A pair of oak planks bolted to the bottom of my 5′ loader bucket makes it into a very usable fork lift for small jobs. Today I moved 13 pieces of scaffold to re-pile it by the simple expedient of sticking the forks through the bunch of leaning scaffold and lifting it to a new location. Once clear of the grass I had realized that the two pieces with wheels attached which I needed were not in that pile, so I put the 754 pounds of iron back down and located the errant pieces leaning against an old trailer.

So then I skewered the much lighter pile of scaffold ends and loaded on ties and aluminum planks. My 35 hp tractor easily carried the load up a slope to my latest construction project, a large deck elevated about 7′ above the ground. I wasn’t sure that the TAFE 3DI had enough lift to put the dangling scaffold onto the surface of the deck, but a little tilt of the bucked enabled the whole affair to clear the lip as I eased up the slope. That part worked. What went less well was the way the top plank tipped over the the top of the bucket and crashed down onto the canopy above my head, then dropped to the ground with more damage to the plank than to the canopy.

So a protective canopy is good for more than shielding the tractor’s operator from solar radiation: it’s a hard hat attached to the tractor. Unfortunately, like a hard hat, it restricts visibility. Without the canopy I’m pretty sure I would have seen the plank in an awkward position and adjusted the bucket, but weighing the plus and the minus, I’m pretty glad I paid the $700 for that ugly piece of plastic above the driver’s seat.

Back when I used this loader to move materials for two garages we built, I had clamps firmly attached to the upper edge of the bucket against this precise hazard. I’ll put them back on before I lift anything else with potential to slide over the top. Lesson relearned.

Tom Clark’s Global News interview with Kory Teneycke today revealed the twisted mindset behind that horrific commercial. We’ve seen that kind of thinking from mass murderers and white supremacists, but I shared Clark’s astonishment when the spokesman of Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party lifted the mask. They intend to give no quarter and they deserve no support.


The spectre of Stephen Harper standing alone on a sinking ship hoves increasingly into view as high-profile cabinet members take their leave in advance of the October 15 federal election.

It’s ironic that the Harper Regime is now forced by a decimated front bench to rely upon the dubious skills and charisma of Paul Calandra and Pierre Poilievre.  The cause likely dates back to the old Reform Party resolution to get rid of MP pensions.

Remember how all Reform MPs pledged not to accept their pensions when they were first elected, but how all found it in their consciences to retire on them?

Harper’s changes to the Federal MP pension plan to take effect in 2015 may well have torpedoed his re-election chances.

Incumbent MPs may not all be financial wizards (take the NDP examples currently in circulation for instance) but having to wait an additional ten years for a full pension amounts to at least $600,000 lost dollars.  During that time increased personal pension contributions would amount to another $390,000 lost.  Perhaps the clincher is the elimination of the sweetener:  for every dollar a current MP puts into his or her pension plan, the people of Canada currently contribute $6.50.  That drops to a 1:1 ratio and an annual contribution rate of about $39,000, up from $11,000.  A pay cut of $28,000 is hardly good for one’s desire to serve the people of Canada.

Combine the pay cut with the financial hit which would accompany another term in office with its sharply increased cost of getting elected in the long upcoming campaign, with the experience of colleague Dean del Mastro facing incarceration for some of the electoral sleights-of-hand which produce an electoral victory, and it’s not hard to see why so many of the most electable members of Harper’s caucus have opted for retirement.

I have said for years that if Stephen Harper can’t win he will tear the Conservative Party down before he leaves, but I never would have suspected that the mechanism for the implosion would be as simple as a small revision in the MP’s pension plan.

UPDATE:  25 June, 2015

The news of Harper’s failure to protect Canadian milk and poultry quotas in the upcoming Trans Pacific Trade Agreement tore another major rift in the  the Conservative base last night.  Steve is definitely razzing the Tory clubhouse down on his way out with this walk away from the safe seats of Eastern Ontario and rural Quebec where the dairy industry is king.

The House of Commons Board of Internal Economy has declared that the Federal NDP owes the House of Commons 2.75 million dollars for misdirected funds and 1.2 million dollars for inappropriate postal expenses.  The speaker plans to garnish the salaries of affected MPs if they don’t pay up.  NDP leader Thomas Mulcair claims the whole thing is a partisan attempt by the Conservatives and the Liberals to slap down the party in the face of its gain at the polls, but the invoices for postage and satellite office costs, as well as the salaries of staff working in Montreal, Quebec City and Toronto while the party declared they were in Ottawa, those bills can’t be denied.

Mulcair would be wise to make this problem go away, and quickly. The NDP has a tradition that “Someone else pays.” The satellite office controversy plays squarely to this perceived weakness in their culture.

If Mulcair and company can’t get their heads around the idea of working within a budget, the university-graduate votes which have gravitated to the NDP over the Bill C-51 protest will take to the air again before election day, especially if Trudeau looks like a man who spends within his means and pays his bills.

All that working-class-hero stuff Mulcair’s using to soften his image won’t work if Canadians can’t trust him to balance a chequebook, and the rumour about the 11-times renegotiated mortgage on his house can’t inspire confidence.

Lightning strike problem

June 11, 2015

A bolt of lightning on the afternoon of June 10th seems to have knocked out a component on our home Internet service, so I posted this here in case anyone is trying to contact any Croskery family members by email.

UPDATE:  11:47.   Looks as though a tech is needed, and has been requisitioned.  Don’t know when he’ll get to the farm to make repairs.

UPDATE: June 12, 5:00 p.m.  Power restored:  the Bell Canada guy found a couple of new wires on the big cable out at the road and announced he’s putting in for a new service to Mom’s phone.  After two afternoons of work the WTC Internet guy has replaced everything from the pole to the router, but the family Apples are back online.  My son’s auto lift in his shop also popped its breakers, though it seems otherwise undamaged.

Lightning is hard on communications equipment, but the TV satellite feed survived.

I generally fish alone, on quiet evenings on small lakes.  The Princecraft Starfish 16′ DLX SC fulfills this role very well.

But a couple of days ago my wife and I needed to make our way across two miles of choppy water into a strong headwind. The Princecraft’s hull design was not up to the job.

Fore-and-aft balance is always an issue on this boat.  The bow is too light, even after I have added a trolling motor and battery, as well as a “bicycle seat” for fishing in the forward position.  Normally I fill the live well for ballast and proceed.  On Saturday when we emerged from behind an island into whitecaps and a moderate chop (waves 1 1/2′, crest to trough) the hull pounded fiercely with both of us in the passenger seats.  I suggested my wife move forward to balance the boat.  She quickly had to move back to the cushy seat for fear she break a vertebrae from the unpadded impact of the floor.  I lowered the throttle to a troll and immediately took a wave over the bow.

Using the raised bow to bludgeon our way through the waves, we had a slow, rough and wet trip from Newboro to Scott Island this day.  When we arrived at the cottage I commented upon the whitecaps to our host, who had made the same trip moments before in his 16′ Lund side-console.  He hadn’t noticed the rough water as a particular problem.  His American Lund has a surprisingly deep V for an aluminum utility hull, with a generous flair forward to provide lift in a chop.

The Princecraft’s failing this day, in my opinion, was in its lack of displacement forward.  The dynamic of this boat is stability through a triangular structure, damping pitch and yaw through leverage against the mass of its broad transom, and a bottom which is flat at the stern.  But you don’t want initial stability in rough water.

It’s a trade-off:  the flat bottom means easy planing, great fuel efficiency, and excellent initial stability.  The downside is poor performance in rough water.

I kept thinking of my salad years, when I spent hours downrigging for splake in my 8 1/2′ Herreschoff/Gardiner pram.  Its design  was the opposite of the current Princecraft, with virtually no initial stability, but tremendous secondary stability.  It would bob like a cork in the huge swells from passing cruisers, causing the occupant no particular anxiety.  The pram would have been fine in Saturday’s chop, though at 5 mph with its 3 hp motor, it would have been a long trip to Scott Island.

The Butterfly Effect

June 3, 2015

Eric Grenier’s polls show a very close and unpredictable election on October 15th.  With Canada’s first-past-the-post voting system he suggests that the outcome may depend upon a butterfly effect, with mere handfuls of votes swinging the outcome in favour of any one of the three main parties.

The fluttering wings in this election might well belong to the Canadian Firearms Association and their concerns about surveillance.  While progressives believe they have a monopoly on resistance to C-51, the original Reform base, the “Back off, Government!” rural landowners, could move to fringe candidates on the right in large enough numbers to split the Conservative vote in close races.  Remember the Kill-the-Firearms-Registry movement?  How are those core Harper supporters going to like Bill C-51, the law which takes their rights away?

It might be a good time to run as a Libertarian in a lot of rural ridings.


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