Thursday, August 31, 2023

Canadian travel advisory

The Canadian government has issued a travel advisory. They’ve informed their citizens that LGBTQ people are not safe in certain states. Be sure to check the laws. 

It’s a shame that certain states are so unwelcoming that there are now official warnings from a foreign government. Of course, it’s no secret that plenty of US citizens now avoid certain states. That is causing plenty of real world effects on things like tourism dollars. 

Families are being separated by those laws. If one of your kids is LGBTQ you aren’t going to go visit grandma and put your kid in danger. If you’ve voted for those laws and don’t know why no one visits now you know. 

Kids growing up in those states have it rough. There’s a meanness that has crept into our political life. Sometimes it takes outsiders, like very polite Canadians, to point it out. 

As for myself, if I have to do a few linguistic tricks to make people happy I can do it. I don’t have to completely understand people to love them. 


Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Getting out of Dodge

I’m pretty familiar with the area hurricane Idalia is directly impacting. Nobody should be anywhere near the impact zone. Tough guys who don’t evacuate are putting themselves at unnecessary risk. You’ve got to be smart. 

Leaving town is often the smarting and toughest thing you can do. People don’t want to leave their homes. They tend to feel comfortable and safe there -even if they really aren’t. 

Know your area. Know the likely hazards. They don’t have to be natural disasters either. Back in my firefighter days there was a mill in town that used massive amounts of chlorine gas. When the control room for those chemicals exploded our family had a plan in place. As I was leaving to go to the fire station my lovely wife had packed up the kids. They headed to a location upwind from town. It was touch and go but the plant was successfully shut down. I had a lot of lot of concerns that day, but at least worrying about my family wasn’t one of them.

In early 2020 we cut short our Florida travels headed home. We got back just before the major pandemic travel restrictions when in place. Three days later Interstate 95 was one long parking lot. 

Most of them people are safer bugging in than bugging out. However, when it’s time to but out it’s time to bug out. 


Monday, August 28, 2023

Stormy Weather

There’s a tropical storm that just formed in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s looking like it’ll develop into a hurricane before it hits Florida. Landfall, at the time I write this, is predicted to be somewhere between Tampa and up in the panhandle. Most weather models predict a hurricane in the 1 to 2 strength. 

However, I suspect there’s the chance of a much stronger hurricane. Current models might not be taking the unusually warm water temperatures into full account. Keep in mind that I went to a college that specialized in weather forecast. Okay, I went there as a journalism major and never took a single weather course. That makes me at least as qualified as goodly number of TV weather people. 

But seriously . . . even tropical storms should be taken seriously. Flooding, as always, is the most common killer. High winds are more dramatic, but it’s drowning that will most likely get you. 

The storm should be making landfall in the middle of the week. Now is the time to put your hurricane preps into motion. Actually, if you live in a hurricane prone area being storm prepared should be something that you do all the time.


Saturday, August 26, 2023

I was gone, back now

My lovely wife and I spent a few days on the coast of Maine. We got to spend some time at an AirB&B with my daughter and her family. Great to be with the grandkids. They grow so fast. Our favorite campground has gotten so expensive that it just a bit more to split the AirB&B. That’s nuts. We basically had a whole house to ourselves. 

It was a bit of struggle for me as I was dealing with some health issues.  My off again, on again leg infection had gotten worse. Thursday I started a new round of treatments. I’m already seeing some progress. 

On the bright side I have a doctor who’s pretty good and gets back to me in a timely manner. That’s saying something as I don’t have a very good track record with doctors. 

So in the near future I’m taking it easy and following doctor’s orders. 

So it goes.


Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Debris on the moon

Looks like the Russians put a probe on the moon. Actually, they put a probe on the moon at a high rate of speed creating a debris field. Russia has never successfully landed anything on the moon. The Soviet Union did, but Russia is not the USSR. Actually, the USSR did some amazing space endeavors. I’m still impressed with the Venus probes that haven’t been equaled since. 

I guess that point: Russia is not the great power the USSR was. It’s still coasting along on the achievements of its earlier empire. The system that created great scientists and engineers appears to have broken down. The current brain drain hasn’t helped either. Russia needed this moon landing to go well. They haven’t had many wins lately. Another high technology failure doesn’t help their brand. 

Of course, one of the legacies of the old USSR was a rather extensive nuclear stockpile. It’s one of the last things keeping Russia in the big leagues. Then again, if their nukes aren’t any better than their space probes they might have an issue. 

Just to make things interesting India has a moon probe on the way. It’s actually a more ambitious probe the Russian one was. Now all they have to do is to stick the landing. Space is hard, so if they can make this happen it’s a testament to their scientific progress. 

The thing about India is that a failure on the moon is not the end of the world for them. The are up and coming so can learn from any mistakes and try again. They are developing a solid scientific and industrial base. Russian, on the other hand, is riding on the coattails of a previous empire. 

Did you ever notice how freaking old those Russian scientists and engineers are?


Sunday, August 20, 2023

Hurricane Hillary

Well that was unexpected. I never thought I’d see a sizable hurricane heading for California. I also never thought it would happened before the Atlantic hurricane season really kicked off. 

Flooding and landslides will most likely be the biggest danger. There is going to be an awful lot of rain in a wide area. 

Unlike in places like Florida, California doesn’t know what to do with these high risk storm conditions. People should be hunkered down and stay put. Roads are already closed in some places. It’s going to be dangerous. Flash flood emergencies are a clear threat to life. 

Unfortunately, this is going to be a big learning experience for a lot of people. If you move to a place like Florida you accept hurricane prep is part of the deal. In California, not so much. 

When you live in an area you learn the things that are the most likely threats to life. In my area of the frozen north it’s often blizzards and cold weather. In the spring we deal with floods from the snow melt and rain. This year it’s a little different as the wet summer repeatedly produced spring flood like conditions. 

I’ve even received tornadoes warnings on my cell phone. It’s an eye opener to get warnings for weather events that were once considered impossible in your area. I guess that’s the big take away: nothing is impossible anymore.


Friday, August 18, 2023

The price of beef

 I was talking to a guy who runs some cattle. We met at the farmers' market and he was wondering what local hamburg was going for. That would be $9/pound or $32 for four pounds. It's pricey, but the quality is absolutely top notch. The taste difference is like day and night. 

The cattle guy said he wished it was $20/pound as he's in the business of selling it. He said last year beef on the hoof was going for $2/pound. At that price all the cattle guys felt they were getting rich. Now it's going for $3/pound. 

Good thing I have a lot of beans and rice. If the price goes too high I'll be treating beef the way Asians do, as a flavoring. 


Thursday, August 17, 2023

Rain to Snow?

 Currently here in northern New Hampshire we've had the wettest summer on record. That came with its own problems. At least temperatures have been pretty livable. 

Here's where it could get interesting. If all this rain had been snow we'd be buried. Deep. Our winters have been pretty mild in recent years. Sure, we've had some big storms and subzero weather, but nothing out of line. 

Early predictions indicate we may have a cold and snowy winter. I'll happily take the snow, but could do without the bone chilling cold. Of course, the weather predictions struggle to get today right, never mind months in the future. 

Then again, better to be safe than sorry. Winter prep is going into high gear.


Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Real Estate

Real estate prices have gone nuts in my area. (The Great North Woods of New Hampshire) It’s pretty weird that an area that steadily lost population for decades is now high priced. 

Like many areas experiencing huge price increases, it’s the out of state buyers pushing up prices. It started during the pandemic. People wanted a place out in the country to get away from it all. That didn’t work as well as some thought it would. Our area had the same lock down most of the rest of the country had. 

People looking to park money in real estate saw prices in my area were relatively low and pounced. I guess compared to many areas they are still a bargain. By local standards, not so much. Wages aren’t that high so people have been priced out of the market. 

A lot of new buyers are picking up local houses as vacation homes. You would not think that a house in the middle of an old mill town would be purchased for vacations. They aren’t cabins in the woods or cottages on a lake. What they do have is ATV access from city roads. That appears to be enough. 

Rental prices have gone up like crazy too. I’m lucky I bought my place when I did. I would be hard pressed to find a livable apartment on my retirement income. I don’t see an end in sight. 


Monday, August 14, 2023

Good Water

A good friend of mine is house shopping. His life situation changed and he has to move out of the place he’s been living in. There is one thing the new place absolutely must have: its own source of water. 

He doesn’t want to be reliant on municipal water. In a SHTF situation most city water water systems will work for a while. The problem is that in a few days or weeks they will fail. You can go weeks without much food, but lack of water will kill you in days. 

One of the big surprises in his house search is the number of properties without any sort of decent water supply at all. I’ve no idea how those houses were permitted without having water. Something sketchy is going on there. 

Not only does he want want well water, he wants to be able to access it without needing a deep well pump. In a pinch being able to use a hand pump or even a bucket is a big deal. We are lucky that there are a lot of properties that have good reliable shallow wells. Some have been there so long they predate electricity. A different friend lives on an old farm and all his water is gravity fed, no pumps or electricity needed. 

Today my house hunting friend will be checking out another property and this one has a decent well. Hope it works out for him.


Friday, August 11, 2023

The Never Ending Story

Well, you hope you’ve heard the last of our little virus of 2019 but it’s the plague that keeps on giving. 

My local numbers are up. Check your area to see what your local conditions are. My lovely wife got a call from a friend who’s quite sick. She suspects she got it from a big church event. My spouse had planned on going to that event but went with me to visit friends downstate instead. Appears to have been the better choice. 

I was feeling pretty crappy all day. My first thought was that my allergies were kicking my backside. However, times being what they are, I took a home test as did my lovely wife. We both tested negative so that’s a relief. It’s the allergies after all. 

Just a heads up.


Thursday, August 10, 2023

Carbon Monoxide Detector

At about 2:30 a.m. the carbon monoxide detector went off. That got my attention. Everyone got up and moving. I opened up the windows and doors and we went outside. After a fan ran a while I went back to check up on things. 

The thing about carbon monoxide is that you can’t smell it or see it. Your body absorbs it better than oxygen. It makes you stupid, sleepy and then kills you. 

So how do you check to see if the problem is the detector itself? The smart thing is to call the fire department and have them check with their equipment. However, I’m not even sure if my tiny volunteer department even has the equipment. What I did was to bring in my second detector in from the mud room and see how that reacted. That one didn’t register any problems. 

I went through the whole house and even checked outside to see if there was something amiss. There were no issues. 

When I pulled the back off the detector that went off there was a whole bunch of fine print behind the mounting plate. It turns out the detector could fail in a high humidity condition. We’d had high humidity in the house for days. The detector was then shut down and thrown away.

The next time I’m in town I’m going to have to pick up another backup detector, or two. 


Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Never Ending Rain

Thanks to the wet weather I’m way behind on my outside projects. I was a bit bummed about it until I realized everybody is behind. A friend of mine is going nuts due to the weather. He has some outside work that requires decent weather. When the weather’s nice he earns $75/hour. The weather is taking a big chunk out of his income. 

Right now I’ve actually got a paying gig that’s waiting on good weather. 

Even more frustrating is the projects I’m not doing. My Blazer bodywork project was so far behind I sold the vehicle “as is” and moved on. Now I’ve got a nice new hitch for my Ford Escape. Unfortunately the driveway is a lake again. 

When the weather is nice I’m torn. Do I tackle those delayed projects or do I play in the sun? To be honest, playing in the sun wins more often than not. It might seem self indulgent but what’s the price of mental health?


Monday, August 7, 2023

Back and Forth

It was a good weekend. Not only did my lovey wife and I escape the ATV Road Warrior madness, we got together with good friends.

You reach a point in life where it takes a lot of effort to get together with friends. There are always demands. Some of my friends are dealing with ancient parents and their own children at the same time. Then there’s always work, getting in the way of life. 

However, it spite of it all, a half dozen of us met at a campground and had a fine time. In the back of our minds was the fact that the clock is always running. If we don’t get together for good times we’ll only see each other at funerals. 

We don’t want to be those people.


Friday, August 4, 2023

They came from out of the wasteland

The whole North Country of New Hampshire looks like a Mad Max movie right now. There’s a big ATV festival in Berlin, NH and the machines are everywhere. 

One of the things that often surprises visitors is the fact that it’s legal to run ATVs on most city and town roads. There are locals who actually own ATVs and never take them in the woods. They use them as their city car. 

Reviews from the locals are mixed. If you own a restaurant, bar, ATV rental, campground or an Air B&B you are happy. If want to have some peace and quiet -not so happy. Between the ATVs, trailers and tow vehicles parking is limited areas. Lines at gas stations are long. 

I don’t own an ATV. Sure, they can be fun, but I probably ride one about once a year. That’s enough for me. For some people they are tools not toys. It’s pretty common around here to mount snow plows on the front and use them all winter to clear driveways. Put a small trailer on one and they are decent farm vehicles. 

However, I know a farmer who replaced his ATVs with electric golf carts. The carts could do all the jobs the ATVs could do. They were also slower and kinda dorky so the hired hands got into less trouble with them.

So what am I going to do during the big festival? I’m visiting friends downstate. They have an nice quiet place in the country. 


Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Neighbor’s Visitor

My nearest neighbor has cameras around her property. For a single woman living alone it’s a sensible thing to do. Having a criminal ex-husband is another reason. 

Recently she shared some video footage from the camera mounted under her deck. Large spiders have been tripping the motion sensor so at first that’s what she thought she had. Not this time. This time her visitor was huge bruiser -a very large black bear. It climbed up on her wood pile and pawed around her basement door. In the end it wandered off without doing any harm.

Personally, I’d rather deal with bears than criminal humans. At least we know how to deal with bears. We aren’t going to be putting anything in the compost pile for bit. On trash pickup day I put the bag out out less than 20 minutes before the truck comes by. As long as bears don’t find any food around they’ll eventually stop coming around. 

It’s been a spotty year for berries and nuts. However, it looks like we might get a good blackberry crop. That would help the bears fatten up before winter. It also would keep them away from houses. When people and bears come in conflict it’s the bears that suffer. 


Tuesday, August 1, 2023


Here it is, early Tuesday morning, August first. The temperature is in the forties. Sure, it’s the high forties, but this is summer. As the day goes on it’s supposed to reach the upper sixties. During the night temperatures are predicted to be in the low forties. 

After that it’s supposed to warm up a bit, but it’s not scheduled to be really hot. That’s why I don’t bother with air conditioners. 

It’s a bit chill in the house right now, but I’m not going to turn the heat on. That’s what sweaters are for.