Monday, 21 August 2017

The Big Jam

This blog is now available as an mp3 podcast through the link: www.ferngladefarm.com.au


One of my favourite books is “The Big Short” by the author Michael Lewis. The book is an engrossing view into the dark world of sub-prime US mortgage bonds and that story ends with the very unpleasant Global Financial Crisis in 2008. As a story, The Big Short follows several quirky characters who decide well before the Global Financial Crisis to individually make the unexpected gamble that the US sub-prime mortgage bonds would fail spectacularly at some point in the future (for that gamble is what a “Short” is). And we all know how that sub-prime mortgage bond story ended.

As I mentioned before, the book is engrossing. Once I began reading, I really had a great deal of trouble putting the book down. I fondly recall many pleasurable hours sitting in various cafes (possibly when I should have been working) enjoying a coffee and chuckling to myself at the sheer chicanery of Wall Street and the US bond market. The antics of the quirky few who decided to bet against Wall Street and the US mortgage bond market were also highly entertaining.

Of course that true story did not end well because the Global Financial Crisis wreaked serious havoc on people’s lives. It is also worth mentioning though that whilst a lot of dubious paper wealth was destroyed during that crisis, I don’t recall many physical assets (such as housing) being destroyed. And after that time, people who may have lost a lot of dubious paper wealth, still lived, loved and laughed as people have done through many crises before that one.

The book began with a quote from a long since deceased author: Leo Tolstoy (of War and Peace fame); who is quoted as having written:

“The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.”


Bam! - from the long deceased Mr Tolstoy. The editor calls this 'can't be told'.

The author of The Big Short is Mr Michael Lewis who has written numerous books over the years. Another of those books again delved into the murky world of high finances. That book is called “Liar’s Poker” and the author tells his own story as a young bond trader. The book is also a worthy, if somewhat disturbing, read. Between the two books I have learned one or two interesting titbits of information about the world of high finance including the following (very alert readers will note that the two concepts are inherently linked):
  • Banks prefer flows of funds rather than piles of cash; and
  • An interest only loan is akin to a rental with debt.
Those two titbits of information alone were quite insightful into illuminating the behaviour of lending institutions. Of course Mr Tolstoy rightly pointed out that many intelligent people have already formed opinions on the subject so they must know how things work. I on the other hand profess to being mildly befuddled by the dark arts of high finance and so I keep both my eyes and mind open. However I did read today that Australia now has an alarmingly high household-debt-to-income ratio of 190 per cent. High finance indeed!


That bloke Mr Tolstoy was sure onto something. The other day I was thinking about the practical implications of his quote in my own life. An example of those implications is that long term readers may recall that the editor and I make most of the jams and preserves that we consume here from scratch. I have not purchased any jams or preserves for years. And the interesting thing is that whenever I discuss jams or preserves with other people, nobody has ever said to me: Far out, you must consume a lot of jams and preserves. Nope, I don’t believe that anybody has said that to me.

The longest term readers of all will recall that the editor and I constructed the house here using only basic tools. We undertook all of the work involved in that house construction too, with the exception of the: excavations; plumbing; and mains electrical works.  Constructing the house ourselves wasn’t a bad effort for a pair of accountants (office fauna!). The funny thing is that whenever I mention to people that we constructed the house ourselves, the first question is inevitably: Is the house made of mud brick? What a strange question and Mr Tolstoy may possibly suggest that those opinions come from intelligent folk.

On very rare occasions (now), I may mention to other people that the editor and I produce our supply of country wines and sake (rice wine). Most of those country wines have to be aged for at least twelve months so it is a complex manufacturing and logistical task and we are quite chuffed with our efforts. Unfortunately, the majority of people upon hearing – or seeing – that alcohol production process tend to remark: You must consume a lot of alcohol. That is clearly the opinion of intelligent folk who already have solidly formed opinions (although strangely not about jam and preserves).

To my mind a lot of the beliefs we hold onto are dysfunctional at best, and dangerous at their worst. But the problem becomes that few people want to consider that they are in fact holding onto beliefs that are as tightly held as the most fervent beliefs of a well groomed cult follower! And anyway, who wants to appear to other people as anything less than intelligent?

The singer Peter Gabriel wrote and sang a beautiful song in the late 1970’s about letting go. The song is titled: Solsbury Hill. Let’s hear a bit about the subject of letting go from Mr Gabriel:

“Climbing up on Solsbury Hill
I could see the city light
Wind was blowing, time stood still
Eagle flew out of the night
He was something to observe
Came in close, I heard a voice
Standing stretching every nerve
Had to listen had no choice
I did not believe the information
(I) just had to trust imagination
My heart going boom boom boom
"Son," he said "Grab your things,
I've come to take you home."

One of my personal favourite Mr Tolstoy discussions is the potential for lithium-ion batteries for use in off grid solar power systems. I have absolutely no idea about lithium-ion and have very little experience with those batteries. On this subject I clearly need to get at least a little bit intelligent and so I went to the Wikipedia webpage for the mineral Lithium and under the title “Reserves” read this most recent entry:

“On June 9, 2014, the Financialist stated that demand for lithium was growing at more than 12 percent a year; according to Credit Suisse, this rate exceeds projected availability by 25 percent. The publication compared the 2014 lithium situation with oil”


That latest estimate of the reserves of the mineral Lithium did not make for encouraging reading. It is never a good long term situation when demand outstrips supply (unless you are a supplier).

The bigger problem is that I see and hear a lot of beliefs that appear to me to defy reality. But then the conclusion could also be drawn that I am not very intelligent.

“To keep in silence I resigned
My friends would think I was a nut
Turning water into wine
Open doors would soon be shut
So I went from day to day
Tho' my life was in a rut
"Till I thought of what I'd say
Which connection I should cut
I was feeling part of the scenery
I walked right out of the machinery
My heart going boom boom boom
"Hey" he said "Grab your things
I've come to take you home."
(Back home.)”

This past week a huge storm rolled up from the Southern Ocean. Every day this past week, we have enjoyed rain, and then some more rain (and a bit more rain!) I quite enjoy a good storm like this and the skies put on a good show.
Yet another storm rolls up over the valley
Even the earth worms were escaping the seriously damp ground by seeking shelter on the veranda. It was very nice of the local birds to clean up all that earth worm business the following morning.
The earth worms were escaping the seriously damp ground by seeking shelter on the veranda
The rain did occasionally cease and that sun thingee (I do remember that sun thing) tenuously poked its head out from behind the clouds. On one such occasion the editor and I went to the local tip shop to pick up some building materials for use in future projects. And we discovered a huge quantity of galvanised steel 10mm x 10mm (just under half inch) RHS (Rectangular Hollow Square) tubes which will be used in the tomato enclosure as garden stakes. The tip shop also had a good quantity of PVC pipes which will be useful for the garden water simplification project (which I may not have previously mentioned). Anyway, the tip shop had good stuff, and we picked up 50 of those galvanised tubes for a throw out price. Winning!
Galvanised RHS tube and PVC pipe was scored at the local tip shop
Incidentally, I reckon that local tip has one of the best views of any tip in the country. You can even see the skyline of Melbourne on the horizon.
The local tip has one of the best views of any tip in the country
Observant readers will note that the vehicle on the sign in the photo above is in fact pointing in the opposite direction to the arrow. Fortunately, not being an intelligent man, I know to follow the arrow and ignore the abstract vehicle drawing. Beliefs may differ in that regard though. (Edit: perhaps you are meant to drive in reverse).

I had to seize breaks in the rain to undertake work this week. During two of those breaks, I brought up two cubic metres (2.6 cubic yards) of composted woody mulch. That composted woody mulch was then placed onto the recently excavated area in the now much expanded tomato enclosure. To be honest, that enclosure is now so huge that it will be hosting many new varieties of vegetables later in the year (hello corn, capsicum and eggplant).
Two cubic metres of composted woody mulch were placed onto the recently excavated and expanded tomato enclosure
After the first cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) was placed onto the excavations, the enclosure looked like this:
The tomato enclosure after a cubic metre of composted woody mulch was applied to the recent excavations
Observant readers may spot in the above photo a Kookaburra (a bird with a big head and brain, but no preconceived ideas about high finance) sitting on the fencing and keeping a close eye open for grubs and insects. After the second cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) of composted woody mulch was applied to the enclosure it looked like this:
The tomato enclosure after the second cubic metre of composted woody mulch was applied to the recent excavations
I have been reading recently about the experiences of a Buddhist retreat during a bushfire in California in 2008 (Fire Monks - thanks Lewis for the recommendation). As an outcome of that reading, I have been simplifying the water systems here. This week, I added a valve (which is the fancy name for an on / off lever switch for water) and attached that water pipe to one of the recently cemented treated pine posts. That pipe is occasionally used to transfer water from the reserve water tank up to the main house water tanks and the previous connections were a bit dodgy.
The simplification of the water systems is an ongoing project and this week it involved installing a valve and an attaching a pipe to a sturdy treated pine post
I run two off grid solar power systems here. A month or two back I added more solar panels to the smaller of the two off grid solar power systems. That increase in energy generation potential meant that I also had to upgrade the battery charge controller to a more substantial controller. The incredible rain this week provided the perfect opportunity to work indoors and upgrade the controller.
A new battery charge controller was added to the smaller of the two off grid solar power systems here
Spring is almost here and I observed that the Manchurian pear is almost in bloom:
The Manchurian pear is almost in bloom this week
Other spring flowers are almost upon us here too:
Jonquils are beginning to flower as spring rapidly approaches
Almonds are almost about to produce blooms. It may be a very good almond year here
One of the huge variety of herbage plants in the orchard is producing red flowers
The many daffodils are just about to flower in full
Who doesn’t appreciate Pentstemons?
I reckon Mr Gabriel needs to get the final words this week, so here goes:

“When illusion spin her net
I'm never where I want to be
And liberty she pirouette
When I think that I am free
Watched by empty silhouettes
Who close their eyes but still can see
No one taught them etiquette
I will show another me
Today I don't need a replacement
I'll tell them what the smile on my face meant
My heart going boom boom boom
"Hey" I said "You can keep my things,
they've come to take me home."”

The temperature outside now at about 9.30pm is 5’C (41’F). So far this year there has been 583.4mm (23.0 inches) which is more than last week’s total of 530.6mm (20.9 inches).

52 comments:

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Didn’t a fellow named Forster write a book titled “A Tip with a View”? :-). Not to be confused with his magnum opus, “A Tub with a View.” But that’s all subject to change, given I hold those ideas as opinions, rather than beliefs.

Which is what I wondered while reading your post, this morning. How similar are opinions and beliefs and are opinions more flexible ... subject to change ... than beliefs? Might depend on the person or situation? Whew. And all that before my first cuppa tea!

I watched that documentary abut batteries, not long ago. There was a lot about lithium batteries. Pluses and minuses. Such as, bursting into flame. But, there’s a lot of work in the technology of batteries. Lithium and otherwise. But, if the supply of lithium is lacking, it’s all rather pointless. With your new found financial expertise, could we perhaps corner the market in lithium? I could probably scrounge up $20 to kick in. Heck, I could probably find that much going through the sofa cushions. If I had a sofa ....

I watched a little documentary on Tesla, last night. Flawed genius. Part of the American Experience PBS series.

The Editor may be right about that sign. Here, we drive up to the tip, but have to back in to transact the business of actually pitching stuff into the tip. Backing in is always a bit dicey and I always worry I’ll puncture a tire. But, they do keep the deck pretty clean.

I’m hoping my saying about “Anytime anything interesting happens in the sky in this part of the world, we’re socked in”, doesn’t come through. The eclipse starts in about an hour and a half and, yes, we’re socked in. It might burn off before totality. Or, not. Oh, well. Everything will get dark and we’ll still have stuff to eat. I made a good sized tray of blueberry crisp and picked up some “good” ice cream. Lew

PS: All your flowers are gearing up. Ours are trembling on the edge of winding down. Fall isn't quit in the air, yet.

Damo said...

Hi Chris, I love a good tip shop. Most of the stuff is often tat, but it is always fun poking through, especially at the well organised enterprises. One memorable highlight, a cold tassie winter day my friend and I spent $5 at the local tip shop and got enough materials for a small brick rocket stove and two old style beer mugs with the clear bottoms. Great investment!

Oh, I found the short story competition. Retro-style solar system stories, I will give it a crack! Full disclosure I find it difficult writing something which is clearly impossible, but there is so much fun to be had with that setting I think I can cross that mental barrier!

The friends roofing went well, it was a bit fiddly rolling out the blue/foil liner, especially with a bit of wind but with lots of tape we got there.

Today a large rubbish skip arrives, we cleaned out underneath the family house on the weekend and there is now a large pile of waste to be removed. I remarked that putting something under the house is where you put things to die. As you said, wasted income. Almost all the things we are throwing out could have been salvaged or sold 5 years ago, but not now. The saddest piece was a large timber desk with heavy timber drawers and a huge top with a green leather (vinyl?) insert. Think desk of a 1930s banker. Unfortunately white ants had got into it (not the house thankfully) so it has to go. On the bright side I have managed to sell a few items. Determining original ownership is difficult so I suggested we use the money for a dinner out somewhere :-p

NZ job hunt progresses well. I have an in person interview on Friday. The job is based in Christchurch, but head office is in Brisbane so that worked out convenient.

Damo

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Business is tough no doubts about that. Mr Burns wrote something about: The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. He isn't wrong and oft times the best of intentions may not translate into a viable business. Low expectations and even lower overheads tend to provide some buffer, but you know at the end of the day a business has to make profits otherwise it eats into capital - and then after that comes debt. My gut feeling is that that applies to the larger project of our societies too. Debt is the thing to keep an eye on in that circumstance, but I could be wrong. Of course a clever person knows when to jump ship and it may be better to jump early and be wrong, than to wait until the ship has hit the iceberg and is taking on water. Again, dunno, I'm just guessing and have no idea really. I have been gobsmacked at how far the whole money printing thing has gone on. You have to admit that it is pretty impressive. My gut feeling tells me that some of that printed money has to be disappeared sooner or later and on a regular basis so as to avoid inflationary impacts in the world of real goods and services (financial products and housing seem to absorb that inflationary impact down here).

Thanks for the perspective on libraries. I had a mate that used a mobile phone in about 1993, he was an early adopter, but also appeared to be well financed by his parents, although he always dodged those sorts of probing questions. You have to recall that that was a recession time down here and money was very tight and people splashing it around sort of stood out. We had a very unflattering term for people like that back in those days - it rhymed with the word banker but the first letter was a "w". Strangely, people are the opposite of that nowadays. Do they call that conspicuous consumption? Dunno.

Sorry for the digression. :-)! Hmm, growth and progression is a complex key performance indicator for a building that is used to store the communities supply of books. I wonder whether they have forgotten the origins of the word: Common-wealth? The English film (Beautiful Fantastic?) that you recommended recently portrayed those aspects of library culture and the film expressed a barely concealed desire to rebel against that culture. Dunno really, not all change is good. Mind you, you enjoy film media supplied by the library. I used to enjoy the quiet silence of libraries, but then I enjoy the quiet silence of the forest too, which to be honest is rarely quiet, but the sounds sort of feel like they should be there. It is hard to explain that feeling using words.

Stop it! Hehe! You are teasing me with all this talk of blueberry crisps and quality ice cream. Yum to all of that good food. Hey, I've been reading up on propagating blueberries as I uncovered the various blueberry plants which were at one end of the tomato enclosure (they were covered with dead tomato vines - a long story of garden slackness). They seem quite simple to propagate. The problem is I don't reckon the plants have enough hardwood stems to be able to take cuttings from. Oh well, next year I guess.

Oh! I've heard of "peevish wrangling" before. Hmm, rather tiresome that, old chap. ;-)! The larger questions remain: Was Lucy Honeychurch happy and does that even matter? On the other hand, in those days social status was out front and centre which may be preferable to the sort of deceit that goes on today. Dunno, what do you reckon about that? I feel that there is a certain benefit to that arrangement these days as people avoid the obligations that come with privilege. Dunno.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

What a question to consider before breakfast. Far out! So the editor and I put the best brains in the household to work on that problem (that was Toothy and Sir Scruffy if you were at all interested!). Unfortunately, Toothy and Sir Scruffy after consideration came back with a metaphor: Beliefs are like a pin cushion whilst Opinions are like the pins in that cushion. I then looked at the dogs and asked the hard question: "What the f...?" After pointing out that I don't understand nuffin, they then went on to give an example based on this weeks blog. An opinion could be expressed as follows: Every household in the country will soon have solar panels with a lithium-ion battery storage facility as of course that technology will get cheaper in the future.

The dogs went on to explain that there are two beliefs expressed in that opinion (and possibly more). 1) Technology will save us; and 2) The invisible hand of the market will ensure that useful technology gets cheaper.

Hmm, I reckon the dogs are onto something there. What do you reckon about their observations and that example?

The really funny thing about battery technology is that I reckon there is something strange in the whole lithium-ion battery beliefs. The reason I write that is because people can easily install other types of batteries right now. I use lead acid gel (calcium gel solution) batteries for that task and they work fine. It is not as if batteries haven't been around in one form or another for 140 years. The lithium-ion batteries require an additional layer of complexity over lead acid batteries and that is a battery management system. That system monitors the individual cell voltages down to three decimal places I believe, but I have no experience with those systems. That sort of monitoring tells me that the technology itself may be less resilient than people consider. I mean what could possibly go wrong with that sort of technology and need for accuracy? And there have been incidents of thermal runaway. Not something you want to experience.

From my reading, and I know you are kidding around, but that lithium business seems to be tightly wrapped up.

That is a serious concern with the tyres. I spotted some barbed wire on the ground at the tip the other day. To the credit of the people working there, they picked it up pretty quickly. It would have been dumped next to the steel recycling bin by someone who was being thoughtless. I can back the trailer pretty well (lots of practice). Mind you, when I picked up the wood heater from a warehouse I was a bit flustered and backed the trailer into a box which I should have seen. Fortunately there was no damage, but the store-man was getting ready to give me the bad news and ask for some form of payment.

How did the eclipse go? At least you had the blueberry crisp. Yum!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Oh yeah, there is plenty of dross in between the gems at a tip shop. It pays to know what you intend to do with your finds though. No point relocating the tip shop to a more convenient site such as the place that you are living at. :-)!

Second hand bricks are really expensive these days. Hey, did you know that occasionally in Tasmania you can come across old convict marked bricks? Cool. I'm sure there are plenty of reproduction convict bricks out there too though! I salute you beer mugs! Hehe. Fun stuff. You could always make up a story about the beer mugs too saying that once long ago they were utilised by none other than Mr David Boon. I heard on the radio a couple of weeks back that a Tassie punk band named Luca Brasi met David Boon and they sounded pretty chuffed by that meeting.

How did the rocket stove go? You read about people talking them up and I have to admit that I have wondered about them.

Yah. Cross that mental barrier. I enjoy your writing. Sword battles, dodgy taverns and barbarians on a cold impoverished surface of Mars comes to mind every time I think about that competition. Alas my skills lay elsewhere. I still haven't finished The Magic Toilet story and I'm thinking about a young man heading into the now quiet big smoke on a quest to retrieve rare metals and staying a few days at the farm beforehand. The story will follow the guy into the now quiet big smoke. Dunno.

Gotta love installing blue sisalation on a windy day... Who would have thought that the stuff tears too.

Well done with the skip and the underfloor cleanout. No doubt those white ants would have enjoyed transitioning between the desk and the house. Not good. Air flow keeps timber dry and termites love damp timber. That is a very diplomatic solution to the problem. Very nice.

Good luck with the job hunt and fingers crossed.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thought you might enjoy this article: From the edge of the Solar System, Voyager probes are still talking to Australia after 40 years.

The photos are superb and they bring back many happy memories of pouring over the National Geographic magazine in sheer wonder at the alien-ness of the photos. Plus it is hard not to marvel at the realities of interstellar travel. The battery they used in those Voyager spacecraft was a truly ingenious chunk of simple and rugged technology (a bit hot to handle for us mere mortals though).

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

I have never read 'The big short', this does seem to be a serious omission on my part considering my interest in finance.

Oh how I agree with the quote from Tolstoy, brilliant.

Have never heard of a tip shop and reckon that we don't have them.

Drat I am now hooked on is there any difference between opinions and beliefs. I guess that it is just a difference in strength if there is a difference.

I have lived through one eclipse of the sun, not seen because of cloud but I have never forgotten the dark and the birds going to roost, it was weird.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I think you’re hounds may be full of potential rosella treats :-). Tech will not “save” us. As to “hand of the market / technology gets cheaper” ... well, Adam Smith apparently never heard the term “What the traffic will bear...” Although, I suppose that could be that ol’ invisible hand. The term “bait and switch” also comes to mind. Price fixing. Monopolies.

Sometimes, price setting IS manipulated from within industries. But, other times, I think it’s just “keeping an eye on what competitors are doing. Price wars are kind of exciting for the consumer ... until they end and lost ground is regained.

A recent example, here, is that up til just a couple of years ago, we had state run liquor stores. Beer and wine could be bought at the local grocery store, but “hard” liquor had to be bought at a state store. Well, it went to a vote of the people and state control of liquor ended. One of the persuasive tactics used to persuade voters was “liquor prices will get cheaper.” Didn’t happen. I think they actually rose, without government controls.

Thermal runaway = burst into flames :-). There was some rather spectacular footage in the battery documentary. Thermal runaway = cool explosions. It’s a guy thing :-).

Well, the eclipse. General consensus, in this part of the world is “I thought it would get darker.” :-). It was a bit on the disappointing side. Even though we had well over 90% totality, and, it did get noticeably darker, shadows did not disappear. Light sensitive outdoor lighting did kick on. Otherwise ... I got to know one of the other fellows that lives here, a bit better. Oh, we’d always said “hello” but that was about it. He’s not well thought of. I’m reserving judgement. General consensus is he takes, but doesn’t give back. Hmmm. We’ll see.

There was no blueberry crisp to take home. And, it disappeared, very fast. Several ladies said how good it was. Well. Put enough butter and sugar on cardboard, smother it in ice cream and it will fly :-).

I finished up watching the lectures on “Great Utopian and Dystopian Literature.” Pretty interesting (to me), stuff. The professor banged on quit a bit about “genre hybridity”, which I hadn’t given much thought to. So, in fiction you have genres. Westerns, detective novels, romance, science fiction, etc. etc.. So, maybe you have a western, with a lot of romance in it. Or, a science fiction novel that involves a lot of mystery and detective work. At what point does it become a hybrid? Are hybrids separate genres?

Just out of curiosity, I did a catalog search (not that I think much of cataloging, these days) for “dystopian fiction.” Around 500 titles popped up. (!). I also did a search for “apocalyptic fiction.” Only about 60 titles popped up. The title lists have a bit of a description of the book. Some of it seems pretty “out there.” There were a few titles that caught my interest. Very few. I may (or may not) get back to them when winter sets in. A lot of dystopian fiction ... a dystopian society ... seems to happen after some apocalyptic event. EMPs, either man made or of the solar flare variety seem big. Lew

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

The total solar eclipse was awesome! After the discouraging weather forecast Sunday evening, we woke up Monday morning to a much more promising forecast of partly cloudy skies. That they were, and the clouds (primarily thin streaks of cirrus) obliged by staying away from the sun during most of the partial phase and all of totality. Thus we got to see the corona and hear how the cicadas (also called locusts) started singing as darkness came on and stopped as it got light again. We felt a noticeable temperature drop too. What I especially noticed was how suddenly it got dark and then got light again. The last couple of minutes before totality it was as if a giant dimmer switch turned down the light level from still fairly bringht to twilight. Unlike normal twilight, the sky was reddish around the entire horizon, not just where the sun had set. After totality ended the dimmer switch effect brought the light level up pretty rapidly. We had a long view to the east and watched as light levels rose progressively farther east. Seriously cool! If there is ever a total solar eclipse where you could get to it, I recommend doing so.

I beg to differ somewhat on the aftereffects of the 2008 crash. In poorer areas such as where I live, many communities are still suffering from the loss of tax revenues. In this area the subprime mortgage market put a lot of people into houses which the folks could no longer afford in the wake of the crash and the loss of jobs following it. After the crash, too many houses became vacant, house sales slowed and prices went down, and thus property tax revenues have gone down. Communities and tax districts which budgeted based on property tax revenues in place prior to the crash found expenditures exceeding incomes, including the fire and school districts where I live. Our fire district closed one of its two fire houses. Some houses around us are still vacant and others are not being well maintained, so in fact the crisis has affected the physical stock of housing in this area. Illusory wealth has real effects on real stuff when people who acted out of a belief in it find themselves kicked in the rear end when the illusion evaporates.

Claire

TalkingTrees said...

Hello Chris

This weeks post resonates on a lot of levels concerning beliefs and opinions. I have known people who believe things that fly in the face of their circumstances and the social contexts they live in. Unfortunately it caused and causes them to act dangerously for themselves and others. I've learned to step back from those who live ideologically bound lives because beliefs seem unshakeable. I think if you live in 'the bush' in Australia you see actions that defy empirical experience. Like the ongoing clearing of trees in water catchment areas to grow 'pasture' on land that would never be classed as arable. This is followed by electric fencing to keep the kangaroos off. Of course no one who acts in this way thinks we are other than crazy or lazy because we refuse to clear and indeed encourage regrowth in some areas that should never have been cleared in the first place. Is that a Tolstoy moment?

As for alcohol and jam sounds like a good hook for a song. We have a store cupboard with a wine shelf but no one has ever commented on it. Perhaps it's the making of wine that suggests a determination for self reliance in provision of alcohol that leads to a knee jerk reaction from your visitors. The whole 'from scratch' thing seems to challenge some people?

A green worker tried to convince me to turn our farm into a nature reserve in perpetuity. I am very wary of such practices because these are government programs and as we've seen in NSW there is a great deal of fluidity (not to mention overturning) when it comes to law making and regulated programs. As you say. Dunno.

I'm perplexed by the shapeshifter nature of global finance system. I am frightened for those who play the game believing in market forces but more frightened for the consequences for ordinary people. And then there is the question of ethical investments/gambling. Tricky stuff. Risk theory suggests we no longer trust experts because they seem to disagree with each other. What to think, believe and how to act becomes ever more complicated.

Are your alterations to your watering system partly to do with fire readiness? The fire monks book sounds interesting?). We have a fire pump set up on our main house water tank but we need to do the same at our shed tank because that is in our fire sector proper. Always more to do. We have four major projects on the go at the moment plus all of the other nagging little jobs that turn into major jobs in a heartbeat.

Warm Regards, Helen




Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge, Lewis, Claire, and Helen,

Thanks for all the lovely and thought provoking comments. The weather was filthy here so I travelled into the big smoke this afternoon and went with the editor to see another film and enjoy a quality hamburger (with mustard and pickles!). Yum.

I mean when the weather is filthy it seems like a good option. I promise to reply to you tomorrow evening.

Lewis - I reckon last evening I worked my way to the bottom of the internet troubles. You may not believe this but mice are involved in that story. Yup, the little rotters chewed through the aerial cable and that co-axial cable was shorting which was causing the internet speeds to drop through the floor to an almost unusable state. Of course, this has been over a period of about six weeks now so it has been slowly escalating until it hit rock bottom last night. Now that I'm onto that problem, I'm taking precautions to ensure that it is not repeated in the future and the internet is now about 100 times faster (seriously) than previously. Oh well. I did say that it was almost unusable!

How are you going with the mice? Have you noticed any incursions? My money is on the rats and mice you know. :-)!

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - A couple of other things about the eclipse. The temp did noticeably drop and a bit of wind came up. I also told The Ladies that since we hadn’t managed to nail down a black goat to sacrifice, that I thought a small child could be substituted. One of the ... aides volunteered up her daughter who always leaves the freezer door open. :-)

I hadn’t mentioned the aides, before. Didn’t really know about them. Still don’t know the details. We’re not an “assisted living” facility. Theoretically, you’re supposed to take care of yourself to live here. But, some of our less spry residents seem to have help. I think it’s a government program that pays for them. They help with mobility and do a bit of light housekeeping. Some residents have a bit of family around, to help out.

Well. That’s something else, about the mice. First they came for the vehicles ... then they came for the computers :-). I highly recommend the plastic snap traps. So much easier to use than the old spring loaded traps. Less likely to take a finger off. In my laundry room at the old place, my final tally was 11 mice. I started with the spring traps, and ended up with the plastic snap traps. So far here, my patented counted grains of rice early warning system has not been disturbed. So, I guess I managed to make the move without bringing along any little friends.

And, from our multi-media department ... Watched a French film, last night. “The Chef’s Wife.” A bit of a typical French farce with everyone being terribly adult and sophisticated about relationships. I also started a book which might be worth a look. “Hole in the Wind; A Climate Scientist’s Bicycle Journey Across the United States.” (Goodrich, 2017). One of those “report from on the ground” books. I always wonder what it looks like, “out there.” Claire’s comments were revealing. I’m curious as to what Margaret will have to say once she settles back into routine again and can talk about her trip. Lew

PS. The mystery vine is a cucumber.

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

How about the widely held belief that tourism is always good for the local economy. I've often thought that this is in part a rationalization that it's OK to keep flying/driving all over. This from someone who just got back from a long trip to Alaska and is planning to do some traveling around in an RV. One of my favorite parts of our trip was visiting with friends who have lived in Ketchikan, AK for almost 40 years. There weren't any planned tours or excursions and we got a good picture of what it is like to live there - a place that is usually rainy and cloudy (average of 140 inches of rain/year). It's also one of the major ports for the large cruise ships and can have up to six docked there at one time. Tourism has replaced logging there (which has it's own set of issues) as the main driver of their economy.

There's also the belief that foreign travel is necessary to "broaden one's horizons".

On a more local level there were all the people who inundated small towns to watch the eclipse. I'll bet it was a big boost to the economy for a short time but I'm guessing all the people really overburdened and overwhelmed some of these towns and then there was all the traffic from the people heading back. Our town hosted the first "Balloon Fest" and tens of thousands arrived causing huge traffic jams. It was considered a big success as it did bring business to our local establishments and all the proceeds went to local community groups who volunteered at the event.

So is tourism a net positive or negative? I'm thinking overall it's a negative due to the energy expenditure and waste that goes along with it. Just think of all the food containers thrown out while people camped out for the eclipse or at our Balloon Fest and all the cars idling in traffic.

As far as our trip am I rationalizing that it's OK as we rarely travel? When we travel with the RV we'll do our own cooking and won't be staying in hotels. Is this a rationalization that cancels out all the fuel we'll need?

We did decide that we'll get this house on the market asap. We had a professional appraisal done and it came back higher than we expected though that doesn't mean that's what we'll get. The appraiser did say for the size of our house and the area the average time on the market is 300 days.

Btw mice are always chewing through our land line wires in the box in the road. The phone company has to be called each time as there's terrible static and buzzing.

Margaret

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

This was a very engrossing post. Thanks for your review of "The Big Short".

"Far out, you must consume a lot of jam . . .". I'm all for that . . . Shall I assume that you produce what you need? Probably dogs and chickens like jam, too.

Thanks for Peter Gabriel.

Good job (good luck?) at the tip shop. It does have an incredible view. What a funny sign. It never occurred me that it might signify to back in.

I was in town with one of my sons Monday and one of his friends happened to be out front of a shop that we went to - with a pair of eclipse glasses. We had figured that it would be of no use trying to view the eclipse as we were not in the main path of it. However - we could really see it! It was so neat. It never got dark here as it did other places. It was funny also as it had been raining just before we ran into son's friend and the clouds left just as we got there.

We have had intermittent internet trouble for a couple of weeks. I am so glad that you mentioned mice. It is a distinct possibility.

Pam

Phil Harris said...

Chris
Glad to see the Spring garden. We are into the few 'butterfly weeks' we see at the end of summer. And robin redbreast is getting over his moult and smartening up his head feathers and has started coming round for his breakfast again; actually 2 or 3 times a day. He'll be singing his autumn song soon.

BTW the Archdruid has done an astrology reading on the USA eclipse. Perhaps not as bad as it might be. What do uyou think?
best
Phil

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I hope you enjoy the read as I couldn't put the book down. The author tells an engaging tale and works through the history and mystery that is the collateralized debt obligation (CDO). In conjunction with the Liar's Poker book which was also from the same author, I came away with the understanding that the senior management in those merchant banks appear not to have understood what some of the financial products were that were being sold by their firms. That was interesting. I used to worry that I did not understand many of the financial products being pushed off onto the happy consumers, but then one day, the light went on and I realised that they were all only variations on a theme of capital and interest. Of course the details can vary wildly, but the theme is still the same. And when your brain wades into the murky pond of synthetic derivatives, options and shorts, you sort of become aware that there appears to be very little substance to those arrangements. So yeah, you may well have missed out on that reading and I can only suggest that you remedy that! Hehe! Of course, I would be delighted to learn your opinions of those matters.

Mr Tolstoy was a very astute observer of the human condition. It was genius wasn't it?

Really? I wonder what happens to your waste then. The land mass of the UK is about the same size as the state that I live in, but there are about 12 times the number of people. Of course, your climate and soils are more conducive to that situation. But still, we appear to be having troubles with waste down here.

Yes, it is a very deep question that one. The words acceptance and viewpoint also weigh in heavily upon the matter. I reckon you are onto something with the strength, but I also wonder whether it is like a house and one item is the foundations, and the other is the expression of the built house? Dunno. We are defaulting into metaphors don't you reckon?

It gets cloudy here too any time anything interesting is going to occur in the sky. Mind you last year there was a meteor shower and the sky was clear, but it took my brain quite a while to interpret the very fast moving flashes of light in the sky for what they were. Normal shooting stars are much slower and more spectacular, but that is just my take on things. Mind you there was a pretty spectacular comet a few long years ago.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

The poor hard done by and over worked hounds here do their best to feed the rosella's. One thing that I have noted in Mr Kunstler's book the "World Made by Hand" is that there is a dearth of pooches, but there was a minor mention that some of them were eaten - which makes sense. The ones here would be tough as seasoned leather. I read long ago about an Antarctic expedition to the south pole using dog sleds way back in the day. Of course there was an incident and the remaining party ended up consuming the dogs. Unfortunately for the dogs being eaten was not a good outcome. However, I believe the dogs had the final laugh as the explorers were getting slowly poisoned with overdoses of Vitamin A, but I can't recall whether this was from the kidney or liver. Napoleon's troops had a similar problem with horse flesh after the retreat from Russia I believe. I'd have to say that invading Russia was a strategic mistake for both the French and much later the Germans which I would not have recommended as it seems like a bad idea. The winters look a little bit unpleasant for my tastes. And Antarctica, who'd want to go there? Again it seems a little bit cold for my tastes. I may be a bit summer soft though.

Here goes: Douglas Mawson. There is a good lesson in that story about not putting all of your food provisions in one place when on an expedition to distant corners of the globe. The article includes quite the description of the meat in question.

Now that you mention those matters, another definition comes to mind which is not very family friendly, which I understand drug dealers are fond of. Nobody really wins the race to the bottom. I have seen that problem with malls out-competing strip shops, and then along comes the factory outlet, and then from there it goes to online virtual stores just in my short lifetime. The thing is, in order for people to spend, they have to work. I read the other day that under employment (less than full time) is now a condition of about one third of the workforce down here. And whilst there is a welfare safety net, working one hour qualifies a person to be employed in the statistics- although this was apparently an international measure rather than a local cooking feature.

That whole deregulate and things will get cheaper is a boondoggle. The reason for my opinion in that matter is that when my mind dwells upon electricity prices, I tend to recall that many of the electricity companies down here recently increased prices by about 20% I believe. Of course I have no idea what to make of that increase.

Oh yeah, that thermal runaway business occurred on a 787... Not good. The off grid folk down here reckons it may well have been due to over charging. I have also heard reports about individual cells dying in off grid houses. Mind you, that can happen with lead acid batteries too. Nikel Iron batteries seem impervious to poor treatment and they last a very long time, but they don't absorb charge as readily as lead acid chemistry.

Cool. An eclipse is an exciting event even if the totality is not 100%. You know I have memories from way back in the 1970's of watching an eclipse on television whilst it was occurring outside. That seems very abstract don't you reckon? Go slowly and discover for yourself the character of that individual. You never know and incidentally what basis of judgement does the community have to inform them of that opinion? On the other hand, be alert for warning flags and I never ignore your gut feeling. It has saved me a few times, although where such insight comes from I have no idea. I was sadly trying to explain to someone the other day who I shared an insight with about them, and to be honest they looked more confused and uncertain and I wish I’d said nothing. Generally I keep my mouth shut though. You know what you are doing.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

The chef and author Jason Sheehan would approve of your approach to butter and sugar! Hehe! Too much sugar was the downfall of the cranberry wine that the editor dished up this evening. It was an experiment as we scored a bottle of cranberry juice about a year ago and didn't know what to do with the stuff. Why not turn it into wine? Indeed! Unfortunately, the level of sugar upset my stomach and the worms in the worm farm are now having a party as they receive the rest of that bad batch.

Exploring the edges of a genre is a worthy task. Music has the same issues too. Take punk music. I recall the days when Billy Joel was considered a punk rocker and I'm not sure that would be said about him nowadays. Jack Vance used that genre hybridity in some of his tales: Galactic Effectuator was a detective story set on a distant planet. It works. I wonder if the professor mentioned whether such works are awarded major prizes? Probably not.

I'm enjoying the World Made by Hand series because the actions and interactions of the characters in that dystopian novel are plausible and more than likely. Mr Kunstler really delved deep on the emotional level for the characters and I appreciate that.

More below! :-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

Cool! Nature can put on a good show from time to time, and going dark during the daytime can be a really ominous feeling. :-)! Thanks for the great description. Reading that felt like being there watching the day grow dark. Imagine how the ancients would have felt if they were unaware that an eclipse was a possibility? And what about those who knew and used that knowledge to their advantage.

Exactly, you are completely spot on. Now that you mention it I recall reading about empty houses being demolished in Detroit. The thing I'm left wondering about - and I have no idea what the answer may be is - were the economic conditions experienced after the Global Financial Crisis, in place before the crisis and just papered over by illusory wealth, or were the previous conditions only possible because of the illusory wealth? I don't really know but I suspect the question is quite important. I reckon later this evening I'll mosey on over to JMG's open question blog and posit that question. Well done for your astute observations.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Helen,

Thank you, in between all of the fluffy dog stories, jokes and other farm and life stories I do chuck in the occasional bit of serious thought. The essay this week reflects my state of mind a bit as external activities and people can influence what I'm pondering upon whilst working around the place and writing. People tell me all sorts of strange beliefs that they have about the "bush" and some of those people may even have visited a rural or bush area at least once in their lives. Hehe! Yeah, people are basically strange about the issue of trees and absolutely, trees really do impact upon the water and minerals in the soil. Oh yeah. And people tell me about fencing all the time like it is a really easy and cheap thing to do over hundreds of metres. Some local folks who judge me harshly have completely fenced paddocks where not even a wombat could break into. My take on that world is that if we slow the recycling of plant material into manure and then from there into the soil, then the entire area suffers as a result. But yeah the Tolstoy moments are many and memorable! :-)!

Yes, that may be a good hook for a song. Courtney Barnett wrote a song recently about preserving foodstuffs called Pickles from the Jar. :-)! So you are definitely onto something. There was mention of wine making in the Peter Gabriel song too. You are correct to wonder about how those stories got into their minds in the first place. Another common question that I get about wine making is whether I'm concerned that I may poison myself. Such questions highlight the fact that people confuse wine with spirits and those are not produced using the same manufacturing process. But the larger point is that people fear and fear is used to drive stasis.

Dunno indeed! They have a mob called Trust for Nature down here which does a similar thing, but it puts I believe a permanent caveat on your title and there are regular audits. No thank you.

What to do, what to do! They happily talk among themselves in those books about "blowing up customers". That means losing the customers their dough. Hmmm. I see a whole lot of managed funds that appear to be making no money for their customers and I wonder if the staff managing the funds have become the customers? Of course these investment vehicles did not do so well during the crash of 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression either. That is not to say all of them act that way, but a lot appear to.

Of course, fire readiness is on my mind. Just a gentle suggestion about your fire pump. If it is petrol then the air fuel mixture can vaporise in the carburettor in very hot conditions. This means that it will be very hard to start a petrol pump. Diesel or electric pumps are preferable. Or I made a steel fire shield for all of the electric pumps here as that reduces the radiant heat from a fire. Just a suggestion for you to consider. The book is interesting, but the author spends a lot of time talking up the characters which are all real people and the account is an accurate account from what I understand of matters. Yup, there is always more to do. I hear you!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Ooooo, the temperature dropping would be an eerie feeling during the eclipse. I guess the solar radiation is temporarily blocked from the surface of the planet. Don’t even mention that to geo-engineering sorts. Please! I'm glad the ladies (well I hope they did) took the joke in the manner that it was intended and no doubt that daughter is probably a right little horror! Hehe! Funny stuff.

Aides, well, family would have done that way back in the day. When I was a kid, such things were unheard of. Unfortunately people used to literally drop dead too which always came as a surprise to everyone around them. I rather suspect that eventually economics will force us back in that direction. In the meantime, if there are aides assisting people then that is cool.

Maybe those mice know something about the vehicles and then the computers? Maybe the mice and rats have deep environmental concerns and chewing through crucial chunks of infrastructure is how they express those concerns. Dunno. It is a nuisance. Once I found out the core of the problem I started feeling a bit sorry for the telco who had been receiving my pleasant support calls (six to date). At least it is an easy fix for me and it reinforces that cable conduit is a good thing. At least the solar cables are fused at both ends. That break would be messy.

11 mice is an impressive tally. I hope you weren't too harsh on Nell for that tally? Have you heard how Nell is coping with the change in circumstances? I still believe that a nice parting gift for the evil step son and his cohort would have been a quality drum kit. Now that is just me being totally evil! Evil genius chuckle!!!!! :-)!

Rats and mice can stow away in all sorts of places and they have followed mankind (or maybe we followed the rats and mice?) all over the planet. They have certainly been a problem down under and they displace other creatures, but then so do we. Our fates with our rodent friends must be linked don't you reckon? Well maybe not on reflection.

Well yes, the French can certainly go places in relationships and that is made clear in many movies. But you failed to mention whether you enjoyed the film or not? Films about food are high on my “to watch” list and I haven't seen many good food films recently. I like report on the ground accounts too. And yes, Claire's comment was complex and deep and I may escalate that question to higher and more learned authorities. ;-)! Still a few comments to reply to yet before that. And very disappointing cranberry wine. Revolting sugary stuff - of course the additional sugar came via way of the original juice. It reminded me of the time some dodgy honey supplier who I tested, mixed sugar syrup into the honey and the resulting mead was disgustingly sweet.

I am curious about that too.

Out of curiosity is it one of those round heritage cucumbers or a more recent variety?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

That is a tough question and the leaf change tourists in this mountain range during that season are a bit of a problem for the locals and they don’t spend that much money up here, although we bear the costs. Not so much because of the tourism though, it is just the sheer volume of people. There is no judgement from me as I have touristed all over South East Asia and it would be quite hypocritical of me to judge anyone. It is nice catching up with old friends. :-)! Just out of curiosity, how do they cope with the long dark winters? And that is so much rain, my brain is spinning around and around trying to understand that. At least there would be some good thermal mass from that protected passage of water so that might keep the air temperature warmer than expected.

I have heard that foreign travel story. Usually people saying that tend to head to Europe - which I have never been too and not felt the desire to go. Dunno. Horizons can be enlarged at home too. Sometimes seeing serious poverty in third world countries can be quite eye opening as it reflects your own life back at you.

Did the balloon fest look good? You know we, as life forms, have impacts wherever we go and whatever we do. The trick is navigating the maze, don't you reckon? And you’ve thought about that. As I said before it would be seriously hypocritical of me to judge as whilst I rarely travel much these days, I have no credibility due to past travel and future generations may probably have other opinions on the matter. Would they do differently if given the chance? - probably not.

Yeah, it takes about a year to sell a house in this part of the mountain range. Of course this is the less fashionable end of the mountain range too. Not much demand to live up here I reckon.

The rats and mice are very naughty and I wish they would sharpen their teeth on less crucial bits of infrastructure.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

I enjoying writing fluffy, fluffy, very serious, then back to fluffy. Glad to read that you enjoyed the book review. It really is a worthwhile book to read, but the movie does a great job of following the story too, but adlibs scenarios occasionally for dramatic and timeliness effect.

Haha! Thanks very much for writing that. :-)! About time someone said that. Hi I'm Chris and I have a problem with eating too much jam. ;-)! Exactly, produce what you need. Jam will keep for years as it is hideously acidic, but it is best consumed within a year or two. When “need” is kept in a shop or a warehouse, it becomes easy to forget how big "needs" actually are. The dogs are seriously onto bread and jam - of course this need of the dogs is never displayed whilst visitors are present and dogs that don't understand that concept, get unceremoniously chucked outside when visitors are present. They can enjoy thinking about bread and jam out there.

Great song huh? I watched the video clip for the first time the other day and it was delightfully 70's.

I didn't even notice that the sign was pointing in a different direction from the vehicle. I'm always surprised at how many people own a trailer and can't seem to reverse it. That trick requires a person to think backwards with the steering wheel thingee, but with practice...

Wow! That eclipse would have been great to see - even if you were not in the main path of viewing. Glad to read that they enjoyed natures spectacle. Good stuff. And you were very lucky with the clouds.

Yes, the mice and rats can really cause a lot of trouble when they put their minds to a job. I get internet over the mobile (cell) phone network as there is no landline here. The cable was between the modem and then under the floor of the house and back up to an antenna. It was my fault really as I left the cable on the ground.

It rained here this afternoon and none was forecast. I was going to continue working on the tomato enclosure project and work on the fencing, but it is not pleasant working out in the rain on such days. Hopefully tomorrow things dry out a bit. The trailer is full of composted woody mulch and that stuff absorbs water – and also rusts steel… Oh well. The curse of Cherokee strikes again.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Phil,

Thanks and it is great to hear that you are enjoying a "butterfly summer". I've never heard that term before and it is a goodie. Have you enjoyed any rain recently in your corner of the planet? I was quite amazed at the heat wave that you enjoyed earlier in the summer.

I get robin redbreasts in the garden too and they compete with the blue wrens in hunting for small grubs and insects. They're fast aren't they? Your robin is enjoying what I call an all day breakfast menu! :-)!

I missed that and will try and get over an have a look. No doubts comments are open. But first there is the open post and Claire's awesome observation to escalate. Thanks for the heads-up.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Yeah, under employment is a big problem here. It kind of kicked off when the laws changed and employees working below a certain number of hours didn’t have to have any mandatory benefits. Even back when I was a bookstore manager, there was a certain ... pressure to have as many part time employees as possible. Which in the book biz can be a problem, as the stock changes so much and it’s hard to get a grip on the inventory. “Flexible scheduling” is also a problem. If you’re juggling two or three part time jobs and you don’t have a dependable schedule ...

On the other hand, some people like part time. Heck, I toy occasionally with the idea of picking up a little part time work. Right now, (this all came about yesterday) my friend Scott may end up working for The Home. They’ve had a social work position, going begging, for quit awhile. $21 dollars an hour, no benefits, 20 hours a week. They’d originally wanted someone with a bachelor’s degree in social work, but are willing to consider experience. Scott needs to run it past his wife, who is getting ready to retire, herself.

Well, I read the whole “World Made By Hand” series. The metaphysical who-who put me off a bit (you’ll get to that), but who am I to scoff? We were sitting around the Club the other day, and one of the women mentioned she had just found out she was the daughter of a well known music star. Name deleted due to legal concerns. A name popped out of my mouth and she nearly fell off her stool. I’d nailed it. Lucky (very lucky) guess or something else? When I’m hot, I’m hot. When I’m not ... not. Seems more of a parlor trick, than anything useful. Like lottery numbers ... :-).

Yes, someone speculated as to if prehistoric people ended up blind because of not knowing the effects of eclipse. Although, perhaps that was part of the general feeling of dread the ancients had around eclipses. Enough of a memory lingered, from event to event to inspire feelings of dread.

Detroit was an interesting case, and was well on the skids long before the housing crash of 2008. There were a lot of factors, and they played out in a lot of cities. But Detroit became the poster child for what happened. There was “white flight” out of the cities and into the suburbs. So, the cities lost a lot of tax revenue when only the poor are left behind. But often not commented on was that there was also “black flight.” Middle and upper class black folks who also left, taking their tax dollars and commerce with them. The auto industry began to unwind. I weep when I see pictures of blocks of nifty little arts and crafts bungalows going to wrack and ruin. For a look at another interesting phenomenon, Google “ghost malls.”

No Nell sightings. Julia isn’t concerned. She’s only lost one cat, in all the time she’s been out there. One that disappeared, and stayed disappeared. But some didn’t make an appearance for months. When I was walking to the men’s meeting, the other night, there was a black cat in the weeds beside the sidewalk. No notched ear, a rounder face. But it gave me a bit of a start.

We used to have a saying, around the library (an actual sign was made for the back room). “Unaccompanied children will be sent home with an expresso, a tin drum and a puppy!” :-). So far, the cucumbers are small, a bit spine-y. Do you have sweet pickles, down there? About that size.

The movie was less about the food and more about the relationships. Which (to me) were irritating. Wanted to grab some of the characters and just shake them til their teeth rattled. Not on my list of movies to see again. Well, not time wasted. I was cleaning 50 or so old spice tins while I watched it. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Under employment is a serious problem down here too. Mind you, the benefits are still included for part time employees, but then there is the mysterious casual employee arrangement. Casual employees are apparently paid at a higher hourly rate than part time employees but there are some downsides including:
- has no guaranteed hours of work
- usually works irregular hours (but can work regular hours)
- doesn't get paid sick or annual leave
- can end employment without notice, unless notice is required by a registered agreement, award or employment contract.

And a person can be a casual employee for many years as you well know. If it means anything to you, I don't enjoy any benefits whatsoever and when I had the flu a couple of weeks back, I enjoyed my third unpaid sick day in about nine years. Such living is not for the faint of heart.

The example of employees knowing the inventory in the book biz is so true. It is a mildly disconcerting experience to face management who are suggesting that anyone can do a job. Of course, they themselves may not be struggling to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads - at that point in time. You know, in such a culture you never really know when your lucky numbers are going to turn up and management turns on you. I have had personal experience on both sides of that fence and it was an unsavoury experience on both occasions and so I went off and did something else with my life.

Exactly, leaving enough fat in your life to accommodate several employers is a juggling act that few folks can afford. I work very hard at keeping my costs very low so as to avoid that particular scenario and mostly it works well for me, but the uncertainty would not be for everyone. And of course, having land, I can invest my unused time into increasing the productivity of this land. Way back in the day, people had victory gardens and a couple of chickens or rabbits in the backyard. Even guinea pigs taste OK, despite the prolific number of bones. That is just what you do, but try telling that to people and they get uncomfortable and talk about something else altogether. My vegetable beds are perhaps larger than most peoples backyards though - which a visitor pointed out last weekend. Get planting seems to be the order of the day!

How cool would that be having Scott work in the home? Cool! I hope his wife is amenable to that option? Far out, my retirement age was lifted to 70 years of age a few years back and there was not even the smallest chunk of outrage at that change from the population. I refuse to care for things that other people don't put the slightest concerns towards themselves. Stuff them. I have noticed that sometimes wives and husbands, partners or whatever, can have very arbitrary expectations which have to be negotiated between the individuals and that can make for some unpleasant times, but I always reckon the easy path is the hard path dressed up in drag, because it does nobody any good by avoiding the unpleasant truths or having one party to that relationship working far harder than the other party. Of course the mere act of negotiations may in fact upset an otherwise precarious and perhaps unacknowledged balance between the two parties. And sometimes - males particularly - define themselves by their work because they do not have enough other interests or friends in their lives. I reckon my grandfather willed himself to death because as he approached retirement age for directors (71), the thought of living with a much younger wife and children was beyond him, and his employment was how he defined who he was as a person. When the narrative changed he couldn't cope. Far out, we are getting deep here tonight! :-)!

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Stop it, all this talk of metaphysical is just another teaser for that story! :-)! I can deal with a bit of the unknown, because us humans don't know as much as we believe we do. Of course opinions may vary on that matter. Exactly, when you are hot, you are hot, but other times dark clouds form on the horizon and nothing is clear. To be honest nobody benefits from sharing insights because they don't want to hear them. It is the rare person that can run with new knowledge. Lottery numbers, I wish! I reckon if I won the lottery I'd move to a more fertile area with perhaps a natural spring. At this point in time, I must add that I could have purchased just such a place before choosing this place, and I'll never know why I didn't because it was cheaper than here too. Dunno. I can seriously see the value of a natural spring.

I doubt the ancients would have looked up into the sky to see what was going on during an eclipse given the regularity of eclipses. It is like the Aboriginals (which I have recently deduced is a word of Latin origin - it is a long story involving a hip hop band) knowing to avoid certain areas which are now mined for Uranium, and way back in the day were radioactive. We tend to feel that we are smarter than our predecessors, but I doubt that, as they were far better at observing the world as it is, whilst we seem to be absorbed with abstractions.

Yes, I too have looked at those images on the Interweb of the beautiful houses and also the empty and abandoned malls. I see abandoned industrial sites in Melbourne too and wonder and feel sorrow at all of the lost enterprise. Down here they often get converted into housing because we are selling as an export the final thing that we own - space.

Fingers crossed for both Nell and Julia. No doubts Nell is having an epic sulking her socks off in some dark corner moment. The rapidly approaching autumn will bring her home. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

That sign is pretty funny, and I too have seen it around the place. Of course, such a notion would outrage most permissive parents these days. The other day I was in a cafe and a mother who had left a giant pram in front of the counter had taken up the entire front section of the cafe and was walking around talking to bubs. I genuinely worried for her mental health as it did not appear to be good. On the other hand I did manage to squeeze around that and order my coffee and retreated from that force of nature into a quiet corner of the cafe to enjoy it.

Absolutely, we have sweet pickles down here. And they are one of the vegetables I'm hoping to get my head around over the next year or so. Today, we got the rails up for the fencing around the extended tomato enclosure. We also weeded the original enclosure and dumped another cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) of composted woody mulch into the area. It is looking pretty good and now all that needs to be done is to attach the 200 or so pickets on Sunday... Nothing is ever simple. Little steps.

Haha! Yeah that movie would perhaps not be to my taste. I'd keep asking the hard questions like: what about the food though? Anyway, you did start me thinking about why people feel that work should be fulfilling for them. I had a long conversation with someone last weekend about that matter and for me the jury is out because work can just be work. Mind you, I do get my fulfilment in other aspects of my life, so I am comfortable with that attitude. What is your opinion about that matter, do you believe work should be fulfilling or is this simply a modern concept?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

I escalated your observation to the Ecosophia site and you may be interested in the response. Elephant stamp for your very astute observation! :-)!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

There is a huge problem with waste here, we are definitely running out of room.

You mentioned to Lew that you didn't buy a cheaper lot of land which on the face of it sounds better. I am curious as to whether you have ever gone back to take a look. You may find that there is a subsequent reason why you made the wiser choice.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Have you ever considered - for your own future gratification - printing out each of your blog posts and putting them in an "album"? Because: What If? Think of it all being lost. And if you wait until your 20th-year blog anniversary (should you still have internet) just think how much paper you will have to have on hand!

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Re: Casual employees. Also called, on-call, contract, freelance or private contractors. Free agent? All the same thing. No stability, no bennies. Of course, the powers that be sing the praises of flexibility, freedom and, my all time favorite ... choice. :-). Here, your situation would be considered self employed, being an entrepaneur (sp?) or, even, a small business owner. Maybe the difference is, if your business grows, you’re not anyone’s employee ... you have employees. :-). Now, I’m not poking into your business, but you’ve mentioned The Editor is in the same business, but has different clients. That may be a separate entity or, a partnership or co-ownership.

Well, The Warden mentioned that Scott dropped by for ... less an interview, more a chat. :-). Fact finding tour? I’m surprised he didn’t stick a head in, but there you go. So, I’ll get the details of any negotiations with his wife, later. As frequently happens, I had a “glad I’m single”, moment :-).

Well, something must have put you off the place with the spring. Maybe something below the level of perception. Might be interesting to know the history of the place.

Well, I spent a bit of time in my garden space, yesterday. Planted some cool weather crops. Two kinds of carrots, two kinds of lettuce, two kinds of peas. Worked some coffee grounds into the soil, here and there. Worms still in evidence. I had to cut a bit of the deer fencing as while my back was turned, one of the pumpkins made a break for freedom. Bees very much in evidence.

Let’s see. Should work be fulfilling, over and above a paycheck and bennies? Well, I think it’s pretty mind numbing and soul killing if you have a job that you hate to get out of bed and do, every day. Sometimes, there are less concrete benefits to a job that makes it worth while. Perhaps, even the mates you work with. Being a night owl, I tended to like jobs more that were night and evening jobs. Mmmm. They rated higher on the satisfaction scale than something I’d have to roll out of bed at 5am to do. Having another “glad I’m single and childless” moment. I never had to consider the needs or well being of anyone else if things got a bit intolerable on a job. I could just up sticks and go find something else to do.

I read a bit more of “Hole in the Wind”, last night. The author made an interesting observation about “life in these United States.” You can talk about the weather, but any mention of climate change is politics and not fit for polite company. :-). The author took about 5 fairly long bike trips, over the period of about 5 years. But only one was from coast to coast. Maryland to Oregon. Sometimes, I can’t tell which trip he’s talking about. But I’ve decided not to worry about it, too much. Even if I can’t figure out where he is in time, he’s fairly consistent about where he is in space. As far as working his way east to west. Lew

Damo said...


The rocket stove was only just deserving of the name. A little 'L' shaped combustion chamber and chimney made from about 20 bricks. However, it burned smoke free and a modest handful of twigs was enough to cook bacon and eggs on a cast iron skillet. I think the concept is sound.

I was about to write something about tourism relating to Marg's comment earlier in the week. In my experience it seems to rarely deliver results to the 'little guys', although to a certain extent this depends on appropriate government regulation - consider Bhutan which tightly restricts tourist visas, charges several thousand for them and insists on local guides for each visitor. Or Japan, which has extensive modern infrastructure and can easily cope with the millions of visitors each year.

But my real beef with travel is the extra bugs you are exposed to - this week I have come down with my 3rd case of man-flu this year! 4th if you include the really bad gastro I got as well...

Thankfully I was able to keep the symptoms at bay long enough for my interview yesterday. It went very well and I will find out 100% confirmation on Monday.

RE: Fulfilling work
I think if you are doing tasks for yourself, the threshold to be 'fulfilled' is much lower. For example the shed construction I helped with the past few weeks was very satisfying. I am not sure it would be for long if I was doing it for strangers though.

Cheers,
Damo

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

Yes, I saw that you'd put part of my comment to you into yours on Ecosophia and also saw JMG's response. When I made it, I was considering what I've seen as an example of catabolic collapse, which you postulated as well and JMG confirmed. So I think you deserve the elephant stamp as much as I do. That said, thank you for the elephant stamp! I think it's the first one I've earned from you.

We have had a very pleasantly cool August, though a bit too much to the dry side. There won't be anything dry on the Gulf coast of Texas for quite awhile, however. Did you see that a Category 3 hurricane is heading that way and expected to hang around for the next several days? The rainfall totals being bandied about are epic, if not beyond - half a meter to getting close to a meter in favored (so to speak - I doubt the people living there will feel like they received any favors) locations.

Claire

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I wondered about that matter in your part of the world and I appreciate your view from on the ground. The same problem occurs here too. The recent ABC show about the War on Waste was, I believe, inspired by a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall show with the same name. Of course few people noticed that the war was on waste itself and not on our culture which generates so much waste in the first place. That much was obvious to me, but if some good comes out of it all, then I'm cool with that.

Absolutely. I am cursed with a curious mind and so have been back to look at what was done with that block of land. The block was cleared of the few scant trees that grew there (they were youngish trees in the first place and the block would support many large and healthy trees no dramas). A rather large house was constructed near to the spring. And an unfortunately very cheap looking large shed was constructed closer to the road. The shed was painted a rather unfortunate dark green colour as I suppose the owners felt that that colour would disappear into the landscape. I would not have done any of that if I ended up on that block and I wondered how the construction works affected the spring. Dunno. I watch the natural water flows on this land here like a hawk and take note of what is going on, but other people do things differently.

That block is about 40km further from the city and train line than here and that was a major factor.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

What an excellent suggestion. I do take back-ups of the blog so if for some strange reason the blog was hacked, I could restore the content fairly easily and give the middle finger to the hackers. The other thing is that I do maintain and pay for the other website domain that hosts the podcast and so we could transfer everything over there if this freebie website ever began giving hassles. I also keep a copy of the text with images as it appears on the blog.

As a fun fact, I reckon so far just the blog text has amounted to about 330,000 words (excluding comments – I so easily digress that I don’t want to consider that word count). Doesn't that make your head spin round and round - although hopefully not like the unfortunate little kid on the Exorcist film with the horrid pea soup scene. Try forgetting that scene after you’ve seen it! I'll never think of pea and ham soup again. Interestingly too, the pea in that soup is actually a lentil. Anyway, let's give peas a chance! Hehe! Oh yeah, I reckon possession would be an uncomfortable experience...

What were we talking about before I digressed? Oh that's right. Paper. I already re-use paper that has been already printed on as I print on the clean side of the paper. Waste not want not as they used to say back in the day.

Hope you are getting some rain from that hurricane? I get the very tail end of the tropical cyclones if they venture this far south. To be honest, I appreciate that summer rain.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I don't know how true it would be in your part of the globe, but down here, generally the people singing the praises of under employment, don't tend to be the under-employed themselves. Every week I read the musings of some economists just to get a feel for the sort of arguments they use and some of them are quite ingenuine and can have holes punched in them with little effort. On the other hand I understand that they too have to put food on the table and may be conflicted about the stories they tell. I enjoy the flexibility of work, but to do so I had to structure my life around that complexity and few people seem to be able to do so or want to do so. I did have a larger pool of resources to initially draw down upon to achieve that balancing act, and that is not lost on me at all. That does not mean to say that such an outcome is not possible for others with less resources, they just have to do things a lot cheaper. Of course that then runs into road blocks in peoples heads about the sort of lives they want to lead and that is one tough gear to address. Those stories are fixed as from what I can see – until they no longer work. Yes, down here I am self employed and the editor and I try to not put all our income eggs into one basket (or stream). You have to recall that both the editor and I experienced the rougher end of the recession in the early 90's and learnt a thing or two.

It may not have been appropriate for Scott to say hello during the visit to talk about the job at the home. I'm reasonably diplomatic and probably would have mentioned that possibility to you beforehand - but you know, everyone is different on that front. For all you know, Scott may need the work more than he wants to let you know and that is a form of power balance in relationships. You never really know. The editor and I are usually - but not always - on the same page, and when we're not, we have to go through the rough and tumble of diplomacy and even then neither of us may get the outcome that we were after. That is life really, you can't win everything, but having tools to work through complex and difficult matters is oft times hard, but generally worthwhile. That doesn't sell the concept very well does it?

That property is about 25 miles further from the city in a very rural area with no amenities and that didn't help the cause. On the other hand, wet years can be very wet and the ground can be boggy and the flat land (it was on a vast plateau) can very poorly drained and that thought wasn't too far from our minds. There were also very few trees on the property, although the local rain-forest trees would have worked really well there. It ended up being just a gut feel thing more than a well thought out plan.

Go the worms and the bees. Very impressive in such a short period of time. Hey out of interest, what do you reckon is the likelihood of snow and frost in this new garden? You may get a much longer growing season in this new spot?

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Rolling out of bed at 5am is a serious bummer and yeah I hear you about that. You know, the more I dwell upon the matter, the more strange I believe it is that people get so weird about how their partner views their work. I reckon it gets down to the feelings or feelings of inadequacy or lack of status about employment. To me it doesn't seem wise to enjoy feelings of status when you could be given the - don't come Monday - speech without any wrongdoings. Dunno. What do you reckon about that?

I'm impressed that the author rode from Maryland to Oregon. I was wondering whether the author enjoyed the ride or did the ride become an end in and of itself? Some authors have a loose grasp over the concept of time and that can make them hard to follow.

Went into Melbourne today on the train to the Green Wizards meetup. Good fun and there was a presentation video from Nicole Foss. The main problem I see with making predictions about imminent economic failure is that the predictions often assume that nobody will do anything about them whilst they are happening. It also largely ignores band aids applied to systems - and also the general chucking of folks off the boat to lighten the load for everyone remaining. All I can say is that I'm not a believer of Nicole’s story and said so. Things can go very wrong, sure, but that doesn't mean that everybody will sit around and do nothing about it - although historically that has been tried I believe after the crash of 1929. I really enjoy the meetups and speaking of food, I went early so that I could have time to scoff back a tiramisu. Life is too short to go without tiramisu...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Many thanks sharing your real world experience with the rocket heater. Did you place the skillet over the combustion chamber - or along the stove body itself? I wonder whether they could be constructed as an outdoor bakers oven?

Bhutan is probably onto something with those restrictions and economic benefits for the locals. And I have absolutely no experience with which to form an opinion about the Japanese experience. At the back of my mind I see the leaf change tourists in this mountain range and I wonder what they see here as it is a very strange experience for me to see huge numbers of tourists descending on the mountain range. Although this year was handled a bit better by the local authorities than previous years.

I was wondering whether you'd turn up today to the meetup, but given you have the dreaded man-flu... Hope you get better soon and you have my sympathies. Mate, stress and uncertainty I would have to add is perhaps a contributor to that situation? Best of luck with the interview and I hope things turn out well for both you and Mrs Damo.

I reckon that concept is quite an important one. I mean when did work become something that had to be meaningful in the first place? I don't get that story.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

It is nice to be able to have that forum with which to share your excellent observations. The elephant stamp was well deserved and I am happy to share the limelight! :-)! Of course such things stop when they reach a new and lower equilibrium which is quite a frightening thought isn't it? I must own up here to reading Jim Kunstler's book: The World Made by Hand and I'm seeing the author play that story out in his imagination. It is an excellent story and I am enjoying it.

Oh yeah, someone said to me that five feet of rain were expected in some parts of the country. That is so much water that I cannot put it into perspective. Epic is the correct descriptive. Stay safe and I hope that your garden enjoys some of that rain.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

That's a lot of words! I wonder where they all come from . . .

No rain yet from the hurricane. It has been heavenly fall weather here. But some rain would be welcome.

I saw "The Exorcist" when it came out. The thought of it still makes me a bit nauseous.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - LOL. More likely Scott was just overbooked. For an old retired guy, (like me) he always seems to be pretty tightly scheduled. Next time I run into him I’ll launch into my pretend deeply hurt and offended routine and he’ll do his ... whatever. And, we’ll launch our channeling Abbot and Costello or Punch and Judy, or whatever it is we do for a few moments of comic relief.

Re: The place you didn’t buy. No amenities = no nearby pub with a good brew and excellent nosh :-).

Yeah, the growing season here may be a bit longer than where I was. I’m quit a bit lower in elevation (2__ something as opposed to 620 feet) and am in a more protected spot. My garden plot has a due west exposure. The building is directly behind it and provides protection and maybe some reflected heat. In general, my old place would have frost or snow, when there was none “in town.” The new place is on quit a slope, but the building, garden spots and parking lot are on a kind of terrace, so around the building is pretty level. There is a slope behind the building, that looks pretty much like yours.

Loosing a job .... even if through no fault of your own ..... I think can inspire feelings of guilt. And, I think you run through the whole Kubler Ross grief spectrum. Some jobs are pleasant (for a variety of reasons) some jobs aren’t (for a variety of reasons) and you either suck it up or go find something else that’s more pleasant. Pleasant, satisfying ... whatever. Feeling of accomplishment?

“Hole in the Wind” is pretty interesting. I’m just getting into a section about an earlier trip from eastern Washington, across Idaho and into Montana, during a particularly bad fire season. That ought to be a barn burner (pun intended :-). We had another fire just north of here that took out a business and three homes. 400 acres. We really haven’t gotten enough rain, yet, to knock back fire danger. We’re heading into another warm spell. But, not too bad. In the 80s, not the 100 plus we had. Not many signs of fall, yet.

OK. I caved in and watched “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword”, last night. Well, they did play a bit fast and loose with the legends. And, some of the montages were WAY to fast for me to pick up much useful information. I did find the recreation of London (Londinium) pretty interesting, and probably pretty accurate for that time period. After the Romans left. London was abandoned pretty soon after they left. We really don’t know why or exactly when. Perhaps, it was not too defendable. And, being on the Thames, easily accessible by Vikings, Angles, Saxons and Jutes. After a short while, there was an Anglo Saxon settlement outside the old walls. Maybe there was a bit of superstitious avoidance, or, maybe something as prosaic as the danger from falling walls. Oh, and there are indications that there was a plague or two, about that time. Maybe some climate bumps. A comet ...

“Victorian Slum House” arrived, yesterday. Probably won’t get around to watching it for a few days. Monthly potluck, tomorrow night. I’ll probably do a cucumber and onion salad. Old family recipe. Lew

Damo said...

To be honest, it is a little stretch to call the brick device a rocket stove. But everyone on Youtube does so who am I to argue? Anyway, I made a video years ago:

Damos* simply brick rocket stove
*Shamelessly copied from weird Russian youtube channel

No chance of me going anywhere this weekend. Yesterday consisted of morning naps, sitting in the sun and watching Netflix (watched 'The Finest Hours' about a coast guard small boat rescue in 1952, it had Chris Pine aka Captain Kirk and was actually pretty good).

I feel better this morning so hopefully I am on the mend. Tomorrow I should know if/when the Melbourne trip is going to happen when I get word about the job. Do the green wizards meet monthly?

Damo

Damo said...

It also occurs to me there is another possibility to consider for my renewed bout of man-flu. Immediately preceding the initial symptoms was a late night out at "Eat Street" in which many people were met, along with one or at most two drinks consumed. Then the following day was spent in the sun putting a roof up.

I must remain open to the slight, yet distinct possibility that this sickness is partly due to my own actions!

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

I hope you are not alluding to my little secret? I found those words behind the couch. Hehe! Shh. Don't tell anyone. Hehe!

It snowed here today! Yay for snow: Snow!. August is generally the month for snow, but it has not shown many signs of snowing recently. Today was feral. A good excuse not to work on the new tomato enclosure I reckon. :-)!

Well, I hope you get some rain from that hurricane, the images of the storm looked very impressive (if that is the correct word to use) from the space station.

Apologies, that scene was rather memorable for all the wrong reasons. Scary film.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

No worries at all. I've had mates stir me up about not being spontaneous and instead wanting to schedule things. It has been a surprisingly common complaint from many different people so who am I to argue with them. But how else can I get anything done? And perhaps Scott feels the same? Dunno. Yes, the deeply hurt and offended meets the whatever routines can be very amusing with old friends. It is just nice having people who know you and understand your quirks even if they're stirring you up about them. Pah. Whatever. That was a practice "whatever" which I inserted into the paragraph for dramatic effect - so feel free to reply with a proper whatever! Hehe! Oh, we've descended into the land of silly again. A nice place to be, all things considered.

Hey, it snowed here today. It was quite an impressive series of snow storms. At one point I got to experience just how people would get lost in a blizzard. I’ve never seen that before. Even Mr Poopy who has Northern European genetics hardwired into his personality, had absolutely no intention of going out into that heavy snowfall. That dog has gotten all soft and stuff living down under in this mild climate. You know if any real reindeer (the dog species was originally bred to herd reindeer which is a useful trait for a dog down under) ever showed up at the farm, he wouldn't have a clue what to do with them. Mind you, he's been getting practice recently with herding deer, so I shouldn't really complain.

Anyway, it snowed!!! Yay for snow! I never really began any work today, so the editor and I just had a sort of pottering about the house day. It was very relaxing and nice thing to do every now and then, but I'd be bored if I took that option up as a lifestyle choice (whatever those words mean). Took some cool photos which I'll chuck up on the web tomorrow night. Plus there was a short video of the snow: Snow!.

Haha! Am I that transparent? Hehe! No doubts your brief analysis of the no amenities situation was very accurate. The thing is down here we have a lot of very rural land with not many townships nearby. Way back in the day it probably used to work well because people were largely self sufficient in those areas and had low expectations. It is interesting reading the World Made by Hand, because Mr Kunstler tells a different tale about those rural areas and it doesn’t look good for them. But then I too am shocked by how reliant people in rural areas like up where I am are on centralised services and huge quantities of energy. They don't seem to understand the urgency or need for self reliance to any great extent. Dunno, that really is a complex matter and it may play out in all sorts of interesting ways in the future. From here at the very least I could walk to the train station if I really had no other option. It would be a long walk, but I could certainly do it.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

It will be interesting to read how you compare winter in your new location against the old digs. Out of curiosity, does the new digs feel like home yet? That can sometimes take time with me, but other times, I have fallen asleep in new digs and put no brain cells towards the old place. I felt that about the place I rented when building this place. The neighbours had an adult child who used to stir the dogs up in the middle of the night by feeding them cat food through the fence. Once we realised what was going on, we always made certain that we were fully clothed when going out to tell the dogs off, even on really hot nights. After a short while, I decided to lock the dogs into the garage at night and the entire problem went away, but it was very weird knowing that your neighbour was up to mischief. Don't miss that place at all.

Yeah, I reckon you are spot on about going through some or all of the stages of grief when you lose a job. The editor and I always conduct a post mortem to see if there is anything we can learn from the situation. Sometimes it is a blessing to be elsewhere! I'm still uncertain what other people expect from jobs, because they're work. Maybe I long since gave up the idea of having a social time at work because that idea died in the recession in the early 90's? Dunno. In a monetary economy, somehow the money has to flow into your hands and work is one method to ensure that flow continues. There are of course other methods.

Like the pun! Nice one. Are you getting cooler nights now? Your summer is starting to sound like the sort of summers I regularly enjoy. The 80's Fahrenheit is pretty pleasant. Hopefully the colder weather doesn't knock you around too much when it does turn up? You adapt to warmer weather, and then much colder weather - the changeover can be hard though.

Haha! That is funny. Are you sure you read those reviews of that film? They weren't very nice the cheeky scamps. Well there you go. I never realised that London was abandoned, but being on the edge of a navigable river is pretty risky in a dark age. Interestingly I do recall in a book by the author Tolstoy (younger relation) about Merlin, that an Irish University was sacked by the Vikings because it was on a navigable river. Convenient for whom, maybe the question to ask in such a situation? I'm surprised that they didn't have an organised militia to respond to the Vikings at such a place.

Hope the series is good? Enjoy your potluck too. Yum! I'm off to the pub for a pint and feed. I hope the place is not over run with snow chasing tourists. I shall report back tomorrow evening. Fortunately the snow meant that I could write tomorrows blog earlier today.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Good to read that the rocket stove worked so well. Mate, 1 million plus views can't be wrong! Hehe! I have wondered about them because they are simple devices and seem to work well which is a good combination really. But I don’t know how much of that is people talking the devices up? Dunno.

It snowed here today. Tell me you and Mrs Damo, were sitting on the beach enjoying a warm sunny winters day? Far out it was cold here and at one point it looked like there was a blizzard going on outside. Feral weather. I heard the recent east coast storm produced a five or six metre swell? Big waves to hit the coast.

Hope you are feeling better now? Naps, water and regular feeding is the trick. On one day I had the dreaded man-flu I too sat on the couch and watched a movie too. I wasn't up for anything else. I don't know whether you have read about it in the papers, but this year has been very bad for flu's. The worst in 15 years apparently. I know of people who took the flu shot and still got sick. Strains mutate pretty readily. Thanks for the film review.

Good luck with the job and glad that you could keep things together for the interview. You know that happens a lot and it is amazing how much control your mind has over your health. The last time I got the man-flu coincided with the first quiet two weeks for me in months where the work became optional. That wasn't lost on me. Hope you are taking it easy?

Yeah, that is a possibility too. I believe there is an incubation time with flu viruses, but don't really know how long that can take.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Wow! That wasn't just snow - it was a snow storm! Great that you got it on video. Beautiful, and so weird on the citrus. Really weird.

Pam

margfh said...

Hi Chris,
Regarding the couple we stayed with in Ketchikan, Doug grew up with the guy as both sets of parents were best friends. He hasn’t seen him much in the last 40 years and only met his wife a few times. For me it was even less. That’s one of the reasons it was so pleasant staying with them – we felt (especially me) that we been in close contact all along. The woman has the same type of teaching job as I did which meant we had something in common right away. The visit was at the end of the trip so it was nice to slow down after all the different tours and excursions. We went salmon fishing with a friend of theirs. Lori is an experienced kayaker and she taught me how on one of the small local lakes. As far as the cloudy weather there they regularly get their vitamin D levels checked. Apparently there’s quite an alcohol and drug abuse problem there as well at least in part due to the gloomy weather.

True about expanding horizons at home as all one would have to do around here is visit some of the impoverished areas in Chicago.
There was excellent weather for the Balloon Fest last year. One came down very low right down our road. The winds have to be very low for the balloons to take off which they were most of the time so there’s lots of other activities in case the weather doesn’t cooperate. This year there’s supposed to be more balloons – well more of everything.
Speaking of jobs, I have been very fortunate to enjoy almost all the jobs I’ve had. Only one was at a large company but the department I was in was pretty close knit. I worked my way up in accounting, never got a degree but did take a few classes. My second job was at a small music distributor. It was there I advanced to become the full charge bookkeeper (is there even a title like that anymore?). We would have parties in the warehouse on Friday after work when the big boss was out of town organized by the comptroller. Office and warehouse staff all hung out together. It was there I learned to drive a forklift though it was a long time ago and I don’t know if I could still do it. Fortunately there were no mishaps as there was plenty of consumption of adult beverages. My first and only teaching job here in town was also great. It was a pretty small district then and students and teachers had a lot of fun together. I taught mostly in the Junior High. For quite a few years the dances were held on Friday afternoons. Some of us had great fun teaching the kids how to dance to “YMCA”. One of the single women had a life size cardboard cut out of Fabio in the back of her room which gave the kids much to talk about. From what I hear it’s not like that anymore at the schools.

In other news we had the realtor out last Friday. She wants to get pictures done of the outside while there’s still some flowers so I spent much of Friday and Saturday sprucing up the outdoors which included six hours of cutting down massive weeds around all the animal pens. It’s good I’m not allergic to ragweed as I was showered with pollen from it. The plan is to put the house on the market the beginning of October through mid December, let the contract expire (if it hasn’t sold) and put it back on in mid February. There’s a lot to get done before then so we’ve got our work cut out for us. I may not have time to comment as often.

Glad you enjoyed the snow. The first snow here is often fun but it gets old pretty fast.

Margaret

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

75F here today, it is glorious outside. Some trees are showing signs of stress which I assume is due to lack of water this Summer.

Have been going through loads of letters sent to my mother, sorting for keep or destroy. I am very annoyed to find that many of her relatives asked to be put in touch with me. She never did this and I was unaware. She told me once that she tried to organise things so that I didn't love anyone more than I loved her!! Why would anyone think that love can only be given to a few? In my opinion the more that you love, the more that you can love.

Re: Damo's rocket stove. In my teens when I camped out a lot in one place, I had made a brick stove which was not too dissimilar; it worked very well. I was left wondering what were metal bricks.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Snow!? How cool is that? Sounds like you experienced a bit of a “white out.” Back in ye olde times, in areas more prone to blizzards, they’d run rope from house to barn or other out buildings. Too many stories of people missing the barn by a couple of feet and wandering out into the prairie to freeze to death. Mr. Poopy’s and my genetic lines may have crossed, somewhere in the distant past ... as there’s a branch of reindeer herders, up my family tree :-). Mr. Poopy might get a chance to display his talents. When Santa shows up with his reindeer, genetic memory may kick in :-).

I had a long talk with the Gardening Goddess about gardening stuff, yesterday. Two walnut trees have popped up in the middle of the blueberries. I wondered if I should just whack them back, or check with the Master Gardeners, first. They’ll go, but as a courtesy thing, best check. One looks a bit diseased. No firm date for first frost, but she pointed out a hill in the distance. When/if it gets snow, we’ll have a frost soon after. The changes in the season, here, are not abrupt ... to me. Pretty soon, they’ll be a certain feel and smell in the air that signals “fall.” So far, not.

There’s always something interesting or quirky going on in a garden. A small plant popped up and I left it to see what it was. I was hoping for lettuce. No, a pansy or viola. Don’t know where that came from. And then I noticed another hiding among a patch of sweet basil. They’re both out of the way, so I leave them. Then there was an enormous bumble bee with OCD, fighting his way into a wilted pumpkin blossom. Who knows why he was fixated on that particular blossom? A bit of B&E. Break and enter :-).

Hmmm. Does it feel like home yet? Hmmm. Does anyplace feel like home? Seems like, looking back, they’re all just temporary stops along the way. And I can’t quit shake a “too good to be true” (so, it can’t last) feel about this place.

As to the King Arthur movie. There actually was, probably, a historic figure named Vortigern. (Multiple spellings of name.) Wikipedia has a pretty good entry on him. He’s a bit more firmly placed in history, then say, Arthur. Earlier mention, a lot more detail. He was apparently an east Britain king or warlord, not long after the Romans, left. For some reason (details vary) he invited two brothers, Hengist and Horsa (love the names) and their men to Britain. What was supposed to be temporary, became permanent (as so many things do). And that was, perhaps, the beginning of the Anglo-Saxon “invasion.” Early chroniclers seem to consider Vortigern as, not so much evil, as unlucky, ill advised or just plane stupid. The dangers of hiring foreign mercenaries.

As to Roman militias. Roman law is kind of a specialty, and there’s lots of speculation. It’s sometimes difficult to determine what laws went into effect at what time, and how strictly enforced, they were. And, for how long. In general, Roman citizens could not carry or possess weapons. No private armed group, either. You could maybe get away with a smallish dagger, if you frequented “bad” areas of town. And a body guard or two (or three, or four) seemed tolerated. One of the fine books in the Camalude (sp?) series pretty much hashes that out. A few far seeing Roman Brits could see things unraveling and wanted trained, armed men on tap. Oh, and any kind of fortifications were forbidden. Cities had to ask for special permission to build walls, for instance.

Well, off to the pot luck, this evening. Given the fire danger, probably no bon fire in the woods. Let’s see. Food foibles suspended? Check. :-). Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I have just heard that my Texan niece has had to evacuate with her family. They had to move quickly while there was still a road out. Their electricity was gone and the water is contaminated. My great nephew, who appears to be competent, is staying where he lives up a hill. He has bottled water and can make a fire to cook on.

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