This is another of the W.O.O.D. series of semi-regular
Weekly Occasional Open Discussions.
(i.e. if I forget and skip one, no big)
Immediate prior one here:
and remains open for threads running there (at least until the ‘several month’ auto-close of comments on stale threads).
Canonical list of old ones here:
So use “Tips” for “Oooh, look at the interesting ponder thing!”
and “W.O.O.D” for “Did you see what just happened?! What did you think about it?”
What’s Going On?
Global Warming / Global Cooling
The YSM (Yellow Stream Media) continue to push The Narrative and have every warm spot reported loudly. Summer snow in Europe / Siberia and bad weather in the mountains of South America never make the page… Despite what they say / report: It has NOT been hot. If anything, it’s getting colder. Just very slowly.
Clearly the Perpetual Drought is over / dead / buried. What with their being global floods all over the place. Strange how nobody has recanted on the incessant shouting about Perpetual Drought…
Lots of snow up in the mountains, globally. Cattle lost to freezes in Mongolia this last winter. Glaciers growing. Not a peep.
So it looks like it is down to “Does Boris get elected and suspend Parliament?”. So we’re waiting, and we’re waiting…
The leader of the group that’s been the most violent has been arrested and charged. May this be the start of something bigger…
Has left the building…. My condolences to the people of Venezuela.
It has been hilarious to watch the SJW Mob and their Captive Democrats go into full hysterical melt down over a couple of tweets. Trump has now fully married The Squad to the DNC and made them the public face of it. IMHO, there’s no way the DNC can shed them and recover any kind of central policies prior to the election. Couple that with a stellar economic performance and I think Trump just won the election.
Now ALL the candidates have to choose between distancing themselves from The Squad and ALL The Squad nutty policy positions (and losing the primary) or embracing The Squad and their nutty polices and losing the General Election. Knight Fork!
In some ways, just an amazing bit of manipulation of the Emotional Trigger handed to him by the SJW Mob. Simultaneously showing the Right Wing Base that he’s not shrinking violet and is quite happy to grasp the wasp nest and toss it on the dump heap; while showing the Center Undecided that the Democrats are Crazy Loons and not for them; while forcing the DNC to go Hard Left Loud And Proud in a way they can not later escape. All for the minor cost of pissing off those SJW TDS folks who are already pissed off and never going to vote for him anyway. Well played, Sir. Remarkably well played.
Ignite SJW Emotional Bomb – toss into middle of DNC / Candidate Race. Collect reward…
Iran & UK Ship
Iran has captured a UK Flagged Swedish ship outside of their territorial waters. Given the mines on other tankers and the shoot down of one of each sides drones by USA / Iran: This is on the edge of a Hot War.
My suggestion? Put a row of combined forces from every nation getting oil from The Gulf right along the edge of Iranian Territorial waters. ANY Iranian military boat that cross the line gets sunk on the spot. They picked the fight and the battle ground, let them live with it. Yes, an embargo is an act of war. So is attacking merchant shipping in international waters or territorial waters of other nations. Simply state: Your military is not playing well with others, so it is being sent to it’s room. You can come out into international waters again when you can play nice. Anyone crosses the line will be spanked with a missile or 50 Cal. machine guns, as needed to sink it. That goes for military aircraft too.
I’m pretty sure the combined forces of the USA, EU, UK, Japan and a few others are larger than the combined forces of, well, the Iranians… and nobody else.
Hard rules for hard people. Softer rules for softer people. Be The Mirror philosophy in action.
Grand Solar Minimum & Crops
The reports are now more mixed. Much higher planting rates, but how much of that is “Planting for insurance” and will never reach harvest? Nobody knows.
Reports divide between official “everything is looking good” with single digit crop loss percents, to Dire Failure paranoid sites advocating “The End Is Neigh!” behaviours. Brazil harvest has been good (but they are much much smaller than the USA corn production) and Canadian Wheat has done well. USA MidWest corn and soybeans not so much. China having lots of corn problems. China and the USA are by far the two biggest corn producers.
But there is far more to world food supply than corn. Barely 20% of corn is for human food. We feed 30% of it to cars and about 1/2 of it to food animals. A drastic loss would be bad news for chickens and pigs, but people not so much. I did watch one farm life live channel from Montana ( I Think) where the farmer and spouse were lamenting their poor hay conditions. Not enough money to buy in some hay (as prices are way high due to everyone being short) so they plan to do herd reduction. I suspect we’ll be seeing more of that over the summer and into fall. Those cattle that are with calf will be grown out to market size, then sold off to market. The big shortage of cattle will show up next spring when breading stock is down and new calves lower.
Between now and then I plan to watch animal prices. I’ve done a set of test canning and I’m ready to “put up” a few gallons of canned meat IFF it becomes clear that things are continuing to decay. It is quite possible that things will recover and everything just gets back to normal by October…
Hydroponic Lessons Learned & Updates
I’ve harvested my first peas today. The hydroponic pea plant is growing great guns and has pods all over it. The dirt grown ones are struggling. Partly this dirt failure is from being in full sun in California in July. Peas hate that and don’t like the way the soil dries. Partly it is from the potting soil not being the best and Miracle Grow not enough to fix it. The mass of all 4 of the dirt grown is less than the ONE transplanted from that same dirt to a hydroponic grow out.
The ones in the pot have also not even made flowers yet. So I’m planning that in my indoor/winter grow room I’ll have a full tray of peas. I really really like peas, and not doing well growing them in California has been a pain. Since I can even get them to grow in full summer conditions in hydroponics (probably due to the unlimited water for cooling) I’m pretty sure I can do Just Fine in lower light and cooler indoors.
Several YouTube videos doing an A/B compare of “just white light” vs the red-blue “optimal for chlorophyll absorption” spectrum bulbs have ALL shown the white light working better for various plants and various reasons. Is this a proof of experimental evidence over theory? Or just experimental failure? I suspect it’s reality vs theory. One guy asserts that the red-blue LEDs were just “too strong” and that was why. Stronger than the full sun at high noon? I don’t think so, Tim…
So what’s the deal? It looks like RED provides a lot of “grow now” energy. (Some folks tested just red and just blue). That results in long spindly plants. The BLUE provides signals to stop growing now as you have reached sunlight. This resulted in compact stems, short compact growth, and a kind of ‘warty’ looking lettuce as the area between leaf veins continued to grow while the plant overall didn’t so much. Red-Blue often seemed to combine some of these issues (likely as the ratio of the two changed). In one example, tomatoes grown under white vs red-blue had the red-blue elongate more but with less strong stems until it collapsed under it’s own weight. In others, the plain white light would produce better and higher weight yields. So, for my winter grow space, I’ll be ordering LED Shop Lights from Amazon with over 100 Lumens / Watt at a dirt cheap (near $20 / fixture with over 4000 lumens!) and not bothering with fancy red-blue lights at $BIG Bucks (often in the $100 to HundredS range).
Another lesson learned: Shade Loving plants still love the shade. I’ve had a couple of herbs die / get leaf browning while other things in the same tub were fine. The difference? The ones “with issues” were “shade tolerant” and I had them in full sun in California in July over white styrofoam. OK, the peas example does not generalize. Got it.
Then there were the tomatillos. Since I didn’t intend to eat these, no big loss really. But: I had 3 in a 5 gallon bucket. One was looking all wilted. Checked the bucket and found the water near zero… Oh Dear. First lesson: Kratky Method MUST have plant size matched to a relatively LARGE bucket size, or you run out before full growth. Having 3 LARGE plants in a Kratky Bucket was way over that point.
So I took the hose and just shot a bunch of water into one of the other unused holes (normally filled with a plug). Next day, the wilted plant is looking FINE. the other two, however, are all wilted. WT? Lifting the lid, their roots are all covered in a thick green slime. Shooting the water into the bucket stirred up the algae that had grown and it was filtered out / deposited in their roots, by the “swirl”. I knew the blue bucket was too transparent and planned to paint it after the Tomatillos were done growing… So Note To Self: PAINT any translucent bucket before planting, or cover it in aluminum foil. Later today I’ll be trying to recover those plants by washing their roots…
I had originally used liquid nutrient from Dyna-Grow with zero issues. I’ve just swapped over to the solid / powder nutrient from General Hydroponics “Maxi-Grow”. The amount recommended seemed a bit high to me, but went with it anyway. There was a small amount of white that didn’t dissolve well in the water. This tended to collect in the roots of the plants with the bubbler, but didn’t seem to be causing trouble. In the very small ( 4 gallon) tub, 2 x cilantro that had been doing fine in the big construction tub looked a bit burned and wilted (one may be dead). I’m pretty sure this is nutrient burn from too much. I took out 1 gallon of solution and topped it up with just water. Things look a bit better now. So “lessons learned”? Not all nutrients are the same especially on the forgiveness axis. Be SURE you know what mix is best for a given set of plants. the “One size fits all” on the label does NOT fit all as all plants are different to some degree. Too little to start is likely better than too much. Do Not start with the high end of recommendations, start with the bottom end. Not growing fast enough is better than fertilizer burned. Pick a nutrient system, learn it, and stick with it. IF you plan to change, change ONE experimental tub first and learn that system before just dumping it into several…
The good thing out of these failures is that I’ve found the limits of the goodness. I can now more accurately grow various things. I’m now more aware of the fact that each variety of plant really wants a particular light and nutrient profile, and it is my job to find what that is and provide it. So while in the experimental mode I’ve tossed a dozen kinds of plants and 4 or 5 different grow systems with 2 different nutrient systems (and learned a fair amount fast), for “production” I want to dial it back to a more limited set of 3 or 4 plant types in a couple of grow systems with one well understood nutrient. That will be the Next Step.
I’m still quite happy as I still have a bunch of happy lettuce, cole plants, peas, choi, and herbs. So learning how inattentive you can be and how flexible are the limits before you hit them is a lesson that didn’t cost too much of the plant life.
Oh, one other minor note: In harvesting the Kalards for “sauteed greens” I checked out the roots. Oddly, many had adhered to the underside of the foam float. I don’t know if that’s a “Kale Thing” or a brassica thing or a styrofoam thing, or what. It will mean that “cleaning the floats” for reuse will be more than just hosing them off, and it will mean that it’s harder to change plants (and I can’t just pull the net-cup out and plop in another – it’s stuck.) It also implies I might want the replacement foam core to either not actually float on the water (lay on the rim of the tub) or have it with the metal foil down instead. So that’s a “learning point” for the future. As it was, I just left the cup in place after cutting off all the leaves and most of the stem… and it’s already got a flush of new leaves on it. So OK, I didn’t need to change the cup / plant…
My quasi-career as a car painter
I’ve decided to get started on the cheap. Bought some Meguire’s compound, a wool buffing wheel that fits in a drill (so avoiding $150 of polisher cost) that’s good enough to learn some with (and cost all of about $4) and bought an $18 6 inch Palm “polisher” at Harbor Freight. NOT double action so it will be up to me to assure it doesn’t sit too long in one place. Plus some “bonnets” and such.
This will be enough to get me through the first round of: Clean, Compound, Polish of a small area and let me do some decent learning. Then I’ll be more likely to know what I want instead, and what tool provides it. I’ll be starting out on some pretty trashed paint, so it isn’t like there’s anything at risk.
If you have NO stored foods, shame on you. It doesn’t cost much At All to put enough in the pantry to last out a One Month Aw Shit. For about $10 you can cover all the oatmeal & jam for a month. I’ve been eating that for breakfast for a couple of weeks now and I’m feeling better than I have in a couple of years, so this isn’t a hardship. In fact, it will likely be my preference “going forward” just due to being so much happier and energetic. “Feeling my oats” as it were.
A lunch of beans runs nearly nothing. I was very surprised to find that about a 24 ounce volume cooked serving with a “pat” of bacon grease on it and a squirt of about a tsp to Tbs of Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce was GOOD! I find my self wanting it more than my more usual ham sandwich… So about $25 for 25 lbs of beans, and that gives you about 1.5 quarts cooked / day. I figure that makes it about $20 for a “beans lunch” including the BBQ sauce and some bacon to get the grease… Dinner of a box of dried Scalloped Potatoes with SPAM bits and peas mixed in is similar in cost. So can you afford $1 / day for a full stomach IF a Food Emergency / Aw Shit happens? Can you afford NOT to?
If you don’t like beans, a few days I’ve had a Rammen Soup Cup and it was actually nice. Had a couple of shrimp and some vegetables already in it. At about 25 ¢ / meal it’s darned cheap to put a few flats of them on the shelf. You will eventually use them up when just in a hurry anyway. I’ve already gone through a dozen just because I like them, they were fast and they were there… Microwave a cup of water, pour it in one. Let sit 3 minutes and eat. About $8 for a month.
It’s incredibly easy find some meal you like that’s “dirt cheap” and where you WILL eat it anyway, over time. Then buy a 1 month’s worth of it and stick it in the cupboard. Maybe it will take you 2 years to get through that stock in normal times. That’s OK. So if 6 months from now the world is talking about bumper harvests and all, have your steak and baker… but with a small side of Bush’s Baked Beans instead of a big main course of beans…
I’ve also dusted off the canner and canned up some chicken. It worked well. Lessons learned? Use 1 1/2 inches head space, not 1. Pack a bit loose so that steam bubbles in the cooling do not force liquid and fats out the top. Fill the canner water to the top of the food level (so it cools by conduction to the canning water and relatively fast). I suspect canning pint jars or 1 1/2 pint jars might work better than quarts, but have not tried it. Caning beans was nearly trivial.
Next step is to find where all my jars have gone. Many were put in boxes “somewhere”. I need to start regularly filling them with something. Cooked beans are easier to prepare in an AwShit than dry beans. So slowly over the next 1/2 year+ I’ll be rebuilding some of my Prepper stuff that was used up during time “on the road” in Florida and after return. As the jars are already taking up the storage space, might as well fill them with something useful.
Then there’s the food dryer. Got it for a Christmas gift about 6 years back. Never used it (that whole “off to Florida” to work thing). Some YouTube folks, especially backpackers resentful of $12 freeze dried lunches…, have put up videos of how to use a dryer to make dehydrated trail food meals. Chile with beef and beans. Chicken & Mac. Spanish Rice. Lots more. I’ve not done it yet, but I’m thinking maybe it is time to try it. The Betty Crocker Potatoes Au Gratin that we like is essentially a small packet of dried potatoes and a dehydrated cheese sauce. As they are only $1 / box (and make 2 big meals or 4 small meals with sides) it isn’t worth my time to make my own. But there are other similar meals I’d like to have that are not available in the stores. Especially those where dried chicken or beef would be involved. I’ve was very surprised at just how much stuff can be home dehydrated and then has a lot less bulk to store. Especially useful after I’ve got my “wet stored” inventory up and start running low on space ;-)
Do I think we’re on the verge of collapse or other horribles? Not at all. I just think it’s time for my periodic “rebuild the stock” as a quick check showed we’d used up most of it over the last few years. Do I think there’s a chance of some horribles? Oh Yeah. More than enough to make it important to have some inventory. I’ve never had the full Year recommended by the Mormon Church, but like to have 3 months worth if possible. ( I figure that in 3 months either we’ll have “fixed it” whatever “it” is; or I need to be farming my yard and that’s enough time to get it rolling enough for 2 people.)
Mostly though, it’s just a fun hobby involving things I really like. Cooking and eating ;-)