion? It’s just not a very nice thing to do. 🙂

    You keep mentioning the book ‘Bowling Alone’. It sounds like a, I dunno is a good read even an appropriate description for such a topic? Dunno why, but like you I also enjoy my quiet time, it’s no hardship. When I used to live in the big smoke way back in the day, all those rule followers could give me a headache! 🙂 So I’d head off bush for some quiet time alone for a few days. People thought it was quirky, but it was more of a relief to the overwhelmed senses. It’s no good if your head hurts! 😉

    Well yeah, I thought everyone knew that? Life is bonkers, of course this is true and known. The trick is to make sure that bonkers life doesn’t make you personally bonkers. That’s the harder act. Hey, that is a funny-as website, I’m going to send it onto the Editor. I must say, there was a lot of click-bait there, but the one which gained my attention was this article: How I survived my family vacations by not going to them. Wise advice, and fortunately my lot rarely ever had any vacations. Yours, from what you’ve told me, sounded like my personal nightmare.

    Oooo, go Holly! So, Bowling Alone, dumped. Sorry dude! Holly, on the to-read list. Despite the rapid-book-turbulence, all is now good with the world. I noted that the reviewer may not have read: ‘If it bleeds’, where I believe Holly made an appearance. Oh well, mustn’t quibble over minor issues. Terribly inappropriate, but I had to laugh about Holly’s mothers fate. Ook! Naughty Mr King, but yeah, darkly amusing. Ah well, not everyone has a good grasp of statistics and risk, it happens. And books are magic. Lovely things.

    I guess what you say, goes to prove that people love someone else to blame, thus the well worn otherlings ploy.

    I respect your choice between the two films, and would likewise so choose. And Seth Rogen is a pretty amusing dude, I’d like to see him write a Star Trek film, how cool would that be? But alas, finding the time to watch films is not as easy to do as you’d imagine. Last year I went to the cinema and watched, oh hang on a second there – almost broke my own code of silence rule on that film. 😉 Hehe!

    Oh, that is a good idea of placing the associated items together in the Club pantry. Clever marketing. Truth to tell, I have no idea what a yam even is. Down here there is a local yam, Microseris walteri. Probably not the same thing! It is however, something I probably need to grow here, looks like a dandelion but has a much bigger tuber.

    Not good, about the lack of biscuits and gravy. Hope H can accommodate herself to the impending loss of essential gravy juices? Daughters birthday is kind of important to your chef. Hope they get their act together for the burgers? Has anyone else gotten on the beetroot bandwagon?



  29. Yo, Chris – The Romans were great engineers. One wonders how that all came about. I suppose they borrowed from the Etruscans and Greeks … and pushed the envelope. Never mind discovering that concrete, made with some of their home grown volcanic ash, was waterproof.

    Seems pretty simple. Don’t build (or bury your pets … or dead kids), on old Indian burial grounds. Don’t build on other people’s religious sites. Though that worked out pretty well for the early Christians. 🙂
    In Mexico, dig under a church and you’ll find an Aztec temple.

    According to Prof. Mass, we’re going to have about 10 days of almost perfect weather. Probably, the last gasps of the garden.

    Seems like people who sell you things, often forget to mention minor, but vital things. Such as, which gas to use, and that it takes two Tomatillos to tango. The last time I bought a lawn mower, luckily someone tipped me off. So, out of curiosity, I checked out the manual, that came with it. The gas issue was mentioned once, in itty bitty small print, that took a magnifying glass to read.

    Maybe, if no one is trucking bees into your hills, the Varro Mites might remain at bay. Or, not show up for awhile. Until a treatment has been developed? It will be interesting to hear of your inoculating each and every bee, with a vaccine. 🙂

    I could use a few quiet days, in the bush. But I’ve got this dog to walk. H did the oddest thing, the other day. She was dumped, unexpectedly, on me the other day, around noon. So, I did the usual. Put a towel down on the bed, and hoisted her up. About 12:45, she gave a howl. Not a bark, a howl. Just one. It was unexpected. Bad dream? Maybe I should install a doggie dream catcher, in my bedroom?

    I was reading more of the humor book, last night, and ran across something that reminded me of a comment you recently made. There’s a time line of “Burnout Through the Ages.” “1300: Half of Europe dies because they all just HAD to go to work that day and catch a plague.” “1500: The other half of Europe decides every human and natural resource should be extracted for its wealth and that this is a sold long-term strategy.”

    I’m psychic. I see many late, late nights in my future. I picked up King’s “Holly,” from the library, this morning. You probably wonder what I’m doing here, and not off somewhere reading. I meant to give you a trigger warning (this being a safe space, and all) over that review. It came from NPR, which can find political angles, under rocks. I’m just here for the story.

    Given your pace of life and responsibilities, I find it amazing that you can find time to see any films (even really bad ones) … or read, for that matter.

    Yams and Sweet Potatoes. The same or different? Inquiring minds want to know. So, I found this …

    “No, yams and sweet potatoes are not the same. Yams have rough, dark brown skin that is often compared to tree bark, and their flesh is dry and starchy like a regular potato. Sweet potatoes have smooth reddish skin, softer flesh (when cooked), and a sweet flavor.”

    But, I guess, early in history, they were pretty much the same. Or one yielded the other. Or, something. They are not interchangeable, in recipes. I like neither. Although, Sweet Potato Pie is quit good. That’s because, throw enough of the right spices at it, and it tastes like pumpkin pie. Same texture, too.

    I saw our Club manager, this morning, and I guess he’s pulling off some kind of biscuits and gravy, tomorrow. Wondered if I minded the canned sausage gravy. Given my undiscerning and partially dead taste buds, it’s all the same, to me.

    I doubt the beet root burgers will catch on. I forgot to check at the grocery, the other night, to see if they had any decent pickled beets. Even with third rate beets, I found it quit tasty. Lew

  30. Hi Pam,

    Eggs are good aren’t they? Probably they’re my main source of animal protein. Plants have plenty of protein despite what some may say. Hey can you imagine the sheer distress of the psychotic egg eating chicken incident here? We’d had to buy eggs for months whilst we worked out what to do about the problem.

    Your breakfast sounds to me like the breakfast of champions! 🙂 Good stuff.

    Yeah, the little plastic things were sold at the same business that sells the glass jars (and metal lids). I forget what they’re called, but can look them up if you need? I think they’re usually used for olives stored in olive oil, but will work just as well with the dehydrated tomatoes.

    Oh my, I grow a tulip tree here, and it is remarkably fast growing with a dead straight trunk. They can get big, and are apparently the tallest trees on the east coast of your continent. Your description makes me wonder whether the tree was originally intended as a shade tree for the old tiny house? Around these parts you can occasionally see an abandoned run down farm house with established trees around it. Quite picturesque.

    Yup, those will be big branches, best to stay alert around the trees. Occasionally the big trees here will topple over due to either too much rain, or strong wind gusts, or a combination of the two. Takes a lot of work to clear one of those trees from the roads.

    Another cool and cloudy day today, but the sun will make a special guest appearance for most of this week. Don’t worry, the forecast suggests that the following week will again be wet. Oh well. Soon you’ll be in winter.



  31. Hi Lewis,

    Hmm, now that you mention it, engineering can win battles and provide decent fortifications. So, there would have been some incentive for the Roman’s to out-compete their adversaries on that front. The trick is affording the ongoing maintenance. This is an issue I wonder about here, but that may be just me. The more elaborate the infrastructure, I’d imagine that the costs would be commensurately greater?

    Oh, has someone worked out how the Roman’s produced such durable and long lived concrete? I’d wondered about that subject. Hey, makes you wonder what we as a society do with all that ash from those coal fired power stations? Probably quite nasty stuff.

    I agree, that taboo seems sensible, and thanks for the Pet Semetary memory. Scared the daylights out of me that book, but then that’s what you get reading the thing in the wee hours of the night, when things go bump. It could be a rat, but it may also be something else… The baby in the story was never quite the same after the incident. 🙂 On the other hand if you were going to chuck another temple on top of a much older one, doesn’t that send a strong signal that the new god means business? After all, the facts in this case speak for themselves!

    Hmm, the good professor has an essay on El Nino. I’ve also been looking at those sea surface temperature maps with a sense of foreboding. Anyway, it is also worthwhile noting that our weather folks down here have noted that whilst the sea surface temperatures are indicative of that call, the atmosphere has other plans, and this has an effect down here which may not extend into your part of the world. So they’re yet to call it.

    We’re in for a nice week of weather. But the following week is looking somewhat damp again. We’ll see.

    Yeah, exactly about the folks selling things, and they might just assume. You never know. One of the things which is annoying me right now is that I have to be across so much detail because of these sorts of issues. Basically don’t assume and don’t trust with such matters has become a bit of a motto lately. What do you? Yikes! I’m presuming that was a two-stroke gas mower? They’re pretty rare, but they won’t work with the more usual gas stuff. And whoa, I’m sure someone has tried to put the higher octane gas stuff into mowers… Not good.

    A treatment? Well there is some sort of miticide, but even then I dunno man. I’ll probably give up on those insects when it happens. There’s no point fighting city hall, and they don’t really seem to be ‘doing what it takes’ to get rid of the mites. Even now they’re moving hives around, so it’s just a matter of time. To be honest, it does seem a bit weird that the mites can take out every colony, every where. Few predators are that effective, because eventually they eat themselves out of house and home and die off. Most hives are probably way too stressed out what with keepers moving them around, not giving them enough room and taking their winter food stores, but I read that the mites pretty much wipe out even the wild hives which have established themselves, so that is a bad sign.

    Dogs dream, and I dunno about you, but when they’re having a bad dream – and you can tell – I gently wake them. They look pretty happy to find themselves out of the dream. Maybe H was having a nightmare, or given it was a howl, some sort of heritage memory? The spitz family of dogs are close to wild stock, despite some of their diminutive size.

    Yeah, that’s pretty much how it rolled with me. I didn’t decide to go to work, they just didn’t let me know in advance that they were rather unwell. That’s the world I inhabit, and I doubt the medieval folks had much choice in the matter either. It’s funny to think that the cleaner the house was in those days, the better the survival rate given the infection was from flea bites. Makes you wonder if anyone noticed, but I’m sure they did. You read old books, and the folks back then are just as smart as we are. The Editor is reading Robinson Caruso, and despite the protagonist being a bit of jerk, he may just get his redemption after the ship wreck. I tend to believe that Herman Melville made a close study of that book for his classic ‘Moby Dick’. Do we really need to know so much detail about whales and the whaling industry? So boring. And dare I mention it, but he ripped the classic first sentence, albeit he gave it a twist for the folks of the day. There was a character Ishmael in Robinson Caruso who went by another more Anglicised name. Yes, very amusing Mr Melville.

    Oh yeah, that is a late night book. Good luck, and I hope for a report on the reading festivities? And am envious! Well, I was going to ask that question, but perhaps you too can type super-fast, although probably unlike me this may be practice on your part and not the outcome of weird gobermont experiments like what I endured. 🙂 True story.

    Oh you’re funny. I really think you’d enjoy the film, but anywhoo… 🙂 Speaking of frenetic, I dug by hand (using the hand auger) a dozen post holes for a sturdy fence which will surround a much larger vegetable and citrus enclosure today. Got a blister on thumb for my efforts. Oh well. The space will work out in metric to six hundred square metres, not sure what that is in imperial measurements, but it’s a lot. I’d been giving a bit of thought to this crop rotation issue and came up with a solution.

    Well I guess they’re different tubers then. I suspect that it is too cool here for either tubers. I’ve never really heard of anyone growing sweet potatoes around these parts. However, after the initial forest clearing, this area was known for its potatoes and berries. No wonder the soils were stripped to the walls. Oh, when I dug the post holes today in some parts I discovered top soil down to about a foot. Not bad, and in one small area I’m going to have to attract some worms as the clay was like concrete. That was hard, but most of the soil was looking pretty good. Always pleasing to see ones efforts playing out.

    I’m sure you can buy sweet potato around these parts, but it’s not a commonly seen tuber. It was quite nice when I have eaten it, but I recall that it had to be cooked until it was soft.

    Hehe! Respect for supporting the canned sausage gravy. I’m sure it’s quite tasty, otherwise it wouldn’t be sold. Hey, it might be better? You never know. We all lose taste buds over the years, even under fluffy optimal conditions, like I enjoy natural yoghurt nowadays and couldn’t stand the stuff about a decade ago. One day Lewis, we’ll no doubts be salivating over soylent green. So tasty, especially the little fleshy bits, tastes a bit like pork I’ve heard! 🙂

    Drats, I thought our fortunes would be made. I was thinking some sort of parasitic franchising arrangement called maybe I dunno Oz Burgers, with beetroot offered. Sure, the customers may be confused, but only once… 🙂 Probably won’t fly, back to the drawing board.

    Cheers and better get writing!


  32. Yo, Chris – Well, it just so happens … when I worked security, at the local coal fired steam plant, some of my days were spent letting huge trucks, in and out the gate. The plant burned coal. They were hauling the burned coal “fly ash,” a few miles down the road to a concrete plant. I see you can also make bricks out of the stuff.

    Yes, I saw Prof. Mass’s post on El Nino. Dryer and warmer than average, for us, after the first of the year.

    Two-stroke gas mower? Got me.

    You know, I don’t think I ever read the entire, of “Moby Dick.” Think I tried a couple of times. Well, all that whaling knowledge may come in handy, in future 🙂

    I started “Holly,” last night. Not quit the door stop, that some King novels are. Only 450 pages. I don’t have to break out the wrist splints. I’m about 50 pages in. But finding it hard to read the “icky” parts.

    Old rock lyric: “I get blisters on my fingers!” Tip of the hat to the Beatles.

    Someone asked the Master Gardeners about attempting Sweet Potatoes, here. They were advised it was too heartbreaking. I find the flavor too sweet, for my taste.

    I thought Soylent Green tasted like chicken?

    You know, I just happened to think that we have “Outback Steakhouse”, here. In fact, there are 1,000 locations world wide. The company started in Florida. Go figure. I think there’s one a little east of here. I’ve never been. But you know, I bet they have burgers on the menu. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t have beets on them. Investigation, to follow. On line. Not in person.

    Our state has some pretty stringent anti-eviction laws. The feeling I get is that, in past, there were a lot of landlords who were “bad actors.” Nothing I can put my finger on, but I think the pendulum has swung the other way, and now it’s more tenants who are bad actors.

    Seen on t-shirts: “Books The Original Hand-Held Device,” “Bad Decisions Make Great Stories”, “The Garden is Calling and I Must Go,” “Off to Buy Another Plant I Don’t Need,” and, “I’m told I have two flaws. 1.) I don’t listen. 2.) Something else they were rattling on about.” This moment of levity brought to you by Acorn Media.

    And, something interesting from L.A. Someone bought Marilyn Monroe’s last house. And the applied for a permit to demolish it. Someone noticed, and a move is afoot to declare it a historic site. The part I found interesting is that it was bought by an LLC / Private Equity Firm, and even the county government can’t figure out WHO bought the thing. We’re seeing more and more cases like that, in a lot of different areas. I think, sooner or later, there will be some laws passed for more transparency. Maybe.

    H are off for biscuits and gravy. Maybe. Lew

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