Monday, October 5, 2015


I cleared the rest of the sweet potatoes but got no new tubers.  Why those plants didn't produce when they were in containers right next to the one that produced, I have no idea.  I found small sections that might have developed if they had another two months but we are only two weeks away from average first frost. The peppermint is on my agenda.  That should fill my dehydrator.


Peppermint is still on my to-do list and it may be tomorrow.  The wind made temperatures that did not get out of the 50s feel much cooler and we had sprinkles of rain--all of which killed my ambition. We expect similar conditions today but I don't have anything that absolutely must be done now.

This is so pretty and, if I had the space corn would like, I would grow it.

Oh, definitely!!


Still gray and misty outside.  Things are supposed to warm up and turn sunny starting tomorrow.  I hope.  At least we don't have what South Carolina has.

This sounds so very familiar.

Maybe it is time to formulate a new "American Dream."

Friday, October 2, 2015


Chilly again.  We put on winter nightgowns and were glad we did.  I may put the afghan on the bed soon.  I plan to harvest the rest of the sweet potatoes and, maybe, the last peppermint cutting.  Otherwise generally cleaning up.  The mandevilla is showing some stress so I may be taking it out soon.  It is a tropical vine and very sensitive to cold temperatures.  It bloomed prettily but I don't think, as of right now, I will put a new one in next year.  I am thinking of passionflower mixed with my dragon's egg cucumbers on a trellis.  Nowadays when I look out my patio door I see what I am seeing next year's garden in my mind's eye over what is left of this year's.  Need to sit down and thoroughly evaluate what did well and what didn't.

An interesting sign of the times, I think.  Good?  Bad?  I don't really know but it certainly does reflect our modern world.  Part of me is sad that so many words referring to natural, growing things are being replaced by words referring to an intangible, man-made environment.  Part of me wonders if, in a few short years to the children who use the OJD, the latter world will be more real than the former. If so, what will that mean for our society?

As computer technology invades more and more of the devices we use on a daily basis the possibility of more frauds like the VW "defeat device" software grows.  This little post provides a scary example.  We have already seen hackers holding individual computers and larger computer systems (as in those police departments rely on) hostage for ransom payments.  Pay up or you will never see your data again.  What would happen if, in the middle of an extreme cold spell, some malicious bastard took over your computerized heating system and threatened to shut it down unless you paid his extortion demands?  Or took over your fridge/freezer and threatened to ruin everything in it?

Some years ago, when we were still buying Christmas/birthday presents for the grandnieces/nephews, we did shop a bit at Toys 'r' Us.  If we still were we wouldn't any more because of this.  I have gradually decided that I shouldn't spend my American dollars with companies who don't support our American workers.

They just might be right about that.

We have wondered here about the so-called obesity epidemic.  We don't pooh-pooh the notion.  We know people who have dieted and exercised under strict doctors' supervision and been unable to lose weight.  This little article adds some complexity to the situation.  The researchers found that controlling for diet and exercise (meaning that the diets are the same and the level of exercise is the same) a person today is going to be 10% (or more) heavier than a person of the same age 30 years ago.  So what has changed.  Remember the study controlled for diet and exercise.  We have our ideas and I will leave you to think up your own.

I am not going to comment on the Oregon shooting directly.  Rather I am going to rant a bit about all the pundits now declaring that this is another part in a "war against Christians."  Frankly, I am sick of that crap.  I have seen reports of a couple of church shootings in which the assassin target blacks but no one is talking about a "war against blacks."  A Sikh man in Chicago was recently beaten by an attacker who was anti-Muslim and evidently was too ignorant and bigoted to know the difference.  It hasn't been too long since that mass shooting at a Sikh temple but no one has talked about a "war against Sikhs."  What about the vandalism of Jewish synagogues?  But we don't hear about a "war on Jews."  There is plenty of rage churning in this country and a lot of targets for that rage.  That there is a whine about a "war against Christians" shows just how insecure some Christians are and how easily demagogues of the most vicious sort tap into that insecurity. (Rant over.)

Thursday, October 1, 2015


Welcome to October.  Very chilly this morning--mid 40s.  It really does feel like fall.  Yesterday I harvested all of the remaining peppers and got about half of them cleaned and in the freezer.  Will get the rest done today.  I was curious how the sweet potatoes were doing so I dug up the first bed with four plants.  Got 2 lbs which mom peeled, cooked and mashed.  Split it into two freezer baggies which are also in the freezer today.  I still have another seven plants to harvest.  Not bad for my small spaces.

The (s)news media is making a big deal of Kim Davis' meeting with the Pope and I find the whole thing very distasteful--especially the notion that Davis is a "conscientious objector."  I see a distinct difference between Davis and the conscientious objectors who refused to either enlist (because their direct participation in any war was against their beliefs) in the military or refused to carry guns and kill (as opposed to serving their fellow men by saving lives and not killing themselves) because of their religious beliefs.  Some of them actually went to prison for draft evasion.  Others managed to serve in non-combat jobs and three of them were awarded the Medal of Honor for their heroism.  None of them insisted that others actions in choosing to serve and kill somehow tainted their souls.  Kim Davis argues exactly when she insists that somehow her signature, or rather her very name, on a marriage license for a gay couple somehow implicates her in a sin which somehow endangers her hope of salvation.  Poppycock!!!  She has made her disapproval known and her deputies can sign the licenses.  If that isn't sufficient she could resign but then she wouldn't make waves.  And she wants to make waves.  She reminds me of those we used to call "the blooming idiots" who arrived on campus with the spring flowers and loudly told all passersby they were going to hell for whatever sins they imagined we were committing. Shades of the Islamic State, sometimes for as little as wearing skirts an inch too short or wearing pants or just being on campus.  It is amazing how they focused on the women.  Kim likes to focus on gays but she is the same.  A shrill, haranguing, proselytising busybody who can't stand anyone doing what her god tells her not to do.  For an intriguing take on the possible behind the scenes machinations of the Pope's meeting with Davis look at this blog post.

The Daily Sheeple has a post today that makes a related comment on the news media but concerning the alleged "war on police" not Kim Davis.  We have noticed how the (s)news media obsesses to the point of nausea on certain stories.  It is nice that the Pope visited three U.S. cities but did we really need six days of nearly non-stop coverage of the minutia of his visit?  And in the middle of all that there was damned little real discussion of what he said.  I have noticed that every time a police officer is shot or killed the story dominates the news whether there is something new to the story or not.  Usually not.  There is a (probably) apocryphal story about a newspaper editor (back when we had real newspapers) who ran through his office yelling "What does a sex maniac do?----He SELLS papers!!!"  Well, sex sells anything it seems.  And the corollary is "If it bleeds, it leads."  And it doesn't matter if the story is accurate or even true--so long as it is sensational.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


We expect mid 60s today.  Cloudy this morning but that should burn off.  Thinking about what I should clear out next in the gardens.  I have peppers I should take, clean and freeze.  And I have peppermint to harvest and dry.  Of course, the usual clean up chores continue.

Gaius Publius has a post on Naked Capitalism which says exactly what other critics of our so-called capitalism.  It is very far removed from any meaningful definition of the term.  I like his comparison of our current social arrangements to the predation pyramid.  It fits like a glove.  Pay special attention to the discussion of "markets" and how much of the supposedly "free" market is heavily subsidized by our tax dollars.  A couple of critics have brought up the topic of corporate "welfare queens" but the mainstream media never notices.  They prefer the Repthuglican talking points about the poor (decomposers on the above mentioned pyramid.)  They would rather take pennies from the poor that the millions and billions of dollars given to corporations who pay little in taxes and move jobs out of the country.

Another take on the dilemma of Big Oil from Mark Shapiro at Grist.  There has been a seismic shift in our society and our economy over the last thirty years or so and a lot of the major players are finding that their positions have been eroded while their attention has been elsewhere.  Or they may have seen the first tentative signs of that shift and dismissed them with a shrug and the notion that "this too shall pass" and the good times will roll again.  Maybe; but probably not.

Last week or the week before I linked to a story about a major U.S. company that decided not to require college degrees of its job applicants.  They said the degrees didn't adequately predict how successful (or not) the applicant would be and had nothing to do with the demands of the job.  Now a small private liberal arts school, Hampshire College, will no longer accept SAT/ACT scores from their applicants.  Other schools had made the scores optional but Hampshire has gone a step further and simply won't accept the scores.  They make a damned good case for their policy.

I follow the controversies over Muslim women's veils with interest.  Much of the controversy is driven by xenophobic idiocy and a patronizing notion that westerners know what impels Muslim women to accept what ever form of veil they choose.  But in the course of following that story thread I come across stories of women donning veils which cause hardly a ripple in the media or in the political world.  Why?  Because the women veiling aren't Muslim.  They are Christian and even a few Pagan women who see it as part of their devotion to which ever deity they feel called by.  Some wear their veils at prayer or ritual; others, all the time.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Supposed to be cool today and for the next week.  I took out the ornamental sweet potatoes I had in a medium pot and found a couple of small tubers forming.  They really didn't have the room to grow big and the ornamental strains weren't developed for large (or sweet) tubers.  I didn't keep them.  But according to the info on-line sweet potatoes are ready to harvest when the leaves start turning yellow (check) or just before first frost in the northern areas (check.)  We expect light rain today so I think tomorrow is the better day to start harvesting the Beauregard variety I also put in.  Why did I bother with the ornamentals?  I hadn't planted in sweet potatoes before and I thought most of my slips had failed.  I didn't realize my mistake until I dug up the most sickly (as in "dead") looking slips and discovered healthy roots.  I was glad I was gentle about digging them, quickly replanted them and learned a bit more patience.

Naked Capitalism has this analysis of Shell's announcement they are shutting down their Arctic drilling off Alaska having spent $7billion with little to show.  What was barely profitable at $100/barrel is a big loss at less than $50.

I can support the premise behind the proposed "Shut Down the Shutdowns Act."  I am so incredibly tired of the drama queens on the far right holding everything hostage in their farcical political substitute for holding their breaths till they turn blue.  Perhaps I should reword that: they want us to hold our breaths till they turn blue--or we die.

Monday, September 28, 2015


Didn't do much at all yesterday.  You can probably tell.  Not much on the news except Pope Francis who performed pretty much as we have come to expect.  Don't get me wrong.  I like what I see of the man but I don't see why his every move is newsworthy.  I wonder how many other items were ignored by our (s)news media during his visit.

I guess this is a good reflection of a point some "peak oil" bloggers have tried to make:  it isn't that we will run out of oil in an absolute sense (i.e., there isn't any) but that the oil available simply isn't harvestable at an affordable cost.

The situation in Spain is getting interesting.  The Catalan elections brought in a parliamentary majority for separatist parties which claim they now have a mandate to declare independence within eighteen months.  The major fuel behind these parties was the austerity programs the national government is trying to ram through.  This Reuters piece provides more information both on the Catalan movement but on the Scottish separatist movement as well.

Is it my imagination or are auto recalls becoming more frequent and involving bigger numbers?

Saturday, September 26, 2015


Cleaned out one of the large pots and found I actually had two pots stuck together.  These pots nest so closely that I thought they were one.  But now they are separated and I have the stacked with a spacer to keep them that way.  I also brought in the lime basil inside for the winter and should trim it back a bit.  Also transplanted the chocolate mint and brought it inside.  More cleaning up today.

We have thought a lot about food safety here.  Here is a good article on the issue.  All of the points are quite good but I do have a few quibbles.  On the issue of preservatives, we try to find foods with the fewest and/or the most natural preservatives.  The author makes it sound like our preference for preservative free foods is opening us up to food poisoning but this a damned if you do/damned if you don't argument.  Often the more complicated preservatives have been linked to health problems that it is better to avoid.  The food scientist had blinders on when they tested the preservatives.  The only concern was how effective a preservative it was not how the chemical and its metabolites reacted in the human body.  And preservatives aren't the only things we are careful to avoid.  We don't like artificial sweeteners, large amounts of natural sugars or salt either. On the issue of imported foods, we look at where our foods come from and try to find products from as close to home as possible.  The key phrase is "as possible."  Also our foods are as simple as possible.  We choose the products with the fewest components and the final meals are usually homemade.  We really use our freezer because we prefer frozen veggies to canned (less salt and no BPA) and we freeze left overs for inclusion in future meals.