Tuesday, December 22, 2009

19 December 2009 Snow Storm

At 10pm, the ground was bare.

At 8am, this:

Measured 13-1/4" center of the deck, which was pretty well protected. Drifts probably had areas over 20" in my yard.

Parts of Putnam & Danielson hit over 20".

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

temp post

Throwing this here to read tonite:



Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Seriously, how can you not harbor a secret love of a TV show that can pull that off?

(When this was filmed, they hadn't been picked up for the back nine of Season 1 yet, so this *could've* been the show finale!)

Interesting phrase

Environmental fanatics and religious fanatics have something in common. They both want to take us back a thousand years into the past

A commenter on this article:

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Nice day...

Cold, raw day today -- was 13 overnight, got up to about freezing when I had the truck 1/2 loaded and it started to rain, but I kept on splitting up and then grabbed some nice 4-5" rounds that will be the "all dayers" I use when I go to work.

Come in the house soaking wet between sweat and the rain, and I start to take my hat and gloves and boots off by the wood stove.

And suddenly I feel like I'm 8 years old again taking off a soaking wet snow suit after a day playing outside.

Think the only thing that changed is my toys are a little bit more dangerous now, and I need an Advil!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mon Dieux!

After years of saying I need to drink more -- seriously, I do relax when I have a few drinks midweek, although I'm not a big drinker, I'm working on building up a decent bar at home.

Tonight I made my first Martini. Not sure if I ever drank one, know I never made one. Didn't think about the recipe while I was making it till I sat down with the glass...and realized just how much alcohol was in it!

How did people function after a three Martini lunch?

Looking at the recipe for a Cosmopolitan, it ain't far behind a Martini, which goes a long way to explaining how the Sex and the City girls managed to never keep their legs closed.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More Wood!

I'm figuring cut & split right now I'm good through January.

Next weekend (Thanksgiving) I should get the big oak blocked up and start splitting, not sure I'll get it all brought down...once that's in I should be set all year and can start cutting for 2010-2011 :)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What a beautiful stove!

Vermont Iron Stoves' Elm.

They are no longer made, but the former President of the company continues to make new parts and refurb stoves.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

It invariably happens...

If I spend enough time innocently googling around, I always come across something that I just was not expecting...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Make Mine Freedom

Back from 1948 when there was something called pride:

Wood Cutting!

First big day out for the new-to-me MS-360. Also used the new-to-me 024AV quite a bit for limbing, that saw is really running better and better the more work it gets. Hadn't been used much in the last few years by the last owner.

The anti-vibe gloves work really well too -- my hands don't swell up after running vibrating equipment if I haven't run any in a while.

Orange flagging for what I want to remove this winter, pink is for specifically protected stuff (mostly oak saplings).

Everything dropped exactly where I wanted and nothing pink was harmed. Fields in the background is the town's main recreation park.

Logrite 5' Peavey w/log stand. Outstanding. Flipped this log up in the air with finger tip pressure :) Ok, not quite finger tip, but one handed easily.

Most of the saw work done. I have this week off to study for a certification test next Saturday, so I plan to hack away an hour or two each afternoon on yard & wood stuff for a break, like splitting and stacking this, cutting the stumps down (I like to cut firewood at a comfortable height then stump it later), and stack the brush.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The disappearing middle

A point I previously hadn't realized:

From 2001 to 2007, California's information industries increased their output by 21 percent, but lost 6.9 percent of their jobs. In addition, the jobs these high-tech industries tend to create directly are high-wage jobs that require advanced degrees, while the jobs they create indirectly are low-wage service-sector jobs at homes, restaurants, offices, and hospitals. So, by their nature, they exacerbate the segmentation of California's economy.

From The New Republic.

While I know full well about how our productivity is rising faster then output which means a reduction in jobs, the second part of that which is the divergence between high and low paying jobs being created by, in part, the elimination of that middle tier of workers is something I hadn't seen so clearly stated before.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tonite's the second fire of the year!

Had a small fire on Sunday. Another small fire tonight (October 1).

Should be down around 40 overnight.


Chasse, pêche, nature et traditions

That's the name of a minor French political party -- Hunting, Fishing, Nature, and Traditions.

Thought that was a cool name.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Interesting statement

Like the progressivism of the 1900s, but unlike the labor movement and agrarian populism, the progressivism of the 2000s is a movement of haves motivated by pity for the have-littles and have-nots, rather than a movement of have-littles and have-nots motivated by self-interest. And because they are, or believe themselves to be, motivated by philanthropy, the progressive haves are less interested in the economic struggles of the have-littles of the broad working class than in rescuing a far smaller number of have-nots from dire poverty.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Just how bad was the garden this year?

September 9th.

Just ate my first ripe tomato -- a cherry one at that.

Dinner at least is grilled garden fresh taters :)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Thank God I'm a Country Boy...

Had to take Monday off from work to fix my rear brakes, parts fell off when I went to rotate my tires on Sunday evening, so I made my annual trip to Wi Li Kit for an ice cream.

Wi Li Kit can be described by the single word, decadent. If you've never had it, you don't have a proper perspective for understanding the term, "best ice cream you've ever had."

While I sat at a picnic table, ice cream dripping down the cone hot off the waffle maker, the sweet, earthy aroma drifted from the dairy barn across the street and blended with the smell of the freshly cut hay bales sitting in a wagon next to the stand -- just the perfect bouqet to complement the raspberry choclate chip ice cream!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Summer nights

Out driving at 8:45 after putting in a load of laundry at the laundromat.

Warm, muggy. Heat lightning in the distance. Windows down in the truck, rear slider open.

Going down a country road, corn fields on either side.

Frogs and insects at the height of their evening symphony.

Life doesn't get much better.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I bought a roto tiller

Swore I never, ever would. I'd either borrow or rent.

But I did. After this year, when I my time was severely limited between the bad weather and having the flu in May, and my energy to turn the garden by hand was reduced from the flu, I decided I should have one.

I need a better photo -- that was taken the night it came home from Craig's List.

I'll probably use it to cultivate during the year, too (cultivation is running it shallowly to kill weeds, as opposed to tillage which disturbs the soil much more deeply).

It's a Troy Bilt Junior with a Tecumseh H35 Engine.
Spark Plugs: Champion J8C, gap 0.030
Air Filter: Tecumseh 30727
Oil: 30 or 5w30

Tecumseh Basic Troubleshooting & Service Guide (or my archive copy).

Here's a cool, old piece of Troy Bilt propoganda found while searching for a manual:

Monday, August 17, 2009

A beautiful day.

Sunday started off with a phone call to a Craigslist ad I had seen Saturday night, and then a nice drive to Ashford for this:
It's a Stihl MS 360. It's newer then my 039, a smidge more powerful, lighter weight, and professional instead homeowner quality. This will be my new primary saw, with the 039 as the backup. I'll probably alternate them quite a bit, and the 360 can handle a 24" bar that I need to easily buck up the occasional larger tree. It's always good to have two saws, especially when felling trees -- last thing you want is to have a tree weakened and your saw break, leaving a very dangerous snag that could fall wildly in a strong wind.

Drove home through Boston Hollow, had a long visit with my mom, came home and grilled pork chops for lunch. I had quite a bit of eye strain, so I wasn't up to doing work for the non-profit, so I went for a long Sunday drive down to Beach Pond and around Sterling & Foster.

Came home and pulled in by the garden to check it. First, having drunk a large ice coffee while driving I had to pee...really...bad. So I did. As I'm zipping up, I look up and see a deer 50' in front of me with an annoyed, "Why are you peeing on my lawn?" look. Well she did as deer do, and jumped away once I made eye contact. Jumped all of 50 more feet, and from 100' away continued browsing while I checked the garden. Less respect then Rodney Dangerfield. Hunting season can not arrive too soon.

My garden which is a disaster this year due to flu, weather, and critters and I'm mostly planning for next year. Harvested about 5# of summer squash, which will be about it for the year...wow, 361# harvested last year. And to think I had wanted to donate 400# to the food pantry alone.

After that I brought the PC I reloaded Windows on back to Henry for his grandkids to bang away on, made some spaghetti for dinner (and pork-n-spaghetti lunches), did laundry, and had some ice cream.

Life is good. Best day I've had in a long time.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Woodstove Log Sizes...

Looking for a new, more efficient woodstove.

I want one that can take 22" logs since I usually cut about 20" for myself. ("Standard" trade size firewood is 16" -- which makes exactly three rows deep on a 4'x4'x8' cord of wood)

Vermont Castings Encore: 20"
Vigilant: 18"
Resolute Acclaim: 16"
Intrepid II: 16"
Defiant: 24"
Dutchwest Small: 16"
Dutchwest Large: 22"
Dutchwest XL: 25"

Jotul 3CB: 18"
F400 Castine: 20"
F500 Oslo: 22"
F600 Firelight: 24"

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Didn't have the midas touch today...

Only 28% savings off list...$66.55 list, $47.65 I paid. Cupboards are getting kind of full though...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Yeah, Ok...so sometimes I enjoy making a game of it...

Went to Big Y to use the coupon from last week.

$81.71 - $1.00 coupon - $27.35 in "use your card" specials - $7 off $50 coupon = $46.36 ... 43% savings which is pretty darn good :) I know I could do better...that included a $12 steak that wasn't on discount but should be good for three meals.

Figure a "portion" of meat is supposed to be about 4 ozs before cooking, 1-3/4# Sirloin will yield about 7 servings. I know I'll eat it in about three sittings...once hot and two left overs. The chicken was 1-1/2 pounds, or six portions, and I know the same size chicken package I bought last week made four meals for me.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Today was a good day.

Got up at 5:30. Set "Take a Chance on Me" by ABBA on my Blackberry as the alarm...upbeat and annoying as all hell, so pretty much perfect for an alarm.

At work at 8:05, so I'm getting closer to my 8am goal. Had lunch with Frank, the recruiter who got me this job. Out of the office at 4:30.

Gorgeous, dry, sunny day finally. Far too many cloudy days this month, you'd think it was Seattle, not June in New England. Home at 6, fed the dogs, worked out in the garden for an hour, mowed the lawn for a half hour, through some chicken tenderloins on the grill.

Had a nice grilled chicken salad for dinner. I'll use the rest of the chicken for lunch this week, figuring a salad tomorrow, maybe a sandwich later. Had a $7 off of $50 coupon for Big Y...bought $50.26 before the coupon on Sunday -- I swear I wasn't using a calculator!

Did some work for PCF tonite. It was a good, full, satisfying day.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Garden Update

-- Planted some pole beans last weekend to replace the deer eaten peas.
-- Planted some yellow squash & zuccinis last weekend.

This weekend:

-- Hilled potatoes
-- Planted green (bush) beans
-- Planted cucumbers
-- Planted a six pack of Celebrity tomatoes + Cauliflower I bought at the co-op.
-- My transplants are looking pretty peaked after I tried to harden them last week, I'm gonna try and get them in this week which looks like a lot of overcast/showery days.
-- Beans & Squash from last week are up. Spritzed the beans and cauliflower with deer & rabbit repellent.

Still behind were I should be, but hopefully by this coming weekend corn and the rest will be in. Should've rototilled...shoveling to open up planting rows is sucking up too much time. I forgot to take pics for the blog :(

Started seeing Red Lily Beetle larvae on the tiger lillies, so they got spritzed with Sevin liquid.

I wrote that off the top of my head?

Reply in my local paper...not the greatest piece of writing by a long shot, but I thought pretty decent for a single draft, single stream of conciousness:

>Mason is noted in the history books for slaughtering hundreds of Pequots when he raided their

And your point would be?

Native civilizations, across the Americas, were engaged in slavery, violence, and genocide before European settlement. Mason exploited an existing war between tribes that had been going on before settlement to English advantage.

European exploration and settlement brought three major things.

One, and by far the most deadly and culture changing, was old world communicable diseases. These decimated native civilizations and opened up the temperate parts of the Americas for settlement by Europeans. Without these diseases wiping out the native population, we would look a lot more like Africa or India -- influenced by colonial powers, but without the wholesale replacement of native populations seen in North America to an almost total extent, and Central and South America to a lesser extent.

They brought with them better, more sophisticated systems of governance and the tools to support them -- i.e. the concept of 'state' instead of tribe, combined with technology like writing. Taken as a whole, this heritage of western civilization dating back to the Greek city states through Roman bureaucracy through to international commerce being conducted by contemporary Europe allowed them to out-organize the native populations.

And they brought superior technologies -- such as ocean-crossing ships, metal armor, and firearms.

There's nothing morally superior between the big picture of native civilizations or western civilizations. Both were prone to both individual and organized violence, to cruelty for entertainment, to slavery, to stealing from neighbors and seeking advantage over others. Both had the ability to demonstrate tremendous compassion and humanity. The Europeans simply were better organized, equipped, and unlike other parts of the globe disease cleared the way ahead of the Europeans so they could become the dominant inhabitants instead of just colonial rulers.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Came across this wonderful link tying together much of the Star Wars backstory

A New Sith, or Revenge of the Hope
Reconsidering Star Wars IV in the light of I-III

If we accept all the Star Wars films as the same canon, then a lot that happens in the original films has to be reinterpreted in the light of the prequels. As we now know, the rebel Alliance was founded by Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Bail Organa. What can readily be deduced is that their first recruit, who soon became their top field agent, was R2-D2.

Consider: at the end of RotS, Bail Organan orders 3PO's memory wiped but not R2's. He wouldn't make the distinction casually. Both droids know that Yoda and Obi-Wan are alive and are plotting sedition with the Senator from Alderaan. They know that Amidala survived long enough to have twins and could easily deduce where they went. However, R2 must make an impassioned speech to the effect that he is far more use to them with his mind intact: he has observed Palpatine and Anakin at close quarters for many years, knows much that is useful and is one of the galaxy's top experts at hacking into other people's systems. Also he can lie through his teeth with a straight face. Organa, in immediate need of espionage resources, agrees.

For the next 20 years, as far as 3PO knows, he is the property of Captain Antilles, doing protocol duties on a diplomatic transport. He is vaguely aware of the existence of the princess but doesn't know much about her. Wherever 3PO goes, being as loud and obvious as he always is, his unobtrusive little counterpart goes with him. 3PO is R2's front man. Wherever they land, R2 is passing messages between rebel sympathisers and sizing up governments as potential rebel recruits - both by personal contact and by hacking into their networks. He passes his recommendations on to Organa.

Yoda is out of the picture by this stage, using the Force-infused swamps of Dagobah to hide himself from Vader and the Emperor. Or something. He is meditating on the future and keeping in touch with Obi-Wan via the ghost of Qui-Gon Jin, which as comm systems go has the virtue of being untappable. Obi-Wan, on Tattoine, keeps in touch with Bail Organa and the other Rebel leaders by courier, of which more later.

As Star Wars opens, R2 is rushing the Death Star plans to the Rebellion. R2, not Leia. The plans are always in R2. What Leia puts into him in the early scene is only her own holographic message to Kenobi. Leia's own mission, as she says in the holographic message, is to pick up Obi-Wan and take him to Alderaan - or so she thinks. Actually, her father just wants her to meet Kenobi, which up to this point she never has. There's a reason for that.

Obi-Wan has spent the last 20 years in the Tattoine desert, keeping watch over Luke Skywalker and trying to decide on one of the three available options:
A) If Luke shows no significant access to the Force, then leave him alone in obscurity
B) If Luke shows real Force ability, then consider recruiting him as a Jedi. The rebellion needs Jedi. Now.
But, if Luke shows any signs of turning out like his father, then C) sneak into his house one fine night and chop his head off. With great regret but it'll save a lot of trouble later on.
Knowing this to be the case, Bail Organa (perhaps at the insistence of his wife) has found excuses not to send Leia to Ben for assessment of Jedi potential, largely for fear of option C.

To be fair to all concerned, Leia has shown no overt signs of a link to the Force. Luke on the other hand has. In his home-built hotrod aircraft, with no formal fighter pilot training and no decent instrumentation, Luke can regularly score centre-hits on 2-metre targets in complicated zero-altitude maneouvres. Until he attends the briefing on Yavin, Luke has no way of knowing that hardened combat pilots would consider that nearly impossible. To him it's easy. Obi-Wan, who saw Anakin's performance in the Pod Race, is nervous.

Much of Obi-Wan's behaviour in this film, and Yoda's in the next, can best be understood if they are frankly scared to death of what Luke might become. (Ben is also scared that he himself will make all the same mistakes he made with Anakin.)

Now, with the existence of the rebellion at stake, Bail Organa has finally told Leia to go see Obi-Wan and has sent her along with R2. The original plan would then be for Obi-Wan (with optional Luke and/or Leia in tow) to leave his exile and take the Death Star plans to Yavin, where they can be put to use. R2 (with Leia if Ben doesn't want to take her) would then carry on to Alderaan to maintain the cover story. The original plan does not survive contact with a large Imperial Star Destroyer.

R2 and 3PO bail out in an escape pod, landing in vaguely the right area of Tattoine, where R2's first priority is transport. He arranges to be captured by a group of Jawas and, once on board their transport, he makes a deal with them (possibly using emergency funds stored about his person) to take him where he wants to go. The Jawas refuse to go directly to Kenobi for fear of marauding Sandpeople but they agree to R2's second request : transport to the Skywalker farm. They even get to keep the purchase price if they can sell R2 and 3PO there. The Jawas shake on it and go through with the plan.

Seeing 3PO fail to recognise the farm where he worked for 10 years gives r2 a moment's amusement but, as soon as possible, he gets away and heads for Kenobi. Luke and 3PO follow, which may or may not have been part of the plan.

On first seeing R2, Obi-Wan has a twinkle in his eye and calls him "my little friend". Well, he is. However, when Luke wakes up and says that R2 claimed to be owned by an Obi-Wan Kenobi, he blandly says "I don't seem to remember ever owning a droid." Ben has in fact owned several but the remark is aimed at R2 and translates as "You keep quiet. I'm not about to tell him everything just yet." Obi-Wan thinks fast and tells Luke a version of his past that does not involve a father who became a dark lord of the Sith. He wants to examine Luke a lot more closely before he risks telling him the real truth.

Although the Death Star plans need to get to Yavin as soon as possible, Obi-Wan needs to make one more diversion first. If the Empire knows that Leia is a Rebel leader, then they also know about her father and the whole Organa family may need immediate evacuation. Fortunately, before coming to Tattoine, R2 had already arranged transport, which is waiting at Mos Eisley, under the command of the Rebellion's other chief field agent and espionage asset. Chewbacca.

20 years earlier, Chewbacca was second in command of the defence of his planet. He's there in the tactical conferences and there on the front lines and is a personal friend of Yoda's. When he needed reliable people to join the embryonic Alliance, who else would Yoda turn to but his old friend from Kashykk? Given his background, there is no way that Chewie would spend the crucial years of the rebellion as the second-in-command to (sorry Han) a low-level smuggler. Unless it's his cover. In fact, Chewie is a top-line spy and flies what is in many ways the Rebellion's best ship.

The Millenium Falcon may look like a beat-up old freighter but it can outrun any Imperial ship in normal space or hyperspace, hang in a firefight with a Star Destroyer or outmaneouvre a dozen top-of-the-line TIE fighters. It's a remarkable feat of engineering and must have cost a colossal fortune to build. How does Han come to own a ship like that? He only thinks he does, actually it's Chewie's. Half-way through RotS, we see the Falcon landing at the Senate building on Coruscant. If it's the same ship (which of course it is) then it was the personal transport of one of the senatorial delegations - a much more likely source to commission its design. That delegatino must have later joined the Rebellion and given it the use of the Falcon. In fact, if the delegation is the one from Kashykk, then the ship may have belonged to Chewbacca as early as RotS.

Han is Chewie's front man. It's much better, and safer for him, if he doesn't know what's really going on. Chewie used to work with Lando Calrissian in a similar way but Lando wanted to settle down, so Chewie arranged for him to lose the Falcon in a card game to Han Solo, an even better choice as partner. Han and Chewie's working method is pretty much what we see in the cantina scene: Chewie make the contacts and sets up the deals, then turns them over to Han who haggles over the price and gives the final yea or nay. This lets Chewie wander the seamy underside of the galaxy pretty much at will, making contacts, gathering and passing information with no-one was the wiser, especially not Han.

Chewie persuaded Han to do business with Jabba the Hutt so he could make regular runs to Tattoine, where Chewie could pass messages between Kenobi and Organa. When R2's urgent message came through only days before, the only way for Chewie to get back to Tattoine in time was to make the "mistake" that forced Han to dump his cargo to avoid capture. As a down side, this led to Solo's getting a death mark out on him from Jabba the Hutt. Chewie was a bit upset about the need for that but figured they weren't going to be dealing with Tattoine for much longer.

En route to Alderaan, R2 and Chewie play stop-motion chess. This is the latest in a series of games they've played over the year in the back rooms of space stations and cantinas across the galaxy, but this is the first time they've done it in front of their respective straight men, so they put on a big show.

Then it all goes wrong again. Alderaan is gone and the Falcon is caught and brought aboard the Death Star. Only Han, Luke and 3PO don't know just how much trouble they're in but Obi-Wan has a plan and seems confident (but Jedi always do). Soon afterwards, R2 finds Leia in the detention cells and shouts that they have to rescue her, to which Chewie can only agree. If Vader learns he has a daughter, then they're all in deep trouble, so Chewie does his bit to persuade Han to go along with Luke's plan.

Then, on the verge of escape, Vader himself turns up only yards from both of his children, one of whom is leaking Force all over the place. Obi-Wan stages a distraction by letting himself die and go into the Force while the others escape. At this point, Chewie suddenly realises that he's been left in charge, not only of the Death Star Plans and the survival of the Rebellion but of the secret son and daughter of Darth Vader. With the Organas and Kenobi all dead, only Chewie, R2 and Yoda know who Luke and Leia are. And only Ob-Wan knew where Yoda has been hiding. Chewie is stressed out by the responsibility and R2 (who keeps making crude jokes about the whole affair) is being no help at all.

Chewie's first problem is what is happening between Luke and Leia. With a psychic link they can feel but don't understand, thrown together in a life-or-death escape, they are looking at each other with a sparky intensity that Chewie gradually recognises as Romantic Tension. He's no expert on human relationships but Chewie is fairly sure that that's Wrong, so he does the only thing he can under the circumstances - he throws Han at her. Han is at first not interested but after a while starts to warm to the idea with an intensity that gives Chewie new worries.

When they reach Yavin, Han decides to take the money and run and Chewie decides to go with him. Looked at in cold light, it's for the good of the Rebellion. Even if Yavin is destroyed, there'll be one agent who knows what's going on who can try and put something back together, but he doesn't feel good about it. When Han decides to turn around and join the attack, Chewie is all for it.

Han and Luke get medals but Chewie doesn't. Actually, Leia offers him one but Chewie turns it down. He got one of those things from Yoda about 20 years ago, but there's no way he can tell her that.

As the film ends, the three founders of the Rebellion are all gone. Bail Organa is dead, Yoda is out of contact and Obi-Wan's ghost can only talk to other Jedi. (So that would be Yoda then.) Thus, the field leadership of the rebellion has just been turned over to the daughter of Darth Vader. Chewie is really hoping that someone with an official rank greater than hers will get here real soon before he has to think really seriously about option C.

© Keith Martin 2005

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

100th Post!

I just noticed at random this will be my 100th post!

At any rate, check out this -- show choir! Which I never really heard of before (yes, I watched the pilot to Glee tonite) and just find really cool.

(The choir in the last two videos -- same performance in two parts -- a couple months later were 2009 National Grand Champions)

Yes, to my continued befuddlement, I am a fuh-laming heterosexual. Thankfully I don't expend even a modicum of effort normally, thereby keeping my self safely out of the metrosexual category. I have a former co-worker and friend who I meet for lunch occassionaly, and to her great amusement and my consternation she has realized I have a good eye for fashion which she makes me use at Dress Barn. Yesterday I managed to give meaningful advise on patterns, cuts, and how the weight of fabric hangs in a woman's clothing store, channeling some sort of cross between Clinton Kelley and Standford Blatch -- to the chagrin of the staff and most of the patrons. That I even know proper terminology to describe my opinions about clothes, someone just shoot me now, please?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Coal Black

Well, no garden pics as I had what I presume to be the swine flu over the weekend :(

Not the sickest I've been, but definitely no slouch and no simple 24 hour flu. Feeling mostly better now...but we're now in a rainy weather pattern again. Grrrr.

Did find one of the eleven banned Looney Tunes that is a hoot to watch -- I get some of the contemporary cultural references (like Rosebud), but there are other's I'm sure I don't even have a clue what I'm missing!


Friday, May 8, 2009

More TV

We'll return to garden photographs this weekend :)

But catching up on a week of today:

1) Watched the Office. According to another blogger, (on the rare occassion I do) I dance like a 12 year old boy.

2) Alan Alda as Jack Donaghey's flaming liberal father. Biting my hand I was laughing so hard.

3) Perhaps the best Bones ever. Brennan blurts out she'd like a baby, and want's Booth's sperm (in a very clinical manner, of course). And Booth's hallucinations seeing Stewie! Albeit predictably mushy at the end, tough contract negotiations folks?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I <3 Chuck

Guys, I know kung-fu

Chuck is my favorite TV show, not that I watch much since I don't have cable or even an antenna! Just what I can stream over the 'net.

Please, please, please NBC and Sheinhardt Wigs...renew Chuck. Pretty please with sugar on it?

It's just wonderful, mindless fun to watch :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate... we can not consecrate... we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government : of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Monday, April 13, 2009

More seed starting

Went to Agway to get some Beefsteak Tomato seeds...they were low in general on tomato seeds, and I bought the last packet of Beefmaster (thought it was Beefsteak till I got home and looked...du'oh.)

Tomato, Beefmaster, 20 seeds, $1.99
Broccoli, Calabrese, 1g, $1.39
Cabbage, Mammoth Red Rock, 1g, $1.39

Time to set them in four packs :)

Plenty of cabbage, may plant some direct later this year.

Ok, cabbage transplanting 2' apart I understand...but wow, broccoli takes 1-1/2'. I guess they're bigger then expected!

Hey! That's a surprise...the 4 packs & trays I bought years ago at Ocean State...had Beefsteak seeds with them! Gave them a try.

Started tonite:

2 four packs, Beefmaster
2 four packs, Beefsteak (old seed, poorly stored)
2 four packs, Cabbage
2 four packs, Brocolli

Maybe late on planting the brocolli for starting it this year. Have plenty of seeds for a fall crop. Cabbage, too.

Chart of fall planting dates: http://www.heirloomseeds.com/schedule-2.htm

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Seed starting

Guess I'm gonna try doing my own seedlings again, at least for some stuff :)

Putnam Farmer's Co-op:
Tomato, Big Boy, 20 seeds, $2.19
Tomato, Large Red Cherry, 180mg, $1.39

Southern Seed Exchange:
Long Keeper Tomatoes (bought last year)

I already had some flats I bought years ago in the garage to use, so no cash expense this year for them. Soil is down below, $4.95 + .30, hope it's enough.

Variation from Organic Gardening #1 this year: The potting soil is Miracle Gro. Didn't really even pay attention when I grabbed it. If starting seed works out for me this year, I'll consider finding the raw materials myself next year. Like seed, if I buy in bulk I should get years worth of mix for a fraction of the "retail" price.

1) Looks like 8 quarts of potting mix will be enough for 12 4-pack flats.

2) Planted 2 4-packs of Long Keepers, Big Boy, and Cherry tomatoes, with 2 seeds per cell. Will need to thin them later.

Plenty of seed kept for Long Keepers & Cherry for next year. Used all the Big Boys (ok, had 3 seeds left over, I'm not keeping them).

3) Squash isn't recommended for four packs, doesn't like roots disturbed. So they're not candidates. No sense in starting beans early.

4) Cucumbers only need to be started 2-3 weeks before planting, so too early to start right now. I'm about 6 weeks from transplant season.

Rough Costs:
Big Boy seeds: $1.10
Four Pack: $0.25
Potting Mix: $0.44
Total: $1.79 per four pack

Cherry Tomatoes are a lot cheaper, around $1.04 per four pack

Now to remember to check prices on four packs later this year for comparison!

Friday, April 10, 2009

We're walking, we're walking

Walk #1 @ Audobon:
1.3 Miles, 1 hour overall. Moving avg = 2.5mph, did basically last 1/3rd mile @ just under 4mph. Little slower going here between one steep grade, plus a lot of un-even walking.

Walk #2 @ Pachaug: 0.27miles @ 4mph moving, all moving.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Cellulosic Ethanol and Wood...

I was reading this article about the "Q" bacteria discovered by UMass at the Quabbin with the potential to be an efficient convert of cellulose to ethanol.

Let's do some quick math.

-- Estimates are we can get 94 gallons (eventually) of ethanol from each ton of cellulose.
-- Cord of hardwood is roughly 1 ton per cord.
-- Connecticut forests generally have a sustainable yield of 1/2 cord per year
-- There's 1.8 Million acres in Connecticut
-- About 60% of Connecticut State Forests are loggable. The rest are environmentally sensitive, culturally sensitive, or being purposely managed "naturally." I think we can apply that percentage to the state as a whole.
-- So that's 1.08 Million acres yielding 1/2 cord per year which would make 25 Million gallons of Ethanol in a year.
-- In 2007 Connecticut used 37,906 thousand barrels of gasoline, that's 1,592,052,000 gallons of gasoline (that's 530 gallons per person, about 10 per week, so I believe it).
-- Ignoring ethanol's lower energy content (long term that could be compensated for by more efficient, higher compression engines), Connecticut grows enough wood to offset 1.5% of it's gasoline usage.

I have no doubt cellulosic ethanol can be part of the solution, but obviously it ain't the end of the world. If we assume similiar figures for Maine (in reality, they'd probably harvest a higher percentage, but growing a little bit fewer tons per acre) they'd be around 240 Million gallons of ethanol a year, or roughly enough to displace 1/3rd of their state's use of a gasoline.

And we haven't talked about diesel.

Switchgrass can produce about 5 tons per acre, but at what cost in annual fertilizers and pesticides I don't know. It shouldn't need fertilizer and pesticide like corn, but I doubt it can go without any perpetually.

We're walking, we're walking

Went up to the pitch pine knoll in the Audobon property. Meant to take some photos...forgot to put a memory card in my camera. Pace a bit slow & stopping, mainly looking at the fire results from last year's controlled burn, plus playing with the GPS.

At any rate, 1 mile @ 2.5mph moving average.

Oh, think I figured out, to calculate an area, I need to "save a track" around it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

More GPS play

Ok, starting to figure this GPS thingy out.

Streeter Trail, Douglas State Forest
2527' 0:08:15 -- so that's 4mph.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Seed Notes

Stocking up on my seeds for the year. And in some cases, the next few years!

Beans, bush, green, Long Tendergreen, 4 oz, $2.79
Beans, bush, yellow, Golden Butterwax, 4oz, $2.79
Zucchini, Black Beauty, 4oz, $4.69
Cucumber, Straight 8, 4oz $4.85
Cucumber, Marketmore 76, 4oz $5.75

Putnam Farmer's Co-op:
Squash, Butternut, Waltham 2.5g $1.89
Squash, Summer, Goldbar Hybrid 3g $2.69 x 2 = $5.38
Potting Soil $4.95 + $0.30 tax

Today's purchases: $33.82
YTD Garden: $46.09

Price Comparisons:

Agway carries some of their seeds in larger packages -- 1/4# and 1#. Putnam Farmer's Co-op has a smaller selection of seeds but sells them in bulk (weigh your own), and looking at the prices that's an even better deal then the Agway packages. But Putnam didn't have the varieties of Zukes & Cukes I was looking for.

The price differential is such it only takes being able to use the seeds for 2 or 3 seasons to save money by buying in bulk over little packets.

Green or Yellow bush beans:
$1.49 for 3/4oz packet = $31.78/pound
$2.79 for 4oz (what I bought) = $11.16/pound
$2.50 for 1/2# bulk = $5.00/pound ...guess I should've price checked first, 1/2# probably would last me a decade :)
$4.25 for 1# bulk = $4.25/pound

Zukes, Black Beauty:
$1.29 for 5g (1/6th oz) = $123.84/pound
$4.69 for 1/4# = $18.76/pound

Cukes, Straight 8:
$1.29 for 3g = $185.76/pound,
$4.85 for 1/4# = $19.40/pound

Cukes, Marketmore 76:
$2.99 for 1/4 oz = $191.36/pound
$5.75 for 1/4# = $23/pound

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Playing with the GPS

GPS I just got from Pat for Christmas :)

Railroad tracks from Route 169 to Needle's Eye Road. 1.2 miles. 11:50 going out (walking time); 9:30? coming back. Overall 3.0mph in motion, 1.6mph including breaks.

Have to play with how to "save" a trip log. Or just use a pen to write it down.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Something to remember if I ever sell firewood

Toy with the idea sometimes of selling 1/4 cord loads, what my pickup can comfortably handle, for a premium for people looking for social fires for fireplaces and such sometimes. I reckon I could get $100-125 a load stacked at the customer's residence which is a nice premium.

Saw this post on arboristsite.com today:

Your 3 biggest days where your really gonna move wood (at least my experience is the day before thanksgiving, christmas and newyears. I dont know how these holidays sneak up on people but no joke last year for each day I got probably literally 50 calls for firewood, the day before, because people wanted 1 face cord, cause the family was coming over, and they needed a fire for the holiday.

Good to remember for when to post the Craigslist ads :)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Garden 2009 has begun

Peas, onions, garlic went in yesterday!

Have more peas, debating what I should do to plant the rest. Maybe some fence posts to hold up trellising?

I also put some Mountain Laurel into a nursery bed. We'll see how that works out...if the roots take, I can transplant them to their permanent location next year with minimal trauma to the roots.

Also bought some potatoes.

From Putnam Farmer's Co-op:
1/2# Yellow Onions $1.50
1/2# Red Onions $1.65
1/2# White Onions $1.65
3 Garlic bulbs $2.97 (goodness, must've been 18 cloves to a bulb!)

From Plainfield Agway:
2# Yukon Gold Potatoes $1.50
2# Red Pontiac Potatoes $1.50 (I think they were Pontiacs...)
2# Kennebec Potatoes $1.50 (I think they were Kennebecs...)

Peas I bought last year.

Expenses YTD: $12.27

Monday, March 23, 2009


Can't figure out how I want to start organizing my information on brush fires.

A blog? Was playing with www.d90.us/wooden_nutmeg as a WordPress blog.

That seems to be going well.

Cover them Over

Traditionally read at Memorial Day ceremonies in New England:

Cover the thousands who sleep far away--
Sleep where their friends can not find them to-day;
They who in mountain, and hillside and dell
Rest where they wearied, and lie where they fell.
Softly the grass-blade creeps round their repose;
Sweetly above them the wild flow'ret blows;
Zephyrs of freedom fly gently o'erhead,
Whispering names for the patriot dead.
Cover the faces that motionless lie,
Shut from the blue of the glorious sky;
Faces once lighted with smiles of the gay--
Faces now marred with the frown of decay.
Eyes that beamed friendship and love to your own;
Lips that sweet thoughts of affection made known;
Brows you have soothed in the day of distress;
Cheeks you have flushed by the tender caress.
Faces that brightened at War's stirring cry;
Faces that streamed when they bade you good-by. Faces that glowed in the battle's red flame, Paling for naught, till the Death Angel came. Cover them over--yes, cover them over-- Parent, and husband, and brother, and lover:
Kiss in your hearts these dead heroes of ours,
And cover them over with beautiful flowers!
-- Will Carlton

Saturday, March 21, 2009

How hopped up on cough syrup am I?

I've been miserable, on and off, for the last 10 days.

First a 24 hour plus a little bit flu on Wednesday, then a mild fever Saturday night even though I deliberately took that day easy. Cut a very little amount of firewood on Sunday just desperate for fresh air...and I've had a cold all this week...which has now turned into full blown laryngitis.

I have a habit of re-using the 32oz juice bottles when I buy them a water jug for a week or so (rinsing / washing of course). So today I grab the empty from my desk, fill it half with water, go to the fridge, top it off with orange juice.

At which point I find myself thinking, "Huh, they mislabeled this. It's clearly orange juice, but the container says it's Ruby Red Grapefruit." It honestly took me a minute to figure it out.

To think I went for a long drive today and bought a copy of Audobon's Field Guide to Trees. And I'm not even on the good stuff for cough syrup, just plain old non-drowsy formula.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Nightsoil in China

I'm not even sure how or why I stumbled upon this book in Google:

The use of 'nightsoil' or human manure immediately springs to Western minds when Chinese agriculture is mentioned, and although it may occasion considerable repugnance to us, to the Chinese it was an obvious and simple way to return fertility to the soil, the validity of which emerges clearly in modern chemical analyses.

(It goes on to note that this practice has probably aided greatly in maintaining fertility in China; compare this particularly to long-term declines in other bread bowls like the fertile crescent and the Mediterranean)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Newspapers circling the drain Part II

Soon after I started working at the T&G I knew enough about the revenue side to seriously question what was being paid for newspapers.

Assuming you're looking for a 10% return on investment on capital, and need to achieve that from ongoing operations, then most I could see a newspaper being worth was around $1,000 per unit of circulation. Unless you're running a Ponzi scheme, that's the only way you truly make money in the long term -- from the underlying business earnings.

Hearst bought the Chronicle after the Times bought the T&G from the Chronicle.
Hearst paid $1,375 per unit circulation for the Chronicle.Times paid $2,757 per unit circulation for the T&G.In 1993 the Times paid $1,666 per unit circulation for the Globe (averaging daily and Sunday circulation).

If you took the difference between $1,000/circulation I figure was a fair value and what was paid for these papers and bought investment grade securities earning 4% instead, today Hearst would have $250 Million extra in the bank and Times would have $1 Billion extra.

With the Chronicle losing $50-70M in 2009, that $250M combined with reasonable business cost cutting would by them 4, 5, 6 years to weather this economic storm.

The Times currently has $1.1 Billion in debt -- including $250 Million in a loan from a Mexican businessman at an unbelievable 14% interest rate! Had they not overpaid for the Globe and T&G, they could be nearly debt free today. Had they not built an new headquarters building...they too would have several hundred million in cash and investments on hand.

These bad decisions have now hamstrung the old media companies.

Given changes in the business since then (collapse in advertising) and substantial risk, off the top of my head I wouldn't value a newspaper at more then $400/unit circulation today. That price gives you some ability to see your investment appreciate -- if things turn around with the economy and the industry, you might see $500-600 values be reasonable in the next 5 years or so.

As a sanity check, I just googled this which has Barclay's valuing the Globe at $192M and the T&G at $18M. That gives the Globe a value of $458 per unit circulation and the T&G a value of $180 per unit circulation.

For the T&G, I suspect the analyst didn't credit the T&G's modern printing plant in Millbury to the T&G -- figuring it's worth at least $12M and shifting that value from the Globe to T&G...both papers end up right around $400 per unit circulation. So I think I still have a good handle of newspaper values, MBA or no MBA. :)

Can you make money in newspapers today?


First step though is to run them through bankruptcy. They're carrying debts that are not supportable by their underlying value, and those have to go. Even in cases where just enough cash can be squeezed to make loan payments, a realistic valuation of assets is likely to trigger convenents to call the loans. Executives made bad decisions, investors made bad decisions...bankruptcy is the way those mistakes are corrected.

Newspapers circling the drain...

I worked at the Worcester Telegram & Gazette for a bit more then five years. The T&G was grouped together with the Boston Globe as the New England Media Group by their parent organization, the New York Times.

It was my favorite job ever and I doubt I'll ever have one that combines the interesting challenges with the terrific co-workers I had. Newspapers have a surprisingly complex workflow where many different, discrete pieces are brought together to produce the final product. From an Information Systems perspective, it's a really mentally stimulating industry.

Today clearly it's an industry circling the drain. While the industry would've been challenged by the economy and techonological changes, the true yoke around it's neck is the debt levels taken on over the last 20 years -- an example of the widespread use of capital in the U.S. in unproductive ways. Even when parent companies spent cash to buy other newspapers they did so at the cost of not making other, wiser investments. Money being spent to spend money, rather then careful and considered investments.

Does make you wonder how much greater our productivity gains from Information Systems over the last 25 years would've been had we not had so much poor and unproductive money shuffling going on.

Today TIME came out with an article on papers likely to go under soon, they figured 8 out of the following 10:

1. The Philadelphia Daily News.
2. The Minneapolis Star Tribune
3. The Miami Herald
4. The Detroit News
5. The Boston Globe
6. The San Francisco Chronicle
7. The Chicago Sun-Times
8. The New York Daily News
9. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
10. The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Some I don't believe will disappear -- the Boston Globe needs a serious Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization to say the least, but it's a media market that needs someone to serve it.

My experience with the San Francisco Chronicle is only secondary -- they sold the T&G to the New York Times about a year before I joined the T&G. What I saw coming into the T&G is the past owners had been too frugal -- milking the profits while not making reasonable investments to improve efficiency. Assuming the Chronicle was run with similiar tight reins the most reasonable assumption to explain their current predicament is the debt load from Hearst's take over of them -- $660 Milllion for a paper with a circulation of 480,000.

To be continued...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Hmmm, what should I post about?

How about look how quickly the snow is melting!

It pretty much disappeared overnight...

And by the afternoon load of wood, even the puddles had mostly dried up!

It was 60º today and absolutely gorgeous. See a post that wasn't about wood :)

Oh, but I do want to mention racks:

Saw these online today, looks like a fantastic design -- although I'd like a pitch to the roofs personally:

Saturday, March 7, 2009

More wood!

This should be the first load for the 2009/2010 season.
Hopefully get ahead of the curve this spring so I have nicely seasoned wood all season. I have another load this size to bring in tomorrow morning then I'll split it up to useable size and stack on pallets this week.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

March Woodcutting

A special post just for Rebecca since she gets a chuckle out of my wood.

Cutting up a couple swamp maples (probably Silver Maple or a Red Maple / Silver Maple hybrid) near my house. Trying to get them done before the thaw sets in in earnest this weekend! That's a solid 1/4 cord in the bed. Might be the last I need to split this year, depending how mild March and early April is I may have enough wood to make it through the rest of the year now.

Makes clean up of the rest of the trees still on the ground pretty quick since I can just haul the whole logs over to the woodpile and leave them there to split later.

Notice...there's snow on the ground again. Had 9" on Monday, mostly between midnight and dawn.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

February Woodcutting

Just in the nick of time to avoid a post-less month!

Cut about 3/8ths of a cord of wood up on the Prince Hill Road side of my property -- most cleaning up oddly shaped trees to encourage the better shapes ones.

One small ash, and a few smaller red oaks (I believe -- I really need to learn better how to identify trees, I'm really embarrased since I thought I knew them better).

Biggest red oak was maybe 12" diameter breast height, if I didn't run out of daylight I would've easily made it to half a cord of wood.

Here's my truck with the first load, about 1/4 cord, in it.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

January day cutting firewood

For reasons of health & time, I didn't have everything split and waiting for winter.
I do have enough wood, but a lot is still in logs (old enough to not be green) that need to be bucked and split.

So I didn't have much choice if I wanted heat this upcoming week without hitting my "special reserve" of rapidly dwindling split stuff then to go out with the saw and tools and make some firewood.

Even if it was 12º. Maybe 13º. But sunny and warming quickly towards 20º

1) Hmmm, have I ever switched the air intake thingy on the Stihl to cold weather mode? I remember 11 years ago hauling trees across the pond, so maybe then.

2) Whats worse then fogging on safety/sun glasses? Your sweat freezing the instant a drop hits them.

3) The bug I found was NOT an Asian Long Horn beetle, to my great relief. It was black & white and 1-1/4 long, but was an Eastern Eyed Clicking Beetle. Visions of my property being turned into pasture courtesy of USDA were dancing in my head till I determined that.

4) Most of the sycamore was not bad to split, but the bottom 5' or so has some of the nastiest, stringiest heart wood I have ever encountered.

5) Whats worse the sweat freezing to your glasses? After you eat lunch, you come back out and the sun goes behind the clouds.

And the moisture on your gloves start to form an ice layer on your fiberglass handled tools. The Fiskars wasn't bad at all, but the maul and sledge...that took a lot of extra concentration. And the steel wedges were like holding onto a greased pig.

6) I didn't have the other yellow link chain hanging where I thought it was when I went to bring all my chains to the guy who sharpens them, town highway crewman who works the dump on Saturdays. Oh well, well get the other yellow and the green sharpened.

And there was nothing good to scavenge from the dump, either.

7) Sycamores burning nice but pretty darn fast. It's bone dry, at least what I'm burning right now.

IF I can get a couple hour window between snow storms 1 and 2 tomorrow, I'll have to break out my new chain and buck a couple more 24" logs off my nice, long burning ash to mix in with this stuff during the week.

I suspect the big difference is the ash was on the ground, and is still pretty moist -- any moister I'd call it green.

Overall, it was a nice day -- I'm starting to get into my wood cutting shape. I just want to be able to get a couple weeks ahead so I can have a great chainsaw massacre and start felling trees for next year's supply!