Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Diary

 We had a fairly normal winter compared to last winter, with snow on the ground until recently and typical cold temperatures. There is also snow in the forecast for tonight. The only unusual thing was a tornado near our house on March 26. It was the first tornado to strike Vermont in March in sixty-five years. As tornados go, it was weak: only about seventy-five yards wide, traveling a mile and lasting five minutes. However, it did injure two people and damage some houses, as shown in the video. It occurred on Painter Rd., about two miles from here. 

The pandemic persists, and Vermont hasn't been doing as well lately. Its overall record has slipped behind that of Hawaii, to put it in second place among the states. Addison County is doing better than most of the counties, and Middlebury College has done exceptionally well. I'll be getting my second Moderna vaccine tomorrow, which will be a relief, though it seems that the coronavirus will be around for quite some time. At least the atmosphere in the country seems to be improving with Trump gone and Biden, so far, seeming to be competent. I am once again finding the daily news too boring to pay much attention to.

My life continues to be unexciting. Other than reading a little, going on walks and preparing for spring, there hasn't been much to do. I am getting ready to plant seeds indoors for transplanting outdoors in late May. There have been a few clear nights, and I set up my refractor telescope and have done a little stargazing. You can still see the Orion Nebula, and I always like looking at the Trapezium Cluster in it, which consists of newly-formed stars in a region with visible gas. However, the moon has been up, making most deep-sky viewing difficult. You can always look at the moon, but that doesn't excite me much. I am still spending time on investing, though the large stock market rally slowed down in February. But, if the coronavirus subsides, the rally will probably resume, because of the massive stimulus provided by the government. I have enjoyed outperforming hedge fund managers and getting rich. The last year has been one of those rare periods in which it has been possible to pick stocks and produce a higher return than the overall market. It is a satisfying feeling to become wealthier after fourteen years of retirement. I am looking forward to a little inflation, which has been almost nonexistent since 2009. 

William has been appreciating the warmer weather and spends more time outdoors when there is no snow on the ground. This means that he is starting to bring prey into the basement again. So far there has only been one vole and one mouse. Before the heavy snows, he caught a northern flying squirrel that escaped in the basement. It came upstairs and ran past me while I was sitting by the wood stove, and then it ran back down into the basement. I let it out by opening the basement door to the outside. I had never seen one before and it was rather cute, with large eyes, since they are nocturnal.

Although I found the Bertrand Russell biography rewarding, it was also a little tedious. It was one of the most thorough biographies I've read, but if you look that closely at anyone there will be things that you don't like. Russell was, in some ways, very creepy, and he never had to account for himself or the wreckage that he caused in the lives of some people. He claimed to have a normal moral sense, yet, time after time, he abruptly broke off relationships with friends, wives, children and grandchildren without offering any explanation or apology. Even his lawyer was shocked. I think that his daughter, Lady Katharine Tait, is still alive, at the age of ninety-seven, living in the same house in Cornwall, near Penzance, that her parents bought in 1922. 

I'm beginning to worry that I may be running out of good biographies to read, meaning ones that I would consider worthwhile. Good writing is hard to come across if you are at all selective. After having spent many years doing close readings of high-quality books, it is easy for me to become impatient with conventional books. I have started a new nonfiction book – short for a change – and will report on it in my next post. 

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