The Useful Duck!

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Sunday, February 27, 2022

A ramble about current events that makes little sense

I have been watching the Ukraine situation play out. 

I think it is interesting to watch the political sides try to adapt the events to their narrative. 

The Ukrainian government is obviously a corrupt gang that is playing Nato against Russia to make money. Ukraine became a player in world events. Most recently the Biden's made money off them, they were players in the Trump vs the Left events, the fake Russian probe, and so on.

But the West didn't really care when Putin invaded. Brandon egged the Russians on for months. Nato really wanted to just surrender when the Russian tanks rolled across the border.

Did the people of Ukraine who were willing to tell the Russians to Fuck off  even though the (Ukrainians) were as good as dead just change the whole story?

I personally am rooting for the man on the street with the AK and a bottle of gasoline. But yet I don't really know if that is just a propaganda myth.

I will say the conflict has been a major victory for embattled western governments who were facing major resistance on insane COVID rules and a general move towards a weird leftist new world reset. Now that major news sources can focus on propaganda productions from Ukraine the trucker protest can disappear from the news cycle.

I grew up during the Cold War. I went to college with Boat People. We had a college professor who was in the Hungarian Revolution. I read "1984," in context. I watched Max Headroom, Repoman, Blade Runner, Brazil. I listened to nihilistic punk music, outlaw country, (and George Jones) 

And then, it was over! The Wall went down, we had the internet where you could find anything and talk to anybody, we had low inflation and low national debt, and I suppose we knew it should end.

I was going to note that what I find amazing about the 21st century is how well it was predicted and I suppose also, what was missed in the predictions. (I never expected "1984," to be a textbook for the NWO, it was supposed to be cautionary.)

However, I think the most amazing thing is how philosophical movements define society and how we do not realize we are living our philosophic movement.  We cannot believe anything we read in the News so we believe what we want. 

I don't know if Ukraine is a stunt gone right or wrong. I choose to believe the individuals who love their country took control and upset the plan of those who know better than the rest of us.

That the individual citizens are making the difference in the same way each of us must resist every day.

Whatever, I am losing my chain of thought. Need more coffee, or do I need less coffee?

Friday, February 25, 2022

Randomness again

You all may laugh at me. 

I seem to be slipping into a bit of a funk. I have discussed life milestones with other people but never really thought it would apply to me.

This photo has to be from the 1990's, This is my/my brother's dog whose name was Sigmond. He appears to still have both eyes. (He lost one in a fight with a Nutria) However, the other dog (Fritz) doesn't seem to be around but it is in a batch of negatives I stole from the Newport News Times so that would mean year out of college. I have no idea. It was a hall of a long time ago and I thought I would actually accomplish something in life.

This is Muddy Valley's farm but it was taken when he was living in an Orange Grove in Florida. The weird hippie dude that did the sculpture now is an assistant art professor at the University I work at. He doesn't seem to remember me but that is ok. If I smoked as much dope as he has smoked I wouldn't remember me either.

I am sitting in my easy chair listening to Jimmy Buffet in honor of my friend Mel. It is the turntable that Muddy Valley gave me which came from his father. The old Kenwood Amp came from Discus Records in McMinnville which was where I used to hang out in High School. The DCM TimeFrame speakers came from MuddyValley. So I suppose I am paying a certain homage to people in my life.

I am listening to "Ulysses," through Audible and am pretty amazed by the descriptions and dialogue and the random plot fits my general life confusion. But, I don't see how it matches up with the Iliad so I suppose I am just an uncluttered lout of a lawnmower boy.

Have a nice evening...

One more thing... This whole issue in the Ukraine. It is amazing to have a war over territory in the year 2022. What the hell is wrong with this world. Secondly, never ever trust the USA! We will encourage you to throw off the chains of oppression and then screw you hard. It is just our way...

Saturday, February 19, 2022

My other best friend has passed away.

I say "other" because I of course want the person I am talking to thinking that they are my first best friend. (I read the book "How to Win Friends and Influence People." )

I have been listening to his favorite artist, Jimmy Buffet. He also liked the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Don't have any of those albums.

My friend bought the first Sony Diskman. It was made of metal. I think it may still be hooked to his stereo. Although, I think he modernized a lot when he got remarried twelve years or so ago.

He was the Vocational Mechanics Instructor in a three school magnet program that produced a lot of good mechanics and in the process, taught kids how to think. His program had a higher rate of college graduation than any other program in the district.

I really would like to talk to him today. My college, which I am still incredibly angry with, is asking for input on the strategic plan. My friend would be very helpful. He was an incredible proposal and grant writer.

I have this idea but can't quite think clearly enough to put it together. Plus I am a groundskeeper and get no respect. I need to buy a PhD somewhere. I tried eBay but the one you get there are not the best. I think a degree from Whatsamatta U would be suspect. My PhD in environmental science, focusing on the possible extinction of the Tube-Topped Bar Duck and the elusive Red-Headed Double-Brested Bed Thrasher could raise alarms.

But I digress,

I was talking to the Environmental Sciences professor yesterday. Environmental Sciences major attracts a lot of students interested in what we used to call ecology. The problem with these classes is that there is no practical application of information.

The Uni has a watershed program with a creek through the edge of campus but then they sold about half of it because they were broke. The latest brilliant idea is to have a Camus festival with the local tribe. This is stymied by a large tree that has fallen across the path. (literarily and not figuratively) There is some reason grounds is not cutting the tree up and has to do with bureaucratic interpretation of something.

But, I digress...again...

I know a lot of farmers. I have been involved with lots of conservation farming conversations. I have sequestered tons of Carbon in my lifetime. I have a no-till planting business.

I even have a friend who is supposedly starting a Regenerative Agriculture experimental farm across the river from me.

Regenerative Agriculture is the new buzzword and there is money being thrown at it by the woke.

Secondly, the Uni is fixated on Wine. Wine is old news. It is a "Boomer" thing. What is happening locally is craft spirits and beer. Lots of energy and interest and a lot of it is being done by farmers.

I want to put this all togather.

I would like to figure out how to write a proposal that would get me a better paying job at the Uni first of all and also bring students out to interact with farmers and others who are actually doing the groundbreaking work. There are some super smart farmers that I know of. I know this extremely colorful guy who makes beer, has bees, grows pot, composts with black soldier flies, and makes this stuff work. Plus he is entertaining!

The other aspect of this program would be to attract local students. There are a lot of local alumni who are farmers. I was in Future Farmers' Of America. I think one of the keys to the program would be to reach out to those students. They are highly motivated kids.

This program would be designed to add on to other programs. There is no Farm Business Management course at my University but the new Wine Studies center will also integrate business classes. If this was headed by someone with vision and enthusiasm it could work. 

Of course with that last statement I talked myself out of a job...

Have a happy day!

Sunday, February 13, 2022

I listen to records and provide many links to a song you will not care about

The retired fellow who helps at the farm lives for yard sales. He specializes in SK and old Craftsman tools but after seeing my record player rebuilding misadventure he has expanded to vintage county western albums.

Last week he brought me two Linda Ronstadt albums and a George Jones duet album which I forget. George Jones was the best sounding but Linda Ronstadt has her charms.

This is not my favorite Linda Ronstadt album, I prefer this album. But I seem to have misplaced it! Linda is much more perky and there is the whole pig motif.

I had never actually listened to "Prisoner in Disguise," before. It has a great cover of the Jimmy Cliff classic, "Many Rivers to Cross." Although, my favorite version is Desmond Dekker on Stiff Records from 1980.  This is a live version of the song from 1970.

My least favorite version is the heavily produced Harry Nilsson version. For some reason it gets high reviews, probably because it was produced by John Lennon.

Willie Nelson also sings it which just seemed odd. (Roll up a spliff and Click Here.) Willie's smooth vocals just  don't work for me but I like it better than the Nilsson version which was a minor hit. 

My former helper is camping at the river with his four year old daughter. She wanted to drive a forklift. So I obliged. She was quite thrilled. She is in fourth grade and is interested in everything.

I took my fishing pole down but instead of fishing, the grand daughter and I drove the Gator around. Actually she drove.  I manned the emergency brake in case she got too close to the river. She had a lot of fun. 

I miss my daughter.

I am getting ready to start planting. I am a bit surprised no one has called. I put a trailer hitch on the Gator so I can pull my large air compressor. I think I may be overloading the Gator.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Making adjustments

I am taking today off of work. 

I am going to the coast to sit with my friend so his wife can take care of some appointments. We have had a week with no rain and so I am completely behind at both jobs.

I have been spraying at my Uni job. I have a really awesome sprayer. I want to build one of my own. Of course the reason I think the sprayer is awesome is because I seriously modified it. The next person to use it will curse me. Actually, the person hired to replace me will probably not use it. It will somehow be too complicated to use It will get moved out back to the surplus pile and they will do something else. Hire the sports turf management people to spray or something.

The sprayer is pretty simple actually. I put my own sprayer monitor on it so I know gal/acre or gal/1000 soft. However, if you look up the nozzle size and pressure in the Tee-jet book the book tells you the speed and according to my acre meter the area is coming out perfectly, if I drive correctly. 

As soon as there is a day of sun, the baseball team is on the field. They are quite dedicated in their practice. The coach is a very enthusiastic person. Always thanks me for any extra effort.

We always have the same problem with the field. I don't mow from when the rains start in earnest to the nice weather at the end of January. There is aways an understory of dead Annual Bluegrass because Annual Bluegrass grows vigorously and seeds prolifically but it has a short lifespan. The dead Bluegrass is yellow and in close to the ground. When I mow the field the first time I expose this dead annual Bluegrass and someone always says I am taking to much grass height off at once. Then we dump lots of fertilizer on the field and it rains for three months and I have to start all over again with mowing.

This year the turf consultant looked at the field the last week in January. It was a little yellow looking. I used a slow release fertilizer late in the year and it didn't release the N because of the cold weather. The turf guy suggested 5lbs/1000 soft of Ammonium Sulfate. 20 percent N with a little sulfer. There was also Redthread coming with goes away with extra N.  

I usually try to get a jump on the outside opinions by applying iron early to improve the color. I don't like to add Nitrogen now as it makes the grass suddenly grow and it is hard to keep it mowed when it is raining.

To compensate for the extra N I am using growth regulator. I am using two types, one slows the growth and the other prevents seed heads. It is really a little too cold for it to work so I am a little nervous. However, if it works I will have the best looking field I have ever had! 

My next plan is to stake the borders of the warning track and get perfect edging on the sidelines. I have a great helper this year and think I make my last year a good year!

This brings us to job motivation. The COVID booster mandate hit the moral pretty hard for us working class. I have also heard quite a bit of irritation filtering in from those on the other side of campus in the administration buildings as well as irritation amongst the few working class type students.

There is a low level cynicism that effects all who have been here for more than five years. I don't think it is good policy to remind people they can quit or be fired at any time. At the same time I understand the administration no really worrying about us being disgruntled. It really makes no difference in the big scheme of things. 

I have made a new attitude adjustment. In the past I felt that people wanted to hear my observations in order to improve relations at the Uni. I presented a complaint and I presented a solution. All it did was get me slight disapproval. I just need to get things done to make myself feel good. A balance between minimal effort and a level of order that I can accept and feel moderately good about. It has greatly improved my sense of well being.

In other news... I see there is a whole new focus on side effects of the booster shots. The realization that there can be heart problems or questions about the hospitalizations of vaccinated vs non-vaccinated have made mainstream news. Plus, it appears the peak may be past.

One issue that jumped out to me was the Uni Covid team has doubled down on the mask wearing, now they are suggesting N95 masks. I had to laugh ironically. This is one of the reasons we don't trust the CDC. They lied to us from day one.

The cloth masks do NOT filter anything. The cloth masks just keep you from blowing larger droplets of spit vapor into the atmosphere in front of you. A proper fitting N95 mask filters what you inhale. The gubment didn't think there was enough N95's so they put out the cloth mask mandate. But lied about how it worked.

The COVID religion people at my Uni wear the mask like a fetish and will tolerate not dissent. However, I would bet mask compliance is maybe 50 percent anywhere but in classrooms or places where you will get caught. Probably like anywhere else. Not a lot of mask wearers outside of liberal enclaves and basically no difference in death or hospitalization rates.

It appears from my observations that the key is to figure out you have COVID right away and then don't ignore it. Get plenty of rest, take the zinc vitamin regime, plus C and B, and try to keep lungs clear by breathing and coughing, anti-inflammatory vitamins, get your Dr. to prescribe Ivomectin or what ever is currently working. Stay out of the hospital as they will probably kill you.

Take lots of CBD treatment. That is a whole other topic. I have been amazed at my CBD oil. Once I ignored the recommended dosages and started listening to my ex-pot head friends I found benefits. My back stopped hurting for the first time in 20 years. I am kind of amazed.

Have a nice day!

I think it is supposed to be like 60 degrees at the beach today!

Monday, February 7, 2022

Never compromise, never give in.

I learned something today.

As I arrived at campus I saw the College Occupational Safety officer. I asked him if I was to be fired today for not showing proof of vaccination. He did not look happy today. I really like the guy. I should not have asked him the question. He didn't want to make a statement and said something about choosing to violate policy and I told him to have a nice day.

My supervisor told us all thanks for turning in our information. I had my medical exemption rejected since I made it up myself and probably signed it Dr. Doolittle. 

I asked him if I needed to clean out my locker as I had not turned in proof of vaccination. I cleaned out anything that I wanted haul home in June) He said no and laughed (as he does when uncomfortable) and said he didn't think anyone was being fired.

Later I found out my coworker's long appeal for a religious exemption was most likely approved. 

I also heard there were no plans to fire anyone after the deadline.

I know a few people quit.


My personal theory is that no one would commit to a final solution so they just had no plan other than a deadline. I have observed our general level of incompetence for quite some time so this pretty well fits into my understanding.

However, voluntary resignations would help the budget process. It was pointed out to me that a delay in hiring replacements and then offering those positions for less pay and reduced benefits. That amateur HR ploy also appeals to my understanding of how the University works but the only person diabolically clever enough to actually come up with a plan just moved on so I see that as a stretch.

This is what I learned. This is the 21st Century. This is no longer the age of "why can't we all just get along," or "live and let live," or "make sacrifices for the good of the whole." 

Nope, First of all extreme positions are the best. Then hold your extreme position regardless of opposition.  Third, don't resign in protest! Either work slow and screw up the works or let them fire you and sue. They will settle.

In the end I turned in my booster card a few minutes after the deadline and I hate myself for doing it. I was listening to people talking about the non-mandate-mandate and decided that I was investing way too much emotionally in my job. My University is totally and completely getting what it is paying for and if I just look busy all day I am never going to have to trim that 300 feet of arborvitae that I have been avoiding for three years. And my supervisor just called me into his office after break to tell me I can take time off when ever I want to visit my friend on hospice. 

Mediocrity may actually just be the pinnacle of success. No stress, not much pay, decent insurance, and a minimum of retirement. Setting high standards is way overrated!

Sunday, February 6, 2022

The problem with the world is the petty dictatorship of bureaucrats which stifle the hopes and dreams of the independent man

I went to visit my friend at the beach Thursday. 

I took a vacation day. I also needed to repair my wife's pickup.

It has a squeak coming from the serpentine belt. The reason it is called a serpentine belt because it is of the devil.

First I tried realigning the alternator and a/c pump. The bolt holes going through the alternator and a/c pump are oversized so you can adjust them to line up the belt. It was quiet for like five seconds and then the squeak came back with a vengeance.

Next I took a 3/4' steel bar that was a foot or so long and put one end up against the idler bearings and the other to my ear, almost successfully avoiding the rotating fan. The bearings were not making noise.

Finally, I soaped each edge of the belt with a bar of soap to see if the belt was riding up on the shoulders of the pulleys. No change in noise. Then I soaped the bottom of the belt. Instant quiet.

So I took off for the coast.

The squeak came back. Now it was squeaking at all rpm and quite loudly. I stopped at a CarQuest along the way to get a new belt. They did not have one in stock.

 It took me an hour to get to Lincoln City. The belt was squeaking so much I started listening to the radio. That certainly harshed my mellow. I tried more hemp products but that just makes me jumpy.

It was another hour to Seal Rock were my friend lives so I waited to text my friend until I was at Newport which is half way.

They said there was an accident on Hwy 101, south of Newport, that was going to close the highway for two hours. I just pulled over and worked on my pickup.

I was digging around in the back of the truck and I found another belt. It was 1/4" too short. Story of my life...

I squeaked my way on down the highway.

My friend was not doing as well as the previous visit. His wife needed to go to town so she fixed us a Cuba Libre and took off. We were sitting and watching "Monk" on the TV and not talking. After half the Cuba Libre went down he perked right up and we were able to talk. He asked me if I had my passport ready because he wanted to get out of here and go back to Costa Rica. And stay....

This seems like an excellent plan.

Especially if we have hit on the magic formula to cure Parkinsons disease. The humble Cuba Libre, (limes must be properly muddled) seems to do the trick. I wonder if insurance will cover the cost of Rum. Although that lime I bought was pretty spendy. (actually I stole it from my wife)

I came back to COVID controversy. While I was assured by the head of the Facilities department and member of the University COVID response team that I would not be fired if I failed to turn in my proof of vaccination by 2 p.m. Monday, my fellow resistance friend was not. His supervisor told him he would be fired if he didn't get the booster.

He was pretty upset.

Then I found my job listed on the University Website. I used this to get the hispanic section of the grounds department quite riled up. They are prone to conspiracy theories anyway so they are on the case. After some consultation they were torn between me being promoted (cause I am an old white dude and that is what happens to old white farmer dudes) or my supervisor found out I have applied for other jobs. They then rushed to turn in their Wu-Flu cards. So I guess that was option number three.

I (of course) started a text message argument with the president of the Uni.

This did not go well. Over the course of two days I have come to believe that he is actually behind the do or die mandates. I could not get him to actually state that those who resist should be fired. He noted that our Uni was, "not a democracy," and if people didn't/wouldn't follow the policies they should find a new job.

He also said if I wanted to change things I should be on the COVID team so that implies policies can be changed. Perhaps it is a representative republic. 

I was going to suggest that I suspect it is more of a Tin Horn Dictatorship at this point, but that would be pretty offensive towards the President and not really true. Also, the term I was looking for was not "Tin Horn," it is "Tin Pot," which is the offensive part. "Tin Horn," refers to the idea of pretending to me much more important than you really are. This is how I tend to view local small colleges and the "intellectual" class the goes with them. I kind of feel that the board of trustees and the leadership group of my Uni would fall into this category.

I am disappointed because a positive solution to the problem is so simple. The people who don't want to get the booster were very loyal employees. The loyal opposition, which otherwise does not seem to exist at my Uni. At this point the people who are not boosted are very serious in their opposition and many don't have other good options for employment. I don't think you should push people too far.

Taking this into consideration, you announce the goal is 100 percent vaccination. You give an out to those not boosted by requiring N95 masks and harass them by making them test frequently. Then you declare 100 percent compliance. 

But this has become a religion to crazy COVID people. If you are not vaccinated you are infecting the world and you must comply. Mostly, you must comply. The irony is that no one in regular life wears the mask and many people I know don't have booster. But, we are not all dead. We are not all dying. Meanwhile people who got the booster seem to be dropping like flies from heart ailments.

I am pretty disappointed I was unable to convince my president to avoid do or die mandates and really disappointed that I am in serious disagreement with his leadership style. I did not want to believe certain things about him and so I made excuses. But it is not up to me to promote conflict resolution at LU. I am but a groundskeeper and all I have to do is look moderately busy for the next year and a half. I also need to look for other jobs so I have a backup. If I have raised the ire of middle management I will know as I will be slapped with a safety violation. That is how you get fired here. I have seen the pattern.

This is me mowing the baseball field in the cold. I am wondering why, as I have repeatedly been reminded over the course of at the last month that I can quit or be fired at any time. But, I do like the baseball coach and one of the players work for Grounds so I am actually working for their approval, not necessarily because I have a future at my job or because I will ever get a raise.

Edit: After talking with several people who have been involved in the COVID resistance the best course of action is to get fired and then pursue legal action. It doesn't matter if you have a slim chance of winning. The college doesn't want the publicity. The problem with this course of action is no one wants to hurt the entity that you have invested much of your life into. We work for each other and for the students. The administration blunders around and screws things up and we just do our jobs. Also, there are a number of students and potential students which oppose the strict mandate. The college needs another 100 students to break even. The President has been talking to Private Christian schools in an attempt to recruit students. It rather ironic that this absolute mandate is the sort of thing that has caused private schools to have record enrollments. Those students are not going to attend a college that forces vaccinations if there are any other options.

I just think this is such an incredibly stupid mountain out of a mole hill event that I can hardly believe it. If this college can't handle such a basic human relations type of event, how could I possibly recommend it to a potential student? Insanity... 

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