The meal, not the country, is good food. I made some today for the first time in a long time. The difference today (I don’t like to do anything the same way too often…) was using onions and peppers from my garden. TLW had asked me to grow peppers of a particular shape but she didn’t specify how hot they should be… I chose an item from a seed-catalog that did not even mention heat but they were so cute, like tiny bananas.

Anyway, the seedlings mostly survived the windy spring and kept their leaves. They grew slowly but when the heat of summer happened they did pretty well. They were small plants with small peppers and when the first fruits were changing colour I brought the pots up onto the deck to be close to the kitchen. That was a mistake because someone soon harvested the immature peppers… Anyway, I selected three and minced them finely with a chef’s knife on the cutting board. TLW sampled one tiny piece and declared them too hot to use. I tasted a bit and it was the hottest pepper I had ever tasted. The fire built for several minutes and lasted five minutes longer. I figured that “flavour” would be diluted in the sauce, so I carried on…

I pressure-cooked beans for ~30m and had them hot about another 30m heating up and cooling down. They were tender. I placed a pound of ground meat in a large frying pan and added the drained beans, chopped onions, garlic, catsup, and the minced peppers. I stirred it up and added some of the water from the beans and stirred to make the right consistency. I simmered the pan over moderate heat for 15 minutes to make sure the meat was cooked and to give that heat time to redistribute…

All’s well that ends well. My mouth was warm but did not catch fire eating the stuff. Apparently 3-4 pods is about the right amount to use…

Posted in family, food, horticulture | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Treason And Other High Crimes And Misdemeanors Demand Trump Be Impeached

“Only one side with one belief system was involved in a speeding car being rammed into a group of counter-protesters — an incident that left one woman dead and more than a dozen others injured. Only one group in Charlottesville on Saturday bases their entire “belief” system on the inferiority of other people because of their race or religion. Only one group on Saturday speaks admiringly of a murderous dictator who killed millions.
Trump knows this. He is not dumb. He is not unfamiliar with history. And the fact that he knows it and, therefore, knows what he’s doing with this faux attempt at moral relativism makes him all the more dangerous. Because it means he understands the power of grievance, the power of rewriting history — or the present — to fit into a contorted ideology that catalyzes hate into political power.”
See Donald Trump’s failure in Charlottesville wasn’t political — it was moral
I’ve known all along that Trump was not fit to be POTUS. He’s not a proper leader, not a deal-maker, not an organizer. He breaks things.

He has deliberately set out to break USA, his own country which, as commander in chief, he has sworn to defend against all enemies foreign and domestic. He has undermined alliances in Europe, Asia and the Middle East and promoted Putin and North Korea and Assad in Syria while promoting haters on the alt-right and worse at home. He has even attacked his own family by supporting groups who hate Jews. He has no moral compass and should be impeached forthwith.
Congress and Trump’s cabinet can both decide Trump is unfit and get rid of him. It’s a toss-up which will happen first. After that, USA should decide where “free speech” and treachery meet. It’s not legal to shout “Fire!” in a movie theatre in order to create chaos. It should not be legal to demean Jews, Negros, immigrants etc. by whatever means. Free speech is about democracy and good government. The other is about hurting people.

Posted in politics | Tagged , , | 27 Comments

Maybe Intel Isn’t As Bad As I Thought

“Intel CEO Brian Krzanich has become the third top business leader to step down from President Trump’s manufacturing council on Monday.
He follows the chiefs of Merck (MRK) and Under Armour (UA), who announced their decisions earlier Monday amid the fallout over Trump’s response to violence over the weekend at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.”
See Intel CEO is the latest to leave Trump’s manufacturing council
In the beginning, Intel wasn’t a bad company, but when they tied their wagon to M$’s to form the Wintel monopoly they certainly left the fold of humanity. At their low point in morality they paid folks not to buy competitor AMD’s products. This week they have partially redeemed themselves by speaking and acting out against the insanity of Trumpism.

Trump’s talk of lowering taxes and regulation should be good for businesses like Intel but when the package is wrapped up in incompetent management of government, both executive and legislative, blatant inhumanity and the face of a POTUS utterly incapable of moral behaviour, the potential benefit clearly does not match the real harm done to USA, the world and humanity. Businesses do understand that there’s no free lunch and there is a cost of having a government to regulate chaos. Unfortunately, Trumpism doesn’t balance budgets and its benefits are not obtainable by the force of the will of a tyrant.

I’m still not inclined to pay monopolistic prices for CPUs even if they are the best on the market. I’d rather have inferior equipment at reasonable prices and I don’t have any use for silicon hair-driers. Intel can choose to do the right thing from now on but they can’t undo history. They can fight Trumpism because it is the right thing to do and it’s not too late to be a positive influence on the world going forward. The solution to a lot of problems comes when people realize they are not alone and Trumpism can be defeated simply by doing your job to the best of your ability.

Posted in politics, technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Supply And Demand In The Electronic Era

It’s interesting how the wave of adoption of one technology affects another. The old Wintel monopoly acted as if it was an island and a single monopoly controlled the world. Things are more complicated today. The main sign of life in Wintel is the notebook computer which gives a desktop-like experience in a mobile package. It depends heavily on batteries for that mobility.

“Lithium pricing has also increased by 60% since 2016 and with electric vehicles expected to reach shipments of two million units by 2017 and 9-20 million by 2020, the lithium pricing is unlikely to see any decline for the next three years and may result in further hikes in notebook battery prices.”
See Notebook lithium battery prices rising
What else depends heavily on batteries these days? Electric vehicles. You can hide the price of an expensive battery in an expensive car but you can’t in a notebook. Guess who’s going to win this one? EV production/sales are ramping up and notebooks are languishing. Rising prices for batteries is another millstone around the neck of Wintel. Meanwhile small cheap computers running on ARM are less affected because we don’t need to haul around 2kg of battery to make them run.

I just hope I get my Solo EV before the price rises too far…

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Brain Surgery

No, not on my brain, but on a couple of trees grown too long in the same pot. I don’t remember the history… Perhaps it was when I was short of pots. Perhaps Nature planted a seed. Perhaps I lost patience with a seed and re-used a pot. I just don’t know.

Anyway, something had to give:

  • I could kill one of the twins. That was not a good choice because one was a valuable hackberry and the other, I think, was a valuable black cherry, both rare around here.
  • I could do brain surgery and untangle the roots, dangerous to both trees.
  • Doing nothing likely would damage both trees eventually.

These I grew from seed so I felt responsible and I had invested a lot of labour and love in them. It was my fault they had grown so close, less than 5cm between stems and about 40cm tall.

So, I opted for surgery figuring there’s still enough growing season for them to recover and I could give them extra protection for winter.

The rootball filled the pot. I loosened it from the edges hoping they might be miraculously untangled in the interior. No, I did not win the lottery. Both trees used every cm3 of the pot. I used a screwdriver to loosen the outer soil making vertical gashes. Eventually I was down to a frizzy mess of roots and a tight ball about the size of my fist. I flexed it a bit and little by little soil fell away. Finally, I had a Gordian knot of roots at the centre. I pulled and wiggled steadily and it finally came apart. Each tree was left with a considerable mass of roots which I plunged into a bucket of water.

I noticed the hackberry actually had a tight spiral near the top of its root, likely a vestige of poor planting of the seedling.

It was clear that the one gallon pot would not do, so I placed a gallon of soil in each of two three gallon pots and made a little mound in the middle. The “cherry” went well. Its bush of roots spread nicely, and I filled the pot to within about 2cm of the rim. I tried to do the same with the hackberry but its roots were in three rather tight clumps which I could not sort out well so I just buried them with fine soil and hoped for the best. I watered both pots thoroughly until water drained from the bases.

So, it’s done. I could add another step and prune them back and give them some shade but instead I will water well and provide extra protection in winter because they are both rather tough trees. I think both will survive to be planted out next spring and continue to absorb CO2 to fight global warming. Both will grow to be large trees outside their native range, so they might not bear fruit.

Posted in food, horticulture | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Peaches In USA Hammered By Global Warming

“The fruit harvest has been decimated by a mild winter and a late freeze – with devastating consequences.”
See Where have all the peaches gone?
Global warming isn’t just about things getting too hot. Different places can feel the pain with higher sea-levels, wild swings in temperature, storms and living things tormented by changes more rapid than they can adapt.

Take peaches (Prunus persica), for instance. They love winter. A time to rest. A time to prepare for a burst of growth in spring. The trees store energy in the roots ready to pump up the buds in springtime. A mild winter can cause the trees to be less than ready. A cold snap in spring can cause blossoms and buds to be damaged. It’s not good.

Global warming has its greatest effect in the Arctic where we normally see a solid lock on cold air hovering around all winter making ice and giving the polar bears a chance to hunt seals. Warm the Arctic just a bit and that all changes. Less ice. Less cold. Less stability in the mass of cold air up there. In spring and fall, the air that’s supposed to dwell in the Arctic can slosh down into the agricultural belt of North America, wreaking havoc far and wide. That’s why it took me three tries to keep tomatoes alive outdoors. I didn’t have frosts but I had howling winds which literally ripped the leaves off the tomatoes. Only now am I getting fruit. I should have had fruit in July. The peaches don’t have a second chance. If the winter and spring are wrong, there may be little or no fruit at all. Too bad for the bees. Too bad for the migrant workers. Too bad for the growers. Too bad for consumers and service industries which use peaches. Too bad.

Wake up Trumpists! Global warming is real and it will hurt you where you live and hit you in the stomach.

On the other hand, I’ve had the most remarkable summer. Only once did we have anything that amounted to violent weather since May and it did not damage a single plant. Rains have been gentle, aiding the starting of a new lawn from seed. Mosquitoes have been few and far between. Oh, there were quite a few ticks in June but everything including the weeds are growing wonderfully well. Everywhere the weeds have been kept in check, yields are great. I had a nice crop of lettuce. Even a watermelon is trying to take over the yard. A couple of pumpkins already have. Tomatoes, peppers, onions and lots of wonderful trees and grapes are putting on huge weight of branches and roots. I just transplanted some Swiss Stone Pine and even though the trees are still tiny, the roots were filling their six-inch pots. There is promise of good times yet but we have to act now, not after global warming eviscerates our way of life.

Posted in food, horticulture, weather | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

Failing USA

“Many anti-Trump Americans talked about leaving the US for Canada. This couple is actually doing it.”
See Fleeing Trump: Couple leaving the Carolinas for Canada
Although many USAians were horrified by the failure of USA to choose a sane POTUS and considered emigrating to Canada, most decided to hunker down and hope for the best or fight for a return to sanity in the near future. It’s good to see some young people stick to a reasonable path to freedom from Trump, moving to Canada. They are welcome and we are glad to share the best country on Earth with immigrants and refugees.

I think either choice is right for some people. Clearly Trump has done some damage but most of it is reversible and possibly as early as next year. Impeachment would help a lot… Perhaps the USAian democracy will be strengthened by getting so close to implosion but it hasn’t failed completely yet. Even though the GOP has control of everything federally except SCOTUS Congress is still capable of providing checks and balances to Trump. Let’s hope he doesn’t start too many wars in the meantime. He’s impeachable now but Congress has only had a few lips uttering the word so far. That could change any time. If I were running Congress, I’d hold an emergency joint session of Congress and impeach Trump today. There’s also the possibility that the cabinet could oust Trump as incompetent but there’s no consensus yet.

So, USA is sputtering but it hasn’t entered the failed state yet. USAians can make up their mind sooner rather than later and pull back from the brink of disaster.

Posted in politics | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

Evolution Of My Plan To ARM IT

The on-off-on status of the LeMaker Cello makes my original plan to replace my current energy-guzzler with that motherboard difficult to say the least. There isn’t a single ARMed motherboard on the market that matches my needs. In addition, I’ve done some maths. The energy consumption of Beast’s CPU over the last decade has almost certainly cost more than the hardware… Remember, some of that usage was off-grid, sucking in $1/kWh diesel-electric power. Oh, the pain…

So, my thinking has changed. There are a number of smaller/simpler boards that do just fine as clients like Odroid-C2 ($46 USD) and FireFly-RK3399 ($219 USD with 4gB RAM). They aren’t a problem. It’s the server end of things. I think I have a solution. The 96Boards people have a “set-top” offering, Poplar ($120 CDN, delivered), with a PCI-e slot that can hold some SATA device connections. It has gigabit/s Ethernet but also USB 3 connectors. I can use the Ethernet to do NFS, etc. to the clients and the USB 3 can be bridged to multiple boards to act as server. Unfortunately these boards are 28nm so the savings in energy is not great. The FireFly-RK3399 could be a decent server if the USB 3 bridge is solid. I’ve been testing a PCI-e SATA card and it’s solid. Total power consumption would be half what Beast uses but this could be a good placeholder until some better ARMed systems happen.

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , , , | 37 Comments

Canada’s A Winner

“Canada does not even really have a national education system, it is based on autonomous provinces and it is hard to think of a bigger contrast between a city state such as Singapore and a sprawling land mass such as Canada.
The OECD, trying to understand Canada’s success in education, described the role of the federal government as “limited and sometimes non-existent”.
Also not widely recognised is that Canada has a high level of migrants in its school population.
More than a third of young adults in Canada are from families where both parents are from another country.
But the children of newly-arrived, migrant families seem to integrate rapidly enough to perform at the same high level as their classmates.”
See How Canada became an education superpower
Canada is often seen by USAians as a loser where people pay high taxes and have little freedom. Nothing could be further from the truth. Those taxes we pay? A lot of that goes to things that matter, like education and universal MediCare.

It’s about priorities. USA spends more on an election every few years than Canada does on stuff that matters. Canada spends less on education and healthcare (% of GDP) than USA for a better result. In USA, education and healthcare are all about commercial competition. That brings wasteful duplication and the wrong goals. In education, where I worked my last years, the goal is to offer every student a good education no matter where they live or who their families are. While USA is fretting immigration, Canada welcomes immigration, including refugees. It all goes to making education stronger and more diverse and more flexible.

Posted in politics, Teaching | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

LeMaker Cello Undead?

“The Cello was announced in early 2016 as a $299 USD developer board with the A1100 ARM 64-bit SoC with four Cortex-A57 cores @ 1.7GHz. The Cello features two DDR3 SO-DIMM slots capable of ECC RAM, two Serial ATA 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, two USB 3.0 ports, and one PCI Express x16 3.0 slot. There are no integrated graphics, but the PCI-E x16 slot can make for some interesting testing.This board was to begin shipping in Q2’2016, but it and the AMD HuskyBoard never materialized in 2016 and remain largely unavailable to this day. Last month we heard the LeMaker Cello finally shipping to some pre-order customers but on their web-site is listed as “no stock.””
See After Years Of Waiting, Hands On With The AMD ARM Board
Yes! After years of waiting, and many long delays, AMD has delivered some A1100-series chips to LeMaker. There is a trickle of “Cello” boards out there and Phoronix got one to test. Quad-core A57 may not sound that great but perhaps the consolation prize will be the chip is the A1170 with eight cores (maybe). It’s hopelessly out of date but it is ARMed and it’s not from Intel. It will have a socket for RAM and sufficient connectivity for my needs. Perhaps it will be a NAS rather than a general server. I still don’t understand why similar boards aren’t pouring forth using the new chips with decent caches…

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , , | 118 Comments

Production Rates Of EMV Solo

“The company employs only 25 people. Their focus is on building a high-quality product on par with other competitive performance three-wheelers such as the Morgan Three-Wheeler, and most recently, the Polaris Slingshot.
Together, this team of passionate engineers, designers, mechanics, and welders produce, on average, 150 vehicles per year. Each T-Rex and V13R is built on demand, and customers must go through a five to six week gestation process before they can light that rear-wheel into a big fat burnout for themselves.”
See One Of The Craziest Things On Three Wheels Comes From This Canadian Factory
For a while, many people have been grumbling that Electra Meccanica Vehicles could not possibly ramp up production sufficiently to meet demand. Here’s a counter-example, and it’s also building a Three Wheeled Vehicle in Canada. Their assembly line and staff are similar except they have 20+ stations on the assembly line. If they can produce 150 vehicles a year, EMV with it’s simpler Solo (electric, not gasoline, single seat), should also be able to do that. QED

So, I expect to get my Solo in 2018, not next decade. It will also be street-legal in Canada as is the T-Rex. EMV still doesn’t have a National Safety Mark registration as far as I can tell but neither did Campagna last year. I still prefer Solo because it’s smarter to drive electrically, and I don’t like to ride a motorcycle and Solo costs about ⅓ as much money to buy.

UPDATE A recent article quotes CEO of EMV, Jerry Kroll: “Electra Meccanica is squarely focused on the global market, and Kroll says the Solo is already being manufactured in China for the Chinese market. His general manager just arranged the same for the Indian market. In June, the Solo passed U.S. compliance regulations. But in Canada, the compliance process is still under way.
“We’re looking at manufacturing in Mexico and Europe as well,” Kroll says. “If we get the Canadian government to wake up to the fact that the American government helped Tesla with $500 million, we could establish a North American manufacturing facility somewhere in Canada too.””

See Electric vehicles are coming. Is Canada ready to capture the opportunities?

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , | 29 Comments


We’ve had a bunch of plagues here this year: hares and deer chewing young trees, tent-caterpillars, weeds, heat, drought, rain, and now hail. One apricot and one apple that were chewed badly have sprouted new growth. Power was knocked out briefly and there were quite a few hailstones hitting our windows in the wee hours last night. This morning I can see most of our plants are just fine. We must have been near the edge of it. TLW reports that streets nearby are covered in shredded leaves. So, we’ve been lucky. Despite a little damage, it could have been much worse. The caterpillars, drought and rains weren’t too bad either. A few leaves got eaten but I was able to pluck off most of the caterpillars that found my trees sooner rather than later. I’ve whacked a lot of the weeds. The ones that got to be very large actually were sheared off and shaded the smaller ones so we won tactical victory there. Several of our vegetables are competing well against the weeds: lettuce, pumpkin and asparagus just won’t quit. With the kind of rains we’ve been having, our soil is ready for seeding grass so that will happen this week most likely.

It’s not so bad. A taste of plague keeps us humble and thankful, unlike Trumpists.

UPDATE – The folks WSW of us were in the bull’s eye of last night’s storm.

Posted in horticulture, politics | Tagged , , , | 51 Comments