Monday, July 31, 2023

Weird Schedule

Looks like I’m back on the night shift. You know those “early to bed and early to rise” people? I’m not one of them. Growing up school days were always a challenge. It’s not that I had anything against sunrise. Sunrise is often a good time to end my day. Starting at sunrise? No thank you.

Night shifts have always been my thing. That fact that it’s usually calm and quiet is a nice bonus. Too bad most of the world runs on daylight time. It’s not like I can do my business at town hall at 2 a. m.. I suppose there are more options in the big cities, but big cities aren’t my thing either. 

I even used to do a fair amount of night hiking. Some of my best hiking memories are of crossing the Mahoosuc Range under the light of the moon. Good times. 

Night driving is pretty nice too. I’m fortunate that even in my 60s I still have decent night vision. The only big down side of night driving is the number of moose and deer on the move. The best thing to do is to slow down and keep alert.

It’s my guess that there’s always been a few people who are night owls. Someone had to stay awake to feed the fire that kept the wolves at bay.


Sunday, July 30, 2023

Veggies, Fruits and Nuts

This wet weather has been harsh on gardens. After your tomato plants rot out three times in a row it’s time to give up. Not everything in the garden is doing poorly, but it looks pretty bad. 

Commercial orchards are not doing well. In general most have had significant loses. Due to micro climates some have done well. On the flip side others are almost totally devastated. 

The wild fruits are a mixed bag. Locally blueberries seem to be doing fine. Raspberries are not doing well. My pin cherries don’t ripen. They either fall off the trees while still green or go right from green to brown. I haven’t eaten any of them. There’s hope yet for the blackberries. 

The hazelnuts are actually looking pretty good. Time will tell how they turn out in the end. I’m told that beechnuts are doing poorly. They are an important food for wild animals. 

My sunchokes look good. They are my emergency backup survival food. Sunchokes seems to thrive in harsh conditions and nothing seems to kill them. They are more invasive weed than cultivated plant. The plan is to dehydrate as many of them as possible this year. They are good in soups and stews. 

My plan is to stock up on things that keep at the end of the growing season -no matter the price. My guess is that prices will only get higher as the months go on. 


Friday, July 28, 2023


For years we knew them as Unidentified Flying Objects. Then they went by the term Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Last I heard it was Unidentified  Anomalous Phenomena. It’s all the same to me. 

In Congressional hearings we are told about visitors from “out there.” There are tales of recovered bodies and advanced technologies. 

By now does anyone really think there is nothing to all that stuff? It would be a very poor universe indeed if we were the only ones in it. 

So why don’t we have definitive information? Knowledge is power. Secrets are one of the main currencies of the rich and powerful. That’s how they stay rich and powerful. There are other reasons, like the crimes committee to cover up the truth. 

People can debate this stuff all they want. On a clear night out here in the sticks there is about 50/50 chance that I’ll see a UFO. I know what satellites, planes, planets and other mundane things look like. When I see an object changing colors and shapes then making 90 degree turns I know it’s nothing ordinary. Then again, since I see them all the time, I guess they are “normal.” 


Thursday, July 27, 2023

Unsung Heroes

Rudy Giuliani admits he lied about election workers:

That’s a pretty despicable thing to do. I hope those workers are awarded serious monetary compensation. There are thousands of pole workers. They aren’t famous and the rewards are meager. Also, democracy can’t work without them. All those little people are essential for the proper functioning of our country. 

Personally, I have full confident that my local poll workers will do their job without bias. No matter their political leanings they respect the democratic process. It bothers me not at all that a poll worker may be on the complete opposite side of my politics. They will do their job. If my person wins they will count the votes. On the other hand, if my person loses I have faith that the votes were counted properly. I’m not about to riot in the streets. 

During the last election my niece made me especially proud. She has crippling social anxiety to the point where it’s a disability. In spite of that she volunteered to work the polls. She was young and physically healthy so wanted to take the place of someone older who’s health could have been at risk during the pandemic. 

The thought that a National figure like Rudy could lie to the world about poll workers boils my blood. They were faithfully doing their job and were falsely accused. I’m glad his lies have come to light. The last thing we need is for all those nameless poll workers to decide it’s too dangerous. That’s one more arrow in the heart of the Republic. 


Wednesday, July 26, 2023

History is Made by Stupid People

They got that right. 

Our country has reached a point in time where a lot of people are making History. 

Serves them right.


Tuesday, July 25, 2023


My woods across the road are pretty rough walking in the best of times. After all the rain we’ve gotten it’s gotten much much worse. New Hampshire has a well deserved reputation for being rocky. My property is no exception. The rain has softened the soil between those rocks. It’s easy to twist an ankle or even break a leg in the sudden sinkholes. 

Just to make things interesting the soft ground and thunderstorm winds have knocked down numerous trees. It’s like a giant game of pickup sticks out there. It’s especially bad for the shallow root species like fir and spruce. 

Once the ground dries out there will plenty of work for my chainsaw. However, at the rate things are going we’ll probably have frozen ground before we have dry ground. 

My neighbor’s dog pulled the leash out of her hand when it saw a fox. When the dog didn’t come back she got some friends together to look for it. It wasn’t that far off in the brush, but it took a couple hours to get to it. The dog’s leash had tangled up in the downed trees. Fortunately, nobody got hurt. 

It’s been a wet summer and we haven’t had as bad as some other places not too far away. 


Monday, July 24, 2023

Planning during the summer

So what am I doing during the summer heat? Planning for winter, of course. What else are you going to do in the summer?

One of my projects has been moved near the top of the list. The basement needs better insulation. It’s one of those things I’ve put off for some time. Back when I was spending the bulk of the winter doing the snowbird thing it didn’t matter. 

Most of last winter it wasn’t a big deal. Then we got some windy sub -20 F days. That froze my water line. I have a procedure to thaw it out, but I’d like to avoid that if possible. 

Another thing I’ve been doing is pricing out battery powered snow blowers. A good friend of mine has the large two stage Toro. He’s been very pleased with it. Considering he has a very long driveway in Maine his opinion matters. After researching a lot of battery powered blowers the Toro two stage seems the way to go. Anything cheaper is waste of money. The Toro is also attractive to me as it takes the same size battery as my chainsaw.

Sure, gas machines are cheaper, but I hate the noise and stink. In general I avoid gas powered tools as they send my sensitive lungs into coughing spasms. Not good. 

I’m also tempted to build a fishing shack to haul out on the ice. I kinda miss ice fishing and good shelter makes all the difference. 


Sunday, July 23, 2023

Efficient but fragile

A tornado hit a Pfizer drug manufacturing plant in North Carolina a couple days ago. The plant was heavily damaged. Now there are numerous drug shortages. 

When Covid hit there was a serious shortage of protective equipment. Most of it was being made in China. When China locked down that was pretty much it for much of the world’s production. 

Most of the world’s computer chips are made by one company: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.. 

So how does critical manufacturing get so centralized? That’s just the way Capitalism works. Efficiencies of scale combined with the most efficient processes dominate markets. Before long any competition left are bit players -if that. 

That’s great for driving prices down. It’s not so great when it comes to resiliency. If only one source for a product goes down it’s a scramble and there are shortages. If there were 100 sources for critical items the loss of one wouldn’t be a big deal. The rest could easily pick up the slack. 

Right now there’s a big push to bring manufacturing back to North America. That’s not a Capitalist decision. It’s a political and strategic decision. Shaving a few pennies off the price is less important than supply security. 

Russia right now is in terrible shape when it comes to key high tech supplies. They never learned to make the really high end stuff. Embargoes are taking their toll. Even basic stuff like roller bearings for trains were imported. 

On an individual level all you can really do is to make sure you are well stocked up for your critical needs. When shortages do happen you cross your fingers and hope to be able to outlast the problem. If nothing else, having a cushion gives you time to figure out alternatives. 


Saturday, July 22, 2023

End of the Trail

The summer storms have taken their toll on adventurers. A lot of Appalachian Trail hikers have put their thru hike dreams on hold. Some have given up completely for the year. Others have postponed their hike with the hope of resuming in September. September/October in the northern mountains have issues of their own. That’s when cold and even snow can set in -especially in the higher elevations. 

Currently good long sections of the trail have turned to mud. Babbling brooks are raging rivers. Those hiking solo are especially at risk. Getting off the trail is not a sign of failure but a sign of intelligence. 

I also heard from someone inquiring about the Northeast Backwoods Adventure Route. It’s a route for adventure motorcycle riders. Highways are avoided. It’s mostly country back roads with a goodly amount of dirt roads and even trails. 

The northern section through New Hampshire and Maine are probably mostly passable. I’ve even ridden parts of it on my scooter a few days ago.  However, the sections In Vermont and Pennsylvania are worse. Last I heard some sections are actually closed to the public. 

On the bright side, small rivers that are usually only canoeable during spring floods can be canoed right now. Just make sure not to paddle rivers of flooded sewage and industrial waste chemicals. That would be nasty. Navigating high water is tough enough without the added health hazards. 

It’s been an interesting summer. On the bright side we certainly don’t have a drought. Temperatures have been much more livable than other areas. Some nights are down right cool. It’s actually refreshing. 


Friday, July 21, 2023

Thinning the Herd

Many years ago when I was 17 I was about to purchase my first car. Dad took me aside and gave me a warning that cars would keep me broke. 

I bought the car and didn’t regret it. It needed a lot of work and most of my money to keep it on the road. What it gave me was the opportunity to go where I couldn’t go before. There are places you just don’t take mom or dad’s car. Let’s just say it greatly expanded my dating pool. That’s important to 17 year old males. 

While owning a car was great, dad was right. Cars have been doing a good job of keeping me broke ever since. Of course, it’s not just cars. Just about anything you have to register and insure will do that for you.

Then there’s the time and/or money issue. It takes either a fair bit of money or a fair bit of time to keep vehicles going. With that in mind I’ve decided to thin the motor pool a bit. Instead of fixing up one of my vehicles I’ve put it for sale so someone else can fix it. I just hope it’s not some 17 year old kid with stars in his eyes who buys it. 


Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Summer of the Strike

I'm a union guy. 

No apologies.


Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Local Conditions

Monday evening I went for a 100 mile drive around my area checking out conditions. The rivers are still high, but not dangerously so. While there’s some soft shoulder erosion but the roads are generally good. Northern New Hampshire is doing fairly well. Local climates make a big difference sometimes. Of course, geography plays into it too. 

For a couple years I did a long commute from northern New Hampshire to northern Vermont. There’s a noticeable difference in climate roughly along the Connecticut River. If the roads were bad in Vermont I knew they would be probably be better once I crossed the river. Of course, sometimes it worked the other way around. Once I turned around after just two miles down the road. In Vermont they were wondering where I was as there wasn’t even a storm in that area. 

Then there’s the fact that New Hampshire tends to do a better job of snow removal. That ain’t nothing.

We’ve had heat and humidity, but nothing like the south and west. Our nights have been cool and comfortable so that makes a huge difference. Compared to much of the country, our local conditions have been pretty livable -if wetter than normal. 


Monday, July 17, 2023

In Hot Water

The waters off the coast of Florida is in the 90s right now. That’s hot -too hot. Coral is dying. The coral reefs are key to the marine food chain. That’s just one issue, if a big one. 

You what else hot water is good for? It’s an excellent energy source for massive hurricanes. There are factors interfering with hurricane formation right now. Wind sheer is the big one. Saharian dust is another issue. However, it’s expected that conditions for hurricanes could improve drastically. If that happens the warm ocean waters will super charge hurricanes.

So here I am, looking at hurricanes again. New England is a long way from Florida but that doesn’t mean we are immune from the effects. About a dozen years ago the effects of tropical storm Irene clobbered Vermont. That could easily happen again. Of course, now it would be happening on top of record flood damage that’s still in progress. 

What a lot of people don’t realize is how dependent on Gulf Coast fuels New England is. There’s a single major pipeline that supplies a lot of fuel. It’s been damaged in the past but was repaired just in time to prevent major shortages. Should it get a bit more damage the consequences would be dire. 

Then there’s all the Gulf Coast production, shipping, and refining that shuts down when the storms move in. 

Of course, my main concern is for people. While governments respond to disasters, it’s not instant. At least for the first few days you are most likely on your own. Be aware. Be safe.


Sunday, July 16, 2023


It looks like UPS will go on strike. If you need anything delivered in a timely manner get it right now. This a good time to check your stored items and fill in any gaps. We’ve gotten used to having everything delivered right to our door. Living out in the country the UPS truck is often a welcome sight. 

Some of the slack will be picked by other carriers. Expect delivers to take longer and cost more. There is only so much slack in the system. 

While it’s inconvenient, I’m supporting the strikers. UPS drivers have a high pressure job and put in long hard hours. Their days are micromanaged and that’s always annoying. 

Of course, living out in the sticks it’s not like we get next day shipping. What takes about a day in the city takes about a week to get to me. Actually, my last order was delayed an additional four days on top of that. That was caused by, “Natural Disasters.” Apparently one of their shipping hubs got hit pretty hard by the storm system that caused all those issues in Vermont. 

Much depends on how long the strike lasts. Keep in mind that uncertainty is already causing delays. It’s not just the stuff that comes to your house either. Your mechanic might not be able to fix your car because the parts aren’t being shipped. Lots of things happen with shipping behind the scenes. 

Anyway, just a heads up.


Saturday, July 15, 2023

Solar Powered Cooling

It’s been a hot and humid summer. I still don’t regret not having an air conditioner. However, I am a big fan of fans. Right now my office ceiling fan is set to “hovering Blackhawk helicopter.” It’s very nice. 

One of the great things about my house fans is that the solar electric system has no difficulty keeping them powered. Even if the grid goes down I’m going to be comfortable. 

I also really appreciate the solar electric powered water pump. The well water is ice cold year round. Being able to stay cool and hydrated in a grid down situation is essential.

Fans aren’t that energy intensive, especially compared to air conditioners. It’s pretty expensive to have enough solar power to keep a house AC unit going. Even a small room sized unit really sucks the power down. However, the newer units are much better on energy than the older units. It could be worth having one solar electric AC cooled room in your house. For some people it could be the difference between life and death. Even if you generally do fine in the heat, being able to cool down for an hour or two is a big relief. 

Swamp coolers are fairly low energy usage. The problem is they only really work in dry climates. You also need a reliable source of water. 

There are a lot of people relying on the grid to stay comfortable right now. They’d better hope it all holds together. If the grid goes down people are going to die. That’s the grim reality of it. 


Thursday, July 13, 2023

Night Life

Thanks to having been on antibiotics I’m still avoiding the sun. It makes for a weird schedule. 

I get to bed sometime after three or four in the morning. After about three hours I’m awake and doing things. Yesterday morning I had to make a quick run to the garage to get an oil change. I’m not going to do it myself while my driveway looks like a frog pond. 

After lunch it’s siesta time. That why I avoid the most direct sun and the heat of the day. After dinner I went back into town to get some items from Tractor Supply. Good thing they stay open until 9 p. m.. Later that evening I decided to do some work on the scooter using a headlamp. 

Heck, I’m even tempted to mow the lawn late at night. No -I’m not a horrible neighbor. I’ve an electric lawn mower and it’s not very loud. Also, I really don’t have many neighbors and none are right next door. 

By the 20th or so it should be safe for me to get sun exposure again. Adjusting to a day schedule might take some effort. 


Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Venice on the Winooski

I’ve a daughter who lives in Montpelier Vermont. Yesterday the state capital of Vermont looked more like Venice. The roads looked like canals. That’s some serious flooding. 

Normally the Winooski looks like a trickling trout stream. It’s a pretty low volume river -more of a big brook. Now it’s a city sized lake. 

Not only is the downtown flooded, all roads in and out were impassable. Fortunately, my daughter and her family live on high ground. Unfortunately, my son-in-law works downtown. His office is on the third floor so it was fine. However, all the business records were stored in the basement. It was a mad scramble trying to move them in time. 

There’s a fair amount of footage of the flooding. It’s worth checking out.


Tuesday, July 11, 2023

New England Rain Forest

As I write this we are having a long soaking steady rain. It’s been a wet summer. I’m afraid crops will rot in the fields. 

It seems that there are very few days when we aren’t at least at risk for thunderstorms. Sunday it really mattered where you were. At my location we didn’t get thunderstorms at all. I could watch them marching up the mountain ranges to the east and west of me. Heck, I even went for a scooter ride and drove about 30 miles south. Never felt a drop.

My lovely wife, on the other hand, had business up north. She experienced rain so heavy visibility disappeared. Hail came down and roads washed out. 

We are currently under another flood alert. There are times when I’m really thankful of my house’s elevation. The worse that has happened during floods is that all the roads out of my area are cut off. However, being in the hills, the water levels go down fairly quickly. That’s when we find out of there’s any pavement left behind. Sometimes there isn’t. 

The State of New Hampshire has been quietly preparing for a wetter environment. Drainage ditches have been dug deeper. Every time a culvert is replaced they install much larger ones. Those efforts have been put to the test of late.


Monday, July 10, 2023

So Much for Fruit

Here in northern New England we had some seriously below zero weather back in February. Then we had a hard frost in May. That took its toll on fruit trees. Some orchards show a 99% lose. That’s unsustainable. 

It varies quite a bit due to micro climates. In fact, the damage can vary from severe to minor in the same orchard. It’s difficult to get hard numbers but I think we are somewhere in the 50% loss area. That’s pretty harsh on business but also impacts our food security. 

What we’ll have to watch is whether or not it’s a rate event or the new normal. Farmers are resilient but there are limits. Absorbing one bad year is doable. Doing that year after year isn’t. 

Of course it’s not just the fruit trees that affected. Looking out at the forest it’s apparent that some areas have a lot of dead leaves. That’s not normal for the summer. I’ve no memory ever seeing it like that before. While humans are concerned about orchards, wild animals need the rest of the forest. There are plenty of wild fruit trees that wildlife depends on. 

I’m curious to see what the wild nut harvest will look like in the fall. 

Of course, we are big nation and get our fruit from all over. If the rest of the country does well it might not be too big a deal at the checkout counter. It is certainly affecting my local apple orchards and I’m going to miss the local products. 

One more thing to keep an eye on.


Sunday, July 9, 2023

That Hippy Look

My lovely wife and I were having burgers in town. A couple of the Rainbow Gathering people were also picking up something to eat. They took a good look at my long hair, beard, floppy hat, and asked if I was with the gathering. 

“No, I said,” I’m local, I just look like this.” 

To be fair, it’s not the first time I was mistaken for a Rainbow person. That’s fine. We had a nice chat and I was able to point to a good place to get coffee. 

The event is wrapping up and most people are heading out. I could see them in restaurants and stores in the area. No doubt they gave the local economy a bit of a boost. 

There were a number of arrests during the event. At least half of them were thrown out in court. The Forest Service was going out of their way to cause trouble. Frankly, I was concerned about the overbearing law enforcement presence that the influx of Rainbow people. The vast majority of other charges were things like not using directionals and minor weed violations. 


Friday, July 7, 2023

State of the Schools

I keep hearing from teachers looking to leave the profession. They’ve had it. Some are hoping to squeak out another year or two before they can retire. Others, retirement being too far off, are walking away from the profession. 

Low pay has always been an issue, but that’s not the main complaint I’m hearing now. The big complaint is that they can’t do their jobs. Politicians determine what can and can’t be taught. Children can’t be disciplined and their parents support that. Kids feel they don’t need to learn anything as everything is available on their phones. 

In the mean time elite private schools have banned the use of phones and computers in class. That, boys and girls, is how the elite will continue to be on top. 

Personally, one of the big things that concerns me is the lack of respect for hard facts. Right answers in Math isn’t important. Superstitious beliefs and Science are on the same level in people’s minds. That is,  when superstition doesn’t rule totally supreme. 

Then there’s the simple fact that young people aren’t learning social skills needed for a functioning society. 

Darn, I sound like a cranky old man. Perhaps that what I am. 

Doesn’t mean I’m wrong.


Thursday, July 6, 2023

Life in the Shadows

Summer is a special time in the Great North Woods. Normally I’d be doing a lot of outside activities. Not so much right now. 

One main reason: Doxycycline. It’s a powerful antibiotic. 

On the bright side it knocked the heck out of the infection in my leg. I’m finally on the mend. There are some downsides to the medication. A big one is that it’s pretty hard on the digestion. Diet and staying hydrated is managing the worse of it. An annoying issue is sun sensitivity. It turns you into a vampire that burns up in the sun. 

Here it is, warm and humid, and I’m going around with long pants and long sleeved shirts. I’m even wearing gloves and a big floppy hat. Even after I stop the medication the sensitivity lingers for 10 to 14 days. That knocks a big chunk out of July. 

I guess I’m going to be on the night shift for a bit. The good news is that I have my own freaking beach on the lake. There’s no reason not to go swimming in the dark. There’s nothing lurking in the dark water that will eat me. 

Life goes on. 


Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Stopped by a State Trooper

Monday I was stopped by a state trooper. I knew it was going to happen as soon as he saw me. He flipped his lights on and did a quick 180. When you see that it’s time to find a place to pull over. 

Good eyes on that young man. He noticed my outdated registration sticker. The car is also overdue for a state inspection. 

It’s been a while since I was pulled over by a LEO. He did the standard license and registration thing but also informed me he was wearing a body camera. That’s different. 

I had the new registration under the visor. As luck would have it I was on my way into town to get the car inspected. He ran my license and registration. Then he asked if I wanted him to put the new stickers on. Sure, and thank you, I said. Then he let me go. Nice guy. 

When I got to town the garage was closed -in spite of what their web page said. Oh well, I’m going to try again today. Hope I don’t get stopped on the way in -again.


Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Happy Independence Day

Hope everyone is being amazingly independent. It’s the day for it after all.


Monday, July 3, 2023

10 States with the MOST Freedom.

I like Brigg's lists. This one caught my attention. It really matters where you live. 

Notice that Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont made the top ten list. That's one of the big reasons I like it up here. 

Notice that Texas and Florida did not make the list. 

'nuff said.


Sunday, July 2, 2023

Florida’s New Laws

New laws just came into effect in Florida. They have laws that affect both documented and undocumented immigrants. People no longer feel welcome or safe in Florida. They are leaving in droves. There’s already regret from members of the business community that they will not have enough workers. 

I hope at least some of them move to New Hampshire. Currently our unemployment is at 1.8%. In anyone’s book that’s a labor shortage. 

Would I want “those people” as neighbors?

Heck yes!

When I was in in Florida the vast majority of my interactions with “that community” were highly positive.  My car broke down in a “rough” neighborhood outside of Miami. A bunch of locals helped me fix the car and only one of them spoke much English at all. They were a really nice bunch of guys. 

Then there was the time the motor on our sailboat died and the boat was being sucked out of the marina and out to sea. We were towed back by Hispanic fishermen. They wouldn’t even take any money for their efforts. 

Those are just two examples. There were many more. I don’t look at people as documented or undocumented. They are just people. Some politicians have forgotten their humanity. 


Saturday, July 1, 2023

Student Loans

The Supreme Court rejected Biden’s student debt relief plan. 

So what happens next? 

I know one thing that’s not going to happen. The loans will not be repaid. Payments have been suspended long enough that people don’t budget for them anymore. They’ve gotten used to not paying those bills. Good thing they got some relief as the virus really messed up the economy for a while there. 

Right now most people are living paycheck to paycheck. Frankly, I’m betting most people can’t start payments again -even if they wanted to. 

There will be a lot of people in default. That’s going to seriously affect their credit rating. They won’t be able to finance things like cars and houses. The economy and especially the financial sector, will really take a hit. 

The economy was chugging along, in spite of all the recent challenges. This might just be the thing that  tips it over the edge. Good job Supreme Court. 

Now is the time to prepare for some serious economic disruptions. How you deal with that in your personal lives depends on your own situation. However, I wouldn’t be in a hurry to take on any massive debt right now. Might not be a good time to get that $80,000 pickup truck.