Monday, 27 March 2017

Attack of the killer tomatoes

This blog is now available as an mp3 podcast through the link: www.ferngladefarm.com.au
Just under a week ago, the editor and I looked at each other across the divide of the kitchen bench and exchanged a meaningful glance. That glance conveyed so much information, even though words were not spoken. And the message was clear that we had been struck yet again by the pesky “Laser Printer” problem.

Eight years ago now, the editor and I constructed the house here. Construction of the house was a very complex job and we undertook most aspects of construction ourselves excluding the mains electrical and plumbing works. Mains voltage electrical and plumbing works in Australia are legally required to be performed by licensed trades people.

During those heady days the editor and I also started our own accounting/tax business. I have heard people claim that they are busy, and I have wondered what that term means to those people, but way back then, we actually were very busy!

It is no great secret that in an accounting business, most new work comes via way of referral from existing customers. The fancy name for that referral activity is: Word of mouth. The way that “word of mouth” operates is that somebody recommends to someone else that Chris and the Editor are top people and did a great job for them and they’ll look after you too. And more often than not, that “word of mouth” activity results in new client for our accounting business.

However, you never really know when this will happen. So imagine for a moment that:
·         you are in the midst of constructing a house yourself and it is not yet sealed to the outside weather;
·         winter is fast approaching;
·         the landlord for the house that you are renting is messing you around and threatening to kick you out so that they can put that rental house on the market for sale; and
·         you are suddenly faced with an influx of unexpected and brand new accounting work.

As a spoiler alert, we managed to address all of those competing matters and moved into the unfinished (and barely weather sealed) house early that Spring. However, one of the new accounting jobs required us to do a considerable amount of printing and scanning. At the time we had a dinky little colour inkjet printer and scanner, which despite being very slow, still works well after a decade of solid service. So, in order to complete the new accounting job quickly we decided to purchase a high speed laser printer and scanner.

The new laser printer and scanner allowed that new job to be completed quickly, however the simple purchase of that laser printer set off a chain of events that boggles the imagination. Without going into detail, that single new item of technology changed every aspect of the way we conducted and ordered our accounting business. Everything changed, from the layout of the office to the quality control systems and filing. It was surreal because we had to adapt ourselves and our practices to the new technology and not the other way around. I also learned that growth tends to not be a smooth trajectory, but rather a series of steps.

Working with nature reminds me of the exact same feeling of the Laser Printer problem. Nature rarely provides consistently. Instead, nature provides in great big splats and then not much. One such great big splat has been the huge load of tomatoes that we have been flooded with over the past few weeks. There sure have been a lot of tomatoes produced by the plants!

The March weather has been far hotter than the long term average and that has been awesome for beach goers and tomatoes. And the well above average heat followed on from a very damp and cool summer. The weather statistics for March taken from the Australian weatherzone website today is as follows:
Weather statistics for March for Melbourne
Observant readers will note that so far for this month, the maximum temperature has been +3.7’C greater than the long term average (and the minimum has been higher again). And the tomatoes are loving the heat.

Last week I noticed that the forthcoming week (which is now) was going to be not only hot, but also rather damp and cloudy. With that weather forecast in mind we undertook a Hurculean effort and completed retrieving, splitting and storing the final load of firewood for the year. But at the same time, we also we continued processing the tomatoes using the electric dehydrator.

Unfortunately, the damp, cloudy and warm weather meant that on most days of the past week we generated very little solar electricity. Sometimes the clouds were spectacularly thick and at a lower altitude than the farm!
The thick clouds hung in the valley below the farm leaving us in bright sunshine
At other times during the week the clouds descended (or is that technically ascended upon?) the farm and the air was thick with moisture:
It has been a very foggy and damp week
On the Wednesday the 5kW solar panels managed to generate a rather sad 2.3kWh (63Ah x 36V) for an entire day. As an interesting side story, in my wanderings on foot through the streets of Melbourne and the (trendy and affluent) inner Northern suburbs I often see placards on the front of houses proclaiming the imminent shift to renewable energy sources. The placards are very nicely printed indeed and they usually have abstract drawings of very attractive looking solar panels on free standing mounts. Those abstract drawings look uncannily like the ones that serve me so well in the paddock below the house. And at those times I consider the very uncomfortable question as to whether that particular household would be able to adapt to an energy availability of only 2.3kWh for an entire day? How long would a plasma TV run on this generation? An hour perhaps?
Wednesdays solar energy production was very sad at only 2.3kWh (63Ah x 36V) for the whole day
Strange renewable energy belief systems aside, the editor and I were faced with the incompatible problems of inconsistent electricity generation and truck loads of tomatoes. In such a situation, you make passata. Passata is an Italian style tomato and vegetable sauce which can be stored in glass jars and used in cooking throughout the year. And making passata uses far less electrical energy than using an electrically powered dehydrator. And this is what about half a year’s worth of stored passata looks like (ignoring the chutney on the extreme right of the photo):
This is what half a year’s worth of passata looks like
And that was when the recurring Laser Printer problem struck. The passata recipe uses far less electricity than dehydrating tomatoes. However, making passata takes about ten times as long to produce for a given volume of tomatoes than simply dehydrating tomatoes. Astute readers will realise that we had simply swapped our time for electrical energy. We had never produced passata in such volumes before and we were basically unprepared for the time that the whole process took. I can write this with a clear conscience because it was not I that cracked the sads in this particular instance…

Moving on … A few days later, the sun shone very strongly and strangely enough, we were just shy of breaking the record here for electricity generation in a single day. That means 20.3kWh (563Ah x 36V) on Saturday. Incidentally, for those who are numerically inclined, the record was 566Ah.
The solar power system almost achieved a record breaking day of production on Saturday
As I have heard said down here on occasion: “Go hard, or go home!” Usually people saying such comments are referring to drinking alcohol, but we chose instead to “go hard” and put through another six trays of tomatoes to dehydrate in the electric dehydrator.
Another six trays of tomatoes were dehydrated in the Fowlers Vacola 4000 Ultimate Dehydrator unit this week
My little red Honda push mower arrived back home from the local mower doctor this week and so I put it to good use and spent an entire day pushing it around the farm and covered a couple of acres. This is what the paddock looked like before mowing.
The paddock below the house before mowing
And this is what the paddock below the house looked like after mowing.
The paddock below the house after mowing
Observant readers will note in the photo above a very frisky looking Scritchy and Toothy frolicking about in the now mown herbage!

Just in case we hadn’t done enough work which may be disturbing for long term readers, we cut back all of the plant growth which had recently taken over all of the access stairs about the farm. In the photo below observant readers will note a sugar maple on the left and a tulip tree on the right. None of the six chock full wheelbarrow loads of cut plant growth goes to waste as we throw it on top of new garden beds as a form of fertiliser and simply let nature sort it all out over time.
Plant growth which had recently taken over the access stairs about the farm was cut back
This week I have also begun removing the steel cages from a few of the taller fruit trees. The steel cages are in place to protect the fruit trees from the unrelenting wallaby activities. The wallabies (a smaller and solitary form of forest dwelling kangaroo) are right little vandals who will happily destroy a fruit tree by pulling it over and snapping the trunk. However once fruit trees are about 5m (16 foot) tall, the trees are fairly impervious to the loving ministrations of the ever helpful and unrelenting wallabies.
A Green Gage Prune was removed from its steel cage this week
The warm and very humid weather has also been paradise for insects and the other evening I spotted this crawling mass of Portuguese millipedes and Slaters (wood lice). Seriously, the ground was oozing with insect activity…
The ground oozed with activity as there was a crawling mass of Portuguese millipedes and Slaters (wood lice)
Fortunately, the insect predators who are the good guys of any orchard were up to the task of sorting out that swarming mass of insects. Praying mantises are one of the good guys in an orchard and I spotted this one:
A praying mantis takes a break from the task of consuming masses of insects
Oh, I have mentioned before that I have continuing problems with the delaminating steel on the wood heater and was sort of hoping that if there were any metallurgists reading the blog (or anyone in the know about steel really) could identify why my wood heater shows signs of a white salt looking product in an amongst the rust. The deterioration of the wood heater is a sad tale and I’m hoping to learn something from that sad story so that I don’t repeat the same mistake with the next expensive replacement wood heater. Anyway, don’t be shy and please posit an opinion on the matter!
Strange white salts are developing in the rust on the top of wood heater. If anyone has any ideas about it, please speak up!
And as is now usual I’ll chuck in some nice flower photos to brighten up the day of anyone living in a cold northern hemisphere climate:
The perennial rocket produces masses of flowers during late summer / early autumn which the bees adore

The Jerusalem artichokes have continued to flower this week and the plants are unable to out-compete the geraniums despite the artichokes ferocious reputation
And I believe these are some sort of African daisy which look superb
The temperature outside now at about 9.45pm is 12’C (53’F). So far this year there has been 120.4mm (4.7 inches) which is more than last week’s total of 93.8mm (3.7 inches).

104 comments:

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

The very word 'printer' makes me feel ill. I no longer have one and admit that this is inconvenient. Past experiences have been nightmares and at present I have nowhere to put one. Not sure whether this pleases me or not.

I have been trying to explain the variation between glut at certain times of the year and dearth at other times to my self sufficient attempting neighbours. I get absolutely nowhere with them.

I no longer need the pretty flower pictures here in the North. The Spring flowers are everywhere. Primroses are making the ground view yellow outside and the clumps of violets add a different colour. I don't mean to sound ungrateful, all your photos are much appreciated.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I suppose you could have called this blog post "Attack of the killer Portuguese millipedes and Slaters (wood lice.) :-). But that doesn't roll so trippingly across the tongue as "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes." I'm happy that your tomatoes are working out, after such a rocky start to the season.

Re: Technology. Printers, and all. See? Who knows what strange convoluted changes would have been inflicted on my life if I had run out and bought a pair of speakers for my new DVD player. It was bad enough just getting that up and running. :-). My usual method of dealing with new tech is to leave it in the box for a few weeks and periodically poke it with a sharp stick.

Word of mouth. I really found that to be true when I moved to this small place. Anytime you need any kind of service, you just ask around and see who's name keeps regularly popping up. I four times out of five a name pops up, you're probably onto a good thing. The fifth recommendation is probably related.

Hmm. Swap time for energy conservation. Also there's the swap time for money conservation. We could be onto a whole new batch of rules, or laws of the universe, here. I have a very sensible book called "Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should (and Shouldn't) Cook from Scratch to Save Time and Money." (Reese, 2011). She does a cost/benefit analysis of all kinds of food stuffs. Also how difficult the recipes are ("A hassle to make.") Sometimes she'll say something like: It's a hassle, but you should maybe try it once as it gives you a feeling of accomplishment ... you'll learn something ... it's fun ... it's healthier, etc..

Here's what she says about making your own Camembert cheese. "Hassle: Is fishing a hassle? Is golfing a hassle? Whittling? Cheese making is hobby, an art, an obsession, and a pleasure, and if you don't feel this way about it, you shouldn't do it. Because it's also definitely a hassle." :-).

The weather here is still filthy. That one picture where you showed that the clouds moved in ... now that looks like what it looks like here, a good deal of the time. I got the hummingbird feeder up. Haven't seen any of the little fellows, yet, but think I heard one, yesterday. Wonder how long it will take them to find the feeder? Lew

Steve Carrow said...

Passata? Never heard of it, but read up on it a bit after being your mention. How do you process it? The links I chased were ambiguous, or merely about how to cook with it. We can our tomatoes, either as whole, or sauced, or as a pasta sauce, but in all cases, we water bath can them, which essentially cooks them. I thought things would get moldy or questionable if not sterilized this way. I'm quite interested in how you go about it, as it would be one more way to preserve, and might taste better?

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Some of the more aggressive chickens will steal feathers from their friends if they are feeling a little light on for protein. When I see that bit of silliness going on I feed them a mash of full cream milk and oats and that seems to settle them down. So perhaps chickens do enjoy the taste of other chickens? It is a pretty rough and tumble world in the land of chicken.

Hehe! I did crack the sads about the horse trail riders roaming through the orchard and they received quite a surprising and unexpected reaction. Word on the street is that the individuals involved consider that we are a rather aggressive bunch up here... How they ever thought that they wouldn't be tracked down in a small community like this is well beyond me.

The others not so much and the poor lady that lost old fluffy for us, well it is not like old fluffy had gone far, so I consoled her with a hug and soothing words and then found old fluffy. It was the matter of but a few moments! I was personally surprised that nobody had joined the dots...

The fish was well dead and dehydrated and what do you say to people who can live with the smell of decomposing fish in the living room? They're beyond help as far as I can see.

The name was a dead giveaway! Heroes are rarely named Speckles... ;-)! Scraggles the early morning bird would be securely locked up around these parts. Just sayin... That is way to early for my happiness levels.

Jack Vance made an astute observation there didn't he? I'm genuinely surprised that all of the chunks of expensive tat survived in such a poor land as it would have made for an enticing target. Many people are of a rather flexible disposition when it comes to such matters which may concern upon their own self interest.

Ah no worries about that as I've done more than my fair share of air travel and so it would be hypocritical for me to stand in judgement of anyone. No, I just point out that it seems like a strange disconnect and part of the fun of the blog for me is to keeping poking that particular disconnect. You'll see it time and again as a recurring theme here. If I became all preachy and stuff, people would switch off and go elsewhere, and genuinely I feel that it is now well past the point at which gradual and controlled change is possible, so it all probably doesn't matter and the whole thing is a moot point.

I had some computer fun today. Windows 7 tried to install 226 updates in one go. It took 2 hours where I couldn't work. What a surprise the updates didn't work and I'm now wondering whether I'll restore to the most recent backup. Probably will. Hey, I changed the website to Wordpress too given the experience with the podcast website and am going to muck around with that later today. Should be fun and you are welcome to have a look and if you have any ideas, don't keep them to yourself! :-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I know that you are a disaster junkie so I thought that you may boggle at the reports coming in from Cyclone Debbie up in Queensland. It is a pretty big storm. Some cheeky wags were painting slogans on their fences daring the cyclone to do its worst. I thought that was an interesting development. Nature may have other ideas. Anyway, some of the footage is feral: BOM warns Cyclone Debbie hours from making landfall in Queensland. BOM refers to the Bureau of Meteorology.

It makes you wonder whether the whole cyclone versus hurricane is an arbitrary difference of description? Dunno really. The outcome seems pretty similar. They're having a storm surge of 8m (26.4 feet) and I wouldn't personally want to be in a low lying area there today.

Exactly, the state library is run by the state government and the city library is run by the city of Melbourne (which is after all only a local council). It was a nice building for the meeting and the turnout was a lot bigger than when we met up at the restaurant, so clearly the restaurant was a sticking point for some. The city is a Victorian era city at its heart, albeit one that was laid out by a surveyor who had a rather exacting mind! And there are all sorts of little lane-ways which were originally intended for the night soil carts and are now being used for bars, restaurants and cafes. It is a quirky but entertaining layout.

The big blue rooster sounds fun as, as would the giant yellow teddy bear! Fun stuff. There is no reason that art should be challenging - especially if the public is forking out the dough for the work.

The internet is nice but it is ephemeral and will one day be gone. I hope all the little bits and bytes don't get lonely when it happens! ;-)! Hehe! The Vatican book sale was a genuine tea spitting moment. Thanks for that.

Speaking about those Roman shoes, I wonder if they've learned anything from digging the shoes up? I would have thought that such a cold wind swept locale would have required pretty toasty shoes? Over winter I use sheep skin lined boots and they are really nice and toasty.

Yeah, you betcha. Sir Scruffy got worse last night and so we worked it backwards and found that he'd been on the course for 18 days. He is not anymore as I sort of feel that the cure was worse than the original concern (which recovered after only a few days). There was still another ten days to go with the course too which seems rather extreme. Your food idea to get him back and fighting fit is an excellent suggestion.

Oh boo indeed! The computer here tried to install 226 updates this morning - and of course you can't switch the thing off whilst it is doing so. Poopy and I had enough time to go out and get a coffee and raisin toast and check the mail and it still hadn't completed by the time I got back. And then after another half an hour it notified me that it had failed. Mate, the score card I'm giving Windows is F (for fail). I may restore it to a backup over the next couple of hours. What a nuisance.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Anyway, Poopy and I over heard a conversation where a person was claiming rather loudly that they'd just come back from Europe where they had been invited to test drive electric cars on ice. That is clearly of concern to Australian drivers who rarely if ever encounter ice, but the larger point is: I'm coming around to the conclusion that people deep down know of the environmental impacts of their actions, but the perquisites are hard to let go. I'm not being judgemental in saying that either because you and I have no skin in the game in relation to future generations. In essence, I sort of feel that I can do my best here and leave an interesting and possibly useful legacy, but other than that, I don't have much desire to assist people who don't want to assist themselves. Too often people look for leadership, but our concept of leadership is such that, you know, it kind of equates to an off loading of responsibilities. And that sort of seems to me as if it is an artefact of our present culture, but it doesn't have to be that way. Dunno.

Yeah, hail is usually rock salt sized here too, but at lower elevations the hail can destroy cars as if they were under attack from a bunch of vandals with golf clubs and an unlimited supply of golf balls... Interestingly too, those cars are often written off despite the damage being cosmetic rather than mechanical.

Fair enough, I was having a conversation on Sunday night with a mate which more or less said that installing huge fences is like a sign saying that there is stuff inside that is worthy of pinching.

Yeah, that knowing where everything is for hoarders is an unusual side story and the people display emotions of loss and grief if any of the stuff is moved or disposed of. Strange stuff. Did you find the books gave any interesting insights into the human condition? It really is a fascinating phenomenon that one. I like keeping things simple, ordered and neat, but that is generally because it frees up my mind to dwell upon other matters more than a desire for control. I've seen people with anxiety try to control their surroundings in that manner, but you know, whatever works for them. I had some mates stir me up in the past about being too organised, but for me that is the only way I know how to get a lot of things done. It is not working out so well for them nowadays and as far as I can tell, they're not that spontaneous anyway... Dunno.

Hyacinths are lovely aren't they? Hope you get a break in the rain.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi gz,

Welcome to the discussion!

Incidentally I assume that you were dropping a pebble in the well? Anyway, you have won the Fernglade farm award for the most opaque comment received to date.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I hear you and feel fortunate to have worked before such technology was common place. You know, all printers seem to have achieved was that we now use far more paper, energy and consumables than ever before. I remember how it was done back in the day and hopefully that can be of use some day to someone. Dunno.

Well we do adapt to technology and not the other way around, although people assume that that is the case. That was more or less the point of the story this week. And no, I'm not sure how to feel about that either. Dunno.

Ha! That's funny and I wish you well in explaining that situation. :-)! Of course, winter provides a solid corrective example. I wish them well on their journey!

Nice to read that you are enjoying the lovely flowers up in your part of the world. Primroses are really lovely aren't they, and I've been trying for a while to get the red primroses established, but they seem to struggle for some reason. What else is flowering?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks, and well, you know, it doesn't quite roll off the tongue does it. Plus I'm never shy about ripping off a solid pop culture reference. That was a dreadful film don't you reckon, but so hard to look away from.

You so busted me with that speaker technology business. Check out the new speakers, you know you want them... Hehe! Yeah technology subtly changes our lives rather than technology conforming to our lives and it doesn't really need to be that way, but there you go.

I do that too and just ask around and get enough different opinions and try and see if any of them overlap. The one thing where everybody seems to have a different opinion is the wood heater and I am so confused by that situation. It may be that there is no answer.

Far out Debbie seems to be doing some serious damage. I hope everyone up that way is keeping safe. The winds are feral strong and the storm surge will be a nightmare.

Exactly, money can be seen from some perspectives as an economic token which represents time. Of course some animals are more equal than others on that front as George Orwell so correctly pointed out. Thanks for the book reference too. Yeah, it probably is as much obsession as a hobby... We try to understand the process and then work out whether and how we can integrate that process into our life. Understanding the entirety is one of the most complex problems that I have personally faced, but you have to do something in life...

Yeah, mist. Has the rain and fog lifted up your way? I hope your hummingbirds turn up soon.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Steve,

Yeah, last year we tried the water bath method with the tomatoes and the result was a bit watery for our tastes. Passata is a closer process to that of jam making. The recipes can vary widely which is why there is no consensus on the topic.

Ours included blitzed roast vegetables, herbs (oregano and bay leaf both of which grow here) and the preserving agents where: apple cider vinegar (which we make); balsamic vinegar; lemon juice (citric acid - grown here); and sugar. The glass jars are sterilised in boiling water. The cooked passata is poured into them and then they are sealed just as you would do with jam making. Easy.

Yeah, un-preserved tomatoes will rapidly go off. I reckon the commercial canned tomatoes have the tomatoes sitting in some sort of liquid of tomato soup like syrup so that they retain their taste.

Passata can be used directly onto fresh pasta for a quick meal - or added to taste in other concoctions. I make my own pasta here as it is so easy and far tastier than the stuff that is bought nowadays.

Cheers

Chris

Damo said...

RE: Computers

226 updates sounds painful. You can select which of those 226 updates to install, perhaps disable the update that failed if the computer was thoughtful enough to tell you which one it was (or do them in batches of 50 or similar till it fails).

I wonder, with your limited internet, how much precious bandwidth is used by downloading all those updates? In your situation I honestly don't know what I would do - disabling all updates is a valid choice, but you run a moderate risk of infection with various nastie/Government backdoor programs and so on. Maybe disable updates, and manually check when you are on free WiFi? There is no easy answer, and even Linux and Mac requires constant updates to maintain security, so yeah a tricky one. Perhaps it is a predicament?

Damo said...

RE: Passata
Does everyone here skin their tomatoes when making passata? I am a bit lazy and just roast a couple of trays of tomatoes and seasoned vegetables in the oven, hit them in the blender and put in a jar. Of course, I am not preserving anything, just trying to make a reasonable pasta sauce to use immediately (jars of pasta sauce are $7-8 here).

RE: Lew's Speakers
Hmm, I cannot abide those small speakers built into laptops and TVs. The sound is so 'tinny' and grating to my ears. Mrs Damo says I am just being precious and she can barely tell the difference. Of course, between you and I, she is a little hard of hearing in one ear! At any rate, my poor student option to get decent sound usually involved second-hand lounge room speakers and an old cheap, but good quality amplifier. For smaller rooms, as Chris suggested, there are quite reasonable-sounding computer speakers for <$100 new (and a lot less used) with a little sub-woofer that would infinitely improve Star Trek movies :p These will plug into any headphone jack.

Dealing with noise complaints is beyond my scope of abilities - the floors here are 1 foot thick concrete so I get away with a lot :-)

Damo

Damo said...

RE: Printers

In my former IT life, printers were often the bane of my existence. Seriously, they were often the source of the trickiest problems, many of those created by a sort of malign neglect from the manufacturer (don't get me started on 250megabyte drivers for a laserjet printer - this was back in dial up modem days!!). Or for like 5 years all printers were sold without a USB cable - back when USB cables were new and most people wouldn't have one. Nowadays the printers come with the 50cent cable, most people don't need it. Inkjet printers with ink that dries out in a few months etc etc etc. Really, they are awful things. My unasked, and unwanted advice for small home/office use:

1. Never get an inkjet
2. Don't get colour either
3. Small laserjets (samsung/brother) for $50-60 are pretty reliable, printing is about 12-15 cents a page, quite reasonable
4. Don't get an inkjet

Damo

Damo said...

RE: paper in the office

I am old enough to remember a show on TV here in Australia called "Beyond 2000". This was back in the late 80's when the year 2000 was a mystical time when all the awesome future stuff would suddenly appear. It was a fairly lightweight info-tainment show that featured exciting new technology and research. I still remember one segment demonstrating how the paperless office would be a thing very soon! It seemed believable at the time, but then I was young and naive.

From a human nature point of view, the logical progression is from paperless office to human-less office. I suspect most layers of management in a typical office is against that development and actively work to prevent innovative streamlining.

Sorry for the comment spam, I will stop now. I have been trapped inside for a few days and am getting tired of Star Trek and Kitchen Nightmares episodes :-(

Damo

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Automatic updates are now switched to notify. It seriously took two hours and then failed! I'm impressed that software could be so wrong that it required that many updates. The machine still works now - which is good, I think. I took a system image a week or so ago, so if it proves to be a problem, I'll bomb this copy and restore the image.

I forget to mention. Limited internet is now a thing of the past. The old modem died with a week to go on the contract a few weeks back (coincidence?) and so I went to get a new modem and of course a new contract and they gave me some crazy bonus data every month. The bonus was equal to the old bandwidth, plus the new plan had for some reason much more data than the old plan too. So I now have 40Gb every month to play with which is far more bandwidth than I actually know what to do with.

Yeah, there is risk just connecting into the internet. I pay for and run Bitdefender here which gets consistently good reviews and I try not to annoy government agencies if I can help it... ;-)! I’d be more than happy to share my frank and candid opinions with them although they might not like what they learn. Anyway, it is a predicament and I just sort of accept the risk - and keep backups.

I've never seen this free Wi-Fi business that people speak of. Why would anyone give free Wi-Fi when it costs to provide it in the first place?

The editor was talking about getting a mouli for the tomatoes to remove the skin, but then I believe that removing the skins on tomatoes may be a preference thing rather than for any other reason. We blitzed the lot so the skins would have been shredded anyway. You're following the right path for passata anyway. From your point you have to sterilise the jars in boiling water and add preserving agents to the mix: lemon juice; salt; apple cider vinegar; and balsamic vinegar. But you could chose whatever preserving agents you want. The balsamic neutralises the taste of the lemon juice. ;-)!

Ha! Mrs Damo is clearly not an audiophile. Hehe! Mate I hear you, sound quality is an important part of the enjoyment of music for me too. Some of that old audio gear is amazing and people are chucking it out for next to nothing. A year or two back I came across an old Kenwood KT-1100SD FM tuner for about $200 and the sound quality is beyond any radio that I have ever heard before. It is playing in the background right now. There is plenty of life left in that old beast.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Given how many star ships were destroyed in the lastest Star Trek film, well a sub woofer is not out of the question. Plus there was the very silly scene with the classical music of the Beastie Boys "Sabotage". Fun stuff! You know, the shouty song. Do you reckon they'll replace the Chekov character given what happened to him?

Yeah, I hear you about the printer woes with inkjet printers. I've got one going here now that is almost but not quite a decade old. The thing I've found about them too is that you have to protect them from dust. Way back in the day I bought an old HP Inkjet printer and it cost me about $650 which was a huge amount of money back then. At that time I was particularly thankful for the recently introduced true type fonts which were introduced with Windows 3.1.1. As a disclaimer I used to use Windows 3.0 and the IT guy thought I was nuts. He had some rather not very family friendly thoughts about that operating system at the time. He called it something like: Wally Bankers(!) World... And then once Windows 3.1.1 was released he jumped on the bandwagon, although failed to apologise…

I remember Beyond 2000 too. Hey, I lapped up that rubbish too and then much later noticed just how much paper we were using in offices. I print on 100% recycled new paper and use the other side of any paper printed in error.

I'll tell you a funny but sad tale about when I worked as a CFO. I used my weight in the organisation to switch them from printing on brand new paper to printing on 100% recycled paper. They used to buy pallets of paper all of the time, it was not a small amount. And you know what? They eventually broke me through the incessant whingeing and complaining - which they did for primate social antics reasons. It was one of those moments I had an "ah-ha" when I realised just how great were the challenges facing humanity.

Hope you are feeling better soon!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

@ Damo
Agreed, I would never have another inkjet printer. However a friend (who has both) told me that a laser printer was no better. Is that correct? Nearly 30 years ago I had an Amstrad computer with an Amstrad printer. It was superb; slowness didn't matter to me. So what happened? Why are printers so ghastly now?

I leave tomato skins in everything.

Inge

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

(From last week) Just the other night all the chickens were in but one. She is the first one that escapes from the outdoor run first thing in the morning. It took some time but I finally persuaded her to go in.

Glad to hear about all the tomatoes considering how challenging it was for you early on.

As always thanks for the lovely flower pics. We should have daffodils soon - just need a couple warm days. It's been fairly cold, rainy and dreary most days. The seedlings are doing well under the grow light.

Went up to the new place for Michael yesterday to deliver some forms and pick up information for the lawyer to present at court (court must approve the new place). Looks like I'm going to have to find some furniture especially a bed for him. There is a bed provided but it's pretty awful as they admit. The plan is to move him at the end of April.

You may have said before but how is passata different from a tomato/spaghetti sauce?

Margaret

ck said...

Chris,
If you need some passata extra hands on deck, just let us know (although, not entirely sure exactly how you can do that - let us know, that is - maybe thru the green wizard list?). You are just up the vline from us, and I would love to see your place. But I'd need a lift from the station... so if you looked at it purely in energy terms, it might not be value for energy!! But if you looked at it with a few other metrics thrown in, then maybe you would break even...
ck

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Flowering at present:- daffodils, primroses, violets, wood anemones, celandine, dandelions, herb Robert, dog mercury. I think that that is it.

Inge

thecrowandsheep said...

Hi Chris,

What did you do to deserve being trolled by the French, who are usually very pleasant and polite? Perhaps it was your bread making video a while back and they took umbrage at your lack of kneading?

Would you be so kind as to include some tips/recipes for your pasta? I did make some the other day but the recipe was rubbish (yes, it was the recipe that was rubbish, yes sir!). The risk here of course is you might then get trolled by the Italians.

Yahoo2 said...

Hi Chris,
I will have a go at explaining where the compromise is in this particular heater design and why that makes it rust badly and chew mountains of timber. I would liken it to driving a car with my foot on the accelerator and brake at the same time.

Unfortunately I cant think of a perfect solution that gives you everything you want in a nice neat package tied with a ribbon, I guess we might have to brainstorm some acceptable alternatives but Hey, that's life!
It will take me a couple of days to write something concise and not totally boring, I tend to think about this stuff in 3D shapes and equations, great for engineering, not so good for posting to blog comments.

I am enjoying your nature/garden photography this year, its a bit lean in my own garden. Feeling your wallaby pain, the rabbits here will travel miles in broad daylight to ringbark a young fruit tree. No random munching by those little rascals.
Steve

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well. Safari didn't want to open the comments sign in, or, the comments, for that matter :-). Works fine in Chrome. Might be the mucking about on your end ... or, my outdated Safari may have finally given up the ghost ... or, Safari is just "tired", today. Not that we'll ever know :-). What I like about Safari is there's a search box where I can check spelling problems. Doesn't seem to be anyway to do an easy spelling check in Chrome. Oh, well. My Oxford American Dictionary is at hand ...

Here, it seems the storm slogans are painted on the plywood people nail over their windows. Seems like tempting fate ... whistling in the dark ... whistling past a cemetery. There's always a certain percent of the population that won't evacuate. Sometimes the authorities go around with a short form and ask for "next of kin". That usually shakes a few loose and gets then on the road.

Sometimes I wonder at archaeologists saving every little scrap. I suppose a good cross section of men, women's and children's shoes might provide a window into any stylistic evolution. I suppose they could do a bit of DNA testing to see if Athlete's Foot was a wide spread problem :-). Soldiers letters home often ask for woolen socks and underwear. Apparently, the Roman's didn't worry much about the fashion faux pas of socks with sandals :-).

I hear all the time about vehicles being written off ("totaled" is what we say here ... as in "total wreck.") for pretty minor (to me) damage. Just another indicator of our throw away culture. What I hear a lot is "The frame may be bent." There are probably a lot of factors in play. Lack of parts and pieces. Fiberglass panels hard to track down. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Tall fences may indicate something worth pinching. Or, activity to be hidden. "What's he doing in there?" Inquiring minds want to know. :-). Just plane old privacy never seems to be taken into consideration. The good old village busy body and gossip always wants to get in places, take a good look around, and make a judgement.

Hoarding IS pretty fascinating. If you don't have to live with it. Sometimes it's a buffer ... wall? ... of stuff between the hoarder and the world. There may be a slight genetic component. Onset of hoarding may be triggered by some kind of loss or another. Sometimes it's a case of "If my stuff disappears, I disappear." Or, holding onto too much of the past. "If I get rid of all of mother's stuff, it's like she died twice." The reasons can be very complex ... and varied.

"Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" had a kind of naive charm. The sequel wasn't near as good. Throw a little money at them and things go to heck.

The weather is still filthy. No hummingbirds, yet, but the blue jays are quit upset with me. If Beau isn't on the deck, they raid his food dish. It's pricey enough feeding him, let alone every jay in the neighborhood. So, when they show up, I pull his dish, or awhile.

Off to the Men's AA meeting, tonight. Celebrate my birthday. Not near as good tucker, given it's the Men's meeting. Maybe some dried out, store bought biscuits and a bit of dodgy ice cream. :-). Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

That's interesting that where you are one has to be licensed to do electrical work. My son has just finished wiring the basement (25 lights and umpteen outlets) and needed no license, though of course it had to pass inspection. I have a feeling that we here may one day soon lose that privilege.

I well remember that horrible film. We have a horrible ink jet printer. Such a good title you did choose . . . We fill the cartridges with ink ourselves, which is not a really great idea, but it was working ok until recently. Now it won't print, though it will copy ok (it is a copier and fax machine, too). I love fax machines. We still have a very old one (with a lifetime supply of paper) and I miss sending info back and forth. It seemed so space-age when they first came out (mid 1970s?).

I have Windows 7 on my laptop. It will no longer perform updates. I need a brain surgeon. Blah.

It seems like only yesterday that you had the Great Tomato Disaster, when all the baby tomatoes were killed by frost. How well you have recouped your losses!

That's a wonderful cloud photo. It looks like it was taken from a settlement on another planet - rather Star Wars-ish.

Hi, frisky Toothy and Scritchy!

That is our tulip poplar - the ones that are weed trees here and grow to 100 ft. (30m) in so few years. And with thick trunks, also. Has yours bloomed yet? They have beautiful flowers and some of the birds really love the seeds once they are dry and fall off.

You would be proud of me - I have been carrying my crates (small though they are) of mushroom compost around to all of the fruit trees. Luckily, the compost is uphill of the garden . . .

Do you and the editor work together on each customer's account or do you each keep track of different customer's accounts?

It's a millipede and slater party. Yuk. I wonder what the refreshments are? You are lucky to have praying mantises. I have been seeing some ladybugs (ladybirds?) about.

The radio said that we are in a near drought. I believe it; what a dry winter. We had a thunderstorm last night and some more rain today. I thought of you and your dogs - I couldn't remember who it was that gets under the bed - when the thunder started. All five of our dogs used to go crazy during thunder, and taught the cat to do so, too. It would get really crowded as they stuck to us like glue.

Re: Your comments about leadership and off loading of responsibilities. I don't think that responsible people need leadership; they just do what needs to be done. But maybe it's also an insecurity thing - people being unsure of what they need to do, or if they have the capability to do it?

I don't much like the idea of a solid, tall fence or wall around a property. It is too easy for someone up to mischief to hide behind such a thing and makes it easier for them to accomplish a no-good act with out being seen.

I always liked the word opaque. It is so hard to see through . . .

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Damo:

We cook the tomatoes in our passata (which may be a pasta sauce . . .) with their skins on and then, like you, run the whole finished, cooked batch through a blender. We haven't tried canning any yet, though we froze a lot last year. This year we shall use our pressure canner.

Pam

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Yeah, the same thing happens here too in that the ones that head out first are always the same ones that are last to bed. They're the adventurous ones don't you reckon? It is the Isa Brown breed here which are a commercial egg laying breed.

It was a tomato disaster wasn't it? The lesson I'm sort of taking out of this experience is that I have been planting the tomatoes out in the weather far too early in previous years. Of course the weather is very variable and so I'll have to judge it from year to year differently. But given how late they were put in and the cool and damp summer following, it didn't make that much difference with the harvest time (maybe a fortnight, but not much more than that). Every year you learn a little bit more.

Thanks! I love the flowers too and I promised the editor flowers. :-)! Can't really ask for more in life than that huh? Good luck with the seedlings and I assume you go with your gut feeling about timing for planting them out?

I'm so glad to hear that things with Michael's housing situation is getting sorted.

Honestly, that is a great question and I don't know the answer to it. Perhaps at a wild guess, passata is the same thing but preserved, and of course passata is vegetables only, and pasta sauce may contain meat. It seems to be a very flexible recipe, you just have to up the acid content so that it preserves properly. I'll report back over the next few months if any went mouldy.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi ck,

Welcome to the discussion.

Yeah, I discussed the problem with the Green Wizards group and they are interested in helping out next year which will be really cool.

Thanks for the offer and I may put out the call next year?

I am always happy to open the farm for regular commenters and/or members of the Green Wizard's group. Other than that I rarely open the farm for tours as there seems to be very little upside for myself.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Lovely and I hope your forest is looking nice. Jason Heppenstall who is a sometimes commenter here put up photos of the wildflowers underneath oak trees in his corner of the UK and, wow, your forests are lovely places. The Greater celandine look really lovely and remind me of the local native hops plants.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi crowandsheep,

I have absolutely no idea at all. The literal translation into English was: The words are greater. Which I interpreted to mean that the words are greater than the actuality, but my French is not good. It sounded nice anyway.

You are most likely correct. I have a secret weapon on that front in that I use Pasta Dura flour which is a very high protein flour (our flour is not the common flour - to quote an old joke). That particular strain of flour requires very little kneading and I was advised to use that flour many years ago by a couple of grumpy ladies who knew their baking stuff, but alas for the inevitably awkward social interactions when I went to purchase the products. It was a chore for me I can tell you. I reckon after about five years they deigned to notice that I'd visited their shop before.

OK. Roast vegetables including the tomatoes for about an hour. Blitz until it is to the desired consistency. Cook the stuff on the stove top so as to reduce it a bit. Add herbs during the cooking process (bay leaf which you have to later remove and oregano which you don't). A sprig or two of rosemary wouldn't hurt either. Add lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and balsamic vinegar and some salt - they keep it from going off. Store in sterilised jars as per jam. The commercial recipes add cornflour as a thickening agent.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Yahoo2 / Steve,

Your description of the problem with the wood heater has intrigued me. The thing that I'm trying to avoid is repeating the same problem using another brand of wood heater and being in the same place many years down the track. It is an incredible waste of resources as what do you do with a 200kg chunk of rusty wood heater? I only burn seasoned and dry hardwood firewood, so the whole thing seems like a giant joke that I don't get at all.

Do you reckon stumping the cash for a more expensive heater like an Esse Ironheart would be worth the hassle or is it the same problem, just more expensive? My mates have an Esse unit which is larger again and the construction and finish looked better, but I was doubtful whether the combustion chamber was better constructed. Dunno.

I met a lovely couple living north of here a few years back and they had a 20 year old Rayburn wood heater / oven / wet back combination and I checked out the combustion chamber and it looked in great condition after years of solid service... So, I reckon I'm missing something basic in the whole problem.

Basically, my number one concern is longevity in a wood heater / oven combination.

Thanks. The wallabies are right little vandals and sometimes they break the fruit trees and then they just don't eat the leaves. Some of the trees were pushed back many years of growth, but they eventually do recover.

Rabbits are a pain when they are well established in your area and I hear you about the ring barking. I assume you have a pack of dogs on that job? The dogs here would destroy any rabbit foolish enough to turn up in the orchard. of course, the dogs have to be patrolling the orchard too and that is not always the case. I reckon I found a patch of deer scats yesterday, I'll take a photo - if the rain doesn't wash them away over the next few days. The tail of cyclone Debbie looks set to dump a small amount of rain down here as it joins up with a low pressure system from the south. Already the clouds have moved in and it has cooled down.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Ah, Safari is the Mac browser isn't it? If it means anything to you, I use Firefox, but there has been a recent push for people to move onto the Google supplied Chrome browser and I am unsure why this may be so. It is certainly reflected in the statistics here. Interesting, one of the reasons I like Firefox is that it has an add on for Australian spelling and I use that. You may notice that I use Australian spelling over the US version. There are a surprising number of differences in the spelling standards. The spelling problem on Chrome for Mac is a strange problem given how long digital dictionaries have been available and in circulation. I'd never heard of that problem before and it would drive me bananas, although I would just copy and paste the text into a word processor and check it there. Just for your interest, if I have a lot of free time to respond, I check the grammar and spelling before posting, but if like today there are a lot of comments, I just try to get the ideas and hello's out there and hope for the best (but expect the worst of course!). ;-)! I mean what else can you do? I'm impressed your old machine is still working. The laptop I'm typing this on is over 8 years old now and is working fine (although I don't muck around with the software at all).

Oh yeah, it is tempting fate isn't it? I'm not sure that it is a good idea and nature cares not a fig for slogans. That town of Bowen looks like it got hammered by the cyclone, so I hope they're OK and I also hope that they do a follow up on that guy. The reports of how it went up there are still a bit patchy. Down here the only slogans you see after disasters say things like: "Thanks CFA". The CFA being the Country Fire Authority. The cyclone is now a tropical low and seems to be moving south, although only the tail will reach here and it won't be much rain at all.

Some evacuations in the state to the north are done by the police and I understand they don't muck around or so I've been told by a reliable source.

I forget whether those shoes were found in a midden or rubbish heap. I personally wonder at why they were abandoned given the more or less necessity for footwear in that part of the world. It is an interesting question... And of course, sheepskin lined underwear would be very valuable in those cold winters... Just kidding about the sheepskin lining, although we might be onto a new product? Our fortunes are made! I would never wear socks and sandals. Well, maybe, if nobody was looking... OK, not off the property... Hehe!

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Yeah, they say totalled down here too. Sometimes I'm surprised at how expensive some of the new parts are. And the bumper bars these days are so carefully molded plastic that they don't take much punishment before they tear and then they are massively expensive to replace. I tend to keep the old vehicles well maintained albeit looking dirty. I was going to write about vehicles this week, maybe next week? They've certainly jumped the shark in terms of development, but the promises about future cars sounds an awful lot to me like the promises about robots taking over all our jobs.

Well that is true too. Generally folks up to mischief get caught through their greater than average utility bills. I rather suspect that our data is being mined, cross referenced and analysed. Mate I hear you! There are people up here who know more about my business than I do, and that's cool. I was trying to explain how that worked in the most recent Green Wizards meeting. I'm not sure people liked it.

Ah, I hear that your coal is now up for grabs! The guy on the radio is arguing that using your coal is a step backwards and technological progress has meant that coal is not a good energy source and jobs were lost because of technological progress which can't go backwards. He seems rather focused on the concept of "stepping backwards" as a bad thing. I rather suspect that it is a value judgement which doesn't mean as much as he thinks it does.

I've noticed that hoarding goes in families too and have wondered how much of it is learned behaviour and how much is genetic. Probably both. And also I reckon it is part of how they deal with the world as they find it. Exactly, varied is a great description.

It was a sweet and rather strange film wasn't it? I never watched the sequel and having read your review this may be a good thing.

Has the weather lifted yet? Where has your spring gone? The warm weather here looks set to disappear tonight and it will turn later this evening.

Happy birthday to you! :-)! I hope the food is good at the meeting?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks for the lovely comment but I have run out of time and promise to reply to you tomorrow night.

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Happy Birthday Lew!! Hope the food was good. Weather pretty filthy here too. Mostly cloudy and a fair amount of rain so lots of muddy dog paws. Here the starlings eat the cat food which is in the barn. Will probably be 2 - 4 weeks before I put out the Hummingbird feeder.

Margaret

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Thanks for the info about passata. I usually just freeze my tomatoes though sometimes can them just chopped up. Maybe I'll try a batch this year.

Yesterday I was in the kitchen chopping vegetables and out of the corner of my eye I saw some animal that was too big to be one of the cats and didn't look like the neighbors dog who sometimes finds his way over here. Well it was a coyote only twenty feet away from some of the chickens. They chickens were just looking at it as they probably thought it was a dog. They are used to our dogs as Leo and Salve don't bother them at all (neither does the neighbor's dog for that matter). Luckily it ran off when I yelled at it. We don't usually see coyotes during the day and in fact haven't seen many lately at all though do hear them at night sometimes. I've mentioned that the wire on the very large chicken run has rusted through and half of the chickens have figured out that they can easily escape. I had on my list for yesterday to temporarily fix that situation as they were wandering too far afield lately and I knew I was just tempting fate. Well I've finished the job and will see how successful I was. I know a couple for sure will fly over. Doug, who has been learning how to weld, has promised to put some sturdy panels together for the gates which has been the main problem. I considered myself very lucky to be sure.

You sure you getting more comments lately. Thank you for all your responses as that has to be pretty time consuming.

Margaret

Damo said...

@Chris

RE:computers and software
226 updates is nothing. Install an original Windows 7 DVD and see how many updates it tries and pulls down....
Unfortunately software is never 'finished', bugs and conflicts always arise. It is true that most of these arise from sloppy programming, but even the most tightly controlled software has bugs (see: NASA). Really, it is amazing the internet works at all. I guess a cynic could argue it doesn't really work that well...

Congratulations on the 40gig internet. That should be enough so you don't need to worry about updates. You could even stream that Double J radio station which is pretty good I reckon! (normally, streaming audio will use ~50megabytes an hour)

Most public places these days seems to have some sort of free Wifi, or at worst you ask the nearest cafe for their password. Australia is a little behind, but still pretty common.

/cont
Damo

Damo said...



That Kenwood KT-1100SD looks awesome. How good are the old volume and tuning dials - it was a pleasure just turning them. Or is that just me?? :p I love you can adjust the bandwidth as well. I don't really think subwoofers are that necessary, except with the smaller computer style speakers. A nice honest floor standing 3-way speaker will have all the low-down frequency response you need :-)

I don't have any inside knowledge, but I suspect they will not replace Chekov. The next movie is not a sure thing, the box office returns for Star Trek Into Darkness and Beyond were not great. Into Darkness was profitable, but not by a huge margin and Beyond didn't find much of an audience. Fingers crossed they do, Beyond was the best of the bunch I reckon.

Yeah, Windows 3.0 was a dogs breakfast by all accounts. It was just before my time though, I got introduced to Windows 3.1 (3.11 was for Business!) when I was 13-14 and enjoyed solataire before booting back to DOS and playing Star Wars X-Wing games.

Thank you, I am feeling much better now. In a strange twist of fate, Mrs Damo seems to have contracted similar symptoms. The leading theory is that this development can be firmly placed at my feet. You may be surprised to learn my protestations of innocence have fallen on deaf ears!

Damo

Damo said...

@Lew

Happy Birthday! Enjoy the ice-cream, maybe it will be that spiced pumpkin flavour!

RE: Browser
You can download the latest version of Firefox, it has a nice search bar you can use for quick spell checks and should work much better than an old version of Safari. Using the latest browser your computer can handle is generally a good idea for security and usability reasons.

Damo said...

@Inge

Laser printers are (normally) more expensive upfront. The replacement toner is also more expensive than an ink cartridge. However, each toner can usually do 3000-5000 pages so they are actually cheaper in the long run than an inkjet cartridge which *might* do 500 pages, if it doesn't dry out first.

Laserjets are also a little simpler mechanically, and are usually built to a higher quality so, on average last longer. And they print faster, and the paper comes out at a lovely warm temperature :-) So, I don't really know why someone would "hate" them. Perhaps a laser printer killed a family member or distant relative in the past? Blood debts can be hard to pay back.

As for why printers are ghastly now, well I would say that they have actually always been ghastly. Sure, plenty of people get by with no problem but they were always a tech support nightmare for a variety of reasons. I will say it is certainly easier to buy something rubbish today then it was 20 years ago, but there is good stuff out there if you choose it.

Cheers,
Damo

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I just came across this youtube interview of March 25 which has Mr. Greer on the panel. I have watched very little of it so far, but it may be of some interest. It was produced by The Center for Progressive Urban Politics and is titled "Reality is No longer an Option". Don't know if it's mostly U.S. politics. I found it at Club Orlov.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOFc0ZEmaHI

Pam

thecrowandsheep said...

Hi Chris,

I think your troll was suggesting words speak louder than actions, which probably means he has never used a chainsaw before.

Did you happen to find new grumpy flour ladies?

It did take me a moment to realise your recipe for "pasta" is actually your recipe for "passata". I thought perhaps you were going for some exotic minimalist ravioli with just the filling minus the actual pasta. That surely would have brought in the Italian trolls.

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Herb Robert. I love one of the alternative names for that herb ... Stinking Bob. :-). I managed to find some tea made from it, online. It's rather different, but nice. Peppery. I noticed the tea bag contents are rather coarse and lumpy ... and I wonder if there are perhaps seeds, mixed in. I may break open one of the bags, see if anything looks like a seed and plant some. Some sources say the herb will kill cancer bugs. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - The first hummingbird showed up at the feeder, about noon, yesterday. Colorful little fellow. He made several trips to the feeder, all afternoon. Saw him again this morning. Such neat little birds!

Safari is back to normal, today, as far as getting signed in, here. Guess it was just tired :-). Needed a break. Yeah, my old Mac is 7 or 8 years old. Everything still works pretty well, especially since I switched to Chrome, for some things. But that's been giving me warnings that they can't update my computer, anymore. I've noticed there are Google banner ads (Yahoo) all over the place for Firefox. Must be a story, there. Here's a printer story. When I moved here, my HP Photosmart Premium printer stopped working. I really don't use it much, so it just sat for 4 or 5 months. On the off chance, I gave it a whirl, again, and it worked! Must have got an owie that needed time to heal ...

I'm glad I'm old enough that my little truck will probably be my last vehicle. I shudder to think of having to buy another one with all the silly bells and whistles ... which I don't want.

Well, the City Folk at you're Green Wizards meeting may need a presentation or two on "getting on with your neighbors in the country." A magazine I get "Countryside and Small Stock Journal" often has letters or articles on how best a transplant might fit in. As much as a transplant can. At least for a couple of generations :-). Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Lucky you! I see your Australian National Maritime Museum is kicking off an exhibit called "The Untold Tale of the Roman Navy's Daring Bid to Save the People of Pompeii." A little misleading, as not much is known about that. But it probably happened. The major Roman naval base was just across the Bay of Naples and Pliny the Elder, at least, made an attempt. Any-who. The exhibit runs through the end of August. If you get some slack time (Ha!) during your winter, and want to take a break, I see it's about an 8 hour trip to Sydney from Melbourne. Maybe take two days to get there, two days back ... so you don't beat yourself to death on the road. Train? I know. Chickens and dogs. Tough to break away.

The shoes were mostly found in the ditches along the road leading to and from Vindolanda. Archaeologist speculate that there may have been an evacuation, and people off loaded stuff as they went along. Thrilling news. :-). The only wooden toilet seat found in the world has been conserved and will be on display this year, in the museum. Worth the trip, in itself!

LOL. I thought of one of my little compulsions. I buy these 3.5 oz chocolate bars that are 85% cocoa. There are 10 squares. Everyday, usually at finish of lunch, I break off two squares. I break each square into four pieces. I MUST eat the pieces in order of size, from smallest to largest. Otherwise, the heavens would fall :-). The space time continuum would unravel.

The birthday meeting was ok. 30 guys crammed into a small room. I buy my own coin (as it's not my home group) and passed it around so the rest of the fellows could put the good ju-ju on it. Energize it for the year. Cookies were store bought, but not too stale. Ice cream was ok.

So I went home and made myself a big plate of nachos. And watched "Waffle Street." A food AND economics film. The entry from the library catalog sums it up best ...

"The true story of Jimmy Adams, a VP of a $30 billion hedge fund who loses his job and winds up working as a waiter at Papa's Chicken and Waffles. Amidst the greasy madness of the 24-hour diner, Jimmy befriends Edward, an ex-con grill master who serves up hard lessons about life, finance, and grits, and who just might be the right mentor to help Jimmy realize his full potential."

From a book that the library doesn't have. I may order it on interlibrary loan.

Off to the Little Smoke. A couple of extra stops, today. Weather still filthy. Supposed to start clearing off, tomorrow, and Friday is supposed to be nice. Mow, mow, mow. Lew

Craig Curtin said...

Chris,

if you have now moved to wordpress you might want to look at some of the plugins for running discussions at the bottom of blog post. None of your comments get indented in a reply stream so it is extremely hard when reading through to follow discussions - it always feels like you are on the outside looking in, by nesting replies etc it would make it all that much easier to follow.

Craig

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

I recall you mentioning your sons electrical work and that arrangement would never pass muster down here. The general rule is you can do your own wiring for DC voltages to 120V DC or 50V AC. The mains voltage here is 240V AC, so that means you have to be licensed to do anything at all with it, but the off grid solar system maxes out at about 45V DC so the authorities can't say boo about it. It would be a problem if they did require a license as there are not that many people floating around that know anything about low voltage off grid solar anyway. Back in the old days, houses in rural areas only had low voltage DC wiring anyway and to be honest there is absolutely no reason you couldn't run a house that way, although it would be far more complex than the cheaper AC mains wiring... The same thing goes with plumbing and roofing too in that you have to be licensed. Yeah, you know you may be right about losing those privileges.

Ah yeah that film was some light entertainment... I've heard of refilling the ink cartridges but have never done that myself. Is it a hard process? I'm not joking when I tell you that I have trained many a graduate who had no idea what a fax machine was and how it worked. Do you remember the old thermal paper fax machines? They were space age for the time.

Blah is right and I'll stick to Windows 7 until I can no longer do so. And it runs fine on my laptop too.

The tomatoes are totally feral in that they have all ripened at once this year for some reason. Maybe they know something? It is cold and rainy outside right now, but there have been some nice patches of sunshine today too. Learning how to cope with a glut of produce is a real skill and it takes many years of practice before you can claim any level of adequacy let alone mastery.

The clouds sure are pretty aren't they? Way up north in Brisbane they have been having huge rainfalls today from the tail end of the cyclone. I haven't checked out the news yet, but it sounded more or less like a state of emergency had been declared, schools were closed, business shut etc. Some parts of that state received 400mm (about 1.3 feet) of rain today. Far out!

Toothy and Scritchy take time away from their frolicking to say hi to you! ;-)! They spent most of the day frolicking.

I haven't noticed any flowers on that particular tree, but they do get big don't they? I've seen them planted out as street trees. More food for the birds is a good thing for them.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Well done you and best wishes for the fruit trees. It will be interesting for you to observe the trees to see whether the rate of growth increases and the resistance to pests and disease increases too with the extra plant feed. You picked an excellent time to feed the soil around the fruit trees.

What an excellent question. For each client, one does the work whilst the other reviews that work and vice versa. We are pretty understanding of each other and don't treat the exercise as a form of criticism because it isn't.

Ladybugs are a very good sign for you. Have noticed that they hide from rain on the underside of leaves? They can fly too if required. Anything that can eat aphids is OK by me. The insects here are eating the composted woody mulch I believe. The millipedes get into the house though through the tiniest of gaps. I evict them when I find them. Anything that converts organic matter into manure is speeding up the process of soil building here, so whilst they are a nuisance, they are assisting too.

Really? A drought is not good. Has any predictions been made for the summer? The only things that assists a garden during a drought is maintaining a solid plant coverage over the soil, building healthy top soil, and not ploughing at all. I hear you as the farm here swings between flood and drought. What do you do? Scritchy is the one that hides under the bed if there is a thunderstorm anywhere with a 1,000km or more. She is a sensitive lady!

Yeah, I reckon you are right and that certainly is part of it. The other thing I reckon is that it is a way of maintaining a level of obliviousness whilst people go about their day to day activities. From what I can see, people generally don't want, and in fact resist change, even when current practices are self-defeating and may possibly bring change. What do you reckon about that?

Exactly, it is a two way street the tall fence and it brings risks. I will note that gated communities in the US often have higher crime rates than the surrounding areas, so that accords with your understanding of the situation.

That's funny! Language is indeed opaque! :-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

No worries. I'm constantly surprised by the mention of the use of freezers as a preserving tool. Mind you, I'm storing all of the blackberries in the freezer waiting for a few demijohns to complete their business before making some more blackberry wine and some blackberry jam. I'll be interested to hear of your experience if you do try the passata recipe. The funny thing about preserving techniques is the first year when you get to see just how long this stuff lasts. You may be interested to know that with the tomatoes I'm dehydrating them a lot more this year - almost until they are like chips as those ones seemed to last the longest of the lot last year. So much to learn, isn't there?

Oh, you were so lucky that the coyote didn't take one of your chickens. No doubts that the coyote has scoped your place out and may well be back again over the next few days. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you with the wire too. You know, you had a hard winter so no doubts the coyotes are hungry and your chickens are a soft target.

The funny thing is that the field mice seemed to have finally managed to run a deep tunnel into my chicken enclosure last night. I couldn't believe it as they went underneath a concrete slab which is almost a foot thick! Anyway, to foil them, I dropped a wheelbarrow load of concrete over their exit hole into the chicken enclosure, but far out, I can see the inevitable end game and it is not me that is winning that game...

Thank you for mentioning that, and I do have a plan B to deal with too many comments. Of course, you are in the plan A team and that is a lovely place to be! ;-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Fair enough, but 226 updates which takes over two hours to install seemed to me like something went seriously wrong somewhere... I ask no questions as long as it works!!! Yeah, I installed both from scratch just before Christmas and at least they had service pack 1 with that CD, so yeah I hear you! As to working well, the question I have for you is do we have something to compare the internet to so as to form a valid opinion? See that is the sort of question you get from me after a brief duck out to the pub for a meal tonight. ;-)!

Yeah, it is a crazy amount of bandwidth. I went from 15Gb for $115/month to 40Gb for $100/month. How is that possible? I've read recently that the Federal government has sponsored the installation of new towers (I use the 4G network) in regional areas so no doubts that is part of it.

I haven't seen anywhere that offers free wi-fi, but then I wasn't looking for it either. When I'm in Melbourne, and visit a cafe I go all old school and read a book. The activity is more common than you would realise. Up here, they just consider it to be quirky behaviour, but many of the older locals enjoy a coffee whilst reading the newspaper.

That FM tuner is amazing, and I couldn't believe my luck when I stumbled across it. It was hard for me to be cool and just pretend that I didn't actually want it just in case they put the price up, but man, the thing is amazing. Well, the controls are soft controls unlike most potentionmetres. It is beautifully constructed and the day it craps itself I'll take it to a repair place and get it healed. That adjustment of the bandwidth really makes a huge difference to the higher frequencies too. Way back in the day they used to make wide band AM stereo tuners too, it is just that nobody bought them... I hear you and there really isn't much need to bomb the neighbours with heavy bass notes... Unless of course one is listening to: Duke Dumont - Ocean Drive and then perhaps a sub woofer may be a necessity?

Oh what? No way! I just got used to the new crew and all. Beyond was awesome as it was full of in jokes and just fun action. Maybe the films were released too close together? I'm not sure how well the new Star Wars film did either.

Oh yeah, that Solitaire was some seriously addictive business. Did you ever get access to MAME32 and the old arcade game ROMs? That had the X Wing game on it in full Vector graphics glory! I recall playing it when it was released...

Well, if it looks like you're guilty and well Mrs Damo can point the finger at the source of the guilt, and with her educational background I don't believe either of us can argue with that sort of solid argument, then perhaps you are guilty? Hehe! Glad to hear that you are feeling better and give my regards to Mrs Damo who is currently under the weather.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Many thanks for the link and I will check it out. Given the panel members it should be fiesty! I've read that Mr Orlov has taken his blog behind a paywall, although such matters are beyond my understanding.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi crowandsheep,

Thank you for the clarification. Well that puts a whole new spin on the matter. ;-)! Of course, you know my one true love is my chainsaw. It's true! What a beautifully manufactured chunk of machinery. Alas I fear for the future age of the axe, maul, and the cross cut saw. Yes, I'm soft! Hehe!

It is funny that you mention that, but the editor did actually discover new grumpy flour ladies and I can honestly report to you that they have no personality whatsoever. I said to them the other day in a chance phone call how much I appreciated their business and they said... Nothing in reply... A nice thank you would suffice, but no, that was asking too much. Woe is me, I'm forever destined to deal with grumpy bread people - it is probably the gluten...

Oh no, stop tempting the Italian trolls... I make a passable egg and flour based pasta, so hopefully whilst it may not be as tasty as their mama's it may pass the taste test here! :-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

It is funny that you mention Herb Robert, but we have spoken before about that plant and it grows here as a weedy plant, but I've never noticed any adverse odour from it. There is an old joke about: he can't seem to smell much, so, how does he smell? Terrible. OK maybe that wasn't so funny, but there you go.

As I was out with the chickens tonight the rain became torrential. Even the chickens retreated into their enclosure which is saying something because usually they don't care about getting rained on. Anyway, I put the chickens to bed early and decided with the editor to go to the pub for dinner which was a pint of ale and a lovely chicken parmigiana and chips and salad. The local guy that belts out a few tunes on his guitar was there and we both had a good time. But at one point in the evening, I looked at my ale and discovered a "froth dog". I swear if it could have stayed on the glass I could have sold it like people sell Jesus toast... Alas for the fragile nature of froth!

We hauled rocks all day today to continue filling up the rock gabions. Plus the driveway which was damaged in the heavy storms late last year was continued to be repaired with cement this time. The way I see things is that if its happened once, then it will happen again.

On such matters, the cyclone Debbie turned into a tropical low over Queensland and the rainfall there has been beyond anything I've ever experienced. Up to 400mm (that's about 1.3 feet) of rain in 24 hours. Far out, and over the major city of Brisbane. They pretty much shut the city down today. I'll see if I can rustle some photos up for you: Cyclone Debbie: Big wet brings widespread flooding to SE Queensland, northern NSW. There was even a photo of a poor Bull Shark (which look like Great White sharks to me) that had been washed far inland. Some cheeky church had written a sign saying: "If you have been praying for rain, please stop". Far out, even electricity pylons were smashed again...

Your hummingbirds are very attractive aren't they? I would feed them too!

Glad to read that Safari is up and running normally again. I wonder what could possibly have happened? About a month ago I read someone describing Firefox as Chrome, light, but thought that it may have been a snobbery thing, but perhaps something has been purchased by an organisation. Dunno really, but whilst it works for me, I'm not going to worry about it too much. Perhaps that is the story? Who knows?

Your printer story is a bit surreal. Maybe it was humidity too? They can be very sensitive to that? Of course it may have scored a solid knock during those couple of months? Or learned about its imminent fate and decided to man up for the team? Speaking of which Sir Scruffy has begun eating again after his course of anti-biotics which went for 18 days. And his foot looks better. I don't have to wonder now what would have happened if he'd gone under the knife as I reckon it would probably have killed him off. I fed him yoghurt and other goodies as per your suggestion, but unfortunately he has a case of disturbingly epic flatulence. At one point I was convinced it smelled so bad I thought he'd taken a dump in the house, but no, it was all him.

How has Nell been these past few days?

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Yeah, so many crazy and useless things in new cars. I drove a newer one than any of mine the other day and the radio sounded like rubbish to me. How things have progressed!

It is funny that you mention that about rural interactions as I have put up my hand to speak about just that. I may record it for the benefit of the readers here. How much fun would that be?

I haven't been to Sydney much, but they do have an overnight XPT train and I have had a hankering to take that trip for quite a while now. An excellent suggestion. I haven't quite worked that matter of the chickens and dogs out you know. I may have to pay someone to look after them.

Ouch. An evacuation from a place as secure as Hadrian's wall would not have been a pretty experience. Surely the northern hordes would have been thirsting for blood? That wooden toilet seat is amazing that it ha been somehow preserved for so long. Are there indications that it was a common technology?

Of course, the chocolate just tastes better when it is eaten in the correct order! Hehe! People live by their patterns, whether they realise it or not.

Hey, 30 people for a birthday is a good turnout in anyones books. I'm not sure I could manage that feat. Of course, I do realise it was a meeting, but you know the AA thing is part social group too you know. :-)!

What an interesting film, I'll try and track that one down. I was talking with the editor tonight about the film "Chef" which is a favourite of mine because when we were at the pub we saw a Taco truck drive past. Which when you think about how remote this corner of the world is, it is pretty weird. Why would a Taco truck be up here in the mountain range? So many questions left unanswered!

Enjoy your trip into the little smoke. The weather here was nice during the day, but turned as the sun went down. Still at least we're not in Brisbane because they probably define the words "filthy weather" today.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Craig,

Welcome to the discussion.

Well, the blog is still on Google blogger for the time being.

Thanks for the suggestion but hey, I'll tell ya a little secret: I like the fact that the comments are inconvenient to read. Think of it as an initiation and you’ll get why I feel that way about it. ;-)!

Cheers

Chris

Coco said...

Hi Chris,

Depressed today because they´re clear cutting another plot on our morning walk route. Two enormous old oaks on the ground, looking like dinasaur skeletons in all their sad glory. I´m sure they´ll plant more eucalyptus.

Soaking the tomato and pepper seeds for planting this week. The house doesn´t really get to germination temperature, and with sunlight iffy, we´ll see.

Do you have one of those pasta roller thingies? I´ve made raviolis, but the rolling out was such a pain, I haven´t done it again.

Breo is mended from his muscle strain. We´ve been giving him shark cartilage pills and they seem to have helped. Tail wags from here to your crew.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - How many ales had you consumed when you saw the "froth dog?" :-). Can pink elephants be far behind? I didn't watch much of the series "Glee", but I remember one episode I caught where one of the characters thought he saw a religious symbol on his toast. I think the episode was called "Toasted Cheesus." It was all rather surreal. Interesting stuff. Supernatural manifestations. Real or imagined? You decide.

Looks like they're having a heck of a time up in Queensland. That shark was really something. At least here, the flood waters might carry you away, but there's nothing in the water that's going to tear your leg off. There were reports during Hurricane Katrina, in New Orleans, of alligators in the flooded streets. I don't know how accurate those reports were. Urban legend?

I'm glad Sir Scruffy is on the mend. When I brought Nell home as a kitten, I had her in a box in the truck and was suddenly darn near overcome by noxious smell. It was either roll down the windows and turn on the fan, or pass out. I really thought she had quit messed the box. Nope. Just wind. A trick she has not pulled again.

Hadrian's Wall was probably evacuated of non combatants and civilians at different points in history. I forget the year, but there was the "Great Barbarian Conspiracy." Large sections of The Wall were overwhelmed and the Roman's lost territory in the north of England. Villas were looted and burned. Troops were brought up from the south, and, the continent and all the lost ground was regained. The tribes could occasionally pull it together and make some gains, but alliances, usually, quickly fell apart. Don't know if wooden toilet seats were "standard issue." In colder climes, perhaps. Maybe it was the special toilet seat of the fort commander? Probably had a designated slave to trot the seat from his nice warm quarters to the bog? Chamber pots make a lot more sense. Probably only squadies had to deal with bare tush applied to cold marble. Just so much about the Romans we don't know. Inquiring minds want to know! :-) Cont.

thecrowandsheep said...

Hi Chris,

That is hilarious.

But you are not wrong about the gluten. Working at a bakery leads to the overconsumption of leftover bread. I have sadly put thought into this before because the bakery ladies here are usually very grumpy indeed. One prerequisite of humour and high spirits is seamless digestion and too much difficult-to-digest gluten tends to transplant the cheerful psychic energies toward the stomach, leaving little room upstairs for polite conversation and civility. Scientific evidence for this is the opening of a new bakery in which I have scientifically observed the scientific drop in mood over time...they may also be slowly getting sick of selling bread.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Well, the film "Waffle Street" was ok, but I just didn't think the bond trader was punished, enough. I want those people punished! punished! punished! Break out the tumbrels! Grease the guillotines! Put Madame De Farge on speed dial and and tell her to sharpen her knitting needles! There. I feel better :-).

Ah, you mentioned coal, yesterday. There was quit a discussion on National Public Radio about that. Some of the people in coal country seem to think the good old days of King Coal are going to come back. Never mind that automation has eaten up a lot of the jobs in the meantime. Bait and switch. "You're losing (have lost) your jobs due to onerous regulation! If we get rid of ALL the regulations, things will be right with the world." Never mind environmental (a dirty word in some quarters) damage or worker's safety. Sure, some regulations and the paperwork that go along with them are just stupid. Someone with not skin in the game needs to sort through it all.

My friend Scott made the comment that it seems this administration is hell bent on removing ANY restrictions on business. it will be an era of litigation. Court case after court case. It will be long and expensive. It IS rather amusing to see the administration running up against the limits of their power. When they were trying to round up votes for the health care(less) bill, several senators and representatives where told they MUST vote for the bill. Or, terrible things would happen. They pretty much shrugged and said, " 'Scuse me?"

Speaking of NPR, there was an article on US domestic tea production, which is apparently booming.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/03/28/521380607/pinkies-up-a-local-tea-movement-is-brewing

By the way, one of the little picture box links (...America's Forgotten Native 'Tea" Plant) in the article is a link to another article on Yaupon. The only native plant that produces caffeine. My tea plant is still booming along in the kitchen window. It's probably four times the size as when I got it. Several of the leaves have turned partially brown, but if the information I found on the Net is correct, it's because they're old. I may cut a few off and see what happens. New leaves are sprouting all over it. I did find some Yaupon seed. They're safely sleeping in their cryogenic sleep pod (the refrigerator). :-). Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

It is interesting to hear more about Australian electrical wiring practices. Plumbing is the next job here. I don't think that it requires certification either, though both plumbing and wiring work - except for repairs - require a county permit, showing diagrams and intent.

The old fax machine that we still have uses thermal paper. That is why we are so glad that we have a lifetime supply of the paper . . . faxes are sure to come back into vogue . . . ? It is not hard at all to fill the ink cartridges, but sometimes the poor printer has a hard time recognizing these rogue cartridges; they are not the brand intended to go with it. I am beginning to feel some sympathy for the thing.

We had a glut of jalapeno peppers last year. I canned and canned and realized that we already had more jars than we could eat for a year, though it doesn't hurt to have extra in case of a crop failure and some can be given away/traded, but like with your passata-making, how much resources and time and human energy does one want to use on one project? We froze tons of them, too, but are having a hard time using them up. More tomatoes this year, less peppers.

That is very fine professional cooperation that you and the editor have. I can tell that it works well in your homesteading efforts as well.

We do some digging/plouging in our newer garden beds. It takes a lot of compost and sometimes a bit of sand to loosen up this red clay. Once the soil shows improvement, though, we plant into it without digging the whole bed up and just add compost, etc. around the plants. When planting seeds I usually add compost to the row and maybe some organic plant food and additions like rock phosphate and wood ash. We are using quite a bit of wood ash this year. Just a hunch.

Change is inevitable. There is nothing that does not change. Best to recognize that, and spend each day doing one's best and enjoying the journey. It is such an interesting journey!

Our dried tomatoes are definitely like chips - if that means that they are so dry that one can easily snap them into pieces. They stay fresh 2 or 3 years in that state if well-sealed in jars. They are so easy to rehydrate, too, without even heating up. Just put some into a jar and add a bit of water and olive oil and shake every now and then. Store rehydrated ones in the fridge.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

Happy belated birthday! I'll bet that was a very nice celebration.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

OK! I could hardly read on after all these comments of yours to Lew!

" There is an old joke about: he can't seem to smell much, so, how does he smell? Terrible."

"I looked at my ale and discovered a "froth dog"."

"I fed him yoghurt and other goodies as per your suggestion, but unfortunately he has a case of disturbingly epic flatulence. At one point I was convinced it smelled so bad I thought he'd taken a dump in the house, but no, it was all him."

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Margaret:

Your coyote episode made the hairs on my neck rise. We know that they are around here, but I have never seen one up close. I once had to quickly repair a hole in a wire gate at the back of the garden to keep a neighbor's golden retriever out (it was a big hole, that I didn't know that he had made). The repair job has held up, but it looks terrible; hope yours is better!

Was it you that mentioned perpetual spinach chard a year or two ago? I started some indoors and just planted it out; also planted some seeds outside. I looked at the little perpetual spinach plants and thought: "If I was a rabbit I would travel from far away to eat that!" and so I put rabbit fencing around it. My small pea plants are protected, too.

Pam

Damo said...

Hi Chris and others,

RE: Does the internet work well? How can we really know without other 'Internets' to compare against?

Your, possibly slightly tongue-in-cheek, post-pub meal question on the internet is very good and beyond my pay grade to answer well. However, never fear, I shall try to answer in a general philosophical sense always keeping my eye and nose on the big picture!

I will start with the contention that we do have something to compare against. The Internet of the past, maybe even up-to the early 2000's, worked pretty well and it is instructive to see why. The internet can only work with trust. Trust that a website belongs to who you think it does, trust that the data a server is sending you does not contain a virus, that an email actually comes from someone you know and so on. In the early days, trust was assumed. ARPANET was built by academics who knew each other personally, everyone just wanted to share their data and it was all a big happy network. Security was an afterthought, if it was even considered to begin with. All the protocols and conventions used by the Internet today came from those early, very trustworthy days.

So our entire Internet infrastructure is based on software and protocols that are fundamentally very, very difficult and perhaps impossible, to secure. The big vendors try to keep up, adding layers of verification, certificates, virtual machines, sand-boxing and all sorts of other tricks. But as Star Trek Scotty would tell us, the more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain. And this tension between trust, security and usability extends across the entire software stack starting with the BIOS in your computer. What use would your PC be if it didn't automatically trust the keyboard you plug in? How do you know that those 226 updates actually came from Microsoft? (They almost certainly did by the way, but the Update system has been briefly compromised in the past).

And now, for the past 10 years we have been adding billions of devices to the internet where the manufacturers don't even pretend to care about security, or fix problems that are later discovered. Everything must be as usable and connected as is humanly possible so you can sell more products than your competitor. It also helps if most people are happy to buy new phones or computers every 2 years "I needed a new one because the old one was slow and some things didn't work anymore". Why was it slow, why did some things stop working? Is that an accident, incompetence or by design?

So, I think we can say the Internet is 'broken', however it still 'works' because most people tolerate the ceaseless updates (endless plugging of holes in a leaky dyke), random server outages and constant theft of personal information. I leave it to the readers imagination for how long this might be sustainable.

Myself personally, as someone who spent a lot of time socially and professionally on the internet and computers in my formative years, I now find myself significantly withdrawing from the whole she-bang (certain blogs excluded obviously). I suspect I am still 'on the computer' more than many people reading this blog, but compared to my past and friends it is a significant, and growing difference.

Cheers,
Damo

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Coco,

Yeah, that is not good and eucalyptus trees replacing oaks is not a good swap. The eucalyptus trees will grow much faster than the oaks, but there are some serious downsides to those particular trees. If it means anything to you I have many oak trees slowly growing from seed. I should probably give them a feed of chicken manure - the trees love that stuff. Plus acorns are to be found all about the local area here so I may go scrounging for some. My oak planting methodology is pretty slack because I just chuck the acorns around the property and let nature do its business.

I'm curious as to how many days you soak the tomato seeds? I haven't quite got my head around that particular task and I plant the seeds into compost in a tray and then flood the compost. That seems to get them started. Your lack of warmth and light may slow the germination process down a bit? Maybe? I leave my lot in a front of a window on the inside of the house. Your tomato seeds may have been slowly adapting to your conditions so you never know.

Fair enough and yeah I do have a pasta rolling machine. I find that I have to add copious amounts of flour so that the pasta dough doesn't get stuck in the machine. I'm planning to use the machine Sunday morning to make some fresh pasta! yum!

Tail wags to Breo and Sir Scruffy of the recently sore foot sends his regards.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

@ Damo

Thanks. I guess that my previous inkjet problems were due to only intermittent use. My friend didn't hate both kinds of printer, it was I who hated inkjets and just asked him about the difference between the two kinds. His reply that there wasn't much or any difference did not imply that he hated them.

@ Lew

I had no idea that Herb Robert was so useful. My knowledge of herbalism is almost nil. It seems a bit late in life for me to get started but I find it interesting.

Inge

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Just to quickly say that I have never soaked tomato seeds and yet they seem to germinate okay.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Well, I'm embarrassed to admit that I was only part way through the first and only pint of a delightful local ale. You may call me: light-weight! ;-)! Fortunately the quicker thinking editor told me to go and get the phone which has a camera and so I scored a photo. You may joke about hallucinations and pink elephants and stuff, but the froth dog is way uncanny... We must now speculate as to the meaning of the froth dog. Unfortunately the head and body of the froth dog is facing in a slightly downwards direction and I have to consider that this is a poor sign. Of course the inverted bell shape curve rules all and both I and the fluffy collective here are not immune to effects of that unrelenting curve. I mean even the Fonz eventually jumped the shark. I have never seen Glee as I have troubles with musicals for some reason. The Blues Brothers was the very edge of what I could tolerate in that regard. I do have to make an exception - for there is always the exception - a couple of decades ago there was an Irish film about a struggling rock band called: "The Commitments" and I really enjoyed that film. The funny thing about that film was that although it was filmed in colour, it looked black and white to me. I'm sure that was a deliberate effect, but still, the feeling was haunting and the music was superb as it matched the dark and gritty streets of Ireland.

Up north in Queensland and northern New South Wales, they are doing it tough as. The photos and footage are chilling: Northern NSW bearing brunt of ex-Cyclone Debbie as Queensland faces massive clean-up effort. There is some aerial footage of the town of Lismore and mate, the town is underwater. The levee didn't break, it is just that the river broke the top of the levee banks. But the now tropical low is dumping huge amounts of rainfall down the east coast. I saw some report saying that one area received 900m (just under 3 feet of rain) in 48 hours. Far out.

When the floods happen in areas with salt water crocodiles, the crocodiles simply flow along with the water. It is a real problem and pets and people get taken. Fortunately it is way too cold for such animals this far south, but perhaps with a bit of global warming... Seriously, we look like we are heading towards a jungle planet, with all of the problems that that brings. Fresh water will be a problem in those flood affected areas and then the mosquitoes will be a problem.

Sir Scruffy sends an appreciative tail wag to acknowledge your kind thoughts. Poor Nell, she must have been on a most unpleasant diet to have achieved such greatness on that front. The funny thing about Sir Scruffy, is that having now seen his reaction to a prolonged course of anti-biotics, I now know that he would have keeled over from surgery. Best that he just runs around with the rest of the fluffy collective and enjoys himself in his dotage.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

The problem with walls is that people believe them to be invulnerable and so they commit to the expenditure of the construction and then there is not many funds left to man the wall. Large standing armies are not cheap to maintain, you know! I wonder if the Chinese had the same problem? Those tribes were my ancestors and as far as I can understand the matter they would never have wanted to have held the land and extracted tribute because the seasons for the raids were very short and quick raids have little economic impact, but carry potentially large gains. However, prolonged campaigns would have overwhelmed their economies because the growing seasons up north were so short. As far as I understand the conditions, it would have been a good method of reducing population pressure on a fragile environment in the north and the Romans and the lands south of the wall would have presented a very lucrative target. Dunno, but I reckon it would have turned into a war of attrition. Out of curiosity, do the history books cover such matters?

Mate, I feel for those poor squadies. What a complete morale dumpster a marble toilet seat would have been in a cold norther UK winter. ;-)!

The finance people have been very naughty indeed. I often have that particular conversation with people, but alas, those naughty people tell stories that people want to hear. On the other hand I only know stories of hard work and hard graft which are far less appealing, when I think about it... Alas for Madame De Farge, I am way too busy cleaning up messes to worry about revenge. I once knew a very wealthy bloke who opted for restitution over revenge of a person who had done him a wrong and it was fascinating to watch that process from the point of view of the disinterested third party. As far as I could tell, the masses in that instance wanted revenge and it was an instructive insight into the human condition.

Well yeah, the opposite of a bad idea is not necessarily a good idea is it? People fly to extremes in such circumstances that you wrote about. I dunno why? My money would be on resilience as the first option because as far as I can tell, the other options appear to have been (or almost have been) played out. I'm honestly unsure where that lot is going and have no gut feeling about it. I don't believe that the funds will materialise for the construction of new coal burning plants as there are so many vested interests with their noses in the feed-trough and they will get in the way.

Negotiation and compromise is a dying art! But it needn't be that way. The problem as I see it is that nobody wants to commit to a vision which accords with the lived realities.

Thanks for the tea link. Interesting! Is the Latin name for that Yaupon plant: Ilex Vomitoria. It has a very unappealing Latin name if that is the case?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Enjoy your freedoms! The best I can do with those jobs is to offer to assist them whilst they are here. It is expensive... The building surveyors require you to obtain a certificate of compliance from licensed tradesmen, so there is no getting around the matter.

I'm not so sure about faxes coming back into vogue any time soon. Someone at the Green Wizards meeting was telling me that they are removing the copper cables for the old phone system when the new fibre optics are installed. For my business I use a fax to email service where I can send and receive emails which are converted by magic into faxes... No doubt that voodoo is incorporated somewhere into that service...

Yeah, the printers can be picky about non standard ink cartridges. I read somewhere that the cartridges have chips in them to tell the printer information about them. Yes, mechanical sympathy is the correct feeling in that circumstance! I feel mechanical sympathy for poor abused machines and once knew a bloke that told me that he was really good with machines because he knew how to push them hard enough so that they broke. He left a similar trail of damage behind him with people and I was glad not to have anything to do with the bloke.

Exactly! I could not have said that better because I simply do not know how much resources should be thrown at a particular project. It takes so long to learn this stuff so that it becomes second nature and fool proof. Some gluts are better than others aren't they?

Thank you, again that has taken time to sort out. Once I left the big bad corporate world I had to learn the gentle art of negotiation and goal setting. To my shame I was used to ordering people around and I found out very quickly (within days) that such a point of view makes for a poor partnership. It is fortunate that I have a good instructor (the editor) and a flexible and adaptable mindset.

Thank you for the explanation of your excellent planting and soil building systems. I use the wood ash on the garden too, but spread it very thinly over a huge area. Of course, red clay (orange here) is usually acidic so the wood ash is really good for the soil life. Yup, going with your gut feeling and observation is a great way to learn.

It is an interesting journey isn't it? I live in a constant state of amazement as I never know what is around the corner. I mean last night there was a froth dog. Who could possibly have known that? Glad you enjoyed the other jokes too. We all have a lot of fun here. Phooey to hair-shirt austerity! That's what I reckon anyway.

Thanks for the explanation. Like you, we have dehydrated the tomatoes even more this year and they are crispy little chips and very tasty as it concentrates the sugars. Yum!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Out of curiosity did you ever get a chance to log onto the old dial up BBS (Bulletin Board Services) networks that operated before the advent of the internet? The whole thing operated at dial up speeds and emails (text only) were sent between BBS services at some point during the night every day. They were a lot of fun and you used to have to get to know the people running the services as they wouldn't let just anyone on. There were even online turn based D&D type games where you used to get a few turns each day. And then before that if you wanted pirated software you had to know a bloke who knew a bloke and then you had to go around to their place and talk rubbish for a bit and then you'd chuck your favourite disc copying programs onto the computer and let them do their best - and hopefully you ended up with a copy of the game. It genuinely was like a little network of contacts and surprisingly it was very social. It had to be as it was based on real world relationships.

That was very astute of you to realise that the pint of ale may have been speaking on my behalf too! Hehe! They serve really great local beers and I never quite know what will be on tap when we turn up for a meal. Because it rained quite heavily last night, I did not see a single dog at the pub but we still braved the under cover outdoors area as it was not quite cold either.

Your contention about making a contrast is spot on. That is why I mentioned how it was in the days before the internet. I feel that the internet has eaten many real world social dynamics and produced many unnecessary extremes of behaviour in the population - and I'm not talking about the usual stuff that is smeared all over the newspapers. I'm talking more about the unfortunate life of comparison that makes people feel so rubbish in their own lives. I worry about that, but rarely see it because I've more or less given up on chasing status.

Exactly, the whole mess was started with the premise: Let's assume nothing can go wrong! Today I had one ad blocker program stopping transfers of files to a remote server and I could see no reason why that was happening. I didn't know that about the update system being compromised. Ouch!

Mate, I totally hear you about the lack of resiliency and the churning of equipment. It makes no sense whatsoever as it clearly cannot be sustained. And who knows the answers to those questions as to whether we actually require latest hardware. To be totally honest, I have not noticed much difference between the latest computer that I'm typing this on and the eight year old beast that died just before Christmas. The newer machine encodes and records mp3's faster, but that is about it.

Hmmm, we can choose to use this stuff as a forum for dialogue and communication over times and distances, but from there, I'm not really sure.

Wow, we have travelled some philosophical distances tonight!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I agree with you about the soaking as the seeds I start outside rarely receive a soaking either but are very reliable. I do the soaking when they are started inside the house and I just want them to speed things up a little! Hope that explains it better?

The sun here is now lacking bite and the air is much cooler.

Oh, I thought that yourself and Lewis may be interested in this...

I mentioned many months ago about a granite (bluestone) windmill on the banks of a river not too far north of here. Well, it is for sale. I'll see if I can track down a link... ...

1203 Kyneton-Metcalfe Road Kyneton Vic 3444. I hope this link doesn't cause too much spam...

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Oh yes, a fabulous property indeed. Were it here, I would have had a look.

Inge

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

We actually have three chest freezers though most of the time only two are running. Really about the only time there are three is when we pick up all the processed pigs and have to hold some for customers to pick up. That's in October when there's already lamb, beef, chickens and veggies as well. In the winter one is in the garage so it doesn't run too much. I hear you though as if the power went out for any length of time we'd lose a lot of food. So far if we've lost power for a few days we can hook them up to the generator but that's assuming the outage isn't too long and there is gas available to run the generator. We do keep our gas cans full though as you never know. Meat really takes up the bulk of the space in the freezer.

Mice seem to get in everywhere don't they? We still have a landline but continually have problems with static on the line so bad that you can't hear the person you're trying to talk to. It used to be a couple times a year but it's been 3 times in the last two months. The repair man was out checking boxes yesterday and he said nine times out of ten it's mice that get in them. He also said that AT &T won't spend any money to upgrade lines and they are planning that there will be no dial tones within 4 years. We've had this number for 29 years but if we continue to have issues I'm afraid we'll drop the landline and just use cell phones. I think the writing is on the wall there.

Free WiFi is all over here - even at the doctor's office. His office is hooked up to a large medical system so once you've put in the password it hooks up automatically once you're in any of the buildings. This includes the care center where my MIL resides so she can use her tablet free of charge.

As you said in a response to Lew getting animal care so you can go away can really be an issue. We have a couple staying here while we go to Alaska. Of course there will be pages of instructions. I'm also getting my meat chicks earlier than I'd like so they can be done and in the freezer before we leave as there's too many things that can go wrong when they are in the chicken tractor. The pigs often need their water hole filled daily in the heat of the summer too. If we went anywhere for an extended period of time we went when we didn't have so many animals. That just doesn't work for Alaska though. Recently Doug got a card from someone who lives nearby who can come and take care of all animals. It's nice to know but can get pricey.

Hey - I'm honored to be on the "A" team.

Margaret

margfh said...

@Pam

Coyotes are pretty common around here but (knocking on wood) over the years we've only lost a few chickens to them. They are usually pretty nocturnal so the one that arrived in the afternoon was quite a surprise. They are all over the suburbs and Chicago now too. We hear them howling often at night. They are getting bolder as well - especially in populated areas where they get quite a few pet cats and small dogs.

My fencing worked quite well as I only have had 3 or 4 chickens out rather than 10 or so. Those fly up on the gates of the run which are a solid pipe and fly out. I'm going to have to put something that they can't perch on as easily on top of each fence. Doug will do something more permanent eventually. Being kind of an anal perfectionist he frowns at my patch jobs.

I have fencing around all my garden areas to discourage the chickens and dogs from running through.

Margaret

margfh said...

@Damo

I read your comment about the internet with great interest. I find myself online less and less - much more picky about what I read. However, I must admit I have to turn off the computer or end up just checking email and then get drawn into something else. I do have a smart phone but purposely have one with a small screen so it's really got to be something I want to look at as it's not really too enjoyable to read on it. I've taken to not even turning on the computer two or three days a week and amazingly have found that I have much more time than I thought :).

I do have a technical question if you don't mind. I have an old laptop with Windows 7. One day out of the blue my password just wouldn't work. Everything I looked online to fix this problem was way over my head. Do you have any suggestions that might easily fix this?

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Damo - That's a very good overview of the internet. Brings a lot of loose ends into focus. Let's see. Where did I come on board with the internet ... hmmm. Well, local ISPs and dial up. I remember that I couldn't receive calls on the landline, if I was online. Unless I had a separate land line. I also remember someone set me up for IRC (?) which was a social, chatty thing. Supposed to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. I got very bored with it, very quickly.

Well, the horse is out of the barn, but I think one of the problems was that there was no accountability. When things would go wrong or get mysterious, I wanted names named and heads to roll. I finally (pretty much) gave up ranting and complaining about internet stuff, because most people would just look at me like I was mental and shrug it off "That's just the way things are" seemed to be the consensus. "Get over it."

I have been reflecting of late on how I came to know some things ... navigating around sites and such. I mean, there are no clear instructions, anywhere, that I can find. Hunt and peck, I guess. Push buttons until it does what you want it to. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - It's kind of fun to mess about with teas you can pick in your own backyard. A change of pace to mix things up, a bit. Also, thrifty. Given the amount I spend on tea :-). Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Oh, I think it's the weather that makes a lot of films look pretty black and white. Things get pretty monochromatic with the weather we have.

Ah, the word I couldn't remember yesterday. Deployed. Nell deployed the poison gas :-). Might be, that at that point in her life she was probably still on a bit of a milk diet, from mom. Almost weaned, but not quit. She was frightened ... it was an inclosed space ...

Well, there was a seasonal aspect to the Tribes waging war on the Romans. A campaign season. But generally, they didn't get on very well with each other ... grudges going back generations. There were always some tribes that were more "Romanized" than their neighbors, even before the Roman invasion. There were tribal chiefs handed over to the Romans, to curry favor and maintain the status quo ... others were done in by their relatives in power plays.

Speaking of Romans, I looked a bit more at the Pompeii exhibit at the Sydney Australian National Maritime Museum. Lots of tat going to be on display. A couple of the body casts and the cast of the pig is going to make a guest appearance! A loaf of the carbonized Roman bread. What I'm really curious about is "...book of recipes for fish liver pudding and seafood casserole." I wonder what form it takes? "Books" were pretty thin on the ground at that time. A scroll? A pile of parchment pages? Wax and wood tablets? Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. A lot of (most?) of the coal gets shipped overseas, a lot to China. They seem to have no problem throwing up coal plants and I think they have a couple of hundred on the drawing board. Some of our poor air quality and pollution come from China.

Most articles I read about Ilex Vomitoria state that it was a miss-naming that stuck. Either it was confused with another plant that had a purge effect, or, who ever tested and named the plant maybe had an unrelated stomach bug. Think of all the wild tales about tomatoes and potatoes, early on. What I was curious about was how the tea plantation in Oregon manages to ride out the winter?

I remember the windmill pictures. LOL. I think I'll skip going to the site ... my daily spam ration is down to 3 or 4 a day. Down from 50 some. But bottom line ... how much are they asking?

The hummingbird is getting comfortable enough with the feeder that he's not doing so much "hit and run on the fly." He's beginning to have a good sit down a sip. Lew

orchidwallis said...

@ Lew

'fish liver pudding'!! I didn't even know that fish had livers.

I like my tea strong, strong, strong and do buy the Yorkshire tea. If you can tell me of any herbal tea that can match that I'll have a go, otherwise 'no thanks'.

Inge

orchidwallis said...

Hello again Chris

Watched work on neighbour's build yesterday. The concrete base is down and there are jacks on top with girders lying across them. The jacks were being jacked to make everything level. One jack was giving a lot of trouble and a man fell over with the effort. I have been told that when the whole thing is up and lived in, the jack can be jacked to keep the property level. To do this, a man will have to crawl underneath. No way will this be possible after what I saw yesterday, it won't be possible to get sufficient leverage.

The other neighbours works seem to have come to a halt halfway through the groundworks. I haven't seen him to ask why and no-one around seems to know the reason. Son says that it is not ata point where one stops for a while.

Inge

orchidwallis said...

Hello yet again

Son has just been and corrected my ignorance. It was not the jacks that were causing the trouble, they are very easy to adjust. It was the bolts for the girders.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

The sheer weight of history in that property makes me itch to go and have a look at it myself. I travelled through that part of the country today on another and more pragmatic errand relating to the rapidly failing wood heater here. That is a whole 'nother story unfortunately.

I enjoy strong black teas too. The funny thing about my tea camellia's is that they have disappeared under the mass of vegetation in that garden bed. Are they still there? Maybe, and I'm hoping the winter provides the answer to that question when the more summer hardy vegetation dies back a bit.

Construction works are always interesting aren't they? And nothing beats the foundations because if someone skimps and saves on those, then they are done for in the long run. As you can probably imagine I was fastidious with the concrete foundations here if only because I have to live with the results of my handy-work. Your husband would probably have approved of such a state of affairs given that his handy-work has survived to this day. People fail these days to consider the long term.

The thing I wonder about those jacks, and I have seen very strong adjustable threaded rod type arrangements in construction in this corner of the planet, is that who will be left to know just how much each jack can be lifted or adjusted? I know how to accurately measure the adjustment using a clear pipe with water, but how many other people know that trick? The thing is, those jacks have an upper limit and nobody in their right mind would want to find that upper limit. Better to let the house settle onto solid foundations, even if they are founded into deep clay and the house is slightly wonky. And maybe some corners of the planet were never intended to be constructed upon and in those particular circumstances it would be better to have a different and more flexible perspective in relation to housing? Dunno, what do you think about that? I mean your place is still there after all these years?

Ouch. That hurts reading about abandoning ground works mid way through the process and my suspicious mind wonders whether the budget has been exhausted at this early a stage? Cement is notoriously unforgiving when it is attempted to be met up with an older and more cured chunk. I can see that effect when concrete water tanks are poured down here as they always crack along the joins of the cement pour. The mind boggles. Does you son have any theories on the subject?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Ah but of course you are on the A team! :-)!

My mates that process a lot of their own meat have to run huge refrigerators too. The old timers used to salt or smoke the carcasses and that is always a lot of work, plus a whole lot of salt. They have a smoker too which is very good, but everything just takes energy. I hear you about maintaining full cans (we call them jerry cans for some reason) of gas (which we call petrol for some reason) for the use of the generator to keep the fridges running. That makes perfect sense to me.

You know it is funny that you mention the compromise, but the wood heater here is failing rapidly and today the editor and I went off into the deep country to talk to lots of people about wood heating. Funnily enough I learned a lot in just one day and we are considering jettisoning some of the wood heating tools such as hot water and the oven because the compromises are just too much and the eventual tool become unfit for purpose. Interestingly enough someone remarked to me that the materials were much the same these days, but people were using the wood heaters differently and he would not elaborate further on that esoteric remark. Clearly we did some soul searching and decided that we would be much more gentle on any replacement wood heater. Much of the damage to the present device is a result of our mismanagement. So much to learn... Oh well.

Welcome to my world. There is a local copper connection available here, but we are 10km (6 miles) from the exchange, so good luck with using it. Yup, we are now on mobile cell phone service for both phones and internet. Lucky I can see quite a few towers, but that service is a problem because the devices on this end are so short lived (the modem rather than the dumb phones) and about two years seems to be their upper limit.

Really, maybe I have to get out more and check out this free wi-fi business. I just don't see it anywhere, but that may be a matter of where I'm travelling too.

Yeah, the animal minding matter is a really tough business. But the many systems on the house here require intimate knowledge and experience too, so my poor brain is spinning at that thought and I have no answer. And yes, those services can get pricey, but maybe they are the only option?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

From an outsiders point of view when I watched the film "Wild" which you have not seen, the footage of your part of the world looked like a rich green to me. I see that light effect in the higher parts of this mountain range where the shade is deep, the trees are tall and the light is scarce. But then, they also, like you, get filthy weather and deep clouds and humidity so that washes out the colours and a certain sort of grey sets in.

Hey, the editor and I went out in search of (a Leonard Nimoy joke, may he rest in peace) information relating to the wood heater today. The unit here is rapidly failing and the damage is beyond my abilities to repair. Well it is not exactly beyond my abilities to repair, but I really worry that it may fail during the absolute depths of winter, and that would be a problem as much sooking would ensue (and probably not from the editor either!). Having a good seven years experience under our belts, we were able to ask many people sensible questions and make assessments of the information that we were given in return. If there was an easier way to do this task, I would do it, but I know no other way than the school of hard knocks. It may be that we were asking too much from the now failing wood heater. I worry for people who reckon this path is an easy one as becoming more self reliant opens oneself up to failure. There is nothing inherently wrong with failure either.

At least we had the good fortune today to pass by the pub with the gourmet pies. Of course, this may sound accidental, but after bad news has been delivered, nothing soothes the soul like a quality gourmet chicken pie. Far out those pies are good, and we took a couple of frozen ones away for later consumption. Of course, this does mean a slight detour from the mostly vegetarian diet here, but I shall bear this hardship with stoicism and good grace, so don't feel too sorry for me. ;-)! Hehe! Perfection as far as I can tell is an over-rated and impossible to achieve objective. What me worry? :-)!

Deployed is a great word. It has military connotations does it not? The wood heater debacle here could be said in military speak that it is a staged withdrawal. At least that's what I reckon. Defeat is probably closer to the truth though! Nell was a little trooper to have taken the gamble with you and it would have been very stressful for her as you don't know why she was separated from her mum. I once took on a sickly kitten (who lived for about a decade before dying of a broken heart). I met the sickly kitten at the front gate to my house and I said to the kitten: "If you can walk through this gate, the house is yours." And the sickly kitten waltzed on though the gate. For the first few years of its life, the sickly kitten thought that it was a dog as it hung with the then dog collective. Toothy knew the kitten, but he was too boisterous for the then much older cat and the cat pined for its protective dog which had only just died.

My head is spinning reading about all of the machinations of the tribes and the Romans. I'll bet the tribal chiefs that were handed over to the Romans would have suffered a very unpleasant fate? Ouch. I've noticed that top order crims that tend to survive are the ones that hand out the spoils.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Those Roman books sound fascinating and I personally wonder too how they could be read after being frozen in time all those years ago. Out of curiosity, how did the Romans write books? Was it on paper or velum or timber? Or all three? Stone would have been expensive... And then curious minds also wonder: Did anyone think to try those ancient recipes just to see what they tasted like?

Of course, most of our coal goes to China too. In the state I live brown coal is usually only found. This has a much higher water content than black coal and as such it burns very inefficiently as some energy needs to be used to dry the moisture in the coal itself. I'm facing this problem with the wood heater myself in that it does many things and none of them well... A seam of black coal was found not too far from here at Bacchus Marsh which has many orchards and market gardens, and the black coal is all slated for the export market. They have a huge an very deep sand pit too which is still being mined. It is amazing to see.

Ah, these things happen with the naming of the plant and foolish people in Europe used to dare each other to consume tomato leaves way back in the day. Nightshades have a fearsome effect on the digestion.

No, protect your spam free status and enjoy the earlier picture I put on the blog of the windmill - as that at least is spam free! I have no idea, but I suspect the location will make it pricey, but the heritage overlays may be a problem for some. Who knows? The valuing of property is a mystery to me. Fortunately nobody seems to understand the value of deep top soils...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks for the clarification. I have watched many Grand Designs UK projects were the steel frames which were specified and constructed off site, fail to meet up accurately once on site. One must employ a flexible construction technique in such a circumstance and cut, drill and weld on site. Hope the weather is OK for such things?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for the gentle reminder about the tea article. Yes, I am wondering the same question too. How do they survive in your winters? I've recently - and may not have mentioned it before - but have been experimenting with camellia's to see just where do they survive here. Of course this was also under the guise of purchasing flowering camellia's for the editors birthday! It is a slow process as the plants themselves only grow slowly and there are more azalea's and rhododendron's around these parts than camellia's. If they were here in great numbers here in the mountain range it would save me a bit of hassle. They don't seem to appreciate windy spots, that's for sure! And they also seem to be rather shallow rooted and so appreciate deep well established soils. But there are many other factors to consider too.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Fish liver pudding sounds ghastly. Oh, well. Different times, different cultures ... what's available and edible. Cornish Star Gazer pie, sounds awful, to me. But, it might be quit tasty, if I could get past the fish eyes, starring at me :-). You may know that the Romans had a fish sauce called Garum. It was a condiment, made from fermented fish guts. Wildly popular. Huge industry (wouldn't want to live down wind from a garum factor). Wherever there were Romans, you found Garum.

Saw a DVD a couple of years ago where some marine archaeologists decided to give garum a whirl. We pretty much have the information on how it was made. The crew reviews were mixed ... mostly in the negative. :-). I guess the taste for garum died out during the Middle Ages. As far as I know, no European cultures have taken it up. I think there are Asian cultures that use something similar.

I agree that tea is hardly worth the time, unless it has that caffeine jolt :-). But some of the herbal teas have other benefits. Or, I just like the taste. I quit like chamomile. I discovered the Yorkshire tea when my grocery store, for a period of time, dropped their Double Bergamot Earl Grey. But I overdid it and it really bothered my stomach. Just the other day I tried it again ... but in moderation. I seem to be able to handle one bag (two cups) a day, without much problem. Along with all the green tea I drink. LOL. I tried it again because when I first discovered it, it went on sale and I have quit a back stock of it. Waste not, want not ... Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I'm quit envious that you can actually see towers from where you live. Outside of cities, here, the coverage can be pretty spotty. My phone can be pretty iffy, at times. When I had to get a cheap-o flip phone, to replace my last cheap-0 slip phone, the salesmen told me the new one had better reception ... and, it did. But it's still pretty marginal, at times. My internet is pretty good, but very slow. I've seen a couple of recent articles where small town in my county are kind of in revolt. Slow speeds. Or, they're taking on no new subscribers. There's been some cases where people moved here and their home businesses suffered, due to no or slow connections.

Unsolicited advice would be to explore the free wi-fi, but be careful. Security wise. Here, some large cities are experimenting with city wide municipal wi-fi. Mostly, it's hotels, coffee shops, restaurants ... our library has free wi-fi. The Home has a computer room ... and free wi-fi. I'll find out the ins ad outs of that when I get there. The Warden said that "most" people were happy with it. Just as an aside, there's been a problem with bad guys reading debit card information at bank ATMs and gas stations. Apparently, there are ways to "read" the credit card information, right in your wallet. You can buy special wallets to thwart such goings on ... of course. The new chip cards are supposed to stop that nonsense ... but I'm sure the bad guys will come up with a work around. it's an arms race. :-).

It was quit a nice day, yesterday, and late in the afternoon dry enough that I did a couple of hours of mowing. Mostly back in Beau's yard. Darn, the ground is rough there. Clumps of rank grass that are already on their way to being real problems and the gophers have been at work. My point being, that when I got up this morning, it looked exactly like your picture. Gray, misty and not much visual distance. But, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday are going to be nice, again, so maybe I can get the first round of mowing, done. And, get at the blackberries. They're just beginning to leaf out, so now is the time to start hacking them back, as I can see what I'm doing. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Well, any trip is worth the while if there's gourmet pie on offer. Bet the pies are good in Sydney :-). I'm sorry you're having so much trouble with your wood stove, but it sounds like you're getting it sorted. You've now got the experience (and vocabulary) to ask the right questions.

Some tribal chiefs (and their families) were taken to Rome, displayed in the triumph processions and then killed. One tribal chief made such a good speech to the Emperor Claudius, that he wasn't killed and lived out his days in minor luxury as a "guest of the empire." Children were often taken, as 1.) hostages and 2.) to Romanize. Augustus' sister Octavia finally put her foot down and refused to be used as a marriage pawn. She ended up raising a whole gaggle of little princes and princesses from all over the Empire. Cleopatra's surviving three children, Judean princes, north African princes. A Parthian or two, I think. That must have been quit a household. Happy, I hope.

Oh, yes. People try out Roman recipes, all the time. There are several websites devoted to Roman food. When I was in high school and took two years of Latin, we had a yearly "Roman Banquet." I don't remember much about it, other than swaning about in bed sheet togas and that any sweetener had to be honey. No door mice, as I remember :-). I think the main course was chicken with a honey glaze. Grape juice instead of wine, given our rather Puritan view of young people and liquor.

Hmm. Roman books. Well, mostly scrolls, made from papyrus. Expensive stuff from Egypt until the Roman's conquered Egypt in 33 BC (?). Then it became pretty cheap and available. I'd guess it became an Imperial monopoly with price controls. There were the wooden frame tablets with wax writing surface, but I get the sense that they were mostly for taking notes ... as they could easily be rubbed out and corrected. You worked out your notes and then committed to papyrus. Although some seemed to be single use ... maybe an important letter, written and sealed. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. (Well, you asked ... :-) Paper was developed in China, probably about 200 BC. But it took until the 1200s before it spread to Europe and began to be used. Parchment and vellum date back to 2,500 BC. Egypt, the Middle East and Greece. Codex ... what we'd kind of recognize as a book, made an appearance in the Roman world, sometimes in the 1st century AD. Sheets of papyrus or parchment, threaded together inside harder covers. They were easier to handle, than scrolls. And probably not as subject to as much wear and tear through handling.

By 300 AD, scrolls and codex had reached numerical parity. By 600 AD, scrolls had pretty much disappeared.

So, I'm really curious as to what form the recipe from Pompeii is in. Scrolls from Herculaneum were pretty much fried. But I do hear of odd survivals from Pompeii. A trove of business correspondence found in a traveler's inn. A trove of lawyers correspondence. But I don't know what form they took. Wax and wood tablets? There was an interesting case where a young woman claimed to be free. But the wife of her previous owner claimed she hadn't been freed. A lot of people who could have testified in her behalf, were dead. The case even went to Rome, which I suppose would be similar to a case of ours going to the Supreme Court. The final outcome is unknown, but in a dramatic manner, an aged freed slave was found who said she HAD been freed by her former master. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi everyone,

If anyone is curious about the devastation from Cyclone Debbie up north: Flood fallout from Cyclone Debbie stretches across two states, clean-up efforts begin.

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

My shack is entirely wood resting on some concrete blocks. The place moves up and down depending on the wetness or dryness of the ground. Sometimes a door will begin to stick but the situation soon reverses again. I do have a slight slant to one corner.
With regard to the pouring of concrete, my son has said that it all has to be done at the same time if you don't want a leak/crack. This was with reference to septic tanks.

@ Lew

I had heard of garum in the past. Even though I think that fish guts sound disgusting I would try a dish made from them if it was offered. I'll try any food at least once.

Have found all those other kinds of tea have a sort of scented flavour which I don't like. I prefer water which I drink happily. I do restrict myself to 2 mugs of tea a day and one of coffee (also strong).

Inge

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Son just brought me my Sunday newspaper and an early Easter egg, whoopee. He explained the water pipe trick that you mentioned, so at least he is another one who knows it.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

What horrible, horrible devastation Cyclone Debbie has wrought. I hadn't realized it was so bad. It reminds me of the aftermath of our Hurricane Katrina.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

You write an enthralling story. I couldn't even pick up my breakfast chocolate I was so interested in those Romans.

Pam

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis and Inge,

Thanks for the lovely comments, however I sat down tonight and wrote tomorrow's blog and have run out of time to reply to you this evening.

I promise to reply tomorrow night!

Cheers

Chris

Damo said...

Good evening,

I have never tried Garum, but fermented fish sauce is very popular in Laos. The locals enjoy trying to trick falung into eating it. I repay them with vegemite!

Wow, that windmill property looks dry. Mind you, a lot of Australia looks dry and unappealing to my eyes. I guess I was spoiled growing up in Dorrigo which normally gets ~2m of rainfall a year, and a lot of that falls in the Summer when it is useful!

@Marg
I have weaned smartphone use to almost zero, I suspect a 'downgrade' to a normal phone is on the cards in the near future.

"cracking" the password is relatively easy, but you do need to be reasonably familiar with tasks like booting the computer from a CD. I am happy to break the tasks down and give some support via email if you like - just click my name above to get the email address. Another option is possible if your computer had multiple login accounts, failing that the only other option is reinstalling windows - this can be done without data loss if required (although some settings, history etc. will be effectively gone).

@Lew
I remember being amazed with IRC back in the dial up days. To an impressionable 14-15 year old it seemed amazing chatting to people in exotic places like Perth! And some of them even claimed to be female, truly an amazing time to be alive :p Like you I quickly got bored with that, although I did waste a lot of time on usenet groups (the precursor to internet forums and comment sections).

@Chris
Yes, I did a little on the BBS - they were great. Even managed to play a game of DOOM with people in Sydney. We had to wait for the Telecom (not Telstra) nighttime, all-you-can-eat $2, flat long distance call rate though :-)

Cheers,
Damo

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Flooding pictures really illustrated the devastation. How terrible for those residents.

Very sorry about your wood heater. How will you be more gentle? Ours is 17 years old and we use it nightly from November through March and often all day on the weekend. It's only used for heat though occasionally we'll cook a pot of soup or stew on the weekend. I've always thought that wood stoves were pretty indestructible but after your experience I wonder..

News on the coyote front. Two chickens were taken out the other early evening during the hours when they are let loose. I've managed to temporarily thwart most of their efforts to escape during the day those there are still a couple out. Right now they're confined to their run for awhile. On the occasion that we've had a loss from coyotes keeping them in the run seems to discourage the coyote. Gradually I'll let them out for short times. I lost one older one who wasn't laying much and unfortunately a young Welsummer who lays beautiful dark brown eggs. I've considered building a small run within the big one with netting on top to keep them in when there's a persistent coyote and especially a hawk. As I've made the decision to let them free range some I expect losses from predators from time to time but they're never easy.

When you make the decision to have animals you have to realize that the freedom to just take off spontaneously isn't there. It's often hard for people to accept that.

We had a lot of rain this week - almost 2 inches and it looks like we've got about the same amount coming next week. Now too wet to plant my greens as I had planned. At least it's getting somewhat warmer.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - 99 comments. Hmmm. Might as well make it an even 100 :-).

Ah. Here's an article from Slate magazine (I check the site out, once a week) about the state of the coal industry and the recent roll back of regulation. About a five minute read ...

http://www.slate.com/articles/business/the_juice/2017/03/trump_s_executive_order_won_t_bring_back_coal_jobs_regulations_aren_t_what.html

Ahhh... on reflection, we DO have a condiment that is made from fermented fish and is in widespread use ... Worcester Sauce! There are anchovies in it. :-).

I watched an interesting documentary, last night. "Projections of America." During WWII, the US Office of Information wanted some short films (usually 15 to 30 minutes) to be shown all over the world. Especially in countries being liberated from the Axis powers. They were recently rediscovered in our National Archives.

Sure, they were propaganda, but not in a heavy handed kind of a way. Some people in government thought that Hollywood had, before the war, really done too good of a job. Not much beyond cowboys and gangsters. So, they're more snapshots of life in America, at that time. There were just enough clips from the films to make me want to see some of them. They are hard to find, but I finally figured out how to access them on YouTube.

I watched one 15 minute one called "The Cowboy", last night. A young English boy, with his head full of movies and comics of the West, visits a working cattle ranch in Texas. He's rather disappointed. No cattle rustlers, bank robbers, bar room brawls or fighting off indian attacks. :-). I'm looking forward to watching some of the other ones. But in the meantime ...

The weather is passible, so I'm off to spend the afternoon hacking away at blackberries. Lew

Yahoo2 said...

heater/oven
I have tried to write this a dozen times, its starting to frustrate me that i cant find the words.
To keep a steel firebox in good condition it needs to burn clean, the unburnt gases have all the carbides,sulphides and oxides that cause cracking then scaling in the protective oxide skin on the metal. to burn clean the timber needs to be hot and the gas cloud that is released needs a small amount of hot air injected into it to complete the combustion, this upper gas burning area can be cooler because the gas burns easily so heat is extracted from a good heater at this point.

The mistake we usually make is to remove heat from the timber with a nice window, wetback and open grate this lowers the wood temperature and chemical reactions stall, this gives us a lot of ash and charcoal and also destroys the upper firebox with unburned corrosive gasses.

Having an oven complicates things even more because there is a mismatch in energy needs, a heater is made to pump out roughly ten times the heat that an oven needs, trying to adjust the fire size to control the oven heat is not great, heaters like to be run at a fixed rate with a fixed amount of timber. that is why running a small fire in a big heater is almost impossible, it gets cold and smokes then dies.

the old style wood stoves use a different technique they have a small cast iron firebox. This is deliberate, we can only use small sticks so it burns a small fire dirty and throws the gasses straight up the flue, while this is happening it is protected by the cast iron and low temperature then as the high temp burning coals start to form we can restrict the air flow, coals dont need a lot of air and open the oven warming bypass and run the oven clean on the small bed of coals. It works, I have a metters that someone gave me a couple of years ago that is probably 70 y.o. with a sheetmetal oven and it looks fine.
I have modified very large heaters to make them burn better, stacking inside with white clay bricks around the bottom half and sometimes a little hi-temp wool insulation over the inside of the glass. firebrick is overkill, it insulates too well, it needs to heat up and radiate as well as reflect some heat.
I hesitate to recommend a brand, most heater are sold purely on looks rather than function however I am fitting a new Blaze B800 myself, I think I can tweak it to run really sweet. I dont have a city like Melbourne close handy to find a good preloved heater.
Steve

Unknown said...

Chris,

Sorry for delay, I thought I had posted this but the web fairy must have flushed it.

There is an Anabaptist community down here in Tassie that manufactures an absolutely awesome wood heater. It is designed to be repaired, is solid as, and bloody efficient. I was selling to them during the design and prototyping process and was impressed, mightily so. It embodies several hundred years of knowledge sourced from a family in the US who have been making wood heating equipment, and has been enhanced by some clever design and construction.

Once some other essentials have been paid for there is one going into my house. It is overkill, but they really are the best around.

Google here to have a look.

http://ecoflamestoves.com.au/

Cheers

eagle eye