Here’s what our water looked like at 7:00PM last night.

Not coincidentally, I’m sure, it’s the color of the soil around here.

That’s considerably worse than than it’s ever looked.

Here’s what that same glass looked like at 10:00PM.

Oh, Well

September 11, 2016, a day that will live in infamy as the first time this happened:

At the time, after talking with the builder, we thought the problem was that I’d used too much of the water in the well and had drained it down to the sediment.

And then it happened again in December. But we’d had a bunch of guests. And we all took showers the same morning. So we figured we’d run the well down again.

And then it happened in January, on a day when we had hardly used any water. After that, we talked to the builder again, and he talked to the well people, and they all said we need to install tanks that will hold hundreds of gallons of water; this will take the “stress” off the well since the well pump won’t have to run as often – we’ll just use the water in the tanks. How the water gets into the tanks without running the well pump and stressing the well is beyond my ability to comprehend. Plus, if any of the bad water got into the tank, it would contaminate the whole thing… all 200 or 400 gallons. Right?


And then it happened again in February. And we called the builder and he asked for a sample of the water. He had it tested and the answer was : Iron! We have iron in our water. OK. Get a filter! That works for some kinds of iron contamination, but not all.

And then it happened this Sunday. And we called the builder and he was all about the tanks again. So we called a water filtration company and they came out and tested the water. They didn’t find any iron, because the iron comes in spurts. Something happens in the well and suddenly the water around the pump is contaminated with iron. Then, after a day or so, the iron slowly settles out and the water is clear again.

They found high levels of tannins, which suggests surface water contamination. Which shouldn’t happen because wells have liners that go down a certain number of feet to prevent surface water from getting in (the pump itself is 300 feet down). This suggests a broken well casing. This could also explain the iron – clumps of iron-eating bacteria and the iron-rich dirt they live in occasionally fall into the well and turn the water into brown poison until they settle out.

And then it happened again this morning.

So now we have to drop a camera into the well and see if there’s any obvious problems with the casing. If there is, we have to try to get the well people to fix it. Nobody thinks we’re likely to succeed at that.

And, we still have to install a filter.

Until then, we have to use bottled water.

This is country life.

Norah Jones

Saw Norah Jones this past Tuesday. She was exactly as you’d expect: very mellow and low-key, even on her more upbeat songs. But, she sounded great and the band was really good. Most importantly, they played everything I wanted to hear them play. So, success.

The encores were done acoustic, in front of a single microphone that might not have even been on – it certainly wasn’t doing much. Still, that was a nice way to hear “Creepin In” and “Sunrise”.

The band, less Jones, opened with a set of instrumentals.

We sat next to a bunch of drunk people, they were loud and annoying. And in front of us was a guy who was incredibly excited to see her – he was literally shaking with joy at times.

Just got Paul Simon tix! Sunday we go see the Pretenders & Stevie Nicks. Trying to talk myself into going to see Tortoise tomorrow night. Also have tix for : Duran Duran, Robyn Hitchcock, Adrian Belew, Silversun Pickups and Green Day. Next few months will be busy!

Norah Jones – Sunrise

He Who Controls The Spice

I just finished re-reading Dune. It’s been at least 30 years since I last read it, and I really didn’t remember much about it. I actually remembered more of the movie, even though I don’t think I ever saw the whole thing. So, during this read, I always pictured Paul as “that guy from Blue Velvet”; and I (incorrectly) remembered Sting as Baron Harkonnen’s evil advisor, Piter De Vries. In all of the scenes where Piter is plotting with the Baron, I was imagining Sting standing around in his crazy space speedo when I should have been picturing Brad Dourif (aka Grima Wormtounge).

Oh well.

The book is both better and worse than I remember. The concept, the universe, the cultures, the religious mysticism, the vastness of the details – all better than I remembered. Big points for all that.


The story moves along quickly, at first – pre-teen (?) boy figures out that he’s the chosen one; there’s an assassination, chaos, a big escape. And then it bogs down for a load of political intrigue between a huge cast of characters who don’t really amount to much in the end. Paul learns in the very first chapter that he is going to be the messiah. And once his father is dead and he’s head of the family (no regents in this kingdom), everybody else figures it out too. Without much effort, he becomes the leader, makes all the decisions, plots all the strategy – he can the future after all – and all other people are reduced to being his lieutenants or his ineffectual enemies.

It gets psychological, philosophical, and then psychedelic when he goes into the desert, takes his drugs, trips balls and sees the universe. He takes a ride on a giant worm. He’s a haughty dick to everyone. There’s a brief fight where a ruthless and corrupt imperial empire seeks to commit genocide against Paul and his space-Arab followers and is instead defeated by a sandstorm. There’s a knife fight where the ending is never in doubt. And then the book ends, unsatisfyingly (despite having 10% of the pages left unturned – huge appendices, giant glossary). Literally the last paragraph of the story is Paul’s mother telling Paul’s girlfriend that even though she’ll never be his wife, at least she’ll be his concubine! Huzzah!

Women do not fare well in the world of Dune.

But what really bugged me was the clunky and flabby writing:

He held himself poised in the awareness, seeing time stretch out in its weird dimension, delicately balanced yet whirling, narrow yet spread like a net gathering countless worlds and forces, a tightwire that he must walk, yet a teeter-totter on which he balanced.

Ummm. OK?

And even though it logically makes no sense (it’s not supposed to, I know – mystical), the flow of the words is reasonable, until that rickety “teeter-totter” shows up with its thorny cluster of T’s and whimsical playground connotations. Was ‘fulcrum’ too fancy? Was “knife-edge” too appropriate in a story where everyone carries a knife on his hip? In the weird whirling narrow world of wires to be walked, is he aware of … the teeter-totter?

And there’s the dialogue. So much exposition. So many declarative sentences. Half of the people speak in the traditional stilted Ye Olde English of fantasy books, with Arabic and pseudo-Arabic words to spice things up.

Paul glanced to one of his Fedaykin lieutenants, said: “Korba, how came they to have weapons?”

“how came they to have…” sounds like a translation of a translation.

And the thoughts. Oh my, the thoughts. Half the main characters are experts at various mystical mental disciplines which give them deep insights into – and influence over – other people. So Herbert needed a way to integrate their internal dialogue into the text. And he did it by making their inner dialogue explicit, with italics:

Otheym pressed palms together, said: “I have brought Chani.” He bowed, retreated through the hangings.

And Jessica thought: How do I tell Chani?

“How is my grandson?” Jessica asked.

So it’s to be the ritual greeting, Chani thought, and her fears returned. Where is Muad’Dib? Why isn’t he here to greet me?

“He is healthy and happy, my mother,” Chani said. “I left him with Alia in the care of Harah.”

My mother, Jessica thought. Yes, she has the right to call me that in the formal greeting. She has given me a grandson.

“I hear a gift of cloth has been sent from Coanua sietch,” Jessica said.

“It is lovely cloth,” Chani said.

“Does Alia send a message?”

Their thoughts become asides for the characters to mock-whisper to the audience. So much talking. So much talk-thinking. So much pointless pretending the author hasn’t already told us what’s going to happen.

But, still, it’s one of the most engrossing books I’ve read in a long time. Despite the clunky dialogue and the wooden characters and the unsatisfying ending, the world is so cool. The detail that Herbert put into it kept me hooked – I wanted to see more of them interacting with the desert, with the worms, with the ‘spice’.

I’m sure I read the first sequel, but I don’t remember any of it now. Maybe I should give it a try.

QED, snowflakes

A TV show written and filmed before the 2016 election, which is set in a fictional 1960’s US, in which the Axis won World War II and now occupies the US, in which a resistance radio station is broadcasting anti-Nazi messages, has angered Trump supporters because hating Nazis is something that only “libtards, gays and weirdos” do.

While I’ve never had any real doubts of its validity, this is the strongest proof yet of cleek’s Law.


I’m re-reading Dune right now. It’s been 30 years.

Towards the end as the Fremen, lead by Paul, are preparing for battle and talking about how the Harkonnens have been harassing the citizens of the cities and driving them out as refugees, there’s this exchange:

Paul glanced at Gurney, saw him studying Stilgar. “Tell us, Gurney, why were the cityfolk down there driven from their homes by the Sardaukar?”

“An old trick, my Duke. They thought to burden us with refugees.”

Got me thinking about Syrian refugees, the effect they’re having on Europe and the US, and wondering if Russia might be up to something more than just propping-up Assad.