Politics


politics
As most of you that read my blogs already know, I am a Democrat and I really don’t have too much time for the current President for many reasons. I don’t plan on going into them here but would like to comment on the American way of how Politics are run.

Being from the old country where a stiff upper lip and a gentleman’s word really meant something, at least back in the day. I was there long enough to vote in several elections and apart from flyers stuck on every pole and the occasional Town Hall Meeting, most of the aspiring politicians knocked on doors to get their message out. Of course, I am talking of the time period when TV was comparatively new and the BBC who stood for no nonsense or advertising on their programs and was at the time, the only TV and Radio available. Later on, ITV, an independent and commercialized station came on the air giving the general population a choice of watching the riffraff shows on ITV or the very British and straight laced shows on BBC.

The point is that I cannot remember for the life of me ever contributing to any of the aspiring MP’s (Member of Parliament) in their quest for election. I’m sure they must have held some sort of fundraisers if only to pay for the printing of the above mentioned flyers. Whether they got elected or re-elected certainly did not hinge on the amount of money they had raised which brings me to the point of this blog. By the way, I have no idea what English Politics is like nowadays. It could be as bad as the American Way for all I know.

As like most people, my inbox is bombarded with emails from the different would be politicians all asking me to vote for them and “oh by the way, It would be really great if you could chip in yet another dollar or ten as my opponent is currently beating us in raising funds”. Now I am not averse to making the occasional contribution understanding the need to cover some of the outlandish expenses that running for any office seems to generate but I have to admit that I am really sick and tired of every email requesting such funds. They all start with, “My Opponent is outspending me by…”

When I look at the vast amount of funds that it takes to run for most political office on the National and State level, the mind boggles. It seems that it doesn’t matter what message you are trying to get out, unless you plaster it all over the media, your chances of success are very limited. Gone are the days when a persons personality and the ability to appeal to the general public would get them into office. Now it is based on whatever the spin doctors can get out there.

There is something majorly wrong with the American Election System when Politicians are already bought and in the pockets of the various groups and organizations and lobbyists from the first minute they take office. What chance does Democracy have for the average Joe when the almighty buck rules the day and that many working class Americans pay the price either indirectly or otherwise.

One thing I do know is that nowadays when I read an email requesting money for a political cause or get something in the mail, I just ignore them. I have figured out that I can’t change things for the better as the system is now too corrupt so I might as well keep my money in my pocket, vote for my candidates of choice when the time comes and hope that somewhere and some when, the country will wake up and the average Joe will realize that he is being made a complete and utter fool, used for someone else’s benefit.

Maybe I should become a Politician and get me some of the cash…

Written May 31, 2018

Sitting and Waiting


Today it is raining but the forecast is that it will clear up this afternoon. That is good as I really need to get outside to continue work on my latest project which is to install permanent electricity to three of the ponds.

The first pond that I built more than 30 years ago was around 2500 gallons and actually looked very nice with a patio that surrounded the entire pond. It developed a leak and even by letting the entire pond drain down to nothing, I was still unable to locate it to make a repair. By then I was hooked on Ponding and I decided to rebuild the pond and at the same time, enlarge the entire thing. The end result is a 5000 gallon pond. I did this one right and it has a permanent electrical supply to it.

100_0268-2

5000 Gallon Pond

I spent the next 30 years messing around building other ponds and streams sometimes even rebuilding because of a change of heart or of different ideas. Because of my restlessness and having a very hard to please attitude, I never installed permanent electricity to any of the 3 other ponds for good reason. For example, the middle pond was actually 2 ponds in the shape of an “L” with water from the top pond filtering down to the bottom pond and then recirculating back to the top pond.
Double Pond 1-2

The original “L” shaped pond

The smaller of the two ponds in this system developed a leak so I decided to separate them into two ponds which meant installing a Sanyo skimmer and another pump on the upper pond. I completely rebuilt the lower pond and installed a new liner and increased the depth to almost 4 feet. It too has its own skimmer box and pump. The electricity to drive the pumps was supplied by lead chords and temporary outlets and worked very well and I kept telling myself that as soon as I was satisfied with the ponds themselves, I would change the setup to something more permanent. Besides, I lived alone with no desire for any sort of company other than my dogs and reasoned that I would be careful as I worked the yard.

I had other water feature that I had built, one in the shape of a “Y” with two streams running into a small pond. This one actually worked pretty well but again, only had temporary electricity to drive the pumps. In a fit of madness, I decided to enlarge the pond at the end of the streams which eventually led to me taking out one stream completely along with the small pond. The end result was a 6000 gallon large pond, quite a bit larger than the 1000 gallon pond it replaced. I kept the one small stream and it still runs very nicely. Throughout all of this building and rebuilding, the electricity to drive the pumps was all supplied through the same system as outlined above, lead chords and temporary outlets.
New Pond 2 5-3-2014

The New 6000 Gallon Pond

Human Nature being what it is and with everything running smoothly, I moved onto other things and although the thought would cross my mind very occasionally, I never seriously considered doing much about the electric supply to the ponds. Things were working fine so why mess with it. Besides, I had plenty of other things to do that seemed to be more important and anyway, I was not in the mood to dig trenches and bury conduit.

Then, a couple of mornings ago, I came out to check on the ponds and everything was very quiet except for the 5000 gallon pond, the one with permanent electricity, that was running just fine. I wandered over to the other ponds and both the “L” shape and the 6000 gallon pond were very still. None of the pumps were working. Luckily, the system can be down for a few hours before any problems are likely to develop in the form of oxygen deprivation and less dangerous but just as frustrating, muddy water. As it is still early Spring, temperatures would not be high enough to really cause oxygen deprivation problems.

I traced the lead chords as they snaked from pond to pond and quickly discovered that the very first chord was scorched where it connected to the next chord. Even as I watched, the next junction suddenly burst into flames. At least I knew where the problems were located and went to work in temporarily replacing the burnt out lead chords with different ones so as to keep the pumps running while I planned out the new permanent power supply.

As luck would have it, years ago, I had installed an outlet by the back porch directly from the Main Junction Box which also happened to be the one that the temporary supply is plugged into. I figured that I could come from that one and then run the wire through conduit to the first of the GFCI outlet boxes that I planned to install. I have two metal boxes that contain two GFCI outlets in each box that I acquired over the years. Bit of an overkill as a single GFCI would protect all of the outlets downline from it but as I happened to have the boxes, why not use them.

So, with a plan in mind, I went to Home Depot and purchased the necessary supplies and to start work on the project. This is actually a three phase project the first of which is to install the conduit from the supply to the location of the first outlet box about 45 feet away. The second phase will be to run the conduit to the second of the outlet boxes another 50 feet further along. The last phase will be to complete the run another 25 feet to the last of the boxes.

I started work on Phase 1 which entailed digging a trench to bury the conduit. This is the hard part of the project mainly because I hate digging and it takes more of a mind set to actually start the work than to do the work. I managed to convince myself that as hot as it was, I needed to get after it. The digging was pretty easy but it did entail swinging a pickaxe to break up the ground, something I haven’t done in years.

The next part of Phase 1 of the project was to lay out the conduit and then pull the cable through each piece before gluing the conduit together. The whole thing was placed into the trench and covered over, with sufficient conduit and cable exposed at each end to make the connections. And that is where we are today and it has just come on to rain again. It doesn’t look like I will be working outside today, darn it…

Look for part two of this thrilling instalment of DIY.

Written 5/20/2018

Life is Only Temporary



I sat here thinking about life and how it is constantly changing
nothing stays the same for very long as time marches on
what is currently the in thing today is tomorrow’s news
as time passes by.

Friends come and friends go as time dictates
here today and gone tomorrow in this never ending flow
we are here just for an instant in the grand scheme of things
but we think we are important.

Important enough to dictate how Nature will change
in the never ending search for wealth
destroying everything in the path of success
to attain our goals.

There is no turning back from our chosen goal
and that is to ruin the Earth and all that live on it
until Mother Nature feels the pain
that we inflict on her.

She may lose a few battles along the way
and not all life will succeed
but to be sure we are so small and insignificant
that we cannot win.

When she has had enough of the damage that we wreak
suddenly life will become intolerable as we know it
and the Wonders of Nature will take a vicious turn
and we will be the victims.

When she has cleaned our earthly traces away
in a few thousand years life will begin again
as it has in the past and this time with no man
just the animals and plants.

And she will never make the same mistake again…

Written 5/8/2018

The Snakes are on the Move…


I recently wrote a blog outlining the steps that I have taken to keep the dogs out from under the shed. I continued with that by sealing off the underside of the main deck to keep the dogs out of there as well.

One reason was because of the loud barking of the, “We found an animal/snake kind” which I determined to be coming from a corner under the deck by the house where I happened to have installed a trapdoor to get to the septic system drains. I pulled it up and below me was the usual scene. The snake backed into a corner rearing and striking at anything that came within range and two little dogs screaming their fool heads off in a vain attempt to get at the snake. Theirs was a lot of barking but not really trying too hard to actually make contact.

This corner just happened to have a water faucet and hose pipe within very easy reach which I turned on the dogs first to get them to quit and then on the snake in an attempt to drive it off in the opposite direction which appeared to succeed on both counts as the snake disappeared from view and the dogs were busy trying to shake themselves dry. This episode did it for me and a quick trip to Lowes to buy the material I needed and then back to work sealing off the far side of the deck. The work was not very difficult and I had it finished in a couple of hours.

Texas-Rat-Snake-2239a-1024x768

The snake under the deck was a Texas Rat Snake that can grow to be six feet long, The are relatively harmless and very useful for keeping the rat and mice population down. They would bite if attacked or harassed but are non poisonous. This particular one was about four feet long and beautifully marked and colored.

Thinking that I could relax a bit as far as the snakes go, I turned my attention to cleaning up the mess that I created the other day when I cleaned the ponds of leaves and debris and thinned out some of the many plants growing in them. I moved an existing tub that was on the walkway which contained a large growth of Lizards Tail, to the other side to make more room on the path and then decided to pull the weeds by hand that had accumulated in that area.

I was working away and not paying much attention to what I was doing and I nearly grabbed a handful of a very large snake that was already coiled and had its mouth open in a very threatening posture. This quickly brought me back into focus as I slowly stood up with no sudden movements. The snake was within easy striking distance of originally my face and then as I stood, my bare legs. I looked at it trying to determine just what type it was and although it looked for all the world like a rattlesnake with the right size, markings and color, apart from the aggressive posture, it made no attempt to strike me which it could easily have done as I was well within its range. I could not see a rattle on the tail neither did I hear anything vaguely familiar. Not wanting to take any chances as two of the dogs were on the deck and had not realized what was going on, I called them to come indoors, grabbed my camera and stepped back out. I was too late as the snake had already disappeared and although I searched around, came to the conclusion that it was probably under the deck which at the time was only a couple of feet away. The more I think about it, I think it too was a Rat snake even though it was not as brightly marked at the other one. This one was probably longer then the other and looked like it had recently consumed a Dove as there were a lot of new dove feathers littered about. It was also much bigger around the girth than the first one which may have been due to its recent meal.

eolindenheimeriau5074

I considered this to be getting a bit much with two different and very large snakes in two days but the story is not over yet as far as snakes go. It is a bit anticlimactic as the next snake that I saw as I went out to check on the dogs who again were doing there barking routine, was a two feet long either Western Coachwhip or a Texas Brown Snake. I was very brave confronting this one as I shooed it away where it disappeared into the underbrush.

4468463391_8b2deaba9e_z
Texas Brown Snake
3802333852_3a78674eb3_z
Western Coachwhip

I decided that this was all too much of a coincidence and the next day, I took Mikey into the vets to get a anti rattlesnake shot and then Gizmo in to have his follow up shot. Turns out that Ginnie had a rattlesnake shot and booster last year and is not due for another until August. After losing Richie, I can’t afford to take chances.

In retrospect, maybe I am the one that needs the shot as I couldn’t have gotten much closer to the one yesterday and if it had been so inclined and was a Rattler, could have easily bit me. One thing for sure, no more hand pulling the weeds. I’ll use a hoe in the future. If I had recognized it as a Rattlesnake, would I have killed it if I had something available? I honestly don’t believe that I would have unless it was in self defence prefering to try to drive them away back out of the yard. After all, they can’t help what they are and as frightening as they may be, it’s man’s inherent fear of snakes that makes the situation worse than what it really is.

Written 5/14/2018

Rattlesnake Deterrent

Austin Pond Society May 2018 Meeting


The Austin Pond Society tried something different with this May Meeting and held it at one of our Sponsors Store, namely Aqua-Dome located just off Ben White in Austin, Texas.

Aqua-Dome Meeting May 2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The meeting was held outdoors with the weather cooperating, a nice breeze and not too hot. The first part of the meeting was as usual the Business Section and although the idea was unique, the soundtrack left a lot to be desired due to external traffic sounds. The second part of the meeting in which the owner, Gary Coffman, gave a demonstration on repotting water lilies was held in a different part of the large yard and the sound is much better.

Another of our Sponsors, Jet’s Pizza located in Brodie Lane, supplied the hungry group with a grand selection of different pizzas for us to devour which we proceeded to do at a rapid rate. There were about 40 members that had showed up and they listened intently as Gary showed us how he repots his water lilies. He also discussed Lotus and all of the other freshwater bog plants that he has for sale.

The meeting was over by 7:45 pm and I am quite sure that many of the members learned a bit about repotting water lilies. Thanks to Gary Coffman and Aqua-Dome for giving us something different.

This is the Business part of the meeting.

APS Meeting May 2018 – Business from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Gary Coffman demonstrating on “How to repot Water Lilies”.

Austin Aqua-Dome 2018 Repotting from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Written 5/22/2018

A Drive in the Country 2018


DSC_2305-Pano
I was on my way to my Vets to take in one of my dogs for a check up and to get a Rattlesnake shot and couldn’t help but wonder at the beauty of the wildflowers. There was a lot of yellow and I suppose there is a reason for that although I am not smart enough to even guess what that may be.

I came back with my camera after taking my little dog, Gizzie back home and took as many pictures as I could, marvelling at the beauty all around me. I put together a slideshow to music for your enjoyment. These flowers are all in one area and if I had walked an 100 yards, would have found another such area just like the first. The flowers are in abundance this year.

A Drive in the Country from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Written
5/4/2018

Dripping Springs Farmers Market 5-2-18


DSC_2331-Pano
It was a Wednesday and I happened to find myself back in the Dripping Springs area primarily to visit the Tractor Supply Company where I purchase my fish food. I only ever buy one 28 lb bag at a time which lasts me a little less than two weeks and even though it would make sense to buy at least two bags, I really like the drive and the visit to this picturesque old town located at the foot of the Texas Hill Country. It helps even more now that the town has gone all modern on me with the addition of a Starbucks which I find a reason to visit. One of my most favorite things is to drive out in the countryside in my new Ford F-150, listening to an Audiobook and with a Starbucks Latte within arms reach.

I had not chosen the day, Wednesday, on purpose and it was really by chance that it happened to be the day of the Farmers Market. I don’t usually stop in to visit but on this day, I decided that I could really use one of the pastries that one of the vendors sells. So, I dragged out my camera and took a few shots of the vendors and the musician who was entertaining a small child and his Mother before stopping to purchase an Empanada. There was a long list to choose from and I eventually settled on a Mole Beef. I willingly paid the vendor his $5:00 and took my morsel of goodness back to my truck and sat for a while as I improved on my Audiobook and Starbucks Latte with the addition of the Empanada which, by the way, was absolutely delicious. I almost went back for another and then common sense stepped in and told me that spending $5:00 on one pie was OK but to spend $10:00 on two, as good as they were, would be more than a little extravagant and would spoil the moment.

I left the Market and headed home more than a little content. Funny how the small things in life really begin to mean something as we grow older and how much easier we are to be satisfied with tiny moments of pleasure.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I wrote about this market a little over a year ago and the need for an Empanada was the reason for this repeat.

Written
5/4/2018