Saturday, May 5, 2018

Derby Day Links

More stories squeezed around planting, fixing the planter and working at the town job:

 Eating Dirt on Kentucky Derby Day - Bloomberg

The Gambler Who Cracked the Horse-Racing Code - Bloomberg

These Stories Of Horse Racing Gamblers Will Get You Psyched For The Kentucky Derby - Bloomberg.  It's a podcast, but as you can see, Bloomberg is all-in on the Derby.

Local Dallas Sportscaster Goes Viral For His 'Unplugged' Commentary - All Things Considered.  The part about his racist dad saying the one black family he knows is good and different from all the blacks he doesn't know is pure Midwestern bigotry.  I don't know if I could count how many times I've heard that. Sometimes it includes a statement that that black person or family agrees with that person about other blacks.

The innovation turning desert sand into farmland - BBC

Minnesota experiment upends notions about how plants will offset rising CO2 - Minn Post

On The Hunt For The Elusive Morel Mushroom In Ohio's Appalachian Country  - The Salt

Here's why Michigan Medicaid work requirements will kill people - Detroit Free Press.  Exemptions for rural counties, but not for poor urban areas.  That's the Republican party for you.

How Criminals Steal $37 Billion a Year from America’s Elderly - Bloomberg.  I would like to know what countries' GDP are smaller than the total economic activity generated in the US by crime and fraud.  I would guess it is the size of a medium-sized developed nation

Paul Ryan Just Got Trounced By a Priest - Charles Pierce and Ryan reverses, will keep House chaplain in place - Politico.  As if I needed to add anti-Catholic bigotry to my reasons to hate the GOP.  I did enjoy that more than one political commentator said that the moral of the story is that you don't fuck with a Jesuit (or The Society-God bless Catholic culture).

A Pruitt Aide's Attack on Zinke Angers the White House - The Atlantic.  So the cabinet secretary I hate the most had an underling try to undermine the cabinet secretary I hate the second-most.  That seems about like what I'd expect from the Trump administration.  Even they can understand who the assholes are.

This Map Shows Every State's Biggest Export - How Much (via Ritholtz).  Not too hard to figure out where Poet is based.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

On Farming

It was about 9:15 this evening when it really hit me.  We had just finished planting the corn on our first farm, and I was walking from the north field back to my truck about a quarter mile away.  It was approaching the end of the gloaming, and in the general stillness the slightest wisp of breeze would kick up a tiny chill.  It would pass, and then I would feel the warmth of the soil radiating the stored solar energy of a beautiful May Day. That happened four or five times as I made that 5 minute walk. It was a good day.

It didn't start that way.  If you talked to me as late as 2:30, I would have had a tale of woe and frustration that stretched days as we'd managed to get 10 acres planted while neighbors seeded hundreds.  I was trying to repair yesterday's breakdown, and had just discovered that the part I ordered and that dad picked up this morning was the wrong one, and wouldn't work on our machine.  At that point, I was looking for a quick fix and dad, while expressing that immediate retirement was looking pretty attractive, said that we had waited this long, we might as well wait a couple more hours while he went to get the right part and do it right.

"Good enough never is."  That is the sales slogan at my town job, which also happens to be our family business.  It is a potent motto, but from this jaded engineer and farmer's perspective, good enough is good enough.  Dad left to get the part, and I went to work on my quick fix.  From my perspective, we could do the proper fix tomorrow when it was forecast to rain (although that may get pushed back to Thursday [and dad is right, we need to fix it correctly when we can, which I will try to do in the early morning]).  Within a half-hour we were up and running, and with minor slowdowns, were able to complete what we could reasonably expect to get done in what was left of the day. 

That is what I love about grain farming.  When you decide to try something that might not be ideal, you don't have to answer to anyone except family and maybe the banker.  Also, unlike almost every other job, there is a definite start and finish to crop production.  Sure, we are barely a sixteenth of the way to completing our seeding labor, but we got most of that done in less than seven hours from our lowest point at 2:30 to that moment where I felt the last remnants of the sun's work escaping to the atmosphere in the beautiful transition from day to night.  Few other jobs blend that physical feeling of accomplishment with the opportunity to experience nature in all its wonder and beauty.  I got to feel the warmth of the May sun, watch that sun set, and watch the moon rise.  And I got to feel the subtle shift of our work from frustration to success.

As I type this, this good day passes into the next one.  I am looking at an early start to a day that may bring rain, will definitely bring a careful balance of labor between the town job and the one that is done more for love than money, and may bring more frustration. But I am looking forward to another feeling of accomplishment as this new day fades into the next one. 

Sunday, April 29, 2018

End of April Weekend Links

I was finally ready to start planting this afternoon, and wouldn't you know it, we had a technology malfunction and I didn't get a single seed in the ground.  I did find these stories over the last few days, though:

The history of the song "Louie Louie" - Marketplace.  An important FBI investigation.

EU agrees total ban on bee-harming pesticides - Guardian

Rural Lands At Risk As Ranchers Prepare For Retirement - The Salt

Rural Kansas is dying. I drove 1,800 miles to find out why - The New Food Economy.  It goes a little over the top, but brings up some brutal statistics.

Rural Teachers Working Second Jobs, Struggling To Make Ends Meet – CBS Denver

The last man who knew everything – The Week

A High Schooler Has Upended a Fundamental Chemistry Theory - Inverse

Did Math Kill God?The New Republic 

There Are Holes In Elon Musk's Plans To Tunnel Through L.A. With Boring Co. - Forbes

The Myth That Markets Get Prices Right Won’t Die – Bloomberg.  Goddamn vampire theory. Pound a wooden stake in its heart.

Life on the Oil Frontier - Longreads

Annual Figures Show Slight Rise in Rural Jobs, But Gap With Metro Widens – Daily Yonder