Friday, February 17, 2017

February 13-17


Half way through February already. I should move the mini-belle peppers and eggplants to larger pots. Those seedlings are almost too tall for the starting tray. I have seeds for sweet basil, lemon basil, lime basil, thyme and oregano to start also. The local Menards garden section already had its seed display out so I added those to my collection. I did some more cleaning in the plant/craft/storage room. I hope to clear enough space to set up my sewing machine again--that itch has been growing. The weather has been unusually warm lately--the kind of unusual that makes you wonder when Mother Nature will decide to smack you in the face and remind you it is still winter. In case you are wondering why in the name of whatever Divinity I am planting things now when the average last frost date is around May 15 in my area, all of the plants I recently started are staying inside. I will start the outside plants at the end of March.


The Thai basil has I planted late last week has started to spout. I should start some of the herb seeds I got over the weekend and fill some more starting cups. The little heating mat is working very well in that small space to get the temperature for the seeds to a good germinating temperature.

I debated linking this. On the one hand I do believe out industrial society has altered the climate. On the other I don't think we can change how we live, even if we had the political will do do so--which we don't, soon enough to make much of a difference. I think I wrote on this blog somewhere in the past posts that, when I became aware of the idea of climate change some 20 or so years ago and most pundits claimed we had to keep the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere below 350 ppm, I looked up the historical levels of CO2 and discovered that we had passed that level around 1985. I have seen a number of articles about how we might adapt to warmer average global temperatures and even have seen a couple of hints by prominent politicians on that subject. However, However, once again it is too little, too late and there isn't any kind of consensus about what "we" might do or even if there is a "we" to do it. Whatever "it" might be.


So the Flynn tweets about being the "sole scapegoat" in the affair of his conversations with the Russian ambassador were fake. A lot of people were fooled but, being of a suspicious mind, I wonder who was behind the phony Twitter account and what were their motives. Considering how events unfolded it seemed plausible that Flynn was scapegoated. It seemed plausible, though not necessarily likely, that he was stupid enough to have the discussions described with a foreign ambassador before his boss was actually president. After all said boss was acting as though he was president almost from election night when he, in fact, was not. But I have begun taking everything I read with a ton of salt not matter what source it comes from. And the question still lingers: who set up that fake twitter account back in January and for what purpose?

This isn't a good sign. I said above that by the time we recognized (or at least some of us recognized) that anthropogenic climate change was upon us it was too late to prevent it. Well, we have done the same with various types of pollution.

This sounds so very familiar--and the author does draw the parallel with Trump's election over here.


Not much happening today. I think I saw the first bit of a stevia plant breaking the surface and the last of the eggplant starts suddenly decided to sprout. The Thai basil is doing well but won't need to be moved for another couple of days. I got some more of the table cleared in the plant/craft/storage room so I am close to having an area for the sewing machine. I spent some time trying to figure out the crocodile crochet stitch and I think I have it figured.


David Kaiser has an interesting post today with which I disagree in several parts. When George W. Bush was elected (even in his very unusual election by Supreme Court decision the first time) I was able to say he was my president and wish him well. His military adventurism forced me to amend that a bit by refusing to condone actions I mightily disagreed with though I could do nothing about. Trump, however, is something else again. He does not speak for me, act for me, or in any way represent me. He happens to be the president of the country I was born in, have lived in for all my 67 years, had at one time been proud to be a citizen of and to have served in my (inglorious) stint in the armed services. But he is not my president. Yes, a little less than half of voters voted for him but without the Electoral College he would have lost to the slightly larger half who voted for Clinton. So which half should defer to which? Kaiser talks about compromises which ended (sort of) the divisions of the Civil War but that required concessions by both sides. I have seen damned little compromise from Republicans over the last almost 20 years.

I agree with the author of this post and I am not at all surprised by the development. The militarization of our society continues.

Friday, February 10, 2017

February 6-10


I started some Red Mini Bell peppers, Patio Baby eggplant, purslane and lavender over the weekend. I plant to keep all of those inside. We are still a month and a half away from the time to start outside seedlings indoors. I cut and formed about two dozen starter pots from the tube cores from toilet paper and paper towels so I have plenty to start. I read bloggers who make hundreds of paper pots each year but they have large outside gardens and a lot of space for seedlings inside (if not in a greenhouse). Not my situation.

Everyone needs a good laugh!! I rather expected the punchline but it is fun anyway.

Ira Chernus has a very good article on Tomdispatch today on Trump's (in)security team.

Not much else going on. I baked bread today and when I do that I don't really want to do much else. Made a change in the recipe that we hope will taste as good as it smells.


The bread turned out quite good. I used apple nectar in place of most of the water and included chopped, dried apples.

The purslane I started Sunday has already sprouted. I plan to get more cups filled and watered to start more greens and to transfer the lettuce and spinach into larger pots. I noticed new growth on the eucalyptus so the drastic pruning may have helped.

This should get interesting. California pays more in taxes than it receives in Federal funds. It has one of the top ten economies in the world. And California contributes a bit more than 13% to the U.S. GDP. It is an interesting question as to which would hurt worse if Trump follows through and "defunds" California.

Tom Englehardt has another good post on the future crimes of the Trump administration.




I did fill and water more starter cups and discovered that I need to be less liberal with the water. Four of the 20 cups I set up were beginning to come apart. Get the soil moist but don't soak everything. I moved the purslane to the other side of the planting area because the seedlings were getting too large for the space under the plastic cap. The tray forms a micro-mini-greenhouse. I think one of the peppers and one of the lavender are trying to surface. We'll see. I have had only limited success with lavender. I hope I have much better luck this year. Otherwise, I get seedlings from the local garden shop. I just started another group of orach (the first group failed), a group of stevia (which I have never had any success with), some Thai basil and more spinach. The tomatoes, spinach, and lettuce I put into larger pots are doing well. Since I planted the entire thing (plant, root ball, and cardboard cup) none showed transplant stress.

Friday, February 3, 2017

January 30-February 3--


Beautiful sun today which was absent except for very brief and infrequent interludes over the past weekend. We got about two inches of light, fluffy snow which was very easy to sweep off the car and patio. It is cold but we keep reminding ourselves that it is still mid-winter after all--only a couple of days away from Groundhog Day.

Had a nice quiet and productive weekend. Finished one project (a large shawl to replace the one I took apart last year because some of the yarn had worn through and I had some unintended holes in it) and made progress on the doily that had frustrated me almost to the point of ripping the whole thing out. Fourth try was the charm, so far, as the first three didn't work at all. I still don't know how I messed it up the same way three damned times. Ah, well it is going well now and I am almost back to where I was when I first discovered I had gone wrong with it.


A mixed day today. I baked a loaf of bread using a new recipe. It smells good and we hope it tastes as good as it smells but I don't think I will do it again. It is a kind of quick bread and I didn't really like working with it. Next time I will find a regular quick bread recipe to work with.

I frogged the doily. I got past the problem I described yesterday but got to another section I simply couldn't figure out. I think the pattern might have had a misprint because the directions made no sense at all--at least to me. By that time I simply gave up. I will find another project soon.

I am not exactly ignoring politics but letting the issues simmer in the back of my mind a bit. I have thought for some time we needed change but I really didn't see anyone who I thought could change things for the better. Obama promised "hope and change" but I saw his policies as more of the Democratic usual than real change and some of the changes (like changing from the Bush "No Child Left Behind" to "Common Core") simply made things worse. I think we are still sleepwalking toward an ecological and energy cliff which none of our so-called leaders want to recognize much less address. Even if they did I have to wonder if we as a society would follow them. Perhaps not.

Ah, technology is wonderful--until it bites us in the ass. I had stayed in a couple of hotels/motels in the past that had key cards and never gave a thought to what would happen if the electronic locks went haywire. The blogger who linked to the story questioned whether guests were actually locked in their rooms. Usually you don't need the key card to get out only to get in but I don't know how the programming worked.


We tried the new bread and it is pretty good but I think I will stick to regular quick breads.

I have a table scarf to finish the embroidery on and a small embroidered doily that has been waiting for hemming and trim about forever. Those are next on my list.

We are only half way through winter and it feels like early spring. We are waiting for wintery weather to slam us to remind us of what time of year it really is. Planning for the outside gardens is in full swing and the starting trays are ready upstairs. Every now and then we add something for inside. We just ordered Meyer lemon, and dwarf key lime and orange trees to keep inside as potted plants. I guess I will be learning a good bit more about pruning and tree care.

On the theme of gardening here is an interesting piece from Grist. I have seen more of this both in the blogs I read and here at home. Several years ago I noticed a patch of the land owned by the nearby Lutheran church had been converted into a community garden. How many of the plots are planted and tended varies from year to year but there is always someone gardening in the area. About that same time the city started a community garden which it has expanded at least once. A church near the downtown area created their own raised gardens about three years ago. I have been content to use my little patio space though I have thought about getting a plot in the Lutheran garden or the city gardens. But the Lutheran space doesn't have a water source so I would have to haul water to it. And there is no shade which means, at my age, some of our scorching summer days would be dangerous. The city gardens is simply too far away. Driving would use gas which would eat up all of the savings the produce would provide.


On the matter of "alternative facts" check out Ursula Le Guin's letter to the editor. She puts the matter succinctly. The current administration doesn't have "alternative facts"--they have lies.

I baked again today. I don't know what happened to the wheat bread I made but it never tasted as good as it smelled coming out of the oven. Substandard in every way. The rye I made today is from a recipe I have used before and knew what to expect. Two very pretty loaves are cooling now. I will freeze one for later. Generally, when I get three in the freezer I go back and start on the earliest of them continuing until all three are gone and it is time to begin the cycle again.


Root Simple has a movement I can get behind. Actually we have been part of that movement for sometime. Needed new phones we went with "dumb" phones. We have computers so we don't need phones that double as computers or play movies. We still have a whole lot of features we don't use. We got the simplest we could. I bake bread the old fashioned way--mixing the dough and kneading it by hand (you know, those things on the end of my arms. "Fewer Features" sounds good to me.

Friday, January 27, 2017

January 23-27 --


I wonder how long before the Repthuglicans move us back to the very early 20th century--if not the 19th. Perhaps we will go back to an age before Upton Sinclair (to paraphrase his comments on the reaction) hit the public in its stomach while aiming at its heart with The Jungle. I read somewhere a long while ago (and don't know if it is true or not) that Teddy Roosevelt couldn't finish his breakfast sausage after reading the book. We read labels here because we don't want salt and sugar laden pseudo-foods, or high fructose corn syrup, or unpronounceable preservatives designed to keep the product looking fresh forever (or till some poor schmuck buys the damned thing), or genetically modified ingredients. Evidently the corporatocracy's right to sell us crap Trump(s) our right to know what the hell they are selling us. Anyone else out there like drinking (relatively) clean water? Or breathing (relatively) clean air? For another take on the situation check out this Grist article. And we can't depend on the states to do the job the Federal government is abdicating as this article covering our Bully-in Chief's EPA nominee's testimony. He intends to review California's clean car regulations. Those boys love "state's rights"--until they don't. (And to be fair the Damnocrats are much the same.)

Tom Englehardt has a blistering review of the "Intelligence" Community's latest quadrennial report on future threats and trends. Frankly, we should demand our money back.

So one of the (s)news outlets is getting wise to our new administrations shenanigans. My question: what the hell took you so long? They have played you like a cheap piano (or a harp from hell to quote the Penguin--Batman reference for those who might not remember).

I am not sorry to see this. But it was dead in the water anyway. Vietnam and Malaysia refused to ratify it, and the Philippines and Japan were having second thoughts. The deal was too big, too complex and too driven by business interests at the expense of national populations and national sovereignty.


It is time for something cute!! So cat-tastic!!


Errands today so I don't know how much I will feel like commenting on. I baked bread yesterday and you can see the result above. But I ended up with two beautiful loaves of lavender walnut bread. I used a new recipe and it is a keeper. That is a tasty bread.

Oh, Ripley, where the hell are you??

I don't know where the Archdruidess gets these but here is another bull's eye? I hope someone somewhere knows some centaurs to do the job.

Ah, down the not so good memory lane with the Archdruidess.

This is the second literary reference connecting the incoming administration and dystopian fiction. The first referred to Melania Trump as Ofdonald. Those who have read The Handmaid's Tale will get the point.

John Feffer has a disturbing projection of where the Trump administration is going. Sadly it is an international expansion of what I have thought the domestic developments would be. Just after the election I said that Trump would fulfill some of the desires of his supporters who wanted to attack the gains women and minorities have made over the last 70 or so years, would follow a practice of Business Uber Alles, and would do nothing significant for those in the (once) working class and (no longer) middle classes. Trump's cabinet nominees reinforce my assessment.


I saw a couple of stories on this yesterday. Orwell's novel 1984 is on the best seller lists again reaching #1 on Amazon. Appropriate considering we are in the age of Trump's Alternative Facts.


 A long and interesting piece from William Astore at Tomdispatch.

For such a (self proclaimed) smart guy, Trump can be damned dumb. Mom and I eviscerated his claim that he would force Mexico to pay for his wall by slapping a 20% import duty on its goods coming into the U.S.  Americablog does and even better job than we did.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Weekend January 21-22--


An interesting question came up in our conversations this morning: How many voters voted for down ballot candidates but not for a Presidential candidate. The Oracle of Google has provided at least a partial answer. In fourteen states the down ballot candidates out polled the presidential candidates significantly. Wyoming would have been the fifteenth if the "none of the above" category (which is allowed in that state) had been included with those who didn't vote for president but did vote category.


Nimue Brown has a nice little piece on clutter. I have read pieces over the last couple of years about the "de-cluttering" movement (I guess you could call it.) Nimue is right that the philosophy is underpinned by a simple sounding assumption: we all have too much stuff. Sometimes that is true--sometimes not so much. I have gone through periods of de-cluttering. When I realized that I wasn't going to go back to science related course work I got rid of most of the advanced material I had held onto for almost a decade. I kept a (very) few basic books though I am more likely these days to Google a specific question than seek an answer in a book. When I realized that I wasn't going to go back to academic history I purged my library once again keeping a few favorites. But the clutter remains. I have needlework projects in every stage of development from barely a thought in the recesses of my brain, to just started, to halfway done, to almost done, to finally finished. Some I haven't picked up in a decade but will--someday soon...maybe. I finally got the floss stash pretty well organized and I don't add as much stuff to the stash as I once did. But the needlework keeps me sane in our insane world as do the books I have kept and still buy at a much slower rate than I used to. I think I would hate a thoroughly organized and de-cluttered space. It would be suffocating.

I notice the so-called "main"stream media didn't carry any of this in their sound bites. All those who voted for him hoping he would get us out of our various (and largely unsuccessful) wars of choice may regret their votes. His "America First" slogan doesn't preclude more wars of choice for any spurious reason his fevered simulacrum of a brain comes up with at any given time.

Friday, January 20, 2017

January 16-20--


I think I started last week's post with "first Monday of the month." Ahhh, senior moments. It was actually the second Monday and this is the third. I won't complain about how fast the time is going by. So let's see what is interesting this third week of 2017--and, no, the inauguration is NOT interesting. I can't make any big statement about not watching it because I haven't watched any in the past.


We had fog move in yesterday afternoon and evening followed by heavy rain intermittently late last night. At least the freezing rain missed us. I was glad not to share what the states west and south of us got.

Margaret and Helen has some very good points and echo a sentiment I have had ever since election day: I am an American and Trump was elected to the Presidency but he isn't my president and he doesn't either reflect me or speak for me. As for paying respect to the office I am reminded of an episode from my miss-spent youth when I was in Navy boot camp. One of the instructors heard a recruit (not me, in case you were thinking so) say that some officer or other she had the misfortune of meeting was not worthy of respect and she saluted the uniform not the person. The instructor threatened to hang up an officer's uniform and force everyone to salute it if that was how we felt. Though I didn't say it I agreed with my fellow recruit. Some officers weren't worth a bucked of warm...spit. However, others redeemed the position and were worthy of a salute. The Donald is not worthy and one can respect the office while having no use for the piece of crap who occupies it--for now. Some bloggers have promised they are going to wear black not just for inauguration day but for the whole of his term--in mourning.


All of the seeds I ordered for this year are in. The Burpee order came yesterday. I will start the Patio Baby eggplant in the next couple of days. I will keep it under the grow lights upstairs. I also bought seeds for the Mitoyo eggplant but that I won't start until the end of March for planting outside. I am still waiting for the bare-root strawberries but those won't be shipped till the end of April. I noticed some nice fresh green on strawberries in the outside tower. I hope it survives. Same for the mums which are showing some green--not nearly as much as the strawberries.


John Michael Greer has another interesting post on the Archdruid Report. I don't like our (for another 24 hours) Bully-elect and didn't vote for him. I didn't much like Hillary Clinton but did vote for her only because I thought Trump so totally unacceptable. I am not really surprised at any of his proposed cabinet appointees, and I think the only difference between those and those Clinton would have appointed would have been superficial. We have a lot of problems that affect all people of whatever identity and I doubt that Trump's policies will help many of those (especially given the people with whom he has surrounded himself) will come up with solutions that will benefit more than the elites. I hope they manage to prove me wrong. And I would add that the politics of the past, whether of identity or of class, have failed us. We need a politics that gets us both greater social/political equality and more economic equality.


David Kaiser has a historical parallel to Trump that most people wouldn't consider. Given where Kaiser Wilhelm II led his nation let's hope the parallel stops at an odious personality. I hope this isn't an indication of what is to come. A vision of the Red Square parades of the Soviet era and of Pyongyang's muscle flexing parades came to my mind on reading the headline. Larry Sabato provides an some historical context for what seems to our modern minds a strained transition from Obama to Trump. The phrase that permeated the second Battlestar Galactica comes to mind: All this has happened before and it will happen again.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Jan 9-13--


I found this on Facebook after finishing the couple of games I play to wake up in the morning. A case of laugh or scream.

Well, the seed orders have been placed. Haven't ordered much this year because I still have a lot of seeds from the last two years. Had to replace some favorites like the Roselle cherry tomato, the yardlong beans, and the Dragon's Egg cucumber. The there are new varieties I want to try: a couple of eggplants (one for the outside gardens and a patio variety for inside, the Chicago pickling cucumber, the Chianti sunflower and the Strawberry Blonde marigold.

It seems to have become a "tradition" over the last few years. We go into the Holiday sales season with enthusiastic predictions of how the economy is picking up, how shoppers are buying everything in sight and the retailers expect a banner year. Then comes January and the story abruptly changes. Perhaps the on-line part of the retail economy did well but the brick-and-mortar side definitely hasn't.


Helen at Margaret and Helen has a good comment on the man-child President-elect. Once upon a long time ago when I was a grad student in Zoology we joked about the "fragile egos" in our field--the researchers who bristled at any criticism of their work and whose arguments descended quickly to ad hominem attacks. A little less than half of the Americans who voted (and all of those who didn't vote) have saddled us with an example par excellence of the "fragile ego."

We have said much the same thing just not so eloquently. For decades the panacea for the jobless has been "retraining." But what happens when the jobless complete the training and there aren't any jobs? Training doesn't create jobs. What happens when the number of jobs created don't match the number of the jobless? And worse most of the training requires the jobless to take out loans to cover the costs which puts them deeper in a hole whether they actually land a job or not. The author is right: we are all low skilled now.

Wind and rain today. We had light snow early last night but it was gone before we woke--the temperature had risen. Most of the next ten days are above freezing with only one at or near.

This is disturbing. We will never take our computers to Best Buy again. We did so only once but they didn't need to examine the computer to tell they couldn't help us with our problem. What is on my computer would probably confuse the hell out of any one else but it is my computer and my business and none of anyone else's.


We had some vicious winds late yesterday and overnight. Some folks in the region had power outages though not here. The rain has washed a lot of the snow away leaving only the remains of the mountains formed by the snow removal crews plowing the streets and a parking areas. The winds were strong enough to move the gate we have blocked open several inches. I moved a heavier weight over to combat the wind. We block the gate each winter because the ground shifts with the freeze and thaw cycles and at time it can become impossible to open the gate if it is closed or to close and latch it if it was open. Better to leave it open than risk damage or being trapped in case of an emergency.

There are two kinds of blogs and news stories I have almost stopped reading: so-called Republican/conservative sites where the authors can see no good about any so-called Democratic/liberal and so-called Democratic/liberal sites where the authors cann see no good about Republican/conservatives. This article makes some interesting points on that issue. I especially like the author's recognition of her own tendency toward bias and her comments remind me to be equally vigilant on the front. I don't like Trump and I didn't vote for him but I can see some areas where he might be able to do something I would think worthwhile. We'll see. For those who wonder--I didn't like Clinton either and wouldn't have celebrated if she had won.

Reading this article about Monica Crowley, one of Trump's picks for his staff, and plagiarism I had a moment of deja vu. Scroll down to where the author does a side by side comparison of her work and some of her sources and see how much is highlighted. Once upon a long time ago when I was teaching history at a small college I assigned a term paper. While grading the papers I had the sudden recognition that I had read the material before and went looking for it in the pile of papers I had already graded--and I found it. Another student had used the same on line sources and had lifted the exact same passages to make the exact same arguments. I highlighted the passages and flunked both students on their term papers which reduced their grade from A to C rather quickly. I didn't flunk them for the course because there was some question of how well acquainted students at that level would be (even with the materials I had given them) on the rules of citations. There is no excuse for Crowley as a Ph.D candidate. And I truly resent the Trump team's dismissal of blatant dishonesty as partisan sniping. Another example of how apt the Oxford English Dictionary editor's listing of "post-truth" among its new words is for the modern era. The facts simply don't matter.


We finished yesterday with fog, high winds and heavy rain. A lot of thunder and lightening this morning.

Here is a long post from John Mauldin featuring an article by Howard Marks. He makes some very good points on our post-truth/post-fact world, about politics and economics, about forecasters and about expert opinion.


Another nail in the coffin of Monsanto's BT crops. I had read for some time that pests are developing resistance and have actually been doing so for the last quarter century. I didn't know that Monsanto had "stacked" several BT genes (the producers of the "CRY proteins") into their GMO crops. I am not surprised. We seem to be ruled by the notion "if one is good more is better." Take a look at the number of "helper" drugs being advertised. If your anti-depressant isn't working the way you think it should, try adding X or Y to it to help it along. But, to get back to the BT problem, the situation is a parallel to the antibiotic resistance increasingly popping up in medicine. As we increase the number of BT genes (or antibiotics) in use at the same time organism resistant to all of them will crop up. As Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park noted "Nature finds a way."

Hmmmm? Rex Tillerson says "We'll adapt" to climate change. Well, yes--because the industry Tillerson is so representative of has been instrumental in creating conditions to which we must adapt. I noted some time ago that the earth exceeded the 350ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere, which scientists thought was the limit to prevent the average global temperature rise, in 1985. Last year the level was over 400ppm all year. But when ever someone like Tillerson says that "we'll adapt" I ask "adapt how?" and "what you mean "we," white man?" I suspect Tillerson's notion of "adapt" wouldn't be anything close to mine or anyone else not part of the 0.001%.

Ahhhh! The Baker Creek order just arrived. It included some of my old reliables like Dragon's Egg cucumber, stevia (the sweetie star variety this time), and Roselle tomatoes. I also ordered the Chicago Pickling cucumber, purslane, oxheart tomatoes, Mitoyo eggplant and balloon flowers to try out. They sent me a couple of freebees I look forward to trying--some purple carrots and a black tomato. I think I will adjust my plans by reducing the Oxheart to one container and putting the other space in the black variety. This morning I transplanted four of the spinach that are doing well into my small tower garden. I started them in the toilet paper roll cells I fashioned so I didn't have to take them out of a pot to put them in place. Just plopped the whole thing--roll, plant, soil and all into place. They have retained shape and integrity better than the paper I had done before. I might try the paper pots again with more layers.