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Chris DeMuth Jr.
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"It's not given to human beings to have such talent that they can just know everything about everything all the time. But it is given to human beings who work hard at it - who look and sift the world for a misplaced bet - that they can occasionally find one." - Charlie Munger I look... More
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  • 4 PM Journal 10 comments
    Jan 21, 2014 4:09 PM

    Market hours of 9:30 AM to 4 PM can be a bit heavy on the digital world of Bloomberg, Excel, and telephone. But after 4 PM, you can reconnect with the actual reality of the physical world. This is a journal for ideas for investors to reconnect with the natural/unprocessed/raw/tactile/analog world outside of the virtual world of capital and trading desks. It is my journal for such ideas, but I also encourage others to add theirs in the comment section below. In my experience, some of the more old fashioned ways are highly functional when you take into account exercise and value the experience. Each of these have been replaced with modern equivalents that are more popular, faster… and worse.

    Felling

    Winters in Rangeley Maine require a deep woodpile, but I don't like either buying wood or the constant sound of chainsaws. So, I fell, cut, and split as much of my own wood by hand as possible. It is as good an excuse as any for getting out into the woods. My favorite felling axe is the Double Bit Long Handle Axe by Gransfors Bruks, a small forge in Halsingland, Sweden. I tend to collect hand tools and this is one of my favorites.

    Paddling

    There are worse things than Rangeley Lake to see out of your office window. But by the end of the day, it is nice to get out of the office and onto the water. Although I come from a family of sailors and kayakers, I prefer paddling, especially on this classic wooden paddleboard.

    Listening

    I love everything about vacuum tubes including the sound and light that they produce. While reliable supply can be an issue, you will meet some enjoyable crazy old coots in the process. Here is a Seam amp with speakers. Such an amp is not a iPod, but has a richer fuller sound.

    Cycling

    The was originally a Focale 44 with this and that changed and the addition of a Brooks saddle and tool bag. Focales are well made and have less branding than about any factory bike I could find. I have never driven to work; typically I walk, but can cover the distance much faster on this (especially without brakes). If I must drive, I like clunky old G Wagons or Land Rovers, especially with stick shift. But that is only as a last resort.

    Drinking

    At least while the sun is up, drinking means coffee. The individual cups are fast and convenient… and ugly and soulless. Coffee drinks should be a bit of a ritual. I like the feel, sound, and smell of a strong espresso in the morning. You can make it by hand with this brass boiler.

    Eating

    This year we are trying to grow as much of our own food as possible. We are going to be busy with various planting projects in the spring, including apples, plums, as well as more strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. While our hope is that the children will be able to do a significant amount of the picking, we have suffered from a troublesome amount of leakage with our in house berry pickers. Since grains last much longer than flours, it is nice to have a grain mill. My favorite is the Diamant Grain Mill (above) from Lehman's, but the New Country Living Grain Mill & Large Corn & Bean Auger is almost as good for less than half of the price. If one needed to live off of one's own provisions for an extended period of time, having the skill and supplies for grain milling would be a key factor for extending the period of successful self-reliance.

    Shooting

    I can get as carried away as any red blooded and red stated American in regards to the capacity, complexity, and speed of modern firearms. I am not immune to the appeal of the latest tactical gadgetry. However, something has also been lost. Go back before semi-automatic shotguns and there was the humble 870 that would shoot practically every time. Since March 29, 1911, countless people have tinkered with handguns, but no one has surpassed the work of American genius John Browning in his design of the M1911. Unless complexity is required, the simpler the better. Fewer moving parts means fewer things can go wrong. My favorite firearms are the side by sides - the Holland & Holland Royal Shotgun and the Anderson Wheeler Nitro express. Low capacity? Yes, but take the time to hit what you are aiming at, if necessary grab a cartridge bag and you'll be fine.

    Capturing

    While I will hold out as a paper book reader until the day I die, I have surrendered ignominiously on the losing battle of film cameras. One can at least surrender with a modicum of dignity with the Leica M9 along with the world's sharpest lenses. You can somewhat obscure the digital shame with a natural case. It is a changing world and this is holding out as hard as it can.

    Shaving

    Every generation for the past two or three has taken a major step towards worse and worse shaving kits. Five bladed razors are quick and safe but also ugly and bad for your face. Far better are the traditional safety razors - they take a bit of practice but are not tricky. Also, the blades are cheaper. Best of all? Go back one era further and try the straight razor. But whether you try the safety razor or the straight razor, you should definitely try a traditional badger brush for applying shaving soap.

    Rowing

    It should go without saying that exercising off of the water and indoors is an inherent compromise, but when the lake is frozen, you can still hear, see, and feel the water on this rowing machine. In a half an hour per day, you can be ready to hit the water in the spring.

    You?

    How do you like to reconnect?

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  • Terrier Investing
    , contributor
    Comments (109) | Send Message
     
    "we have suffered from a troublesome amount of leakage with our in house berry pickers"

     

    Best line ever.

     

    (although I feel like I say that about 99% of things you write.)
    21 Jan 2014, 04:28 PM Reply Like
  • toddro
    , contributor
    Comments (212) | Send Message
     
    For me it's an old Scott PowR-Ply (San Francisco) 8' 5wt fiberglass fly rod. I can walk down to the water and cast to smallmouth bass, spotted bass, crappie, bluegill, and the occasional trout. Newer graphite rods are great, and the older bamboo rods are nostalgic, but I love the old & slow feel of fiberglass.
    21 Jan 2014, 08:34 PM Reply Like
  • TimeOnTarget
    , contributor
    Comments (3254) | Send Message
     
    I definitely like listening to music; live music in particular is what clicks my switch. Not live as in some rehearsed show, but live as in performing and making music for the first time. And in that regard, there is nothing like a Grateful Dead Concert.

     

    http://bit.ly/1eThnbo

     

    The 22 Dead shows I attended seem far, far, too few now. One slight consolation is that the digital age has been truly great for Deadheads.

     

    The Grateful Dead have been kind enough to release well over 100 performances (most of which are full shows) on CD, and one series that was available only through downloads. Just some totally prime stuff available here.

     

    http://bit.ly/1eThnbq

     

    I'm missing three of the Road Trips and the bigger box set from the Fillmore in 1969, which they released a reprehensibly small number of. (They have a "mini" set you can get -- to taunt people like me who missed the full set.) This is stuff from the time period when they recorded "Live Dead."

     

    Fortunately, there is more music available, the vast majority of their shows are available on Archive.org -- which is quite useful otherwise too. http://bit.ly/1eThnbs (numerous other artists are available too) Archive.org allows you to download audience taped shows, but not soundboards--which are available for streaming only. Many of the audience recordings are of surprisingly high quality.

     

    I also listen to the the soundboards streaming, trying to find more shows I want to get. Sometimes the soundboards are available from Etree for download via a bit torrent client. http://etree.org

     

    I prefer listening to whole shows, but I'm happy if I can get a full set in during the week. There is no substitute for listening to music loud-- I try to come as close as I reasonably can to recreating this:

     

    http://bit.ly/1eThnrH

     

    (But, I would note that the Wall of Sound did use 3 MacIntosh tube amps, in addition to 48 MacIntosh solid state amps.)

     

    I also try to attend live shows whenever I can, which used to be a whole lot (2,000 live shows), but now is fairly infrequent with kids. I saw Hot Tuna last night, which made me a happy camper, for sure. Those guys have been together for 50 years and they still totally smoke. It was at a great venue too -- tickets included a nice dinner before hand (filet for me) and I happened to be on the venue's web site buying tickets for another show when they upped the Hot Tuna show -- so I literally got the first two tickets-- front, center, aisle. I still go clubbing to see most of the shows I see, but this was a nice change.

     

    I tend to prefer music that is just guys jamming and making music as they go, Grateful Dead, Hot Tuna, Jazz, Ska, Reggae, African, Zydeco, and some classical. Stuff that could have been made 200 years ago by people who just got together regularly and played. (If you wouldn't normally think of the Grateful Dead as timeless music, listen to the first two songs on this show, the second one in particular -- their version of an ancient English ballad. http://bit.ly/1eThnrJ This was my first show and by the end of the second song, I was totally hooked.)

     

    My other mind-altering activity is working on restoring a small piece of property that was badly overgrazed, had some exotic invasives planted on it, and has had a lot of deer pressure (they are overpopulated in my area). I work on taking out the exotic invasives and also thin a native tree, ashe juniper (colloquially called "cedar"), which used to get held in check by wildfires, but tends to take over when you don't have fires. Anyway, the long term plan is to put a house out there, but have it mostly just restored habitat.

     

    Anyway, exotic invasives like Bermuda grass, Chinaberry trees, etc. are a huge problem to the ecosystem. One main reason exotic invasives became popular in the nursery/gardening trade is that hey tend not to have any natural enemies.

     

    Unfortunately, this also makes them able to out compete native plants in most situations. The native insects have evolved to eat the native plants. When they don't have those, they die off. When the insects die off or have dramatically reduced numbers, so do the bats, frogs, snakes, birds, etc. I really do want the frogs, birds, snakes, fireflies, etc. to be there in the future: I want my kids to be able to enjoy nature like I did.

     

    I fear, however, we are rapidly losing it to development and invasive species. Just look out the window during a plane flight--seems like a huge percentage of land has been cleared or modified. Anyway, it makes me feel good to feel like I am doing my part to help on some scale, albeit a small one.

     

    I love chopping wood, but unfortunately, most of the cedar trees are not good candidates. They are real springy and behave like shrubs (lots of smaller branches near ground level until they get to be about 100 years old) so I use some loppers that will take up to a 3" branch, then hand saw and a chain saw for the rest. I try to do most of it by hand-- a chain saw isn't real serene and kind of spoils my buzz while I am out there.

     

    Lately I have only been getting to go out to it about once a month, but I also spend a couple of afternoons a week collecting seed from native plants that isn't commercially available or is prohibitively expensive to buy in any kind of decent quantities. This year the best price I found on Red Yucca seed on the internet was $100 for 5 ounces. That made it roughly $330 a lb and I wanted a whole lot of it. So, I spend 10-20 hours collecting it on a few fall afternoons and managed to get over 30 lbs. (Afterwards thought "Hmm. Wonder if I could do this in lieu of the job I have now . . . .)

     

    Mostly the problem is that there isn't a commercial source for a lot of the good native shrubs and small trees. It has been pretty enjoyable to learn about all the different plants, figure out which ones I want, and either buy or collect the seed.

     

    So, I have been working on planting a lot of different native seeds. Off the top of my head I have planted 19 different native grasses, probably twice that many different native forbs, 5 native shrubs that have berries in the fall/winter, 5 or more other natives shrubs, and a few different types of small trees/shrubs.

     

    It makes for a lot of walking. I'm not sure how much I wind up walking total when I go on a seed planting trip, but I'm usually out there for about 6-8 hours and walking most of the time. A lot of it is up and down small hills, some areas with pretty lousy footing. Anyway, it is fun while I do it, but the next day I am usually amazingly stiff.

     

    I have started to try to plant native in my yard too. (My wife hates the Tallgrass Prairie portion of the front yard.)

     

    I get a lot of my seeds from Native American Seed, which I heartily recommend. http://bit.ly/15UpaTf

     

    Native American Seed also has a number of good books. I have bought 13 of the books they have and probably want about that many more.

     

    They have a 3 volume series on useful wild plants that I am going to get when I have finished reading what I have.
    http://bit.ly/1eThp2V

     

    If you want to read about the problems that invasive species cause, I would recommend this book for an introduction.

     

    http://bit.ly/1eThp2X

     

    Here is a link that helps identify the ranges of native plants, which are exotic, which are native, but not to a given area, etc. http://www.bonap.org

     

    Another helpful site: http://1.usa.gov/1eTjmfI

     

    And another, albeit geographically limited. http://bit.ly/1eTjnjR

     

    And one broader source -- http://bit.ly/1eTjnjU

     

    Sorry for the lengthy message. When I get into stuff, I tend to REALLY get into it. But, I do find these two activities remarkably rewarding-- in different ways they both kind of transport me to a different mental realm.
    22 Jan 2014, 04:39 PM Reply Like
  • Chris DeMuth Jr.
    , contributor
    Comments (6299) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Thanks for the post; sounds like a great project. How do you cut the ashe juniper? What tools do you use?
    22 Jan 2014, 04:55 PM Reply Like
  • TimeOnTarget
    , contributor
    Comments (3254) | Send Message
     
    These are what I am currently using the most.

     

    http://bit.ly/1cWx8M3

     

    They have the biggest capacity in terms of branch diameter of any that I have found to this point. The ashe juniper isn't especially hard, but it gets up to 3" pretty quickly. I'd actually love to find a pair of 3.5" capacity, but I haven't seen any yet.

     

    By the way, I heartily recommend this little carbide sharpener that Corona makes -- once you get the hang of it, and it is pretty easy, it works like a charm on stuff like loppers, machetes, etc.

     

    http://bit.ly/1cWxaDP

     

    I have bought probably a dozen machetes, because that would be the much more fun way to do it. Unfortunately, the ashe juniper seems to be just the wrong combination of springy and tough for machetes. This was the latest one I tried, but it didn't really work well either.

     

    http://bit.ly/1cWxaU6

     

    I may try to make something myself, probably won't be any better, but it will keep me entertained trying.

     

    I also use the biggest Bahco bow saw:

     

    http://bit.ly/1cWxaU9

     

    I usually pick and area and walk with the loppers and this little Felco pull saw on my belt, then come back and use the bow saw or a chain saw for bigger stuff (depending on how much there is.)

     

    http://bit.ly/1cWxaUb

     

    I have a Stihl chain saw and have been quite pleased with it-- in all likelihood my next one will be too. I had a Craftsman (branded that way anyway) before that and it was a POS. The ashe juniper can be a little bit tricky because of how springy it is, and how you kind of have to cut your way into them to get to the main area of branches. Anyway, I have figured out that you want an overpowered chain saw -- much safer than an underpowered chain saw.

     

    If you know of any particularly good equipment, please sing out . . . .
    22 Jan 2014, 05:36 PM Reply Like
  • Chris DeMuth Jr.
    , contributor
    Comments (6299) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » That sounds like a great activity. My 5-year old calls it going "woodsing". We just pick a direction and wander, each with a set of loppers (http://amzn.to/LVDx4U) and sometimes mostly walk and sometimes mostly cut. My mortal enemy in life is the alder. It is not right to hate, but I hate them. They grow fast and grow everywhere. I cut them back as much as I can and they just grow back. But despite the cursed alders, we love woodsing. At best, we get some woods cut back; at worst, I am taking a walk with my son. Either way, we tend to sneak out for woodsing when there is the announcement that we're supposed to do chores. The way we figure it, we're cleaning up the woods and that is chores enough for us, so our consciences are clear.
    22 Jan 2014, 05:46 PM Reply Like
  • Biological
    , contributor
    Comments (609) | Send Message
     
    There is a book that I enjoyed and I believe some of you may likewise take pleasure in:

     

    "Working with Your Woodland", Mollie Beattie, Charles Thompson and Lynn Levine

     

    It contains a lot of information on managing your woodlands including, I recall, leaving some dead trees standing so that birds can use them (as look-outs). In nay case, it is definitively worth a read if you are in any way looking to be a custodian of such an area for economic or sheer enjoyment reasons, or both - in fact.

     

    There is also an historical description of the North East, where most forests were decimated for salt (boiling brine), etc. Fascinating, and uncommon knowledge.
    11 Feb 2014, 08:03 AM Reply Like
  • Chris DeMuth Jr.
    , contributor
    Comments (6299) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » 1-clicked! Thanks for the idea (here it is if anyone else wants one too: http://amzn.to/1em5Peq)
    11 Feb 2014, 08:23 AM Reply Like
  • Biological
    , contributor
    Comments (609) | Send Message
     
    Forgot about Amazon...

     

    This looks priceless, too:

     

    http://amzn.to/1bRoK4f

     

    Reading the Forested Landscape: A Natural History of New England Paperback

     

    by Tom Wessels
    11 Feb 2014, 08:37 AM Reply Like
  • arbtrader
    , contributor
    Comments (297) | Send Message
     
    Don't overlook the simple bird feeder! You can hang a couple near the kitchen window to tide them over in bad weather. As it's snowing right now I have had 4-5 different species feeding off seeds and suet (squirrel proof feeders) for a couple hrs.

     

    As seasons change migratory birds will land where other birds are feeding. When you look in the backyard and see 40-50 robins you know spring is at hand and time to get the garden in shape for planting....

     

    It's cheap and much more bang for your buck than giving to some 'green' org to pay DC lobbyists and high-priced fundraising staff.

     

    Plus, I hate the cold weather so it's something to watch on days you don't want to venture out. AT.
    11 Feb 2014, 10:55 AM Reply Like
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