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Number 903, December 18, 2016

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The Norseman’s Diaries: Hell Returns Again
by Jeff Fullerton

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise

Whodah ever thunk it?

Like the slug line from the second and subsequent Jaws movies about thinking it was safe to go back into the water; Just when you thought winter might be a thing of the past—it’s back. So much for the latest claims of it being the hottest year on recond. The gates of Hell—as in the frigid variety of Norseman’s fame—unleashed their fury upon Wisconsin a few days ago and it was to be soon to be knocking at my door again as well.

Global Warming I wish!

We could never be that lucky.

Thankfully the problems with my heating systems for the house and greenhouse have been resolved successfully so far and a load of large logs was delivered last Friday.

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My firewood is here at long last.

The delivery was a near disaster with the truck slipping off the edge of the driveway when we attempted to reach the intended drop zone a little bit ahead of where I usually park the Ford. It got hung up on the first try and the second one I was lucky the driver was able to get it back out without tipping over and the lawn is going to need major repair. That was a big mistake as the way that was fine for the smaller trucks is too narrow for the bigger one.

Ended up dumping on the ramp which complicates future coal delivery but I’ll probably be getting it with my truck a scoop at a time and shovel it off.

Just got a call from Keslars. I’m going to need to sure up my lane before they will deliver another load. Going to have to look into getting a load of modified from the stone quarry to put down. Always something but that is on need of doing anyway. Last time was by the loggers when I had the place timbered.

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Will have to work on my lawn over the winter as weather permits. The ruts will be a good opportunity to dispose of cinders and fly ash from the furnace which I’ll mix with topsoil.

Another day another dollar. Have to get moving because I got to stop by the bank. But now there is an ample supply of wood close at hand plus maybe a ton of coal left so I won’t have to worry about that for a while. I’ll cover the portion of the pile on the edge of the pad and start moving the portion on the lower end of the ramp up to be stacked under the pine trees whenever I can. It’s going to be more of a Slavic style wood pile this year like Bruce’s as opposed to a neat Germanic or Scandinavian style.

Next year I work on getting better organized again. This year I was too busy and now it’s almost used up. Just a matter of running out the clock and getting through it like so many other things in life.


It’s taking its sweet time in getting here. Thankfully. Whatever rain or snowstorm that had been in the forecast for yesterday either took a track more southward or peetered out before it got here and fair though chilly conditions prevailed. Was a good day to get stuff done in the greenhouse and I did. Tidied up by shifting plants around that had been haphazardly dragged in during the retreat phase at the end of crunch time and sorted out the basket of giant sag that was thrown in the pond and picked out some more for the tanks. Plus unpotted a clump of the viviparous hair grass also for the upper 40 B and put the other in the tub with the Bluefins for redundancy. And I’ll start another pot for the in ground pond and that will give me 3 stock plants to repopulate outside in the spring. That’s all I need since it is a fast grower and easy to propagate by shearing off the ends with the plantlets and laying them on the surface of a new pot and keeping them moist to get them rooted and then put them back into the water.

There was some bad news. A large male escambiae was found dead. Probably at the end of his lifespan anyway. But last I looked all I have are males and it will be square one again!

Piddling with other loose ends. Looking at the remaining Jungle Val I’m probably going to put it in the compost pile when I drain the remaining tub they’re in. Just not enough room to hold onto it and getting too cold to ship stuff so I have 3 planters in the greenhouse to start over with and they are thick with it.

Other loose ends tied up yesterday were getting the the garden tractor moved onto the back porch for the winter and purchase of a new tarp to cover the log pile before the first big snow. Also looking into getting some stabilizer in the tank and I backed it in this time so the exhaust blows away from the house instead of into it so I can run it on a regular basis to keep it from locking up or the battery from dying.

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Now payday is finally here. After paying bills I will look into getting a load of gravel for the lane. Might just have enough time to get that in before a big snow event hits. And a very good idea because I will likely need a second load of firewood before it is over.

Ray and I were talking that day about Green withdrawal on the space station; comparing it to the winter blues. That’s why I have the greenhouse and why I’m a big fan of the Dandridge Cole and O’Neill type space habitats. The Proxmires may have ridiculed it as beekeeping in orbit but it is the way to go if you want to leave Earth. Because we need green space and also some semblance of normal gravity for our physical and mental wellbeing. The quality of life to be had in a spacious habitat with green space and spin gravity beats living under a dome on the moon or Mars and even living on Earth—unless you are fortunate enough to be in a tropical climate like Hawaii. Back in the 80s I saw it as the way to escape Norseman’s Hell and nuclear Armageddon and a number of other Earthly ills. Why live on the surface of a planet where in addition to climate and weather issues you have earthquakes and transportation and energy is expensive. In space you can control the climate of the colony by manipulating the thermal balance and photo period. Solar power is reliable and economical because you don’t have day and night cycles and cloud cover to contend with. You can even get away from and exclude invasive species and pathogens when you set up the ecosystem. And there is escape from the scourge of government!


It finally got here.

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After a day spent indoors busy at writing I discovered a dusting of the filthy white stuff when I ventured out long after dark to check the furnace. The house was getting chilly by then. Down to 62 in the living room. The firebox was almost depleted but just enough coals and fire to rekindle another load. I switched over to oil before going outside in anticipation of that. In a few hours I can flip back.

It is now in the 20s outside. Won’t get above freezing for a few days. I should have gotten outside to pitch the tarp I got last night but preoccupation with writing prevailed. Didn’t even get around to going to the bank or paying bills. Will have to do that tomorrow. In a way There is a silver lining. I delayed spending anymore money another day.

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Day two in hell.

Rhododendron leaves are rolled up tight and everything’s frozen solid. Now I’ll have to break ice to get stuff out of the barrel tubs on the patio and then to get the two lilies into one of the ponds though I might have some open water in the main one where I have a trickle of spring water going in. And then there is the one remaining Rubbermaid with the jungle Val to be drained. Everything in there is likely to be toast because I don’t know where to put it.

Then I remembered the two Lilium michauxii in square pots on the patio last night. Put them in the bathtub and they were thawed by morning. But not a sign of the bulbs when I un-potted them. They probably got cooked during a hot spell in the summer and then rotted away. Like the giant Hatpins from Appalachicola. Many of my neatest bog plants are gone because I had them in limbo pending upgrades to the bogs. Will hesitate to replace those until I get that project done.

This is a time of cruel Darwinian selection that determines what is feasible to maintain.


A bit of a hiatus in the course of a busy week.

At least a bit of a reprieve last night.

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What a difference a day makes. It warmed up yesterday evening and for a while I was wondering if I would make it safely home as it started out with snow changing to freezing rain. So I lingered a while at work to let the rain thaw the roads more and the maintenance crews were putting down salt and cinders so the drive home was not so bad. And it took away the dusting of snow on the ground overnight. It was mostly gone when I loaded the furnace last night.

Still glad I have my wood tarped to keep it dry and not buried in snow.

Long range forecast not looking bad going into the new year but a couple days later in the week I’ll be wanting to nuke some polar bears because it will get downright frigid with lows in the single digits and a high of 16 one day! Will want to have a big hunk of cherry ready for those days. And it is good I have done really decent big logs dumped right on the pad.

Have been thinking I might want to get another load of oil before the price goes up because it might actually be more feasible to keep my outside furnace on the lower settings and just use oil to boost the temp in the house back up after it drops on a cold night. I notice it is often idling at 140 even when the house is calling for more heat. The less that blower comes on the longer the wood and coal will last. And there is more efficiency with the oil furnace because it does not burn constantly to maintain a fire and the heater water goes directly into the radiators and not through a loop in the ground.

Also in the future I’m thinking it might be better to just dump my load on the pad and use it there rather than stacking it under the trees above. Much less of a pain to load in cold or wet weather after a long day at work. Might stack and organize it there. Maybe have half of it there and the remainder in the usual place for the milder transitional weather going into spring.

Today will be busy once I get going. Some long overdue cleaning and water changes to fish and turts and I need to get the water out of the last Rubbermaid and two barrels by the cellar door before the temperature drops again.


Finally got to the tubs and remaining rain barrels yesterday.

Drained the last Rubbermaid and removed the plugs of all of them for storage. Jungle Val is toast but I have backup in the greenhouse to restart them. Maybe next year I’ll be better organized and have a plan for salvaging the surplus.

The last rain barrels are empty. They had substantial ice in them so I was able to tip them and let them drain out. Done. That should be it. Debating whether to try to cover the Needle Palms and Palmettos. Just getting tired of dealing with so much stuff anymore I’m tempted to let them go. The palmettos will survive for sure without protection since the they are big and have their bud tissue deep in the ground. They will bounce back if they loose their leaves and can probably afford to be cut back and stunted a little to keep them lower to the ground and easier to protect in future winters.

The vortex is coming.

Today it will probably stay in the 30s and tomorrow it really starts with a high of 28 and a low of 12 then a high that is now down to 14 on Thursday and low of 6 . Then it moderates again. Got to brace for that. Make sure the furnace is loaded—get the house heater up a little extra and bump it up to 180 to get through this. Might still switch to oil when it is extreme to keep up and let the furnace idle to keep it from freezing. Them back down on to 140 or 160 to save fuel again.

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It’s back!

Late afternoon the flakes started to fall and by the time I ventured out after dark there was several inches on the ground. Looks like it’s here to stay for a while. Canceled any plans to go anywhere until I dig my way out in the morning.

Once again never made it outside to do anything. I just had little enthusiasm even for the greenhouse today and I really need to get in there and start reorganizing. But it was writing again that became my focus. I am well on the way to finishing a very ambitious project that has been in the works for some time. A work born in the post election malaise of 2012 that I hope to be done with by the new year. Not sure now about that deadline but I will try.


The core of the frigid air is over Greater Appalachia. Ten degrees currently at around 10 AM. The projected high is only a few degrees higher at 13.

I loaded up when I stopped in last night and turned the boiler up to 180 and switched to oil so it could catch up while I made a run to C’ville to check on Uncle Budd. The house was already down to 63 degrees and it caught up again by the time I got home and I switched back. Have an idea it may have lost ground again as cold as it is but it’s hard to tell because upstairs always stays warmer.

There is smoke coming from the stack on the Mahoning so the house is definitely calling for heat. The unit was idling last night at 140—even though the house was falling behind. I think this is acceptable in seasonably cold winter weather with the oil backup to catch up when I get home or wake up in the morning. Takes about an hour or less because the oil furnace is in the house and the boiler feeds directly into the radiator system. As soon as the cold slacks off a bit I’m going to turn the outside one back down again. And think about getting another oil delivery.

This bout of Norseman’s Hell is looking to be short lived as tomorrow will be a bit less frigid and the high on Saturday is projected at 54! Then falling back to more seasonal norms after that.

Since I don’t have to go in until 3 today it looks like a good time to catch up on things indoors and maybe the greenhouse now that the outside of for the most part done. I drained the remaining Rubbermaid and rain barrels just in the nick of time this week before the Vortex set in. I’m hoping for maybe a thaw sometime before the new year where I can get the leaf netting and leaves off the ponds now that the remainder are mostly fallen and matted down by the snow. Then I’ll start cleaning off the paths and other places and continue to fill the compost bins.

Life goes on.

Laying plans for the pond liner replacement. Was my turn already for first vacation pick and Mrs G was getting impatient so I just went ahead and grabbed the first week of April which looks like the optimal time because water should be available to refill the pond.


The worst of this current bout of hell is upon me place. 5 degrees at 1am. The house was at 62 with the thermostat at 68. I’m letting the oil furnace catch it up a little while the outside furnace which was just reloaded catches up. If that is possible. Uncle Budd has his place set at 80 and for him it’s a bone chilling 75! He’s got hot water radiators and baseboards like I have with city gas for the heat source. Just going to be a struggle to stay warm tonite for everyone.

Update 3:25 AM

Fell asleep while composing last entry. Oil furnace silent. Yet temp only up to 64. But I switched back to the outside source to conserve oil. The fact inside boiler temp is at the set temp and the burner is off probably means it is just too cold outside for it to raise the indoor temp. Or else I’m out of oil. Hopefully not the latter.

Will test the system in the morning.

Update 05:05 AM

It fell one degree since I got up again to visit the bathroom. 62 now in the living room. The outside reading I presume to be coming from the sensor on the backside of the greenhouse is 7 degrees.

12/16/16—Friday Morning


One degree higher than you here going on 9:00. Don’t know what the reading in the living room is but my guess it is low 60s as if even feels a little cool upstairs. I’m reluctant to get up but I must. Have to get ready and scoot. Don’t know if I will make it into the greenhouse. Might not be able to get the door open until it warms up. Based on past experiences—when it gets this cold it often gets stuck from the frozen moisture on the metal frame.

Had an epiphany on why wars fought in cold climates have what is known as a Spring Offensive. Based on my own reluctance to go outside let alone get out of bed this morning and the bad experiences of the armies of Napoleon and Hitler trying to invade Russia in the winter time. And we have our own from Valley Forge. Bruce says that in the French and Indian War the British rotated their troops between this theater and the Caribbean on a seasonal basis!

No big snow in the immediate forecast. Tomorrow it is supposed to rain with temps in the 50s.

Saturday Morning at last!

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Again what a difference a day makes.

It was worrisome evening for a while at work last night in regard to getting home with the first phase of the coming warmup that was as going to start off in the form of snow. But I was fortunate that it held off until long after I made it in. If it came at all. It had been slowly warming into the 20s through the day on Friday and even that felt downright balmy in comparison to the previous day when the full wrath of the Polar Vortex was in force.

And the warmup continues.

Going to be a slow one as those fifty degree temps that were promised have been pushed back late into the day and into the night—go figure—and then it cools down again. And I guess bright and sunny conditions would be too much to ask for instead of foggy and rainy. At least the short range for the week is not bad—there are some sunny days ahead and a likelihood of a mild Christmas which is not bad. As any of you who’ve read my previous Norseman’s articles would have guessed by now—I’m a very big fan of the Heat Miser from The Year Without a Santa Claus.

And we knew this was coming!

Those who would use the climate as a tool to either kill us off or shepherd us into centrally planned high density communities are getting worried. Let’s face it; the best cure for both Norseman’s Hell and the artificial scarcity economy is "Drill Baby Drill"!


50 degrees!

Late in the day of course!

Going to be mild all night long when there is no daylight to enjoy it.

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