Finding Richard at WordPress.com

Which way did he go? Where has he been? Where is he headed? So many questions . . ..

History Repeats Itself

Especially for those who refuse to learn from it . . .

RollaKS04141935-Duster-FDRPresidentialLibrary

Dust storm approaches Rolla, KS – April 14, 1935 – Photo courtesy of the FDR Presidential Library Collection.

Hubris

I just finished watching a show about the American Dust Bowl Years titled “Black Blizzard” on History Channel.  It was a pretty good analysis of the disastrous Dust Bowl years in the Great Plains, as well as the government policies and programs that lead up to them.  “Plant more wheat!  Eat more bread!,”  “Breadbasket to the World!,” etc.

For anyone unfamiliar with that portion of our history, I highly recommend the 2-hour documentary.   Right at the end though, there is a bit of irony:  The narrator says “Others need to learn from our experiences, as today we are seeing giant dust storms in Western China and Sub-equatorial Africa.”  To give them their due, they do cut back to a pair of Dust Bowl survivors from Oklahoma and Texas who warn that we are experiencing years as hot & dry in the High Plains now as they were in the years leading up to the Dust Bowl.  One says that the only reason we are not seeing dust storms like they had in the 1930s is because they are pumping water out of the Ogllala aquifer at unprecedented rates to irrigate crops and pastures.   He warns: “When the water runs out – and it will – we’re going to be in trouble.”

But, there is more to the story than that.

I remember my oldest son & daughter’s great grandfather telling me in 1980 that we were heading back to the Dust Bowl just as fast as farmers could rip out shelter belts, fill in water retention ponds and runoff waterways, and flatten contour terraces.  The culprit?  High wheat prices and new large-scale machinery that let one man farm more acres of land.   We were pheasant hunting in Northern Kansas, and he showed me a one-lane county road that ran between two large wheat fields:  “See that road?  Five years ago, it was two lanes wide with a ditch on either side.  You can’t drive on it for a week after a rain, now.  If the county doesn’t stop these guys, it will be gone in a couple years.”

Yet, it’s the people in China and Africa that need  to learn from our mistakes?

AbandonedFarmCimarronStripOK1940

Abandoned Farm, Cimarron County, Oklahoma, 1937  –  US Library of Congress Prints & Photographs On-line Collection

Come Sail Away!

Sailing off over the horizon to distant places has been a dream of mine since I was just a kid FishermansBaySunset. .  . (WAIT! Wasn’t that just yesterday?!?)

Anyway, when I’m pondering the future, I’ll call up my favorite search engine (of the moment) and enter something like “voyaging on a budget.”  Yesterday, I got a hit for a site that I hadn’t seen before:

Capt. John’s The Frugal Voyager’s Cruising and Living Aboard website

Capt. John will be 70 this year, and has spent the past 20 years living aboard and cruising to distant ports.  So, he has a base of experience from which to speak.  He’s also very good at advising you how to have a stress-free life afloat. Things like don’t buy more boat than you need, avoid sailing with “Capt. Boat Payment,” how to avoid sailing into thin financial waters in paradise, how to keep your boat bug-free in the tropics, who to not take advice from around the marina, and why – if you are the one with the dream – you should send your spouse/s.o. – to sailing lessons from a qualified offshore sailing school, etc.   Lots of really great advice.

I’m still cruising the site and enjoying the content therein.

 

An Appropriate Graffiti Companion

To Yesterday’s Post:

BeesLeave

The commentary is accurate.  Most food & forage crops require pollinating.

Rare NW Bumblebee Bouncing Back

Bombus flavifrons on a lupine flower.

They think it (the bumblebee population decline) may have been due either directly to competition from imported honeybees or from the parasites they carry, but either way, the wild bumblebees are making a comeback:

Rare Bumblebee P.N.W. Bumblebee Populations Rebound

Here is a StartPage search for Bumblebee-friendly garden plants:

Bumblebee-friendly Plants

 

Feeding My Tool Addiction

Update: WK Fine Tools has changed their site configuration, so the original link from this post no longer worked.  I’ve found the new address and updated my link.  While I was at it, I added links for Bob Smalser’s article on the 8-siding marking gauge, and I’ve added a link for his index at WK’s tool making pages.

Tools. They are an addiction. Especially once you move beyond the home maintenance tool set. Recently, while planning to build a pair of small sailing dinghies, I got to thinking about making masts, booms and oars. I knew that there’s a way to make a gauge to help you go from square to 8-sided. So . . . Off to my favorite tool making site I went. Turns out there was an article from a gentleman who lives just up the road. Bob Smalser has a real talent with wood, and with making tools, and in knowing how to explain how to do things in plain English so that they are understandable by ADDled dunderheads like me.

Making Woodworking Tools @ WK Fine Tools

How we used to die; how we die now

Source: How we used to die; how we die now

A pointed and poignant look at how people have passed over for centuries contrasted to how more than one half of Americans die today.  This is written by an Emergency Medicine physician with over twenty-five years experience.

12 Life Lessons Learned From The Great Depression

Source: 12 Life Lessons Learned From The Great Depression

Another good one from Rachel at How to Provide.  My parents were married during The Great Depression and passed along many lessons learned.  If you don’t follow the international financial news, right now the Chicken Littles of the financial sector are going on about “bubbles bigger than ’08.”  How serious is it?  Are they truly warning of dire circumstances in progress and death and destruction in the pipeline?  Or, are they just trying to sell whatever financial instrument or commodity that they’re hawking this week?  I don’t know.  I tend to be an optimist and believe that they are trading on fear.  But, I could be wrong.

If you would like a look into the insights of the international financial wizards and pundits, here’s an article at (Where else?) How to Provide titled “Deflation Threatens to Swallow the World.”

Legal Issues for Homesteaders and Farmers

Source: Legal Issues for Homesteaders and Farmers

For those of you thinking of moving to the country to raise a living for your family, you need to read this article over at How to Provide — just to determine if you wish to adopt the mindset necessary to deal with government agents when they appear on your property.

We have family members with personal experience with this.  They were out working in their garden when they saw armed men in dark clothing strolling across their ten acres.  When they confronted them about it, they were told that – because they live with in 50 miles of the border with Canada – that Homeland Security has the right to “inspect” their property at will, unless it is fenced and posted.  What one federal agency takes upon itself, the rest soon adopt.

Then, there are corporate agents, who think themselves a power even above the agencies of mere mortals . . . Anyone ever heard of Monsanto and their “patented genetic materials?”

Puddle Duck Dreamin’

Christmas decorations are all back up in the garage’s “attic,” days are starting to get longer – and warmer – and, an old geek’s mind is starting to wander toward days to spend learning to sail in some unlikely-looking boxy little boats at the lake down the road.  Yep!  I’m Puddle Duck dreamin’ again!

Puddle Duck Racers are a loosely knit international class of low-cost racing dinghies that are usually home-built.  To facilitate participation by home builders and a high degree of experimentation, the developer of the class, David “Shorty” Routh, decided that the bottom 10″ of the boats should be as similar as practical (+/- 1/4″) for home boat builders, and that the rest should be left up to the individual builder.  There have been some evolutionary changes, but you are basically building an 8′ x 4′ flat-bottomed box boat.  The bottom has enough rocker to allow for planing performance under a modest sail rig — that is usually as homemade as the rest of the boat.

PDRRacin

Start of the very first Puddle Duck “Regatta” Lake Woodlands, TX Feb. 28, 2004.  Hulls #1 & 2 pictured.

What you wind up with is a safe, light & stable 8′ boat to learn to sail in.  As you can see from the photo, even us “old guys” can have fun in them.  I’ve always been very enamored with sailing, but have never really learned how — other than playing deck monkey for other people on their boats.  I would also like to get John & Joe interested in sailing, as it is a sport that they can enjoy for the rest of their lives, and, sailing is also a means of traveling long distances relatively inexpensively — without being at the mercy of some multinational corporation.

I won’t go into all the details of my planning for the construction of these boats, but I’m going to do at least two ‘ducks from 1/4″ ACX plywood with fir strips for framing, and would really like to do a “PD-Goose” which is a 12’ version of the PDR.  The Goose is not class legal, but I think it would make a good car-top fishing boat for the local lakes, and could serve as a “committee boat” if we generate some interest in racing Puddle Ducks in the local area.

If you want more information about the Puddle Duck Racer, please go to the class pages maintained at PDRacer.com.  Their is an extensive site map, as well as a good site-specific Google search on several of the index pages.  By all means, go on over and take a look around.  Shorty and the other ‘duckers have amassed a wealth of information on building, equipping and sailing the Puddle Duck Racer.   Who knows?  We might wind up fighting for position approaching the windward mark someday.  =;)

 

8 World War II Survival Lessons We Must Never Forget

Spotted this at Paleotool’s Weblog, and decided to re-post it myself, as this is a good reminder for those of us who have strayed far from our roots. My parents worked for the Army Coast Watch during WWII.  My Mom and my Aunt were both observers, while Dad was one of the drivers.  Mom always planted a full acre of garden and had both chickens and pigs.  We ran a grade “B” dairy with thirteen cows, and Dad fished in the Summer.  Yeah, they put in long hours, yet — they always seemed to have time for us boys.  We grew up either playing in their shadows as they worked, or learning to work right alongside them.  I wish I had the chance to do the same with my kids today . . .

 

Source: 8 World War II Survival Lessons We Must Never Forget

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