Archive for the 'Whimsy' Category

McCourtney Transfer Station Correction

said on August 21st, 2012 filed under: Grass Valley, Neighborhood Profiles, Whimsy

The McCourtney Transfer Station

Last week I reported incorrectly the hours of operation. 

“Hours:  8 am to 3:00 pm every day of the week.  I thought McCourtney was closed on Monday and Tuesday, but I am looking at the new brochure and it plainly says, “every day.”

I was right the first time.  Drove out there today, Tuesday, and the dump was closed.  The sign on the gate says plainly that it is open “5 days a week, Wednesday through Sunday.”

The McCourtney Transfer Station brochure is incorrect.


Maybe I saved you a useless trip.  You would have been mad at me, I bet.

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A Tale of Two Dumps (part 2)

said on August 16th, 2012 filed under: Fun Things to Do Outdoors, Grass Valley, Localism, Whimsy

Herein lies a tale of two dumps, Auburn and Grass Valley.  Actually, we no longer call them “dumps” as we did in olden times.  Now they are known by high-faluting titles such as Waste Reclamation Sites, or Transfer Stations, or Recology Facilities.  Are you impressed?  I’m not.  They are still dumps to me, delightfully stinky, dusty places where you take your garbage and unwanted detritus and dump it.

I am going to compare the Auburn Transfer Station with the McCourtney (Grass Valley) Transfer Station.  Sorry, ladies, these articles are, as CJ calls them, “icky boy stuff.”  I enjoy going to the dump, and I just can’t understand why CJ doesn’t get it.  Go figure.

The McCourtney Transfer Station

Hours:  8 am to 3:00 pm every day of the week (I thought McCourtney was closed on Monday and Tuesday, but I am looking at the new brochure and it plainly says, “every day.”)

How to get there:  From Grass Valley head southwest on McCourtney Road. Turn left just past the Animal Shelter a couple of miles out of town.  From south Nevada County, go with someone who knows how to get there on the back roads (Wolf to Duggans to Lime Kiln to McCourtney without getting lost out on Perimeter Road)

It’s a beautiful drive no matter how you go.

And it’s friendly at McCourtney!

Before you even go into the main Transfer Station, there is a little dirt road to the left that will take you down to the Green Waste area where you can dump leaves, brush, branches, lawn clippings, small trees (less than 18″) and untreated and unpainted wood.  By the way, your wood waste can still have nails in it,  I don’t know how that works, but it’s OK by me.  Supposedly, you are charged $2.25 per cubic yard, but it usually works out to about $5 to $8 for a pickup truck full of green stuff.  The guy at the shed looks at your load, scratches his beard, and says “Six bucks” or something like that.

Now, buckle up kids, it’s time to enter the best dump in the foothills, The McCourtney Transfer Station!

Un-like the Auburn Transfer Station, at McCourtney you start at the “Kiosk” for registration then get in the left lane for the “Scale.”  Cost is determined strictly by weight.  Residential waste is currently $70 per ton.  That’s a lot of garbage, a ton, a couple of pick up trucks usually.  By the way, I heard a rumor that with the recent “take-over” by Waste Management, the rates had gone up.  Not true.  So far, anyway.

Sometimes there is a line to weigh in at the Scale  Here’s a trick:  if you have scrap metal, recycle materials, appliances, or hazardous waste, go unload those items first, then you can wedge back into the Scale line.  The first station you will come to on the “tricky” route  is the Buy Back Shack.  You can sell your bottles, cans and so forth.  Unloading scrap metal is FREE at McCourtney (shame on Auburn for charging us for something they are going to sell) and, get this, there is always someone at McCourtney to help you get the heavy stuff off your truck.

There are stations to rid yourself of oil and paint, and other stations to get rid of  batteries and electronics.  FREE!  Yep.  That’s what I said.

You can unload your old refrigerators and air conditioners for $20 each.  Why does this cost twenty bucks?  A technician has to dismantle the unit the remove the refrigerants and/or oils.  Tires cost between $2 and $10 depending upon size.  Batteries are free.

At McCourtney, they will take almost anything.  Hazardous waste disposal is FREE.  It makes sense if you think about it.  The county would rather absorb the cost of proper disposal than encourage you to dump it out in the forest where the land will have to absorb the toxins.  So you drive through this shed and a technician in a white cover-all will unload your weird chemicals and unknown bottles of whatever.  Do NOT get out of the truck unless instructed, or you WILL get scolded.  By the way, you do NOT get any containers back.  There is a limit of 15 gallons or 125 pounds.

So, having dropped off your weird stuff for FREE and butted back in line, you weigh in at the Scale and head to the C&D station (construction and demolition) or the big Garbage Pit for mixed garbage.  The photo below is the construction debris area.  It costs slightly less than the mixed garbage rate.  I thing it is currently $60 per ton for construction debris.

This is the big pit.  They probably have a fancier name for it, but big pit works for me.

Notice how open and airy it is?  Not icky at all.  Back your truck up and get dumping!

Isn’t this fun?

Bulldozers!  Yay!  Boy stuff!

I love the McCourtney Transfer Station!

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A Tale of Two Dumps (part 1)

said on August 14th, 2012 filed under: Auburn, Grass Valley, Localism, Whimsy

Herein lies a tale of two dumps, Auburn and Grass Valley.  Actually, we no longer call them “dumps” as we did in olden times.  Now they are known by high-faluting titles such as Waste Reclamation Sites, or Transfer Stations, or Recology Facilities.  Are you impressed?  I’m not.  They are still dumps to me, delightfully stinky, dusty places where you take your garbage and unwanted detritus and dump it.

I am going to compare the Auburn Transfer Station with the McCourtney (Grass Valley) Transfer Station.  Sorry, ladies, these articles are, as CJ calls them, “icky boy stuff.”  I love going to the dump, and I just can’t understand why CJ doesn’t get it.  Go figure.

The Auburn Transfer Station (AKA Auburn Placer RECOLOGY) at 12305 Shale Ridge Road

Hours:  8 am to 4:45 pm every day

How to get there:  from Highway 49 in Auburn heading north toward Grass Valley, go right on Shale Ridge Lane.  It’s between Bell Road and Dry Creek Road.  Look for the sign on the left.

Circle on around to the left until you get to the check in station.

Auburn charges by the cubic yard and guessing and whether they like you or not and their attitude on that particular day.  You never know exactly how much you will be charaged or how.  Try arguing with them.  It has worked for me.

I w ill tell you this:  You are going to pay more, a lot more than you will in Grass Valley at the McCourtney Transfer Station.


Having paid through the nose, you back your vehicle into the covered shed and toss your stuff down to the floor.  A bulldozer will come along, by and by, and push it into big piles, and later, into scoop the piles into trucks where it vanishes from civilized sight.

There is nothing pleasant or fun about this dump.  Just get in and out as fast as you can.

Here is a list of stuff they will take for freenewspapers, cardboard, white paper (they won’t take pink paper?), motor oil, batteries, aluminum, glass, and plastic.

Here is a list of stuff for which they will charge a feelatex paint (what about oil based paint?), appliances, tires, scrap metal (they are going to SELL the scrap metal so why are they charging you for it?), wood and green waste.

For questions, you can call customer service at 530-885-3735.

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Oh, The Places I Run

said on July 20th, 2012 filed under: Running and Hiking trails, Whimsy

Running is about places, the places I run.

Yes, certainly, running is about physical conditioning or mileage or racing or losing weight or setting goals or many other worthwhile benefits, but, for me, after so many years of focus on those other things, running has come down to this, the places I run, and mostly, where I run is as far away from roads and cars and ipads and email and mp3 players and, yes, people, as I can get.

When I choose my running trails I am looking, foremost, for quietude and solitude. That shouldn’t surprise you, because, you know, solitude and quietude are helpful states for spiritual practice.  Is running a spiritual practice?  Of course, but I find it easier to look at that possibility from out the corner of my eye, if you know what I mean.  It’s like night vision, better seen when you don’t look at it directly.  Hey!  Do you know what I mean?

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Susan-isms by the Dozen

said on July 19th, 2012 filed under: Real Estate Nuts and Bolts, Whimsy


When we were just getting started, CJ and I served our apprenticeships with Sue Thompson, the owner of HomeTown Realtors in Auburn, California.

Most of the foundational teachings, our Real Estate Commandments, we learned from Sue.  She was our mentor and guru.

Here are a dozen of the best Susan-isms from those rookie days:

1.     Do it NOW (not later today, or tomorrow, or some other time . . . NOW)

2.     Get your ass in the car and go FIX the problem

3.     STOP trying  to be Mr. Professor Expert

4.     Promise less and deliver MORE

5.     Live in the QUESTION (When you don’t know what to say, ask more questions.)

6.     LISTEN

7.     Correcting your boss is a great technique for getting FIRED

8.     BE WITH your clients bellybutton to bellybutton

9.     There is a butt for every seat and a buyer for EVERY HOUSE

10.     The most important thing to know is your INVENTORY

11.     The real job of the realtor is to TRANSFER TITLE from a seller to a buyer

12.     A good Realtor can make money in ANY market.


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Buddha, Won’t You please Come Home?

said on June 23rd, 2012 filed under: Fun Things to Do Outdoors, Localism, Running and Hiking trails, Whimsy

Part 1.  The Secret Trail

There’s a secret trail near my home at Lake of the Pines, California.  Dharma and I run there often because it’s shady, not too difficult, and not too long, out and back, to a secret location about which, if you are an attentive and patient reader, I shall tell you in a moment.  I stumbled upon this “secret” trail a few years ago, by accident.  Well, to tell the truth, it wasn’t exactly continue reading…

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Recipe for Skunk Juice

said on June 5th, 2012 filed under: Whimsy

No, I don’t mean this is a recipe for cooking skunk!  This is the recipe for getting skunk spray off your dog–or yourself.  It would also work on a cat.  Ha!  I’d like to see you try to de-skunk a cat!

Uh Oh.

I’ve researched this basic recipe for “skunk juice” several times, and it is easy to find a recipe on-line, but I have a variation that has really worked well for me.

Before I tell you how to make it, here are three important cautions:

  • the concoction is explosive
  • it will seriously sting your dogs eyes and nose
  • it is only effective for a few minutes

Adam and Jamie on Mythbusters tested the recipe against (1) commercial skunk removal concoctions and against (2) tomato juice.  They found the “recipe” to be 80-90% effective in neutralizing the smell.  The commercial stuff was less than 20% effective, and the tomato juice was completely “busted.”  It doesn’t work.

So here’s the formula Adam and Jamie used:

  • 1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide (I use the weaker over-the-counter stuff at 1 and 1/2 % and it seems to do just fine)
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon liquid dishwashing soap (I have seen recipes that call for as much as 2 tablespoons; probably doesn’t matter much, just squirt some in the bucket)

Years ago, some country folk gave me a similar formula that I have used many times, and it really works.  In addition to the above ingredients I use:

  • 1 gallon of white vinegar

The sooner you can get this job done, the easier it will be.  Here are the steps:

1.  Gather the ingredients.  We always keep the ingredients on hand.

2.  Tie up the dog near a hose.

3.  Wet the dog (for yappy, snappy little lap dogs you can use “tepid” water so as not to offend Fluffy’s tender sensibilities).

4.  Mix the ingredients in an open plastic bucket or other large open container right where you are working.  It will fizz like crazy.

5.  Quickly, use a large sponge or rags to soak the happy animal in the mixture.

6.  Do not get the stuff in the dog’s eyes.  This is hard to avoid, because most often pooch will catch the skunk’s spray right in her face.  Do your best.  There is some stuff in a tube you can get from the vet to put into her eyes before you start.  Unfortunately, pooch typically gets sprayed sometime after midnight when the skunks are open for business and the vet is closed.

7.  The stuff only has to stay on the dog for a few minutes.  It works by chemically changinging the skunk oil and then fizzing it away.  That’s why it’s necessary to mix up the recipe immediately before you put it on the dog.  Put it on “fizzy.”

8.  Then you rinse her off, or at our house, let her go swimming in the lake.  Keep her outside.  She’s going to roll, and better on the grass than on your carpet.  Capiche?

9.  Give pooch a nice treat.

10.  Take a shower.

Finally, a couple of reminders.  Remember when I said the stuff was explosive?  That’s not a joke.  Don’t ever put it in a closed container, and do not store any left-over juice.  Some people advise you to wear rubber gloves and goggles (for when pooch shakes this stuff all over you).  That sounds like good advice.  I usually perform the de-skunking it in my underwear or an old bathing suit and then throw the wretched garment away.

That’s it.  Skunk Juice.

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The Most Important Blog

said on June 3rd, 2012 filed under: Localism, Whimsy

Four days ago I completed the Real Estate Tomato “Thirty One Blogs in Thirty One Days” challenge.  I wrote exactly thirty-one blogs in a systematic one-blog-a-day routine (no slacking off then catching up).

Then I sighed and sat back to rest and enjoy my success.

I remembered this aphorism from the Talmud:

Learning your lesson 100 times is not the same as learning it 101 times.

It occurred to me that the most important blog was not the thirty-first, the “concluding” blog, the “winning” blog, but, rather, the next blog, the thirty-second blog, and all the blogs to follow.

I scrambled today, June 3rd, to catch up, writing three blogs so that I could pull even again.

Organic, Sustainable, Local


6 Nevada County Farmers Markets





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Solar Panels, Well Pumps, Poets, and Lumbermen

said on May 25th, 2012 filed under: Water Wells, Septic Systems, Sewers, Electric Power, Whimsy

(Yesterday, I was out in the country on a home inspection.  The water well was being tested for yield and quality.  I love wells, and write about them often, Mother Nature providing her abundance for our sustenance, that sort of thing.  My thoughts turned to techniques for powering the well pump, way, way down at the bottom of that hole in the ground.  I remembered this article I wrote a few years ago on another blog, and decided to update it.)

Our most available energy is the conversion of sunlight into calories through photosynthesis by plants. This transformation of energy approaches true sustainability.

It’s not absolute sustainability (remember entropy?), but it’s very, very close.

Here’s a question for you.  Can we  find a way to capture solar energy through a sustainable technology over the long haul (almost-forever) and without reliance on fossil fuel, that is, without petroleum?

Look at this compact little energy conversion:

One solar panel powers an electric pump that brings drinking water up from a deep well. Take it from one who knows about these things, we are having to drill deeper and deeper wells, and the only way to get the water up from a deep well is with an electric pump. Once the solar-powered pumping system is working, the water is practically free and does not rely on petrochemicals. It leaves no carbon footprint. It is about as safe, environmentally friendly, and sustainable as you can make a system for retrieving deep water.

Until the solar panels wear out.

A good panel may last twenty or twenty-five years, maybe longer, though they begin to degrade as soon as they’re installed. Doesn’t everything?

Every human generation, then, is going to have to replace its solar panels.

Where do the panels come from, most of them, right now?


How do we get solar panels from a factory in China to our home or farm? On a boat or a plane or a truck or some combination, all powered by petroleum, dragging along a huge carbon contrail.

If we are going to have solar panels in a post-petroleum world, we are going to have to learn how to manufacture them locally.  Imagine a world in which the “panel maker” is as important to the community as the blacksmith or the doctor?

If solar panel fabrication can be localized, other possibilities open up, because electricity can be used for lots of swell things besides powering well pumps.

Well pumps?

Well pumps wear out even faster than solar panels. With luck and decent water (not too much iron and other minerals), we might get twenty years out of a pump, though most of them are rated for ten to twelve years. For a generation or two we might be able to repair pumps with parts that we salvage from other pumps.

Then what? Do we have to manufacture well pumps locally?


I am trying to get my head around the idea that a time will come when there will be no trucks on the freeways delivering the stuff we need, like well pumps. No trucks at all. When will that happen? When will the trucks stop rolling for good?

When they run out of gas.

When will that happen?

Sometime this century.

We can think about trucks blasting down the interstate consuming vast amounts of fossil fuel. But that’s just a tiny part of the story. The truck is also using petrochemicals as engine oil, brake fluid, lubrication and other direct applications. Then think about the fossil fuels used in the manufacture and materials for the tires, the plastics, the synthetics.

How about the steel? With what kind of energy is the steel mined, transported, forged, transported again, processed, fabricated, transported again, assembled, and transported again?

More fossil fuels. It ain’t just the gas in the tank. It’s everything.

Our world floats on an evaporating reservoir of petroleum. When it dries up at last, finally, completely, zilch, kaput, sometime in this century, what  are our kids and grand kids going to do? This is a question even our most noble leaders can not face. The President (of whatever political party) plays Nero, fiddling with Congress while Rome burns.

If our grand kids are going to have safe water to drink, light to read by, and the other swell uses of electricity, we are going to have to learn how to manufacture well pumps and solar panels locally.


And for the long haul.

Only a few poets and lumbermen, have the guts to look down the line, way, way down the line, five hundred years, a thousand years, ten thousand years, and make plans. Ten thousand years! Can we still be here in ten thousand years?

Poets and lumbermen.


The best long, long range planning I know about here in the foothills is conducted by the timber industry.  Sierra Pacific projects it’s timber harvest out hundreds of years into the future.  How many of our “leaders” look beyond their next election?

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31 Blogs in 31 Days

said on May 1st, 2012 filed under: Whimsy

Starting today I am stepping up to the Real Estate Tomato Challenge:  write 31 blogs in 31 days.

So far, so good.

What, you ask, is Real Estate Tomato? Okay, Jim Cronin, noble Tomato founder, here come your props.  Real Estate Tomato is the web design and hosting company, real estate school, and internet community to which I belong.  Yep, I’m a ‘mater.  The Tomato helped me design this site, host it, and provides me with consultation and technical services.  I’ll put a link to it at the bottom of this blog, but for now, stay right where you are.  With me, capiche?

What, you continue, do I win if I actually write 31 blogs in 31 days?  Braggin’ rights, that’s for sure, and a month of free web site hosting on the “Vine.”  Yay.

But there’s a bigger prize at stake.  SEO.  Search engine optimization.  If I do this right, the Tomato Gurus predict that my site will climb up through the rankings to reach, perhaps, to the supreme heights, the Holy Grail, the first page of a Google search for real estate in my service area.

What, you now inquire with sincere interest, do you have to do to climb to that rarified altitude?

  • Write every day
  • Write consistently about the topic promised by my site:  real estate (avoiding the off-topic stuff I into which I so often drift)
  • Write benefit-rich, attention-grabbing headlines
  • Include the important keywords in the headlines, and in the body of the blog, using natural, organic language (no keyword stuffing).  And just what are those important keywords?  They are the words that a customer would use when searching online for real estate in my geographic area:  real estate, homes for sale, California, Lake of the Pines, Auburn, Grass Valley, Nevada City, Sierra foothills, Nevada County, Placer County, affordable, rural, country, market, real estate market, Bob Jenkins, CJ Jenkins, Christine Jenkins and all of the long-tailed keywords I can reasonably expect customers might type into their browsers.

By the way, notice how I just worked all of those keywords into this blog?

That’s enough for this first day.  Thirty to go.

Oh yes, here’s the link to Real Estate Tomato I promised, an outbound link, delived to the Tomato, free of charge.

See you tomorrow.



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