Monday, 12 June 2017

Courting trouble



We have to take a short detour from the story of the previous two weeks because it is now less than a week and half to the winter solstice (in the Southern Hemisphere at least).

For about a month either side of the winter solstice, my mind reflects upon the deficiencies of the off grid solar power system here. Don’t get me wrong, I love solar energy as it is a great source of electricity. It just happens to be subject to some deficiencies which generally show up at this time of year.

Some of those deficiencies are site specific because the farm is on a south western facing slope of the mountain range. During winter this side of the mountain range enjoys less sun than on the north facing slopes (the reverse is true in the Northern Hemisphere). Perhaps this is why it is less fashionable than the other side!

The tall trees surrounding the farm also grow ever taller each year, and the slightest shadow on a solar photovoltaic panel (we’ll just call them solar panels from here on) reduces the electrical output of that solar panel far more than would seem likely.

The final deficiency is that the weather is usually cloudy and rainy during winter. Those weather conditions are normal for this time of year, but any cloud at all will reduce the output of a solar panel, and very thick clouds can reduce the output to almost nothing at all.

The other day, I looked out the window and saw this view:
A winter view looking over the valley towards the central highlands
For about a month either side of the winter solstice I anxiously watch the weather and the weather forecast and hope that I never have to use the petrol generator (gas for people living in the US) to put some electrical charge into the house batteries.

“I fall apart when you’re around
When you're here, I'm nowhere
I can't pretend that I'm not down
I show it I know it”

Years ago I set myself the goal of living with an off grid solar power system and not using the petrol generator. During those early years I heaped truck loads of beliefs onto the ability of solar panels to produce lots of electricity, whilst the batteries would be able to provide that electricity whenever I needed it.

I began my off grid solar power journey with only eight panels. Let’s say that once the merest sniff of winter arrived (it was actually only very early autumn) in those early days, I ran out of power very quickly.

“I've been a fool, more than once, more than twice
I'm gonna move to a new town where the people are nice”

Running out of power was the point in time that I discovered my ill feelings towards petrol generators. I originally purchased a quality generator, but I accidentally blew up the main capacitor inside the generator (my fault) during those early days. This disaster happened just prior to the Easter holiday that year. I took the generator to the shop for repairs. The generator was repaired easily enough, but I didn’t gain access to the repaired generator until after the Easter holidays. And every day the charge in batteries went lower and lower. The batteries eventually got to about as low as 30% full.

Batteries are funny things because if you want them to last for a very long time, you basically can’t use them much. In practical terms, not using batteries much means not taking them below about 70% full. Also when the charge in batteries gets very low, the battery may not necessarily supply the sorts of power that electricity intensive machines (such as coffee machines with a heating element) require. Not supplying the editor with a morning coffee is definitely courting trouble. It would be trouble with me too!

Long term readers will recall that in previous years I have had access to a wood fired oven. Due to the recent change in wood heaters, I now no longer have access to a wood fired oven with which to cook. Instead I have been using the electric oven (and occasionally the gas LPG oven). My electricity demands have increased recently due to the loss of that wood oven, and the other day the editor came up with a genius idea: Add more solar panels!

“I hope I never, I hope I never have to sigh again
I hope I never, I hope I never have to cry again
I still want to beam and smile yeah
Happiness is back in style yeah”

Every year, we have made incremental improvements to the off grid solar power system. However, this year we intend to add five more solar panels to the system. This will bring the total number of installed solar panels to thirty. I have been told by a reliable source that the theoretical upper limit for solar panels in my off grid system is about fifty. Neither the editor, nor I have any intention of reaching that upper limit as there are significant diminishing returns to adding additional solar panels. And you have to remember that we are only seeking to use about 7kWh to 8kWh per day during this time of year. This expectation is far below the average daily household electricty usage in Australia. I really worry about people who promote solar power as a reliable replacement for base load electricity provided by coal fired (and their other ilk) power stations.

We’ve descended into a serious discussion here, so I thought that I’d lighten the mood by showing a photo of a very cool looking cloud which captured the light of the setting sun the other day.
A cool looking cloud catches the setting sun the other day. People with active imaginations may be able to see the form of a rabbit in that cloud
In order to connect up four of the five new solar panels, I had to run a very thick cable underground in a trench. But first, that long 30m / 100ft trench had to be dug by hand through the editors beautiful courtyard and beyond. Oops! Talk about courting trouble!
A long 30m / 100ft trench had to be dug by hand through the editors beautiful courtyard and beyond
“It should be possible I know
To see you without stress
But I can see I'll have to go”

Fortunately the destination for that long trench was in a more utilitarian area than the courtyard.
The other end of the long trench eventually reached its destination
Anyway, the technical side of things is that with a longer cable run generally the thicker cable has to be. Thinner cables lose electricity to heat. Electricity, from my perspective, seems to be like trying to store water in a leaky bucket. Seriously, the electricity just disappears everywhere. I have to laugh when people suggest that we should cover the deserts with solar panels as they don’t realise that deserts tend to be a long way from anywhere with good coffee, and transmitting that electricity from such a great distance is a difficult and expensive business. They may also have forgotten that high temperatures in deserts tend to reduce the output from solar panels. Plus they also make the assumption that nothing lives in the desert that may also want to use that sun.
The author holds a very heavy run of long cables
It is not all work here, as sometimes we just muck around, and the other afternoon whilst installing the long cable, I gave Scritchy the boss dog a scare from under the house.
The author scares Scritchy the boss dog from under the house
The cable was then enclosed by conduit to protect it. Then the area where the trench was dug was repaired. See how I avoid trouble with the editor: Clean up after yourself!
The fluffy collective enjoyed a few moments of mid-winter sun on the recently repaired courtyard
I then added a layer of crushed rock with lime over the top of the repaired surface in the courtyard. And you would never know what lies far beneath the surface! In addition to that, I added the first of the five solar panels to the off grid solar power system. That solar panel is on the very left hand side of the white cantina shed.
The surface of the courtyard was soon repaired and almost looking exactly as it used to look
Far out, that was a lot of work this week. Still, I hope I never have to see that generator again!

“I'm for living while you can
I'm an optimistic man
I hope I never, I hope I never have to see you again
Again, oh oh oh oh...”

We added some new ferns to the developing fern gully. The fern gully is important as it is placed high up at the top of the sunny orchard and the fern gully is used to infiltrate water into the soil which is collected from a huge expanse of the road. Eventually that collected water will travel downhill through the soil and be available to the sunny orchard. That’s the plan anyway…
Several more tree ferns and a couple of Blackwoods (Acacia Melanoxylon) were purchased this week
I reckon the fern gully is looking pretty good. The tree ferns will get taller as the years go on and the other ferns will spread to cover the area.
I reckon the fern gully is looking pretty good
Poopy rat bane proves that he is the fastest Pomeranian (technically he is a Sweedish Lapphund) down under as he can catch and kill rats. You go, Poopy! (edit: perhaps he found it already dead and is just a great salesman.)
Poopy rat bane proves that he is the fastest Pomeranian (technically a Sweedish Lapphund) down under
We harvested and cooked some beets this week. In the photo below on the left is a beetroot which has purple flesh. On the right in the photo below is a sugar beet which has 20% sugar and is very sweet.
We harvested and cooked beetroot and sugar beet this week
The Medlars are slowly being converted into medlar jelly. Whilst we were purchasing tree ferns, we also picked up many seedling potatoes for planting out later in the season. And the purple leaves from the beetroot were used to make a very tasty pesto (which is in the little bowl in the photo below):
Medlar jelly is being produced. Seedling potatoes were bought. And beetroot leaves were used to make a tasty pesto
Concerned readers may wonder and yes I have to admit that I feel like I have done a hard few days of work this week. With that in mind and in order to lift our spirits, I present you with some flowers which I spotted today:
A mysterious daisy is enjoying the winter weather
The succulents are also loving the winter weather
The geraniums flower all year around here, although the flowers are more prolific in the warmer months
Penstemon’s are still flowering which seems very late to me
I noticed that a Feverfew herb appears to have hybridised and produced this strange flower
I really do hope that I don’t have to use that generator again!

The temperature outside now at about 7.00pm is 9’C (48’F). So far this year there has been 394.8mm (15.5 inches) which is more than last week’s total of 385.8mm (15.2 inches).

With the greatest of respects for the excellent New Zealand punk band "Split Enz" for their 1980 song "I hope I never" which was used in the story this week. As an interesting side note Tim Finn of that band is brother to Neil Finn who was the lead singer of the enormously successful band "Crowded House".

57 comments:

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Another week of seriously hard work I see.

I liked the rabbit in the sky.

Thanks for the extra Latin info. With a salute to Lew, we are receiving an excellent classical education.

The silphium plant seems to have been as difficult to grow as the rooibos; the plant that produces red bush tea. This only grows in South Africa and all attempts to grow it elsewhere (including Australia) have failed. I believe that it only grows in one place in South Africa so could be vulnerable. McCall Smith's heroine would be desolate without it.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - It always takes me a second to wrap my head around the different orientation of Australia, in relation to the sun. That a south facing solar array, there, isn't as effective as a south facing solar array, here. LOL, our sun versus your sun :-). If some alien from a distant galaxy read that, they'd maybe think: "Planet rotates around two suns. How unusual!" :-). I didn't know that for longevity, batteries should not fall below 70%. Seems like a lot of wasted space :-). But what do I know of the care anf feeding of batteries?

To me the cloud looks like a rhino, running away. Or, the Michlin Man from a low angle. Dueling Rorshock blot tests. :-)

Be careful playing practical jokes on Scritch. He's likely to leave you a little gift to step in. Then we'll see who's laughing. :-).

The Fern Gully is really looking quit nice. Reminds me a bit of corners of our forests. The mystery daisy looks a bit ragged, for a daisy. Which might be a good search to identify it. "What plant looks like a ragged white daisy?"

Leonard Cohen, according the the author of the bio, has plenty of songs salted away in the vaults. There's probably enough material there for 2 or 3 more albums. He was pretty prolific. But worked slowly on a log of things. "Bird on the Wire" was three years from conception, to finished product that he was happy with. Cont.

margfh said...

Hi Chris,
Yesterday I went on a field trip that I won at a silent auction. A man who has worked with Openlands, an organization that works to conserve and restore natural areas in the Chicago/Lake Michigan area took eight of us on a tour of areas of Chicago and NW Indiana that I didn't know well. This area had been used as a toxic dump for decades and was home to many, now closed, steel mills. His organization along with others, Chicago and other cities in Indian have had some success restoring the area marshes. We also visited the Pullman neighborhood which is a National Monument https://www.nps.gov/pull/index.htm

The connection to your topic today is some of the people on the trip who spent much time singing the praises of solar and wind power. Supposedly farmers in Illinois are being offered long term leases of their farmland around $1200/acre compared to $200-$300 they get now. There was much discussion about their Prius automobiles too. I just kept my mouth shut. These are all very nice people who are involved in restoration or other environmental type activities. Most are pretty affluent but like most don't have a realistic picture of what these types of energy sources can provide.

Once again you and the editor have accomplished much this week. I am jealous of your flowers in winter.



Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Hmmm. Climate and the Mediterranean. There's an ap, for that. :-). Or, in my case, there's a book for that. Not quit what we're looking for but a good start. "The First Eden: The Mediterranean World and Man." (Attenborough, 1987). Looking in the index, there's not any listings for "climate", "weather", "erosion", or, "extinction." I seem to remember something about changing climate and north Africa. But, I may be just remembering odd chapters or paragraphs in books about the Romans in north Africa. Maybe.

The trip to Shelton was ... productive in a yes and no kind of a way. Scott and I nattered all the way up and back about the foibles and philosophies of Cohen. Recovery community gossip. Etc. It was a nice day for a drive. Found the place with no problem and it looks to be, maybe, an old auto show room that was fairly stuffed with English furniture. But, I noticed that they were clearing a great space at one end and asked when they were expecting another container in. Tomorrow (today.)

The prices were comparable to auction prices, so that was good. As I was suffering from Goldilocks Syndrome and being my usual neurotic self, we came back with nothing. Well, all the wardrobes that were left were too big for my space. There will probably be smaller ones, in the next shipment. Deco display cabinets? I narrowed it down to three I liked, but all had problems. One had a bit of broken glass and a small chunk out of the veneer. Another had an odd finish and had solid sides. One had a nice deco top ... and Chipindale style legs. I suppose that wouldn't bother most people, but it bothers me. You have this whole deco party going on up top and something entirely different going on, down below. I'd never have another restful night :-).

So, we're going back (probably) a week from Thursday. By then, they ought to have it all unpacked, cleaned up, priced and out on the floor. I need to head back to the new place and reconsider the placement of furniture in the bedroom. Maybe I can figure out the placement of a larger wardrobe, then what's generally on offer. Maybe. Lew

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

Your winter looks very different from my winter. If you hadn't told me it was winter, I'd have thought it was late spring or early summer at your place, everything is so green and lush looking. Not to mention the flowers that are still blooming. Or the fact you could dig a beet root out of the soil or dig a trench into the soil. A week before winter solstice here, the ground is frozen solid. Unless it's been extra warm for several days - then there is a thin layer of cold mud on top of solidly frozen ground.

Here it is about a week before the summer solstice. Purple coneflowers, the flowers that say summer to me, are just starting to bloom. Meanwhile it has stopped raining. Last week started cool and then got hot, but the humidity has been low. Good thing for the latter, as it made the Sustainable Backyard Tour more comfortable. While the high was 93F/34C, a good breeze blew, the humidity was lower than usual for summer, and we sat under a canopy that was itself partially under a maple tree as we waited for visitors to arrive. It was a good way to spend a Sunday near the summer solstice. We had 11 visitors, much less than the 30 or so who have come in past years. I don't know what might have made the difference. But some of the people who came seemed to really engage with us and what we are doing, so being hosts was worth the time and the effort to make the yard prettier than it might otherwise have been.

After I read that you expect 30 panels to provide you with 7-8 Kwh of electricity per day, I walked over to our neighbors' grid-tied array two houses east to count how many panels they have. It turns out they have 14 panels. Now I understand why they said it didn't help as much as they had hoped it would (to be fair, they later said it prompted them to make some efforts toward conserving electricity). Do I understand then that around the summer solstice you'll have more than the 7-8 Kwh because of the better sun angle? Would it be as much as 10-11 Kwh per day? That's about what we use when we run air conditioning and the dehumidifier for part of the summer (only when we deem it is necessary to run either, which is less often than most people here think it is). While I think that air conditioners don't play well with solar power because of the extra load when they turn on, it's interesting to see how your system stacks up to our usage patterns.

Speaking of electricity usage, we just got our bill for electricity use in May. Because of all the rain in late April and May which led to wet soil and high humidity, we'd been running the dehumidifier in the basement all month, but it never got hot enough to turn on the air conditioner (still hasn't in our opinion). Thus I was shocked to find we'd used 11 Kwh per day in May. My hypothesis, based on electricity usage and other aspects of the dehumidifier that seem to be outside its usual way of operating, is that it may be faulty. I need to find the manual and see if there are some simple things I can check to determine if it is operating correctly or not.

Claire

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I'd like to argue otherwise about the hard work bit, but modesty implores me to tell you that I am feeling a bit physically tired tonight. It was pretty epic really! :-)! I don’t mention everything that I do each week either…

The rabbit in the sky was pretty cool wasn't it? I once saw a cloud over the valley that was an approximation of a girl holding a lance and riding a dragon. I failed to photograph that. One must not cry over spilt milk. Interestingly too, I was amazed at how fast that girl / dragon cloud broke up. And no, I have most certainly not been watching Game of Thrones!!! Hehe!

Hear, hear! The editor and I were bemoaning the lack of the provision of a classical education, so Lewis is planting seeds in fertile ground. My mind often wonders whether such a policy of avoidance is deliberate. Dunno, but I am uncomfortable with the emphasis on testing and rote learning as I can see that it is building anxiety in the population and overly emphasising the performance of the individual over that of co-operation. Or maybe that is an undocumented feature of the policy? Certainly people love their bragging rights. Glad you spotted the reply to you in last week’s comment section right at the end.

I quite enjoy the occasional Rooibos - a friend who hails from South Africa introduced me to the tea. It is not for everyone though. Of course, Mma Precious Ramotswe would be most displeased if the plant were to become extinct. And yeah, I have read that the plant enjoys a symbiotic relationship to some specific life forms in the soil. Soil is a very complex topic. Down here, I was reading an article the other week about the very rare Wollemi Pines which are having the same troubles. I'm pretty sure a lot of plants are like that. Do you know of any others?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

But of course! Everything is upside down here and the seasons are even turned onto their heads. Mate you should see how wrong a guy in a Santa suit looks, whilst he's promoting mid-winter feasts and celebrations when the temperature in the shade is over 40'C / 104'F. I'm not taking the celebration away from anyone as I enjoy a good party as much as the next person, but far out, the imagery is very confused down here.

Aliens would wonder about a whole lot of things that we humans do, and then they'd shake their proboscises in mild concern and amusement and then start concerning themselves with more practical ideas such as: Dinner. ;-)! Guess what's on the menu for the aliens? That is a concern for the physicists among the readership: Could a planet orbit two suns? It is a problem far beyond my poor brain.

Oh, I replied to your previous comment on last weeks blog at the very tail end of the comments on the same blog. Dunno why? Best not to think about it too much.

Care and feeding of batteries is a classic! I shall never think about them the same way again. Feed the hungry batteries. The 70% figure is a rule of thumb I use to guide my usage and in case you are interested, I arrived at that number by looking for the sweet spot between usage and life span. It really is a compromise and two different people could use the same system very differently with vastly different outcomes. You know, batteries are a hugely mature technology, and I really meant "beliefs" in the blog using the literal sense of the word because that is what it looks like to me. Of course, I'm was as guilty of that as anyone, but not anymore. It sort of gives me the creeps a bit when people talk about the latest developments in battery technology because I don't feel that way about it myself and I can see the fervour in them. I've recently begun cutting them off - depending on who it is - by asking them if and when they are going to install such devices. The wasted space is actually necessary and is an inherent part of the technology.

A rhino. Yeah, I can see that. I have to dispute your Michelin man though as I can't see it myself, that is not to say that it doesn't exist. Rorschach tests. So true. I avoid psychological testing after naively undergoing one as part of an interview process for a stressful job many long years ago. What a total surprise that the employers would then not disclose the information gained by them, and then I rather suspect that they used the information against me to manipulate me. Never again. Ah, we are all young and dumb at some point in our lives. Have you ever had anyone request a psychological profile of you for a job or other reason?

Fortunately the birds are on my side and they consume all of the dog manure. Although every now and then I enjoy a little canine present on my shoe. Aren't they naughty?

Thanks. Yes, the film "Wild" showed forests from south of you that look a lot like some of the wetter forests here. And the ferns will spread in time. They're very hardy.

That is what I call pre-planning! How spooky would it be if I wrote a years worth of blogs in advance (I have most certainly not) and then keeled over (I'm still here) only to have set them all to automatically post at pre-defined dates in the future. It is a bit Asimov / Foundation series isn't it? It would be a bit creepy don't you reckon? I'd struggle with replying to comments in such a scenario though. It might make a good short story though?

It was very sunny but cool down here today.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

What a fantastic auction win. It is really great to read that people in all sorts of out of the way places are doing work on land and ecosystem restoration. I reckon it is one of the most important jobs that a person could do, although it probably doesn't pay well. Marshes are a great catchment and filter of water and organic matter and they really are important in terms of getting water back into the aquifers. Did you learn much on the tour and did the guy explain the ecosystem and how it works? Do you see the area differently now? Never heard of either a National Monument or the Pullman neighbourhood. Wow. Social experiments. I assume Pullman make the rail cars? Or am I wrong? I'd be curious as to your impressions of the place.

Haha! Well, I mean what do you say? Nothing sensible. The belief is palpable and I find it to be a little bit scary, so I usually shut those conversations down as it isn't my place to deflate their thought bubbles. Being quiet is not a bad idea either. I mean who wants to get into an argument about this stuff? I tried to engage once with a commenter over at the ADR to see if the beliefs could be punctured and it was disturbing.

Thanks! And well, winters are pretty mild here all things considered. I was nicely told off for sitting outside the other morning at the local cafe with Poopy (who would not be welcome inside) but it was 4'C / 39'F and inside was so busy and noisy. A few quiet moments were all I was after. Mind you, I wear natural materials and a sheepskin jacket, whilst most people wear synthetics which don't keep you warm.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

Yeah, winters are very mild here in global terms, which always makes me laugh because people are always complaining about the cold down here. It can still snow at this altitude from time to time, but mostly there is always something to harvest and eat from the garden even fruit given the winter yielding citrus. There are flowers here for most of the year, but there don't seem to be many insects flying around to enjoy them. Slugs and millipedes - yeah. But no flying insects right now. Thanks for the comparison to your winter too. I wouldn't know what to do with frozen ground. Mind you, I reckon the summers here are hotter and sunnier on average than up in your part of the world. The fruit trees still get plenty of chilling hours down here during winter. There was one year I was a bit concerned about that lack of chilling hours, but it seemed an extraordinary winter. The fruit trees are very adaptable and I noticed today an apple tree that had not yet lost all its leaves as it was stressed during the summer.

Your coneflowers are delightful! Sitting in the shade on a warm day is a great idea. Thanks for sharing your side of that open garden. It is a delight to open the garden to visitors isn't it? And quality beats the stuffing out of quantity every time. I'm considering opening the garden as part of the sustainable house day thing down here in September some time. We haven't committed to doing so yet, but who knows?

Yes, be afraid! Solar power is really good, but it is nothing compared to coal, gas or nuclear as a substitute for base load power. It is basically intermittent and has limitations. Don't get me wrong, I'm not schilling for those alternatives, I'm just suggesting that it is a bad idea for everyone else to bet the farm on this solar stuff. Exactly too! 14 panels is not much at all. Over summer I will have access to possibly three to four times what I enjoy now. But I can't think of a way to use it as my demand doesn't change much with the seasons. I'm not sure how scalable this stuff actually is. Nah, I don't run an air conditioner as I just open the windows at night and use overhead fans. The system could run an air conditioner but the more you use this stuff, the shorter its lifespan. It really is a major compromise, but the mains grid is more or less subject to the same issues.

I'm not sure I understand why a dehumidifier is even run in the basement? My brain is telling me that we have had this conversation before, so I do apologise if we have. Basements are very rare in Australia as most people build above ground (there are a few underground towns which I mentioned a few weeks ago - but they are usually in very hot locations).

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Oops! I almost missed your second comment and I have not even the excuse of a delightful chocolate and vanilla flavoured stout to cloud my mind. Nope this must be recorded as an example of early onset dementia! ;-)! That is very clever describing a book as an app! You may appeal to the millennials with that talk. The funny thing about climate changing is that if we change the vegetation over a long enough period of time, the climate shifts with the change in vegetation. And perhaps that is what happened to the Romans? They failed to notice until they could no longer ignore the change - and then they fell with the new normal? Dunno. Thanks for looking into it though.

Nattering is good isn't it? That is interesting, I was unaware that Leonard Cohen was a Canadian. Well there you go. I must confess to mercilessly teasing my New Zealand friends by claiming that any artist that New Zealand produces must clearly be from Australia! And there have been a few of them too. The small island country punches above its weight. But then they go and destroy us in the Rugby. I would fear having to face a haka (a Maori ceremonial war dance involving chanting) too. It is frightening.

I can't believe you missed the new shipment by one day. Mind you, do you reckon that was a sales pitch to get you to come back for another visit? Oh yeah, stick to what you enjoy as life is short with furniture, and some of it is like you say: not good on the eye. It would haunt you. Hey, has Stephen King ever written a short story about haunted and malevolent furniture? Thanks too for the little chunks of classical education from time to time. I rather enjoy learning those.

Good luck and like everything it is hard to get things done right first time around. It is a bit like the infrastructure here - slow incremental gains...

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I don't understand why, if a plant has a symbiotic relationship with something in the soil, one can't take soil away as well as a plant i.e. keeping them together for replanting elsewhere.

No I don't know of other plants like this apart from orchids and as previously stated, I don't believe it with regard to them.

Herewith a creepy furniture story. This relates to my stepfather's concert grand piano. My mother and I discovered, independently, that neither of us would sit with our backs to it if alone in the room. It then went away to be damped down and when it came back, I was at ease with it. Then my mother came to me and said 'It's okay now, it doesn't worry me anymore, something has gone'. The damping down of sound was because of complaints from the other houses in the street. My stepfather was banned from playing after 11pm.

Re a classical education: I wish that I knew Greek, I only know the alphabet. Fascinating how the language can be seen in maths and medicine.

Inge

Inge

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

No problem about not understanding why basements need dehumidfiers; since they are rare in Australia, you've no need to commit brain cells to them. Better to save them for all the deadly poisonous snakes and spiders you have to be aware of that we don't have.

My mini-tutorial on basements:
1. They are underground, or at least mostly underground. Older houses like ours often have a somewhat raised basement. Perhaps the top quarter or so of ours is above the soil. In newer houses, unless the house is built on sloped ground, all or nearly all of the basement is underground.
2. It's cooler underground than above ground during the summer. This means the air temperature in the basement is cooler than it is outside or in the house. Current air temperature in our basement is 70F/21C at 10:30ish am. In the room where I am typing this, the air temperature is 85F/29C.
3. Air from outside and from inside the house will slowly ooze into the basement, even though all the windows and doors are closed.
4. When that air gets into the basement, the fact that the basement is cooler (in the summer) and the air outside is humid means the relative humidity goes up. Right now the dew point outside is 69F/20C, nearly the same as the basement temperature.
5. After a few days of dew points being nearly the same as the basement temperature, the moisture in the air starts condensing on cool surfaces, like the concrete basement floor or the items we store there. We've had the floor get so slick as to be dangerous to walk on.
6. Using a dehumidifier lowers the relative humidity in the basement to a more reasonable 60%, which doesn't make the floors slick and keeps mold down (I don't run it harder than that). But that takes electricity. When in use, the dehumidifier warms air temperature a degree or two (F) while condensing some of the water out of it.

Given that our major electricity need is in the summer (for cooling and dehumidification), solar panels would theoretically be a good solution for us. We might not need as many panels as you since our winter use is rather low. I'd size it for summer first and see if that covered winter use. But I don't want to have to deal with batteries, and with electric lines already at the house, it makes more sense for us to use a little electricity while it's available and spend the money instead on improvements to conserve it and backups for when it isn't available or if (when) it becomes unreliable and/or unaffordable. But we live in a suburb, not in a rural area with no electric lines nearby as you do.

Claire

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - The perceived value of a classics education seems to ebb and flow. :-). In academia, it seems like one of the first things to the chopping block when money gets tight. Prof. Mary Beard's blog "A Don's Life" covers the skirmish, from time to time. There's a bit of an overlap between classics and archaeology. I think it's healthy to ask the question "What is the value of a classics degree. Is it useful?" Of course, I think it is ... but maybe not in the quantity of graduates that are being cranked out. As with so many other occupations in the humanities. There's a list, floating around "out there" somewhere of "People you may not have known have a classics degree."

"Confused imagery" as to your Christmas is right. One of the episodes of the Brokenwood Mysteries revolved around Christmas in New Zealand. A Christmas parade, houses decorated over the top. All in that bright sunlight. A dead Santa stuffed into a chimney figured into the mystery. I wonder if there are air conditioned Santa suits?

I seem to remember taking a few psychological tests for jobs, usually retail. Used mostly to, supposedly, test for honesty and customer service. I always thought they were kind of fun. Sometimes, I got the feeling that they were just going through the motions. "We need a warm body, Human Resources says we must give these silly tests, but we're going to hire you anyway." Based on impression and previous work history. I do remember taking a test in school that was supposed to indicate possible job paths. That was in grade school. I was 10 or so? Maybe 12. Then they sat you down and went over the results. I remember that I scored high for becoming, possibly, a forest ranger or ... an athletics instructor. The first was rather silly as I wasn't particularly "outdoorsy." The instructor struck me as just ... stupid. Given I was always the fattest little kid in my grade level and always the last one picked for a team. I had (and still have, to a certain extent) a repulsive reaction to any kind of organized sports.

"From Beyond the Grave." ;-). Back when I was in the book biz, sometimes we'd get many new titles from authors that had passed on. I really wondered at one point if they had their brains stashed away somewhere, sitting in vats and hooked up to computers. More likely, ghost writers who had immersed themselves in the writer's style. The flip side of the coin is that you get the occasional writer who just stops writing, for one reason or another. One of our long time and very involved regulars (who I didn't know very well) in the Recovery community passed away, recently. Another fellow said it gave him quit a turn when the dead fellows name popped up on his phone a few days later. Turned out it was the son, using dead dad's phone. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Of course, the Roman's in north Africa did their usual Roman thing and had quit extensive hydro projects. But after a certain point, even those played out. Distant springs dried up and changing weather patterns meant cisterns weren't filled. As the empire wound down, maintenance became a problem. The Vandals swept in and disrupted things. And, the original inhabitants that were there before the Romans were always sweeping down from the mountains and nipping at their heels.

The whole alternative power topic. Some are like people cast away on an island. Alternative power is like a sail on the horizon and they run up and down the beach screaming "We're saved! We're saved!" Well, no. Either the ship hasn't seen them, someone forgot to light the signal fire, or the firewood has been allowed to get wet and can't be lit.

I found it interesting that Cohen was most popular in England and the rest of Europe. A bit less popular in his home country, Canada. Sometimes, not very popular at all in the US. One of his records they didn't even bother releasing in the US. But it climbed the charts in England.

Oh, I don't think they were pulling my leg over the container. They were clearing space for it. And, it would have been in their best interest to get two pieces of what they had on offer, out the door, to make more space. The way I read the omens, everything is falling into place the way it's supposed to. I didn't have to compromise on what I want and it's given me the opportunity to rethink the placement of the furniture in the bedroom. I was antsy to get up there this Thursday, but probably better to go a week from Thursday. The weather is going to be rubbish this week. Not conducive to hauling old furniture in the back of an open truck. :-). I'll give them a call on Sunday and see how the unpacking is going. They're closed Mon-Wed. So, it's not like a lot of other people will get in there and skim off the cream. I hope.

Well, I packed up some more boxes and painted the pulls for a dresser I have. I'll see what I can haul down there today, given that the weather is bad. Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

Thirty solar panels sounds like a huge number to me. With your orientation and the tall trees I still don't get how you collect much solar energy at all in the winter. What a great view of the court yard; it's so lovely, especially without the trench! Seeing that trench up close, it looks quite deep. I guess the deeper it is, the cooler the cable stays. It's still so very green there in the winter.

Hi, Toothy, Scritchy, and Sir Scruffy - sun bath time, eh? You leave poor Scritchy alone, Bad Chris. I have never seen a prouder dog than Poopy and his rat -salesman or not. He is truly posing for the photo.

You have the best clouds. I do see a bunny in that one.

I love your fern gully. We have a road above us, too, and the rain runs down the hill, through the woods, towards our garden, so I suppose we might be able to get a fern gully started. There is a pretty good natural one on another part of our property; we had nothing to do with creating that one. It's a natural sort of swale.

Beet root leaf pesto actually does sound quite good. Do you use any nuts in it? We put walnuts in our pesto as they were - until recently - the cheapest nuts around here. There must have been a walnut crop failure this year as their cost went up 50% overnight.

Winter daisies - how neat. You are lucky that your succulents can stay outside all winter; ours can't. Geraniums! And that is the strangest feverfew. Flower detective needed there.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

I'd forgotten about rooibos tea. I've never tried it, but it reminds me that summer is a very nice time to read the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series.

Pam

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Yes it was a fantastic trip. Not only was the leader very knowledgeable about the history of the area and ecological restoration but others on the tour were experts in bird and plant identification. Yes, that's the Pullman who manufactured the rail cars.

Margaret

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge, Lewis, Pam, and Margaret.

Many thanks for the lovely and thoughtful comments. I was intending to reply this evening, but then Xiao Long Bao dumplings in chilli sauce were calling their siren songs of yummy-ness (is that a word?). Anyway, I promise to reply tomorrow evening. Tomorrow I have to crawl under the house again and anchor the cable to the under floor using saddle clips. No doubts this will be an uncomfortable and dirty job, but as they say someone has to do these things.

Until tomorrow!

Lewis - Thanks for the thoughts about the classical education. I'm absorbing those thoughts into my worldview as they have implications which I'm pondering. You'd enjoy Xiao Long Bao dumplings. They're very good!

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - In all my tat trading, I've run across two haunted objects. One was a Japanese netsuke, in the shape of a fox. Which, oddly enough, the Japanese sometimes use to signify spirits. Which I didn't know when I obtained it. It came in a shipment from England. I priced it very low, for what it was, and got rid of it as quick as I could. The second item was a SW native American Kachina doll. I was researching it and had it in my bedroom and couldn't sleep with it in there. I finally got up and moved it to another part of my digs. When I researched it, I discovered that it had been made in one of those notorious "Indian" schools. Native American kids were often removed from their families and sent to such schools. Sometimes, the kids were very badly abused. I'm sure there were a lot of unhappy feelings attached to that doll. Also sold at a very low price.

A third item was an old Victorian bed that was in the house we moved into when I was around 15. Really nice walnut with burl veneer panels. Every once in awhile, usually in the fall, the headboard would make "breathing" sounds. I never found it frightening. Just fascinating. By this time, I had read a lot on ghosts, and the idea of them never bothered me. I had read a lot about Borley (sp?) rectory, "The Most Haunted House in England." As I moved around and drug the bed along with me, the manifestation faded away.

A couple of years ago, I read a book about haunted objects. Seems like there was an overabundance of dolls :-). Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Chris - Sometimes we're so in attune with each other, it's scary :-). Years ago, I had a friend who was the night manager in a dodgy business (not family friendly) and I'd go keep him company, from time to time. There was a Vietnamese restaurant, nearby, and he loved, and I'd bring him, something called Hum Bao (spelling?) They were only a dollar a piece. It was a steamed bun with a boiled egg, sausage and a bit of sauce inside. Yumm! Now here's the weird part. Just YESTERDAY it came to mind and I did an internet search, not having the spelling quit right and found them! Apparently, Bao can have all different kinds of fillings, but the boiled egg version was featured. Cue up the theme from the Twilight Zone. :-).

I took a couple of boxes to The Home, yesterday. Unpacked them and fiddled with the bedroom to see if I could work out the furniture placement in the bedroom. It all fell into place and I can get a larger wardrobe that I thought, into it. And, maybe even a second small wardrobe. Any-who. I ran into one of the "garden ladies" and she'd worked the politics behind the scenes and I have a garden space! It's raised (about waist high). Size? I knew you'd ask :-). I'll have to measure it. 4x8'? 6x12'?

So, I have a place to pop my perennials in. Now I'll have to figure out what else I can plant, as it's a bit late in the season. I can probably get at least some carrots and lettuce going. Happy, happy, happy! Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Yes, you are absolutely 100% correct. The soil fauna and flora has to be relocated along with the plant. There is a bit of a story to that situation with the Wollemi pines which highlights the problems relating to relocating the soil. I understand that fossils of the Wollemi pines were discovered in Antarctica before the actual live plant was found. In a strange side story, one of the blokes that discovered that fossil was the brother of a friend of the editors. True story, and both the editor and I were introduced to him at an otherwise dull party and we spoke about botany and Antarctic exploits and he now lives on a farm north of here (although we only met the dude once). They had neglected to name the fossil before the actual plant was discovered, and apparently they had drawn the leaf upside down! Anyway, the pines were discovered actually growing in a remote gorge in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales. The remote gorge helps protect the pines from regular fires, and also maintains a very cool and temperate climate. The location is a secret, but in reality, it is just very hard to get into. The seeds for the pines were collected by helicopter. You see, walking into the remote gorge by humans opens a pathway for outside soil flora and fauna to get into that remote gorge, and who knows what impact that may have on the pines? Only a few humans have ventured into the remote gorge.

Anyway, the soil life has as much impact upon plants as the availability of minerals, sunlight, wind etc. I know with oak trees that are sold as being inoculated with spores from the truffle fungi, that the fungi travel along with the plants attached to the roots of the sapling, but if I plant an acorn, well, European truffles (there are a lot of local truffles here and nobody knows whether they are toxic or not) most likely will never establish themselves. It is a really complex matter, but I agree with you in that one cannot be without the other. Exactly too, for some plants like your orchids, it does not matter. I have observed here that the fruit trees have grown better in recent years as the soil life has become more complex and diverse. I heard a fantastic talk once by an old timer forestry scientist / worker and he really called it as it is on this very complex topic. I'll see if I can find a link to the discussion after I have replied to everyone else here.

Yes, inanimate objects preserve memories and traces. Out of curiosity, were you ever taught how to play the piano?

Me too. You know when I attended the hippy dippy school I enjoyed the companionship of some Greek friends my age, and I have to confess that they taught me some very naughty Greek phrases which are hard to shake from my memory. Unfortunately, I possibly could have learned more useful aspects of the culture. It is a bit like me wishing I'd listened to my grandfather (who clearly had important information to impart on my very young mind) closer. No doubts someone else will enjoy the same problem with me in the far distant future! :-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

Many thanks for the excellent explanation. As an interesting side note, it is somewhat exciting (in a bad way) to share a garden with poisonous snakes and spiders. The important lesson for me to take away from my interactions with them is: Do not annoy them and do not back them into a corner! That seems to work most of the time. Don't forget the scorpions hiding under rocks too... Last night was a two wombat night in the orchard and Scritchy wanted to have a closer look at them, and at night I keep her on a lead and I just pulled her hard in the other direction.

Yeah 60% humidity is relatively comfortable and to be honest I prefer a more humid air to the sometimes and only very occasionally crazy hot and dry summer humidity which can reach as low as 10%. Out of curiosity, I assume the underground walls of the building are lined somehow so as to slow or stop the ingress of water into those basements? At one stage I was considering constructing a very small building which was cut into the side of the mountain here, but the waterproofing seemed very difficult and very complex. Thanks for explaining that the moisture condenses out of the air which seeps into the basement. Out of curiosity, have you ever measured the average temperature of the soil in your part of the world?

The reason I ask that question is that I have visited many caves in this continent and the ones in the south are very cold all year around, whilst the ones further north become very warm and humid (and uncomfortable). But the interesting thing that I noticed was that the temperatures of the caves reflected the average soil temperature in that location (which you'd expect). Given that your ground freezes over winter, how does that work with the basement? I would have assumed that the freezing of the soil didn't extend too far into the ground? Dunno really, I'm just guessing. And also does the freeze / thaw cycle put a strain on the basement construction? Houses here are expected to have a certain amount of flexibility in their structures (mind you I have read that for all sorts of reasons relating to reactive clays, that some are experiencing more of that than others!).

Exactly! Solar would work for you in that situation, especially if you stored the cool air inside the house during the day when the sun is shining. That is the trick really with grid tied systems (and off grid too) - use the power when it is available. It really isn't much different from growing plants when the sun is shining as that is a similar form of harvesting solar energy. And incidentally, that is how plants can produce a surplus in the first place.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

It is a lot of panels, but there is just not that much sun here over winter because the sun is low in the sky and the farm is on the southern side of the mountain range. On the positive side, over summer, things are much cooler here than one would expect, until mid afternoon that is. I observe how the solar power system performs during the day during the depths of winter, and at most I get about 2/3rds output, but most of the time it provides about 1/3rd output but all of the panels are in different locations and some face different directions just to take advantage of whatever sun can be gained. Over summer the amount of power I have access too is far more than I could ever feasibly use, but like all good bits of infrastructure it has to take into account the worse days, not the best - or even the average days.

Yeah, that trench is deep. Me tired this week! Interestingly too, cables that are in the air can be thinner because the movement of air across them keeps them cooler. Cables in the ground have to be thicker because they don't enjoy that free cooling mechanism. This stuff is frighteningly complex.

The fluffy collective returns your hello and wishes you a lovely summer! Yes, I must not tease Scritchy... Mr Poopy was most happy with his mornings work. He really is the only dog here with the muscle and speed to catch and kill rats.

Well that makes two of us with the bunny cloud. Look at the bones (bad Monty Python joke alert)!

It all depends on whether you want to capture that free water in the soil? Water is a scarce resource here over the summer and so I just try and make the most of whatever falls out of the sky and a fern gully is rather innocuous and innocent looking.

Yes, peanuts were substituted for pine nuts. The Stone pine tree which yields pine nuts would actually grow quite well here, but it is a lot of work harvesting the nuts and you basically have to let them fall from a very large tree. Walnuts would work very well too in that recipe. Yummo! Sorry to hear about the walnut crop failure. Have any reasons been given for that failure? Walnuts are devilishly hard trees to get established and it is funny that you mention them... I have killed three of them so far, but I have not yet given up (more on this later).

We enjoy the flowers too. And the winters are relatively mild down here apart from the occasional snowfall. By August it should be much colder (maybe). I observe all of the plants and they are a constant source of fascination and delight!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

You were very lucky to have scored that trip. Did you pick up anything interesting that you could apply to your next property? Are you still considering the Alaskan adventure?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I don't know whether it is my imagination or not, but I feel that a lot of higher education has become a form of vocational training that the student pays for. When I was a very young adult just before the recession, I heard accounts that companies used to pay for and train their staff. I once explained to a mate of mine that to me, I felt that higher education was a bit like a drug dealer grooming a strawberry, in that the product was originally very hard to obtain. Then at a later point, the product was provided free of charge and demand grew as awareness was raised in the population. Then as dependence set in, charges were ratcheted up accordingly. Dunno it is just a gut feeling based on the availability of higher education relative to the costs over the past few decades.

Well, I reckon that raises the question as to why the Universities are there in the first place? I reckon it is an important and somewhat overlooked question. Of course if the answer is very crass such as: money, then the whole edifice doesn't look so good. I also reckon the over supply of graduates devalues the award but then the argument comes back around to: what is the vision, or the raison d'ĂȘtre of the institution? Anyway, the whole problem will resolve itself in time as like everything else it becomes a victim of its own success and fall back to a more historically normal equilibrium.

On your recommendation I read the first couple of dozen comments of Mr Kunstler's blog and oh boy, beer. Nuff said really. On the other hand I felt that the blog depicted the world of economics as I understand it, with the concomitant horrifying consequences. I mean what else do you say? That's right: beer!

A dead Santa's stuffed down a chimney in bright summer sunlight doesn't tend to make for a joyous Christmas day. Of course a few eggnogs may cure that unfortunate mischance. ;-)! Last Christmas day it was 97'F in the shade and I sat with friends in the shade of an old walnut tree, but it was still very uncomfortable.

I for one would never doubt your integrity! Hehe! Fair enough, my experience with them was singular and has left a bad taste in my mouth for such things. You know, they did those tests back in Year 11 or was it Year 12 down here, and even at the time I thought they were pretty bogus too. Anyway, I already knew what I was planning to do once I left school so the whole thing was a waste of everyones time. Interestingly I had absolutely zero input from any related adults about my choice, so I reckon that was a good thing. Your assessment of the situation given your story was pretty much spot on: stupid. Still, it keeps people in jobs or something like that.

Who wrote that book about the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? That was enormously popular after the author died. Sometimes you have to die to achieve success, I guess. It all seems a bit final to my poor brain.

What a story! Imagine phone calls from beyond the grave? I read a sci-fi about a similar story a long time back. Let's see... ... It was Gregory Benfords: Timescape. I quite enjoyed it. Clearly the son had a pragmatic mindset. I'm pretty sure I would not do such a thing.

Thanks for the explanation. Of course, decline was a long and painful process for the Roman's and involved all sorts of dramas. Ouch! Attacking the food source is a reliable way to demoralise an enemy. I often wonder down here why we import so much cheap foodstuffs at the expense of our own farmers and soils.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

What an awesome metaphor! Love it! Of course you are entirely correct that people see alternative energy systems that way. I see people saying such stuff to me all of the time and every time I mention the realities, they verbally attack either me or the system (or both). I wish they took they time to simply look and see for themselves. And they keep mentioning financials which I find personally embarrassing as it doesn’t look good to me.

Some artists are like that in that their work resonates with an audience in a whole 'nother country. I reckon dissensus expresses itself culturally too and an artist can find themselves speaking in a voice which appeals to another culture. That is life really. Jack Vance the US author was apparently very big in Germany. Cohen to my ears sung a dark note and perhaps the US and Canada weren't prepared for that darkness, but the UK was?

Fair enough. You've been in the retail business and can read that situation well. Hope the summer weather improves which will assist you with your furniture adventures and the move. Furniture rarely enjoys travelling through the rain does it?

The moons have definitely aligned and so the Twilight Zone music was definitely appropriate! :-)! Hey, an old mate of mine who I heard from recently but haven't seen for years, grew up in Hong Kong and he calls those pork buns: Cha Siu Bao and he used to know all of the best places to buy them. He was an outstanding and talented cook and used to work in pub kitchens, but the hours killed him what with the afternoon break between lunch service and dinner service and then the late finish. Incidentally I heard him pronounce those buns as Cha Shu Ba, anyway that is what I reckon how he pronounced them.

Do you reckon there was ever a short story about someone who was schizophrenic and was writing letters to themself and then replying? A bit eerie don't you think? You started this train of thought! Hehe!

Did the weather ease a bit for the move that day? I ended up having an admin day today where I just pottered around doing various tasks that needed to be done to keep the wheels of this ship rolling along. I remarked to the editor that I often wonder how other people manage to do all of these bits of admin that are required of consumers, sorry I meant to write citizens, these days? There is an awful lot of it.

Well done with the score of the raised garden bed. Nice work indeed. Either size is pretty good really. :-)! Plus you have one of the movers and shakers sorting important business out.

It is funny that you mention the placing of the furniture, but these things are really complex and I don't reckon most people can ever see more than only a few moves ahead. The farm here is like that for me. I have had some people suggest to me that I should follow a plan, and I tell them that I am, it just doesn't look like what they expect! :-)!

Things have dried a bit down here and so far we're having quite a warm winter. I saw an article explaining about something, something to do with Antarctica: SAM leaves much of Australia high and dry. Incidentally, Damo is in a part of the country that is getting very, very wet at the moment, and hopefully he gives us all an account of the rain when next he pops up again!

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

No, didn't really learn anything that would pertain to us than perhaps some possible native plants to incorporate. Yes our trip to Alaska has been booked since last fall. We leave on July 26th. It will be a nice break from our usual routine.

After a very dry two weeks we finally had some much needed rain. We were very lucky in that only a half hour SE of us they got 4-6 inches in a very short time causing a great deal of flooding. In just 15 minutes water rose up to the top of tires of cars in some intersections. We received just under an inch.

I'm in the midst of many Michael appointments and finally received the letters of office as administrator of Patrick's estate from the court so I've finally been able to submit the paperwork to transfer his assets into an estate bank account. Well actually I'm opening the account tomorrow. Last night I taught the goat class. There were only five enrolled and just three showed up - probably due to the storms. The college is just north of where the flooding occurred and the drive there was through driving thunderstorms but no flooding at least.

Margaret

margfh said...

@Lew

How wonderful that you were able to get your garden plot after all.

My brother, Patrick, would often claim he saw or heard our mother's ghost. She was very over protective of my brothers and didn't allow them much freedom so there was quite a bit of conflict between them. Of course this caused him a lot of distress and he went to a clinical psychologist on a regular basis. Everyone pooh poohed him but who knows... Of course he was often getting into trouble of the sort she was trying to prevent so that may have had something to do with it.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I think soil and plants are a bit like medicinal plants. There are a lot of moving parts and everything has to work in concert. I'm stretching for a metaphor, here. Or, maybe it's an analogy. Or, maybe a simple comparison. :-). So, here goes. The other day someone mentioned turmeric's medicinal properties. And, said they were taking the "drops." I kept my mouth shut but was thinking, ok, you're taking the drops which were probably isolated in a lab, or, heavily processed. Why not just sprinkle the stuff on your food, out of a spice bottle? The stuff out of an eye dropper has been probably stripped of hundreds of trace compounds that make the turmeric "work." I think the same applies (in some ways) to soil and plants. Even if you replant something with a fairly good sized root ball, unless the conditions are right for the very complex organisms in the soil to thrive and spread, the plant may not do so well.

"Impact of cheap foodstuffs." I just picked up a book from the library, yesterday. "Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America" (Ruhlman, Michael; 2017). Rhulman has written quit a few books on food and cooking. I've probably got half of his stuff. I took a quick look at the book, last night, and it's not so much a history of grocery stores and supermarkets, as a look at them through the 50 year lens of his growing up and family, and through the lens of a locally owned grocery store in Cleveland, where he lives. There's even a chapter in there where he becomes a bag boy for a few weeks. :-). It's a (fairly) recent history of the food business, how it's changed due to market forces and how it impacts how we eat and what's available to us. Ought to be interesting.

On a related note, when I stopped by The Club for a cuppa, yesterday, there was a flyer. The Club is in an enormous building that is mostly flea market, a large grocery store (owned by the man who owns the building), an auto repair and ... the Club. The flyer was from the owner of the building. He's closing the grocery store. Everything else will continue on, as usual, BUT, the building is on the market. There have been several deals that have fallen through. There was a Chinese delegation looking a couple of weeks ago, but I guess that came to naught. The Club has a two year lease (but no one seems to think that provides much protection) but has been looking for a new building, for awhile, anyway. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Well, I came to an understanding (in a sketchy way) about alternative energy when I looked into solar. Once I got it through my head that it would take a massive array of solar panels to provide any kind of heating, it all kind of fell into place in my mind. The limitations ... boundaries of residential solar. Maybe the difference is, I came to it on my own, without anyone trying to tell me about it? Sometimes, I think, maybe, the way to go about considering solar is to get your head (that's collective "head", not you specifically) around having no electricity at all, and then figuring what small things you (collective you) can add to make life a bit easier. A single light bulb? A radio? Instead of an attitude of "everything shall be as it is" (with full electric), it should maybe be approached from a "start with nothing and build from there." Just an one off idea.

Over the last few days, I've seen a couple of articles (citing BP Oil Company!) that non renewable energy (and, the attendant climate impacts) is leveling off, because of the increase in renewable or less polluting energy sources. Cheering news, if it's true.

Oh, I'm sure there's a short story, or, even novel out there somewhere about someone writing letters to themselves. I really think all stories have been told. They just get trotted out with a fresh coat of paint and some new bells and whistles. :-). New fiddly bits.

It's early, but it looks like we may be heading into an El Nino (or, maybe neutral) year. After lots of looking around on the net, I discovered the elevation of my new digs is 270 feet. It was really hard to find as most of Chehalis is on a pretty step slope. About comparable with yours. That's going to be quit a change from my current elevation of 620'. I talked to the garden lady about micro climates, and such. I guess they get a bit of cold air moving down the slope from a higher elevation.

I don't know if I've just not noticed, or if it's just a particularly good year for daisies, but they are everywhere! Going and coming from town I noticed vast fields of daisies. Whole hillsides of daisies. Looks like the uppers slopes are snowed in. Nope, just daisies. They're taking over! It's all rather sinister :-). Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

The subject of plants and their interplay with their surroundings is utterly fascinating. We do tend to be very simplistic and fail to realise the complexity of the planet's life.

I had piano lessons for about 6 months when I was 9 years old. I loved it but then I ceased to have access to a piano. I was certainly not allowed to defile that concert grand. I had lessons for a few months again when I was 18 and then lost access to a piano again. My relationship with music is sufficiently traumatic for me to avoid it. I have been left with the ability to read a score.

Inge

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

Missouri has lots of caves. Deep enough down, the air temperature in the caves is a steady 55F/13C, which is also the soil temperature. I haven't taken the soil temperature at the level of the basement, but it does vary more than that. I understand pipes and foundation footings are supposed to be buried at least 30 inches / 76 cm deep to be below the frost line - that's the lowest down soil freezing is claimed to go around here. Colder climates have to bury pipes deeper, warmer climates less so. Since the basement is deeper than 30 inches all around, some of the soil around it won't freeze, some of it will. It probably freezes less deep around the basement because the warmth of the basement leaks out into the ground.

You are right about needing some kind of waterproofing on basement walls, whether it is applied outside or inside. Our basement walls seem to be concrete block. They are not waterproof (it may not have been done in 1928, when our house was built, or it may have stopped working by the time we moved here). In 2005 we had a company correct drainage and water issues in the basement. Among other things, they put up a bubble-wrap-like plastic with a metallic outside layer on all the interior walls. Now any water that leaks through the walls falls down behind the metallized plastic and into drainpipe that leads to a sump pump to pump it back up and outside the foundation, so leaking through the walls does not affect the basement. The floor was coated with an epoxy paint that was supposed to be leak-proof to water arising through the floor, but the paint has peeled off and soil heaving has reopened the cracks in the floor, so water will rise up through the floor when the soil becomes saturated. It's tough to keep basements dry in as live a soil (live meaning as given to expansion and contraction) as ours is, between a seasonally high water table and the wide temperature swings between summer and winter. Basement construction technology has advanced since 1928, but people can still have issues with wet basements if they have a high water table. And yes, basements do have to be constructed with expansion and contraction of the soil kept in mind.

Claire

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Ah - I wasn't taking into account that your panels are not all in one array, but are scattered in groups. Smart thinking!

Strewth and begods! Poopy beware the White Rabbit!

Our native black walnuts are easy as pie to grow here - but who can shell them? I have planned for a long time to see if we could grow the English/Persian walnuts here, but haven't done so yet. Our small pecan trees are doing well, though. I think they are sort of distant cousins to walnuts. Pecans are definitely cousins to hickories, which also grow wild here.

What a fascinating story about the Wollemi pines.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

I have encountered ghosts, but I never really thought of inanimate objects being haunted. It certainly makes sense, though, as a house is really just a very large inanimate object.

Good for you finally getting hold of a garden bed after all. Is it raised so high so as to be wheelchair accessible? My son ordered some reishi and chicken-of-the-woods mushroom spawn from Fungi Perfecti. He has a massive mushroom-growing set-up going now. We are very lucky to have this forest to collect logs from. Yum! The reishis are just for medicinal purposes, though. Didn't you have a mushroom experiment going on?

Pam

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Just a quick note before I forget (probably won't though with this one): CPA Australia boss Alex Malley defends $1.8m pay packet after spat with angry members. I'm pretty certain that not many members would earn that income. I wounder if he is as familiar with the local tip shop for accessing recycled materials as we are? I will be far more alert come the next board elections. It never ceases to amaze me just how "onto everything" you need to be.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Fair enough and yes a break from the usual routine sounds lovely! I hope the weather is nice too for your trip. Incidentally, I have never been far enough north or south to experience the sun not setting at night. I will be very curious as to your opinions of that experience.

Too much rain in a short period of time does a whole lot of damage – sometimes more than a drought. Yes, you were very lucky not to have experienced that cloud burst. I hope everyone was OK during the flood? Yup, the major damage occurs here when huge volumes of rain fall in only a short period of time. Every time that happens I learn a bit more and adapt the systems. It has been relatively dry but sometimes sunny and at other times cloudy skies down here for the past couple of weeks. Not much rain though and most of the rain usually falls over these winter months. Who knows what it all means?

That sort of weather will keep people away. Hope the attendees enjoyed the goat course and learned lots about goats. Well done with being on the road to sorting Michael's estate. Legal processes are complex and tricky beasts.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Mate, you know your description about everything working in concert mirrors my experience here with the soil and the orchard. Nowadays I just chuck on any old organic matter onto the soil and let the soil life get on with its own business of consuming it. As far as I can understand the matter, the finer details of soil is so inherently complex that it is beyond our understanding. However we can intuit how it works and observe changes without having to understand each and every process. It took several years before the soil here supported the fruit trees in the orchard and in those early years, they just didn't grow that rapidly at all. The soil processes had to become established and the soil life had to spread. I genuinely worry that one day our culture will have to face the difficult task of having to transition from using mineral fertilisers in big agriculture and transitioning back to using manures. It is a slow process. On the other hand, once the several years of soil life establishment has past, well, the whole thing accelerates. I reckon the trick would be to transfer some small sods of well established soil life to somewhere else that just has organic matter waiting to be processed into soil. I may try that experiment with one of the new garden beds here and see what happens.

Exactly too, the extract is just that an extract and who knows what other compounds are missing and how those all work in concert. We over simplify these things, but then we also have a narrative running in our heads about the quick fix. I see a lot of that.

That book by Rhulman would be pretty interesting. I'll be very curious to read your opinions of that book. Certainly I believe that many of the practices are designed to drive down prices so that food is either cheaper or maintained at cheap prices. Price nowadays is not so good as an indicator of economic value, which is a bit of a shame, but that is what happens when a money supply is expanded exponentially. Incidentally, I doubt Mr Kunstler's blog will get many comments about beer this week! :-)!

Oh my. Ouch, I hope your Club can secure a new home should the worst scenario come to pass? Incidentally, I have heard stories about mysterious Chinese investors purchasing things down here and I have to state for the record that I have never met any doing so, but I am aware of one solid example which I heard about third hand and can't really verify the claim. I wonder if during the Great Depression rumours about mysterious stock purchasers arose in the rumour mill? I seem to remember John Kenneth Galbraith wrote something about that.

Asking electricity to heat or cool something asks a lot of those electrons. You are correct. Lights, radios, computers, small pumps use comparatively small quantities of electricity. The refrigerator here is very efficient, but I wouldn't want to run an air conditioning system, although it could probably do such a thing easily enough. I reckon a lot of the future will look like your very astute observation: "start with nothing and build from there". That is more or less what I've been aiming to achieve and it involves lowering expectations to meet realities as well. I read yesterday that a single Tesla power wall apparently will cost more down under than my chunky old lead acid batteries and only store about a third of the energy. To be fair the power walls do have an inbuilt inverter (converting DC battery to AC mains voltage), but still, they're not that expensive.

Heating with other energy sources has the exact same problem, it is just those other sources are very concentrated.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

To be honest, I'm uncertain how they can possibly maintain an ever increasing supply. And I'd have to suggest that there is a bit of demand destruction going on right now. The local hardware store is ceasing trading as of 1st July and the site is being converted into another supermarket. I use the hardware store, and now there won't be one very close at all (certainly it will be a half hours drive either direction).

You are better read than I, so I'm not arguing with you. You mentioned several months ago that there were several main narratives known to humans and well, that does sort of mean that a person has to build upon stories already known - otherwise they may be interpreted as alien to our minds. Dunno, what do you reckon about that?

Ouch! El Nino hurts down here with hot and dry summers. It has certainly dried up here over the past few weeks (although as you can see in the weekly statistics, it still does rain, but nothing like what is normal for this month of the year). Yup, slopes do mean that cold air falls down from higher elevations. The trick is, the cold air can also rush past the garden bed and if there is nothing causing the cold air to pool, then it may move past. Dunno, you'll have to watch and wait.

Daisies are quite delightful on the eye. In a strange coincidence, I had to speak to a lady who had the first name of: Daisy this afternoon. I've never met anyone with that name before, although flower names for females were once common in this part of the world.

Me tired tonight.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Spending time in a forest shows that doesn't it? And everything is connected - or at least outputs are inputs in a huge and very complex web. Have you ever wondered why we settle for simplifications? When people talk to me about the forests here they have a sort of cartoonish notion of what a tree is and it can mean a whole lot of different things.

Fair enough, music is a tough mistress, so I hear you. I learned enough music to know that to become more proficient, I would have to practice and study more. Unfortunately other interests are in front of me. You know, when I was a young adult I really was told that I could have and do it all. It was such a great big lie, that I wonder at the why of it. No doubt the people telling me that had their own reasons and thought they were acting with good intentions.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

Interesting. Those sorts of cave temperatures are what you would expect in caves on the island state of Tasmania (which is a few degrees latitude south of here). The foundations for this house go down as far as 200cm / 78 inches because of the reactive clay. It took a lot of concrete to fill those many foundation holes up again! It would be interesting to know of the various stratas of temperature in the soil surrounding your basement, as the thaw and freezing rates would put quite the stress on the building structure.

Ouch! That repair job in your basement is one left to the experts. Out of curiosity, what happens if the sump pump fails? And did the old timers construct houses with basements or is that a relatively new building concept? The house frame here shrinks and swells with the seasons and the whole lot of timber is constructed to be flexible and have an allowance for give. Of course, the timber frame and roof is tied together with steel, just for good measure.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Oh yeah, some are angled for morning sun, whilst others are angled for afternoon sun. And all of the different arrays of panels are wired separately from each other so that if there is a failure in one array, then it doesn't take down the whole system. I'm improving slightly on that feature over the next few months too. Little incremental steps are a good way to understand this process.

Yes, the white rabbit may do us all up a treat. Look at the bones! Unless of course we have access to the Holy hand grenade of Antioch!

I've heard that about the black walnuts and am sticking to the English walnuts. I read a cheeky wag suggest that a person collects the black walnuts and then drives backwards and forwards over them... My take on the English walnut trees is that they need constant moisture, but also require excellent drainage until they are well established which will be a hassle for me during the summer months. They do have a huge tap root, which has been cut on my bare rooted example. Oh well. You may do better on that front with those soil moisture conditions? Great to read about your pecan trees. My little pecan tree has finally taken hold over the past six months. My gut feeling is that it has somehow tapped into the worm tea exiting the worm farm sewage system, but I don't really know.

Thanks. Imagine the job of hanging out of a helicopter just to collect the seeds from those trees. Some people enjoy a good dose or twenty of adrenalin... Not a job for I!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I guess that we go for simplification because it makes things manageable. On the other hand, it also makes things less interesting.

My early life was the reverse of yours in the sense that I was always told that I wouldn't be able to do this or that because I was a girl. It was absolutely never suggested that I could be or have anything.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi everyone,

I was hoping for a bit of assistance?

For the past few weeks I have had a short story circling around and around my brain and I'm hoping to get published into: Into the Ruins.

That is the plan anyway. Tonight I wrote the first part of the story and added a page to this blog (you can see the link on the right hand side of the screen). It is the story of the Magic Toilet. Yeah it is a somewhat silly name for a story, so if anyone has any better names for the story?

Anyway, I am rubbish at writing fiction and if anyone has any thoughts or suggestions about the story, can you please drop me a line. I'll take on board any suggestions at all.

Cheers (bed is calling!)

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Margaret - Oh, I just take people's stories of the paranormal at face value. Nod my head and say "Is that right." Some of it is pretty "out there." On the other hand, I just try and keep an open mind. Sometimes, I think there's more unexplained about this world, than explained. :-). Lew

@ Pam - Ah, yes. The great shiitaki experiment of 2016. :-). I got mushrooms, but the Return on Investment was just about "break even." So now I just pick them up from the Safeway. Even though the instructions were pretty extensive, I now have a better overview of where the whole thing is going. I may give them another whirl in future. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - So CPA Australia is ... an oversight organization for CPAs? Outrageous compensation stirs up us grunions on the ground (or, on the beach :-). I think especially when it's a supposed non profit or charity. In the news, right now, is the stepping down of the CEO of Yahoo (not charitable, I know) after rather lackluster performance. Her separation package is rather lavish. The Wall Street banker's lavish bonuses after the government bailouts. At least with charities, now, with a bit of not too much arduous digging around, you can get a look at what percentage of their income goes to administrative costs. That's cleaned up things, a bit. Yup. "Eternal Vigilance" seems to be the watch word. At least, your industry group's rank and file may be able to do something about it, through your votes. I nominate Chris! Any urge to become King of the CPAs? Probably not. :-).

I think I'm going to experiment with burying some of my kitchen scraps in the planting box and adding a few of my worms. Maybe I can turn the panting box into one gigantic worm box? Of course, then no more worm juice. Probably do both. As far as the box goes, I've never had any problem with vermin. But I'd better rope the box, anyway. I have a feeling that even the suspicion of drawing vermin and that would be the end of the worm box.

The grocery stores Rhulman is looking at are a small chain of about 22 stores. Third generation, family owned. He makes the point that not many people find grocery stores as an interesting investment, as ROI is about 1.5-2%. So, it's all about the economies of scale. He did have a chapter on history, mostly about the A & P chain. They really started expanding during the 1920's. And, there was the same kind of hoop-la you hear about the Walmarts. Driving the mom and pop grocery stores (of that time) out of business. I also read a chapter where the author took a walk through a grocery store with his doctor.

Of course, there's quit a bit about the proliferation of products. A medium sized grocery store in 1975 had about 9,000 products. Nowadays, it's around 40,000. Food manufacturers discovered that the more choices people had, the more they bought. Of course, you see that kind of thing, everywhere. I stopped by our local office supply store. I needed some ink pens and felt tipped markers. I spent way too much time searching about for what I was looking for. There was an entire aisle, a wall of pens and markers. I just wanted what I had been using all along, but it seems like any time they make a new run of items, they change the packaging and look of the product. I was quit irritated. If I've managed to buy what I've wanted all along, I guess I should hold onto the packaging so I can get the same product, next time. Sigh. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Oh, I don't think The Club is in any danger of ending. In it's long history, this is the 4th location it's been in. Members are always on the look out for viable property "just in case." There's even been some talk that we're almost to a place where we might consider buying a property. Of course, one must always beware of "stone fever." :-). That's a term I read decades ago, that stuck in my head. It referred to monks or nuns who overextended their monastic institutions with runaway building projects. I suppose the term could be applied to a lot of things. Perhaps, McMansions? :-).

Well, two weeks ago there was a small gaggle of Chinese businessmen looking over the property. Saw them with my own eyes. So, they do exist.

Oh, I don't think it's a bad thing to build upon preexisting story lines or set plots. As long as one doesn't skate to close to outright plaglarism or the trap of series books getting stale and predictable. It's the fresh coats of paint and new bells and whistles that make stories interesting. I'll take a look at your story and see if I have any observations. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I'm with you on that. Life is an inherently complex experience. I was faced with a huge predicament yesterday and I certainly don't feel that I handled the situation well, but neither did I shame myself. Still, such predicaments give pause to consider more appropriate responses in the future. The interesting thing about your mention of the word "manageable" is that many people have an underlying assumption that events present an opportunity for control in the first place. I'm not necessarily so sanguine that that is in fact the case. Many times in my life, events have just spun way beyond any semblance of control, and that is where you learn to ride the wave and just see what happens and look for opportunities or avenues of escape. Dunno really.

Yours is a common experience and nowadays such experiences are gender neutral. I wonder in such a circumstance how people learn to even manage risk - if they ever do. I'd be curious as to your thoughts on that? Us humans tend to travel to extremes and I was told that I could do anything which was obviously false even to me as a child which is the extreme opposite end of your experience.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I have had to come indoors, the sun and heat is incredible today.

I wasn't equating 'manageable' with 'control'. Perhaps my meaning was closer to 'survivable'. The notion that one has control is often an illusion (maybe always so).

Hmm risk, some people seem to never understand it or are adrenaline junkies. Hopefully one learns through life; I really don't know. I think that one is who one is regardless of what happens to one. An assumption that can be reassuring or depressing I suppose.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yup, you guessed it correctly. It is interesting that you noted that the organisation had managed to be a not for profit. I wondered at that too, because the fees they charge me for my membership are apparently treated like a surplus rather than business income and therefore taxed. I am not sure what to make of that as it seems a bit off. That was news to me because the surplus for the year was alleged to be something in the order of $60m. It takes a lot of coffees to produce a surplus of $60m. To my poor mind that looks like a very healthy surplus and I wonder why my fees appear to be very expensive. Nope, there is no urge whatsoever, despite the hefty remuneration which looking at the back of an envelope works out to about $34k per week. I wouldn't know what to do with so many tokens anyway. You have to admit that that would be a real problem. I feel for people having to launder money as it would become a burden quickly. Anyone who sups at the devils table, gets to enjoy a long acquaintance with that dude with a spiky fork, a goatee (why the goatee I ask you?) and a long tail. Plus all of the fire and brimstone rubbish. It is a tough sell.

An excellent idea. The planting box could work as a giant worm farm if the worms can come and go as they please from the bottom of the worm farm into the planting box. Of course the worm farm would be located in the middle of the planting box. If cold weather kills off the worms, then not to worry as worm eggs are viable for up to two years (maybe even longer). The beautiful thing about such a system is that the worm juice drains directly into the garden bed where the plants can do with it what they will. I upset a few worms today moving a rock wall. The worms are not happy, but they'll adapt. Ouch, yes, first impressions are lasting impressions and your concerns about vermin are perhaps not unfounded in reality. Of course, rats would have troubles getting into such a worm farm with a perforated plastic base, but other people may have troubles with that story. And they all may be that rare breed of the competitive gardener? Maybe? If that is the case, I say go for it as your worm juice fed zucchini will be better and longer than their non worm juice fed zucchinis. Just remember to stay gracious in your acceptance of gardening greatness! Hehe! On a serious note, the first rule of gardening club is: Don't annoy the established pecking order until you understand who is who in the zoo.

I shop at the small chain supermarkets when I have to go every six weeks or so. You know, many years ago I read a marketing article about toothpaste and at some point in the past, the manufacturers understood that providing a huge diversity of product resulted in increased customer uneasiness, dissatisfaction, and higher sales as you pointed out. Do we need such a huge diversity of products? Maybe, maybe not. That question also hinges upon who makes the choice as to what products are available in the first place and where they are sourced from. That too is a complex question and I have noticed suppliers doing the stacking in stores nowadays rather than like staff did in the not too distant past.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Your pen story reminded me about my experiences with toasted muesli. I got sick of the ever changing product packaging and ingredients and then just spent the quality time reverse engineering the product. The funny thing about that experience was that the process wasn't so hard and the savings are extraordinary. Plus I know what all of the ingredients are.

Oh, I disturbed a frog today too on the underside of the house. I spent an hour or two clipping the new solar power cable to the underside of the house. A very dirty job.

Your club is very resilient to have survived four moves already. Do you reckon that resilience is because the club has clear and well stated objectives? My gut feeling is that our society avoids such things because it is to the advantage of some. Hmm, overly enthusiastic people pushing pet projects can be rather a nuisance. I've met a few of those in my time, and usually they are spending others resources, or getting into debt and asking other people to do the work. What could possibly go wrong - oh that's right, those pesky Vikings. I'm no fan of overly large houses.

I must accept you at your word, and I do recall that you mentioned something about that at the time. Please accept my apologies, as I was wrong.

Rarely do new memes pop up without warning. We are a mature culture after all, and a lot of things in a creative sense have already been done. Well, now that you mention plagiarism, I was totally guilty of that in the first fictional story that I wrote: Kevin and the Chook. I ripped a plot device straight from John Crowley's story: Engine Summer. It was only a little rip in the larger story, and being my first piece of fiction I did not know that such things were just not cricket. Of course, Mr Greer provided that feedback in an indirect manner and well, nowadays I am much more clever and just make the stories up without reference to any other work. Mostly stories pop into my head mostly formed in the mornings and I try to write the stuff down as the circumstances dictate. Of course sometimes I haven't had a coffee and the words look very blurry and out of focus when read later! My head is far from clear first thing in the morning.

I’ve been enjoying a song recently from an excellent story teller: Seth Sentry - Play It Safe

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

The funny thing about reaching the summer solstice is that you know that winter will soon be around the corner. It was actually quite sunny down here today too. This winter has been very weird as it feels like a spring to me. No doubts by July I will feel differently. Some of the deciduous apple trees in the orchard have not yet lost their leaves.

Yes, the word survivable reads better in that context. Control is an allusion, so yeah I totally agree with you.

I don't know either which is why I posited the question. And your observation matches what I see too: People fly to extremes. There is certainly a lot of nature as well as nurture, but I see plenty of people not coping and I wonder where the resilience for them is hiding, or is it even part of the equation? How do you reckon a person learns resilience? For me, it was that nobody was around to clean up my messes and so I am wary of making a mess. Dunno.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, everything about the CPA organization may be legal, but perhaps not ... entirely above board. :-). Not illegal but ... A multitude of sins can be hid under the rubric "prudent reserve." :-). We were talking at the Alano Club the other day about an Alano Club down in California that has pretty lush digs. Owns it's own building and has a prudent reserve of $100,000. There was a bit of envy, but also, "Why?"

Ah, yes. The gardener's pecking order. I may be imagining things, but I think that initial denial of a garden spot was due to "the guy" who seemed to be running the whole thing. At least it seemed that way. To put it another way, I think he was marking his territory. There's also that whole dynamic that, other than me, he was the only male in sight. Well, it will all shake out.

"...diversity of products." There's always the smoke screen of either "our customer's asked for it" or, a meme that should have been strangled in the cradle, "Have it your way." :-). According to the book on the grocery business, there's something like 40 permutations of Oreo cookies (flavors, sizes, etc.) and something like 20 versions of Cheerios (a breakfast cereal). One grocer was bemoaning the fact that eggs used to be small, medium or large. Now, there's 15 different possibilities. Here, it seems like there's a mix of store placement of items by store employees and placement by suppliers. Where I really notice supplier placement (by usually having to dodge around their employees) is in the snack / cookie / candy aisle. And, beverages. I think those kinds of things are more impulse and the manufactures want to control placement. The delivery guys (it always seems to be guys) seem to get along, across brands. But I've heard of blows being exchanged over shelf placement turf wars. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Well, the Club seems to have a certain amount of resilience as someone has always "stepped up" to fill leadership roles. There was one period where things were pretty political with waring factions (couldn't even begin to sort that out) and there was a lot of beating about the head and shoulders with Roberts Rules of Order. But, everything seems to be sorted and we're in a period of sailing along.

Oh, I don't think plagiarism is much of a problem ... unless you become rich and famous :-).

There's a saying here (probably from a movie). "Not a morning person." I find people that leap out of bed, firing on all cylinders, ready to fact the day to be ... exhausting. I need my cuppa and maybe read something simple so that I can regain the knack of stringing words together.

Gotta jump. The weather is passable, today, and I've got to haul a bit of furniture. Drawers from a dresser (got the new knobs on, last night. The drawers I can move. The dresser case is going to have to wait til I have help.) And, an enormous plant stand / display unit. Enormous, but very light. I also got a call that the chair I needed repair is ready, so I can pick that up and move it to the new place. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Well as to that I am unable to comment. It is funny that you mention that surplus business, because I recall one community group that was sitting on a pile of mad cash and someone in the group pointed out that the surplus wasn't actually the groups funds, it was in fact the communities funds. That changed my perspective on the matter, as the truth of it couldn't be denied.

My head is spinning around and around because this afternoon one of the 12 Volt garden water pumps just up and died. I am absolutely rancid grumpy at the sheer waste of these things. The problem is not so much with the pump housing and mechanisms which are generally quite well made, it appears to me to be the pressure switches which turn the pumps on and off again. Those things are so fiddly, that they send me loopy. Because I rely on electric water pumps so much, I just spent the past couple of hours learning about the finer points of these beasts. There doesn't seem to be a cheap option "out there" either and I hate the waste involved in replacing them every two years or so. Alas the situation requires more funds... At least I'm learning though. I really worry for folks who feel they can just take a bash at all of this stuff and everything will just work out perfectly and nothing will ever go wrong! :-)! Sucks to be them, and I've got some very bad news for them.

People most certainly mark their territories, sometimes in the most under handed and revolting ways. And you never quite know what reaction you will enjoy. I don't doubt you about the garden plot, but beware you may be seen as a "wedge". Of course, you are way too clever to be fooled by that business. Maybe? Hehe! Honestly, I fell for that one many years ago and am now onto that business and have incorporated such people silliness into my "world-view".

I read that some of the shoddiest and dodgiest practices are foisted off onto us because it is apparently: Good for consumers. Whatever that means. People lap it up, so who are we to argue with them? Aisle and height placements are a good example of fights over territory. That is serious business that gear.

It is good to read that people step up to leadership roles in the Club. Our larger world seems to me to be a bit like that story where things have gone astray and my best guess is that things will work out OK in the end, although we may not quite like what the words "OK" actually mean.

Ha! Elephant stamp for you for the joke of the day. Rich and famous indeed! If ever that very remote chance occurred, I'd do a JD Salinger and simply disappear and leave everyone else to worry about what all the fuss was about. You know, I used the hand auger today to dig a lot of holes in the ground and well, even if I had a lot of money, which I don't, I wouldn't do things differently because I have felt every job (well almost every job) on this property with my own two hands and that feeling is something that nobody can take away from me.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Oh yeah. Exhausting is the word! Love it. :-)! Mornings are not there to be clear, and it takes a while for the world to come into focus for me. Even the editor is shooed out of the kitchen of a morning.

How did the furniture move go? I hope the rainy weather held off? The past few weeks have been quite dry here which is very unusual for this time of year. However, I did a lot of digging today and there was ample ground water for the plants (not too wet and not too dry, but just right!).

Well done getting the chair repaired. You hadn't mentioned that before. Out of curiosity, did you have a lot of trouble finding someone who could repair the chair? I do a huge amount of repairs about the place here. What do they say? Practice makes perfect. Incidentally, I discovered something quite large that I hadn't used for almost seven years and have decided to sell it off so as to get it back in circulation even though it may not amount to much cash. It does no good rusting away here. And I thought that I was onto those sorts of things, but apparently not as much as I thought!

Going to write tomorrow’s blog post now. :-)!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I think that resilience is inbuilt, you either have it or you haven't. I am not convinced that it can be learnt.

Sorry to hear about your water pump problems. Long ago when off everything, I had to hand pump the water and oh was that hard work. Admittedly I have seen better hand pumps than the ghastly one that we had. Later on we had a petrol driven one.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Your probably not going to want to hear it (just pretend I didn't say anything) but you seem ideally situated for a gravity fed system. Then again, I remember you investigated the fate of water tanks in brush fires and that they burned right to the water line. But there must be a way (not necessarily. There isn't a solution for every problem. Sometimes nope is just nope.) to cover fire suppression and dispense with the electric pumps. Or, not. But what a bummer. Do you have to replace the whole unit, or just the fragile fiddly bit?

I watched a bio of the singer/song writer John Denver, last night. It occurred to me (and the dates pretty much match) that his music was the sound track for the early 70s back to the land movement. Maybe. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? :-).

Well, I could have repaired the chair, myself, but just decided I'd check around to see if anyone did repairs. So, I stopped by the major antique mall in town and asked if they knew of, or could recommend anyone. Well ... The husband said he could probably do it. I looked a bit leery and asked if he'd ever done such work before. Well ... before they got into running the antique mall, he was a cabinet maker. So, he took the job on. Looks good and feels nice and solid. He was itching to get at the finish, but, they have more sentimental value than anything. And, both chairs would have to be refinished, to match.

The problem now is finding chair pads. Since the chairs are wood, I'd like to get some of those tie on cushions and backs, for a bit of padding. Not much selection, around here. So, I checked out EBay and Amazon. Talk about an overabundance of choice! Each has 25,000 selections! How you supposed to wade through all that?

I made some corn bread, last night. Have to adjust my "what I'm going to do, today", as It's raining puppies and kitties. But, the upcoming week is supposed to be nice. Fingers crossed. Lew