Once Again, Tractor Supply Company RAWKS!

It’s not news that I love Tractor Supply Company.  We just happened to hit the last day of their weekend sale, which gave us an extra 20% off everything that wasn’t a plant, or seeds.  Okay, half the items I bought were seeds, “White Carolina Pineberry” strawberries (that came with 10 pollinator red strawberries), or asparagus crowns, but the remainder of what I bought ended up being somewhere around 70% off.  And, the thing is that even for fruit whips/root masses, and seeds, their full retail price is about half of what a local garden center (or even a box store) would charge.  The entire bill, with pro-rated discounts, plus full price items, came to about half off what I would have paid anywhere else.  This time, we didn’t need tractor parts, fencing, or animal feed, but they sell those, too, for a fair price.

My other favorite place is a local feed mill.  The family that runs that place is fantastic.  Their prices are fair.

What sucks is that it’s still too cold to plant pea seeds.  *sigh*

SEPOS Orchid Haul

This year, I exercised restraint, and only bought three orchids:  two from Andy Phillips of Andy’s Orchids, and one from Ecuagenera.  I prefer species.  The floofy hybrids don’t rock my socks.  I have been buying orchids from both vendors for at least a couple of decades.  Neither one has ever sold me a bum plant.

I had to buy the Scaphosepalum ursinum, well, because of the its name, and it’s a Scaph, so it’s semi-idiotproof, as long as I keep it soggy, and not let it get too much direct sun.  It was a nice beefy plant, which still has a couple of blooms on it; that’s normal, because Scaphs bloom sequentially.

We were supposed to pay a $10/head entrance fee, but nobody was there to charge us for it.  So, we kept going.  Whatever.

Wayfair Order

I’ve gotten some awfully nice things from Wayfair.  This time around, they sort of bunged up the order.  I ordered one plain grapevine wreath.  That way, I can decorate it seasonally, as I want.  I received two of them, in a different design than I ordered.  The design I received was only a buck less per wreath than the one I ordered.  I looked at it, and decided I’d pefer the other design.  Guess I shouldn’t complain, getting two for $12.99, instead of one.  I have a use for both of them.  They’re fine; they will simply require more twisty ties to secure whatever decorations onto them.  Even if I hang them, naked, they’ll look okay.

Now, I’m off to an orchid show to blow money on plants.  At least this year, it’s not being held at Drexel.  It’s in suburbia, which is fine.

SUH-WEET (SEPOS Show)

It started today, but I intend to go tomorrow.  Andy Phillips will be there.  He’s one of my favorite orchid vendors.  His prices don’t decrease when I visit his booth at a show, but I don’t have to pay shipping.  Never once have I gotten a bum plant from him.  He sells species, which is what I prefer.  I have a handful of hybrids, but the species are more interesting.  I’ve kept some of his plants chugging along for two decades, divided them, and traded some of the divisions with other orchid growers.  Orchids are pretty tough customers.  I’m much better at growing them than ordinary houseplants.

John’s Crazy Socks

The man who owns this sock company has Down Syndrome.  His father helped him set up the website that sells his very cool, funky, and fun socks:  https://johnscrazysocks.com/pages/our-story

Frank is short for his middle name, and he recently gave a passionate speech at a UN meeting about why people like him don’t need to be “exterminated.”  Watch it here:

If you’ve ever been around people with Down Syndrome, about the only thing you could possibly fault them for is being a little too trusting of others.  I’ll take this young man over Camera Hogg any day.  FWIW, if you are in the market for some new socks, check out his website.  The prices, even if your order isn’t big enough to avoid shipping, are reasonable.  So’s the shipping, for the least expensive option.

I don’t ordinarily pimp out any business.  Heck, I don’t even like wearing socks, unless they’re necessary to avoid blisters, while wearing hunting, pac, or cowboy boots.  But this young man has a fantastic selection of funky socks that will make you smile.  I ordered two pairs.

On a completely different note, the logo field bag that came with my NRA membership arrived today.  Day-um.  It could fit a week’s worth of clothes, give or take a day, plus electronics and rechargers.  Depending upon where I check in for a night (or three), I might want to turn the logo side toward my hip, but I’m pretty sure most check-in clerks where I tend to stay don’t give a rat’s ass.  So, yes, I am an NRA member, and I fully support 2A, as written.  FWIW, the quality and ruggedness of this NRA bag is impressive.

Kansans Rock

Of course I shop around to get the best price for an item I want.  Sometimes, that ends up being a local DIY box store like Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Menard’s.  Sometimes, it’s Amazon, or eBay.  This time, I ordered an item from a woman in Kansas via eBay who got it into the USPS system within hours.  It was supposedly a new, unused, item she got as a gift, for which she had no use.  Well, it arrived promptly, but it didn’t work the way it was supposed to work.  It had half functionality.  I emailed her about it, and explained exactly what did and didn’t work with it.

She didn’t doubt my assessment of the item, and I didn’t doubt her never having used it before putting it up for sale.  If she had tested it first, she would have known, and probably never have listed it for sale.

Anyway, she offered me the option of returning it for a full refund, or keeping it for a partial refund (of the cost, not the shipping).  I opted for the partial refund, which she sent within 10 minutes.  This seller confirmed my belief that most Midwesterners really are the “salt of the earth.”  No bullshit; just a common sense solution to a problem.

I’ve never before received a defective item from an eBay seller.  Years ago, I did receive the wrong item from one seller, but that was rectified pronto.

In the case of this seller, well, Kansans ROCK!  So do Iowans, Minnestoans, Nebraskans, etc.  Integrity seems to be in their mindset, as a rule.  Who knows what they think of those of us from the NE, but she didn’t think I was BS-ing her (I wasn’t).

Snowstorm Relief

Four snowstorms in the past three weeks, accompanied by two multi-day power outages, solidified my resolve to be more prepared next time. Power can go out during summer t-storms just as easily.

We already had the usual camping gear, tac lights, solar powered gadgets, etc.  What we only had one of was a battery powered AM/FM transistor radio, which I used to bring with me to summer camp in the early ’70s.  It was left out in the barn last summer with its batteries in.  Although I managed to clean off enough of the corrosion on the contacts with vinegar to get it going with new batteries, it reminded me that we really could use another radio, or two, that don’t depend upon AC to run, but can use it as long as the power’s on.

We can deal without TV, but being without radio is wrong, considering that the first radios both of us owned that were our own (when we were kids) were crystal radios we assembled ourselves from $3 kits, and plugged into a metal fence with an alligator clip for reception.

Sure, a basic AM/FM battery operated transistor radio can be had for under $10, delivered, but we wanted something bigger than a pocket model, and it had to be able to use AC power as well.  A portable tabletop model that had an AC cord, and a compartment for batteries was in order.

You would not believe what a joy it is to have a five band one out in the barn, where all maintenance/repairs are done on the tractors, and other equipment.  Got a used Emerson for super cheap, delivered, that works like a charm, has great reception, and pretty good sound quality.  Emersons from that era were pretty good.

For other applications, so to speak, I also got Eton/Grundig field radio model for roughly 1/2 the going retail price, although some people try to sell them for 50% over retail.  It’s not nearly as good as my 20+ year old Icom rack model receiver that weighs as much as a bag of wet mulch, but can get almost anything with a proper antenna — AM, FM, SW bands up the wazoo, police, marine, aviation, old cell phone frequencies, etc., but the Eton suits our needs for something portable.

Radios ROCK!

Stone ‘Em, or Something

Typically, the weird news stories come from FL.  This time, it’s from East-Central PA.

The Superintendent at the Blue Mountain School District in Schuylkill County has armed his classrooms with 5 gal. buckets of rocks that the students can hurl at a school shooter if need be.  What could possibly go wrong?

Is that the most idiotic solution to a potential problem?  School district Superintendent:  “Hold my beer!”

The jokes write themselves about being stoned.  Given that it’s Schuylkill County, that’s probably not the drug of choice, but whatever.

All those years in London, while the IRA was boming the city, and my school got a few bomb threats, none of us freaked out. Depending upon which side of the school grounds our nearest exit was, we either crossed Abbey Road, Loudoun Road, or headed over toward the St. John’s Wood tube station.   That’s probably why I never panicked when the WTC was bombed in ’93, and both towers fell on 9/11/01, even though I wasn’t far from the carnage at the time.

Evacuating those buildings wasn’t the same routine as “duck and cover” or “proceed to the fallout shelter” drills we had when I was in grade school, but getting the hell outta there without panicking was the rule of thumb.

Tossing rocks at a gunman isn’t a solution.

I Love UPS

I ordered a dozen 9w LED dimmable lightbulbs, that are the equivalent of 60w incandescents.  Very few prewired lights in, and outside of this house aren’t wired to a rheostat.  Hopefully, the price of the dimmable ones comes down over time.  The lowest price I could find for these was almost $5/bulb, whereas non-dimmable ones are under a buck apiece.  So, why do I love UPS?

The delivery driver showed up, with classic rock cranking really loudly, and a heckuva great attitude toward his job.  He saw me out in the yard.  I waved “hi” to him, and he returned the favor by handing me my package in person, rather than tossing it on the cement outside a front or side door.  “Thanks.  Have a nice day!” said I.  His reply was ” Thanks.  You too.”

Aside from that, I was in awe at the skill with which he manouvered his truck to turn around, and zoom his way back up our long, winding driveway.  I don’t drive my own car that fast on our driveway, even though its turning radius is pretty darn good for a midsize sedan.  Perhaps he was not concerned about driving over sticks and twigs, getting them stuck in his undercarriage.

The other thing I’m happy with is joining Ebates.  I researched them a lot before signing up.  I wouldn’t have bothered if the stores/websites with which they have partner agreements weren’t ones at which I normally shopped.  Ebates adds another anywhere from 1% to 5% to whatever you get from your own credit card company.  FWIW, their checks clear.  It’s not that I’m desperate for an extra $12, or even $5 (which is the lowest rebate amount for which they cut you a check).  It’s just that I’m a tightwad, who will take a rebate check, given the alternative of not receiving one — or some lousy 1% bank interest rate.  Mom asks me to buy her things that are cheapest at WalMart, and I do buy a fair amount of things from eBay vendors, so it works out well for me.  *shrug*

If you want discounts on hotel/motel rooms, or rental cars, AARP is a better bet.  People don’t join AARP for their D.C. lobbying, or even what morphed into AARP Magazine from the former Modern Maturity; they join for the discounts.  Even 10% off on a hotel room adds up pretty quickly.  AARP has lousy coordination between their snail mai list and their online list of members, but it is what it is.  I’ll take those hotel discounts any day.

My NRA membership won’t get me any discounts that matter to me, but that’s not why I joined.  Nobody joins the NRA for partnership discounts.  They join because defending 2A, and themselves, is important.

Oktoberfest Is Almost Here, and Crossbow Time

Of course I wouldn’t want to skip over spring and summer, but when your Oktoberfest home brew is on its way, it’s almost Oktoberfest.  Generally, I prefer lagers to IPAs, and if it’s going to lean either to the hop side, or the malt side, I prefer the malty side.  I’m fine with anything as malty as a porter, but stout is too much for me.  A märzenbier is just perfect, imo.  Plus, it only takes about three to four weeks from start to finish, instead of twice that long.

My new crossbow arrived today.  Stringing it was quite an adventure, but once I got that done, and adjusted the sight, everything was okay.  For its size and draw weight, it’s remarkably accurate.  That, or a .22, could pick off a rabbit or groundhog in my veggie garden with ease.  With this, though, I get my “ammo” (bolts) back.  An intruder who somehow managed to not set off the alarm might think it’s a toy; it’s not.  I have other things around here that could be used as weapons, but this one doesn’t necessarily require close combat to use.

The other thing that arrived today is my long awaited not-so-cute kitty keychain.  It’d never make it through TSA screening, and I’m told it is illegal in some states, but I’d have to get pulled over by highway patrol in, oh, say, IL, and have my pocketbook searched before anyone could confiscate it. It’s not going to kill anyone, but it does hurt when you even lightly hit the palm of your hand with it.  Hello kitty!