Gardening Corner: Killing Moles Softly and Other Winter Preps


Now that the last annuals are shriveled up with the first frosts (you folks in zones 8 and up don't count - damn your eyes for having an extended season), it's time to for winter cleanup and other chores. Killing Moles Softly* To say that hate hate hate the miserable little bastards would be an understatement, and we're not about understatements here.  We hatessss thems, little molesess... This nice article from Gardening Blog discounts traps and makes the case for alternative methods like CO2 gassing and lighting 'em up with propane explosions.  Sounds risky, but fun: What you do is pump propane down into the mole hill like the suffocating method, and then… and then… you light it on fire. Boom! You burn them up or burn … [Read more...]

Bambi Ain’t Easy, and Certainly Not Cheap

Wholly unrelated but very beautiful painting "Man and Woman" - Edvard Munch, 1905

Here at Casa USA Financial Service, we could be seen as moderately crunchy: organic gardens, average aptitude for recycling, *some* homemade cleaning products, and solicitous, borderline irrational patronage of local farms and farmers' markets.  Ah yes, and a subscription to Mother Earth News. Mother does good work on the conventionally sustainable:   reviews of home solar systems, the machinations of pesticide companies, the ins and outs of commercial composters, baking artisan bread and infused vinegars.  All that is good and self-reliant, love it.  However, when Mother delves into the arcane depths of personal finance advice, well, all we can say is that that's an endeavor best left to well-trained professional PF bloggers. The … [Read more...]

Random Tips: Pullups and Pushups, Zip Ties and Knives for Christmas

Once in a while my idea notebook overflows with little mini-topics.  Here's a few tips and ideas. On Cable Ties... How empty and resource-less was life before these little wonders of the fastening world? Big ones, medium ones, little bitty ones, in all kinds of shapes and colors. I have three zip ties on my black luggage (in red, white and green, Viva L'Italia!) instead of one of those sissy ribbons.  I use a little ones as a key ring.  I keep a handful in the outside pocket of my suitcase. I use one to tie the zipper handles together, for a modicum of security.  I also keep a small pocket knife there to cut it off once I get to my hotel room.  Nail clippers will also work, but half them time I forget them, the other half they're … [Read more...]

HSE: Health, Safety and Environmental – Safe Work Practices in The Home

Safety tip #2: wear adequate eye protection

I’m fortunate to be working at a manufacturing company with an excellent safety program and record.  Milestone achievements are rapidly approaching six million labor hours worked without a lost time accident. Apart from the obvious morale benefits of having a safe workplace, ensuring that employees work in a safe environment, the obsessive focus on safe practices has a direct impact to the bottom line line, as our workman’s compensation costs per labor hour worked are a mere fraction of the industry average. Why does this mean from a personal finance perspective?  Just as a private large company such as ours will be obsessive about safety measures, only because they impact the bottom line so significantly, you should also be … [Read more...]

Winter Driving, Part 2

I've posted before on a list of items to have handy in your vehicle to get ready for hazardous winter conditions. With much of the country in a deep freeze, this is a good time to revisit that list.  Temperatures this morning are cold enough (-9 F with wind chill) to freeze your huevos off and get some people hyperventilating (readers in the Great White North will probably scoff and mock). The drive back on Sunday evening from our rural property (formal name in the works, we're leaning towards Terra Farms) was  "exciting".  Only snow flurries on the forecast, but temperatures cold enough to have the bridges ice up and make other stupid drivers act stupid.    We hit the road back to Tulsa in two vehicles, Mrs. 101 and the doggies in … [Read more...]

Random Observations, Tips and Links

Picture 2

CORNELIAN CHERRY - Image via Wikipedia What with the holidays and vacation schedules, I haven’t had much time for posting on this blog, but here’s a few snippets, bits and pieces from my idea journal. Gardening - Now is the time to start plotting the spring campaign, and sure enough, January seems to be the month for the mailbox to be inundated by gardening and seed catalogs.  (My name  must have gotten on some kind of list)  My new favorite is Johnny’s Selected Seeds.  Wonderfully illustrated, with good tips and planting information, and comprehensive charts. Other good ones include Raintree Nursery and Territorial Seed Company. Raintree Nursery is particularly good with unusual edible perennial plants.  Last year I … [Read more...]

Plastic Bags and Winter Driving

cold car

A recent post and the comments on Len Penzo's site ("Come On, People. Quit Maligning the Plastic Grocery Bag!") got me thinkin a little about winter driving, and the useful items that I keep in both cars in the event things go sideways (sometimes literally). The lowly plastic bag from your grocery store is almost perfect ice-screen for side mirrors. I keep a couple in a backpack in the back of the truck, wadded up with two or three large rubber bands. In the morning, if the weather forecast calls for freezing temperatures and precipitation, either light snow or rain, I know that when I come back in the afternoon ice-scraping will be what everyone will be dealing with .  I wrap the two bags around the side mirrors with the rubber bands, … [Read more...]

Airline Travel Tips

Having come back from a recent long trip to the Far East (or Near West, depending from where you're looking), I jotted down some of the things I do to make a miserable flying experience a little better. Getting on board.  Don't be one of the last folks to get on the plane and have to hunt for space in the by-now overflowing overhead bins. You have to be a complete ninja when it comes to getting on board first.   Start at the check-in counter, ask the counter person if you can get it the low number groups. It won't matter if the plane boards by row number, but it doesn't hurt to try.  Get in line quick or try to sneak in with the business class (sometimes it works). Avoid bulkhead seats.  Like. The. Plague.   Even though it means … [Read more...]