The Useful Duck!

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Stone monuments

These two stones mark the edge of a farm road. Can someone tell me why I expect to see the name Ulysses chiseled into one of them?

Does this come from literature or from reading Mad magazine as a child?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Then and now

Have been cleaning house in anticipation of wife's father coming to live with us.
I found some old photos.

This is the baling crew twenty years ago...

This was the baling crew last year....
Note: Not the same persons...

Have a nice day...

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I found my coffee cup, but is it from today or last week?

One never knows. Hate to take a sip. It was a little cold...
Could have been there a couple years. Or an hour.
Took a test which predicts dementia. Think I need to buy long term care insurance. I'd point the survey out to you all but I can't remember where I saw it. I'm fairly sure losing one's coffee cup was one of the questions on the list but also can't quite remember that one either.
I think it is going to be a very long summer.
If I ever get that far...

Monday, March 23, 2015

I knock the neighbor's barn down

Last week I delivered a load of hay to the neighboring Dairy. It was quite the ordeal.
First I had to move all the boxes of feed and broken pallets of baler twine from in front of the stack of hay I sold to the dairy three months ago and never got around to delivering.
Then I had to find a motorized squeeze to load the 3 ton blocks (56 bales to a block) on the truck. Then I had to drive the truck and the squeeze to the Dairy.
Then I had to wedge the blocks into random spots at the dairy while dodging manure piles and holes in the concrete cover over the manure pit.
I knocked over a post holding up half the hay barn.
Jose was helping me but he turned away to answer a phone call and I was trying not to drive in the manure pit and didn't see that a bale was sticking out of the stack.
It hit the post and down came the barn with a loud crash.
The dairyman was not amused.
He came out and started swearing at me.
I said, "um Sorry? I you do realize I didn't do this on purpose..."
He swore some more....
And rather impolitely asked me why I hit his post.
"Um... I'm not very good at driving the squeeze?" said I.
Jose and I figured out how to lift the barn back up with the squeeze and the dairyguy used his tractor at the same time.
Jose then left. Thinks are bad if Jose leaves. I don't think he likes conflict.
This is the repaired post.
Note the three blocks of concrete holding it up....

This is an IMPROVEMENT over how it was supported before I hit it.
Have a nice day...
A friend of mine suddenly died. Perhaps I'll post about him. He was a very interesting fellow...

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Last Sunday

Last Sunday my daughter and I went to Salem and I purchased several record albums. I am supposed to be working on my end of year book keeping but since First Federal redid their website I can no longer retrieve past statements. I will have to make a trip to the bank Monday.
I discovered my Scott tube amp was not as damaged as I thought, although the Rek-O-Kut turntable must be rewired.
I have been listening to the Allman Brothers, "Beginnings," which I bought because someone commented on one of the songs on this blog and then I forgot which song and who commented.
I connected the tape out on the Harman Kardon 330c to the Scott so that I could get four speakers. The HK is connected to my refoamed Baby Advents and the Scott is hooked to Dynaco A25's.
I was expecting a nice warm bluesy sound.
It kind of sounded dead. No much high range.
So I put on my own Tom Petty, "Southern Accents" album. It sounded very nice. Plenty of high range, turned down the treble a bit. Nice crisp midrange, Tom's voice sounded a little less fuzzy around the edges.
And this is the problem with vinyl albums. Every time you play them you loose a little fidelity. They wear out. The record may look pristine but you can't see in the grooves.
All things must perish....
But, I digress...
My plan was to walk around downtown, try a coffee shop, look at odd little shops in the historic Reed Opera House Mall, and I would work in a couple record stores, which she does not like, and perhaps a couple bookstores, which she does like.
But then I realized I had to finish up my bookwork.
The local bank has decided to make their website more exciting with graphics and fancy stuff and a user agreement that of course puts most of the responsibility for screw-ups on the customer. So, at the critical point I discovered I can't access my archived e-statements and I came to a dead end.
So we went to Salem.
The plan was to see "Unbroken" at 4:30 and get something to eat.
I found a new record store on Yelp. It had pretty funny reviews. The owner has been a little harsh with a few customers. When people show up with the standard old person's scratchy record collection of Mitch Miller, Marty Robbins, Tijuana Brass, the owner sometimes insults them. One lady said he chased her from the shop and kept the good records.
I thought this would be good for some amusement.
The daughter was not impressed.
We found the store which was next to a Pizza by the Slice place and so we decided to regroup. After a large slice of pizza we decided to try the store.
The store was interesting. There was a huge collection of CD's which I didn't care about and didn't look at. I was impressed by his vinyl collection. There was a section of alphabetized bins, but there were also random boxes of records under the CD racks, under the record bins, leaned up against the counter, piled on the floor, in no apparent order.
The owner welcomed us to his store and assured us that as first time customers we would get quite a good deal. He asked me what I was looking for.
I was looking for Albert Collins. The owner directed me to a cardboard box under the record bins. He said he had but a few blues albums but he personally enjoyed blues music.
I found three albums, Jr. Walker and the Allstars, "A gasssss", The Allman Brother's, "Beginnings," and Elvin Bishop, "Struttin My Stuff."
They were sealed with what I think was a "seal a meal," and so I couldn't check the condition of the vinyl and they were marked with random prices but I really wanted "Beginnings," as is it the first two Allman Brothers albums in one double album.
We had to wait quite a while as the owner discussed the merits of collecting CD's and his expectation that Cassettes will be the collectors choice of the future. Cause I'm pretty sure Iron Oxide bonds to plastic forever and half the point of vinyl collecting is our dislike of digital.
I said nothing but patiently waited.
Eventually it was my turn.
The owner spent quite a bit of time scanning the records into his computer and calculating prices, there was great ceremony which cutting open the shrink wrap and presenting the records for inspection. They were in fine condition. Then he upset everything by pointing out The Paul Butterfield Blues Band record, which I picked up.
Everything had to be recalculated and a special deal had to be made to a first time customer. I ended up paying a little above my max price of $3 per album.

Later that evening I looked up the albums on Amazon. I was excited to find the Allman Brothers listed on Amazon for $299. I thought I was rich until I checked ebay.
I could buy the album for $13.99 with free shipping.
Oh well.
They were all in good condition.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


HI have useful and interesting blog topics which I have yet to post about.
1. I no-till planted peas and have the addresses for places to buy good inoculant as local farm supply stores do not stock it.
2. The peas are up
3. My father-in-law is coming to live with us.
4. A funny story
5. I am looking at a BMW R-65 because scooter boy's wife left him and he owes me money for pig feed and he is selling everything. I thought is was a BMW R65SL or LS or something which is kind of a sport bike and kind of neat. But it is not anything special.
6. Farming, blah, blah, blah...

But I have not been online much lately.

Sunday, my daughter and I went to see "Unbroken."
I kept thinking about the differences in attitude between the America which I grew up with and the America of today.
I grew up reading old books. I understand that the myth of American Exceptionalism was not always a myth. I read the same books and had similar cultural influences growing up as the people who won WW2. Sort of a time machine upbringing. Books from the turn of the century, old grandparents. Lectures on self reliance, personal responsibility, fairness, doing the right thing, God, pulling yourself by your own bootstraps and so on.
I believe my uncle went though Germany and France without ever getting a French hooker or drinking beer or probably even swearing. I suspect it was entirely possible.
Of course this is no longer a proper cultural understanding. Everyone has a flaw and we celebrate our flaws and those are what give us a nuanced understanding of life.
Rates of depression have not declined with that viewpoint, but as my belief in my own exceptionalism fails, so does my ability to get out of bed in the morning...

The other thought that really influenced how I viewed the movie was the understanding that the United States uses "enhanced interrogation techniques." Watch the Japanese use "stress techniques," on Allied Prisoners and then imagine that in a US prison camp. Compare Japanese prison guards to people you know who work at prisons. You realize that people who are brutal prison guards go home and hug their children and have gardens and hobbies and are quite normal.
One of the great unlearned lessons from WWII was that ordinary people will do horrible things when given the opportunity.

Have a nice day...

Edit: Talking about American Exceptionalism because I'm American and should think I am the best. Canadians should disagree with me and so should Brits. Well I don't know about Brits and their warm beer and everyone knows Aussies are a bunch of wankers...
And Canadiens talk funny...

Saturday, March 14, 2015


I finally got a start planting our own fields on Friday.
The plan was to plant two rows of oats and one row of fescue. I use the small seeds box for the fescue. Since I am planting fescue every third row I use two tubes from the small seeds into one row. One tube goes into the cup on the main box and the other drops in the row behind the v-opener.
I have little plugs that I block every third row in the main box and then the oats go in the main box.
I decided to make little cardboard dividers for the small seeds so it would be easier to run the seed down. The small seed box has a flat bottom and with rows plugged off it is hard to run it down. I have a hard time guessing the seed rate anyway so I don't want to keep 50lbs in the drill so it will work.
I soon got quite confused and called on my daughter to help. She also got confused as to which rows needed to be blocked off but quickly figured it out. She is much smarter than I.
We figured out that we should use the chart for 11.5" spacing as we were using 16 instead of 24 rows. There is no chart for 11.5" spacing so I guessed.
I ended up with 10lbs per acre on one side and six on the other.
The goal was 5-7lbs. I should have just used one tube and set it wide open.
I planted until well after dark.
My shoulder started hurting (the side I use to steer with), Clive Lewis started freaking me out with the Lunar wave, doors to other dimensions, and the end of the world due to particle accelerators, and I got lost driving in the dark.
The way it works is that the oats are harvested and the fescue rows remain. For like six years... So if you don't drive straight then GoogleEarth photographs you and other farmers pour over GoogleEarth photos and shame other farmers who don't drive straight, (I imagine).
So I quit. I mean, the world is falling apart anyway why does it matter if I get the fescue planted or not?
It is now raining....
Oh, poop....
Have a nice day!
Where did I pick up a knurled metal knob? I can unscrew it from the tire. I didn't.