Warning! Rant ahead. I was recently told that today is Blogger Silence day or some such non-sense, in response to the disastrous events recently in Japan. Now, don't misunderstand and think I am uncaring. I really do feel bad for the misery inflicted upon the Japanese people by recent events, but remaining silent, or having a Blogger Silence day does nothing, but make a bunch of self appointed net-nannies feel important and morally superior to others. Therefore, I am officially calling "Bullshit" by blogging away as normal. If you wish to do something to help Japan, then I would suggest doing something tangible such as a donation to the Red Cross or other reputable international aid agencies. If I hurt anyone's feelings, then perhaps you should walk away from your computer and stand in the rain with a candle and sing a sad little song.
On a brighter note, While out for lunch the other day, I happened to notice some plants in bloom around an empty lot where an old house once stood. I took a few minutes from lunch to walk around and shoot a few pictures. There were daffodils, flowering almond, spirea, hawthorn, and forsythia. Further back on the property were the remnants of an old apple orchard. The old plants were still putting on quite a good show almost coquettish in there display. It looks like the property may soon be developed. Sort of a shame to see it turned into another strip mall or some other example of suburban sprawl. I went back the next day and got some cuttings to try and root. Enjoy the pics.
I've recently been going through some of my things out in the radio room and came across this little analog multimeter. I picked it up at an AWA meet a few years ago for $5.00. A very well made little Bakelite meter with a mirrored scale. Reasonably good impedance for an old analog job; 30000 ohms/volt DC, 15000 ohms/volt AC. I'm sort of a sucker for a mirrored scale so I had to bring the little guy home. The little meter works just fine and looks like new inside and out. There are no maker's marks anywhere to be found; just "Part Number 145-0254" and sn 772. This meter looks to be typical of the high quality Japanese electronics that began flooding the US market in the 1970s. I wonder where it came from? Was it a kit, something from a correspondence course, or just an inexpensive meter from one of the many mail order houses that catered to hams and electronic hobbyist? I may never know, but it sure has been fun wondering and doing a little searching. Pretty good fun for only $5.00.
Today I needed to purchase a water pump for one of our vehicles. I went down to the local Advance Auto Parts store since one is only a couple miles from the house. Once the clerk had looked up the part, I asked where it was made. Her reply was Taiwan. I told her I did not want Chinese or Taiwanese parts for my car and asked if there were any USA made parts available. Her reply was no and that's just how it is in this country now. I declined to purchase the parts and went to their competitor Auto Zone. Much to my delight, Auto Zone had a new USA manufactured part available and it was $1.00 less than the Advance part. I simply refuse to put Chinese parts on any of my vehicles. Yes, there are some good Chinese suppliers and they are getting better every day, but for every good supplier there are thousands of bad or terrible ones. I simply have no way to tell what the qualification standard are for a parts store vendor. In Advance defense, Taiwanese manufacturers tend to be considerably better than the mainland manufacturers, but still it is not a North American manufactured part. If you are at all concerned about the reliability and safety of any replacement parts, then it pays to ask. I have even gone to the trouble of purchasing some parts directly from the auto dealer in order to get the quality and performance I desire.
Like many folks these days we are trying our best to economize. Of course economizing ties in well with the concept of Urban Homesteading, or in our case suburban homesteading. We try our best to re-use, re-purpose, or recycle as much as we can. Almost no food is allowed to spoil or waste. Leftovers are sent out as lunch the next day and any other leftover bits and pieces are incorporated in new dishes or new meals. Anything that cannot be consumed is recycled into compost for the garden. Glass containers that can be re-used for canning are cleaned and set aside for blackberry jam, green tomato chow-chow, and canned tomatoes. Currently we have several beds in hard-neck and soft-neck garlic varieties. It won't be long now before we are setting out tomato plants and other garden delights. I've also been trying to figure out a way to keep some chickens without being discovered by the neighbors. I would love to have some backyard poultry to have my own supply of fresh eggs like the ones we periodically get from my in-laws, but it is currently against city ordinance to keep backyard poultry. Keeping a few birds would be very beneficial to the suburban homestead for the protein as well as the nutrient rich litter for the compost pile. If any of you have any good ideas on flying under the city radar with around five birds, I would love to hear about it.
On our morning walk, we decided to just walk along the power line right of way that runs between the neighborhood and the Congaree Land Trust nature preserve. Along the right of way there is an area where some folks from the neighborhood have been dumping yard debris that caught my attention. Now normally it would anger me to see this illegal dumping, but one of the unintended benefits of this activity is the brushy undergrowth that has taken over this area is providing good habitat to the local wild bird population. In just a few minutes I was able to spot over a dozen small birds taking advantage of the cover provided by the brush, so even though this spot may look a bit untidy, it is an important part of the local wild bird habitat. Along the way, we also spotted a very nice brushy plant in full bloom that looks very similar to spirea along with some yucca that were discarded by some local homeowner. Then it was on to the neighborhood streets and back home.