Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Back to work

I spent some time the past couple of weekends venting my frustrations on horse weeds, poison ivy and any other weeds that happened to grace the blades of the brushcutter.

The results of a few hours:

Looking north from under the cottonwood trees I discovered some more pines that were struggling for daylight, bringing the total to around 20. One of the taller white pines' lower branches were rubbed off by the deer and I replaced the small cages with a woven wire cages.

If I had run the mower through this, I would have mowed over the pines, some hackberry and small walnut trees. Using a hand brushcutter, I've been able to (for the most part) find the small 1-2 foot trees and save them. A few perished under the blades but it's hard to kill a walnut once it's rooted.

Number One son and I used hand sickles last fall and was able to clear off from under the cottonwoods in 8 hours. I cleared off twice the area in about three hours using a polycut blade on a Stihl FS55. I was really pushing the limits of that machine as I was asking allot from it but it did a good job. I've since added a larger weapon in the arsenal with a steel cutting blade and productivity has increased again.

Once cut, I sprayed this section with a mixture of broadleaf killer and insecticide to help control the ticks. It's below the pond so no worries of runoff to harm the fish. Not that we have to worry about runoff since it hasn't rained in almost three weeks and the forecast is spotty at best.

The lack of rain is taking its toll on the pond and hurt the hay, cutting into the yield. The maple seedlings have been struggling while the pin oak are doing okay as they had a chance to grow their deeper tap root. We've hauled water from our sand point at the homestead for the past two months to keep them going.

I really picked a good time start a tree farm...

We had a few discoveries, plenty of mistakes and a pleasant surprise or two this summer at Camp Stranded.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Monday, July 9, 2012

Assault Veggie Ban in the works

 After the recent assassination attempt on our Governor Branstad, State Senate leaders Mike Gronstal and Jack Kibbie announced the formation of a study committee whose focus is to make food safer for elected politicians.

"Its unfortunate that Republicans chose snacks that are choking hazards," remarked Gronstal. "President Bush choked on a pretzel, and now Governor Branstad had to be rushed to a hospital because of a carrot. I mean, [former] Governor Culver would never have chosen a healthy or salty snack item. He preferred something soft, like cake or ice cream."

Senator Kibbie added, "Until these assault snacks are removed from our grocers shelves, or at the very least, cooked thoroughly or pounded into mush, no elected Democrat would dare to indulge themselves on raw vegetables or salty and tasty snacks. That would also include Sterzings since the company isn't in my district and they're probably run by Republicans."

A Libertarian think-tank spokesman, Lee V. Mealone, decried the announcement, stating: "This is another attempt by state Democrats to meddle in people's lives. What's next, ban broccoli and cauliflower unless they are deep-fat fried? While everyone should enjoy them fried up on the specialty plate along side onion rings, I don't understand the reason to ban raw veggies. Iowans deserve the freedom to choose the crispiness of their foods."

Although the largest grocery chain in Iowa, HyVee, had no comment, previously stocked fresh produce sections were mysteriously depleted and many shoppers throughout the state noticed the missing orange roots. Miss Ida Grove commented, "I was checking out the Muscatine melons and I turned around and all of the carrots were gone. Now, you tell me what I'm supposed to shred up and put in my lime jello for the church pot luck. I don't think cabbage would be a good choice, do you?"

After a brief check up at a local hospital Governor Branstad returned to the USS Iowa where he was joining in the celebration of the USS Iowa becoming a floating museum at the harbor in San Pedro, CA.Visit her at the Pacific Battleship Center.

The editors here at BTR are glad no harm came to Gov. Branstad and would like to remind everyone that the above writing is an attempt at satire. But do visit the USS Iowa and the Pacific Battleship Center at the links above.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Touching base

Similar to the unfortunate player above, the Stranded household is darn near flat on its face. With recent projects completed, I have a few lose ends to take care of at work and I can walk away knowing we made things better. A recent layoff of the Mrs. has thrown our budget for the year into chaos which caused a missed opportunity for a new piece of equipment for Stranded Tree Farm.

I have a Camp Stranded update that I'd like to share as soon as I get images off of the new camera. Being a Luddite at heart (causing a paradox because of my IT career choice) these things should be a bit easier. Or maybe I'm due for an upgrade?

Speaking of upgrades and my career, I rolled the dice a few weeks ago and I'm hoping for a little luck to shine my way. No - I wasn't one of the Powerball winners in Cedar Rapids, but I should be hearing something by the end of the week or mid-week at the latest. I'm optimistically pessimistic, or pessimistically optimistic, whichever the case. But Stranded is at a four-way stop and the direction I can go is up to others right now.

I'm hoping Friday will be a day of good news as I should be getting my brush cutter from the shop.

Oh, and maybe other news.

Saturday will be a day of celebration or disappointment. Either way some horse weeds will die.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Out of Steam, 5/29/12

This reminds of many scenarios, not the least of which is my employment:
The 8305 has lost all her friends, at one time there were about a dozen 0-8-0 steam locomotives on this siding, now she sits alone and tender-less the last of the Northwestern Steel & Wire mill's engines, left with a cold and uncurtain future. The locomotive was sold to an individual under the agreement that it would be moved within a year, but that was over a year ago. The Tender was moved but the engine still sits on a siding in Galt, Illinois. The IRM has taken back ownership of the engine after the contract with the new owner was not fulfilled, but the new owner now has the tender in their possession. It looks like a loose/loose situation for both parties.
4 system upgrades and 2 network upgrades implemented in the last 4 weeks. We have one more system upgrade to implement in late June if the local telecom can get things done in time. I know I posted that I would give a little more time to this lowly blog, but there hasn't been much outside of work that I've concentrated on. I should be of better service to those few readers I have left as I assume I've lost most of you by now.

Among the irons I still have in the fire, the upcoming primary will shape up several races including a David Johnson running for the state house. Hmm...

 Based on the Secretary of State's website, more Republican votes than Democrat votes were cast for Governor in 2010 in District 1 and, despite the stronghold of the Socialist Republic of Johnson County, in District 2. This should bring pause to Reps. Loebsack (Dist. 2) and Braley (Dist. 1)., with Loebsack facing a token primary challenger.

My District 1 Republican primary faces off Rod Blum and Ben Lange, who gave Braley a run for his money two years ago. I've listened to a couple of interviews with Mr Blum and I'm familiar with Mr Lange, who I spoke with at a gun show right before the 2010 election.

The editorial board, in our last meeting, suggested leaning toward Lange, but it was after a discussion concerning my blog performance, so I may have missed something.

The King v. Vilsack race should provide good comedy for the coming months while the Latham v. Boswell is uninteresting.

Now, back to the irons.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ron Paul backers take the state GOP by storm

The Paul campaign strategy has been to concentrate on caucus states and to nominate and support delegates out of the precinct level and on to the county, district conventions and then to the state committees.

Iowa GOP district committees met on Saturday, 4/21 and it's looking like that strategy is working.

Iowa’s 28 delegates are all “unbound,” meaning they can individually decide which presidential candidate to support. To stop Paul supporters from controlling the Iowa delegation, Romney backers in Iowa said they will likely focus on teaming up with Christian conservatives here.
Paul loyalists did well in getting their supporters onto the GOP’s “state nomination committee,” which will nominate Iowa’s 13 at-large national delegates. Another 12 district delegates will be selected June 15. The GOP chairman and Iowa’s two Republican National Committee members are also delegates.
The ultimate outcome could be that neither Romney (original winner of the Iowa Caucus) nor Santorum (the declared winner) will end up with the majority of delegates out of Iowa.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Almost restores my faith in the state legislature

Not quite.

Legislative output won’t be high this session
“When you can reduce the number of bills, that’s probably a good thing,” said Rep. Ralph Watts, R-Adel. “If you put all the code books side by side and you look at the growth of them over the years, you can really relate that — as those books grow, your personal freedom goes down.
“People complain about, ‘well, it’s a do-nothing Legislature.’ My experience in the time I’ve been here is the shorter time we’re here, the better off the people out there are; the less we get involved, the less we meddle in their lives,” Watts added.
Well said.
[Sen. Rob] Hogg, vice chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee — an area that traditionally sees a lot of legislative action — said the panel took a limited approach this session to House-passed measures dealing with gun laws and other bills that seemed politically motivated or designed to take advantage of an election-year session.
 Because enjoying protections from prosecution\persecution while protecting yourself is "politically motivated" and has nothing to do with protecting one's life.

Looks like the legislature will adjourn on Friday, barring a recall from the governor.

No "castle doctrine", no addition to the state constitution, and traffic cameras will be allowed to expand across the state instead of banned.

Giving them a D- for not being freedom-minded legislators.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Camp Stranded update, 4/23/12

It's been a frustrating first quarter for the Stranded clan, not the least of which has been a project that was dumped on my lap because of a 6 month period of neglect. (BTW, it has to be completed by June 30th).

There were some dark days that we are still finding our way through. Nothing major like other folks but just enough to keep us humble, as my dad would say.

Week days and nights for a job I keep wondering about, the one bright spot has been the acreage. It's been tough not to be thinking or planning what needs to be done while at my "real job" or at home, as the only real time I have to work down there is during weekends, if not beckoned because of work.

The hay (which really needs to be rotated out or reseeded) received frost burn last week but luckily not enough damage to make me worried. After intense negotiations with a neighbor (he stopped by and asked), he's going to buy the hay this year. If we treat each other right, we can continue but for some reason he keeps insulting my shed building skills, so this may be a short-lived relationship. Hmmm...

Our reforestation plan got a boost through the generosity of True Blue Sam, and please forgive me Sam, but I shared some of the coffeetree nuts with my brother who lives in Henry county. Hope you don't mind as long as no one tells him I kept the best for myself. We've got them all in the ground, some during the February-March thaw, and others I cold-hardened and then planted in pots. I have a couple up already.

This past weekend, we planted a couple of honeycrisp apple trees and a couple of the delicious variety. And I'm sure they're in the wrong spot as I wire caged them to try to keep the deer out, but I'm not out much except time. I have 30 or so red maple seedlings ready to transplant, a dozen hackberry and about 50 pin oak.

This is my spring harvest:

Two gallons (so far) of red maple seeds. If any of my readers are interested in some let me know as I have more than enough to share. This year's crop has been generous and I won't guess how many tens of thousands of seeds my two trees have produced.

A ten-year rotation of maple trees might make a good cash crop, who knows.

I transplanted a few of the red cedars to a family friend this past weekend and I'm heavily leaning on transplanting others to make a windbreak along the west road. Time being the factor on that project.

I've also got an over-abundance of box elders that need a good home and silver (soft) maples that need to be removed. Anyone interested in either of those, let me know. I'm not interested in keeping any of the soft maples and there's hundreds of two-foot tall trees.

We put some other work on the place to help control erosion and clear brush, but my biggest problem is that there's so much to do, it's a matter prioritizing.

I'll be sharing more news in the coming week (unless all hell breaks loose at work or Herr Oberf├╝hrer Gronstal actually allows legislation to be voted on in the state senate).

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Traffic camera bill passes house

HF2450 prohibiting the use of traffic cameras, passed the house on a 58 to 42 vote.

It now goes on to die in the senate.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Statehouse shutdown. And the people rejoice!!!

Not exactly. But at least they didn't raise taxes today.

This afternoon, state representative, Ako Abdul-Samad (D-Des Moines) received a "threatening letter" that contained a unknown white substance. Hazmat teams were called in to clear things out, just in case.

While this is a serious matter, the cynical side of me has reservations regarding the incident.

And the Kabuki Theater entertains us all:

The hazmat teams arrived in protective suits while the representatives and staff kept a watchful eye on the proceedings.

Across the aisle, a state senator thought the response was unimpressive.

And then Senator Gronstal, as always, displays the decorum and dignity that worthy of his position:
“Don’t let those bastards in here. They’re House members for Christ’s sake,” Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal joked at around 5:45 p.m. as senators waited at their desks for further instructions from emergency officials.
"Joke" is the word I use for Gronstal all the time.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Out of steam, 3/25/12

Finishing up a network upgrade late-night Thursday evening and continued through Friday afternoon that was, for the most part, successful. Until the comparisons of old system vs new system kicked in and the "We weren't told that," started up.

I fully expect another week of changes, tweaks and modifications.

This has been a couple of months of long hours, with late nights and after-hour plus weekend support, just to make it fulfilling.

I've got a couple of weeks of "regular" work ahead, which means I can give time on some other irons in the fire:
1. Upcoming employment change (my desk is moving)
2. A couple of legal things going on (no, I'm not headed to jail)
3. Camp Stranded - (I still have that place???)
Since nothing has moved at the statehouse, there's zilch to update. Everything is subject to the graces of Gronstal in the Senate and I think he's currently on the wrong side of history.

A couple more Senate seats may move over to the Republican side and he will be relegated to the sidelines and soundbites for the Des Moines Register.

Remember, folks, only Republicans are obstructionists.

With the shooting in Florida, our "Stand your ground" bill may be pretty much done. Even if the victim would look like Obama's son... if he had one. (Is that one of the more ridiculous statements that has ever come from his mouth?)

If any of you are still reading my meager and thin postings, I apologize yet again for not keeping you up-to-date on the goings-ons at the cesspool in the middle of the state. The BTR editorial board has been disappointed with my lack of posting and promises heads will roll. I'm hoping to wrap things up by the end of May with our infrastructure upgrades at work which would provide more opportunities to be productive in other areas.

This should prove to be another interesting year.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Idiot lumber

Google must know something about me.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Those wacky gun owners in Iowa

Seems we're getting a little uppity towards the statehouse stooges.
"I think their proposal is wackadoodle, okay, its way out, way out, far right, its tea party extreme," says [House Minority Leader Kevin] McCarthy.
Just because the citizens want to codify civil rights protections for self-defense.

Oh, and having a right listed in the state Constitution? That's just "way out, way out," according the self-professed NRA member, McCarthy.

I guess he isn't looking at the lobbyist endorsements for HF2215, because the NRA endorsed self-defense in Iowa.

And the NRA endorsed the Constitution Amendment HJR2009.

Maybe McCarthy should turn his membership card in and join the Iowa ACLU, because he aligns more with them on these bills. He also is in lock-step with the regular bed-wetting county sheriffs.
“We’re not sure why it’s necessary to move (to) this next step so soon because we’re not sure that’s where Iowans want to be,” said Susan Cameron, a lobbyist for the Iowa State Sheriffs’ and Deputies’ Association, which represents law enforcement in Iowa’s 99 counties.
Would this be the same Iowans who sent their representatives to the statehouse in 2010? Those same representatives that voted 60-38 for the self-defense bill and 61-37 for the amendment? Seems like close to two-thirds of the representatives are in favor. In a republican form of government, they'd be representing the public.

But, I'm not a lobbyist, so what do I know about government?

As everyone can guess, they are stuck in committee in the senate. There are some procedural tactics that can still bring it to the floor but that would mean at least two Democrat senators would have to grow a pair and stand up to Gronstal, the Democrat leader in the state senate.

I'm not holding my breath, but there is a chance if we can annoy the crap out of them with calls and make some of them scared for their next election.

Maybe we can join other states that had to mop up the streets with all that blood running down them after passing castle doctrine, or Constitutional carry.

That did happen, right? 'Cause that's what we keep hearing from the anti-civil rights crowd.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Walk out protest at the statehouse

We used to have a cocker\lab mix that hated any other animal in our yard. She would chase squirrels, rabbits, cats, dogs, and a few neighbors out of what she considered "her" territory. Each time she would prance back, head held high in victorious glory, proud in her accomplishment.

What happened today reminded me of her. The democrat legislators left the statehouse furious that two gun bills were up for debate today, stating they were "blindsided" by GOP leadership by the plans to have debate. Never mind that the NRA and IGO sent out alerts of this upcoming debate yesterday. So apparently a whole bunch of gun owners in the state knew more about the goings-ons at the statehouse than the democrat leadership.

You know, the ones who actually are paid to serve a term in the legislature.

Funny how regular joes would be fired for walking out of a job, but I guess it doesn't matter if you are an elected official.

Here's what reminded me of my dog:
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Des Moines said the chamber’s 40 Democrats decided to return after deciding they’d made their displeasure clear regarding a lack of notice about the bills and concerns the proposals would gut the state’s gun laws.
Holding their heads high, confident that they made their "displeasure clear." No matter that howls of protest and ridicule that are on comments in different online articles throughout the state.

Jim kept us informed while I was at my job. You know, one that I would be fired from if I up and left unannounced. Here's Jim over at Travis McGee Reader:
The case of the runaway hoplophobes

Update: Theeeyyyrrr Back

Iowa's Own RKBA Amendment and UPDATE: SYG approved
Since I haven't been doing my job very well lately of informing my readers on the statehouse bills, I apologize. I've been working at a job that I would be fired from if I stomped my feet and walked out.

The "Stand your ground" bill is one that got the democrats pants in a twist. HF2215 passed the full House 60-38 pretty much on party line. Here's a list on how they voted. This has been stuck in committee as HF573.

The democrat's arguments that they were blindsided is complete bovine excrement. The House Journal from February 3rd, reads:
INTRODUCTION OF BILL House File 2215, by committee on public safety, a bill for an act relating to the justifiable use of reasonable force and providing a remedy.
Read first time and placed on the calendar.
An amendment was filed three days later:
H–8004 H.F. 2215 R.
Olson of Polk
A better saga of the walkout farce by the democrats is from the Register.

Now about that Amendment to the state Constitution? It passed 61-37 and, again, the "blindsided" whining doesn't hold since it was placed on the schedule on February 24 as HJR2009 replacing HJR2005. The bill history is here for HJR2009.

The argument that the legislature should be working on important bills like reducing your property taxes (later the counties revalue your property so you end up paying more - always happens) doesn't wash. They had time to pass important bills like HF2230 to make sure that property between a levy is in an abstract. Or this bill to define the word "hydronic."

Important stuff to one and all, but don't argue that there are more important bills that those regarding your unalienable rights. Not one bill introduced is more important than a bill that protects or destroys a person's rights.

Who cares that you can pay less taxes if some thug can cause you harm and then sue you if you try to stop him? You can pay zero taxes because the thug and his\her family sued you and took it all. Who gives two wits that the state honored the Tuskegee Airmen today if you're stuck in jail convicted for defending yourself from a rapist?

Name me one bill more important than one that secures a citizen's rights.

The bills will now head over to the state senate where they will languish and die since Gronstal runs the show over there.

Thanks to all of those who held the legislators' feet to the fire and got these bills passed today.

And thanks Jim for the heads up. I was knee deep in an unappreciated but necessary activity to keep my fellow employees working.

Because if I don't do my job, I would lose it. (Unlike certain state legislators.)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Iowa legislative update 2/22/12

Nothing... Absolutely nothing.

Every gun bill in the House is mired in committee and according to Iowa Gun Owners claim, it's all political.

HJR2005 - Adding a Gun Rights Amendment to the State Constitution.

HF2114 - Reinforcing the prohibition of local, county and city gun regulations.

HF2113 - The "Constitutional Carry" bill.

HF2116 - Removing the need to obtain a purchase permit for handguns.

HF573 - Iowa's "Castle Doctrine" bill.

Good advice from IGO to contact the leadership to get things moving. Here's contact information for Speaker Kraig Paulsen

If we could pass only one bill in the statehouse this year, I would pick the Castle Doctrine bill. An anti-self-defense county attorney or an over-litigious lawyer could ruin a persons' life after they successfully defend themselves from a criminal.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Looks like True Blue Sam tagged me in the latest meme for bloggers. Not one to mess with this version of a chain letter, I'll have to list some of my daily blogs according to the rules:
1. Copy and paste the award on our blog.
2. Link back to the blogger who gave us the award.
3. Pick our five favorite blogs with less than 200 followers, and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they have received the award.
4. Hope that the five blogs chosen will keep spreading the love and pass it on to five more blogs.
Because of my moniker, I'll try to keep this Iowa-centric.

Jim over at Travis McGee Reader has the Northwestern part of the state covered. With a journalistic nose for what's going on in the pig sty called Des Moines, he adds a sharp wit to his posts. A little over a year ago I came up short in an interview and nearly became a neighbor to him in the Spirit Lake area.

Ben at Cold Hard Cashner keeps us informed from the libertarian point of view. I found his blog one day while searching for freedom-loving Iowans and his well-reasoned letters to the editor of eastern Iowa newspapers are a stark contrast to the snark-filled incoherent posts I sometimes spew out.

Speaking of snark, Bawb over at Ben and Bawb's (yes, the Cashner Brothers) sometimes channels the spirit of IowaHawk as he pulls no punches in his posts. Gleaning from multiple sources, his posts under the labels of Military Tactics and Weapons are informative and well worth the read.
(Okay, technically the blog is not Iowa-centric, but Ben and Bawb are Iowa farm boys and that counts as far as I'm concerned.)

MauserMedic at Mausers, Medicine and Motorcycles has given more than one tour of duty in the sandpile of the Middle East. As my dad was a medic in the European theater against the Huns in WWII, I have an appreciation of the service a medic gives to their comrades. There is, of course, the Ugly Gun Sunday posts that you should not miss, but there's more than just those posts.

Robert Fowler at Robert's Gun Shop is another Iowa blog I frequent. I consider him a comrade as he also keeps an eye on the cesspool that is our statehouse, especially concerning gun bills.

I'll be off to work before I get comments posted to any blogs, so I'll apologize right now for not getting them out soon.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Legislative roundup, 2/13/12

The state preemption bill, HF2114 is stuck in committee. This would clearly prevent local ordinances against carrying firearms by law-abiding citizens. The map on the right shows many counties that have enacted such barriers for us.

The "stand your ground" bill, HF573 is also in committee.

The legislation to ban automated camera systems for enforcing traffic laws, HF2214, again, is still in committee. According to the "fiscal notes" for the bill, Cedar Rapids has issued over 100,000 violations in the past 12 months at $100+ per ticket. This million dollar cash cow would end the stuffing of the police department's pension fund, where it's reportedly deposited.

A few teenagers last week, with great lamentations, tried to persuade the lawmakers to create a law to compel the underage moped\motorcycle riders to wear helmets. I didn't know there was a law prohibiting the wearing of helmets. There was nothing on the books to prohibit a young girl from wearing a helmet last year when she tragically died in an accident.

Mauser-Medic noted that at least one of these teenaged lobbyists is probably too stupid to make it on her own. Too bad in a couple of years she'll be a voter.

Here are some other bills floating around the various committees in Des Moines.
SF457 Stricter requirements for carry permits.

SF112 Regulating gun ranges.

Both of these were stuck in committees since last year but could appear on the radar, especially as a compromise amendment to a good bill.
Keep those calls, letters and emails going to the gold dome in Des Moines.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Out of Steam, 2/12/12

Weeks of planning culminated with a late-night implementation and two days of follow-up and hand-holding for our client users.

Best thing I heard late Friday was someone said they expected it to go badly because all of our projects never seem start off well. But, they added, this one went very well and they like the new system.

I'm glad they never saw the sweat pouring off me trying to find enough cable around town because people changed their minds at the last minute. And they didn't notice some of the other issues behind the scenes.

With weekend on-call keeping me on a keyboard at the homestead, I decided to start a few experiments with a couple of coffeetree seeds that Sam sent me, along with a couple of bur oak and hickory nuts. In between taking calls and email requests I tried a couple of plantings just to see what will come of things.

With more irons in the fire than a blacksmith in Kalona, I'm hoping for a little time for the dust to settle before the next project (due in 4 weeks.)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Out of steam, 2/7/12

Long hours with a project that should be finished up this week but it's kinda looking like this:

A project that is finally coming together after several hurdles have been overcome, a day before launch one individual comes forward quite upset. It seems that they can't recall a meeting where they participated in a decision months ago.

It's also like a 16-year-old getting a new car and pouting because it doesn't have a sun roof.

And people wonder why I stick with this job. They really do.

Makes me wonder as well...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Special delivery

True Blue Sam and his wife were busy last week making a care package for me.

Coffeebean Kentucky Coffeetree seeds arrived yesterday along with a few Smokey the Bear pocket calendars so I can keep track of my work. Looks like several dozen seeds and according to the USDA guide
In general, about 60 to 75 percent of the seed sown will produce plantable seedlings.
I'm not going to follow their row planting recommendation of "Sow 12 to 18 seeds per 0.3 linear meter of row and cover with about 2.5-cm of firm soil." (That's basically an inch apart if my metric conversion is right.)

Although I won't just toss these willy-nilly, I think planting about 10 yards apart should be good and then transplant in a year or two if necessary. If 75 percent grow into healthy trees, I should have a nice young forest in 15-20 years.

The plan so far is to have a section for hardwoods, another for nut bearing trees and a small orchard of sorts. White pine on the southern slope between where we plan to build the house and the pond. Hard and red maple to the south of our building site. Swamp white oak for the low spot beneath the pond and a few maybe nearer the pond itself. I've got some young cottonwoods that need a new location, too.

Shade, food, wind breaks, and maybe some income from the nut trees. And thanks to Sam and his wife, I should be able to cut some coffeebean lumber in 40+ years.

I keep saying that I bought 20 acres of work and I believe it to be so. It should be a busy year down at Camp Stranded with the reforestation efforts.

Thanks again, Sam. And pass along my appreciation to your wife.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Legislative update 1/23/12

One bill that is currently in the Public Safety Committee is HF320, a law prohibiting confiscation of firearms and ammunition during an emergency declaration. It also has a remedy for unlawful confiscations.

Who could be against this bill?
Carlos Jayne and his one-man Iowans For Gun Safety

IA. State Sheriffs' & Deputies' Assn.

League of Women Voters of IA

IA. League of Cities

IA. State Assn. of Counties
Because why would anyone need to defend themselves during an emergency?

Bills to eliminate the purchase permit for pistols and revolvers, HF220 and a companion bill: SF264

The same group above doesn't approve of these either.

A bill to not require a permit to carry if one wants to have a firearm on their personage when they go out and about. HF291

Current law exempts permits only while on your property or place of business, and while hunting or target practice.

And the usual suspects are against it as well.

A bill to exempt firearms manufactured in the state that stay in the state, HF121 probably isn't going anywhere, but interesting.

And I really don't have to tell you who's against it, do I?

Iowa has its own "Stand Your Ground Bill" working its way through committees: HF573

I thought Life was a basic human right, but even the ACLU of Iowa is against that one.

There are a few other pieces of legislation at the state house and if we'll be keeping an eye on them for you.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Some are more equal than others

Legislation being proposed would pay for the health insurance and college tuition for children of law enforcement officers, firefighters and other public safety officers when that parent dies in the line of duty.
Under the plan, children of those workers would keep their parent's health insurance benefits at no cost until age 26. Children under the age of 26, and qualified veterans under the age of 30, would receive free tuition and fees at Iowa's community colleges and public universities.

Iowa bill would help children when officers die.
Tragic as that is, and I know I'll take a hit for this, but I don't understand why those children get benefits provided by the taxpayer that are not given to all children of the state. My children are less important because of my occupation?

Who is pushing for this bill? Iowa State Troopers Association, State Police Officers Council and two legislators, one a current and one former firefighter. Big surprise.

My suggestion would be to buy life insurance (I know the rates are higher for risky occupations) - but that's what I had to do. Because the state isn't going to step in and provide for my boys with free tuition and health insurance if I die. I don't expect them to.
[Senator] Hancock said the legislation will likely be rolled into a larger "EMS bill of rights" that he and Danielson are working on that also is designed to give some benefits to volunteer public safety workers and help local governments.
Why not teachers who already get a break on student loans if they stay in the state? How about state legislators? Or DOT workers who plow the roads? That's dangerous work.

What about the electrical linemen who brave the ice and wind during a power outage? They are pretty damned important, too. How about the surgeon who saves the life after the ambulance driver safely delivers the patient to the emergency room? The EMS workers' kids get free benefits and the nurses and doctors don't? Doesn't sound fair to me.

It's not like I have no heart as I freely give to associations and fundraising benefits for those in my community who need help. But I do not understand why I should be paying (non-voluntarily) for the benefit of others who should have anticipated the risks and provided for their family if a tragic death should occur.

No one in the state house would be interested in providing for families of IT engineers if one of us should die "on duty." We don't have a lobbying group pushing for it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Branstad's got gas

Gas tax, that is.

It seems that he's now in favor of hiking the gasoline tax, if the conditions are right.
After previously resisting talk of a gas tax increase, Branstad indicated during a meeting with The Gazette Editorial Board that he could see himself supporting “maybe a two-step process” to raise the gas tax for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century.

That’s exactly what the chairmen of House and Senate transportation committees, Rep. David Tjepkes, R-Gowrie, and Sen. Tom Rielly, D-Oskaloosa, respectively, have proposed. Their plan calls for an 8-cent motor fuel tax increase to be phased in over two years beginning in 2013. That would raise about $180 million a year when fully implemented. They also would increase vehicle registration from 5 percent to 6 percent, the same as the sales tax charged on other purchases.
Maybe the DOT shouldn't have spent money on a big-ass clock.

Or provide free Wifi.

Or they can save money by not applying salt or plowing the highways, just like yesterday morning. I guess with the mild winter, they forgot how to use a plow and returned the salt and sand.

I'd be a little more accommodating to pay higher taxes if I got better service out of them.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

400% rise in gun permits cause "Blood in the Streets!"


I'm sure the good sheriff of Johnson County wishes it so, or at least it appears as though he's disappointed with the law.

I'm a little confused about who he defines as law-abiding.
"What I have a problem with is how they define a 'law-abiding citizen,'" he said last week. "There are many, many, many people that are not law-abiding citizens that are eligible and applying for and getting permits."
Wouldn't his jails be filled with permit-holders if they weren't law-abiding? Or my county jail since we get Johnson County overflow (and make a good deal of money in the mean time.)

He even admits, it's not an issue. Permits to carry increased four-fold over the previous year and not a single person was shot, no random wild-west shootouts between angry drivers, not even an accidental shooting of a toe by a permit holder.
Despite his concerns over the law, Pulkrabek said there were few issues during the first year.
Just a couple of folks that had a few drinks and unwisely got behind the wheel of a vehicle. Wait, how does that fit with bad behavior of a permit holder in relationship to a firearm?

Here's one:
Coralville Police Chief Barry Bedford said he can recall one incident in which an intoxicated man was showing off his weapon to a companion and spooked a passerby.
Did the guy spend the night in jail and lose his permit after a fellow citizen wet themselves in fear because a firearm was close by? The article doesn't go into detail regarding the incident. Okay, one incident in the county of stupid actions of a permit holder with their firearm. One. And who was killed or injured in the process? Unless you count crapping one's pants as an injury, then no one.

Sheriff Pulkrabek is worried about this years legislative session:
"I think the lawmakers will be under pressure to make it even more open," he said, adding that the state legislature could eliminate the permit application process altogether.
Then even more imaginary blood will be flowing in the streets of Iowa.

Puttin' in a full days' work

The State Senate:
Friday, January 13, 2012

The Senate convened at 9:14 a.m.

The Journal of Thursday, January 12, 2012, was approved.

The Senate adjourned at 9:15 a.m. until 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 17, 2012.
The State House:
January 13, 2012:

The House will convene at 10:00 a.m.

The House convened at 10:08 a.m.

Prayer offered by Representative Steve Lukan

Pledge of Allegiance led by Representative Steve Lukan

Introduction of Bills:

HF 2039 – HF 2041

The House adjourned at 10:10 a.m. until Tuesday, January 17, 2012, at 8:30 a.m.
Both houses convened for a total of 3 minutes. I'm exhausted just reading it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Lake Delhi revival

Is somehow dependent on the good graces of the taxpayers of the state.

After passing an increase of their own taxes, the Lake Delhi residents are coming up a little short and local service businesses aren't doing so well.

And somehow the taxpayers from Plymouth, Poweshiek and Pottawatomie counties (to name a few) need to "step up" and help foot the bill. I think I should be paying a little more each check so that the local Quick Trip can have a profit.

Here's some earlier posts on the subject, just in case you think I'm serious about paying for it:
Hey Buddy, Want to Buy a Dam?
To be or not to be, Lake Delhi Dam

Local politician (do I have to mention his party?) State Sen. Tom Hancock, “The people there are working so hard that I think the state needs to step up.”

Really, Senator Hand-in-my-pocket? Just because someone "works hard" they deserve a taxpayer bailout? I bet you have a different tune for the "Wall Street Fat-Cats" that your party despises but is in bed with.

If working hard is a prerequisite for state funds, how about sending a few bills my way so I can renovate Camp Stranded and improve Lake Cyrano de Bergerac.

I deserve to have someone else pay to help me out.

But then, I don't want a bailout. Because if money comes from the state for feds, there are a whole lotta strings attached. And I prefer the independence for failure.

As I've written before, if private investors got together to rebuild a hydro-electric dam that powered the community, stocks would be sold out in a relatively short time. I might even invest if the price was right. Dividends would be returned to the stockholders and everyone comes out ahead.

Or we can have election year pandering with SF2002.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Inheritance

One of the reasons for building a shed was to store lumber that I purchased from the folk's estate. We started with a platform of treated 4x4's and leveled them out, then screwed in pine 2x4's. And we ended up with a sturdy 6' x 12' area to work with.

The next day:

About 500 board feet of quarter sawed red oak, bur oak and a few boards I can't identify without planing first (sorry Sam, that's sad of me). Most of these boards were cut using a portable band saw that a neighbor of Dad's purchased. A lot of boards were cut from trees felled in Des Moines and Louisa counties with that band saw.

We then returned home to re-stack about 300 board feet of planed walnut and now I can almost walk to the back of my garage. That's because I have about 3-400 feet of some of the best cedar I have ever seen, a couple hundred feet of coffeebean and a few cherry, red elm and hickory boards to round out the inventory. Some of these boards will be stored at the shed, others at home. I'm almost out of lath and will have to start making sawdust again.

I've learned this past year how out of shape I am to begin my second career as a "farmer" but I don't think I've forgotten everything my dad taught me. I also called my broker to invest in pharmaceutical companies that produce topical creams and over-the-counter pain relieving medications. I think they are going to have a good year in 2012.

Dad reforested a few acres with hardwoods such as walnut, hickory, and bur oak along with a few white pines. I heard the new owners tore them out but I don't know for sure. Being less than 10 years old, the hardwoods could be removed fairly easily.

I do have some nuts from down home that we're going to plant down on the acreage. If they take root, then I'll be happy that something could be passed on to the next generation (so long as no one takes a dozer to them.) Bur oak from Dad's, and hickory and a few buckeye that came from a neighbor.

It looks like we'll be placing an order with the state nursery for a few hardwood trees soon. We are in the planning stages of what to get and where to plant them. But I think the wife is okay with the plan so far as it looks like I'll be removing some of the walnut trees and reducing the hay ground, our only cash crop.

If the plan holds out for 250-300 trees to be planted this spring, in forty to fifty years, maybe the sons can have a few stacks of hardwood boards of their own.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Watch the sausage factory

At the Iowa Statehouse

The Iowa House introduced live streaming video so we have a chance to watch the crap-fest that goes on under the golden dome. Otherwise it's a great opportunity for use to keep an eye on those who intend to raise our gas tax, car tags, state park use fees, and assorted other "contributions" to state revenue.

Those of us who work for a living with day jobs won't be able to keep an eye on them unless your employer has a liberal internet policy.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Making sawdust

When my dad would plane boards or saw them to width, one would ask him what he was working on. His reply was generally, "Making sawdust."

He used that term in two ways. One, he didn't want you to know what he was working on and two, he messed up on a project and felt he wasted his time.

As I was working on my own little project, it looked like all I was doing was making sawdust. In reality, I was sawing 2x4's for lath:

Starting January, 9th, another group of people will be making their own sawdust and I assume most of them really don't want the public to know about their projects or, more likely, they will be wasting time.

The legislature will be starting their next session in Des Moines and after hearing from our representative's willingness to muck with the tax code and drone on about federal block grants, I'm betting that we all will be getting the shaft once again.

I usually get the blank stare after asking what laws my representative plan on repealing.

"The focus is on jobs, jobs, and jobs," according to a couple of representatives that appeared on "Iowa Press" this week.

I know that Iowa Gun Owners plan on putting the heat to several legislators that didn't step up to pass constitutional carry during last session. And the wind is in the air for competitive races come fall because of this issue. Time will tell if any action comes out of it.

With this being an election year, I fully expect the pandering to emanate from that black hole with the golden dome. Our statehouse.

I still hope they don't meet my expectations.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012 Iowa Caucus Follies

My Precinct:
Paul - 22
Romney - 19
Santorum - 17
Gingrich - 6
Perry and Bachmann - 4 each
Huntsman with a big fat 0

A fair turnout for our precinct but what's the deal with only having 2 county delegates?

Another thing. If you are going to give a passionate appeal for your candidate, don't just read off a campaign form letter or press release. C'mon people, if you can only say something that regurgitates from the home office, then shut up.

(We could only have one speaker for each candidate and the guy who spoke in favor of the guy I was caucusing for just read from the same email of suggested speeches that I got. Lame. Especially since he was the county chair for the candidate.)

Not all of the state-wide numbers in but looks like a toss-up between Santorum and Romney with Paul in third.