Monday, February 19, 2018

Rainy today but that should wash away some of that snow that remains. It is also very foggy with our visibility down to, maybe, a block. Shopping done so we are warm and dry.

Found this by way of Ronni Bennett at Time Goes By. The Parody Project does the Twelve Months of Trump's Mess (Sung to The Twelve Days of Christmas.)

Dutch News posted an interesting story about drug companies and drug costs. A health care institute suggests that insurance companies should refuse to pay for expensive drugs as long as the companies fail justify their prices in a transparent manner. Simply citing "costs" of development isn't enough.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Got about an inch or a bit more of heavy wet snow yesterday. It is already melting off the cars, grass, and pavements. We are supposed to have warmer temps over the next week or so. Well, March is almost here and I am about three weeks away from first planting.

Another round of rearranging, stacking for donations and pitching. We will continue tomorrow. Even after the major effort is done I have a whole bunch of sorting to do with what is left.

This Nature post doesn't really surprise me. We have moved away from most aerosol sprays of any kind though it is surprising how hard it is to find the cleaning supplies without propellent sprays. We have also gone to more basic cleaning supplies: basic soaps without the additives and in bar form often, white vinegar, etc.

So--the Canadians also have a student loan problem.  I think the problem is in the basic shift to loans and away from grants, scholarships and such, coupled with the rising costs of higher education which puts paying out of pocket out of reach. I wish student loans in this country were taken care of in bankruptcy but they aren't.

Unfortunately, crappy ideas seem to spread rapidly. China's experiment with a "social credit system" whereby your worth is not only calculated by your income, net worth, wealth and popularity but by how well behaved you are judged, I am sure, in such a way as to discourage protest and unconventionality. Germany is thinking of trying something similar. How soon will it be tried here?

Saturday, February 17, 2018

We are still in the middle of a general clean up and culling of "stuff." We will probably be at it, with a day off for rest and/or shopping/errands, for the next week or so. We came here almost 18 years ago with what we each kept from separate apartment and house, and crammed it into a two bedroom town house. Since then the pattern of our lives have changed and what we do (and how we do it) have also changed. Somehow going through all this and either throwing away or giving away or donating so much feels worse that the "big 0" birthdays that remind one of how much older one is getting. I believe I had mentioned that my needlework stash had gone SABLE (Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy) a long time ago and I am now engaged in small projects that will use it up while trying to restrain myself from adding to it. I came here with somewhere around 10k books but that has been whittled down to maybe 1000. I usually do my reading on my iPad now (after resisting e-books for a number of years.) We are following a basic rule on most of the stuff: if you haven't used it (or read it, or viewed it) in the past couple of years, get rid of it.

Well, it seems the number of school shootings I cited the other day is in question--justifiably as this piece at Snopes points out. The number cited, 18 for this year, includes any discharge of a weapon in or at a school whether in session or not for any reason at all (or no known reason). It seems that the devil is indeed in the details (or definition.) However, in my not so humble opinion, reducing it from 18 to the 7 in Snopes first breakout section still results in far too many. In fact, ONE would have been way too many.

Still on that subject check this out at Crooks & Liars. Like gratitude, "thoughts and prayers" are worth their weight in gold. If more congress critters got donation checks reflecting that perhaps something might get done.

Windypundit has some good comments on the proposed changes to SNAP. Another site (sorry, forgot to make not of which) mentioned the changes making food assistance an exercise in humiliation.

Friday, February 16, 2018

The snow piles are much reduced for which I am glad. I like to dump my coffee grounds and expended tea leaves in the gardens directly and hadn't been able to for a week as the snow was piled high atop the pots and containers. But it is turning colder again for a few days.

Found this article which indicates a shift in kitchens to reflect the growing number of men who are cooking now. The cynical joke Mom and I often uttered in looking at kitchen designs was the men who don't cook designed them for women who do and they simply didn't work well. But now that men are cooking the designers are actually listening. Glory Be!!

I read sometime ago that tomatoes won't set fruit above 95F which explained why I had decreased yields after our usual mid summer heatwaves. Peppers and eggplant seemed to have a similar problem. Even if the temperature in the general area didn't reach that level my little micro-environment on the patio easily did. Just this morning I found this article which indicates our hotter conditions (all but one of the first 18 years of this century were on the list of the warmest ever) may indicate problems for corn as well. It doesn't reproduce above 95F. I got curious about the effects of higher temperatures on other crops and found this article.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Rain and fog today which should take out more snow out. I have about a month before I start my peppers, tomatoes and eggplant and I still haven't firmed up my new garden map. We are still in house cleaning mode. Still have some of the downstairs to do but I think sorting out the storage jars is my first priority. We started getting honey in quart and pint jars--the good canning kind--sometime ago and added to that with some we purchased when I started doing our own pickled and canned tomatoes. But now the stocks are way above what we need for canning and other storage needs. Plus we kept a number of nice little fruit and jelly jars to keep small amounts of herbs and such we grow and dry for tea and cooking. Those have also multiplied way beyond our needs. I can be a pack rat on some things but the time has come to lock my inner packrat in a closet and pitch a bunch of stuff.

We have a tendency to look at something and think we might use it some time. Sometimes we do and sometimes we don't. We are now sorting out the "Don't" category for redistribution elsewhere--Goodwill, where ever. I am always amazed when we go through these clean-up/sort-out frenzies how much shit stuff we collect over time. It isn't really useless crap. It just didn't work out or isn't working now for what ever reason.

I found this piece this morning which parallels my own feelings well. I mentioned before on various posts that I am more than a little irritated by several phrases that have become so expected and so meaningless but are trotted out in certain circumstances. "Thoughts and prayers" ranks very high on my list of hated phrases. It implies a compassion and sympathy which isn't really superficial (if even that), cheap because it requires no action or sacrifice on the part of the person offering "thoughts and prayers," and signifies a religious sentiment (prayers) that is just a cheap and superficial as the compassion and sympathy. It lasts only the few seconds to say.

So--school shooting #18 since the beginning of the year that is less only a month and a half old. We were, as usual, perplexed (WHY??) and--hmmm, "saddened" doesn't begin describe the emotion. We haven't really become accustomed or hardened by these stories that are almost a daily occurrence. But we don't have any control of the situation especially after the event. However, in addition, we felt a real tinge of irritation yesterday. The only thing, ONLY thing, on TV yesterday when we turned the set on for our usual hour of Jeopardy and news was continuous coverage of the shooting aftermath. I could summarize the coverage at 3:30 quickly: There has been a shooting at a high school in Florida with several victims and the shooter is still at large. That is all we know at present. But the coverage had wonderful (sarcasm!!) pictures from the helicopter of the students streaming out and the police in swat gear moving in, totally meaningless and emotional interviews with frightened parents and students, interviews with witnesses who may or may not have seen something or just heard shots (or something.) When we checked the news at 4:00 they didn't have much to add except an initial report of casualties that was sure to change shortly. Same at 5:00--oh, yeah: shooter in custody. Most of the coverage was meaningless crap with ZERO information value. By the way, that was the second day of extended coverage of a shooting. On Tuesday a policeman was shot in Chicago and the same mix of nuggets of information (street closures affecting commuters) and meaningless chaff. But it was continuous coverage from about 3pm on.

I found this list of school shootings in the U.S. from the 17th century forward on Wikipedia which is a bit frightening. The list shows 28 incidents for the 19th century, 226 for the 20th century, and 212 for the current century which is only at the beginning of its 18th year. I wonder if we will tie or surpass the 20th century tally before this year is out?

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day to all from this grumpy old broad. Supposed to be warmer today. I hope so. I want some of that white stuff outside to melt. I get tired of even mild winters very quickly.

We have been in major house cleaning/decluttering mode since Sunday with Monday off for shopping. I have often said that we clean when the spirit moves us and, thankfully, it doesn't move often. Actually that has been the case only since our last cats died of very old age between 2011 and 2013. The political situation has been a bit depressing as well. The new cats have changed that and given our lives a very needed shaking up. Things we had been thinking of doing in a rather lackadaisical way are now getting done. In the process we are getting rid of a bunch of stuff and rearranging where everything else is put to make it more accessible when we need it. Right now I am stiff and tired.

       Ronni Bennett at Time Goes By has a post on the Ivanka/Rubio proposal to allow people to access Social Security funds for family leaves to care for a new born or sick family member and then delay retirement by a commensurate time (six weeks delayed Social Security in retirement for six weeks of family leave now). Rather than providing what every other advanced nation on earth provides our Repthuglican politicians would rather shovel more money to a military already vastly over funded. They are grasping for any wedge to destroy a program their ilk have wanted to destroy for the last 80 years and from which so many have benefitted.
        But another thought came into my mind as I read this and other articles on the proposal. It reminds me of the "Cash For Clunkers" program in the early days of the Great Recession when the automakers were crying poverty, laying off workers, and wanting a bail out from Washington in the face of fierce opposition. The government funded hefty rebates for customers who traded in their older model car ( I think the car had to be pre-1996 or thereabouts) for a new car. It was sold in part as an environmental and fuel saving measure: the new cars were cleaner burning and got better gas mileage--or so the story went. A lot of the new cars consumers bought were SUVs that were only more fuel efficient by comparison to older SUV models not the sedans or smaller vehicles many people were driving.
      A (usually) unstated goal was to move consumption from two or three years down the road (when they hoped the economy would be recovering) to the present (when it was in a deepening recession). Well, the economy didn't improve so after a bit of an upswing the auto industry continued its slide. And the used car market took a big hit because all those trade-ins had to be rendered inoperable while people who couldn't buy a new car even with the rebates and other incentives couldn't buy a used car either as scarcity drove up prices.
      We have been involved in a desperate attempt (individually as well as collectively) to claw future income/revenue/assets into the present to fuel consumption now and the Ivanka/Rubio plan just goes after even more distant (potential resources). I say "potential" because the same people proposing this cockamamie scheme keep telling us that Social Security is going broke a lot sooner than when the 30 and 40 somethings who would be accessing the funds will be looking to retire.

This puts our 9 straight days of measurable snow amounting to 18-20 inches with mountains of plowed snow in some perspective.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Sunny today but still cold. No more snow for a while. Maybe, with warmer temps and rain tomorrow and Thursday, some of the white mountains will disappear but I expect some of this will be around till April.

Saw this this morning. I have two thoughts: anther goddam attempt for faux-conservative moralists to micromanage the poor and another goddam way for private business to fatten at the public expense. Let the looting continue.

Infidel753 posted an interesting piece on the controversy brewing over the census. Yesterday the administration's nominee to run the census in 2020 withdrew after fierce opposition. The Justice Department told the Census Bureau they wanted a question as to the responder's citizenship. And I remember being irritated by the intrusive nature of the questions last time. I hadn't gotten to the point of refusing to answer--but for how much longer??