Monday, August 24, 2020


In some respects, this summer feels like winter. The coronavirus restricts social activity, and the high temperatures keep us indoors in a manner similar to low temperatures. But there is still quite a bit of outdoor activity. The electric company decided to finish off the Enos Severance apple tree, because they thought that the rest of it could fall over and knock down wires. They left large logs for me to deal with, and I have been cutting and splitting them gradually. Between this and the maple that blew down during the winter, there are about two cords of firewood, but I haven't finished splitting the apple tree yet – the work is physically demanding without a log splitter. I was a little irritated that they cut down the apple tree, because it was still alive. Fortunately, there are new shoots growing out of the stump, and it will probably regrow.

I've also been touching up the paint on the house, as I do most summers, and found some rotten wood that required someone with greater carpentry skills than I possess. It is hard to find carpenters here for small jobs, because they don't think they're worth their time. Even if you know them and they've done work for you before, they don't even bother to call you back, and you have to search for someone new. I find this a little ironic, since most of the ones we've had are not all that proficient: they're usually a little sloppy. This time I found a man who, though he didn't reveal himself fully, was probably desperate for work. We never discussed it, but I looked him up, and he was in the newspaper last year for voyeurism. He normally works as a massage therapist, and he was found guilty when female customers noticed that he had installed a camera in his room, which, it turned out, he used to record them in various stages of undress. I think that he was efficient and skilled as a carpenter – he did a good job.

The high temperatures, along with heavy watering, have been good for the tomatoes. This is another high-yield year. Each year the insect pests and fungal attacks vary. This year there have been fewer hornworms, but there have been some stinkbugs, and there is an average amount of fungal damage. The hornworms get very large if you don't remove them in time. If left alone, they can do serious damage to plants. They eventually metamorphose into hawk moths, which are so large that they resemble hummingbirds. The stinkbugs damage individual tomatoes by making them inedible. They haven't been a serious problem this year. It is interesting to note the changes in insect populations from one year to the next, because you can get some sense of a highly complex ecosystem. For example, the hornworms have gradually increased in number over the last few years, but, starting last year, the numbers have declined, probably because they are being attacked by parasitic wasps which lay eggs inside them; the wasp larvae eat the hornworms and form small white cocoons on their exteriors. Those wasps first appeared last summer. The stinkbug population varies for unknown reasons and usually doesn't present much of a problem. It may be that they prefer hot, dry weather.

I am also observing what I hope will be the denouement of the Trump administration. As each week passes, it becomes increasingly apparent how appallingly bad a president he has been. This is turning out to be an excellent example of the corrosive effects of capitalism on human well-being. I think the main picture that is emerging is that Trump has no qualifications for the job, but that he was identified and developed as an asset for Fox News and other right-wing media purely for their profit. Peripherally, it could be argued, the entire news media have been complicit in the ascent of Donald Trump. Time has shown that Trump has none of the skills necessary for the job, and that there was ample evidence of this four years ago. The primary attribute of Trump is that he became a cash cow for the news industry, and, with the profit motive driving news coverage, there were no news outlets with an incentive to encourage or accelerate his removal. However, the case is now incontrovertible that Trump, as president, is a menace to society and the world. Trump is like a defective consumer product that should have been taken off the market long ago. Because he is ideologically incoherent, it seems that his wealthy backers are primarily interested in money, and that their so-called conservative principles are a sham.

I have a suitable nonfiction book lined up to read and will be starting it shortly.

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