March 1st

The view off of our porch on March 1st.

Looking West
Looking West

Sure is pretty. Hard to imagine the first day of spring is less than 3 weeks off.

If you turn your gaze a little lower, this is also the view off our front porch.

Owen the Snowdog
Owen the Snowdog

Owen loves the snow and cold. It makes me want to burst into song.

Sung, of course, to the tune of “Frosty the Snowman”

Owen the snowdog was a jolly happy soul
With a stubby tail and a pointy nose
and two eyes that saw your soul [1]
Owen the snowdog is a fairytale they say
He rolled in the snow but the children
know how he bit them all one day
There must have been some magic in that
old collar they found
For when they placed it ’round his neck
he began to bark and growl


1. Yes, I know I’m rhyming “soul” with “soul”. This ain’t fine poetry, or even country music.

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Fish and Lemons

If you’re like me you have a container of preserved lemons in the refrigerator.

Preserved Lemons
Preserved Lemons

I love to preserve things; canning, salting, fermenting, smoking, freezing. You name it, I like to do it. But then I end up with things like a quart of preserved lemons and wonder, “What do I do with this?”

The quart of preserved lemons in our refrigerator finally guilted me into using them. I diced about a half dozen of the lemon slices fine and used them to top fish with olives.

Before Cooking
Before Cooking
After Cooking
After Cooking

Really easy, really tasty.

Baked Fish with Lemons and Olives
For 2

Ingredients
Two whitefish fillets, I used tilapia
About 6 slices of preserved lemons
About a handful of green olives, pitted
2 cloves garlic
2 rosemary sprigs [1]
Olive oil
White wine
salt and pepper

Procedure

Turn your oven on to 450.

Finely dice the preserved lemons
Slice or roughly chop the green olives
Thinly slice the garlic

Scatter the garlic in a baking dish
Brush the fish with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Consider how salty your olives and preserved lemons are when salting the fish.
Scatter the lemons and olives over the fish
Top with the rosemary sprigs
Pour about 1/2 cup of white wine in the pan

Cook until the fish just flakes apart. My fillets were about 3/4’s of an inch thick and it took about 18 minutes.

Plate on top of some sauteed greens (I used collards) with rice. Spoon the sauce over and serve.


1. Debbie has kept a rosemary plant alive all winter. It’s so nice to be able to clip a sprig of fresh rosemary in February when it’s 5 degrees below 0 outside.

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I’m a Lumberjack

I love cutting wood.

The Big Load
The Big Load

When you get done cutting a load of firewood you sure enough know you’ve done something. You’re soaked in sweat, despite it being winter. Your arms ache, and if you’re an old guy like me, your back does too. You have sawdust in your ears, and they’re ringing from the howl of the chain saw. Your face is scratched from being tagged by branches.

And you have a big old pickup load of wood to show for it. Next year when that wood’s seasoned we’ll put it in the fire and enjoy it all over again.

There’s not a much better way to spend an afternoon than with a chainsaw[1].


1. And it’s even better when it’s your dad’s chainsaw and you can remember him. Lord, could he swing an ax.

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It’s New, It Must be Good

Do you like this new theme for my blog? It’s just ok, I think. But it does look nice on a mobile device [1]. And being an old fellow with old eyes I really like the big and bold fonts.

On the non-mobile view I don’t like the menu on the left. That’s prime real estate, the post should be there, and the menu on the right. I’ve always been a wannabe journalist [2], and when I worked on the newspapers in high school and college I was always most interested in layout. That menu just doesn’t belong there. I haven’t explored the theme options much yet. Maybe I can move it.


1. Mobile device == a tiny screen that you can’t see anything on, especially in sunlight, and you can’t type, nor hover over any item. But mobile devices are really expensive, fragile, and have outrageous monthly charges, so they must be good.

2. Hence this blog.

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Fame

Just in case you thought Cadillac couldn’t get any dumber than their ELR commercial last year [1], they rolled out this brain-dead wonder this year set to David Bowie’s “Fame”.

Honestly, did no one at Cadillac listen to the lyrics? Or did they assume anyone simple enough to buy a Cadillac would never actually listen to a David Bowie song?

“Fame, puts you there where things are hollow”

– like a Caddy, which is just a Chevy.

“To bind your time, it drives you to, crime”

– Clearly we want our luxury automobile brand to be associated with committing crime to buy one.

“Feeling so gay, feeling gay?
Brings so much pain?”

– Well, that makes me want to rush out and buy a Caddy.

If this is the best GM can come up with maybe the President should’ve let GM go down the tubes.


1. Have you forgotten this one? Now the second dumbest commercial ever made.

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It’s Good to be Meat

We took Blackie and Red to the butcher’s today.

Blackie and Red
Blackie and Red

It’s disturbing to take animals you’ve [1] cared for for over a year to be killed. But they’re cows and they had a good life. They were raised on ample pasture and always had good water and good feed.

I’ve been reading Edward Abbey’s very odd book “Desert Solitaire.” In it he writes about owls and rabbits, and that the owl sits in a tree and calls. The rabbit is huddled somewhere and if the rabbit never broke cover, it would never be eaten. But the rabbit does and is. Abbey speculates about why the rabbit does that. Does the rabbit want to be eaten, does it come out when the owl calls? If so, does the rabbit feel gratitude at that moment?

As I said, it’s a very odd book.

But it’s the kind of thing you think about when you’re faced very immediately with the reality that the meat you’re eating was a living animal.

I felt sad taking Blackie and Red in to be killed. But I feel worse when I go to the grocery store and pick up a plastic wrapped chunk of meat and feel nothing. If I’m going to eat meat I at least owe the animal the very best life it could have; wholesome food, clean water, green pastures, shade from the sun and shelter from the wind.

Blackie and Red had all of that.


1. As usual when I say the plural pronoun, in this case “you’ve”, I mean “not me.”

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The (Christmas) Eve of Destruction

We have two small bins on the farm that Dad bought as government surplus back in the early 1960’s. I think he paid $300 each for them. We got about 40 years of good use out of them but they hold barely 2000 bushels each and we harvest that much corn in less than 2 hours now. So we’ve really outgrown them and they’ve just been rusting for the last 10 years or so.

We have an abundance of labor right now with my favorite nephew Joe home from Purdue for the holidays [1]. The weather’s stayed mild, that made it a good time to take these bins down.

We borrowed a demolition saw from our neighbor. We’re using it to cut the bin in half from top to bottom.

High Cut
High Cut
All photos Zumbrun,D., 2014

Tom’s in the loader and Joe’s driving the tractor. It’s the first time Joe’s driven that tractor, no better time to learn than with your brother in the bucket 10 feet off the ground with a running saw [2].

Everyone felt better making a low cut on the bin.

Low Cut
Low Cut

Owen, however, was still skeptical. As are Red and Blackie, our cows watching from the left.

Skeptical Owen
Skeptical Owen

I have the oxy-acetylene torches there, finishing the last couple of inches that the demolition saw can’t reach.

Blackie
Blackie
Red
Red

Blackie and Red have a date with destiny January 2nd. We try not to think about it too much.

That demolition saw is a miracle tool.

Smooth Cut
Smooth Cut

It only took a minute or two to slice the bin from top to bottom.

We [3] then tied a log chain to the top of the bin and to the tractor and started pulling.

Ready to Pull
Ready to Pull

Owen is wisely heading in the other direction.

Pulling
Pulling

And the bin very smoothly came down.

Pulling
Pulling
Pulling
Pulling
Pulling
Pulling
Pulled
Pulled

The bin looks huge lying flat! Now what to do?

Mash It!
Mash It!
Mash It Good!
Mash It Good!

We’ll [4] take the demolition saw and cut it into small enough pieces to load on our trailer [5] and haul into town to sell for scrap.


1. or Christmas if you prefer. I don’t want to offend anyone by referring to Christmas as a holiday.

2. As always, safety first is our motto.

3. As always, when I say “we” I mean “not me.”

4. Not me.

5. The trailer’s 32 feet x 8 feet. So the pieces don’t have to be too small.

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At The Library

I was at the library today, renewing my PLAC card [1]. While I was waiting for the librarian to punch through the 40 or 50 screens it takes to do that a man with a couple of young, maybe 10-12 year old, girls came up to the terminal next to me.

I tried not listen, really, but the stations at the library are very close together. They returned a book they thought was lost. After doing that the librarian took that book off their record and said they still owed $23 in fines, and said they couldn’t check books out until they’d paid it down to $10.

The girls were standing there holding books, and their dad said, “we can’t check those out now.”

Then they stepped off to the side and he looked in his wallet, figuring (I’d guess) whether he could find $13 so his kids could get a couple of library books.

Oh my God, I thought. I had a wallet full of twenties. I’d never miss one. Could I hand the librarian one and say, “pay their fine down?”

I didn’t. And I’m deeply ashamed.


1. Public Library Access Card. Yeah, I know, it’s like saying ATM machine.

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Me and My Apple

I’ve been trying for 3 weeks to get signed up as an Apple Developer so I can publish a mobile app to the App Store for my favorite client.

And I’ve been thwarted at every turn. D-U-N-S numbers that don’t match. Legal entities that are inconsistent. A multi-step enrollment process that you have to go through every step from start to failure every time. 14 day turnarounds to update a record in a database.

Now, my company’s revenue is about 3×10-5% of Apple’s, but it just seems like a bad idea to make it difficult for people to write applications to run on your platform.

Edit 12/12/14: This story has a happy ending. I finally gave up on their email support and called them on the phone. A real person answered the phone. After describing my problem, he put me on hold for a minute. He came back on and said everything looked like it should work. I tried it again and read off the error message I was getting. He went away for another minute and then came back and said, “try it now.”

Lo and behold, it all worked.

That’s the first time I’ve been impressed with anything Apple’s done.

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