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Below is a rough outline of the rants from The humble Farmer radio show week of October 16, 2011




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Rants October 16, 2011

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I was recently reading about Saxo Grammaticus in the Encyclopedia Britannica. It said that Saxo Grammaticus was an historian back around the year 1200. Think about how hard it must have been to be an historian back then. Over 800 years ago hardly anything had happened that was worth writing about.

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2. For a year a friend has owned a big German Shephard type of dog. He got the dog when the dog was 2 or so and had washed out of drug sniffing school. The past two times I've visited the dog has walked around me in circles, gently nipping at my leg or my arm, herding me, as it were, to where I happen to be going. It is a very strange behavior that we have never seen before. I can't walk anywhere in the house because the dog won't leave me alone, and I asked my friend to hold onto the dog last night so I could get out of the house. Last night I had on pants that I'd been wearing while putting a window in the back of my house and have no idea of what scent I might have picked up. Yes, I thought it might be the high-pitched squealing of my hearing aids, but when I unplugged the batteries the dog still continued to walk around me in close circles and nip at me. Outside of your obvious comment that the dog might not like what I say on the air, do you have any explanation for the animal's curious mindless but obviously trained operant behavior? And yes, I was not wearing a sheepskin coat.

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3. You have heard me say that Iím going to heat the new part of my cellar floor with solar energy. I plan to do that by putting half inch pipe in a new floor Iím going to pour on top of the older floor, building another bank of solar hot water heaters to supplement the 8 that already heat my hot water, and running the solar heated anti freeze through the little pipes imbedded in that new concrete on my cellar floor. That new concrete cellar floor is really going to be floating on insulation so all of the heat comes up out of it. You can read about how to do it in many places on line. It would have been much easier and cheaper if Iíd known about the advantages of heating cellar floors with power from the sun when I had Jim Kinney put down the original foundation and concrete floor 10 or so years ago. I wish Iíd put little heating pipes in it then. If you were building a new home or an addition on your home, would you consider heating it with the free energy from the sun? Why do you suppose you donít see many television commercials suggesting that you use solar power? --- Could it be itís because when you save money, nobody makes any money?

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4. Are you ready for a public service announcement? There is a file in your computer that contains a seemingly arbitrary list of some of the most recent documents you have worked on. It took me 10 or more years of using a computer to accidentally stumble on it. It is called shortcuts and mine go back for 7 months. Because itís such a useful file, Iíd like you to know about it now. This file is a chronological list of some of the things youíve been working on lately. Look for it. Find out where it lives in your computer. Use it. One day I used it to locate a story about rhubarb. The old story got soaked in the rain out there on my chrome farm stand, so printed another copy and put it out protected by plastic. For years I have subscribed to the myth that kids have an innate ability to learn everything about computers quicker and easier than old folks. But I recently realized that kids hang out with other kids. Youíll remember how we walked and ran several miles every day, climbed 50 foot spruce trees and went swimming. Nowadays obese little kids congregate with friends around computer screens where they show each other how to use short cut function keys. So, it ainít that us old guys are numb. Itís just that when it comes to discovering new computer tricks, kids are standing on the pudgy shoulders of everyone they know and weíre trying to go it alone.

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5. A friend of mine who lives in Nevada wrote to tell me that Nevada is the most dangerous state in the nation. Would you guess that is because places where you can gamble are a magnet for any kind of crime you can think of? I Googled to check out my friends figures and discovered that only Vermont and North Dakota can beat Maine when it comes to being an ideal place to live. Please let me repeat that because I want you to remember it the next time you hear someone whining and crying that Maine has an environment that is unfriendly to business. Only two states top Maine when it comes to being an ideal place to live. Ever ask yourself --- who are these people who want to change that?

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6. Whenever I start out on a new and unfamiliar project, I try to find out all I can about it from as many guru friends as I can muster. Gurus who might agree on the basics usually donít agree on the finer points because there are many ways to skin a cat. Letís take, for example, the new concrete heat sink I plan to put down in my cellar. Because the cement and insulation will probably cost more than what I get in social security for four months, I do want to do it right the first time. And, of course, I want it to be as efficient and put out as much heat as possible. So I have been going over and over every aspect of the project with at least six guru friends, hoping to preclude the possibility of being struck down by Murphyís Law. Iím mentioning this now to let you know that a guruís patience can wear thin. This happened because my questions seem to be like the Hydra --- every time one guru answered a question he seemed to raise two more that I had to ask about. You know as well as I do that you have to keep asking questions until you feel you know all there is to know on the topic. Because if you donít, you know what happens when a guru comes by to see your last completed project. If heís honest heíll simply grunt and say, ďYou really messed that up. I didnít mention it to you because itís such an obvious concept to anyone who has been doing it for 40 years I thought it was self evident.

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7. Hereís something I just learned in a computer class Iím taking on how to make web pages. If you hold down the control key and hit plus, an Internet page gets bigger. Hold down the control key and hit minus and an Internet page gets smaller. Learning that one trick alone was worth the price of the computer class. Please raise your hand if you didnít know that. If you raised your hand, you are probably over 40. Wouldnít you suspect that knowing all these little computer shortcuts are things that kids take for granted?

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8. I think it was Gootch who lives up in Newry, Maine who sent me this story about a man who was shopping in a grocery store who was very surprised when a woman accosted him between the Cheerios and the Wheaties. He couldn't remember ever having seen her before and so he stammered and stuttered. She finally said. "I'm sorry but when I first saw you, I thought you were the father of one of my children.Ē The guy couldnít remember her but thought he might have encountered her back when he was in college. So he said, ďWhen did all this happen? Did we meet in college?Ē And she said, ďNo, Iím your son's history teacher."

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9. Brooksley Born was the head of an obscure federal regulatory agency called the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Brooksley Born not only warned Alan Greenspan and others of the potential for economic meltdown in the late 1990s, but also tried to convince the country's key economic powerbrokers to take actions that could have helped avert the crisis. She said, "They were totally opposed to it. That puzzled me. What was it that was in this market that had to be hidden?" This quote about Brooksley Born reminds us that insignificant people have done things that changed world history. We read that Brooksley Born "Ö initially wanted to pursue a career in medicine. However, the guidance counseling service at Stanford opposed this, as it was their stated opinion that a woman who was interested in becoming a doctor, instead of the more suitable career of a nurse, was merely materialistic and had no sincere interest in healing.Ē Hitler wanted to become an artist, but Akademie der bildenden KŁnste Wien's counseling service said that he showed no promise as an artist so he ended up instead in the more suitable career of politician. Goebbels wanted to become a newspaper reporter but the editors suggested that he would have more success writing ads. Gregor Mendel's examiner failed him with the comments, "he lacks insight and the requisite clarity of knowledge.Ē Iíll bet that every time you read a book you could add another name to this list.

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10. You can go most anywhere in Europe on a train or bus. Unfortunately, Europe is catching up with the US because the service in Europe doesnít seem to be as good as it was 50 years ago --- perhaps because there was a period there in the 50s and 60s when people abandoned train service for their cars so some rural lines were discontinued. European trains are sometimes late, too, which can cause a traveler to miss connections which can keep you sitting up in a station all night or inconvenience your friends who are waiting for you. Because of the drastic increase in fuel prices however, one would expect all aspects of European train service to improve soon. In this country the people who belong to one political party generally believe that railroad tracks are like roads in that they are not maintained by the state to make money but to provide a public service. But have you noticed in your reading that it is the members of the other political party who are likely to deprecate moving freight and passengers by rail? Lot more money to be made if all the trains were to be shut down and everyone forced to travel by car.

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11. Did you know that obsessive-compulsive urges are now being treated by a computer that you can call on the telephone? It says things like, "If you have to dust the inside of your mailbox before going to work, press one. If not, press two." I understand that the computer is doing good work, but that it is not appreciated by human therapists who are losing millions of dollars to this ignorant machine. I was surprised to read that around 5 million Americans have this obsessive-compulsive behavior. That means that they have certain ritual behaviors they have to perform to relieve their anxiety. These rituals, like vacuuming floors and dusting, can occupy several hours a day and can interfere with normal life. You have a normal life today if you spend eight or ten hours in front of the TV watching soap operas and talk shows. But some women have to wash the dishes before they can go to work in the morning. I call it the Edith Holmstrom-Lonnie Kinney Almost-Perfect-Woman syndrome. No way in the world could they force themselves to leave those dishes there for a husband to wash when he gets up two hours later. Can you imagine what it's like to be married to such a neurotic-compulsive woman? It took me twenty years of constant searching to find one. And then there are the neurotic men whose lives are controlled by compulsions and habits. I heard of one who won't let anyone step on his living room carpet while wearing shoes, for fear of crushing the carpet's delicate fibers. One day a man came to that house to do some kind of home inspection. He was told, right at the door, that he was welcome to come in and inspect to his heart's content, but that he'd have to take his shoes off before stepping on the living room rug. The fellow said, ďIíd really like to take my shoes off, but this one is glued to my wooden leg.Ē

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Robert Karl Skoglund
785 River Road
St. George, ME 04860
(207) 226-7442
humble@humblefarmer.com
www.TheHumbleFarmer.com

© 2011 Robert Karl Skoglund