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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Requiem

Requiem

Robert Louis Stevenson

Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie:
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you ‘grave for me:
Here he lies where he long’d to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the farmer home from the field.

If you’re familiar with Stevenson’s “Requiem” you’ll have noticed I changed the last line. Stevenson’s last line is “And the hunter home from the hill.” Which rhymes much better with “will” than my “field” does.

But if you’re going to talk about my Dad, and that is what I’m doing, if you don’t talk about farming you really don’t know what you’re talking about.

Dad was a farmer, and could he farm. He taught me how to plow. One year you throw the field in, the next out. You step your lands off at both ends of the field and throw this year’s headlands right smack in the middle of last year’s dead furrows, driving a perfectly straight line while looking back over your right shoulder. That makes almost no sense unless you’ve run a moldboard plow, but if you have you know what I’m talking about. The result of that care was fields that were as smooth a pool table, ideal for growing crops.

And he did grow crops. Farmers love to cuss the weather; it’s too hot, it’s too cold, it’s too dry, it’s too wet. But Dad grew a crop every year, and that was the difference between success and failure in the years before subsidies and revenue protection crop insurance. I remember a story Mom told me once: Dad had had a really good year, had earned money farming when nobody was earning money. He went to an accountant, the best around here, to figure out how to minimize his tax bill. The accountant studied his numbers and said, “Bon, what are you doing messing around on that farm? Go into business and you could get rich!” Dad looked at him and said, “What does a businessman, a doctor, a lawyer, do when he gets rich? He goes out and buys some land and plays at being a farmer on the weekends. I’ve already got what that rich fellow wants.”

He was a planner. Every morning we’d get up to WOWO on the radio for the farm news, and Dad at the kitchen table, a piece of paper covered with drawings and plans, rows and columns of numbers. He planned and he studied, and then if he could make the numbers work, he did it.

It’s not easy today, in the day of air-conditioned cabs, electric over hydraulic controls, to understand how hard he worked at farming. I remember Dad telling me he’d been the equivalent of around the world 3 times… on a Farmall M… at 1 1/2 mph… with no cab, no air-ride seat, no air conditioner. Auto-steer? Without even power steering.

He raised livestock like he raised crops, with care, dedication, and hard work. He fed cattle in a bank barn, and farrowed hogs in the woods. Hard, hard work.

Dad and I never talked about religion. We were of a generation and of an inclination to never talk about that sort of thing, but he told me a story once that explained exactly what he felt. On an Easter Sunday once, when I was just an infant, Mom and Dad went to church. There was an old hill farmer at church that day. It seems incredible now, but just a few decades ago there were hillbillies where we live that would come to the big city (Churubusco) only for a special occasion like Easter.

There was a preacher at the time, a good speaker, someone Dad respected. At the end of the service, as we do now, the parishioners shuffled by to shake the preacher’s hand. When the old hillbilly, dressed in his tattered but clean overalls, threadbare cotton shirt, and work boots, got to the head of the line the good preacher didn’t shun him, but didn’t make him welcome either.

Dad was a farmer. He planted seeds in the ground and saw them grow. He understood the mystery, and a church that didn’t respect that mystery, that valued a person on how they dressed or spoke, was not of the God that makes seeds sprout in the good Earth under the care of a good farmer.

When Dad told me that story years later, he didn’t articulate any of that, he just told a story of a preacher who, as we would say today, disrespected a hillbilly. It took me years with my hands in the dirt to understand what he was telling me.

In his old age Dad was hammered by strokes. Towards the end all he would respond to were stories about the farm. A day or two before he died I went in and told him about what we doing on the farm. I don’t remember now what it was I talked about, just everyday stuff; the truck getting stuck, doggone elevator cheating us on corn drying costs, looking at buying a new grain drill, that sort of thing. He didn’t say anything, but he’d look at me and chuckle or snort depending on the story I was relating.

Dad was a farmer to the very end.

He was a farmer.

There’s nothing else, and nothing better, to say.

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Busy As

Tom and I went and seeded wild rice in some lake channels on one of our farms. While we were there we noticed the beavers had been very active. There were fresh shavings and trees they’d gnawed down and trees they were still working on.

This first one was a fair sized tree, maybe a foot in diameter that they had just felled.

Newly Felled
Newly Felled
Newly Felled
Newly Felled

But on the other side of the channel they are working on some huge trees. I can’t imagine what they’re going to do with these when they do get them chewed down.

Big Tree
Big Tree
Bigger Tree
Bigger Tree
Huge Tree
Huge Tree

Beavers are notoriously shy and difficult to photograph. But I was lucky and got a picture of one working on a tree.

Beaver?
Beaver?

They always look so different in real life.

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O, Huntertown!

If you’re from around here [1] you’ve at least heard about Huntertown and their quixotic battle to create their very own sewage plant [2].

To honor the Huntertown Town Council in perhaps one of the most bizarre wastes of the taxpayer money entrusted to public officials ever, I’ve created the following:

Sung to the tune of O Canada

O Huntertown!
Our home and crazy land!
True sewage love in all thy sons demand.

With churning bowels we see it rise,
The Sewage Plant strong and free

To spite the Fort
O Huntertown, we flood the Eel for thee.

IDEM keep our town glorious and free!

O Huntertown, we flood the Eel for thee.

O Huntertown, we flood the Eel for thee.


1. 41.210688,-85.3754639

2. For a less musical but more factual take on this, see The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

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