Well, I watched paint dry today, I mean Mueller’s interviews with Congress. It was a sad affair. While claiming to stick to what his report contained, he was utterly passionless, bumbling, deaf, grumbling and uncooperative about collusion and obstruction. He seemed not to know what was in the report often. He brought along an assistant who said nothing but I strongly suspect the Congress was questioning the wrong guy. I even suspect Mueller was appointed so that the whole exercise would be as cutting as a wet towel.

Clearly, Mueller should have stayed in retirement. He was often hunting for words and could not recall much detail. I can relate to that. We are both well past our prime years.

So, the GOP has snookered the Dems. The way forward is through the courts or impeachment. The courts are unwilling to get involved in political arguments. Hence, we’ll have to endure Trumpism until 2021 unless there is Divine intervention.

Impeachment is still an option but useless until the 2020 election. If the GOP realizes that Trump has become a lame duck, the Dems may actually get support for impeachment from them. All this completely ignores the very real harm Trump can do in the meantime. Congress is a spineless worm.

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The High Price Of Colour…

I have long bemoaned the lack of choice of colour in the Solo EV. It comes in various shades of grey from black to silver and RED. That’s just silly. I chose RED but TLW would almost certainly choose any other colour. The gas-guzzler is greyish… Anyway, it’s not just Electra Meccanica Vehicles that’s stupid about colours. Tesla’s configurator gives white included with the base-price, black is $1000CDN, midnight silver metallic is $1300, deep blue metallic is $1300, and red multicoat is $2600. There’s no sign of finch yellow, or cardinal orange or deep purple… nothing but a tiny choice of paint.

Come on, people! Humans have colour-vision. Most of us can distinguish hundreds of colours and variations. It’s in our DNA. Men may be happy with a few shades of grey but women want colours, lots of them. Just look at their spring dresses! In case folks don’t know, a lot of people are women and they do buy cars. If you want them to be happy with the cars you make, colour them!

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Going Green

“In order to quickly return atmospheric greenhouse gases to safe levels and avoid triggering positive feedback loops, not only do we need to stop burning fossil carbon, we need to implement carbon sequestration strategies. In other words, we need to take CO2 out of the atmosphere and store it away, perhaps underground, or more likely, in material forms, like wood.”
See A Pathway To 350ppm
I’m trying to do both: drive electrically and plant trees. The “electrically” part is awaiting Electra Meccanica Vehicles getting its act of producing the Solo EV together. The planting of trees has been going on for nearly a decade and apart from a high rate of mortality for some seedlings, I’m making good progress. In May, many of my seedlings were damaged by killing frosts and high winds but they didn’t all die. Many began to produce new leaves in July. Previous plantings are beginning to bear actual fruit and many should do so next year. Even the wrens and finches are finding my yard sufficiently sincere to be worth inhabiting. Yesterday, one wren came in an open door and was beating itself against windows trying to get out. I caught it in my hand and escorted it out to the veranda where it rested a few minutes before flying off. Surely the good life is coming to my yard.

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The Gentrification Of A Cup Of Coffee

Here I am, awakened during a dream in the wee hours. I dreamt my late father came into the kitchen and solemnly informed my mother that a cup of coffee was a multiple of his hourly pay and he would have to skip it… Effectively, that’s happening as wealthy people pay many dollars for cups of coffee without a thought for how the poorer folk get by. Getting by is not a concept when one buys $60K pickups to drive empty in city traffic or pays half a $million for an ordinary home that used to provide for a family of 5 to 20 children and now is occupied by 2.5 people.

Even though I am much better off financially than my father, “getting by” is still a part of my psyche. I want to drive an Electra Meccanica Solo EV, not because it’s luxurious but because it’s economical. Why drive around with an empty vehicle? Why drag tons of matter up and down hills or roll it along on the flats? Why push twice as much air out of the way as necessary to get from A to B? Why infect the world with the stench of wasted energy when a few cents will drive you for miles? Solo is just the right way to travel if walking or public transit won’t do the job.

Solo, however, is being gentrified too. No, the price has not spiked, but the features have. The prototype had no battery-management to speak of. The current model has A/C, battery heating and cooling and power this that and the other (although no cruise-control). There’s hardly any room left for a “front trunk”. Solo’s still not widely available in Canada. Only the lucky few in BC can buy one. I’ve tried but until it’s certified generally in Canada, I can’t have one. In a way, it’s gentrified. I really can’t afford to move to BC to have a chance, not a certainty, of owning one. BC is just too expensive for my tastes. Ordinary homes are pushing $1million. Land is in short supply. Mountains and floods and cougars are falling on people all over BC.

So, I am living the nightmare my father avoided by dying although it’s not about coffee. I’ll carry on planting trees to enjoy the good life a bit longer. The poor oak seedling that had their leaves and stems frozen and damaged by high winds are putting out new leaves this week. There’s still hope the chokecherries will survive. The sour cherries are doing just fine with multiples showing up as suckers which I’m propagating. The marigolds are taking over my pots if not my yard. We finally had a decent rainfall to make my yard a comfortable place to live. The tree swallows are getting their offspring to eat bugs. I can’t get my grandchildren to chew vegetables.

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WAKE UP, Sleepy Joe!

“”I have a plan how to do that that’s rational, that will cost a hell of a lot less and that will work,” Biden said about health care, slamming Medicare for All, the liberal-backed proposal that would mandate Medicare as the single-payer system for all Americans.”
See Biden expresses skepticism of Democrat’s leftward tilt and AOC’s mass appeal
Wake up Sleepy Joe! Medicare for All is not outrageously expensive. Much of the world has it and we are not complaining. Estimates are that it might cut your national healthcare bill in half by cutting out duplication, profits for insurers, and reducing the leverage of Big Pharma. AOC and others are on the right track. Biden is going off the rails. Perhaps he would be more comfortable waving a flag for Trump.

The Democratic Party and USA have learned the lesson of not turning out to vote. They won’t make that mistake again and Biden’s dependence on the dwindling proportion of the elderly in the party and the electorate won’t get him past the post.

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Running And Hiding

“This week Oregon stands on the cusp of approving historic cap-and-invest legislation, HB 2020, that experts have said will help grow the Oregon economy. After three years of legislative consideration, numerous studies, hearings, public meetings, and debate, the Oregon House approved the legislation decisively (36-22) on June 18th, and the bill moved to the Senate Floor, where a vote was expected on June 20th.
But outnumbered bill opponents, who in the House had tried to throw up every possible procedural roadblock to forestall a vote, resorted in the Senate to a highly unusual tactic – they didn’t come to work.”
See Hey, Oregon Senators: You Can’t Run Away from Climate Change
This has passed the point of being ridiculous. Climate change/global warming deniers aren’t doing the maths. It’s not about some obscure theory. Global warming is happening now and it’s about whether or not we can slow it down enough to survive. That’s more important than a few votes or support from Trumpists. That’s about whether our children and their children will continue to exist on the planet for more than a few more decades. That’s about whether we continue cutting off the limb upon which we stand.

Check the Arctic. It’s warming most rapidly. It’s losing ice and permafrost today. It will be losing polar bears soon. All that ice will raise the levels of the oceans. Turning off the Earth’s air-conditioner will raise havoc with weather all over. The seas are warming too and oxygenation, storms, and vulnerable species are already in chaos. WAKE UP, SENATORS! Do your jobs. Save the planet if you can. There are no do-overs.

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New CEO For Electra Meccanica

“Electra Meccanica Vehicles Corp. (NASDAQ: SOLO) (“Electra Meccanica” or the “Company”), a designer and manufacturer of electric vehicles, today announced the appointment of automotive and advanced propulsion systems expert, Paul Rivera, as the company’s new Chief Executive Officer.”
See Electra Meccanica Appoints Auto Industry Executive Paul Rivera as New Chief Executive Officer
This is a surprise. I didn’t exactly love the performance of the previous CEO, Jerry Kroll, but a change just before the AGM is a surprise. No reason was given but I hope we, the auto-buying public, are in for a better presentation of news and information about EMV and Solo. I’m tired of hearing that production is just around the corner. I’m tired of hearing how much fun the CEO is having. I want to be there now.

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The Democratic Writing On The Wall

“1 Joe Biden Former Vice President 38%
2 Bernie Sanders U.S. Senator 19%
3 Elizabeth Warren U.S. Senator 11%
4 Pete Buttigieg Mayor 7%
5 Kamala Harris U.S. Senator 7%
6 Beto O’Rourke Former U.S. Representative 4%
7 Cory Booker U.S. Senator 3%
8 Julian Castro Former Secretary, HUD 1%
9 John Delaney Former U.S. Representative 1%”
See The State of the Democratic Primary 
On the right (left, politically) are today’s results posted by Morning Consult. It shows the “old white men” with 57% of the likely primary voters’ support. I think it would be unfortunate if that pattern persisted. To break the political log-jam in USA, it’s time for a woman at the helm, one with modern ideas.

I’m hoping Warren will eat into Bernie’s share and gather up the other left-leaners. It’s time for the old white men to step aside. On May 19, they showed Biden with 39% and Bernie with 19% so the share of the old white men has declined a little. May that decline continue. Further, many polls show the Ds could offer a ham sandwich and beat Trump. YAY!

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Finally, My ARMed Box Is In Sight

“SolidRun opened $550 pre-sales on a “HoneyComb LX2K” Mini-ITX board with a “CEx7 LX2160A” COM Express module that runs Linux on NXP’s 2.0GHz, 16-core -A72 LX2160A with up to 64GB DDR4 and dual 10GbE SFP+ ports.
SolidRun announced pre-sales of $550 for a developer-oriented “early access” version of a high-end networking board that showcases NXP’s 16-core, Cortex-A72 LX2160A. The beta-stage HoneyComb LX2K early access board ships in September and the final, $750 model with a few extra features will go on sale in October. “
See Networking board runs Linux on 16-core, -A72 LX2160A

For years I’ve been lusting over my move to an ARMed box. So far, what’s available has been obsolete on emergence, too whimpy or too expensive. Today, I read that something very close to my needs is available: a fantastic server board with all the RAM, SATA and networking I could ever want. Oh, yes, and with a gazillion CPU-cores.
16 X A-72 is good enough. Two DDR4 RAM sockets is good enough. Two SFP+ ports is good enough. 8MB cache is good enough. The price is OK too, a small fee to be rid of Wintel forever.

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Slaughter In San Diego

I was watching a Miami @ San Diego game of baseball when a swarm of honey bees visited. The queen landed on a microphone behind home plate and the swarm gathered around her. They were just being bees, going about the business of finding a new home to start a colony. They weren’t aggressive. They were just in the way.

I’ve seen this several times before when a bee-keeper was called in to capture the swarm. It’s a fairly simple process: put them in a bag or box and move them to a bee-hive somewhere.

Instead San Diego called in an exterminator who killed the bees with insecticide in front of thousands of fans in the stadium and perhaps millions in TV-land. It was mass-murder of a valuable species endangered by insecticides, diseases, loss of habitat etc. They are pollinators, for Goodness sake. Why kill them?

I turned off the TV and wrote this post. I guess I will send a link to the San Diego Padres. I was rooting for them but no more.

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The Good, The Bad, And The Not So Bad

I’ve learned a lot this week. The bad news is that my Nanking Cherries are DEAD, all of them… They looked so good with beautiful buds but there is no life above the soil. It’s all brown inside. I’m so disappointed. They are supposed to be very winter-hardy, but we had a very wet fall and an on-again/off-again winter. I think the Nanking Cherries just could not cope with all the changes. They like to go dormant in the fall and wake up in Spring. I think they never got to sleep or were awakened in one of the mild spells during the winter.

That was the bad news. The not so bad news is more plentiful. My oaks which I set out too early lost most of their leaves but the stems are still alive and they are growing new buds. Further, I found my Prunus avium seedlings were thriving once the cold spells and high winds subsided. Even the chokecherries lost their leaves but the Prunus avium were in a cold frame with more protection and survived unscathed. I transplanted them to larger pots this morning and the mass of root is larger than the tops. The good times are going to roll if they survive their first winter…

Then, there is positively great news. I noticed near an apple that had been eaten to the ground by mice that a small tree was growing. It looked like a cherry… It turns out that it’s a “sucker” from an Evans cherry which survived a near death-by-rodent experience last year and is now thriving. Further examination of the neighbourhood reveals that there was a sucker last year near a cherry that has died. So, I lost one cherry and gained two more. Perhaps I can keep ahead of the rodents. To top it off, I managed to pick a raised bed of rhubarb clean of weeds. Pretty soon the rhubarb will be mature enough to drown the weeds in shade. It’s all good news from here on, baby.

PS – Upon reflection and study, I feel another trial of Nanking Cherry is worthwhile. The City of Winnipeg has dozens in their database of tree inventory. Perhaps another source of seed or seedlings will do. Perhaps waiting for year 2 to plant them out would help. Perhaps more protection the first winter would help.

Prunus avium is more problematic. They are grown in Manitoba but mostly in sheltered spots, unlike my yard. Perhaps I can grow them in containers and move them out of the wind for winter.

The Evans sour cherry looks like a great option. Obviously, it’s hardy enough for my yard even with rodents. It’s not patented so I can propagate from seed or cuttings as I wish. The other sour cherry may produce seed but there’s no guarantee of the qualities of seedlings but it is another source of cherry-DNA.

I’m going to deploy chicken-wire around my existing cherries to avoid future setbacks.

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The Battery

I love batteries. They give us backup of electricity, storage, portability, all good things. Last week one gave me a severe headache. It was the battery for the Ariens mower/garden tractor. Last month it was weak and I charged it and drove the mower around the driveway for 15 minutes to check things out. All systems were “GO”. Then this month happened and I needed the tractor to drag things around the yard and yes, actually to mow some grass/weeds. It wouldn’t start. Not even a click. I hooked up the charger and then gave it a try the next day. Nothing.

My logic told me something in the tractor had failed. I checked out the seat safety. It had been mangled by someone (me) sitting in the seat while a wrench had been left under it. I suspected it had been jammed up. Some digging on the Web told me that pulling its plug would do if a jumper were removed. Nothing. Finally, I RTFM. It said that in these circumstances, the fuse must be checked and that the fuse was behind the dash. Looking showed nothing, so I disassembled the dash. That meant five screws, a couple of electrical connectors and the steering column. No fuse… AHHHGGGHHH!

Digging on YouTube revealed that mowers like mine with a gear-shift lever had the fuse under the battery… This means to check the fuse one had to remove the battery, remove the battery compartment and look. I could see nothing until I illuminated the scene with a trouble-light. The fuse was not rigidly mounted but on a connector hanging out in space. Fuse was good.

At this point I was totally baffled. Research found several wiring diagrams for Ariens mowers all with some common features but all with some feature clearly different than my machine like having PTO clutches… Finally, I found one that seemed to describe my machine. The logic showed that the seat switch did not affect the starting sequence. That was controlled by the ignition switch, the brake switch and the lever for driving the blades. I positioned the battery outside the mower and rerouted the cables to reach it. I then brought out a trusty voltmeter and tested the live terminal on the starting relay. With the starting key turned to “start” there was a voltage but only about half the nominal battery voltage. A quick check of the battery itself revealed a dead battery, below the nominal 8V indicating dead!!!

All this work to discover a dead battery. I had never before seen the battery so dead that the starting solenoid would not at least click. But it was true. I was the faulty component in all this. I could have checked the battery first thing instead of last. Somehow I failed to do what I’ve been doing for over six decades, charge a damned battery. Clearly both the battery and I are beyond our prime. The battery is five years old and I am nearly seven (decades old…). My best guess is that the battery is not taking anywhere near a full charge and may be internally draining itself. Will mow the lawn a few times and keep a lookout for a decent replacement at a good price.

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