Dad’s Advice About Politics and the News

Harry Truman calling somebody else.

Sometime in the late Forties, my Dad realized that was worrying about the Mideast Crisis. But why? The odds that Harry Truman was going to call to ask his advice were zero. Nor does the US have a system of national referendum that would allow him to vote “Yes” or “No” on the Mideast Crisis. Dad was not actually on the hook for having a well-thought-out opinion. Where was his concern coming from?

My father, Dan Plamondon, grinning because he doesn’t have to be a political consultant.

Sure, there are Congressional elections every two years and Presidential elections every four years, but that doesn’t mean you have to worry about the Mideast Crisis every single day. And both parties seemed, on the whole, to be in agreement on Mideast Crises. read more...

How to Get Rid of Rats and Mice

Some rat control methods are just fairy talesIf you look on the Internet or ask your neighbors, you’re likely to hear a lot of nonsense about rodent control, stuff in the Pied Piper class of implausibility. What really works?

Successful Rodent Control: A Personal Example

What works best for me, on my farm? Rat poison (or rodenticides, if you’re feeling fancy). Do I like using poison? No, I do not. (Posions are deeply unpleasant.) But I found it necessary, and you probably will, too. I’ll talk about how I used it just recently. Later on, I’ll talk about alternatives, both real and fake. read more...

Using Amazon Boxes Instead of Newspaper to Start a Fire in Your Fireplace or Wood Stove

Kindling a fire used to be done with newspaper. After all, everyone has tons of old newspapers lying around, right? Not anymore! I don’t, anyway. We stopped taking a daily paper a while ago. You know what we have tons of? Amazon Prime boxes!

I once read an extension service report from … somewhere … that claimed that using strips of cardboard was the key to easy fire starting, and it’s true!

I used to use a lot of newspaper and just a little cardboard, but as my house became more and more of a paper-free  zone, I stopped hunting around for suitable scraps of newsprint and went to 100% cardboard. read more...

How Not to Have a Dam Failure

After the recent failure of the Oroville dam’s main spillway, the question I keep asking myself is, “Where did the engineers go to school?”

Back in 1889, the South Fork Dam broke after heavy rains, opening up like a zipper and flooding Johnstown, Pennsylvania, killing 2,209 people. The dam had overflowed, and dams fail catastrophically when this happens. Especially earth-fill dams.

In Johnstown, the dam had been designed and built properly, opening in 1853. It acted as a reservoir for a canal system. To prevent failure, it had three large iron pipes with valves at the bottom, allowing water to be be released in high volume at no risk. The main spillway, which gave an alternate path for surplus water from the dam when it was full, was nowhere near the earth-fill portion of the dam, but was blasted out of bedrock in the surrounding hill. read more...

Flyover States and the Election

I live in the country. I have a farm. I’ve spent most of my career in high-tech: I’ve lived in the city, too. So I’m fluent in two languages: urban and rural.

I rarely post here about politics, since politics doesn’t get the cows milked. And this isn’t about politics anyway: it’s about mindset. I’m just using the election as an example.

Take a look at the 2016 presidential election map, showing the results by county:

The Urban/Rural Divide

2016 Presidential Election by County
2016 Presidential Election by County

What we’re looking at here is not a division between Republicans and Democrats, but between rural and urban. The urban areas mostly voted Democrat; the rural ares mostly voted Republican. What’s up with that? read more...