February started pleasantly enough. We carried on with our daily walks to the north edge of the property and bring back two pieces of firewood. We’ll split it in the spring. Then the temperatures plummeted. The cold came out of the artic and washed over us and kept going as far south as Texas.
Every second February we have been volunteering as SOWERS at Victory Camp in Alvin, just outside of Houston, Texas. We have been there when temperatures reached freezing and the city ground to a halt. This month they went much lower for longer. The green illusion bit them and wind energy dropped to negligible amounts. The natural gas distribution was disrupted by temperatures much lower than it was designed for. That’s fair from a design standard perspective. If we designed everything for once in a hundred year events we’d have a lot less stuff built because of cost of construction. It still bites when that once in a hundred year event hits. There were also some outages at power plants while they thawed some things. That much cold with disrupted electricity supply was disastrous for Texas. If we had been there our rig would have not been the place to be. You can exist in it at those temperatures if you have power and propane. Pretty iffy if you don’t.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch…
The temperatures stayed in the minus thirty Celsius and went below minus forty in both Celsius of Fahrenheit. The coldest it got, according to the Weather Channel app was – 43 C. (-45 F.). We hunkered down by the woodstove and read a lot.
Not everything went perfectly. Our smart washing machine is not smart enough to know that the drain trap froze. It happily pumped the water anyway and the drain pipe overflowed. One of the reasons we chose this washing machine was it uses very little water. It is still more water than we want pumped out onto the floor. Time for the wet mode of the wet/dry shop vac.
In moving the washer out from the wall to get that last little bit of moisture under it, I discover a soggy sheet of newspaper that I had left under the machine when we installed it. We threw it out the door. About twenty minutes later on my way past to dump the shop vac I kicked the piece of paper because it had not been thrown far enough. It shattered. Oh. Don’t think I want to hang outside much.
Finally after almost a year’s hiatus I got active again on this web site and started updating it. This month’s update is being done before the next month is done. Not quite real time, but better than the last eleven month’s updates. I issued the Christmas newsletter just before St. Patrick’s Day. Covid supply issues. Or sloth. Take your pick. It’s hard to tell the difference sometimes.
Everything is relative. A month ago minus 22 seemed cold. When it warmed up to minus twenty-eight one morning after the cold snap we headed to Edmonton. Out of over seventy stores in Edmonton that sell Unbun products only one sells Unbread. We went there and I braved the Covid shopping experience and the masktapo and bought three loaves. At $8.99 a loaf it isn’t something you’d use to make sandwiches for a crowd but for a low carb slice of bread once in a while treat it might be okay. The cashier is shocked at the price and double checks. I don’t tell her my geezer story of buying bread at the corner store and getting a dime change from a quarter. I just want to get out of there. Not used to crowds. Not used to being barked at by the line Nazi. I get back in the car and we eat the cold cuts I had bought for a low carb lunch. Then we headed to Millwoods to see Becky and the grandkids.
We stood around in the backyard visiting until it was time to head back home. We loaded the boxes of our Costco on-line orders that had piled up there and drove east. In Lloydminster we shopped at Home Depot and Princess Auto for stuff not available locally and after buying and eating more cold cuts we drove home to arrive after dark. A long day of around elven hours of driving and being around people. Glad to be home and waiting for the woodstove to catch up.
A friend sent me a link to Scanner Bin - the Clever Document Scanning SolutionUSA Link . He was mocking somebody buying something that was basically a cardboard box. He had a point. This was not just any box, mind you. Somebody had done the work to make a cardboard box that was just the right size and which folded up into a flat package so you could slip it into your briefcase. And there was an optional LED light strip that gave shadow-free “scanning”. I can see if you had a daily need for this that there could be value in buying it. Your time wouldn’t have to be worth much before it wouldn’t be worth it to search for just the right size box and box-cutter it without box-cuttering yourself and then the light source…
You could order one, copy it and send it back. Seems unethical not to mention being petty. Come on, man! You’d do that for fifteen bucks? Unfaithful in the small things? What could that extrapolate to?
I worked with somebody who was that frugal and focussed. He ordered a bracket for a trolling motor. It had plastic coated mild steel pieces that clamped around the outdrive of your inboard/outboard boat motor. The metal pieces were attached to a thick piece of plywood that you clamped your trolling motor to. Voila! You could now steer your trolling motor from the steering wheel of the boat. Inside. Out of the sun and rain. No need to hang your butt over the transom when you were trolling for salmon. Seems like a great idea. I’d be suspicious of the additional stresses on the outdrive when you were bouncing along cutting across the waves at high speed, but he wasn’t.
The trolling motor bracket arrived in the post. He brought it into our workshop in the paper mill and copied the metal pieces. He used company supplied stainless steel on company time. Way better than plastic coated mild steel as far as corrosion resistance goes. Might not be quite as strong, but strong enough, I guess. Never heard of his trolling motor falling off. He did spend some of his own time at home cutting some wood for the clamping bracket, but not much. Certainly on a cost-benefit basis he got his time’s worth when he sent the bracket back for a hundred dollar refund. I’ve got logs in my eyes so not worried about his twigs. The transaction is instructive, however. He is a millionaire now. I’m not. Everything has a price. If you want something are you willing to pay the price? Choose wisely.
Books of This Month
I overheard a bookstore owner, of all people, explain to somebody that people are either doers or readers. I did more this month so I read less. Here's what I read:
Michael Crichton wrote Odds On under the name Robert Lange Canada LinkUSA Link This is the next one in the series I have been reading of Michael Crichton novels that he wrote before he risked writing in his own name. It is readable even if the cover of the editions the Saskatchewan library system carry are embarrassingly lurid. The fast computer of the day used to plan a heist. What could possibly go wrong?
The Lightning StonesCanada LinkUSA Link Jack DuBrul writes another Philip Mercer adventure with a bit of semi historical stuff about Amelia Earhart thrown in. Story moves along with a few twists and turns. Not going to make a lot of margin notes reading this one. Hint: it's not a documentary or science text.
Barry Estabrook wrote Tomatoland, a non-fiction book about the tomato industry that brings a year-round supply of these shiny, red, perfect looking but tasteless fruit to your supermarket. Disturbing, informative read. A side mention of some alternatives to factory farming. Canada LinkUSA Link
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson. Saint Francis said the curious man is an adulterer. I was curious about this ”classic” book. I can see why it was a classic in its day, but wouldn’t waste my time on it again and don’t encourage you in that direction. Canada LinkUSA Link
Ken Follett's The Modigliani Scandal is a short book by Follett’s recent standards. It is a fast paced thriller that keeps you guessing. Canada LinkUSA Link
Deep State Target by George Papadopoulus A true tale of deep state corruption and misuse of the justice system. The heroes of Waco carry on with J. Edgar Hoover’s DNA flowing in their veins and the help of their co-conspirators in other agencies and the justice department. Canada LinkUSA Link