Saturday, January 31, 2009

Good Morning, everyone.  I simply had to take the day off yesterday.  I did go through my Google Alerts, e-mail, and usual blogs.  But simply found I didn't want to read anything closely or comment on anything.  Not that there weren't any items worth commenting on.  I simply didn't want to comment.  Part of the reason is that I sometimes feel that I sound like a broken record and, having said all I want to say on a topic, don't want to repeat myself more.  Besides, there has been little good news anywhere lately.  The economy is still in the toilet.  The Republicans still define 'bipartisan' as 'you give up your agenda and adopt ours or we won't play.'  More jobs are being cut across the board.  What can be said about all that that hasn't already been said.  Worse, almost all of the comments (politically, socially, or economically) tend to support the notion of going back to the cancerous growth of the early Bush years and not questioning whether or not that growth was healthy.  You can guess my opinion given the descriptor 'cancerous.'

Someone who has questioned the socio-economic relationships that dominate our society is NoImpactMan.  He makes some very good comments in his latest post.  I love the picture at the top of the post.  We not only work the most of any society on earth we also are the most medicated, with anti-depressants among the most prescribed medications.  But how do we break this pattern.  How many of us can get by on one job? Or on a 40 hour week?  At various times over the last ten years, I looked at my work arrangements and tried to calculate what I would need to make my basic living expenses, which are definitely not extravagant.  When I worked at the party supply store I would have had to work an 80 hour week.  I only got 24 for most of the time I worked there.  I would have needed three more of those jobs to just eke out a living.  At one, thankfully brief, time I had three.  I was such a basket case you could have used me to illustrate the meaning of the term 'bitch.'  Why should anyone be required to kill themselves to make a living?  And now, of course, getting and keeping even these jobs is difficult.

For the last week or so the talking heads on CNBC have alternated between those guests who deplore the 'bonuses' given to Wall Street employees (below the level of CEO many of whom have 'foregone' their bonuses) and those who defend the 'bonuses.'  I put the term in quotes because, as a couple of interviewees have pointed out, these payments are actually a part of the expected compensation for employees whose official, base salary is much lower.  Many hired on with the expectation that, come hell or high water, they would get those payments.  What most aren't saying, and some of the younger ones can't remember, is that this system arose out of a great public outcry back in the 1980s over salaries that had reached stratospheric levels and during another economic downturn.  Instead of outright salaries much of the compensation was shifted to 'bonuses' and other benefits (cars, expense accounts, etc.).  It was basically a way to mask the true level of compensation and appear that the companies (and their governing boards) were more 'responsible.'  Unfortunately, the practice is at odds with ordinary Americans' understanding of what a bonus is and how it should function.  Bonuses were awarded when the company did well as a (usually small) token of appreciation to the workers who made the profits possible.  If the company didn't do well--no bonuses.  Even very productive employees did not get anything extra if the company as a whole did not perform.  In today's economic climate, those who did well should simply be glad to keep their job (with, maybe, a small raise to encourage them) and those who did not should join the unemployment line.  No one should get bonuses that are several times their base salary.

As I read this story in the timesoftheinternet, a thought crossed my mind. I have heard a lot of criticism, mostly from business and investment types and conservative Republicans, of the stimulus package--especially the part that calls for iron and steel used in the various construction projects to be purchased from U.S. companies.  Most claim it is protectionist and could lead to a round of tit-for-tat measures from our trading partners that would simply deepen the recession, as such measures did during the 1930s.  Unfortunately, though they may be right, they are also behind the times.  They assume that the U.S. would be starting this process when in fact, according to some of the stories I have read, other countries, including some of our largest trading partners, are intensifying protectionist policies that predate the downturn.  Furthermore, the 'anti-protectionist' camp has to face the fact that ordinary people want some form of protection for their fragile economic existence.  We have heard snippets of the problem rising unemployment in China but very little about the demonstrations in France, England, and Eastern Europe, many of which have turned violent.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Good Morning, again. Hope everyone is doing well in spite of the big storm. We got off fairly lucky. Only about 3 inches (official total) of snow. Everyone hopes for some warmer weather. I look at our towering mountains of snow and hope it isn't too warm too soon. Can any one spell 'run off'? After the serial floods last year we reall don't need another round this year.

Meadowview Thymes has some pictures of the ice storm down Texas way.

I must be suffering from a mild case of 'God, I can't wait for winter to be over.'  We stopped in at the local Home Depot to see if they were starting to get their spring seeds in.  We looked at several large racks thinking what we might pick up.  Before we went the rule was 'no buying yet just look.'  Suddenly Mom asked 'You're not going to buy that, are you?'  I still had a packet of seeds in my hand.  I did put it back.  We are not ready to buy yet but the compulsion was very strong.  God, I REALLY can't wait for winter to be over.

Well, the Republicans, every damned one of them, voted against the stimulus package.  Anybody surprised?  I wasn't.  For years now I have translated their promises of compromise as a demand for total capitulation on the part of others.  Joe Sudbay summed up the situation at Americablog.  

"It shouldn't surprise anyone that the same Republicans who played politics with the Iraq war are willing to play the same games with our teetering economy. That's what they do. Hopefully, the Obama team has learned something, too. If the other side isn't really negotiating in good faith, you're just negotiating with yourselves."

Entitled to Know tells us that a new bill has been introduced to that will require Medicare to negotiate prices with the drug companies.  At last.  I will be so glad if we finally break the drug companies iron fist on this.  When private insurers are reaping vast payments from the government, using those payments to undercut government programs, and then gouging the same government with high non-negotiable prices---we are all getting screwed.

Dean Baker at TPM Cafe talks about the newest schemes to form a 'bad bank' to allow the Feds to buy up the toxic assets too many banks still have on their books and still have not written off (because then everyone would know how bad their situation really is.)  Here is the new face of the 'Welfare Queen.'  Remember when that term first came into being?  What was the image the press gave us?  Fat, black, female sitting on her lazy backside while her half a dozen kids, each with a different father, were causing trouble all over the neighborhood.  Now instead we have thin, white, male bankers dressed in expensive suits sitting in expensively decorated offices bemoaning how the greedy poor forced them to make loans that wouldn't be paid back.  Don't you just love it?  And I will leave you to guess who is the more culpable.

By the way, wasn't the TARP supposed to buy up those bad assets--I mean, before Paulson started playing fast and loose with the money and changing the ground rules?  Silly me. I must have been hallucinating.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Good Morning, again.  The storm that hit the plains and Ohio valley spread a little further north than the weather people originally thought.  However, we have been lucky.  Only snow and, perhaps, only an inch or two.  If it is light and fluffy enough all we will have to do is sweep a path to our patio gate.  It did put a monkey wrench into our plans.  We have to do our shopping and pay rent.  Since the rest of the week looks no more promising we will do that today.  But the trip up to the Harbor for Mexican and tamales will wait.

Thanks for the tip on Pat Catan, Kay.  Unfortunately, from what I see on their web site, they are only in Pennsylvania and Ohio.  And, though they have a web site, they don't have an on-line store.  Too bad.  It looks interesting.

Tripping through the blogs I found another cute coaster pattern at Inspired Crochet Design.

I do hope that our nasty winter is not going to be followed by an equally nasty summer.  I don't want the same kind of weather the Sustainable Self-Sufficiency Blog describes for that Land Down Under.  Australia is bracing for what could be a 100 year heat wave.  I found a site that converts the celsius degrees to fahrenheit.  That 40 degree + temp--that translates to 104+ over here.  For those who don't know Australia has been in the grip of a prolonged and very severe drought.  Some time ago, back when rice and other commodity prices were going through the roof (along with oil),  I saw a news report that claimed that they lost better than 90% of their rice production to the drought.

I found this article at Reuters by way of John Aravosis at Americablog.  I hope that the spokesman for the 'corn refining' industry is right and their cleaning materials no longer contain mercury.  However, I am concerned somewhat because high fructose corn syrup is as ubiquitous as salt in most of our prepared foods and condiments.  And the products can stay on supermarket shelves for a very long time.  I wonder what a new round of tests with products currently on the shelves would yield.  Perhaps the researchers, or the FDA??, will repeat the tests.

This AP article on Yahoo news (by way of Chris In Paris at Americablog) explains exactly why I remain skeptical about any of the bailouts.  What has happened smacks, to me, of hiring the doctor who broke your leg to set it.  It makes about that much sense.  What burns me most is that, in any sane economy, they would have been not only fired but, possibly, prosecuted for failing in their fiduciary duties.  A store clerk whose register comes up consistently short gets fired.  These bozos get bonuses.

How familiar this sounds.  According to the Guatemala Times, the Guatemalan government gave one of their major banks a TARPesque bailout touting the same rhetoric and justifications as the Bush Administration.  And with basically the same results.  What was Einstein's definition of insanity?  Oh, yeah.  Doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.  I don't think their outraged language is strong enough but can't figure out how to say it stronger without getting deeply into profanity. The mug shots of Al Capone at the top certainly set up the article.  Thanks to Bob at PureLandMountain.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

 Good morning, all.  It is still frozen here.  No sign of a warm up and we are expecting some snow.  How much no one really knows.  The main storm stayed south of us.  I did get out yesterday.  The car started with some complaint and then proceeded to scare the life out of me.  I sat and watched the gas gauge drop from slightly more than three quarters to just under half over, maybe, 30 seconds.  Gathering my wits, walked around it looking carefully for any sign of gas puddled underneath.  Didn't see any so I got back in and watched the gas gauge again and after a couple of minutes it started to go back up.  I breathed a sigh of relief and went about my errand.  Before I finished the needle was back up to the three quarter mark.  Did I mention it has been cold around here?

I was able to get a new knitting spool at Michaels  but the entire needlework section is so sparse that I was very disappointed.  I think I will be working entirely from my yarn stash for some time to come and may make my next purchase on line.  I remember about twenty years ago when Michaels shifted to a fad I didn't want to follow.  I didn't go into any Michaels store for over a decade.  I did have a choice of knitting spools between three plastic and one with metal pegs embedded in ceramic.  None of the plastic inspired my confidence that they would last any longer than the last one did (about 2 months--it broke on my second project).  So I went with the ceramic.  We will see how well it stands up.

Well, it is obvious that Citi 'doesn't get it.'  They prove it by contracting to buy a $50million jet and then justify the action by claiming that they didn't use any TARP money to do so.  Bulls**t.  They could have used that $50million to bolster their business directly instead of engaging in conspicuous consumption.  Worse, they chose a foreign supplier.  This is just like AIG holding those 'seminars,' or whatever, at pricey resorts after receiving their bailouts.  What is wrong with these idiots??  Chris In Paris at Americablog has a few choice words and a link to one of the stories.

And Robert Reich at TPM Cafe has another entry in the category of inappropriate expenditures or institutions that have received a bailout.  Now that the second half of the TARP has been released, the banks, et al., are lobbying congress to impose restrictions that are few and light.  Why should they be allowed to spend OUR money that way.  They have screwed up so badly and yet they want to be allowed to screw up even more.  I think ALL institutions that receive government bailouts should be barred from lobbying.  Including the auto makers.  I am sure that they are very unhappy that the Obama is reviewing EPA restrictions and California's request for a waiver from Federal Regulations (since their own are more stringent.)

To move from EPA regulations to climate change--this little story was at the BBC site.  For some years now, when Mom and I have discussed the 'global warming' controversy (or climate change, if you prefer), I have expressed skepticism.  Not about whether climate change is real and not about whether humans are now a major cause of it.  Rather I am skeptical about whether we could generate the political and social will to slow down (much less reduce) the release of carbon in its various forms.  Also I have been very skeptical about the time tables put out.  By the time even a majority of people realize there is a problem and can come to some agreement on solutions, the problem has grown to Godzilla-size.

I found this little item on the Consumerist by way of digg.  Just when I think I have already seen the ultimate in mean-spirited money grubbing something else comes along.

Monday, January 26, 2009

It is still really frozen here and not likely to get any better before early next week.  Blast-- because I have to go out today.  One peg on my little knitting spool broke--mid project.  I am going to try to take the piece off and secure it with a safety pin.  Luckily I am very close to the end of the color I was using so I don't have much on that end to deal with.  I would make my own but I don't have any empty spools and those that are close to empty are all plastic or styrofoam.  Oh, well!!

I haven't seen much to comment on or pass on.  so I will make it a very short day.  Bye for now.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Good morning on this very frosty Sunday.  The weather people last night showed statistics that indicate this winter has been among the 15 snowiest and coldest winters on record.  It certainly feels like it.  We are supposed to have sunny days even if they are cold.  Good.  It is so much easier to do needlework in strong natural light.  A couple of years ago we purchased a couple of daylight balanced fluorescent floor lamps hoping they would help.  They haven't really.  We work the projects that require good light when we have it and I do those that don't in the evening.

The news last night had an update on the salmonella situation.  In the middle, Mom exclaimed "Oh, God, turtles are on the list."  She had been given a box of the candies for Christmas and we just opened them yesterday.  In fact we had each just eaten them.  I doubt there is anything to worry about since the brand is not in any way associated with the recall.  But it does make you sit up and take notice.  We are also watching the pet foods.  So far our feline lords and masters are fine.  The recalls appear to be limited to the dog food isles.  I do feel for dog owners.

Donna commented yesterday on my post yesterday that we may never know the ultimate cause of the contamination but she thought it might be a Tyson style concentrated animal feeding operation.  CAFOs seem to have been nearby in at least one such incident (the spinach recall).  Grist had some stories on the increase in e. coli contaminations of ground beef associated with the beef feedlots.  Last night one lawmaker (sorry, I don't remember who) was on the news mentioning the lack of a field-to-table safety system in this country.  She is pushing for such a system.  Problem--how do we track the large amount of food that comes in from outside our borders?

Kay wondered how I stand MSNBC.  In small doses actually and with a good deal of skepticism.  But I do that with ALL news media, which, to my mind, have shifted from real news to entertainment.  They cover, incessantly but superficially, anything dramatic making sure that the drama (if not the information) is heightened as much as possible.  I go to MSNBC because I have, and have for years, had a hotmail account.  It has served me well so I haven't changed.  Every now and then something catches my eye in transit. But I always read with my skepticism antennae on high alert.  As far as FOX goes, the only thing we watch on that station is 'Bones.'  The 'news' pegs my irritation meter within seconds if I happen to get there by accidentally hitting the wrong button on the remote.

Patti Haskins has put some 'Pickles' comic strips featuring a needlework theme.  The exchanges remind me of a conversation with my husband at that time.  He complained that he couldn't quit smoking because he needed something to do with his hands.  I told him he should take up needlepoint (a craft I then indulged in).  Huffily he rejected the notion because it wasn't manly.  I pointed out that Rosie Greer, a retired football player, did needlepoint.  He merely commented that he wasn't built like Rosie Greer.

Dean Baker at TPM Cafe notes that the banks are coming back for more money after having burned through $350 billion with little to show for it.  He says it is enough and I agree.  I hope that the Obama Administration looks deeply and carefully into where the money has gone and takes serious names and kicks serious butt.  Especially if another the circumstances laid out in another couple of stories are in any way true.  A couple of weeks ago a '60 Minutes' segment detailed the working of speculators, many associated with some of the largest banks, in running up oil prices.  One expert interviewed (sorry, I can't remember the name) called Morgan Stanley 'the largest oil company in the country.'  Add that to this post by Raymond J. Learsy on the HuffingtonPost which claims that these banks used TARP money to speculate in oil and it is enough to get your, and my, blood pressure up.  Correct me if I am wrong, but I seem to remember that TARP was 'sold' to our lawmakers as a way to unfreeze the credit markets.  Methinks we have been sold a pig in a poke, a bill of goods, what ever other phrase that comes to mind to describe a fraud.

Robert Reich at TPM Cafe has an excellent term to describe TARP and other bailouts--'lemon socialism.'  Taxpayers, via the bailouts, 'own' the lemons while the 'capitalists' keep the good stuff and make even more money.  Sounds like the assessment others have made about our whole, allegedly, capitalist banking system--Socialism for bankers and capitalism, with all its penalties and few of its rewards, for the rest of us.

That is about all for today.  It is definitely time for breakfast.  Keep warm, everyone.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Good Morning, this frigid Saturday.  It isn't as bad as it has been.  Our temps did not go as low as the weather people forecast.  I got out to the library Thursday and saw numerous little mountains of snow everywhere.  Those will be with us well into Spring unless we get a long string of 60+ days.  Hope we don't because the flooding will be something else again.  A slow melt would be so much better but I am not taking any bets on what we will get.  Weird weather has been a by word for the better part of the last two decades.

The list of peanut containing products under recall keeps growing.  According to MSNBC this morning some 125 products are now listed, including some dog food.  I, for one, find the amount mind boggling--31 million pounds.  And according to the article the company, Peanut Corp., isn't one of the industry giants.  More evidence, as if we needed it, of the dis-economies of scale.  Before anyone realizes there is a problem it has spread to every corner of the country.  I wonder how many breathed a sigh of relief when the problem of melamine-tainted products was limited to pet food or to products only sold for human consumption in Asia?  I don't think we had all that much to be relieved about.

Barefoot In The Garden has an interesting and funny comment on our current situation.  Obama inherited something already so broken he can't do any more damage to it.  In spite of all of the dyed-in-the-wool conservative Republicans bleating about free markets and small government (where HAVE they been over the last eight years?),  there is little system left to conserve.  The situation can get worse thanks to the momentum of events created by those same free market conservatives who forgot that greed is one of the seven deadly sins.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Good Morning.  We have had a couple of nice sunny days with temps in the upper twenties.  Today will be the last 'balmy' day for a while.  But it will still be sunny.  That makes a big difference.

I always enjoy seeing things on blogs that give me ideas for using my stash.  You know--all the fabric, threads, yarns, etc., accumulated over the last 4o or so years.  I found just found this one.  The flower coaster at Man Made is perfect for some of the Sugar 'n' Cream yarn I have.  I am using part of it for a new rug but I can make only so many rugs.  Coasters are always useful.

This is an interesting little item.  Why in the world would Chrysler decide to underwrite the fourth installment of the Terminator saga when it just got a bailout, has to file a restructuring plan soon with the Congress that gave it the bailout, and is expected to ask for another $4billion?  What was it President Obama said about 'hard choices' and 'putting aside childish things?'  Someone obviously wasn't listening.

On that note, see ya'all later.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Good Morning, everyone.  I haven't been ignoring the inauguration.  I just haven't much to say about it.  All of the hoopla has been more of an annoyance than an entertainment.  I will be very glad when it is over and we can get on with it (what ever it is.)

Tripping through the blogs on my Google searches this morning I found this by ourfriendben at Poor Richard's Almanac.  Last fall I started collecting styrofoam egg cartons with the intention of using them as starting trays for my garden this year.  I also collected various size plastic containers that our cream cheese, cottage cheese, and margarine came in to serve as transplant pots.  We don't get soft serve margarine or cream cheese in tubs any more but I already have more than enough of them.  I won't buy any of the watering spikes because I am going to try something of a similar kind.  We are saving the squeeze bottles from dish detergent.  I will break off the cover cap, put a hole in the bottom large enough to fill from my watering can, and will burry the whole bottle between plants.  I will tell you how it works out.  We have a few coffee filters left that I am keeping to use as a porous cover for the bottom of some of my pots.  Last fall, after becoming more and more frustrated by the filters that continued to collapse letting grounds into the pot, we changed to a permanent filter basket that fits into the pot's filter holder.  Now we don't buy paper filters any more.

Wednesday, January 21.
Another good morning to everyone.  I didn't have much to say yesterday so I decided to catch up today.

My first stop on my tour of e-mail alerts was to  They have a partial list of the bills already introduced for House and Senate consideration.  As usual, it is a mixed bag.  Some, I think, are needed.  Others, are flummery.  Others fall into categories that are less politely mentionable.  The lead in to the list mentions that 500 bills have been introduced into the House and 200 into the Senate.  Makes you wonder what wasn't on the list the site made up.

Tom Englehardt at tomdispatch asks a very interesting question with several interesting ramifications: 'what will Obama inherit?'  And about how much of it are we very much in the dark?  Bush's people, throughout his administration, followed the old advice scifi writer Robert Heinlein put in the voice of Lazarus Long: 'In a government of the people, by the people, for the people--DON'T TELL THE PEOPLE.'  

For a good laugh go to Rants By Ronni and read 'Revenge of the Crone.'  It really strikes a chord for those of us who have been so totally frustrated by the impersonal systems that have grown up--and not just in banking.  Just try getting through to a real (and knowledgeable or competent) person at the cable company, or phone company, or credit card company (if you still have them).

I will finish off with a few observations on the inauguration.  Like so many of the bloggers I have been reading, I felt a lightness I haven't felt for a long time.  Like a burden or a depression being lifted.  I don't know how long the mood will last but I hope it will--for a long time.  I heard snippets of the new President's speech and just finished reading it on line.  His words echoed many of the thoughts that have been careening in my mind: the need for a new relationship with the world that depends more on cooperation and diplomacy than on force; a sense that we as a society must find new discipline and self-reliance; that government will help where it can but that as individuals we can and must act for ourselves.  As former (how nice it is to say that word) President Bush left the scene I was glad to be done with a man of iron ideology and jelly ethics.  I hope that the President Obama will be the man of iron ethics and reasoned principles he appears to be.  Ethics I can handle; ideology I can do without.  Reasoned principles I can handle; narrow, fundamentalist religion (of what ever variety) I desperately want to do without.  The words of the speech were important but the pictures from the inauguration were also important.  The most important for me was the picture of the reviewing stand:  the number of young children included (the Obama girls and the Biden grandchildren),  the extended Obama and Biden families and the connections they represent.  I suddenly realized that that had been absent in First Families for some time.  Family and other social connections seem to have been very weak or absent for most of the last several administrations.  The feminists of the 1960s and 70s used to say the personal was political.  Perhaps it will be again.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Good morning, everyone.  We touched zero yesterday for a couple of hours before slipping back into the below zero range.  Just not as cold as yesterday.  Tomorrow we will tackle the patio and the cars.  Thankfully the parking lot and sidewalks are well taken care of by our landlords.

The first thing I saw on MSNBC, which diverted me as I was going for my e-mail, was this little story.  We hear very little of how the economic crisis is affecting others or about other problems elsewhere in the world.  If anyone thinks that the we will come out of this recession any time soon and with little pain, they should think again.  Given some of what is happening abroad, we may yet count ourselves as lucky.

Does anyone out there find themselves with a collection of metal bottle caps.  Here is a cute idea if you crochet.  Mom says that she knows a different way to make trivets out of them.  But since we don't get much any more that has metal caps I doubt I will be trying either method soon.  I wonder how the method would work with the plastic caps from, say, milk jugs?  I would not want to put them under anything rally hot but they might make some nice heavy duty coasters for plants or the like.

Just one little comment on the up-coming inaugural. Mom and I were listening to one of the morning news casts over coffee as the news readers described the various reporters who are either on their way to D.C. or already there to cover the events.  I remarked that the hype this year was far more intense than I can ever recall.  I wondered how much is because of Obama and how much comes from the fact that everyone is so very, very, very, very happy to see the end of the Shrub's administration.  A hefty dose of both I guess.  

Friday, January 16, 2009

Our patio thermometer read -20 this morning.  According to the weather reports that was just about in the middle of the temps being reported around the area.  The reporters listed several areas with wind chill readings between -30 and -40.  They thought, yesterday, that one area might have set a new record low but the Weather Service checked the thermometer and found it was off by 13 degrees.  So no new record.  We do know that this is the coldest reading we have seen since we moved in.

As promised, here are some photos from front and back of our house.  That pile on the right of the first photo is the snow on top or our garbage tote.  A bit less than the levels in front.
      We have no intention of shoveling until Sunday, after the next round of snowfall.  We are expecting another 2-3 inches between now and then.  

The mail carrier had a very hard time of it both getting in close enough to the boxes to put the mail in and getting away after.  I heard his/her wheels spinning at several stops.  I say 'his/her' because s/he was so bundled up I couldn't tell.

As you can see, we had nice bright sun and blue skies.  Not that it helped the temps any which stayed at -7 all afternoon.

I did watch Bush's 'farewell' last night.  Not much choice really.  It wasn't even worth sniping at.  Just 15 minutes of irritation.  Thankfully, most stations did not spend much time on commentary and went straight back to programming.  

While visiting my usual round of blogs this morning I read this post by Kate Winner who is today's guest blogger for Ronni Bennett at Time Goes By.  She makes some very good comments on how we got into the current social/political/economic mess and some interesting thoughts on actions we can take to break out of our cycles of hope and fear.  I would never have thought to link the two in the way she does.  And she makes a good case for ridding ourselves of both.  I can also relate to her comments on growing up with a bottom line mentality, or learning to value things by the dollar.  As a result we now have a society that rarely values anything without putting a monetary value on it.  We used to have circles of friends.  Now we have 'networks.'  I read an account recently of a job hunter who e-mailed all his friends and family his resume and offered a cash reward to which ever one provided the contact that would get him a new job.  Also take a look at her discussion of 'obsolescence' and aging.  Very meaty stuff.

Well, nothing else has peaked my interest.  All of the comments I saw concerning the Bush speech mirrored my own.  Light weight, self-serving, not worth the comment.  On that note, talk to you later.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I was about to shut down my computer for the day when I saw this item on MSNBC.  It makes me mad enough to spit.  Mom suggested some 'delicate surgery' without anesthetic.  Or hanging by some very sensitive parts of the anatomy.

On that note I am definitely gone for the day.  See ya'all.

Are we all frozen yet?  Our thermometer on the patio door reads -5.  Mom has a couple of letters to mail and I told her that I will put them in the box when I go out to collect the incoming.  I really don't want to go out more than I have to.  I thought about taking some pictures but decided not to.  Instead, I will treat you to something more cheerful and colorful.  I just finished this rug (after having to take half of it out because it simply didn't want to lie flat.)  Then I had another brainstorm thanks to the site I linked to a few days ago, Dollar Store Crafts.  

This is the back side where I attached a non-stick shelf liner.  We have already tried out the rug and it really is non-skid now.  The shelf liner works beautifully.

Here is a close-up view.  I decided to crochet the rounds together and am rather glad I did.  I may have had an easier time if I had simply stitched them together but the crocheting provided more stability.  The yarns are all a washable sayelle so it should be easy to maintain (always a good thing, to quote Martha Stewart.)

We now have bright sun outside.  It won't do much good as the temps are not supposed to break zero at least not before tomorrow afternoon.

This item from the BBC is depressing.  What is more depressing is that I have seen similar items from around the world over the last couple of years.  The nationalities of the victims change, the destinations change but the story is the same.

I don't follow sports unless the story intersects with other interests, which is seldom.  This one from CBC, however, has such an intersection.  The costs involved with hosting an Olympic Games is mindboggling.  When I lived in Colorado the pricetag and concerns with financing torpedoed Denver's attempt to vie for the Winter Olympics.  Citizens there voted it down.  (I was one of them.)  I hope Vancouver's experiences aren't omens for Chicago's future.

Mom just called me to look at the results of the snow removal efforts.  I think the piles of snow out front range from 3 ft to over 6 ft.  I caught a glimpse of what they are using to clear the parking areas out back--a front loader.  I don't think we will see the corner where they are piling up a new Mt. Everest till spring.  I will show some pictures tomorrow.

It looks like Congress is getting ready to pass the extension of the S-Chip program that Bushie vetoed--twice.  I am very glad that they are going to do that.  However, I am not glad about their source of funding--tripling the federal tax on tobacco products.  First, Mom smokes.  The new taxes will add $6 per carton to her budget.  Second, the sin taxes never bring in all the revenue they anticipate.  People do exactly what Mom plans to do--cut back.  For anyone who thinks that she will benefit dramatically from quitting--she is 78, healthy, and likely to live past 90 without quitting.  Of course, the big question is whether the Senate will go along.  I am sure some of those ideological fossils will kick up a fuss.

I think it is time to go on to other things.  Stay warm and safe.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hello out there.  Are we freezing yet?  I looked at the thermometer on the outside of our patio door.  It registered about 6 degrees.  The weather people don't expect the temps to break zero tomorrow.  We are supposed to get more snow today.  I told mom this morning that, unless the temps break, what is on the patio will stay right where it is until we absolutely must go out.  With any luck that won't be until next week.  The morning news reader just said that International Falls just set a new record low-- minus 40.  Makes our temps seem absolutely balmy.  I remember a conversation between two professors at Colorado State University I overheard many years ago.  One mentioned that the temps were supposed to go to some (forgotten) ungodly level below zero.  The other said it didn't matter. Once the temps went below zero degrees of cold didn't matter.

As cold and snowy as it is I still can't resist trolling through the container gardening blogs.  As I said before I am planning to use the plastic we have on our windows to construct a cold frame for my tender plants (when I finally get to that point).  Evidently, others have the same idea, including some experts.  This little entry on lists several good methods for protecting plants from frost.  I may even combine a couple of them.  I came to this by way of Kerry Michaels' blog, also on  She suggest a number of very good questions gardeners should ask themselves before getting started.

Nathan Newman at TPM Cafe has a spot-on analysis of a story reported by the Wall Street Journal.  It dredges up a couple parallel thoughts in my tiny mind.  First, is the lengths to which reporters have been going recently to find anything, anything at all, any little thing that might be positive.  Oh, my, companies are reducing their work forces at an increasing rate.  That is bad.  But wait: that means that productivity must be going up.  Great we go with the second part of that and don't mention the first.  Second, my complaint when I read job announcements gushing enthusiastically about their 'fast paced environment' which demands skilled multi-taskers.  I remember giving one interviewer my take on that.  They wanted to roll three jobs into one and pay for the lowest paid position. (I already knew I wasn't going to get that job so why not be honest.)  The third was that  few of the gains from the increased productivity during the recovery from the 2001-2 recession (and I think the one before that) translated into better wages and working conditions for those who made those gains in productivity possible: workers.   If it sounds as if I am very soured on our misanthropic economic system--I am.  I rather think that, if we have a recovery any time soon, it will be a jobless one.  Just like the last one. 

As you may gather, from yesterday's post, nothing depresses me more than the self-righteous idiots who think we should privatize or otherwise eliminate social security.  Today's post at Entitled To Know is a bit more hopeful.  I love the quote from Dean Baker's piece in the Guardian

“The classic definition of ‘chutzpah’ is the kid who kills both of his parents and then begs for mercy because he is an orphan. The Wall Street crew are out to top this. After wrecking the economy with their convoluted finances, and tapping the US Treasury for trillions in bail-out bucks, they now want to cut Social Security and Medicare because we don’t have the money.”

“The attacks are made even worse by the fact that the attackers, people like Robert Rubin and Peter Peterson, promoted policies that led to this collapse and personally profited to the tune of tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars. In other words, after pushing the economy into a severe recession and destroying the life’s savings of tens of millions of working families, the Wall Street crew now wants to take away their Social Security and Medicare. This can almost make killing your parents look like a petty offence.”

The analogy works for me.

That will do for today.  I have a couple of projects and need to get breakfast before getting started.  See you next time.  Try to stay warm and safe.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Good morning, all.  We got, maybe, 2-3 inches of snow.  Happily, we didn't get as much wind as predicted.  But the temps are supposed to drop to single digits through the day.  Yesterday was a short blogging and blog tripping day because we did our errands and grocery shopping.  We always debate which day would be better.  Right now we are glad we went yesterday.  Now we can hibernate through the next week over which we are supposed to have a couple of more storms and very cold temperatures.  The weather guy gave us the cheery news that at this point of the winter we usually have 60% of the normal snowfall--yet to come.  Oh, joy!!!

Ourfriendben at Poor Richard's Almanac has a list of frugal tips for our grocery shopping trips.  Most of these are pretty good and we have already implemented those that make sense for us.  This morning, as we listened to the news over coffee, Suze Orman was on and noted that the credit card companies are starting to cancel credit cards/lines even for those who pay their entire bills monthly.  We have been aware of these stories for a while because Mom uses her Discover Card and pays it off when the bill comes each month.  (I had heard that the industry refers to such customers as 'dead beats.')  We already have a plan to cover this contingency.  We will visit the in-store branch and get cash.  And only spend that amount--or less.  At that point we will take a calculator with us.  We rarely buy anything on impulse.  We already have inventoried our shelves and freezer, rotate the stocks, and only buy when the stock gets low.  We don't have to worry about anything spoiling because we don't have the room to store a lot of anything.  We stopped buying cold cereal when the cost reached about $4/box for the brands we like and they rarely went on sale or had coupons.  We don't collect coupons because they either don't apply to the foods we want to buy or we have to purchase more than we need or can reasonably use.  Take a look at Ben's list and see what applies to you. has some interesting items this morning.  If you would like to bid President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney a fond farewell they provide the links.  I thought about it but decided it is a case of not saying anything if I can't say something nice.  The site also provides the House votes on two pieces of legislation that address that travesty of a Supreme Court decision last year which threw out a woman's lawsuit on gender based pay discrimination because she did not file when the discrimination first happened even though she did not find out about it until long after (and after the statute of limitations ran out).  One bill removes the statute of limitations.  The other bill requires employers to prove that differences in pay reflect the job requirement, prohibit retaliation against employees who share salary information,  and allows employees to sue for both compensatory and punitive damages.  On the last bill, I looked up the voting record for our state.  Wouldn't you know it, it broke down along party lines: all Republicans against, all Democrats for.

 Chris In Paris at Americablog wonders if sales taxes for on line purchases is coming soon.  Evidently, Amazon is suing New York state over its effort to collect sales taxes on merchandise shipped to New York residents.  Interesting but I think the war on that is probably over--or nearly so.  Yesterday, Mom and I placed an order for two DVDs at Best Buy's on-line shop.  (We did what we normally do first--went to the local store.  But the more expensive item had already sold out.  Rather than wait and--maybe--get it there we decided to go on line.)  Best Buy collected sales tax.  I expect that state and local governments will be more aggressive since the sales taxes collected at the local level have gone the way sales at the local stores have--off a cliff.

Entitled To Know hits on something that has increasingly angered and frightened me since Bush failed to privatize Social Security.  Almost every correspondent who interviews President-Elect asks what of his campaign promises he intends to trim because of the economic crisis and mentions at the top Social Security.  Entitled To Know links to a story that indicates that those self-described 'fiscal hawks' (read Republicans and Conservative Democrats) want to make a trade with Obama:  support for the stimulus for cuts in Social Security and Medicare.  In my entire adult life (40+ years now) every time I got a pay check Social Security and Medicare payments were taken out.  Every time I got a pay check, my employer had to kick in an additional amount for these programs.  I have never earned enough to put much money aside and I was severely handicapped for a little over twenty years by being married to a man who never saw a penny he didn't want to spend and spent whatever he got his hands on.  In two years I will be 62 and frankly I don't have the where-with-all to delay collecting Social Security.  I want it to be there and I have EARNED it.  I want those 'fiscal-hawk' ass-holes to keep their greedy little mitts off of it.

On that note I will close this for the day.  I just looked outside and saw that the snow is still falling and we do have a steady wind.  It isn't a blizzard but....

Monday, January 12, 2009

Good Morning, again.  We are in between weather systems here.  A new system is coming in that will drop another 2 to 4 inches with some heavy gusts of wind.  Enough wind that one of the local weather people put out 'ground blizzard' warnings.  Not much snow but the wind will blow what we have around and severely reduce visibility.  With the new snow our total to date should exceed what we normally get through an entire winter season.  It tallies nearly 3 ft. already.  Thankfully some of the early snow melted or was washed away by intervening rains.

I am almost finished with the little left-over yarn rug and was wondering how to fix it so that it wouldn't skid all over the place.  Then I happened upon this on Dollar Store Crafts.  I forgot that I had a length of shelf liner and it was just sitting on my shelf.  Well not any more.  It is just enough to back the rug.  Problem solved.  Thank you, Dollar Store Crafts.

I am taking it a bit easy for now.  The political situation is murky and I seem to go from hopefulness to depression easily.  Really must figure out a way to get out of that rut.  While I do other things, enjoy your day where ever you are.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The good thing about this morning is that we did not get as much snow as predicted.  But then today isn't over yet.  I didn't get my usual early morning reports because I couldn't stomach what else was on TV.  The only thing tolerable was the South Bend station which is still describing heavy snow.  Most of the other channels had either last nights projections, hunting/fishing shows or 'infomercials'.  I put that last in quotes because they have no information I really want and no product I want to buy.

Actually I am in a very contrary mood because this MSNBC story was the first thing I saw this morning.  Treasury has already squandered the first half of the TARP funds.  I don't know what else to call it since they can't show any positive results from spending it and can't even say where it has gone once it passed the event horizon of the black holes also known as major banks.  I am EXTREMELY disappointed in the Obama Administration for even considering going along with the Bush Administration's request for the funds.  It seems that, should Congress refuse the "request," either incoming or outgoing president could veto the refusal which would turn over the money to Treasury unless Congress overrode the veto.  Given how much transparency and oversight the original legislation provided, we would know as little about how this chunk of money would be distributed as the original half was.  With the Democrats joining the Republicans in the objection chorus, I wonder if Obama is looking to get at least some of the rescue moneys he wants by the back door.

Danny Thorpe has written a good common sense blog entry on the new consumer safety act which will go into effect on Feb. 10 and has the potential to wipe out the handcraft and resale markets.  See yesterday's links for more details.  I think of some of the afghans I have crocheted in the past and cringe to think that I would have to have every skein of yarn I used tested.  Worse, I usually buy fat quarters or at most half-yard pieces of quilting fabric.  The testing would leave me with a big hole in both my wallet and my stash.  I do hope that the protests will result in a reformulation of the act but I never expect common sense from any government body.  Remember the old saying that defined a committee?  An organism with 6 or more legs and no brain.

Kay at Kay's Thinking Cap had this little challenge.  How many from the following list have you done?  Black here is what I have done and red are those I haven't.  I have done more than I would have thought.

1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band.
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower

6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world

8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo.
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightning at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch.
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty.
18. Grown my own vegetables.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France.
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you're not ill.
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice

29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run.
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors

35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt.
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant.
44. Visited Africa

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted (does charcoal count?)
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud. 
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business

58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies.
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp

67. Bounced a check (accidentally)
68. Flown in a helicopter

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square.
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle. 
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book.
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem

84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
88. Had chickenpox.
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous 
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake.

97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee.
100. Ridden an elephant

On this lighter note I will stop and go have breakfast.  Talk to you next time.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Hi, Everyone.  I would say good morning but we are expecting the first wave of snow from that system that slammed the Pacific Northwest.  It should end sometime late tomorrow after dumping between 4 and 8 inches of snow. Plus what ever lake effect snow the backside of the system will produce.  Needless to say, we are hibernating till Sunday.

I found this little item from FishOutOfWater, guest blogging at Shakesville, on my Google alerts this morning.  In their zeal to protect us from unhealthy Chinese toys, our Congress Critters formulated a sledge hammer law that would put small craftspeople making handmade, one-of-a-kind toys out of business by requiring expensive third party testing.  Various individuals, organizations and on-line outlets (like Etsy) are spearheading the protest to get exemptions for handcrafters.  The links are on the Shakesville blog entry and it has an interesting personal story from the author.  His daughter opened a toy store that sells toys made by local crafters, many of whom are retirees.

Frugal Families asks if the new law will effect yard sales also.  I read over the law and it has an interesting catch-22.  Resellers (thrift shops, second hand stores, or yard salers) are not required to get third party testing done.  However, if they sell anything that exceeds the legal limits, they are liable for criminal and/or civil penalties.  

Chris In Paris at Americablog says that China is slowing down its purchases of American debt.  I have been wondering what would happen if China and others who bought our debt stopped.  We might get the chance to find out.  Look at what has happened in our economy since consumer debt started drying up.  Perhaps our Federal Government will find out first hand what those of us lower on the economic food chain have already found out.  It can be real painful living within your means.  Then there was this little item at MSNBC this morning.  Amid all the talk of tax cuts there are proposals to increase taxes on cigarettes (.39/pack), cigars, and perhaps sugary soft drinks.  I wouldn't be surprised if the alcohol taxes were raised as well.  Why not hit all vices at once?

Well, I have made it through all my Google alerts and all the blogs I follow.  I think I will move on now to doing something else.  Maybe I will transfer that vest pattern I have been thinking about.  See you next time.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Good Morning, All.  

Well, someone finally thought to ask about the condition of small business.  I find it extremely interesting that most politicians and economists appear to believe that small business is the backbone of the economy and so few have really focused on how small businesses are weathering our economic storm.  MSNBC has a story this morning that does so in the usual sketchy and unquestioning manner that is the mainstream media's modus operandi.  There is no mention of any action by any government to help 'save' small business.  We have bailed out the banks (at least for the moment).  The Federal Government provided some loans for the auto industry.  As we listened to the morning news we suddenly noticed this lack of focus on small businesses.  I forget now which story triggered the notion.  But one of us asked how often someone went out shopping for something they normally got at a small store only to find the store gone.  Or, as we have often done, driven a route we knew well and were startled to see something new or a blank space where a familiar store used to be.  

It isn't even mid-winter and I am already itching to get tomatoes started.  I have two 30 gal. containers for tomatoes and peppers.  I have collected a dozen (plus or minus) egg cartons for starter trays.  I have a nice collection of plastic tubs from cottage cheese, cream cheese, and margarine for transplant pots.  I plan to use the plastic we have on the windows (after we take them down, of course, to fashion a cold frame so I can set plants out a bit earlier.  Now I find there are some varieties of tomatoes that have been bred to be more cold tolerant.  The How To Garden Guide has a few listed.  I wonder if some are locally available.  Will have to spend some time in the garden shops looking at the seed packets.

The Crochet Dude has a problem I totally understand.  Cats (and dogs, I suppose) absolutely love crocheted or knitted things to lay on.  And if mommy (or daddy) is working on the piece, so much the better.  And if you are not working on a crocheted piece they look at you with that wounded look that says "What are you doing THAT for? It isn't even good to lay on."  I really have to take up some small pieces that don't require a lap.

I have been hearing a good bit on TV about Oprah's weight problem.  How could I not, living near Chicago.  Here is a link to her on-line magazine that details her struggle.  One of the bloggers I normally check into every now and then, the Crusty Crone at The Crone's Corner, mentioned her disgusted disbelief that Oprah would go through four doctors before getting an accurate diagnosis.  I totally believe it.  Last spring Mom suddenly gained weight and slept a lot more than usual.  She has been on thyroid medication for most of her adult life.  Even so her primary care physician had no idea of how to diagnose her condition.  Luckily the doctor sent her to a specialist who got the condition under control.  After close monitoring (every three months since last spring) she is back on a twice yearly schedule for seeing her doctors.  During this process, however, we became aware of a different problem.  The specialist insisted on prescribing Synthyroid and refused to substitute the generic.  He said that the generics do not give accurate test results, a problem he does not see with Synthyroid.  But Mom's drug plan, which otherwise is very good, includes only a generic medication in its formulary.  As a result she has to pay four times more to get the Synthyroid.  This is something I would love to see changed.  If the doctor has a legitimate reason for prescribing the name brand then they should cover it.  I think the insurance companies should question doctors, as should patients.  They should not overrule them.

I think it is time to enjoy the brief bit of sun we are getting and clean up the part of the sewing/computer room I have been avoiding for the last couple of days.  Stay warm and safe, everyone.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hello, again.  We have had a bit more snow but not enough to get worked up about.  Certainly not the kind of weather they have had in the Pacific Northwest.  

I was pleased to see Sen. Feinstein cutting through some of the self-righteous crap in the Burris mess and getting to a crucial issue.  She has come out in support of seating Burris noting that, although Blogojevich is under a legal (and moral) cloud, he is still the Governor of Illinois with the power to appoint a replacement for Obama.  If Burris is not seated then at any time in the future for almost any reason, the U.S. Senate can exercise veto power over any governor in his appointments.  Can you see the mess if the Senate is controlled by one party and a governor is from another?  One of the bedrock principles of this country has been the notion that we have a government of laws not of men.  This situation would qualify that--we have a government of laws unless enough men think the same way and decide to ignore the law.  Another word for that is anarchy.

MSNBC had this little story this morning.  Shoppers are, it seems, getting used to the deep discounts and are looking for even better deals.  Now the retail stores and chains are in a quandry--how low can they go?  Retail 'Limbo Rock' is the new fashion.

Has anyone else noticed how frequently the news media are carrying so-called frugal living tips lately?  I say so-called because so much of it simply doesn't pertain to my situation and I think calling it 'frugal' is a bit of a stretch.  Last night (or perhaps the night before) the local evening news had a short interview with a financial expert whose advice was totally out in left field.  He said one should start budgeting by writing down one's goals and then start savings plans to reach those goals.  That assumes that who ever is listening has a surplus income they can save.  That doesn't describe most people I know.  This morning the segment focused on 'recession proofing' your portfolio.  What portfolio?  

However, one of my Google alert searches keys 'frugal living' and sometimes I find some interesting items there.  Living the Scientific Life lists a number of ways to reduce expenditures.  Over the last few years we have implemented many of them.  We started plugging most of our appliances and reading lamps into power strips.  When we turn off the appliance/lamp we also turn off the power strip.  Our kitchen appliances are unplugged after we are finished with them.  We did not expect to see any savings but our bills have been slightly lower since.  We only shop on one day each week and plan all of our errands for that day.  We don't window shop and rarely indulge in impulse buying.

I saw the news that Toyota is shutting down their plants in Japan for 11 days later in January and early February.  The only question I have is: while the workers on the line won't get 11 days worth of pay will the executives also take an 11 day hit?  I also saw that the UEW is filing a complaint that Republic Windows in Chicago (remember the sit in where workers demanded their back pay, vacation and promised severance after the company shut down) fraudulently and illegally shut down its plant.  They claimed it was due to economic hardship and, therefore, they did not need to give the 90 day notice the law requires.  In fact, they planned to take all the assets out of Chicago and reopen under a new name in Iowa.  I wonder if Bank of America, who supposedly pulled Republic's line of credit, is providing the capital for that move?

I always love discovering new things that might prove useful.  Fran, aka Redondowriter, talks about Google Notebook on her blog this morning.  I really do have to play with it.  Thanks, Fran.

Melissa McEwan at Shakesville has an entry that triggers my disgust button.  I have never liked those 'charity' promotions that encourage people to go out and buy a s#*tload to crap they don't need to get seals, bottle caps, labels, whatever, to send in so that some company which is simply trying to bolster their sales will 'donate' some pennies to a charity.  It would make far more sense for consumers to donate the amount they would have spent (and the amount of the postage) directly to the charity and cut out the middle man.

Well, I have done enough ranting and commenting for the day.  See you next time.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Hi, everyone.  It was a nice sunny day yesterday.  Today is overcast but they have reduced the projected snowfall to less than an inch.  We dodged the bullet that went south and east with freezing rain and sleet.  Unfortunately, it looks like it is headed for Ohio.  How far north it will go is anybody's guess.

The big news has been New Mexico's Governor Richardson tapped to be Commerce Secretary but no longer because of a 'pay to play' scandal.  Over in our neighboring state of Illinois the Lt. Governor has appointed the former U.S. Attorney who successfully prosecuted former Governor Ryan to head (without pay) a commission to propose changes to clean up the mess.  I could suggest two measures that would go a long way to that end.  First, ban political contributions from any company or organization to any political party, campaign, pac, etc.  Soft money or hard, it doesn't matter.  Ban it.  At the same time, ban contributions beyond the limits for individuals from anyone in a position of authority with such companies or organizations.  Second, prohibit any company or organization from active involvement in setting up any legislation regulation the industries those companies or organizations are involved in.  We have seen far too much of the coal industry, the auto industry, and others setting public policy and using their money as leverage.  I am not holding my breath and I am not taking bets.

John Aravosis on Americablog has a link to a description of a debate between the candidates for the Republican National Committee Chair position.  He focused on an exchange between current Chair Mike Duncan, who thought that President Bush's worst failure in his 8 years in office was the conduct of the early phases of the Iraq war, and former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele, who thought the worst failure was a 'failure to communicate' with the public about Iraq, Katrina and the economy.  If these two idiots are representative of the entire Party's grasp of reality,  God help us if we elect any of them to public office again.  We will deserve the crap we will get.  Actually and unfortunately, there are way too many Democrats about whom I could say the same thing.  We don't really have many choices and we do not deserve the crap we are getting.

It is now time to go on to other things.  I took out about 6 hours worth of crocheting on that rug last night and put back about two.  It is looking much better.  I still have some house cleaning to do but the spirit is leaving so I will not do as much at any one time until it comes back (not too soon, I hope).

Monday, January 5, 2009

Good Morning, Good Morning, Good Morning, Everyone.  We are supposed to have sunshine today and I am looking forward to it.  We have planned our week's grocery shopping and will get it done early.  Later I have two shopping bags and a box of books that I will take to the local library.  All the dusting I did over the last several days yielded a significant number of books that I read once, twice, sometimes more, but am fairly sure I won't be reading again any time soon (if ever.)  The local library can either sell them or (especially in the case of the paperbacks) put them on the shelf for others to enjoy.  Over the last couple of years I have been lightening my load a little at a time.

Trolling through my Google alerts this morning I found this entertaining little entry from Bob Ewing at HubPages.  I love the title: On Being A Lazy Gardener.  He didn't have any new techniques I could adopt but it was a fun read.  

I guess that some of the big box stores are getting desperate.  Mom just opened her e-mail and found two informing her that she had 'won' shopping sprees at Wal-Mart and Target.  She has been getting at least one a day for the last two weeks.  Of course, what she has 'won' is the chance to win the big prize and the invitation to spend money at the store even if she doesn't get it.  I don't know whether to be amused or irritated.  A bit of both perhaps??

Joe Sudbay at Americablog has the same comment I had concerning the 'news' item this morning that President George H.W. Bush would like to see another of his sons in the White House--Jeb.  Haven't we had enough of this family?  I am not really surprised because I remember a couple of years ago reading that Little George wasn't supposed to run for the Presidency because the family had been positioning Jeb (who was already Governor of Florida) to do that,   Unfortunately, Little George jumped the line.  The story I heard said Jeb is thinking of finding a senate seat as a lead in to a Presidential run.  I only hope that both the Republican Party and the nation has too long a memory to let that happen.

We got a chuckle out of this item on Politico (by way of digg).  It is too precious not to quote:

“Some people are pissed off at [Americans for Tax Reform President] Grover [Norquist]. Some people are pissed off at the Conservative Steering Committee. Some people are pissed off at [current RNC chair] Mike Duncan. Some people are pissed off at social conservatives. The social conservatives are pissed at leaders in Congress,” said a Republican consultant who has worked with the RNC. “Everyone is basically pissed.” 

He doesn't mention all those of us who are pissed off at the Republican Party in its entirety.  It seems there is a contentious six-way race for who will be the next Chair of the RNC.

On that note I will end this.  I have to take a little rug apart.  I finished it yesterday but it doesn't lie flat.  Oh, well, I have procrastinated long enough.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Good Morning, this overcast and moisture laden Sunday.  We are supposed to get a mix of rain, freezing rain and snow.  In pretty much that order since the temps are supposed to fall from high thirties to somewhere much lower by sometime tonight.  At least the weather people are still calling for sun tomorrow.  Since Monday is one of only two clear days for the next week that is our shopping day.  Winter is the season when our shopping is planned for the clear days.  Otherwise we hibernate.

Going through my Google alerts I found this among the quilting blogs.  Anita at Anita's Hints asks if her readers are afflicted with the 'someday syndrome.'  I know that syndrome very well.  There is always something that is a good idea--for someday.  And of course, as Anita says, someday never arrives.  Over the last year I have made some tentative moves toward breaking that syndrome.  When I start a new project I  look to my stash first and only buy new materials when I absolutely must to finish a project.  I have all too many projects that I bought on 'speculation' and have not even started.  I am gradually working those into the line up.  One of my goals this year (a continuing goal first put on my list a couple of years ago) is to finish more projects than I start.

As I read Anita's blog I thought of a related syndrome that I have made strides at eliminating--the 'saving it for special' syndrome.  We suffer from that syndrome whenever we decide that something is too good for everyday use.  A couple of years ago when we cleaned out our linen closet we found a large number of embroidered table scarves and pillowcases that were stained not from wear but from simply sitting around.  We put a lot of work into those items; too much to simply let them rot away unseen.  We pulled them out, washed them up and have been using them regularly since.  Nothing is too good for everyday use.

Time for breakfast and some more house cleaning.  

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Good Morning, again.  I guess I have gotten used to the weather pattern.  Possible storms keep coming in every two to three days but nothing so bad or good as to deserve mention.  The New Year's retrospectives have carried some of the weather statistics and 2008 was, evidently, one of the wettest on record.  I am not surprised since there are areas up here that got flooded out three times over the year.  All the moisture seemed to come in concentrated bursts--like the September episode thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Ike.  This winter hasn't been as miserable as some in the recent past because I can hibernate through the worst of it.  No job means I don't have to go out in it.

Although it is early January I am already thinking about spring and gardening.  I have a couple of google searches set up for 'container gardening' (since all I have is a small concrete patio to plant something on) and 'urban gardening' (since I do live in town and have no intention of moving to a rural setting.)  I checked in on Life On The Balcony this morning and found a link to a site I may sign up for later--My Folia.  I like reading and seeing pictures of what others do with their gardens.  I get ideas I might like to try later.

I haven't written much about Illinois and its governor.  I think the whole thing is a bit surreal.  I am very surprised by all of the supposedly savvy people who are surprised by Blago's move to appoint Burris to Obama's former Senate seat.  The one thing that man has in disgusting abundance is chutzpah.  The first thing Mom and I thought when Fitzgerald announced the complaint he filed was that Blago would find a squeaky clean black politician and name him to the vacant post.  There are several points that come to my mind.  First, Fitzgerald filed a criminal complaint but has until the first of April (thanks to an extension the court is likely to grant) to file an indictment.  Therefore Blogojeovich is still the governor with all the powers of a sitting governor, including those of appointment.  Also, a committee of the Illinois House is considering its bill of impeachment and has not as yet reported it to the full House which has not, therefore, voted on it.  I do think the idiot is guilty but that has not been proven YET.  All of this bombast, on all sides of the issue, is so much bombastic crap and moral posturing.  Boys and Girls, you really do have much better things to do with OUR time.