Sunshine, Flowers, Bees and Me

Last spring I accepted an offer of sunflower seeds to help the bees. Here is my result: 50% of the seeds grew and this week they actually flowered. They should have done so back in July, but here are the bees making use of them. The bee in the picture is a wild bee, not a honeybee. It’s collecting nectar and pollen from the outer florets of this compositae.

UPDATE Upon further research I’m not entirely sure the bees in the photo are wild bees. They do resemble Apis mellifera, honeybees, but it’s hard to be sure because they are dusted with pollen. I’ll just state they should not be honeybees because it’s illegal to keep farm animals in this region… I don’t see any hives in the vicinity but they could have flown a mile or two to find my sunflowers or be escaped honeybees that managed to survive our winter. Nevertheless, there are more of them today and plenty of butterflies, on the last warm day in the two-week forecast.

The butterflies are called “Painted Ladies” but Manitoba calls the larva, “Thistle Caterpillars“. Apparently, the larvae feed on thistles, of which I have a few, and sunflowers like mine. I think the butterflies are pretty and anything that eats my weeds is welcome.

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The Future (of EVs) Is Next Year

“At the Tesla Autonomy Event in April, Elon Musk said the Disruptors of Detroit were working on a new battery pack that would last a cool million miles, and said it would be available next year. Now Tesla battery research partner Jeff Dahn and his team have released a paper in which they describe this million-mile battery cell.”
See Tesla battery experts describe million-mile cell in new paper
A lot of developments of lithium storage cells have been made in the last few years. It’s obvious to many of us that batteries are a key element of managing the cost and performance of electric vehicles. Well, the usual story is that such developments will move from the lab to the factory in a few years. Apparently, Tesla has been successful in moving stuff through the laboratory phase in the past few years and predicts next year will be the year that we can all forget about expensive and unreliable batteries for our EVs. The costs and storage capabilities of the new technology is remarkable: an order of magnitude more charge-discharge cycles, tolerance for deep discharges and full charges, and good performance over a wide range of temperatures. What more could one want?

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Promises Not Kept

Trump likes to repeat endlessly that he’s kept his promises. In the theme of his sycophants, “What about…?”:

The damned wall. Remember, he promised Mexico would pay for it. Well, today, he’s stealing money Congress authourized to pay for needed military construction like schools and day-care centres for military bases. Even Mitch McConnell is annoyed. One of the schools is in his state. Remember how Trump claimed to support “his military”? I guess that doesn’t apply to the wives, families and children of the military. They serve too. Why don’t they count?

Bringing back manufacturing jobs… Well, they just are not coming back. Even Obama did a better job than Trump on this one. Let’s face it. Tariffs hurt manufacturers who depend on long supply chains to keep things moving. If that supply chain costs more, fewer workers are hired and fewer factories are built. It’s just math/logic, something that Trump missed in school apparently.

Then, there’s the deficit. Remember, Trump’s Republicans promised the tax cuts for the wealthy would pay for themselves and pay down the debt. The deficit is now larger than Obama’s and it’s growing. The children’s children will not be able to pay down this debt, which Trump loves. How many loyal supporters are going to be able to do this math? Enough.

Trump is nailing his own coffin shut from the inside. Good. He and the Repulicans, the Party of Pigs, can go to Hell.

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Tree-Hugger Me

I used to make fun of “tree-huggers” but now I am one: I voted Green, I’ve planted hundreds of trees, some of which are still alive, and I’ve bid on an electric car. Today, TLW (The Little Woman) snapped this picture of me standing next to the tallest tree in my yard that I’ve grown from seed. It has survived several winters, deer, rabbits, mice and me…

This is a plum tree grown from seed out of plums given to me by my sister-in-law who had a plum tree in her yard that finally bore fruit which she didn’t want. I planted 50 pits along the border of my yard, 30 grew and about 15 are alive today and mostly are thriving. Some, like this one, grew nearly three feet this summer. Others are putting out offsets to help me fill in the blanks. This one might even flower next year with this degree of vigour. It’s about time. It was planted six years ago. The picture in the top right was taken when it was a year old.

So, my work is almost done, assuming I can ever catch up with the weeds… Eventually, the birds and the bees and the trees will have to do it all without me. I think everything will be fine.

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Late Rather Than Never

I may be a little early forecasting doom for US stocks but I got out of that market when Trump was on the horizon. Today, it looks like I’m in the money.

Insiders are selling stocks like The Great Recession is on the horizon. CNN’s Fear and Greed Index has trended downward for years and is near another cyclical minimum. Gold keeps rising in price… Gold is where I’m heavily invested. I feel like I’m a genius compared to Trump and his supporters who think Tariffs are a surgical tool with which to take on China… The fools even claim the Chinese are paying those taxes on USAians while US farmers go bankrupt from the weather, loss of markets, jailed migrant workers and low prices for produce. The fools even claim tariffs will bring back jobs while US companies that depend on imports lay off workers. The fools think the Chinese who have been around for millenia will be greatly concerned by quarter by quarter GDP growth rather than global market-share. Trump has ordered US companies to stop dealing with China. Meanwhile, my stock portfolio rises a couple of percent daily and my lawn is looking good and my tree seedlings that survived Spring are looking ambitious. Life is good if one is anything but a Trumpist. Besides bringing me imminent wealth the Trumpists promise to drive the last spike into the lid of the GOP (Government of Pigs)’s coffin. It’s all going to be good in the end.

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Electrification Continues

Back in the 1940s, electrification was just coming to rural Manitoba, where I lived as a boy. Today, electrification has a different meaning, public charging stations for EVs. My favourite EV, the Solo, has only 161 km nominal range so public charging stations are important. A gap in the network has been the city of Portage la Prairie, where there was no charging station along the Trans Canada Highway for years. Now, there is a NEMA 6-50 outlet at the Fort la Reine museum in that city.

It’s all good. Slowly, but surely, we are getting the infrastructure to support us early adopters. A few outlets here and there will not support whole herds of EVs, but it’s a chicken and egg thing. If we build them they will come… I also notice a new EVSE at Tim Horton’s in Morris, MB, a possible stop for my trips to visit family in SW Manitoba.

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Old News

I am a “news junkie”. I need to know what’s going on in the world even if I know that is impossible. I do my best.

I thought I’d give my opinions on some recent news:

Murdering Bastards From BC: It’s pretty clear these guys seek attention. They kill people, set a vehicle on fire and move on. They established a clear pattern of moving east in the sparsely populated North of Canada. They apparently visited places just to show their faces to security cameras and moved on quickly enough to escape capture by police. The end of the road was northeast of Gillam Manitoba. One theory is that they took to the bush to evade capture. I don’t buy it. I know that bush. You can’t move quickly in it. The FLIR in search planes would have picked them up like ants on a white tablecloth. No, they reversed course somehow, perhaps by stealing a second vehicle, ditching one and riding out of the bush on the other. That way they could be anywhere in Canada by now having gained days ahead of the police. Like terrorists, there’s almost no way to anticipate their next target and how this will all end. I hope they just opt to off themselves hoping to remain a mystery instead of a nightmare. We shall see, or not…

More Shooters Shooting Up USA: I think we’ve reached a tipping point. The problem can’t be accepted as normal. Too many ordinary people are affected in their daily lives. We’ve had repeat performances of people having survived one mass-killing only to be involved in another. No place is too comfortably safe. Mitch McConnell isn’t going to be able to keep a lid on this boiling pot much longer. If decrepitude doesn’t get him first, Trump may well want to come to the rescue of USA to save it from madness just in time for the election. I doubt that will work as his rhetoric is highly valued by the extremists among us and he is desperate for any support from any dark corner. Trump is as much a symptom as a cause of the madness. The situation is beyond his control. The NRA is crumbling under the weight of its corruption. The GOP will soon see Trump as an albatross and looking for an exit-strategy. There is none unless Trump dies in office or is impeached. I think there is a good possibility of Trump being impeached if he loses the election. The GOP need a way out. I don’t think they have one. USA is about to clean house and getting sane firearms laws, universal healthcare and ridding USA of the GOP are all in order.

The War On Global Warming: Here is where I have some optimism. Trump is sitting on the lid of this thing but Trump won’t last. Individual states are bypassing the EPA to stay the course. Coal is dying on its own. EVs are thriving and will soon reach a tipping point. Renewable energy is rampant. The next POTUS will set up a mill to investigate and prosecute and all those Trump set up to obstruct justice. This will not be about changing of the guard. There will be major prosecutions and jail time. I expect soon after Inauguration Day, a “no-fly” order will be given and arrests made. It will be a target-rich environment for a renewed DOJ. EPA, State and other departments gutted by Trump will be rejuvenated. The only doubt I have is whether or not the GOP will see Trump as an albatross or conspire with the Dems to impeach. The Dems may well wish Trump to remain in power to ensure a sweep at the polls.

The State Of My Little Forest: It’s been a tough year. Trees that I planted years ago are just beginning to tunnel through my crappy top layer to reach useful soil and year-round moisture. Growth of plums, apricots and cherries has been spectacular. Unfortunately this year’s seedlings were decimated by killing frosts and high winds in May. Next year I will target June instead of May for the “coming out” party. TLW has just returned from vacation and she will find the raspberries in full production. She missed the cherries, all of them, but I dined on sour cherries and raspberries and radishes, red stuff. With her return and time available due to retirement she will renew her attack on the weeds. The future is bright. I’ve already figured out what seedlings to start next year and have plans to set out this year’s surviving seedlings.

UPDATE The murdering bastards from BC did off themselves in the bush a few miles from where their last vehicle burned. I guess that’s why the FLIR did not pick them up. They were already dead. Good riddance.

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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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