25FEB2021 – OCF Update

Yesterday I cranked out a few thousand words to a story I’m working on and it felt great!  Nothing but positive energy.  Writing about something with no relation to Leftists or Wokeness was absolutely rejuvenating.  So I’m going to start writing a little fiction everyday.

Spring is starting to make some headway here at the compound.  I actually left the snow on the lower driveway this last snowfall and it’s melting sloppily on its own.  This is big.  By the end of February my back is usually pretty beat up.  And because of this I’ve been very slow to ramp up my use of the rower but with the specter of snow removal slowly receding in to the rear view mirror I will start building up on the rowing.

One of the negative effects of the spring season is the reappearance of the black bears in the area.  Last year they flattened Camera Girl’s beloved bird feeding pole.

This year she has vowed to pre-emptively take in the feeders when the local animal control warnings go out.  We shall see.

And at long last the replacement part for Camera Girl’s beloved dishwasher has arrived from Wuhan, China. It took three months for the part to arrive.  Something about interruptions at the factory.  Whatever.  There is much rejoicing and  the repairman will be declared a Hero of the Motherland and our next dog is sure to be named after him.

So as you can see my mood is ebullient and even the prospect of Dementia Joe declaring another fatwa against me and mine just isn’t getting the job done today.  Pretty soon the crocuses will be crocussing and the daffodils will be doing whatever daffodils do and I can get out with my beloved Sony A7 III and my beloved Sony 90mm F/2.8 macro lens and all will be right with the world.

 

Huzzah!

photog’s Corner – Surviving Winter – Exercise – Rower

Normally Camera Girl and I like to go for a daily hike through the local State Park.  It’s pretty scenic with a lake, pond, streams, tree covered hills and wildlife.  But in the last week or so we have returned to the usual New England winter condition.  There will be a foot or more of snow on the ground for the next few weeks so that will put a damper on our hike.  And that hike was more than just recreation.  It was part of the exercise that we really need this time of year.  Snow removal is less harmful to your body if you maintain good muscle tone.

We have a treadmill and an exercise bike but I despise both of these devices passionately.  I have a lat machine and I’ll do calisthenics but it’s hard to get a meaningful aerobic workout this way without some pretty serious exertion.

Many years ago my father had told me that rowing was a good aerobic exercise that didn’t wear out the knees and hips.  There was a rower at a gym that I had access to at work at one time.  And it was a good machine to use but using it at work was inconvenient.  So I was pretty sure that a home rower was the right choice for me.

A couple of months ago I did a search into what rowing machine would be a good choice.  After looking at several types and several manufacturers I settled on the flywheel air rowing machine type and the Concept 2 brand as the best quality out there.  The problem was that they were only made in one factory in Vermont and the COVID madness had effectively slowed the output to a trickle.  So there was a two month waiting list to get one.

Well last week it finally showed up and I was like a kid at Christmas assembling it.

It didn’t take much time or effort and before I knew it I was using it and I was very, very pleased with the experience and the results.  The unit is well made and sturdy.  It really is a painless workout and it eats up calories relatively quickly and painlessly.  Where I’ve set it up I can look out onto the yard and relax my mind.  Next I’ll set up some music in the area and I’ll be in nirvana.  I even got Camera girl to try it out and she was unexpectedly very interested.  So it looks like we’ll come out of the winter hibernation more or less intact.

If you’re looking for an aerobic machine for the home and can afford the relatively hefty price tag ($900 plus tax and shipping) I can recommend this model.  If you are cautious wait a few months and I’ll update this review for any possible problems.

Texit Envy

Yesterday I listed among my Friday finds an interview at the Gateway Pundit with Texas State Representative Kyle Biedermann about the Texit Bill that he will introduce into the Texas legislature to begin the process of determining if the citizens of Texas want to leave the United States and reassert their sovereignty as the Republic of Texas.

During the interview Representative Biedermann mentioned that there are other states that are also interested in pursuing the idea of becoming independent of Washington.  So, I went to the Texit website to see what else I could find out.  There was quite bit of information on the Texit project but no other information on any other states looking into independence.  But just knowing that something was going on to finally push back against the Left was like getting a shot of pure oxygen after breathing stale air for a week.

As I’ve said many times before, I am tethered to the area by the grandchildren living here and Camera Girl would fight me like a tiger if I tried to move her away from them.  But a day will come when moving will be possible and if Texas does this great thing, I feel sure I would go there.  And I wouldn’t be surprised if others of my family joined me.  There has been talk already of fleeing the Northeast for freer areas but even red states are currently under the thumb of the federal government.

The idea of Texas gaining independence is thrilling enough but imagine if a number of contiguous states join them in some sort of loose confederation.  I feel drunk just thinking of it.  Imagine escaping from the Leftists once and for all.  Never again having to be called racists during another election.  Never having to live under laws that force you to lose the rights of a free man to property, religion, speech free association and self-defense.

I was trying to think what would be the greatest pleasure that I would get from states gaining their freedom and I think it would be never having to have idiots like Barack Obama or Joe Biden spoken of as the leader of my nation.  I would never have to listen to Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer make a speech unless doing it for laughs.  I wouldn’t be surrounded by fools who would let the federal government lock us in our homes and force us to wear masks for no reason.  I wouldn’t have a government that would allow lunatics to hijack the cities and burn down honest people’s shops to protest the death of some criminal.  I wouldn’t have to live in a place where the news stations tell me that I’m a racist and a science denier because I don’t believe in white privilege and I don’t think that a man wearing a dress is a woman.  Well, I guess that’s more than one thing but I think all those things are linked together.  Let’s just say that the greatest thing about living in a real Free America would be living in a place that wasn’t completely crazy by design.

As you can probably tell I’m pretty excited to hear about this movement in Texas and now I’m almost a little down knowing there’s not much I can do about it currently.  But what I will do is keep up with the information that becomes available and update the folks here on the site when something occurs.

I spent a few months down in Texas on an engineering assignment twenty-five years ago and those folks down there were so friendly that I was dumbfounded by it.  And the same thing happened every time I was in a red state.  It’s just wrong to allow good people to be badgered and tormented by sick demented weirdos just because they’ve rigged the system against us.  Here’s to hoping Texas makes it happen.

Some Thoughts on Religion, Organized and Otherwise

Of late I have been looking into the current state of religion in our world and more specifically in my general vicinity.  I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church and received a relatively thorough indoctrination into its tenets through a 12-year course of primary and secondary Catholic education (boys only high school with religious brothers as faculty) along with multiple members of my family in the Catholic clergy (priest and nun).  In fact, my uncle was pretty high up in the administration of a Catholic order so I got to see a bit more of the nuts and bolts of Catholic clerical hierarchy than I cared to.

From all this I have come to the conclusion that the Catholic Church rarely has much to do with God.  First of all, making unmarried men the spiritual leaders of your community is completely insane.  Some young man who has never been married and will never have children is the last person I would go to for advice and spiritual guidance when my back is to the wall.  Secondly the idea of forced celibacy on young men is also an incredibly unstable arrangement.  I’m sure there is a subset of men for whom it can work.  The idea of abstaining from sex could allow for concentration on less worldly concerns but I suspect that some form of castration would be the only practical way to eliminate the hormonal influences on a man’s mind.  And the horrors of the pedophile history of Catholic priests is all the proof I need that it is a terrible idea.  From what I’ve read celibacy is more of a business decision that the church adopted as a way of preventing nepotism from infiltrating up the hierarchy of the Church.  Originally parish priests could marry.  Only the ambitious clerics who eventually wanted to climb the ladder to monsignor, bishop or higher remained celibate in order to be considered for this advancement.

Because of this restriction the Roman Catholic hierarchy has been conquered by homosexuals all the way up to the Vatican.  The grooming of young men in the seminaries is an abomination.  Any legitimacy it may have had as the primary vehicle of Christ’s Church on earth has been completely forfeited by the sins that its priests have committed against innocent children and by the failure of its leadership to uncover these crimes and hand the criminals over to the authorities for the heaviest sentences that can be handed down.

I have of late been interested in the Orthodox Catholic denominations and the Traditionalist Catholic.  The Greek and Russian and other churches have much in common with the Roman Church and would probably be relatively familiar to me.  The lack of a celibate clergy is to my mind a big advantage.  And the liturgy would be familiar.  I will have to do a good amount of research to understand whether any of the problems of the Roman Catholic Church exist to a greater or lesser extent in the Orthodox churches.

Not having attended services to any extent in any of the protestant denominations my knowledge of their practices is based on popular information.  One of the recent innovations in some of the denominations is female clergy.  Another recent innovation is acceptance of homosexuality in the ministry and finally the sanctification of homosexual marriage.  As you might guess I won’t be interested in any sect that stands for any of that.  In fact, I won’t even get involved in any church that starts editing gender neutral wording into its Bible.  I’ll stick to the most archaic wording I can get.  King James is plenty recent enough.  If necessary, I’ll go back to the original Greek.  I can read that just fine.

I went to an article on denominational differences and put together this list of “safe” choices.  I eliminated any denominations that ordain women or sanction homosexuality in any way shape or form.  Interestingly that even knocked out the Mormons, which surprised me.  These are the sects that were left.  Adventist, Southern Baptist Convention (stopped ordaining women in 2000), Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, United Pentecostal Church International, Orthodox Presbyterian Church.  Now of course I actually need to know more about the other aspects of their beliefs.  Then I’ll have to see what local congregations exist in my neck of the woods and do a meet and greet with the ministry and find out if I fit in.

And finally, if all of these choices fall through then I have seriously considered starting my own church.  After all what did Saint Peter, Martin Luther and John Knox have that I ain’t got?  I’m just as created in God’s image as any of them and I can definitely side step a whole bunch of pitfalls that they’ve stepped in along the way.  And I sure as hell won’t be introducing celibacy into my ministry.  In fact, I think that I would require anyone thinking of leading a church to be the father of grown children and I’d use the job that he did raising them as prima facie evidence of his ability to guide his flock.  And I’d also want to meet his wife.  If she is a feminist that would be big old stop sign in my evaluation of his judgement.  And finally, I’d find out if he voted for Donald Trump.  If he didn’t, I’d boot him out and slam the door behind him.

But seriously, religion is a personal relationship between man and God.  The Bible says that the way to pray to God is to lock yourself in an empty room and talk to Him directly.  No one needs a big shiny church or a guy in a black suit to help you.  But if you can live in a community of people who have the same beliefs as you that is an enormous advantage spiritually, psychologically and physically.  And that’s the reason for my search.  I’d like to find a community.  If I have to, I’ll build it myself.  And with the COVID lockdowns I already have a beard that would do any Old Testament patriarch proud.

Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

I don’t take many photos of bumble bees because they are so ubiquitous around my yard.  So I don’t pay them much attention. BORING!

But one time I noticed a bumble bee on a flower that seemed interesting.  He was sitting on a flower and not collecting pollen.  So I took a closer look.

 

And what do you know, it’s a robber fly.  Notice the enormous bulbous eyes that protrude above the head.  Look at the long coarse hairs around the mouth and the thick piercing organ sticking out.  Notice the clear separation between the head and thorax.. Finally notice that the back legs lack any pollen baskets that a real bee possesses.

Here’s a blurry closeup of its head and thorax.

I remember reading in a book on close-up photography the author’s respect for the ferocity of robber flies.  He said something like “if robber flies were the size of dogs we would be afraid to ever leave our houses for fear of being eaten alive.  Sounds like a good premise for a science fiction story.

Robber flies come in various shapes and sizes and only a few are mimics of bumble bees.  But they all are ferocious predators and mostly hunt by ambushing their prey.in flight.  And if you are careless they’ll even give you a painful bite if you attempt to catch them by hand.

I’ve found several different types of the robber flies on my property and I find them very interesting.

I was able to get a close look at this one by using the magnified view that my Sony A7 III provides.  That means I didn’t have to get too close to see it.  These things are very skittish and it flew away before I could get close enough to do a naked eye visual.

06DEC2020 – OCF Update

Sorry if things are a little slow this weekend with the posts, I’ve been enjoying the New England weather.

This weekend we have been blessed with an early December snow storm.  And even though it’s not the first snow of the season this was the first legitimately annoying snow of the year.  That’s because it was one of our trifecta storms.  It starts with a typhoon of rain, then it shifts to sleet and ends with a good think layer of snow.  When you get that combination it is delightfully heavy and certain to cause back ache, heart palpitations and exhaustion.  And it requires two separate removal operations.  Once the sleet ends and the snow begins in earnest you have to remove the slushy layer before it turns into a bottom layer of rock-like ice.  So you spend several hours (depending on the size of your driveway and parking area) shoveling and slinging slush and that is the heaviest snow there is.  And unfortunately snow blowers really don’t handle slush very well so this has to be done with the good old snow shovel.

Then you wait until the storm is over and remove the snow.  But unfortunately there is always an ice layer at the bottom even after the initial slush removal step so this is never as easy as a dry snowstorm.  It rained here on Friday through to Saturday morning.  The sleet started early and the snow began at 10 am.  I spent about three hours on Saturday slinging slush.  The snow was over by Sunday morning and I got to work again and finished up by 2 pm today.  Global warming, my foot.

So I’m behind on my writing but I haven’t heard about anymore snow coming anytime soon so I’ll catch up pretty quickly.  Maybe the lousy weather is why New Englanders are such perverse creatures.  They want to share their misery with everyone and being experts they do a thorough job.

Mathematics, Its Contents, Methods and Meaning – A Book Review

Back in the times before the Great Flood, I was a lowly undergraduate student in a public university.  I started out as a chemistry major but credits back then were very cheap, almost free, so I ended up taking an enormous number of credits in mathematics too.  When I reached my senior year, I had taken all the requisite chemistry courses for the BS degree but I also had discovered that I found the lab work extremely tedious.  What was a nerd to do?  Well, I took a few more math courses and got my degree in mathematics instead.  Since I was planning on raising an expensive family with Camera Girl, I decided to get a job as an actuary at one of the many fine insurance companies in Manhattan.  Imagine my embarrassment to find that compared to being an actuary a lab chemist was like being James Bond.  These insurance actuaries were the most boring human beings that walked this green earth.  With two strikes against me I had to be careful what I did next.  I talked to some smart guys and they asked me what I thought of chemical engineering.  I asked them, “What is chemical engineering?”  Well, these wise men told me that it was the golden road to wealth, fame and happiness.  Since I’ve always been gullible, I believed them.  Where things went from there is a story for a long winter evening but suffice it to say that I abandoned science for the greener pastures of the engineering world.  In other words, I sold my soul to the devil.  But I earned enough to raise a family.

But I always hankered for the chance to take more math classes.  While I was taking my engineering courses I had the chance to speak to an old math professor of mine and described my regret that I’d be too busy for the next thirty years or so to take anymore math classes and wondered whether he could recommend a self-study text that covered all the fields of mathematics that I might be interested in.  I knew that this guy was something of a bibliophile and luckily for me he said he had the very thing.  He told me it was a Soviet Russian three volume set published in translation by the MIT Press.  It wasn’t too pricey so I bought it and stuck it in a corner of my bookshelf and there it sat mostly unread for thirty years.

About ten years ago I finally got my last kid out of college and paid off the house and I was looking at cleaning out all the junk I had accumulated over the years when I rediscovered this set of books.  On a lark I started thumbing through it and opened up the section on topology.  And quickly discovered that I still enjoyed mathematics.  Now you may think that engineering was a field where mathematics abounds.  But after almost thirty years in the field the mathematical content of what I did on a daily basis had degenerated from differential equations into spreadsheets to figure out equipment depreciation and maybe the odd pressure drop or heat transfer calculation.  I had become a lapsed mathematician.  So, it was with great pleasure that I scanned the various sections of the set.  Non-Euclidean Geometry, Topology, Prime Numbers and other equally useless but interesting things.  Now whenever I have time I delve into the books and lose myself for a few hours and enjoy the guilty pleasure of contemplating the whichness of what.  Today I was reading what these long dead Russians had to say about the relevance of Non-Euclidean Geometry when considering the details of our actual universe.  When a ray of light can be bent by gravity what exactly is the validity of the concept of the parallel postulate?  With our current understanding of particle/wave duality what exactly can we consider empty space?  These esteemed commies made a statement from what they call dialectic materialism and define space as the form of existence of matter.  Now what the hell does that mean?  From what I read they are saying that the concept of space only has meaning in the contest of matter.  Well does that mean there is no such thing as empty space?

This is great stuff.  It makes me feel young again and inspires me to want to write a science fiction story where everything in the universe is adjacent to everything else and therefore problems like faster than light travel are merely a matter of having the correct mental picture when attempting to go from your leather recliner to, let us say, a planet in the Andromeda galaxy.

Anyway, if you’re ever in need of a general reference on mathematics that might spark your gray matter, I highly recommend Mathematics, Its Contents, Methods and Meaning by A. D. Aleksandrov, A. N. Kolmogorov and M. A. Lavrent’ev.

Disturbed Deputy on Handgun Choices

At my request the Disturbed Deputy has kindly posted a primer on handguns.  For non-gun-experts such as myself I thought this would be good information to have and interesting too.  Take a look and ask any questions you have in his comments section.  I’m looking for practical information about a home defense weapon for Camera Girl.  Of course while I’m in the compound nothing smaller than a Tyrannosaurus rex will require anything more deadly than a can opener because of my preternatural strength and reflexes but while she is home alone I’d like her to have an option to protect herself.  Of course she is a bloodthirsty wench and I am taking my chances that she won’t turn all film noir on me.  But what’s life without risk?

Handgun Choices

 

 

 

More Wolf’s Bane?

Wolfs Bane Coming Into Bloom

This has been a goofy mixed up year for weather.  The spring and early summer were extremely cool and delayed many plants by almost a month from their normal cycle of growth.  For the most part this wasn’t too bad but one plant that blooms late in the summer is wolf’s bane.  And as of today, the very last gasp of summer, the leaves on the plants are turning yellow and the flowers aren’t even buds yet, they’re bumps.  What we have here is a foot race between flowers and frost.  Last night it got down to 36°F.  That is dangerously flirting with freezing.  There are two more nights of near freezing temperatures coming up before a warm up is predicted.  I don’t like my chances here.  I need a miracle.

Maybe you’re saying to yourself, “What’s the big deal if some stupid plant doesn’t flower?”  Well, that’s a fair question.  I’ll try to explain.

The Calendar tracks the path of Earth as it performs its seemingly eternal dance with the Sun.  And here at the Autumnal Equinox we mark the point where the northern latitudes lose their grip on the sun and slip into darkness.  For millennia the inhabitants of the North have recognized this moment and celebrated it with various harvest festivals and religious myths like the Death of Tammuz or the Rape of Persephone.  These solemn occasions were meant to memorialize the end of summer and the beginning of the harvest.

Nowadays most of us aren’t involved in farming and the advent of electric lights has lessened the impact of shorter days on our lives.  But for some of us the end of summer is still an extremely meaningful time.  As I have so often stated here on the site I am an avowed therophile (lover of summer) and the autumnal equinox is like a death knell for me.  Like some primitive soul I atavistically search for a formula or spell to help me fight off the fear of darkness and believe that summer will reemerge on the other side of the sun all those months in the future.  And for me the first step is to take the last gasp of summer, the blooming of the wolf’s bane flowers and tie that to the next great festival on my calendar, Halloween.

For Halloween begins  for me with watching the classic Universal horror movies.  And I always start with Dracula.  Here we see Dracula square off against Dr. Van Helsing for possession of the soul of Mina Seward.  And in this battle one of the prime weapons is a garland of wolf’s bane.  Vampires hate it and all good vampire fighters carry it with them.  And later on in the Universal series we will come to the Wolfman.  Here we are told:

Even a man who’s pure at heart

And says his prayers by night

May become a wolf when the wolf’s bane blooms

And the autumn moon is bright

And that is the link between summer and wolf’s bane and autumn and Halloween.  And Halloween gets you to Thanksgiving.  And Thanksgiving gets you to Christmas.  And Christmas has to get you to Easter and the beginning of spring.  But it all starts with wolf’s bane.  So wish me luck.  If nature lets me down I’ll have to take drastic action and invoke the only other Summer/Halloween talisman I know of.  I’ll have to have an early showing of “Something Wicked This Way Comes.”  Bradbury’s story provides a direct link between summer and Halloween by way of the carnival theme.  Carnivals are summer and end of summer events.  But in the story we have a Halloween arrival of a dark carnival that is looking to ensnare souls.  The battle between good and evil is to my mind the battle between summer and autumn.  Between life and death.  Okay, that’s the end of my raving.

In the Merry, Merry Month of May

This week and next are the last two stay at home weeks left for me.  After that I’ll be half time in the office.  And since Monday is Memorial Day I’m feeling very lazy and am looking for an excuse to think about non-political subjects.  So today I made a point to take a little time and be at play in the fields of the Lord.  I noted that the birds of the air were quite active.  In particular I noted that some swallows have appropriated the bluebird house.

This accords with the low opinion I have developed toward the bluebirds.  To borrow a phrase from the President they’re low-energy losers.  But we have had some indigo buntings around this week.  They are even bluer than the bluebirds and I think much more heroic.  I noted a number of hawks flying above the fields and saw how this disturbed some of the smaller birds.  I assume they were worried about the hawks attacking their nests.  A couple of rabbits were spotted frolicking outside the former goat pen.  What with the circling hawks I thought this surprisingly bold.  Possibly they read Watership Down and took it to heart.

I noted a goodly number of frogs and salamanders drowned in the swimming pool which we opened last Friday.

The idea of amphibians drowning in water also leads me to a low opinion of their fitness to survive in the highly competitive future that we know is over the horizon.  A number of years ago we had some blue spotted salamanders around the property.  They’re good sized and I’d love to see them again sometime.

A very large snapping turtle was cruising around the pond and I was wondering if the mallard family might be at risk of losing a duckling if they weren’t careful.

The painted turtles were all hanging out on a fallen tree and looking fairly useless.  I wondered if maybe they were afraid of the snapping turtle too.  But more certainly the bull frogs and small fish were likely on the menu for grandpa snapper.  I went to inspect the remains of the beaver dam that was abandoned when that buck toothed rodent disappeared last year.  Well, it’s all gone now.  And the pond is at a low ebb.  More like a puddle than a pond.

There were a goodly number of deer travelling through the woods in the last week or so.  They were grazing on the stringy weeds that cover the shallows of the pond but none of them were around today.  Neither did any of the turkeys wander by as they have been lately.

After that black bear or Lovecraftian monster or whatever it was flattened our bird feeders last week I’ve been using the game camera to see what’s going on at night.  The only thing unusual was a red fox.  Last year we had grey foxes but this is the first red one I’ve seen.

Southern New England Gray Fox w/ Sony A7 III w/ Sigma 150 – 600 mm Contemporary lens on Sigma MC-11 converter, at 150mm focal length

After finding that hatchling milk snake I moved my tin to another location in hopes of finding some snakes near the rock wall.

Eastern milk snake, Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum

The garter snakes I’ve been seeing near the retaining wall have disappeared.

The warmer weather must have allowed them to disperse from their winter hibernaculum in the wall.  There was a northern water snake near a vernal pool last year but he wasn’t around today.  I’ll hope to find him again this year.  What I’d really like to find are some larger snakes, a black racer or even a black ratsnake.  But we’ll see.

Insect-wise we have plenty of bees around.

There are the usual honey bees and bumble bees but also the always annoying carpenter bees.  Because of the very extensive wood work on the structures on the property I am at perpetual war with these bees.  We have had our first butterflies.  There have been a number of painted ladies and today we had our first tiger swallowtail.

Minolta 200mm f\4 Macro lens on Sony A7 III

I noted with pleasure that the three small Giant Sequoias got through the winter well.  They join their older and larger cousin in the southwest corner of the property.  My own personal grove.  The two metasequoias have also grown tall in the last five years.

Minolta 200mm f\4 macro

The bristlecone pine tree I planted last fall unfortunately hasn’t done as well.  It looks dead and I’ll have to replace it soon.