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Archive for September, 2017

Miami is a Festering Rathole

Friday, September 29th, 2017

My Chicken House has Been Liberated

People were giving me suggestions on moving the big oak that fell on my chicken house. Here’s a photo showing what has happened to it.

I used the pole saw to clean up the top of the oak as much as I could, and then I sawed through the base. After that, I put a strap on the trunk and pulled on it until it fell off the maple the oak was trying to kill.

I am sick of oaks. They’re worthless, and they choke out better trees.

Now I have to start moving wood to the side of the county road, where it will be picked up free of charge. The problem with this plan is that my property has a ditch paralleling the road. To put the wood down, I have to drive the tractor along the side of the ditch. It leans over. Supposedly, you can lean a tractor 20 degrees without killing yourself, but I am new at this, so I don’t like any lean at all. I keep the front end loader low, but it still feels unsafe.

The pole saw made all this possible. A regular chainsaw is a vastly inferior tool. My advice to anyone who has to clear up fallen crap is to get a pole saw, even if you can’t get a regular chainsaw to go with it. The pole saw will do most of what the chainsaw will do, but the chainsaw will only do a little of what the pole saw can do.

I cut 12″ limbs with the 12″ pole saw with no problems. It was slow, but it beat getting up next to them and being killed when they broke free.

Things are looking up, and I’m still FREE OF MIAMI!

Man, I hate Miami. What a miserable city. I pity every decent person who lives there. I miss nothing, nothing, nothing about Miami. Moving out of Miami is like being healed of cancer.

My house sitter keeps telling me all the godly people he knows are moving out, and he thinks disaster will come when enough of them leave. Whatever. I can’t save the world. I’m just glad I’m in a better place, among much better people.

Hugh Hefner’s Sudden Transition

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

One Day Mansion, the Next Day Flames

Hugh Hefner is dead.

I was disturbed when I read about his death. What a contrast there must be, between yesterday and today. Yesterday his life was a succession of group sex romps with beautiful twentyish women who were willing to do anything to please him. Today, in all likelihood, he’s burning in hell, with no hope of escape. Yesterday, he was wealthy, and oddly, respected. Today, most likely, he has nothing but pain and derision.

I can’t say for sure that Hefner is in hell, but what are the odds that he accepted Jesus and repented before he died?

Most people don’t know what his life was like, but insiders have revealed things. One young lady described his bizarre sex life. Playmates would show up in his bedroom, partially undressed, and Hefner would lie on the bed, under the influence of a male enhancement drug. Hefner would call the dance, and all the women who had decided to have sex with him that night would do his bidding.

Obviously, the women were under pressure to have sex. It’s odd that he was never sued for harassment.

Hefner was completely depraved. His existence was just a series of bestial debauches. He did nothing but satisfy his flesh. He might as well have been a goat or a rat.

The crazy thing is that we liked and respected him. We thought it was fine when he appeared in TV shows and in movies, as a sort of avuncular sage.

I remember watching him on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Remember that show? It was about a young man who was moved from Philadelphia to Los Angeles to escape bad influences. He was taken in by relatives who supposedly had a wholesome and productive way of life. His uncle was a respected judge, and they lived in a mansion. The show was held out to promote solid values.

In one episode, Will and Carlton visited the Playboy mansion during a party. They were surrounded by nearly naked girls. The American public didn’t rise up and ask why a TV network was giving a free 30-minute ad to a pornography company. Why not? How did we get so numb?

Most people don’t consider Playboy pornography. It features naked women (and sometimes men) in erotic poses. That’s pornography. Somehow, we have raised the bar and decided it isn’t. We think pornography has to be more extreme in order to count. That’s insane. You don’t have to have donkeys or bullwhips to have pornography. When did we decide Playboy was something else? Sure, it had some well-written articles. So what? What if peep shows posted articles in their lobbies? They would still be what they are.

In 1987, Eddie Murphy went to a Playboy mansion party in the movie Beverly Hills Cop II. He said all sorts of filthy things at the party. When he finally ran into Hefner, he let him know some of his guests were criminals. Hefner was portrayed as moral authority. He talked down to the criminals, with an air of supreme righteousness and confidence, telling them they had to leave the party. There was no Hannibal Burress moment. No one said, “Yeah, but you’re a pornography kingpin and pretty much a human trafficker, so…”

Playboy is filthy pornography, and Hefner was a vile degenerate and a lost soul. Playboy is not cute. It’s not okay. America has lost its bearings. We can’t see the obvious. No wonder this country is so screwed up. No wonder our enemies have so much power over us now. We think we know everything. We’ve decided sexual sin is virtue. We’ve cut off God’s help.

I’m not a great advocate for sexual purity. I don’t have a great passion for it. But I know someone who does. His name is Hugh Hefner. If he could speak to us from hell right now, he would beg us to clean up. The thought of other souls joining him in eternal agony and humiliation because of his idiotic influence would tear his heart apart. His guilt is already more than he can bear, and the knowledge that he is still helping other people follow him into the flames surely makes it worse.

I’m sorry I did so much to contribute to our casual attitude toward sexual sin. I am partly responsible for the success of losers like Hugh Hefner. I went along with the program. I didn’t think.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe God managed to reach him.

Not likely.

See What I Saw

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

The Tools Make the Man

Just a quick post to say my pole saw arrived. I already had a little electric pole saw, but I have a lot of big oaks lying on their sides, so I needed something more manly. The best I was willing to buy was a 12″ Echo sold on Home Depot’s website.

The scariest oak on my land is about two feet thick a couple of feet from where it used to emerge from the ground. It landed on two other big trees, plus my chicken house. The other trees won’t let it fall completely. It has one big branch which is bent back like a spring. If that branch comes loose, it will smack anyone under it into the ground and turn them into red mush.

I do not want to pay a tree service thousands of dollars to get rid of my problem trees, but you can’t walk up to a dangerous tree with an ordinary chainsaw and start sawing off huge limbs with internal stresses in them. The pole saw allowed me to nibble away at the tree and make it easier to deal with. I’ll post two photos.

I should have worn a hard hat while I cut this tree. Next time I work on it, I will. At least I had good boots, leather gloves, and eye and ear protection.

The pole saw is a game-changer. The other two saws I have can be used interchangeably for the most part, even though they’re good for different things. Neither one can come close to replacing a pole saw. I was able to cut things safely with the bar ten feet off the ground. You should never use an ordinary chain saw with the bar above shoulder height, but pole saws are made for that kind of thing.

Of course, a limb that falls from ten feet off the ground is a good reason to wear a hard hat. Note to self.

I feel so much better. There’s a chance I won’t be able to finish this oak safely, but I’ll definitely be able to turn it into a much cheaper job, and I’ll be able to handle every other tree I have to deal with. A man who has a tractor and a big diesel truck should not have to pay someone four figures to move a single tree.

My friend Amanda has a tree (or trees) threatening her home, but her family has decided it’s better to spend money protecting a barn full of unwanted animals, including two bunnies rescued from an Easter bunny sale. Maybe the theory is that her kids are young and therefore easy to replace quickly. I would be happy to try to fix the tree, but her mom won’t allow her or her kids to have guests. Frustrating.

I think the chicken house is a goner. Maybe I can fix it.

In other news, I just e-signed a contract to sell my dad’s old yacht, for about 8% more than I expected.

Time to get in the shower and scrape myself. This has been a very good day.

I’m Home!

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

This Place Rocks

Things are settling down here. I am learning new things in prayer, and I am trying to apply them. The unexpected financial drains are easing, the hurricane cleanup is getting easier, and I am starting to feel at home on the tractors.

Speaking of feeling at home, Ocala is suiting me better and better. It’s the craziest thing; I wanted some acreage, and I have it. I wanted tools and machinery, and I have them. I wanted to be around people whose mindset was more like mine, and I’m among them.

Back in Coral Gables, I used to get up and throw on Carhartt work pants and sneakers, grab my carry piece and my folding knife, and go about my day. I do those same things here, but because this isn’t Coral Gables, these things don’t make me weird. No one says, “Wow, you have a truck.” Everyone dresses pretty much like I do. I’m amassing a collection of ball caps (because you can’t wear bluetooth hearing protectors with a cowboy hat), and now I look like every other ball-cap-wearing Southerner in the county. The only thing missing is a can of Skoal, making a round bulge in a back pocket.

Come to think of it, people don’t seem to dip snuff here. Good for them. The spit is disgusting, and when you get Skoal cancer, they remove your face from the nose to the neck.

It’s very strange, being able to go outside without feeling I’m under scrutiny. Most of the time, people can’t see me when I’m outdoors here. I don’t have to worry about Jehovah’s Witnesses, blacktop gypsies, or fake Omaha Steaks drivers. The only leaf blower I ever hear is my own. I never hear a three-minute ear-splitting blast from a roach coach horn. I never hear the sound of my neighbors dragging their lawn waste onto my property.

If it weren’t for the ravenous bugs, I would be able to relax completely here. Irma produced a mosquito tsunami, and it will be a while before it subsides. Today I surrendered and Off’d myself before leaving the house.

Yesterday I went outside and shot 50 or so rounds without alerting anyone, calling the Sheriff, or asking my neighbors’ permission. It feels so natural. It’s how things worked when I lived in Kentucky. I hate suburban life.

Now that my feet are starting to touch bottom, it won’t be long before I start visiting churches. The feeling of fitting in will surely increase. I won’t drink the prosperity Kool-Aid, but I’m sure I’ll meet people who think it’s perfectly normal to wake up on a Monday morning and spend three hours in prayer.

Wow, I just got a big break. I received two offers on my dad’s yacht. I have been dying to get rid of it. We tied a lot of cash up when we bought this house, and we need to dump the excess baggage. On top of that, we could use the slip rent. I was starting to think the boat would never sell.

We offered it for a certain price, and nothing happened. We put it up for sale near the beginning of August, and nothing happens in Miami in August. We got one bad offer. Then Irma hit. She tore up the boat’s ancient canvas and messed up the tuna door, and we had no hull insurance. My dad didn’t carry it, and when I found that out, I decided not to renew it. We were going to be rid of it in a few weeks. What were the odds a storm would come through?

I thought we were going to get around $20000 less than the figure I originally wanted, but today the broker called and said someone is offering $2900 more than what I expected to clear. I said, “Take it. Take it. Take it.” I am not going to be greedy. I want that boat gone, I want the slip rented, and I want to sell it for a 1031 exchange next year. Or maybe I’ll just continue renting it, if the rent is good. I don’t think it will be.

I have that feeling you get when a big weight is taken off your shoulders. Shaky and drained. Thank you, God. That boat had become a curse.

Why did the boat sell all of a sudden? I think I know. The other day, I got a miracle healing. I wrote about it. It wasn’t a big healing. I blistered my finger, and the blister disappeared overnight. The way I prayed for that healing was unusual. First of all, it was very fervent, because I hate burns. Second, I kept praising and thanking God “because it’s done.” I kept this up for a very long time.

It worked for my finger, so I did it with the boat, today and yesterday. I also did it with the house we’re trying to sell. After prayer today, I expected to hear news about the boat. And I did.

I also ask for the following things for the people on my prayer list: I ask God to send people and spirits to pay us, to give things to us, to do our work for us, to give us advice, and to fight our battles. Today the broker said he had personally fixed up the boat’s batteries so he could get the generator and starboard engine running (an unpleasant job), and he wants to rent the slip for us with no commission. He isn’t required to do any of those things.

Now, will God come through on the rental house? If so, I will be too happy to live. That house has been an anchor around my neck. I never wanted it. My sister ruined it and forced us to take it over. My dad, frankly, was extremely unpleasant while I was getting it repaired. The contractors were liars and idiots. I want to see that house sell. NOW.

Oh, man. My cell phone just dinged. The pole saw I ordered is ready at Home Depot. I was about to go anyway, for mailbox letters, malathion, and maybe hydraulic fluid. This is perfect. That saw will bring down strongholds. There are things I just could not cut with a regular chainsaw.

I am giddy. Time to hop in the SUV (because the truck needs an alignment), cruise to Home Depot, pick up my goodies, and relax.

I’ve been cursed, and I’ve been blessed. Blessed is better. I hope my testimony will help you find relief.

Berm Notice

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

Get the Hell Out of my Yard…SERIOUSLY

I still have a lot of things to do, to get caught up on the move and the hurricane. I don’t care. Today I decided I was going to do something I had been wanting to do for a long time. I decided to shoot on my own property.

First thing I needed to do…choose a weapon. I have a number of long guns lying around, but until today, I had not unpacked the pistols. I had sent them to Ocala in one of our many moving boxes. I didn’t label it “Expensive Firearms.” I simply put them in box number 88. I didn’t see any point in tempting the movers.

Incidentally, Atlas Van Lines has a strict policy when it comes to shipping firearms. They say they have to fill out a lot of paperwork in order to do it, so if you don’t warn them in advance, they leave your guns on the floor of your old house. Do they really have to do paperwork? No idea. All I know is that they refused to take my rifles, and I had to do it myself. They had already packed my pistols, which, as noted above, I had not labeled.

They won’t carry ammunition, either, which is just stupid. Ammunition is very stable. It’s extremely hard to make it blow up or go off. By the time your household goods are in a situation which could cause bullets in boxes to go off, all is pretty much lost. By that time, the truck is in flames and the fire people have cordoned it off.

I went looking for box 88. I had stored it cleverly among other unassuming boxes with innocent-looking numbers on them. Problem: when I went to the big storage room to look for it, it wasn’t there.

You can imagine how I felt. I tore the house up. I searched the storage room at least three times. I searched all the closets. I searched the workshop. I prayed. I was very upset.

The thing that amazed me was that it wasn’t in the storage room. I had seen it there. Where else could it possibly be? Only two companies have had workers in the house since we moved, and I didn’t think they’d be stupid enough to steal. If the guns were gone, it meant some genius had seen through the random numbering strategy and chosen exactly the right box, out of dozens. Without opening the others.

The other possible explanation was that I had hidden the box in a safe place only I could find, and that I had forgotten where that place was.

I got very discouraged. I pictured my guns in the hands of a grimy air conditioner repairman. The air conditioning people spent more time here than anyone.

I went back to the storage room for a last try. I stood there thinking how amazing it was that the box wasn’t there. Then I saw it. On top of two other boxes. In plain sight. Exactly where I left it.

Explain that to me. I can’t figure out what happened. I looked right at it, over and over, and I didn’t see it. Then it mysteriously became visible.

Whatever.

I didn’t seem to have a whole lot of .45 ammo ready, and for some reason, I had tons of .38 Super, so .38 Super is what I chose to shoot.

The realtor who sold us this house decided to leave her big, annoying signs here forever. One attracted a moron in some kind of vehicle, and he ran over it and destroyed it, leaving problematic ruts in our swale. I took the remains of that sign to the dump. It had already attracted an aggressive realtor who rubbed me the wrong way, so I was glad it was gone. I took her second sign and laid it on the ground, and I sent a message to her firm via the Internet, telling them to come and get it.

They never responded, so today I took the sign out of the frame, and I set the frame up on my shooting berm. I taped a Caldwell target to it, and I was in business.

Here’s a photo. This is my first 300 rounds. I wish. That’s 5 rounds. I ended up shooting 35, I think, and I had three fliers that opened the hole up pretty badly. I did okay, though, and I learned, which is what matters.

Here’s one thing I learned: it’s impossible to police your brass in a pasture. I recovered about 4 expensive Starline shells. The rest are now part of the archaeological record. I don’t know what to do. Maybe I should just Roundup a small area to kill the grass that hides brass.

I quit shooting because shooting is expensive when you lose brass.

I wanted to shoot my .17 HMR, but that requires a table, chair, and God knows what else, and after losing all that time searching for box 88, I was in a hurry to get out there.

I think I should build a little shed type of thing for shooting, so I’ll have shade and a place to put my beer. I could fix it so it contains spent shells and saves me money.

How do you measure off long distances for shooting? I don’t think anyone makes a 200-yard tape measure. I want to be able to shoot at 100, 150, and 200 yards. The shorter distances are for .17 HMR. It’s a very cheap caliber for people who want to improve their technique.

It’s so nice, not having to deal with range officers and dangerous inexperienced shooters who literally shoot the inside of the range canopy. It’s nice not having to pay ten bucks or sit through a safety class. It’s also nice not to have to deal with the annoying camo and tactical crowd. People who think the world of themselves but shoot like little girls. When you see a cop in tactical pants at the range, get ready to duck. A pound of hair gel and 37 velcro pockets do not a marksman make.

I don’t think the neighbors had any idea I was shooting. They can’t see into the pasture unless they happen to be passing by the west end. I would be very surprised if they cared. We actually looked at one neighbor’s house before we bought this one, and he had an ammunition press set up in his garage.

There is an old deer stand in the pasture. Proof I’m not the first person to shoot out there.

I guess I’ll start moving trees again tomorrow.

Christianity Does Work

Monday, September 25th, 2017

Got a Little Present Yesterday

I keep forgetting to write about this: I had an extraordinary healing this week.

I was cutting a fallen oak tree, and I kept getting Spanish moss in the sprocket. That meant I had to take the saw apart and remove the moss. While I was doing this, I burned the ring finger of my left hand on the hot muffler.

I was definitely burned. I had a blister. It was very obvious, and it hurt.

A few years back, I burned my hand in my shop, and I got healed. I started commanding my flesh to be healed and so on. I used my faith. The pain went away, and although the skin had been discolored and ready to blister, nothing happened. In the end, days later, a tiny bit of skin smaller than the letter “o” on the page of a book flaked off. That was it.

When I burned my finger on the saw yesterday, I remembered that. I claimed my healing in the name of Jesus. I asked God to make it so. I kept thanking him, because he had already done it.

I was annoyed, but I remembered thinking it would be worth it, if God had allowed me to be burned so he could heal me miraculously.

When I went to bed the next night, over 24 hours after I burned myself, I suddenly remembered the burn. I hadn’t thought about it all day. I had forgotten I was burned. The room was dark. I started feeling my finger. I couldn’t tell which finger had been burned.

I turned on the lights and went to the bathroom. I put on some reading glasses. I still couldn’t tell which finger had been burned. I couldn’t remember whether it was the ring finger or the middle finger.

The next morning, when I looked at my fingers very closely, I saw a faint red area on the tip of my ring finger. That was where the blister had been. The skin wasn’t loose, the way skin on old blisters gets. There was no pain. There was no numbness. When I showered the next day, the skin didn’t peel off.

My finger is totally normal. I don’t need a Band-Aid. Everything is fine. I have never had a blister go away before. I don’t think it’s possible, because the skin that forms a blister is destroyed. It can’t recover, because it’s dead.

I felt I should put my testimony on the web. Having an annoying burn healed is great, and if God is willing to heal a blister, he is also willing to heal cancer and every other physical problem.

Maybe I’ll upload a picture, but you won’t see anything, because I’m healed.

It’s funny; I was thinking about the difficulty of dealing with skeptics. I was thinking about how hard it would be to answer people who say, “If Christianity is so great, why is it that so much of the time, it doesn’t work?” And then I remembered the burn and checked my finger, and I found that Christianity HAD worked. The Bible promises healings, and I had received one. Not my first, either.

I love it when God does things like this. Nothing is worse than physical problems that cause pain and limit your actions.

The Middle-Aged Man who Cried “Woolf”

Monday, September 25th, 2017

The Errors of my Youth Now Look Like Master Strokes

I finally finished Crime and Punishment, and that means I am done with the real jawbreakers of the Columbia Lit. Hum. reading list. It also means it’s time for me to unload on Dostoevsky.

Do I have to say it? This book is boring. Boredom seems to be the unifying trait of the Lit. Hum. selections. C&P isn’t nearly as boring as tedium titans like Don Quixote and The Iliad, but it holds its own.

People say Dostoevsky is a literary giant, and that this book is a masterpiece. Did we read the same book? I found C&P clumsy, poorly structured, improbable to the point of making suspension of belief impossible, long-winded, uninspired, and depressing.

Get ready for spoilers.

Raskolnikov, an empty, impoverished intellectual, decides he’s a super being. He is important, and the rest of us are insects. Accordingly, he decides to murder an old lady and rob her in order to support his studies. Then he’s too much of a wuss to deal with the fear of prosecution, so he goes insane temporarily and then, after about 3/4″ of needless tedium (as the bookworm crawls), he turns himself in and goes to Siberia.

The “P” part of C&P is around ten pages long. If you’re hoping to get insights on the Tsar’s penal system, from an author who lived in it, forget it.

One of the dumbest things about this book is the notion that a sociopath capable of murdering an old lady with a hatchet would be tormented by anxiety afterward. Real sociopaths blame their victims, society, white privilege, global warming, and God knows what else, and they don’t have a healthy person’s concerns about the consequences of their actions. The real Raskolnikovs go about their business without much distress, and many of them are never caught. That wouldn’t make a good story, though. I suppose it would be even worse than C&P.

This book is so unimportant as a life experience, I feel I would be cheating myself by spending a significant amount of time criticizing it. I’ve already been overcharged temporally. I don’t want to prolong the time-wasting.

When you read a really good work of literature, such as a Shakespeare play, you come across all sorts of memorable stuff. You find things you want to underline and memorize. Things resonate with you. Maybe you will find things that inspire you or change your outlook in a lasting way. No danger of that with Dostoevsky. C&P is a meaningless tale about a bunch of idiots who don’t have a clue about anything. Is it supposed to be a nihilist work? I can’t even tell. Surely there is a point to such pointlessness.

There isn’t one single admirable person in the book. There is no character you would consider capable of giving intelligent advice. There is no one in the book who I would want to know. Every character is a fool and a failure.

The last two books on the Lit. Hum. list are by Toni Morrison and Virginia Woolf. I consider one a whiny, victimhood-obsessed affirmative action case and the other a wretched, hopelessly conceited person who failed at existence. I’m going with William Golding for my next choice, and I can’t remember who comes after that. My blog has a search function, so I suppose I’ll find out what I chose.

Lord of the Flies is a much better book than C&P, because it’s under 200 pages long. If it were a pamphlet, it would be better still.

Has the Lit. Hum. list been a total waste of time? No. I learned a lot about the development of Western thought by reading the stuff that came before Cervantes. I got some historical perspective. Other than that, it has generally been a bad experience.

I can’t understand why people love these books. I see why we are forced to read many of them, but I think people who claim they enjoy them are full of it. I enjoyed Catch-22. I enjoyed Animal Farm, The Count of Monte Cristo, Cyrano de Bergerac, Voltaire, a bunch of the French poets, , D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, James Thurber, Antoine de St. Exupery, and a lot of other things I’ve read. Enjoying Homer is probably impossible.

People love to pretend they enjoy things they don’t. A lot of people pretend they enjoyed Ulysses, which is about as much fun as a twenty-hour dental cleaning. Me, I admit there are books I can’t stand. Think I’m stupid if it makes you happy. I am okay with that, because if you think I’m stupid, your opinion means nothing to me.

I may put Virginia Woolf back on the list. I just checked, and her book is only 200 pages. I know quality when I see it.

Yes, she’s back on the list. I checked some other options, and they’re way longer. Forget that.

I can’t believe how long it has taken me to read this garbage. These books, I mean. I thought I would breeze through it in two months, but the pain was just too much. I had to space it out. I started in the summer of 2016, and it is nearly fall, a year later. Surprising.

I thought I might go through Columbia’s Contemporary Civilization readings, too, but what if they’re just as horrible? Also, I don’t think Macchiavelli and Hobbes are going to have a major positive influence on me at this stage of my life.

Will this experience drive me to resume reading literature? No way. I don’t miss it at all. I may look at Shakespeare from time to time, and I will surely read a few other things, but I’m basically done with fiction. I got tired of it in my twenties, and Lit. Hum. reminded me why that happened. Lost, bitter people who don’t know God, making up unpleasant stories to justify their discontent. That’s most of literature, in a nutshell. You really have to pick and choose.

Now that I’ve read Crime and Punishment, I can’t wait to get out there and not read the rest of Dostoevsky’s works. My crime was refusing to do the reading when I took Lit. Hum. in college, and my punishment is nearly over. I don’t plan to become a recidivist.

Maybe I should study Columbia’s Art Hum. curriculum and learn to be glad I don’t care about art.

That’s it until I get started on Golding. No, Woolf. Whatever.

Time to go ride on the tractor while listening to Christian music and packing a 10mm.

Pro-Abortion…for Bugs

Monday, September 25th, 2017

Mosquitoes Must Pay

This week’s big farm challenge–big NEW farm challenge, along with the ones I was already handling–is mosquito control.

I have a pond. I will guess that it’s a hundred feet long. It’s dry most of the time, so presumably, no fish. When it rains a lot, the pond fills up. It slowly drains into the surrounding soil. I am told this is a “detention pond,” not a “retention pond.” A retention pond holds water permanently, and it will have a device that lets overflow run out.

Because I have no fish, I have nothing but frogs and bugs to eat mosquito wrigglers.

After Irma, the pond filled up, and it kept filling for days. It taught me new things about flooding. Flood waters don’t stop rising when the rain stops. Not everywhere. Crazy.

I don’t know how long the pond will have water in it, but based on what I’ve seen, I’ll bet it will be wet for another month. In the meantime, I have a lot of mosquitoes. What do I do?

I looked up products made for killing mosquitoes in ponds. They sell tablets full of a bacterium that kills mosquitoes. Treating a giant pond with these tablets would be very expensive. Generally, they’re used in tiny suburban koi ponds, although I had success when I threw a bunch in a neighbor’s green pool.

The tablets won’t work. What about malathion?

I considered dumping a whole jug of malathion in the pond. It’s supposed to be very safe for human beings. They say our blood neutralizes it. But what if science is wrong? I have well water, and I suppose my neighbors do, too. I don’t want to be the guy who gave them deformed children and tumors.

Fish are not worth discussing. I could dump some minnows in there, but they would only live until the pond dries up again.

Here’s what I’m thinking about using: vegetable oil. Mosquito wrigglers can’t breathe in ponds covered with oil. A gallon of cheap oil should cover the pond nicely. I’m told it will also kill the other bugs, which I’m supposed to like, but I don’t like them, so I don’t care. Also, how likely am I to have important water insects in a pond all by itself, a quarter of a mile from the next pond? I doubt I have anything resembling a real ecosystem. My pond was created by guys with backhoes, not the good Lord or the random forces of nature.

There are three negatives to the Ocala area: bugs, bad soil, and weeds. The soil tends to be sandy, so it’s not ideal for anything except constructing shooting berms. The woods here tend to produce more annoying weeds and thorns than they do farther north, so if you want to enjoy your wooded property, it’s best to get out there and clear the crap out. The bugs are beyond description. There are gigantic banana spiders all over the place, and their webs are thick and tough. We have huge acid-spraying walking sticks wandering around. Termites are ferocious here. Fire ants are everywhere. And we have a whole lot of really big mosquitoes.

At least we don’t have roaches. Well, we do have roaches. We have the biggest roaches this side of Africa. But they don’t have any interest in coming indoors. Also, I think the other bugs are murdering them wholesale. I haven’t seen many of them.

I really hate the banana spiders. I would say a typical specimen has a three-inch leg span, and the body is like a small grape, which means there is a lot in there to squish out if you kill one. Banana spiders put their webs between tall objects such as trees, which means they put them in places where you are likely to walk. Then you get a faceful of sticky web, possibly containing an angry spider the size of a mouse. And they bite, supposedly.

I plan to get some oil and see if I can kill the mosquitoes. Malathion is tempting, I have to admit, but it’s a little too bold for me at this juncture.

Over the next couple of weeks, the weather is supposed to get cooler, and the dry season should start soon. I am told the bugs will succumb.

Hurry up, fall. Bring death to my little enemies.

Irmageddon Relief

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

The Government IS Good for Something

I got some good news today. The Florida Bar is extending the September CLE (Continuing Legal Education) deadline for certain people, and the city of Ocala is going to pick up my dead trees.

This is big. CLE is a complete farce, but it’s time-consuming. So far, I’ve endured 17 hours of thinly veiled advertisements masquerading as educational materials. Lawyers who want to raise their profiles create boring lectures and distribute them for nothing, and a software company called Rocket Matter has joined in, filling the Bar’s site up with free “edvertisements.” You can pay for CLE which is somewhat less tedious, but there is no reason to do that, unless boredom is something you just can’t endure. Real CLE is expensive, and it’s generally just as useless as free CLE.

Quality CLE can be very helpful when you have a specific need to fill, but when you’re just trying to make the Bar happy, it’s like setting the tables at an abandoned restaurant. The Bar probably thinks it impresses the public, but the public has no idea CLE exists, so mainly, it functions as a way to raise profiles and make money for CLE providers.

A suspicious person would bet that the Bar’s bigwigs have personal connections to the CLE industry, and that they have hidden incentives to keep it running, but I have no evidence of that, apart from my basic knowledge of human nature and politics. Maybe nobody is in cahoots with anyone, but if that’s true, it would be pretty remarkable, given the way government entities operate. Maybe CLE providers never take anyone from the Bar to dinner or let them play on their golf courses or fly them off to highly informative seminars held at resorts or in Las Vegas. I have no idea, but after half a century on this planet, I can’t help but wonder.

Technically, the Bar is not a government entity, but the state Supreme Court is in charge of it, and the state oversees it, so…whatever.

By the way, whether CLE is a farce depends on whom you ask it and under which circumstances. If you ask a lawyer in his office or a courthouse elevator or on the golf course, he will scowl and tell you it’s a farce. If you ask him in front of a TV camera or at some kind of public appearance, he’ll tell you it’s the backbone of legal professionalism and an essential structure that holds up our sacred art.

I have to do 13 or 16 more hours of CLE, depending on which official Bar publication I believe, and the deadline is a week from now. That’s too much. Fortunately, the Bar has decided to let Irma victims have another month. Whee. See you in October.

Here’s what I’ve learned from the CLE I’ve done so far this cycle: computers and the Internet virtually guarantee that any lawyer who isn’t an IT expert will be sued and lose at some point during the next decade. The pitfalls are too numerous, and we are just too stupid to avoid them (We’re not doctors). Nearly anything a lawyer does with data opens the door to a lawsuit. You’re only safe if you do everything on paper.

I won’t check, but because I know how the world works, I can tell you that somewhere out there, there are lawyers who specialize in suing other lawyers who screw up with data. The smell of rotting flesh will always attract bugs and vultures. Computers opened a wound on the legal profession, and the leeches and bats will flock to it to suck, just as they suck on the pharmaceutical industry, police departments, and anyone who manufactures anything.

Rocket Matter is some sort of practice-related software. It helps attorneys keep their practices running smoothly. I’ll give them credit. Their free lectures scared me a great deal. I don’t see what I can do to protect myself, though, short of refraining from practicing. Which happens to be the road I took.

As for the city and the dead trees, the announcement takes a load (literally) off my mind. I have been cutting and burning trees for a while now, and I expected it to go on for months. Now the city’s website says they’ll haul wood if we put it by the road. Fantastic. Yesterday I realized I was developing a mountain of ash, and it made me aware that my cut-and-burn strategy had a serious flaw. What do you do with tons of wood ashes? Now I won’t have to find out.

I will still have to cut and move trees, but I won’t have to burn them, and I won’t have to store them within my fences. Bonus: I won’t have to mow the swale by the highway, because it will be covered.

Now if someone will just volunteer to move my machine tools up here from Miami…

Feets of Strength

Saturday, September 23rd, 2017

Tennis Shoes Just not Cutting It

Today’s big news: I got myself some new boots.

I’ve been here a month, and I’ve been doing a ton of outdoor work. I came here in a new pair of Nike tennis shoes, and that’s what I wore up until today. I had to retire them. They were not up to the job.

After Irma, there was standing water on parts of my property for…well, there may still be some. There are still twigs and branches everywhere, and they reach out to scrape my ankles when I walk. I’ve used chainsaws a lot, and they shot wood chips into the tops of my tennis shoes. From there, the chips found their way all the way down to the toes.

I have a few pairs of boots, but I wanted work boots. I had motorcycle boots (actually uniform boots), hunting boots, and some kind of Timberland insulated boots. I sprang for something new: Danner 8″ work boots with some kind of uber-plastic protectors in the toes. When you cut wood with a chain saw, it falls, and I did not want crushed toes.

The boots I bought are waterproof, with lots of Gore-tex. They have plenty of padding. They’re roomy enough for thick wool socks which keep my feet dry. I am in love.

I’ve always liked tools. I like getting the right tool for the right job. Sometimes the wrong tool takes three days and makes you miserable, and the right tool takes fifteen minutes and doesn’t raise one bead of sweat. Shoes are tools. I had the wrong tools for the job, and they were a major hindrance.

Today Amazon brought the boots, and I put them on as soon as I saw the box. I went out and started hacking up a fifty-foot live oak that was lying on its side in the big pasture. It was wonderful. Nothing hit my ankles. My footing was solid. When I needed to kick things, the impact didn’t come through the thin sole of a tennis shoe. Nothing dropped into my socks and migrated down to my toes.

I could have worn the Timberland boots. I’m pretty sure I haven’t worn them since law school. Once I experienced Danner boots, I could not go back. Timberland boots are not very good. People don’t know that, because they haven’t tried anything better.

I got my first pair of Timberlands when I went to Columbia University. I was a Florida kid, and on October 10, I believe it was, we got 8 inches of snow. I figured it would be like that all winter. I bought a down jacket, wool socks, and Timberlands. They were the classic Timberlands. Reddish leather, about 7″ high, with plastic collars around the tops (probably to save Timberland money on leather).

I kept those boots for a few years, but they eventually rotted, and the soles fell off. I had another pair of Timberlands made largely of fabric, and they didn’t last, either. I got the last pair in the Nineties, and I’ve probably worn them fewer than 10 times. They’re stiff, like wood. They keep the cold and damp out, but then I haven’t worn them enough to get them to leak.

Danners feel like big running shoes. Total comfort. They are truly waterproof. They come with various levels of insulation. They never seem to wear out. You will pay at least $150 for a decent pair, but that’s only about 7% more than Timberlands, and you will get a completely different level of quality.

Timberlands are crap. Trust me. It’s no wonder rappers like them, because rappers are the same people who buy Beats headphones instead of Sennheisers. If Dr. Dre endorsed horse manure, rappers would cram horse manure in their ears.

Here’s something neat about Ocala: you can get real work clothes. You can walk into a store and be surrounded by Carhartt. I won’t have to buy my stuff online any more. Danners can’t be found around here, but pants, shirts, jackets, and overalls will not be a problem.

I didn’t realize how much my feet hindered me until I started cutting wood in real boots. Suddenly, I didn’t even think about my feet. I didn’t worry about where I stepped. I didn’t feel things attacking my ankles. Really nice.

As for the tree-cutting, I learned new things. I learned that Spanish moss will stop a chainsaw. All the trees here are covered with moss. I have stopped my small saw three times by catching moss in it. Very annoying.

I also learned that chainsaws have a sacrificial tab the chain hits when it comes off. I made some kind of booboo while fixing the moss problem, and my chain came loose. It stopped instantly, and when I looked at it, I saw that a little detachable metal tab had been bent. Neat feature. Chainsaws are a lot better than they used to be. Very impressive.

I spent about two hours dismantling the tree. I would say I got about 15% of it done, but it was a very critical 15%. You can’t just go up to the base of an 18″-thick horizontal oak and start hacking at it. The tree is resting on its branches, and God only knows which way they’ll throw it when I cut them. I started at the top and methodically cut everything that didn’t have tension on it and moved it away. Before long, I was able to cut off one of the tree’s three main branches. The tree is defeated now. I made it much more accessible and predictable.

I’m waiting for a pole saw with a 12″ bar to arrive. There are some things I should not cut with a regular saw. Some are too high, and some are too scary. A pole saw will allow me to cut things higher than my head, and it will also let me stay seven or eight feet away when I cut things that look dangerous. The 12″ bar isn’t very big, but most pole saws are 8″ or 10″, so compared to them, it’s a monster. I should be able to cut things 10″ thick, and that will cover just about everything I need a pole saw for.

What I’m doing is a lot of work, but I enjoy it because I have good tools. I throw the saws into a gas-powered golf cart, ride to the tree I have to cut, and have at it. I can keep water and other tools in the cart’s dump bed. I wear good polarized safety glasses, and I have a Worktunes bluetooth hearing protector playing Christian music in my ear the whole time. If I had to do this work with a crappy little Poulan saw and haul everything in an SUV or a pickup, and I didn’t have Julie True singing in my ear, it would be a very bad experience.

I’m very glad I didn’t buy the first saw I saw in a store after Irma, because the first saws I saw were cheap. I’m also glad I got two saws instead of one. Today one saw got bound in a limb, and I used the other saw to rescue it. A four-foot pry bar was useless. If I hadn’t had two saws, I would have been in a pickle.

The little Jonsered is nimble and powerful. The big Echo is a light saber. Point it at a limb, and it falls off.

I need to get a hard hat. No one wears a hard hat while using a chainsaw. No one except a professional who isn’t a total idiot. I plan not to dress like a total idiot, even if it makes me look odd. Most people who use chainsaws are ignorant, and they wear jeans, tennis shoes, and baseball caps. A lot of people don’t use hearing protection. Whatever. I want to keep my hearing, and I don’t want skull fractures from falling wood.

I’ve thought about getting chainsaw chaps. They’re made from kevlar. The kevlar comes loose when you hit it with the blade, and it chokes the sprocket, stopping the saw. Interesting thing: it doesn’t work with electric saws. They have too much torque. Anyway, today I had moments when I was able to see the wisdom of wearing chaps.

I have some plastic wedges on the way. I could not buy them locally. They prevent saws from getting pinched the way mine did today. It’s amazing how stores let the ignorant shape their inventory choices. No chaps. No wedges. These are things every chainsaw seller should stock.

It’s about time to learn how to sharpen a saw. The Jonsered seems to be cutting a little finer and slower than at first. I already have a couple of files for the job. I should pick up some extra chains. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

I’m hoping that in a couple of weeks or a month, the weather will permit me to wear long pants and a long shirt. Also, the bugs need to die. The wet weather has turned this area into an entomological playground.

Time to take my precious boots off and get in the shower. Maybe I should leave them on.

In a couple of months, I should have this farm looking normal. I’m sad to lose so many trees. The damage didn’t look too bad right after the storm, but then I found out trees continue to fall for days. I must have twenty big trees that didn’t make it. Anyway, I will get them cleared. Maybe I’ll get my band saw up here and turn some of the trees into lumber. The live oaks are useless, but water oaks have wood like red oak, and I may have lost some hickorys or pecans.

I will never lack for firewood or barbecue wood. That’s for sure.

Sorry I don’t have a bunch of photos. I was just too caught up in the work. Here’s a shot from yesterday. It’s the small pasture, after I cleared a bunch of crap.

I will leave you with a shot of my boots. Throw out your Timberlands and pick some up. You will not regret it.

The Curse of Ethanol

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Farm Life has its Challenges

Nothing really terrible has happened to me in several days. I’m wondering if something is wrong.

I’m still working on clearing tropical storm mess from my land. I refuse to call it “hurricane debris,” because I don’t want to play into the irresponsible hype we get from the ratings-crazy press. Marion County did not get hit by a hurricane. It received tropical-storm-force winds from the periphery of a hurricane. If it weren’t for the fact that there are so many rotten trees here, there would have been almost no damage at all.

This county is full of oaks that are rotten in the middle. I did not know this before I moved here. I didn’t know I had highly dubious trees on my property. Now I know, but a number of trees are already resting on my fences.

People here claim water oaks are the big problem. They rot very well. They say live oaks don’t fall in storms. I think that’s wrong, though, because I’ve been looking at leaves when I collect branches, and it sure looks like I have a lot of live oak leaves.

In Miami, live oaks did very well when Andrew hit. It seems they didn’t do as well here. I don’t understand that, because here we have soil. In Miami, the dirt is a few inches thick, and beneath that, it’s oolite, which is solid coral rock. I don’t know how roots can hold onto that. Anyway, I have a bunch of trees to get rid of.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to deal with the larger trees. Some of these boogers are a couple of feet thick, and they’re propped up at odd angles. I don’t want to be crushed when they shift as the saw cuts through. I do not want to hire a tree service. That’s big money. If I do have to hire one, I want to limit their work as much as I can. I can move the trees myself. I just need someone to put them on the ground.

I suppose it’s time to go online and learn about cutting trees.

If you’ve never cut a tree before, you probably think it’s simple, but it’s not. Say you have a tree sixty feet tall, and you want to cut it at the base. That means it can hit anything within sixty feet when it falls. What if there are things within that distance, which you don’t want hit? What if it’s already leaning toward your house? What if it starts falling when you cut it, in a way that puts your life in danger? Can you outrun a falling tree?

Here’s another big issue: saw pinching. If you have a broken tree which is more or less horizontal, when you cut it, it will sag at the cut. That means the kerf will close on your saw, possibly with tons of force. How do you prevent that? Maybe I need wedges. The tractor has been useful, because I’ve been able to hold trees up and saw off the free ends, but that won’t work with really big lumber.

My second chainsaw–the big one–arrived a couple of days ago. I haven’t run it yet. The little one has whizzed through everything I’ve cut so far. Sooner or later, I’ll have to run the big one.

Now that I’ve lifted the big saw, I see why people like little saws. You would have to be nuts to use a big saw on everything. It’s just too heavy and awkward.

I’m going to go out and light the burn pile again today. It’s gigantic now. I’m toying with the idea of throwing a gallon of diesel on it first. I got myself a big jug of charcoal lighter fluid. It may be sufficient, and when it’s empty, I can refill it with diesel, which should be cheaper.

People have informed me that I need to use more oil in my saws than the manual suggests. Evidently, the EPA has decided to ruin all of our small engines in exchange for a tiny decrease in pollution. The manual says to add oil at a ratio of 1:50, but people are telling me to go 1:40, so I will do that.

Yeah, I care about pollution. I care about as much as our government does, which is to say, very little. The government passes crippling legislation that makes money for greenies and still allows a whole lot of environmental damage. I’m not going to screw up my equipment so I can abide by useless feel-good legislation that accomplishes nothing.

Still wondering what the government does with the monumental amount of CO2 ethanol fermentation produces.

I bought regular gas for my small engines, and I have learned that this was a mistake. Regular gas is full of ethanol, which ruins carbs. I wish to God we would give up the ethanol farce. When I was saw shopping, I saw cans of premixed fuel at the store, but I thought it was for sissies who didn’t want to use funnels. I learned that the real benefit is that it’s ethanol-free.

There are gas stations here that sell ethanol-free gas, so I think the best move is to fill a big can and mix it with oil.

In other news, I fixed my bush hog. The previous owner hit a stump with it and tore a corner of the apron loose from the deck. He popped two welds. He says I should keep the bush hog attached to the tractor because it counterbalances the brush forks, so the bush hog will have to remain attached until I become aware of a better solution. Weights, maybe. The bush hog seems to take a considerable beating while I move the tractor around, and it makes thumping sounds. I thought (incorrectly) that the apron was banging against the deck, so I decided to weld it.

I had some obstacles to overcome before I could weld. Mainly, I had no 240 receptacle for either welder (TIG or MIG). The TIG will run on 110, and it also does stick, so that was an option. Also, I now have a small generator that will pump out 20 amps at 240, and that will be enough for MIG.

I decided to try stick, and I also ordered an adaptor to hook the MIG up to the generator, on the assumption that my stick efforts would fail.

I got myself some E7018 electrodes from Home Depot, and I started grinding off the old welds and trying to realign the apron and deck. I didn’t realize the apron had been bent in addition to being snapped off. Short of heating the apron with a huge torch, there is no way to straighten it. It was bent so the top of the apron, where the old weld was, moved inward just enough to make the deck shelter the old weld, making it very hard to grind out.

Anyway, I got it ground, and I put a Strong Hand clamp on the bush hog to hold everything together. Then I set the TIG up for stick, using settings I got from the web: AC and 85 amps.

Right away, I flashed myself. I thought the welder’s foot pedal controlled the stick stinger, so I put the stinger down on the bush hog while I got ready to weld. When I picked it up, the tip contacted metal, and I got an arc. It was very brief, but I have no idea how much arc flash is too much, so I was concerned. I didn’t have any problems, so I guess it wasn’t too bad.

When I started welding, I stuck the electrode about a thousand times, and the arc kept crapping out. People are telling me to go DC next time. The welds are incredibly bad, but they are strong enough to hold until I can redo them. I plan to grind them out and try stick again before giving up and MIGing them.

I thought I didn’t need the generator, but I decided to keep it when I realized it gave me mobility. With a generator, I can run big power tools all over the farm. I can use the rotary hammer, the welders, and maybe even the plasma cutter, if it’s set low enough. I can use air tools. To me, that’s worth the $500 cost of the generator.

If you’re in a storm area, here’s a tip: even if you don’t buy a generator ahead of time, buy and set up the wiring doodads that make it work. You can buy all sorts of generators in Ocala right now, but good luck finding the plugs and receptacles to connect them to anything. My generator has a ridiculous RV receptacle for 240, so nothing useful will plug into it. Get yourself generator-ready now, and you may have cold beer the next time your power goes out.

When I use the generator, I’ll have to put very small amounts of gas in it so I can run it dry. I don’t want ethanol eating my generator so it won’t run when I need it.

Man, I hate ethanol. What a disgusting, greed-motivated boondoggle.

Time to get out there and burn some trees. Maybe I’ll post a photo.

Who Needs Eyebrows?

Saturday, September 16th, 2017

Even Trash-Burning has a Learning Curve

I had another challenging day today. I don’t want to list everything I’ve had to cope with, but I can mention a few facts. For example, my dad’s boat is in a marina. The marina’s electrical stuff was submerged during the tropical storm surge. The marina has no power. Someone has to go start every boat’s engines to keep the batteries charged, so the boats have juice to run their bilge pumps…or they’ll sink. And I’m 300 miles away.

Stuff like that.

Also, I set fire to myself. I finally lit up the multi-ton pile of dead wood out in the pasture. I tried lighting the dry leaves on the branches, but they pooped out. I decided to try accelerating the fire with gasoline.

Don’t start with me. I have burned gasoline many times. I have never seen it explode. The way it did today. At me. I had no way of knowing that was going to happen.

I put about half a cup of gas on the pile, and I used one of those long barbecue lighters to light it. I held my hand way out there, to maximize the distance. The pile went WHOOOF, and a big fireball shot out at me.

I lost all the hair on one ankle. I had to drive to the house to see if I had eyebrows. It was pretty stimulating.

Gas doesn’t do that when you set fire to it on the ground. Something about the limbs and leaves got it excited. I suppose they helped the fumes evaporate and form a cloud.

Next time, diesel. That will be tomorrow.

My friend Amanda didn’t have power this morning, so I invited her and her sons to come over and use the washer and dryer, not to mention the pool and shower. That worked out well. Amanda is an old hand at the farming game, and she had good advice regarding the burn pile. Too bad she wasn’t there when I lit it.

She and her kids kept my dad amused while I worked, and her sons piled up a bunch of branches so I could pick them up with the tractor. I don’t think they’re in love with farm work. When I went to see how they were doing, the youngest said, “Can we be done now?”

Amanda and I toured the farm on the golf cart and looked at the trees that still need to be dealt with. Some of them won’t be accessible for days because there is standing water in a few places. It rained like crazy during the storm.

I figure I have 3 trees that need attention soon. They’re lying across fences, and my neighbors will eventually want that fixed. The rest can wait. Who cares if an oak falls over in a pasture? Big deal.

Life is getting straightened out.

I won’t lie. I’ve had a lot of stress and worry. God has given me great tools to deal with these things, but this has been a very special couple of months. It’s as if Satan is extremely angry that I escaped Miami, so he is throwing whatever he can at me. The movers screwed up royally; half of the furniture is still in my garage, and they left a bunch of tools in Miami. My dad took an overdose of blood pressure pills and forgot where he was, so he had to be hospitalized. The house’s main AC died and had to be replaced. Hurricane Irma.

I keep telling people I’m waiting for the earthquake.

Anyway, I generally cope with worry very well, but this has been a new level of aggravation, and things keep coming up to distract me and prevent me from praying.

It will get better. And when it’s over, I won’t be in Miami. I will still be free from the stench of Dade County. Man, that place stinks. I wish I had left in 1970. How different my life would be, had I been raised among better people. But then I was not ready for it. I didn’t deserve it. It would have been wrong to inflict me on Ocala.

Tomorrow the burning and sawing resumes. Pray I don’t roast myself again.

Burning Man East

Friday, September 15th, 2017

Work is More Fun Than Play

I am almost too wiped out to blog. That’s saying a lot, since I write for recreation.

Yesterday God gave me a miracle. I found a decent small chainsaw in the Ocala area, available for store pickup. This week, that’s about as easy as finding a bar of soap in a room full of Bernie Sanders supporters.

I was checking various sites to see how fast I could get a small saw. I have a big saw coming Monday, but I’ve learned that big saws are not for small saw work. Big saws are heavy and awkward. Little saws won’t cut big trees as well, but they’re easier to use on limbs and so on. I have an abundance of big trunks and small limbs to deal with.

I may as well pass on what I learned, since someone else may find it useful.

There are apparently three levels of chainsaws. First, there are really expensive chainsaws you should only buy if you plan to use a saw every day at your job. Forget those. Then there are solid saws that cost considerably less. Then there is crap from China. You don’t want crap from China.

Yesterday I visited Rural King, which is like Tractor Supply’s mother, and they had some good saws, but the small saws they were selling were dubious. They had Poulans, which everyone on the web seems to hate.

I don’t know anything about the high-end saws, but I learned a few things about the second tier.

A lot of people like Stihl, which is German. Are they actually the best, or is it that closet-Nazi chic that makes BMW buyers so gullible? I don’t know.

Another popular brand is Husqvarna. This Swedish company makes lots of stuff. They used to make motorcycles. I don’t know if they make them today. The problem with Husqvarna is that some of their lower-end saws are…crap from China. Or at least crap that isn’t from Sweden. Evidently, you have to be careful and check the labels.

Echo is the Japanese company that ruined life on earth by inventing the leaf blower. That’s the word on the street, anyway. They make very nice saws. You can get them at Home Depot, unless you’re me and you need one to clear away tropical storm debris. It’s surprising that Home Depot sells something nice.

Here’s another brand: Jonsered. It’s Swedish. The main reason it’s Swedish is that it’s really Husqvarna. If you buy one, you will actually see the word “Husqvarna” on either the saw or stuff that came with it. Jonsered is sold at Tractor Supply. I don’t know who else sells them.

Why Husqvarna has a separate brand selling the same things is not clear to me. Maybe some of their saws simply identify as Jonsered.

I was fooling around on the Tractor Supply website, and it unexpectedly told me I could pick up a Jonsered CS 2240 locally. I figured it was a mistake, but it was worth a shot. I ordered it, and the order went through. I figured I would get an email the next morning, telling me the saw didn’t really exist. I assumed someone at the store would sell it to his beer buddy and tell me to get lost. Miraculously, I received an email saying the saw was ready for pickup.

The CS 2240 is a 40 cc saw with a 16″ blade, which means it’s light and handy. It sounded like just what I needed. My neighbors have pretty much cleared their yards, and I’ve been so busy and tool-deprived, I’m way behind. I had to get something to get me started. I can’t cut big oaks with this, but I can do 80% of the cutting I need to do.

Today I got the saw running, and I moved a huge amount of wood to the burn pile using the tractor. I would be lying if I said this wasn’t fun. I love hydraulics. They turn people into superheroes. Remember Ridley fighting the queen Alien in Aliens? That’s me on the tractor.

The saw was wonderful. The last gas chainsaw my family unit possessed was a used McCulloch, I think. Back in the Seventies. It ran okay, but it was nothing like the Jonsered. The Jonsered zips through hard oak like nobody’s business. It was a pleasure to use. It made me wonder what the big saw will be like. I’ve never used a big saw on hardwood.

I had to quit because I know nothing about small engines. I followed the manual as well as I could, but I flooded the saw and could not get it to function. The only reason I’m tired tonight is that I pulled the saw’s start cord about 3000 times. After I quit, I went on the web to find out what I had done wrong.

I found an authoritative-sounding video that said I had to take the spark plug out and dry it off, and that I had to empty the excess fuel through the plug hole. Bummer. Then I found a small engine repair guy with a much better video. I’m going to tell you what I found out.

When you start a chainsaw cold, you have to use the choke to cut back on air. You also have to squoosh the chainsaw’s priming diaphragm to get fuel to the carb or whatever. If you do either of these things a little bit too much, the saw’s cylinder fills up, and then you will be completely unable to start the saw by following the worthless manual.

To make the saw run, you have to get rid of the excess fuel. Here’s how you do it. You start it while holding the throttle wide open. You may have to yank the cord a number of times, but eventually you will blow the fuel out, and the saw will run. Forget taking the plug out. Forget waiting for the saw to dry.

Wish I had known that today. I had no idea what was happening, thanks to the manual.

It makes sense. When you flood a carbureted car, the solution is to floor it while you turn the engine over.

I have to burn my trash wood. I’m nervous about it. I’ve never done it before. I picture my face on the news, over the words “DIY ARSONIST.” I can’t believe it’s safe to burn wood near wooded areas, but apparently it is. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, because campfires are pretty common, and we still have forests.

I have what must be a few tons of wood waiting to be burned. I need to get it going because the burn area needs to be emptied so I can get rid of more wood.

I don’t see how green wood is supposed to burn, but I’ll light it and see what it does.

The bigger downed trees are intimidating. Today I looked at one that has branches maybe forty feet long and ten inches thick. One big branch points up at a 45-degree angle. If I saw that sucker where it joins the trunk, I have no idea what it will do. It may slide toward me and smear me across the ground like peanut butter. I have to decide what I can do safely and what I can’t. The Jonsered is intimidating. The big Echo I have coming will be a whole different level.

I’ve used a bigger saw in the past. A long time ago, I did part-time work for a tree service. But I wasn’t the boss. I had someone with years of experience telling me what not to do. Now it’s just me.

I’m trying to be intelligent. For example, I lift trees with the tractor so the parts I saw off will bend down, not up, when the saw goes through. If a tree bends in a V at the cut, it will pinch the saw, and then you’re done until you can get it out. I also put the tractor’s forks under heavy stuff before I cut it, so it will drop gently onto the front end loader. Today I cut a piece of wood that had to weigh 400 pounds. I can’t put that on the loader. It has to want to be there.

I am too tired to post photos.

It’s pretty cool, having a tractor, a chainsaw, and a golf cart. The tractor is useless for carrying things, so I put them in the cart’s dump bed and take the cart to where I’m cutting. Then I move the tractor there and get to work. There is nothing like having good tools. Work isn’t unpleasant when you have what you need to git ‘er done.

A friend is coming by tomorrow. I think I’ll just cram some more brush on the pile and let her rip. I don’t have to wear out the chainsaw every day. It’s going to be a while before the downed trees are gone.

Thank God I’m not in Miami. I would rather be here sweating on a tractor than doing just about anything there.

Reverse Looting

Monday, September 11th, 2017

I Hate Miami More Than Ever

I am using my most precious commodity, electricity, to let you know how I’m doing.

Irma came through last night. As always, the predictions were overblown. We got considerable wind, but it was no hurricane. Not here. I lost a number of big trees, but the house and workshop are fine. We have no power, so that means no water.

My friend Amanda brought her three boys, and we all survived.

This morning I started clearing the mess. I didn’t have a chainsaw. There was a big tree across the driveway, and there was nothing I could do. I had to drive around it.

I went out on the golf cart to check out the neighborhood, and I met a neighbor, running around on his 4-wheeler with his daughter on the back. Right away, that picture is promising. It got better. He’s an ex-Marine from North Carolina. He said his house was the one with the Marine Corps and American flags out front. Okay!

He said he had a tractor, if I needed help. I said I had a tractor but no chainsaw. He said, “I have a chainsaw.” Just like that. Doesn’t know me from Adam’s housecat.

We exchanged contact info.

Amanda had to ferry her dogs and sons back to the farm where she lives, and when she came for the dog, we sat down and discussed God for a while. She told me some of the horrible things that had happened to her. Example: her parents refused to pay her prep school tuition, so her diploma was withheld for two years. She went to a crappy college, and she then applied to Harvard, where she was accepted. Her brother sat her down and said she needed to stay on the farm and look after her mom, who insists on living on the farm and telling everyone what to do even though she is indigent. The local college was good enough. Mind you, her brother is an attorney, not a mentally retarded person who bags groceries.

Anyway, we had a long and productive talk, and then I got up and went to the front of the house. I could not see the big downed tree. I went to take a look. Someone had cut it in pieces and moved them off the driveway. Yes, while my former neighbors in Miami were breaking in stores to steal $300 sneakers, my new neighbors were sneaking onto my property to clear away hurricane debris.

I texted one of them and asked who did what so I could thank them. I offered to help with whatever they were doing, but they were already shutting down. Figures. I would like to be known here for something other than stealing newspapers.

I didn’t steal newspapers. Not exactly.

There are two newspaper boxes out by the road. Ours is the bottom one. When we first came here, I took the paper from the wrong box, and I had to apologize profusely. Then a few days later, I had another newspaper problem.

I bought hurricane food. By this I mean junk food. Things you can eat without preparation. Yesterday morning, while I was getting ready for the storm, I found out my dad had been raiding the food. Great. I had to drive out and look for more. I found one gas station that was open, and I bought six double Snickers bars. Best I could do.

When I was on the way back in, I stopped by the mailbox. I grabbed the bag containing our paper. The paper boy had put it in the bag with the open side facing in, so when I pulled the bag, the paper fell out on the wet ground. I picked it up and went in the house, where I saw my dad…reading the newspaper. He had taken the neighbors’ paper again, and now the only replacement I had was wet.

I had to text them again, apologize, and let them know my dad was demented. They were very nice about it. I told them to take our newspaper at will, pretty much. This is the history I am now trying to live down.

I have learned to use the tractor. I have a few photos. I moved debris a few hundred yards, from the yard to the burn pile. Yes, I have a burn pile. I figured out what the forky thing on the front end loader is for. It’s for grabbing brush and dumping it. Yes, I just happened to move to a property that really needed a tractor with an attachment for moving trees and brush, and lo and behold, the tractor was there waiting for me.

I love using the tractor. Farm work doesn’t pay well, but on the other hand, it’s much more pleasant than office work. I have always enjoyed it. Now I’m pretty much obligated to do it, every week.

I’ll upload some photos of the tractor and burn pile.

This move has been very bad in some ways and very good in others, but whatever happens here, you could not pay me enough to get me to move back to Miami What a craphole. Excuse my language.

I’m off. If the power comes back on, you will hear more from me.

Getting Ready for Company

Saturday, September 9th, 2017

One More Day

I am still awaiting the winds of Hurricane Irma.

Today was uneventful. I bought two more flashlights, some rope, a can of WD-40, work gloves, a barbecue lighter, and lithium grease. Stuff I clearly needed. I drove around my yard picking up fallen branches and tossed them in the truck, and then I drove out to the burn area in the big pasture and dropped them there. I moved the big tractor out to the pasture and left it there so my friend Amanda will be able to put her SUV in the workshop during the storm.

The fallen branches are not from wind. There has been no wind. Ocala is a lightning magnet, and I am surrounded by tall trees that get hit a lot. Branches die and fall. Then I get to pick them up and burn them. I’m doing this so our moderate winds won’t blow them into the house.

I will not complain about that. I have a farm. I have a pickup truck. I have a burn pile. This is the kind of stuff I used to dream about. I keep thinking about Psalm 37:4: “Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”

The storm track still looks pretty good for me. Miami’s somewhat-upsetting forecast has not panned out. It’s supposed to be blowing pretty good in Miami now, and I just checked and saw a figure of 9 mph. Gusts to 11, I think it said. Sooner or later, there will be wind, but I see it this way: if the forecast is wildly pessimistic at 6 p.m., it will probably be wildly pessimistic throughout the storm. If they’re predicting 74, maybe Miami will get 45.

I’m still not happy with the weather gurus. My dad’s dementia makes him forget what he knows about the forecast. The TV agitators get him wound up over and over, and I have to keep explaining what’s really happening. The hurricane is on every channel, so it’s inescapable. He has always spent several hours a day glued to the tube, and that habit is not going to change. He will be hearing about extinction-level Irma until two days after it’s over. So will I.

The ninnies who keep exaggerating the storm’s consequences should have to come here and comfort him, along with every other dementia patient they’ve upset. I’m not the only one who has to deal with this. Other people are making the same complaint.

Whatever happens will be over with in two days. I look forward to that.

I really, truly do not want to do without air conditioning and running water. There are certain minimum standards I expect my habitat to meet. I remember the times I’ve spent sitting indoors, watching drops of sweat fall off my nose, wondering when the power was coming back on. I do not want to go through that again.

I hope my tractor isn’t lonely out there.