The Useful Duck!

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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Global warming or Global climate change which can be used to make money for the clever folk

Today we had sleet and tomorrow it may be 50 degrees.
It is because we use lots of fossil fuels and we can fix it by a redistribution of wealth.
Also, I started working on air-conditioning systems and I've had a couple catastrophic failures....

Sunday, February 17, 2019

My College is going broke

I am taking a course in Accounting. This is a major personal challenge. Business Class is the only class in college that I came near flunking. My "D" in Business didn't keep me out of the top ten percent of my class, but that was probably more of a statement about what happens when small liberal arts colleges are going broke than a statement of my other stellar performance in school.
The Accounting course uses the WileyPlus system which is an online study program that eliminates your textbook and provides assignments and tests online.
It also provides the instructor with a lesson guide and standardized tests. Basically, you talk your college into paying for your lesson plans for the year and you can go off and do whatever crap professors do in their spare time. Try to score with co-eds, brew beer, protest social injustice, bugger the dog... whatever....
The benefit to students is that you get to do your work online with a little screen which is awkward to look up information. I'm really glad for which is what I've been using to help with my assignments.
Click Here to read what other students have to say....
After reading the their reviews I suspect I hate it because I need the paper textbook. There are other products that are much worse.
The one thing that really angers me is the cost. You pay $200 for a time limited access code. This is a clever plan as it means you can't but a used book and the company gets paid for every use.
I can see how they sell it as a useful and money saving product but I don't like it.
I should not have taken this class.
I can't seem to retain the information. I made little note cards and carry them around with me but when I set down to make a balance sheet or a statement of retained earnings I can't think of the correct items to write down. It is kind of insane as much of it is plain common sense.
I spent most of the day Sunday doing my assignments. They were late and I only got half points.
I'm going to have to drop the class when it is time to start farming. There is just no way...
In other news....
My college is going broke.
They do not know why.
The old President retired just about the time everything started crashing and they just hired a new President who was dean of a business school in Virginia.
The previous President focused on building the endowment (which was basically nothing) and starting a wine studies program. He moved away from a local presence in the community and the colleges religious roots.
The new President is very enthusiastic and thinks he is going to get stuff done.
There are a couple areas that bring students to the college. There is a good nursing program, the athletic department is really good at recruiting, there is a decent business program.
The faculty immediately suspected a sinister plot to destroy academic freedom at the college and started a rumor that tenured professors would be cut.
There was a meeting. The President gave an impassioned speech about unity and that they could not cut staff positions any more. There had to be solutions. One of the faculty asked him if he was going to take a cut in pay. He told her he was not taking a cut in pay but was contributing to the college and if she thought she was so clever she should take her fine academic qualifications and look for another job where she would feel appreciated. (a bit of a paraphrase)
Next came a retirement offer in an attempt to get rid of the Tenured Professors who are draining the college funds and are pretty much full of BS. Those Professors did not take the offer. (of Course) Instead, several people retired in the facilities department. Didn't even make a dent in the budget.
The latest news is that students are tagging on campus, "I stand with faculty."
There is a petition going around to other universities to stop the oppression of our faculty.
It is kind of funny.
I've observed that liberal arts College Professors are College Professors because they thing they are pretty damn smart and they just have to bring you about to their point of view. Not so much that they are passing on the sum of classic knowledge accumulated by our civilization. Heck, our acclaimed English/Writing professor is the one that finally figured out the soot on the chimney sweeps in Mary Poppins looks like a vaudeville act. And because he is white, he is offended.
I took my daughter to tour the campus and during the intro for parents and students the faculty heads introduced themselves.
There was a Professor who was on Oregon Public Broadcasting for years and he started talking about journalism. I wanted to take his class. Then the Writing Professor speaks, she kind of smirks and talks about English Lit. from a Queer perspective. I could see young people cringe all around me. It isn't because of the "homophobia" it is because you know she thinks she is just as clever as shite for being all "on the edge" and challenging her students, and the students are thinking, "I just have to get through Lit. 101, maybe I can do it at Chemeketa Community College...)
Here is an article about the "Threat to Tenure."
Another interesting article which shows how serious college Professors take their brainwashing mandate.
But I digress.
The point is not how much I disliked 80 percent of my college professor but rather, will I have a job next year.
The faculty at my school are completely convinced of their own self worth. They seem to think that if they set there in their small town and send out a few clever article to the New York Times that students will just appear.
It ain't gonna happen.
The school has to find its focus. It has to cut expenses. It has to concentrate on what makes money/brings students. I would not be surprised to go to work one day and discover that they were eliminating the grounds department and were hiring a Mow Blow and Go company to do our jobs. That is why I have a resume and I'm looking at other jobs.
The faculty is incensed that the College bought a new campus for the Nursing program in Portland but it is an amazing campus and that is about the only thing my daughter is excited about at the school. The old arraignment didn't work and Nursing is what is paying for the Archeology and the Humanities professor salary.
Read this discussion.

Monday, February 11, 2019

I get my college bill and understand why small non ivy league private colleges are going broke.

For those of you who are just randomly stopping by I shall explain. I am a farmer who decided to become a groundskeeper at a small liberal arts college so my daughter could get free college tuition. 
I did this partly because it looked like she was going to be a writer and I was probably the bad influence. 
Student loans suck the life out of you and a liberal arts education is not always useful.
Fortunately she decided to become a nurse and the college I work at has a great nursing program.
The fiscally sensible thing for her to do would be to live at home and commute the 7.5 minutes it takes to get to school.
Speaking of fiscally sensible things, I decided to take advantage of my free tuition benefit and take an accounting course.
I hate accounting. I hate balance sheets, asset to debt ratios, debits, accounts payable, and my mind goes numb hearing about them. In fact I'm kind of drifting off right now.
But some day I am going to have to actually do it. 
I can't take the class for credit because I already have a degree.
That is idiotic. They say it is a tax issue, I say it is BS.
More creative accounting.
It brings to mind why I hate accounting.
Small colleges usually give tuition discounts to make up for the pathetic pay scale. When times are good they see it as a great benefit. But when times are bad and they want to cook the books the decide it is a expense and want to cut it to make it appear they are saving money. It only puts off the inevitable as potential employees realize they can just get a real job and save for college with the difference in pay...
So I got my bill today. Over $5,000 for a four credit accounting class. The nice lady at the counter even said it with a straight face. 
I think I clicked on the take it for credit box on the online application to see if I could get away with it.
Now I'm back down to an audit. There were a few phone calls and a trip to the registrars office.
Let's add this up... $5,000 for a 200 level intro to accounting class and $235 for class a stack of photocopies and a time limited access code for a website text book. Sounds like one heck of an advertisement for community college for me.
Actually, that is my plan. I'm taking the "free" class so I actually know enough terms to take the financial accounting for farmers from the community college. Because that is the one I can actually use. 
yeah, I'm going to do a few debt asset ratios to find investment opportunities for my private investing account. Yup, that's me... Donald Trump, today junior groundskeeper, tomorrow... Well probably tomorrow I'lll be cold and wet and annoyed and trying to do my accounting flash cards in the rain...
Self improvement is a lot of BS...

Sunday, February 10, 2019

I take a college course, tear down a barn, get snow

I spent my Sunday afternoon applying ice melting liquid at work. It was not what I had in mind.
My list today was, Attending Church (canceled due to snow), Doing my homework, (can't concentrate), Making pig feed (spread ice melt instead), Going to visit MuddyValley and getting a lecture about Donald Trump. (spread ice melt. May give him a call this evening...)
It was a bit of a frustrating afternoon. We have missed every single weather event this year with our ice melting but no one seems to notice. I drive my Kawasaki Mule about and make trails and then it rains and washes away.

I got a call in yesterday to cut up a downed tree. I really didn't see much point in cutting it up on the weekend. It missed the girl's car and security put lots of caution tape around it. Thing is... It already fell down. It ain't gonna stand it's self back up, take better aim, and topple again...
I took my daughter in with me so she could study using the free internet at the campus Starbucks. I went in to help her get the wifi set up. The nice lady gave us free drinks as she knew I was on a weekend call-in.
My supervisor showed up to help cut up the tree. It was nice to have help but I'm pretty sure I'm not supposed to drive my daughter around spreading ice melt. I will find out Monday.
Soon it started snowing. Security showed up because security is bored.
My supervisor left to go send emails.
I cut up the tree and cleaned up the mess in the snow. The security guy got tired of standing around and watching and grabbed a rake and helped me.
It really starts snowing. My supervisor went home.
Me, being thoroughly institutionalized at this point, retrieved my daughter, and signed out of work. Then I called my supervisor to see if I would get a call back to apply the ice melt during the snow event.
Nope... It was so slick I could cut cookies in the parking lot with my Mule. And I did so. Security seemed to find this amusing. I guess I'm a real employee now...
When I got home I helped my nephews finish replacing a post in the barn. They did most of the work. I did my best to confuse them. It was cold.
Today started with freezing temperatures. My friend the boiler guy at work texted me pictures of frozen wheel tracks.
I got my call-in at noon. It was above freezing and temperatures are climbing. We will have rain tonight. Starbucks was closed until 4 p.m.
The daughter seemed to be content riding with her dad for four hours. We listened to odd playlists on Spotify. We got coffee when Starbucks opened. We had to pay. It was a student that helped us.
We drove home in a mini snow storm. The wind is blowing like crazy. I think it is going to turn warm overnight.
Last weekend we tore down the old barn. It was supposed to go down 20 years ago but we never got around to it.
We hooked two tractors, one to pull in the direction it needed to fall and the other to keep it from hitting the hay shed. I cut the wood off the side to help it fall.

I don't think there will be much good wood to salvage. Should have taken it down five years ago to save the wood.
In other news I have taken advantage of my free college benefits to take a class in accounting. I hate accounting. I can't concentrate. I don't have time.
I went to the college bookstore to buy the book. They gave me a packet of papers and a little box that contained a code. The cost was $235.
You get a code that is good for six months that gets you into the WileyPlus website where you can read the book and do the exercises.
This was my first accounting lesson. When you have a captive market you can charge what you want. I found the access code online for $97.
The packet of papers was prepared by the instructor. Previously he used the school photocopier to make the packets and they were free. He got in trouble. He gave us binders for the packets in class.
I may post more about this later.
Or I may not...
I need to win the lottery...

Sunday, November 11, 2018

My Job, My former home, A bag of seed, Last field of the season?

Sometimes I love my job, sometimes I hate my job.
I'm not going to talk about why I sometimes hate my job.
I'm just going to focus on the simple pleasures. The color of the leaves that never stop falling. The fact that it is not cold and raining.
And, that Monday I found two quarters and a blunt in the stands.
I was going to give the blunt to the Workstudy student but thought better of it.
I could have smoked it but since I'm not a smoker it would have brought me little pleasure.
To be truthful I did not examine the so-called "blunt" that closely. Perhaps it was just an unfiltered Lucky. The story is better if it were enhanced with a little "Chronic."
Still, I could have and that brought me happiness.
The fifty cents was nice to find. Can't buy coffee with fifty cents anymore but if I'd find another two dollars to go with it I could get a cup of medium roast, no room for cream, medium sized, from the Starbucks on campus. Hey, life is about opportunities, right?

Last Friday was the final soccer game of the season. In an uncharactoristic burst of "foresight" the soccer coaches looked at the weather forecast and saw rain was predicted.
They looked three weeks ago. The weather has been pretty spotty. Mostly light showers although we did get a couple days of heavy rain.
One of the coaches did groundskeeping as his Workstudy job in college. At his old job they used to tarp the field in case of rain. Last year we overwatered and then it rained three inches so the field was a little damp. This year has been very dry and the field is not we. But they have been tarping the field off and on the for the past three weeks.
Interestingly enough, the tarp acts sort of like a greenhouse. They bought those huge blue plastic tarps like you can get at Harbor Freight. Under the tarp the ground is wetter than outside the tarp. The grass is growing faster under the plastic but also turning yellow. I thought it would just die.
I planted the field a week before they put the tarp on. I think the tarp helped sprout the grass. It is kind of hard to tell. The soccer scoring area is covered and the middle of the field is not.
But when I was planting I realized I didn't have quite enough seed to cover the field so I put the seed on the bare spots in the goal areas and let it run out in the middle of the field. It was less trouble to just pretend to plant than it would have been to explain my miscalculation. Plus, half the time the new seeding doesn't actually work anyway and the field was scheduled to be aerated and sanded in three weeks anyway. Not sure what the rush to plant the field was exactly but I have given up trying to figure things like that out and I just agree with what I'm told to do.
But I digress.
After the tarping the irrigation manager wasn't told by the Supervisor to turn off the water.
When it was 85 degrees and had not rained in three months I suggested they water the field twice a day to keep the new seed damp on the baseball field. This was considered a genius plan and so it was also done on the soccer field.
It was not a bad plan but as the nights got shorter and the dew got heavier and rain was forecast, there was a little room for modifying the aforementioned scheme.
I'm not so good at giving suggestions. I'm not the irrigation manager and my pay reflects that. If it is not a huge deal I tend to just shut up. I have hobbies at home. This attitude was mentioned in a performance review, I said I would try to do better...
I had noted in the morning meeting that the water was still on.
Still, no one turned it off. Sometimes I'm supposed to show initiative and sometimes when I show initiative I'm accused of not properly communicating and so I tend to do what ever brings me the most entertainment. I thought about just leaving it on and seeing what would happen under the plastic but thought that would make more work for myself in the end so I shut it off.
The day after the tarp was on the field the irrigation manager panicked. He forgot to turn the water off. I didn't say that I turned if off. In fact I may have encouraged his worries a bit. I was so entertained by his consternation that I kind of forgot to admit to turning the water off.
He got so worked up he even confessed in the morning meeting. I said nothing. Sometimes that is best.

Last weekend I stopped by my old house. It has been trashed by tweekers. I know a person should feel compassion for the "outcasts" of society but... I think you should be able to take all the drugs you want and to ruin your life in whatever way you see fit but I don't get the wanton destruction of the house you are squatting in. Why would you break the windows and pile filth around. Why not take your garbage across the road or put it where it won't draw attention to your little secret drug hideout. You can be homeless and not be a slob. You can be down on your luck and still take out the trash. Why soil the nest?

My supervisor found a new supplier for seed and chemicals. This is the last bag of Triumph turf grass. I think someone at the old company liked Triumph cars or motorbikes.
I have been instructed to do lots of replanting. I've already done the Softball, Baseball, and Soccer fields but I needed to do the practice field and the supervisor wanted me to redo the soccer field.
The school is going to turn the soccer field to fake grass. I think this is offensive and wrong-as a groundskeeper.
Actually, it is probably a bad idea just from a money making perspective. The existing soccer field has some problems. It is on really wet ground but it does have a lot of sand on it and when we don't over water it then you can play pretty late in the year.
However, the ten acre practice field is rough, poorly drained, and is either mud or hard as a rock. But the practice field could bring in summer camps which bring in money and possible recruits. I would put my money on leveling the practice field and getting it booked through the summer.
Rather than plastic grass that costs a fortune to put in and looks like crap after three years.
But, no one asked me.

I think I planted my last field of the season today. The weather has been dry and sunny. I no-tilled wheat into corn ground. I was helping a neighbor who has done several favors for me and it was also a trade for getting wheat straw. It was the best kind of job.
The farmer left me a truck with 4,000lbs of wheat and said there was around 30 acres in the field and told me to make it come out so there was no seed left. I ran the GPS on the field and found the actual size to be 29 acres. I figured 32 acres with headlands and set the drill for 120lbs. I was not accurate enough on my turns in the dark last night and so I had to make two extra passes on the headlands. I was really worried I was going to run out of seed. Especially since I was too lazy to do a measured distance and weigh the seed to find my exact rate. I keep records of everything I plant so I figured I was pretty close on my setting.
I came up with 33.3 acres and the low seed alarm went off on row 12 and 24 right as I finished. I evened out the seed in the box, turned off the acre counter, and had enough to fix a couple skips and then I just ran out the drill on a couple hard spots that didn't cover good.
The ground was so mellow I had to set the drill really shallow to avoid burying the seed. I was amazed. I am also amazed at how little daylight there is.
We stayed for the potluck at Church and so I didn't get going right away. When I finished at 4 p.m. it really didn't look like I had enough daylight to get home. Plus, I had planed on either going for a motorcycle ride or playing monopoly with my daughter.
Instead I loaded hay. I was going to tell the guy to sod off as it is Sunday but he was a nice fellow and I really didn't have the heart. My nephew helped or rather I helped my nephew who didn't look like he wanted to load hay either.

UPDATE: It has been brought to my attention that the cigarette in the photo may not actually contain Chronic. I should also note that it is not actually a "blunt" rather it is a "spliff."
I forgot that a cigarette which has had some tobacco removed and a little "Mary Jane" ( as the Longhairs supposedly called it-back in the day...) is called a spliff and if you do the same with a cigar it is called a blunt. Swisher Sweets seem to be the cigar of choice at my institution of higher learning. I used to find them in one certain parking lot all the time. They were usually not smoked much past the herbal remedy insertion point so they were easy to spot.

Disclaimer, this is really not the place to find a definitive commentary on youth culture or proper terms for describing the consumption of cannabis. I am a total dork and I'm old. Any information found on this site should be taken for entertainment purposes only. Any slang terms you pick up by reading this blog will cause folk to wonder what in the Sam Hill you been smoking. So if your are hear for real information I suggest you hang it to Houston and hammer down out of this site cause the longer you stay the higher the chances you will end up nuttier than a pet raccoon.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

A long hot summer where things go wrong

This summer has been one long heat-wave.
90 degrees at 9 p.m. Smoke from California and endless bales.

I have been stacking straw bales after work and on the weekends. I need to take time off work but I'm behind at work as well. I seriously lack motivation.
Working at for the sort of bureaucracy I work for is mind-numbing.
For example...
The local soil conservation district is doing a restoration project on the creek on campus. I think was spearheaded by the environmental studies instructor but I don't have all the details correct.
Step one was bat houses and bird houses. The bat houses were important as the attic of the oldest building on campus was sealed and the bats kicked out. The bat houses were to provide a new home for the mosquito eating little furry creatures.
For two years the bat houses and bird houses have been sitting in storage because "there is no time" for grounds to put them up, AND... According to upper management, insurance doesn't allow volunteers to climb ladders on school property.
Really... I can think of multiple solutions but I suppose that is why I hope to NEVER be in management here.
I have problems with crab grass on my sports turf. I've been digging it out with my pocket knife. This makes mowing pretty slow, but if I let anyone else mow then the crab grass multiplies. There may be chemical solutions to this problem. But they must be researched... There are chemical company field representatives who could help. Many emails have been exchanged...
Perhaps next year...
The good news is that a new guy has been hired who has professional sports turf experience. I have been assured I will not be replaced. However, it would make sense to put the person who know what they are doing in charge of athletic turf.
Which is what makes me fairly sure I will not be sent back to cleaning parking lots...
Straw is never ending.
There have been some spectacular failures.
An example:
One evening I was a little stressed. I got in my service pickup to find all the tools and spare parts that usually sit on the dash were now on the floor. The roar of no exhaust reminded me that only two weeks ago the exhaust pipe had fallen off whilst driving down the road. Then there was the time I came home to discover the large air compressor had tipped over in the back of the pickup. Not one to hold a grudge I just smiled and drove on. It was perhaps a bitter ironic smile. After all I had in fact disrupted the tools in the back of my father's pickup and cause him great consternation on several occasions.
A strange clunking sound kept invading my consciousness. It was hard to discern over the dull roar of the 450cc Ford engine which was running on at least six out of 8 cylinders, not all at the same time.
During one of the moments of silence when all 8 failed at once I could definitely hear a clunk coming for the front end.
Being of an inquiring mind, I pulled over and wiggled the right front wheel. It moved in and out at least an inch. I figured since I had only made it two thirds of the way to the field I better just go back home.
Upon arriving home I realized I had the diesel for the stacker in the back of my pickup and the stacker was almost out of fuel.
My brother graciously offered his pickup but it is a totally thrashed (actual automotive term) mid 1970 Chevy which I'm sort of embarrassed to drive. But, mostly I'm afraid to drive, because it runs on fewer cylinders than my Ford but appears to be powered by bunker crude.
Fortunately my cousin who lives near where I was to stack offered to bring me fuel. So I drove my vintage GMC (slightly better than a Chevy, akin to Coors lite vs Coor Banquet). It was only 97 degrees but I don't think that was why the radiator exploded. The radiator exploded because it is a cheap Chinese aluminum POS radiator.
And then I committed the unpardonable sin. I jumped in the stacker without greasing or checking the frequent failure items. I got my diesel and I cranked up the AC and I went to work.
At approximately 10:30 PM I heard a funny grinding noise when the second table went up and I just knew what it was.

The second table cylinder mount had busted and hit the brand-spanking-new $2000 hydraulic pump.
Hydraulic oil was spraying everywhere. I quickly dumped by part load and stopped.
The cylinder had pushed the power steering port fitting out of the pump, stripping the aluminum threads....
That was a while back. We fixed it...
Yesterday was worse. I just wanted to go home. The A/C quit.
Now I am a certified Automotive A/C tech. I took an hour class and was tested and I have a certificate. The class had NOTHING to do with the sort of A/C repair I am called on to do. As in backyard retrofitted R-12 to R-134 forty year old farm equipment. It was actually funny. If the A/C doesn't work. You hook up your fancy A/C machine and evacuate the system. If it won't hold a vacuum you start replacing parts. They don't even recommend flushing the system anymore. You NEVER top off a system.
They also didn't cover fixing melted switches with a piece of wire which you happen to find under the seat. But, I did a last have glorious cool air...

And now, I am going to water the garden and feed the chickens and do the dishes as my family returns home from the grand and glorious adventure to Ireland.
Have a happy day!

My blog looks fine on my phone and MacBook. However, on the PC at work the formatting is weird. Does my blog look like crap on your computer? Just curious, I most likely won't bother to fix it...

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Summer, my daughter goes into the big wide world, I feel old

I have been remiss in my blogging.
I was warned about getting a real job.
It is difficult to go from being one's own boss to working for someone else. It is difficult to go from being task oriented to being procedure oriented.
Or rather,
I propose a question...
Do you know the difference between a brown nose and shit head?
The brown nose knows when to stop...
Learning to do my new job was a lot of fun. Fairly stressful, but still interesting. Every new experience is interesting.
I have run into a wall.
When you are farming, you may be broke, but you continually think how to better yourself. I have started a planting business, non GMO feed business, custom hay stacking, bought a baler for feed store straw, and built my own GPS guidance system.
As a groundskeeper my goal is to mow straighter lines...
I am learning about plants and trying to remember their names. I need to learn about turf irrigation. I need to improve my spraying and fertilizer timing.

But... I will NEVER make more money, be able to built the tool I need for grooming the baseball warning track, build a better sprayer, or get a group of alumni together to actually fix the soccer practice field.
Nope, the next five years will be driving around in my little golf cart trying to do the best job I can and still appease the utterly irrelevant and random request of my supervisor.
And trying to stay awake after working a second job, whether it be farming or something else.

It is summer.
I think it is the latest we have made hay since the horrible year in the previous century when I cut like 200 acres and we baled it with two Freeman 200 balers and no one bought it.
I should be finished Tuesday. Then I have to get it hauled and stored. The fellow who was going to buy it lost his sale and so there will be 250 ton of slightly over ripe hay to sell. Highly digestibility, and low feed value. Perfect horse hay. I sure wish I would have offered $1,000 less for the rent...
I have left no bales or tractors in MuddyValley's field to disturb the Elk. This is an achievement for me.

My daughter is in Virginia. She is taking part in the Young Writers Workshop which is put on by the University of Virginia.
It is being held at Sweet Briar College near Lynchburg. She could attend Sweet Briar and get free tuition. It is part of the small college exchange program with the college I work at. She would have to pay for her own horse though.
She says everyone thinks Portland is like the show, "Portlandia," which it is.
I miss her.
It has only been a day.

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