Back on HF again!

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I finally got one of the HF rigs running again! I had to take down the dipole antenna for the summer because it was set up low enough so it was in the way. The last thing I needed was one of the neighbor’s kids grabbing the antenna when I was dumping 1200 watts into the thing!

It’s relatively out of the way now, at least where it runs into the neighbor’s yard. I got that end anchored in his apple tree, well out of reach of seven year old kids (and people on lawnmowers). The end that runs into my own yard goes to a fence post on the corner of the property. Let’s face it, it isn’t exactly an ideal installation. It’s a sort of inverted V type arrangement with the feed point at the peek of the garage about 14 feet high, one leg ending only about 4 feet off the ground, and the other about 10 feet up. I’m almost afraid to hang an SWR meter on the thing and see what the SWR actually is. But the Plastar tuner has no trouble with it at all, bringing it down almost to 1.1:1 most of the time.

The important thing is everything seems to be working – transceiver, tuner, amplifier, etc. and I’m putting out a good signal. Was down on 75 meters last night before the storms forced everyone to shut down and was getting decent signal reports.

Agrimoney.com | Farmland Partners unveils $197m land purchase – and plans for more

The group takes its portfolio of US land nearly to 100,000 acres – in a deal which will provide collateral for funding for more acquisitions

Source: Agrimoney.com | Farmland Partners unveils $197m land purchase – and plans for more

I’m beginning to wonder if it’s time to start to become worried about this trend. Farmland Partners is just one of dozens of investment companies buying up enormous amounts of farmland. Not to farm it themselves, but to turn around and rent it at the highest prices they can possibly get.

Given the volatility of the stock, bond and commodities markets, and the ridiculously low interest rates being paid by banks for standard savings accounts, the desire to invest in a fairly stable and relatively profitable venture like farmland is understandable. Farmland values do fluctuate, true, but not nearly as wildly as stocks and commodities. Compared to those ventures, farmland seems a fairly safe investment.

And a potentially profitable one because the land doesn’t just sit there, it gets rented for as much as $200 – $500 an acre, depending on local demand.

But I get very nervous when I see more and more farmland being concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer owners, especially investment companies who have no vested interest in preserving the long term quality of the land, and only in making a return on investment. This practice makes it increasingly difficult for real farmers who want to get into the business to get started. Land has become so expensive in many parts of the country that it’s difficult or even impossible for a small start up farm to get off the ground without having the backing of outside investors.

Even worse, because the holding companies are going to charge the maximum rent they possibly can, those who can afford to rent the land are going to be forced to engage in the most intensive, potentially damaging, high chemical input farming techniques they can in order to maximize their own profits. This results not just in increased pollution from fertilizer, pesticide and herbicide run off, but also results in the degradation of the quality of the land and it’s fertility, causing even further reliance on intensive chemical intervention to continue to get the best yields.

Is this legal? Yeah. It is. At least in most states. Some states have restrictions on the amount of farmland that can be owned by out of state investors, but over the years those laws have been changed or even eliminated to permit companies like Farmland Partners to move in and take over. And I can understand the attraction. I own a fairly big stock portfolio, and the volatility of the market often makes me more than a little nervous. Farmland seems a far more stable, if a bit less profitable, investment for a lot of people.

While it may be legal and understandable, that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.

Personally I feel the adverse effects of these companies; the artificial inflation of land prices, potential degradation of farmland, etc. outweighs the benefits.

So this, apparently, is what all the hype has been about at Tumblr

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This thing, the fourth from the left, the weird blobby thing that looks like some kind of mutated Pac-Man ghost. That’s it. That’s why Tumblr has pissed off about half of it’s users, pushed thousands of people to start looking for alternative blogging systems and social networks…

What is it? A messenger service. That’s all. You can send a message to someone.

Ooo, be still my pounding heart! Oh, the excitement! Oh, my blood pressure! Oh brother…

Yes, the staff at Tumblr is wetting their collective knickers over — over what, exactly? A brain dead, featureless and totally useless rethread of Instant Messenger or ICQ straight out of the 1990s… For this they alienated tens of thousands of users. For this the removed the “reply/comment” function…

Oh, come on… Seriously, are they deliberately trying to kill the service? If that’s their goal, just do it. Don’t just whittle away changing features, removing features, becoming increasingly annoying until you end up as another MySpace (remember them?) 

Tumblr Driving Me Nuts

Tumblr is well known for pulling crap on it’s users. Crap like drastically altering the way it works without bothering to tell anyone what the hell it’s doing.

We’re going through that now over there. They recently pulled the comment/reply function, making it difficult if not impossible to comment on or reply to postings by other people without re-blogging the entire post.

Since a lot of people over there, including me, enjoy the interaction of the comments system, like getting feedback and comments form people, we’re more than a little irritated.

Tumblr says ‘big changes’ are coming. Well, so far the ‘big changes’ have been the introduction of a brain dead, barely functional instant messaging system that no one wanted and no one cares about, along with the removal of the ‘comments’ functions.

Tumblr says comments are coming back ‘real soon now’, but it’s been a week or more now, and with no announcements, and not even the support staff able to tell us what the hell is going on, well, we’re jumping ship.

A lot of us are moving off Tumblr to alternative services.

Me? I’ve had Grouchyfarmer.com in place for ages now. I started the site because of the last time Tumblr ticked me off with something they did. But things changed over there, and I missed the old crowd over there, and I’ve been spending most of my time there.

But now… This may be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I’m so tired of Tumblr ignoring what the users want, failing to respond to questions, and taking a ‘the hell with you, we’re going to do whatever we want’ attitude.

So watch this space. I’ll be posting more and varied material here in the near future, and possibly abandon Tumblr entirely.