Recreational Logging

I recently hosed my computer. (Thanks to all for the advice and commentary. I’ll go into detail at some other time. Unless I don’t.) At the moment my online presence is maintained using impulse power and semaphore. I’m OK with that. I’m an adaptive curmudgeon so who cares if the computer du jour is on fire? Also going randomly “incommunicado” is just another day to me. (Note: I said “incommunicado” and not “commando”. There’s a difference!)

In the meantime there’s this:

“The chainsaw did not vanish in a poof of virtual digits and it will be winter soon. I might chuck the whole thing and stack wood instead.”

That’s just what I did:

Firewood is wary prey. One must track the tree back to its lair and attack it when it's not paying attention. While there are other means of hunting, the trusty chainsaw is the moth common method of taking harvestable trees.

Firewood is wary prey. I tracked this tree back to its lair and ambushed it when was not paying attention. While there are other means of hunting, the trusty chainsaw is the most common method of take.

Those silly squirrels! It's a little known fact that small mammals like to implant metal deep inside a tree bole. Grind on some of this junk for a few seconds and your formerly sharp chain is a series of randomly shaped bits of steel suitable only for making smoke.

Those silly squirrels! It’s a little known fact that small mammals like to implant metal deep inside a tree bole. Grind on junk like this and your formerly sharp chain will be a series of randomly shaped bits of steel that won’t do much more than make smoke.

Technology is your friend. A splitting maul is perfectly adequate, provided you've got arms like Popeye and all day to kill. There's a reason God gave us the hydraulic ram.

Technology is your friend. A splitting maul is perfectly adequate; provided you’ve got arms like Popeye and all day to kill. The rest of us have shit to do, bad backs, and a tight schedule. There’s a reason God gave us the hydraulic ram. (Note: This splitter, my friend and trusted companion, has agreed to serve as the protagonist in a series of posts later this year. Really.)

The forest is a deadly place. I was attacked by velociraptors.

The forest is a deadly place. I was attacked by velociraptors.

When the wood chunks are too heavy to easily lift I switch the splitter to "vertical mode". It's important that every wood block be shorter than the stroke of the hydraulic ram. This chunk, from the base of the tree, is about an inch too long.

When the wood chunks are heavy enough that lifting them pisses me off, I switch the splitter to “vertical mode”. It’s important that every wood block be shorter than the stroke of the hydraulic ram. This chunk, from the base of the tree, is about an inch too long.

I protected the heavy steel splitting wedge from unslightly scratches by keeping my thumb between it and a wildly unbalanced block of wood. Note: if you roll a 140 pound block of wood into an area 1" too short you will learn a valuable lesson. Yes, I carry a first aid kit. Also, if you damage a finger on a 27 ton ram and it happens when the engine is off, that's about the best case scenario. (Also, I was wearing heavy leather gloves too. I hate to think what would have happened without them. My hitchiking career would be over!!)

I protected the heavy steel splitting wedge from getting scratched by slipping my thumb between it and a wildly unbalanced block of wood. Note: if you roll a 140 pound block of wood into an area 1″ too short you will learn a valuable lesson. Also, if you damage a finger on a 27 ton ram and it happens when the engine is off, that’s about the best case scenario. (BTW: I was wearing heavy leather gloves so it was no big deal. Without the gloves my hitchiking career would be over!!)

Payload. Payload. Payload. If you've got 2/3 cord of oak in the bed, there's plenty of room for 500 pounds of pig feed. Why else did you buy the big axles?

Payload. Payload. Payload. If you’ve got 2/3 cord of oak in the bed, there’s plenty of room for 500 pounds of pig feed. Why else did you buy the big axles? (Notice the gas can? That’s unleaded for the splitter and it’ll last a long time. The 2 cycle fuel is a little one gallon can behind the feed. I can fell, buck, and split a full cord on less than a gallon, maybe even half a gallon. Compared to inputs like labor, the cost of gas for this kind of work is  almost irrelevant.)

Happy bacon!

Happy bacon!

It takes a little less than two pickup loads to to make this stack... which is a little less than a single cord.

This particular stack is about one single cord in volume. (Equivalent volume to a 4’x4’x8′ stack.) It came from a single small/medium tree (dead and standing). This isn’t the only stack I’ve got but it’s the best one for a photo of “one cord”. I felled, cut, split, hauled, and stacked every goddamn stick myself. It’s a “slow and steady” kind of job. Rely too much on brute force and you’ll burn out. (Unless you’re 19 years old and bulletproof.) A smart fella will do half the pile one day and half a week later. It helps to have good gear but you can get pretty far with a saw, splitter, and a truck. A very old saw, well tuned, is fine. The splitter is optional. A trailer will suffice instead of a truck. (I used the pony trailer that way for years.) The bag in front is 100 pounds of pig feed… gotta’ keep the bacon happy.

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Economics Works!

A few days ago I ranted about economics, and in particular .22 ammo.

“I know .22 ammo is in short supply. I know this because it’s not on the shelves. America is currently a place where tofu is plentiful and .22 ammo is absent. We’re screwed!”

The common opinion out there is that people are acting weird and buying far more .22 ammo than they can possibly sling at squirrels and tin cans. Some folks call this “hoarding” and I call those folks dumbasses.

“I hate that term! ‘Hoarding’ like ‘gouging’ is simply a word used by people who disagree with what you’ve done with your money.”

But that doesn’t answer the question, why isn’t the market adjusting? In a free market system there should rarely be a shortage of anything… it should simply get more expensive until you can’t afford it and either find an alternative or someone starts making more of it to soak up the sweet profit just lying there to be taken. My theory was that stores were selling it at fixed prices because they’re idiots. By all rights they should be raking us morons over the coals to see what we’ll pay.

Joel at The Ultimate Answer To Kings disagreed with my ‘lots of people are buying it’ theory:

“The Mudge, like many people, assumes the shortage is caused by hoarding but I’m not sure I buy it. I looked for a video clip I can’t find in which a PR flack for an ammo manufacturer assures us they’re cranking out .22 just as fast as they ever have but those evil hoarders are snatching it all up so stay calm, citizens. I wanted to post that vid here, because it sounded for all the world like one of those pressers where a government stooge tries to tell you something you know damn well is a lie. It just had that tone.

I have no alternate theory. I just don’t buy that hoarding explains the shortage away.”

Fair ’nuff. But that just asks the question as to why it’s in short supply. I wanted to know why I couldn’t get it at insane murderous prices.

Question answered: I can get it at insane murderous prices. Last week I stumbled across a supply at a local gun shop. They’d just received a hefty box and offered that I could buy 500 rounds at the low low price of $60+/-. So there you have it. The price is reflecting either the demand which is insane because of “hoarders” or supply which is low because ammo makers are concentrating on higher profit calibers.

I was truly happy to see it! But then, because I’m cheap (or sane), I chose not to buy any.

Part 2: So there I was… driving home having parted ways with the elusive, unattainable, totally gone from everywhere, .22 ammo. I stopped at the grocery store before heading to Curmudgeon Compound. What did I spy? Coffee… on sale!

Now I’m kinda’ into coffee. I don’t need the ultimate high end catshit coffee but I try to avoid the darkened sawdust they put in a can of Folders. Mrs. Curmudgeon and I have been buying the same “mid-quality” brand for years. Like what once was portrayed as well prepared Boy Scouts and is now portrayed as evil exploitive “hoarders” we keep a decent supply on hand. We buy only when the price is good. This is because we are spending our own money instead of someone else’s and therefore due diligence is rewarded. Alas coffee, like everything else, has been getting rather expensive. (THERE’S NO INFLATION PAY NO ATTENTION TO RISING PRICES BECAUSE THERE’S NO INFLATION!!!) So we hadn’t bought coffee in several months. This has been bothering me.

Well hot damn, it was a little over $6.50 a pound for whole beans. That’s a price I haven’t seen in a while. I randomly tossed a dozen 12 ounce bags in my cart and whistled a happy Curmudgeonly tune of joy as I sauntered up to the checkout.

One bottle of dish soap and a dozen bags of coffee. The checkout girl eyed me like I was a loon. (I’m used to it.) “Really like coffee eh?” She said.

“I freebase it.” I smiled. Folks should never start a conversation with me.

“Ummm it’s on sale.” She didn’t know the sale price but the computer did. All hail the robot service industry!

“Yep, better get some. There’s a total breakdown of civil order in Botswana. That’s where the coffee comes from you know. We’ll be all out by Christmas.” I chuckled. Nothing is more fun than saying total nonsense and doing it with a straight face. No wonder people choose to become politicians.

The guy in line behind me disappeared. Five minutes later I was stepping out the door and I  saw him wander up to the checkout with an armload of coffee. I’m not sure if he’s preparing for the Botswana collapse or just knows a good price when he sees one. Either way is fine with me. Good coffee is it’s own reward.

Back at home I stashed the new coffee with my other coffee, which is stacked on more coffee. I had a moment of doubt. How much coffee does one guy need?

Then I glanced at the .22 ammo I’d left sitting on the freezer. There’s $13 sticker on a 500 round box. I bought it some random day in the past. Back then there was no hint that the same box would cost $60 in the strange twisted alternate future of 2014.  I can chase squirrels and tin cans a while longer before I have to drop $60 on a brick. Then again I’ll probably never again see a $13 brick.

I think I’ll pick up more coffee after payday.

 

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Man (Machine?) Down!

I have done something very stupid and royally hosed my computer. Without going into details I believe the technical term for what has happened is “some dickhead who can’t manage to keep a tractor running got under the (software) hood of a laptop and created mayhem”.

Some of me (like this blog) lives on in the cloud. The rest is toast. Expect a dearth of posts until I get this thing hammered back into shape. (Mrs. Curmudgeon points out that people who use “hammered into shape” should not be reconfiguring computers. She’s wise.)

If I’m never heard from again… you know why.

A.C.

P.S. The chainsaw did not vanish in a poof of virtual digits and it will be winter soon. I might chuck the whole thing and stack wood instead. YMMV.

P.S. 2. Yes I had backups. No they’re not helping. Shaddup!

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A Tangential Rant About Hoarding

Inflation:

A few days ago I posted Boring “Survivalist” Successes. Tangentially, my post bumped into economics. That wasn’t the point but while I was pondering the epic shortage of .22 ammo I touched briefly on inflation. I posted this:

“Like everything, the price of ammo has gone through the roof.*”

The asterisk went to a couple hundred words hastily tacked on the end of my post. I ranted that I’m sick of being fed crap from the press about a total lack of inflation when I can see it myself.

Walk into a grocery store and pick up a goddamn can of tuna. Then find out what the price was a few years ago. The esoteric and difficult science of subtraction will verify right then and there that the cost has gone up (or the can has gotten smaller). Unless we assign the change to magic elves… that’s inflation. I can do the same with chicken feed, truck tires,  chainsaw oil, etc…

To quote Chico Marx: “Well, who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?”

Hoarding:

But hey, it’s just expensive tuna right? Also I was supposedly talking about .22 ammo.

As soon as I got back on track with ammo I bumped into another pet peeve; “hoarding”.  I know .22 ammo is in short supply. I know this because it’s not on the shelves. America is currently a place where tofu is plentiful and .22 ammo is absent. We’re screwed!

The question is why? Ten minutes with Google indicates the same factories are churning out the same amount of ammo as before. I’m also doubtful that the Feds are buying much .22. (Since when does the Fed consume cheap plinking rounds? They like calibers more effective for shooting people.) Also there’s no indication of more consumption elsewhere. (A hard fought defense against invasion by squirrels and paper targets?)

Obviously it’s getting purchased and stacked in various garages and basements. People who formerly bought .22 in dribs and drabs are now buying it by the shitload. Pretty much everyone else has come to a similar conclusion.

Then, from out of left field (and I mean literally the left ass cheek of freakin’ Marxist redistributive economic theory) comes the complaint; “those bastards are ‘hoarding’ it”.

I hate that term! “Hoarding” like “gouging” is simply a word used by people who disagree with what you’ve done with your money. I expect crap like that from Socialist morons but not from the gunnie’ crowd.

Freedom means freedom. It doesn’t mean freedom to buy ammo but only if I’ve already got mine. Free citizens can buy all they can afford. They can stack it like Legos and add it to beer can sculptures. They can stockpile eleventy zillion rounds of .22 in their mom’s basement. They can use it to make a maze for a pet weasel. They can piss on it, use it for poker chips, paint it blue, bury it, sell it on e-bay, or put it on a pedestal and worship it. It’s their money and if they want to buy .22 by the freight train that’s none of my business. Nor does it have to make sense. If a mall ninja who’ll never ever set down the tactical Twinkie and head to the range thinks he needs 30 crates to hold back the invading Bulgarian army (which somehow can’t armor up against squirrel rounds?); so be it.

Freedom means respecting others as they make their own choices. I added this:

“[I]f I hear any horse shit about “hoarding” in the comments I’ll strike it. Americans are free citizens. They can buy whatever the hell they can afford and do whatever the hell they want with it… including amassing great piles and lying on it like Scrooge McDuck. ‘Hoarding’ is a word coined by the economically illiterate to define a situation where people do something with their money that doesn’t meet with their approval.”

What can I say. I had a bee up my bonnet that day.

The point is that there is an instant and ready solution to shortages. Price.

If people descend on WalMart* and buy a month’s supply by noon, then WalMart fucked up. The price was artificially too low and WalMart let that money walk out the door. We all hear stories of the big mean jerk who bought it at WalMart and then sold it on E-bay at a profit. Which, ahem… is just a way of saying a small operator got the profit WalMart refused. It was a price differential just laying there on the ground. Why be angry at the guy who picked it up and put the profit in his own pocket.

Raise the price. If they keep paying, smile all the way to the bank. Raise it again. If they keep paying, smile more! In theory the perfect price is when the last box is sold one minute before the next shipment arrives and not a minute before.

Also, if the market reflected the true demand, it would encourage more factory investment in making the damn stuff in the first place. That too is the whole point of prices. Everyone (or almost everyone) reading my blog knows how to reload and the rest can figure it out. There is some price point somewhere where you’d tell your boss to stuff it and build an ammo factory in your garage. (Admittedly that price point is pretty high… but it exists.) There’s also a price where you’d park the trusty Ruger 10/22 and gear up in .17 HMR.

So I have to live in a world where stores (for some deranged reason) maintain an artificially low price and everyone bitches about “hoarders”.

The Bullshit Two-Fer:

At least there’s nobody so stupid as to press my buttons on inflation and hoarding at the same time. Whoops, not so fast! Here’s a link from another group that can’t understand shit about economics; the Fed. (Hat tip to Borepatch.) It turns out the Fed is looking all over for inflation and simply can’t find where they left it.

“Though American consumers might dispute the notion that inflation has been low, the indicators the Fed follows show it to be running well below the target rate of 2 percent…”

So the Fed can’t find something that cost $1.00 last year and costs $1.03 today? Really? Have they looked up their ass?

So what explains this tragic stability in prices?

“the central bank branch published this week blames the low level of money movement in large part on consumers and their “willingness to hoard money.”

Got that? If you have money, the Fed knows what you should do with it. You should go out and spend it. If you didn’t you’re making the wrong choice. Of course the wrong choice is defined as not the choice the Feds want you to make. Or, as is so commonly heard these days “hoarding”. You see, the problem with “hoarders” is that:

“…people are sitting on cash rather than spending it.”

Yep, you thought the money was yours but it’s not. It’s the Feds and you’re messing up their delicate system of unawareness by not running out and dropping your savings on… stuff.

So there you go. The price of everything is creeping upwards but this is not “inflation” because the Feds can’t discover it. Sellers won’t raise the price of ammo so it’s sold out. This is “hoarding” and not mis-pricing. And furthermore if you keep your money in your pocket (instead of buying .22 ammo?) that too is hoarding.

Someday I’ll find a single new article that includes “no inflation”, “hoarding”, and “gouging”. That will be the day my skull implodes.

A.C.

* I don’t mean to pick on WalMart exclusively. Sellers with names like Duck Hill and ones that rhyme with Crabellas are doing the same thing. Keeping the price low and selling out.

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Boring “Survivalist” Successes

Orwell was onto something. Redefine a word and you eliminate an idea. “Survivalist” was a perfectly acceptable word. To “survive” implies “not prone to die easily”. Where’s the nobility in dropping like flies? Who has a problem with surviving?

Well, one group has a problem with it. People who’d rather lord over a populace of weaklings find themselves by definition at loggerheads with survivalists. They fired up their pet press and went to work until intentional wordsmithing had redefined “survivalist”. Now it brings to mind tinfoil hatted paranoids plotting mayhem in their parent’s basement. In a world where there are real threats I think it’s stupid to invent pretend ones but that’s why I’m not electable or employed by the press. By now, “easily defeated” is treated as a noble trait and personal duty by people who otherwise look like adults. I call bullshit. Who the hell thinks “surviving” is bad and why would we listen to them?

Also “prepper”, the replacement word, sounds like the brand name for baby wipes. A truly unfortunate word.

At any rate I’d like to point out that “survivalist” in a connotation completely devoid of politics is still a generally positive idea that may pay off in a totally mundane way. It doesn’t take a zombie apocalypse; it just takes normal life.

Here are two “small ball”, non-paranoid, utterly uncool, survivalist successes. I hope to illustrate that even in the absence of Ebola laden politicians from hell dropping nuclear fallout on my backyard… being prepared (as the Boy Scouts knew) is a good idea.

1. Ammunition:

Like everything, the price of ammo has gone through the roof.* Something happened in oh, I don’t know when exactly…. lets just say it all started around the time of an unspecified event in the fall of 2008. I’m not saying what the hell happened, maybe it was space rays or bad guacamole that struck the nation en masse…

Ammunition, formerly an unexciting manufactured commodity made of brass, copper, powder, and lead… became far more expensive than market forces would imply. I don’t buy the gold plated investment grade bullshit that ammunition is somehow suddenly made of unobtanium. The price spiked due to unspecified events right around November 2008 and/or a reaction to it that was widespread and honestly felt. (Also, if I hear any horse shit about “hoarding” in the comments I’ll strike it. Americans are free citizens. They can buy whatever the hell they can afford and do whatever the hell they want with it… including amassing great piles and lying on it like Scrooge McDuck. “Hoarding” is a word coined by the economically illiterate to define a situation where people do something with their money that doesn’t meet with their approval.)

Anyway it’s not rocket science to make the stuff so it should (and hopefully will once again) cost about the price of raw materials (which also soared) plus the cost of manufacture and a reasonable profit. Economics are math and math always wins.

At any rate, I never cared because I’ve been too busy breaking tractors to spend much time at the range. It just wasn’t part of my reality. Until last week…

I had a hankerin’ to sight in a .22 and maybe hammer a bunch of tin cans until they cried for mercy. It dawned on me that a brick of .22 is harder to acquire than a nude supermodel holding a McRib. What the hell?

Being a guy who doesn’t shop if I can avoid it (and I’m good at avoiding it), I naively stopped at a few sporting goods stores for the first time in a long while. I learned what you’ve all known for years. A box of .22 is rarer than the Ebola vaccine. Also everyone at every store is royally pissed off about it. Imagine that; nearly 100% hatred right to the core. If I’d have been in power (which is something I studiously avoid) I’d never had stomped on toes like that. What kind of jackoff thinking is it to pick one group and get them riled up like rabid hornets? Here’s a hint. If people hate you because of what you’ve done, and they’re otherwise studiously law abiding (possibly even boring) people, you’ve done wrong. I let them vent because it seemed therapeutic. Then I skedaddled back to my homestead.

What’s a survivalist to do? Nothing. The die was already cast and, of course, I was already prepared. Duh! I just dug around on my shelves and found enough tin can puncturing goodness to tide me over. Why not?

This is where the rubber meets the road of survivalism. I didn’t have to do anything.

Without options I’d be more likely to internalize the bullshit. I, like many, would be prone to anger over such a crappy situation. A shortage of .22, like a shortage of coffee, bacon, or oxygen, clearly indicates humanity is on the ropes. When small game season comes, you need ammo or you’ve let the squirrels off the hook. Since when are Americans logistically incapable of shooting a freakin’ squirrel? Only politics could give a damn rodent the upper hand!

I could burn too much cash. I could get on e-bay and sell my left nut for a pack of “match grade” bespoke gold plated squirrel rounds. I could wait in line at dawn like a strung out groupie hoping to score on the next shipment to Wal-Mart.

Nope! I didn’t have to do any of that. I simply turned to my own resources. That’s why you maintain your own resources… to avoid buying match grade ammo to shoot a tin can.

I spent the afternoon popping tin cans and having a grand time. I can afford patience while waiting for the world to turn sane again. No need to sweat the small stuff. That’s the whole point of preparedness.

2. Major illness:

One day, long ago, it dawned on me that I’d been feeling under the weather in unspecified ways for far too long. I looked in the mirror and said “if I was a used car, nobody would buy me”. It’s wise thinking to look reality in the face and react to what is and not what we wish was true. Reality was, I needed to do some damn sit ups. “Fuck this, I’m going to get in shape” I muttered.

That’s precisely what I did. The process was hard earned but deeply fulfilling; feeling like shit sucks and feeling healthy is better. No question about it.

Gradually, with much effort and a few setbacks, I got in shape. The exterior is still as ugly as ever but the inner workings, muscle, lungs, etc… are in decent condition. I’m happy with that. Just as I don’t care if my truck has a dent but I’ll carefully keep the fuel pump in top condition, so too I’ve maintained myself. At least reasonably so. To do otherwise is trusting to fate and good luck. Is it not “survivalist” to minimize trusting to luck?

So what? Here’s the second part; a few years after looking into the mirror and getting serious about working out, shit got real. With no warning and I had a sudden medical event (which I won’t specify at this time). It wasn’t lung cancer bad and I’m not complaining. Others have faced far worse. Yet for me, it was a big honkin’ deal. I’m proud to say I got to the emergency room under my own power but that’s about all I could manage. In serious pain I addressed the surgeon (or doctor… I was hazy by then). “Get ‘er done doc!” Then I quit worrying.

Sometime the next day I was unceremoniously kicked out the hospital door feeling like a pincushion that had been hit by a train. What’s a survivalist to do? Recover. Duh!

I recovered fairly quickly. Did I recover so easily because I’m lucky and my doctor was a miracle worker? Maybe. Was modern medicine great? Certainly! Still, I get some credit for stacking the deck in my favor. As a “survivalist” (or “prepper” if you wish) I had a reasonable bank of “health” upon which to draw. Physical duress, no matter who you are, is tough. It’s less tough if you are in reasonable overall shape before you take a hit. I was in decent fighting trim when external factors pole-axed my ass and it made a difference.

That too is “survivalism”. It paid off in the mundane. It didn’t take an earthquake/hyperinflation/bubonic plague/EMP pulse/bacon shortage. Life tends to surprise you in it’s own way and on its own schedule. In these cases it was nothing terrible on a large scale but I skipped around personal difficulties more or less without drama. I’d banked a little “luck”.

I’ll get off my soapbox now. All I wanted to say was that shooting tin cans on a sunny afternoon and a speedy recovery from injury aren’t flashy or exciting but they’re nicer than the opposite. We all play an unknowable but significant role in our own fate. Anyone who tells you different is out to drag you down and boss you around. Rise above.

A.C.

* The press and government stats report no (or minimal) inflation. Yet the cost of everything from Spam to screws went up in a way that looks exactly like inflation and was timed exactly as one might have expected during certain events right around late 2008 and early 2009. Math works like that. It doesn’t much care your opinion. I don’t expect the press to address the difference between what they say and what is, until and unless the party in power changes. Here’s a hint, if December 2016 rolls around and the press is still blowing sunshine up your ass… you know the stupid party once again managed to snatch defeat from the hands of victory. (They’re good at it!) If it suddenly dawns on the press that inflation sucks and America has more debt than ever before amassed in the history of mankind (which is a true statement… say it a few times to yourself and remember that math never loses), you’ll know the evil party played its hand all the way to its logical conclusion.

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Mechanization: Video Epilogue

A couple weeks ago I was pondering the ratcheting effect of minimum wage laws (actually minimum wage plus all the errata like fringe benefits and whatnot). If you’re interested here are the links.

For those of you who have no desire to click links I’ll summarize: I mentioned that, as a consumer, I’m perfectly happy when machines replace people. For example, ATMs and Self Serve Gas Pumps are (in my opinion) superior to the humans they replaced. I also admired the great mechanical land barges that harvest wheat and are part of the reason my corn flakes are dirt cheap. (Note: trying to grow stuff with my antique tractor has taught me what a stone cold pain in the ass farming can be with sub-par machinery.)

This is a rare instance when I’m a “glass is half full” kinda guy. I’ve already seen the self order kiosk at a couple fast food places and I don’t mind them. (Am I the only one that finds it frustrating trying to explain what I want to someone two feet away who’s just punching ideograms on a terminal?) I’m eagerly awaiting my first robotically created hamburger. For me, it’s just a game.

Also, for me, I see every minute a human spends doing anything as an opportunity cost. Whatever they were doing, could they be doing something cooler? What is the cooler thing that they’re not doing? Would the world be more awesome if they were right now doing the cooler thing? Humans have a certain unknowable amount of time, the less time they spend darning socks the more time they have available for something more. (Unless one aspires to be the best damn sock darner ever… excellence in any venue is a reasonable goal.)

Now I’m not a fool. I know that 99% of free time will be spend on bullshit. Great big harvesting machines replaced herds of people with hand scythes and most of those former hand scythe operators didn’t go on to write symphonies. That’s ok. They had a chance. If one has options and then decides to sit on the couch growing moss… at least the chance was there. That’s a good thing.

There’s a different and opposite opinion to mine. I think of a person as having a certain amount of time and ponder what they’ll do with that gift. The other side thinks of a person as needing a job and ponders their misery if they’re not employed. I’m not so sure about this. The purpose of a job is not to entertain the masses. Jobs are not playpens for adults. The removal of one duty just broadens the horizon for another.

However, in the interest of fairness I’m posting this video. It’s a “glass is half empty” discussion of what the hell are we all going to do when our robot overlords replace us at the job? It’s well written, well reasoned, and well presented. Let it never be said that I don’t air contrary opinions.

I’m still perfectly happy in an employment arms race with machines and I’m well aware that I might indeed someday lose. I can live with that. So long as those robots keep my corn flakes cheap and don’t screw up the bacon supply… good luck to ‘em.

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Go Kart Errata

As the weekend winds down I have some random thoughts:

  • When you drive a full sized vehicle many miles at 65 MPH to a recreation venue where the entertainment is to drive a little toy at 30 MPH… you truly grok what it is to be an American.
  • Every go kart track is a hold out against chickenshit helicopter parents, greedy liability lawyers, and Al Gore. When they’re gone, we’re all dead.
  • “Go Kart” is a safe way to give children a chance to drive. I have mixed feelings about this. The traditional method was called “bale hay and don’t come back until it’s done”. The latter is probably better training for life.
  • If something breaks on a “go kart” you get out and walk away.  Given a lifetime of vehicle maintenance, abandoning stuff is a delicious freedom. There should be an amusement park for adults where you rent a decrepit car, drive it until it breaks, and then get out and leave it in the middle of the road.*
  • One of a kid’s rites of passage is standing on tippy toes long enough to convince the disinterested pierced teenage stoner at the ticket counter to let you drive the “big carts”. I think it should be something cooler like killing a bear with a spear but I don’t get to make the rules.
  • Sometimes, despite your best intentions, you don’t get to go fishing.
  • Being a modern man sometimes means blowing cash to entertain children who should be home stacking firewood.  Being a dad sometimes means letting a kid pass you and pretending to be shocked at his/her driving prowess. Being a Curmudgeon means you’ll let the punk pass and then pin your bumper 1/16″ inch behind them for twenty laps. It’s good to let ‘em know the old man ‘aint dead yet.
  • You are not allowed to hammer other go karts into the wall. The temptation was stronger than you think. Maybe that’s just me.

I hope you all had a great weekend. I also hope the fish appreciate being spared this time.

A.C.

* There is a venue like this, the ride is called “road trip” and the park is called “the whole world”. In my youth I figured any car that cost about one monthly payment and and lasted two months or more was a “win”. Alas getting in the rut of returning with the vehicle in which one left is a natural part of the aging process.

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