A Daily Diatribe by a Pompous Git

Who is that fat bastard? A Sturm's Eye View, Guaranteed Free of Harmful, or Potentially Harmful Chemicals -- but Watch Out for the Ideas! Some of them are Contagious! 

A journal of sorts to record Jonathan Sturm's (and others') thoughts and observations on things worth thinking about. Feedback welcome, but be aware that unless you prominently say you want your communication kept private, I may publish it.

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Monday 4 February 2002

A day for planning. Important projects include building the woodshed, removing the myrtle boards from the walls in the cottage so I can replace them with plasterboard, putting the effluent pipe into the trench Squid dug to the new French drain at the cottage, lifting the linoleum from the toilet floor so the timber can dry thoroughly, finishing the stainless steel and myrtle dining chairs, acid wash the tiles in The Lesser Hall and kitchen, patching small dents in the walls, restoring the vegetable garden to productivity, making a narrow shelf over the long bench against the southern wall of The Great Hall, making the bookcase for The Lesser Hall and making a set of shelves for the entertainment equipment. 

Lower priority projects include stopping the holes where the architraves and skirting boards were nailed, attaching hooks and eyes to the front and rear doors so they do not blow shut in the wind, putting a hasp on the wood box so it can't be used for entry to the house from outside, finish polishing the stainless steel balustrade, stripping the paint from my old desk so it can be restored for my son Thomas's use and writing The House of Steel book.

Due to my significantly lowered income during the construction of The House of Steel, we became entitled to the Family Tax Benefit. We have discovered the amount owing to us, a little over $A2,000, has been given to The Australian Taxation Commissioner. Presumably, Centrelink believe that his need for this money is greater than ours. Bastards!

Thought for the day:

In complex situations, we may rely too heavily on planning and forecasting and underestimate the importance of random factors in the environment. That reliance can also lead to delusions of control.

Hillel J. Einhorn

Current Listening

Fripp and Eno -- No Pussyfooting


Tuesday 5 February 2002

Yesterday I decided to test some free antivirus software. Some friends were having trouble with it locking up their machines running Win2k, WinXP and WinME. Other members of the clan had been running it successfully under NT4 and Win2k, so I decided to try it. Once or twice a year, I check my system for virus and have a couple of infected files so I know whether the virus-checker is working properly. AVG Antivirus found the Word document with W97M and the Magister virus and disinfected them without my permission. I suspect I won't have to wait too long for some moron to send me some replacement virus.

By now, some of you are likely gasping: "What! Only checks for virus once or twice a year!" Bluntly, just about every virus checker I ever used caused me more loss of time than any virus ever did. Running a virus checker in the background, as many do, has in my experience been responsible for system instability. Between us, my son, myself and multiple machines have accumulated some thirty years of computer uptime hours. My son managed to infect the system just twice in all that time; both times the files were verified as virus-free by a virus checker!

We are much more cautious these days. Any file that we aren't sure of is a potential virus and is either quarantined or immediately sent to the trash. While we might miss out on something important, it's extremely unlikely. Interesting Rob Rosenberger rant here.

Thought for the day:

The first and great commandment is, "Don't let them scare you."

Elmer Davis

Current Listening

Nico -- The End


Wednesday 6 February 2002

We have two WWOOFers arriving this morning to help with the garden and other things neglected during construction of The House of Steel. One is from Holland and the other is from Western Australia. The cottage has been chaotic during construction of the new house, so we took no overseas visitors for over a year. While an old fart like me takes great pleasure in the company of two young girls, it's even better when they take on some of the workload as well as provide interesting conversation.

Thought for the day:

I think when the full horror of being fifty hits you, you should stay home and have a good cry.

Alan Bleasdale

Current Listening

Daevid Allen -- Now is the Happiest Time of your Life


Thursday 7 February 2002

Yesterday, I gave my guests a guided tour of the farm then set them to work carting cowshit from where the cattle camp under some pine trees to a spot near the flower garden. It's dry and light, so the task was not particularly arduous. 

I was intent on finishing the new dining chairs. When Tony made the stainless steel frames, he counter sank the holes for the screws. This meant the screws broke through the timber slats. Snipping the points off the screws worked until I came across an over-size hole cause by countersinking from both sides of the steel. There were quite a few of these caused by a mistake when he was making the frames. Using washers meant I needed to use a longer screw to gain sufficient purchase in the timber. Rather than buy another box of screws, I filled the holes with a grey epoxy resin and that works a treat.

The timber is myrtle, southern beech; a hard, wood that is mostly pink, but there are parts that are red and some shades to a pale yellow. Some pieces are streaked with several colours and after nearly twenty years of air drying, it's as stable as any timber can be.

After finishing the chairs, today's tasks are putting the PVC pipe from the septic tank to the French drain at the cottage, putting weed mat on the stones in the drain and backfilling the trench and drain. If there's sufficient energy left, then I will make the foundation for the wood shed. This will simply be four holes made with a post-hole tool filled with concrete. I will set a piece of 100 mm purlin into the concrete so the poles can be attached with roof screws.

Thought for the day:

Young people are fitter to invent than to judge; fitter for execution than for counsel; and more fit for new projects than for settled business.

Francis Bacon

Current Listening

Diga Band -- Self Titled


Friday 8 February 2002

Yesterday, I ran out of slats for the chairs. To finish the backrests of the last three chairs requires another 6 metres of timber. I put the first coat of varnish on the five completed chairs. This is my favourite task with such things, watching the varnish enhance the grain and colour of the timber.

Early in the day, Amanda and Mareka help with the French drain. I really needed two, rather than three 45 joiners for the PVC pipe so I improvised one out of a plasterboard adhesive bucket. There was a whole tube of floorboard adhesive left over from building The House of Steel, so I used that to bog the joints. I was a bit less sure of the bogged join between the tile and PVC pipe, so when I get around to mixing the concrete for the woodshed footings, I will put a bucket of cement around the joint. It matters little if there is a slow leak as the water will go into a large shrubbery that will soak up both the water and nutrients.

The girls helped me place the weedmat over the stone and backfill the soil over that and the trench. Hot, sweaty work. Also, I mowed the lawns around the cottage.

This morning Fran is coming by so we can put the myrtle boards we need through the thicknesser. After that it's on to tidying the bedrooms at the cottage -- my son Thomas has a party happening tomorrow. Late in the day I will be sealing some of the books in polythene bags with some pesticide to disinfest them of silverfish. I had intended to put the bags of books in the sun for the period required to kill them and the eggs, but searching the Internet to ascertain the period drew a blank. Also, we are still not seeing much sun. Who stole our summer? 

Thought for the day:

Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man far better than through mortal friends.

Dawn Adams

Current Listening

Steve Hillage -- Motivation Radio


Saturday 9 February 2002

Yesterday turned out very sunny, hot and humid. After the myrtle board thicknessing at Fran's, I spent ferrying clothes from the cottage using a large Philips monitor box. Also I cemented around the PVC pipe/tile union of the new French drain. Most part-time home handymen buy a bag of overpriced "instant" from the local hardware store. Kept dry, a bag of Portland cement costs less and makes a lot more concrete. The two other ingredients are sand and stone. For most general purposes a mix of 1 part cement, 2 parts sand and 3 parts stone is what you need. Note the numbers are in the same order as the particle size and if you remember that making your own is as easy as 1-2-3, you'll always be ready for those odd jobs that concrete is so good for. After I've made the foundation for the woodshed, I'll put the remainder of the cement into a polythene bag inside a 20 litre paint can.

The cement we used to make the pads for the steps and ramp some months ago was over a year old and had been kept in a shed in  its original paper sack.

I hope to make that shed foundation today and finish the chairs. Also, I have to phone Kevin Perkins, probably the finest furniture maker in the whole of Australia. Having been asked to produce a brochure showing what can be done with Tasmania's minor timber species, I suggested that Kevin be contacted and he has agreed to allow an illustration of his work be on the brochure. 

I would have phoned him yesterday, but the Telstra idiots restricted our telephone to incoming calls. When they started sending us reminders for a bill that had already been paid, SWMBO gave them the payment details and thought nothing of it. Presumably Telstra has as much problems communicating with Indians as we do. While they appear to be capable of speaking English, they certainly have difficulty understanding what we say to them!

Thought for the day:

I don't understand you. You don't understand me. What else do we have in common?

Ashleigh Brilliant

Current Listening

Canned Heat -- Live at Topanga Corral


Sunday 10 February 2002

I managed a good start on the shed foundation, getting Mareka, our WWOOFer to help lay out where the poles are to go. As an aspiring farmer she will need such skills. We roughly measure the fall from the back to the front of the shed with a straight piece of timber and a spirit level. It's a little over 300 mm in 3 m. Since that's the wrong way for piles of wood to lean, I removed about a third of the soil needed to level the site. Then it rained.

I knew we would get rain as I also commenced irrigating today. We have had plenty of overcast the last few weeks and seen rain falling on Hobart to our north, but this is the first serious rain for several weeks. It's continuing as I write this.

In the afternoon, Mareka left us, hopefully to return when we have a fully productive vegetable patch again. My first task was to put a second coat of varnish on the completed dining chairs. Then I commenced to smooth the edges of the myrtle strips Fran and I put through the thicknesser on Friday. Since I don't have either a power plane, or belt sander, I used my old jack plane. After finishing the first pair of strips, I took the blade out to sharpen it on the linisher. When I reassembled it, I realised I had forgotten how to set the cutting depth and it took a fair amount of trial and terror, before I had the knack again. One thing I do like about the hand plane is it creates a genuinely smooth edge, rather than the ripples a power plane tends to create. It's a lot quieter, too!

In the evening, we attended a concert at The Palais -- Neil Murray -- poet/singer/songwriter. To be frank, I was bored shitless. So were about a quarter of the audience. Those who remained made up for it with their enthusiasm, so it's a matter of personal taste, I guess. And a matter of remembering truly memorable live performances by the likes of Loudon Wainwright III, Maddy Prior, Eric Bogle, Phil Manning, Dougie Maclean, Doug Ashdown, Leo Kottke, Danny Spooner and even our local, Ian Paulin.

Thought for the day:

Today, music heralds... the establishment of a society of repetition in which nothing will happen anymore.

Jacques Attali

Current Listening

Alan Stivell -- Renaissance of the Celtic Harp


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Jonathan Sturm 2002


Jonathan Sturm 2002