Saturday, March 28, 2009

Good Morning, all.  We are expecting some of what hit Colorado and the plains over the last couple of days.  Hopefully, the weather forecasters are right and it will be mostly rain and not a whole lot of it.

Chris In Paris at Americablog has a link to a spot-on cartoon from Tole at Washington Post.  You can see it full size by following the link and then going back one day.  I think it was printed on Thursday.  Chris' question is right to the point also--what is it about this situation that AIG (and others) can't seem to understand.

Chris also provides a link to this story at MSNBC.  I guess this will heat up the debate over H.R. 875 though not in any illuminating way.  Unfortunately, our politicos will draw simply the wrong conclusions from the issue.  Most of the problems we have with our food supply system stem from the interstate transport of food items but the sledge hammer of the bill would most burden those sectors that have not been the source of the problems--local and organic producers.  If we had not already pretty much stopped eating out I would put Applebees on my list of places to avoid.  Actually, I would simply be confirmed in avoiding it since it has always been a bit too pricey for what I got.

Since nothing else has struck my fancy, I will end here.  I think it will be a good day to tackle my pattern files and get some order established there.  Later.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Good Morning, this sunny, if a bit cold, Friday.  The last Friday in March, which looks to be going out as it came in--like a lion.  The next few days, well into next week, are supposed to be much colder than it has been lately.  I hope that the temps will follow a pattern for the last week or so where the temps actually were higher than forecast.  And that the rain/snow mix predicted for tomorrow night will be more on the rain side than the snow.  Whatever.  I guess I won't be putting my winter coat away just yet.

Joe Sudbay at Americablog posted this today.  I had wondered why the news media had not covered the alternative budget the Republicans promised to provide.  Evidently there was no real budget proposal and the reporters present, some of them anyway, took notice.  That alone was worth noting as it was a definite departure from recent years when Republicans got repeated passes on their proposals.  God (or which ever deity you prefer to invoke) help us if these bozos get back into power any time soon.  It is bad enough that they have the power to stymie real proposals.

Did anyone else note that IBM is cutting jobs?  Some 3000 I think I heard on the news yesterday.  And moving them to India?  And that IBM's workforce is 71% foreign?  All I can say is 'Another company on my growing sh*t list.  I will not knowingly buy any IBM product.'  Perhaps if enough of us decided that they would rethink their economic imperatives.  What is the use of making things using the cheapest labor around if you can't sell it in what was once the richest marked around?

I guess that the phenomenon of growing modern homelessness has finally become large enough for a media outlet to take notice.  ABC evening news last night had a segment.  For months now I have seen stories on the new tent cities (sometimes dubbed 'Bushvilles') growing at an increasing rate as other shelters have reached or exceeded capacity.  Where the hell did we think people displaced by foreclosure and eviction were going to go?  One story I read recently (sorry I didn't write down the link) reported a growing number of bidding wars over rental properties.  That worries me a bit since I am a renter.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Good Morning, everyone.  We have finally finished the really big portions of the spring cleaning--the parts where we had to move furniture (heavy, bulky furniture) and wash walls.  I think I mentioned before that we don't like cleaning and generally wait until the 'spirit' moves us--like when we can write our names in the dust on the shelves.  That should give you an idea of how long it has been since we last did this kind of cleaning.  We keep saying that we should do this at least once a year, but.....

Tripping through the blogosphere this morning I found this little item by Dean Baker at TPM Cafe.  I have noticed that much of the discussion (shouting?) has a fantastic (read: fantasy) quality about it.  I have seen wild swings of mood among the commentators from deeply to pessimistic to wildly enthusiastic.  I wonder if our pundits and reporters need some Prozac as they seem rather manic-depressive.  Worse, I don't see any intelligent discussion about what is happening, as they say, on Main Street.  Example: looking at the job listings for the town I live in for the month of march how many jobs would you guess I have seen?  To date--ten.  I counted them.  Another example:  one of the lead stories on the Chicago evening news last night was the response to a new hotel hiring to open in May.  An obscene number of people applied for, maybe, if I remember correctly, 300 jobs.  And that was only the number who actually got in to interview.  Many were left out when the organizers of the 'job fair' closed the door mid-day and never got to interview at all.  Yet some of the talking heads on CNBC were extolling the fact that the numbers of newly unemployed for March, so far, was about 30k less than in February which was a little less than January.  They are hoping that that means the unemployment has bottomed.  I say 'WTF!!, you idiots.  That is still almost 2 million people who have lost their jobs in the last 3 months.'  This is a case of a silver lining with a very big dark cloud which our supposed experts are trying to ignore in their search for hopeful signs.

Chris In Paris (at Americablog) posted this today.  I also wonder how many more divisions of AIG are going to need money.  I have thought from the beginning that the whole thing should have been dismantled in an orderly manner.  I simply don't buy the argument about 'too big to fail.'  We haven't really avoided the pain of this economic disaster--we have just prolonged it.  

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hello, again.  I had a nice, productive weekend.  I set up the largest of the garden containers, started another three (egg carton) flats of seeds, rejoiced to see the first peeks of plants coming up in the first three.  We cleaned out some of the old computer books and collected another car load of things for Goodwill.  Mom noted that the month has gone really fast and there is only a little over a week left.  But then, as I reminded her, we got a lot done.

Tom Englehardt at Tomdispatch has an essay this morning that reflects some of our experiences and thoughts.  Just before turning on our computers, as we drank our morning coffee, we commented on how few shops have moved into a newly built shopping complex just north of us.  When the builders demolished the old movie theater and one of the little strips of stores many of the merchants had intended to return when the new shops were built.  I wonder now how many actually are.  So far I have seen only two.  For the last couple of years we have seen new stores go up but so many remain vacant.  And many others disappeared.  Just a little over a week ago I talked to a former boss and found out that a little quilt shop whose owner had rented space from her husband (boss's husband that is) had closed down.  I am almost afraid to go looking for shops I once patronized.  We have found ourselves with fewer and fewer options.  Michaels carries fewer of the items we use or want.  Wally World eliminated their embroidery thread some time ago and, since we try not to shop there, we don't know how much more they have eliminated.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Good Morning.  It is supposed to be a nice sunny Saturday with temps in the low 50s.  I will be moving my attention to another part of the spring cleaning today.  We are supposed to have high 50s tomorrow so I will do more of the container garden set up then.

I thought I would share this cartoon posted by Chris In Paris at Americablog.  I think it expresses what most of us feel about the financial crisis and the whiz kids who brought it on.  Robert Reich echoes very nicely my assessment of Congress and its response.  A lot of show and very little substance.

I love herschelian's blog--'3Rs-Reading-Ranting-Recipes.'  She writes great reviews of the great variety of books she reads and provides interesting recipes.  I love her rants most of all.  In case any one on this 'side of the pond' think we have a monopoly on governmental idiocy, take a gander at today's rant. 

Friday, March 20, 2009

Good Morning, all.  First day of spring.  But winter hasn't loosened his grip just yet.  Actually today's temps (40s) would have seemed balmy but for the recent 74.  Shows the power of relativity.

One of my first reads of the day was this entry from Robert Eshelman guest blogging at Tom Englehardt's Tomdispatch.  In a bit of irony Eschelman notes that Wal-Mart recently settled some 63 class action lawsuits charging workplace violations.  These involved Wal-Mart coercing workers into working without pay through lunch breaks or after their scheduled hours.  This kind of story has made brief appearances in the mainstream media for years.  Why do I say it is ironic?  Because one of the lead economic stories this morning was the $2 billion in bonuses Wal-Mart is going to pay out.  Well, I shouldn't say pay out since some of that bonus will be in the form of discounts on Wal-Mart merchandise.  So it isn't as though all that $2 billion will go out the door.

However, the crux of Eschelman's piece is that there is a war being waged against American workers only half of which (the most positive half) has been reported widely.  Companies have been forced by economic circumstances to downsize.  But as Eschelman points out "there are actually two wars going on, and only one of them seems to have caught the attention of labor and business reporters. The headlines about the first read: Desperate Companies Forced to Cut Jobs. But many here seem to be experiencing a second war in which businesses are using bad times to act in ways they couldn't in the best of times."  It is an interesting piece.  Especially, taken in conjunction with the (very) few stories I have read recently (sorry, I didn't keep the links) indicating that companies are getting more aggressive about challenging unemployment claims, even when such claims have merit.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Good Morning on this day before Spring officially begins.  Today we are back to cooler temps, in the 40s, and sun.  The sun will be welcome but I am waiting for the higher temps (in the 50s) before I continue setting up the garden containers.  I am still working on changing out my closet and drawers--going from winter to summer clothes wise.  I am finally in jeans and turtlenecks.  It feels as though I have been in sweats forever.  Next step--wash and put away the heavy coat and bring out the heavy sweater.  Soon, soon.

I found this little entry on the Tarnished Tatter's site this morning.  I have just been shaking my head over the stuff we have found during our house cleaning stint this month.  We took a car load of stuff over to Goodwill Monday and will have another load next Monday.  Some of the stuff we will use--like the sun catchers Mom had put away and forgotten about.  We both cleaned out our shoes.  I found four briefcases or briefcase/computer bags.  Over the years I constantly searched for the 'perfect' bag to carry what I needed--books, files, papers, computer, etc.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hello, everyone.  Yesterday was absolutely gorgeous.  We tied a 115-year-old record when we hit 74 degrees.  The sun was absolutely wonderful.  We didn't get a lot done--just luxuriated in the hint of summer to come.  The container gardens are progressing as is the house cleaning.  Because we have been so focused on those items I haven't done a lot of needlework and haven't had anything to show off.

Dean Baker at TMP Cafe has an interesting way to handle the AIG mess.   Basically put the burden on the private shareholders who still own 20% of AIG.  If they aren't up in arms about this (and one has to ask where the hell they were when the contracts the lawyers are claiming are inviolable were negotiated) then they should pay for them.  James Kwak, also at TPM Cafe, makes some more good points--not just about AIG but about the whole financial industry and its relationship to the Federal government, and about the basic philosophy and assumptions governing the relationship between the two.  As for me, I am incredibly sick and tired of these arrogant bastards.  This is the second (maybe third?--it is hard to recall numbers) time that AIG bonuses (specifically) caused a spike in moral indignation.  These guys simply don't get it.  Anyone, under other conditions, with this kind of learning curve would have become extinct already.  We put the idiots on life support.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Good Morning, again.  I wrote yesterday that I started some of my seeds  and here is a picture.  Rather than buy starter trays or anything like that we thought of using egg cartons.  We used an ice pick (that we had never used for its intended purpose) to poke a little hole in each cup then filled with potting soil and added the seeds.  The tops of the cartons make very nice watering trays after the holes in the sides are plugged.  We have gotten in the habit of looking at anything we might throw away and think about what use it might be put to.  We can't keep it all out of the garbage but we can keep some of it and put it to good uses.
Here are three pictures of our patio and what we will be using for our container gardens this year.  I mentioned them in yesterday's post.  Actually we have already made progress with a little help from the landscaping service our landlord retains.  Their workmen came in and removed a lot of the leaves before we started.  We swept up the remaining leaves, positioned the tubs and started to fill.  
By the way, that is ice in the clear once-upon-a-time fish tank and the maroon used-to-be cat litter box.  That is part of the deluge we got a week ago last weekend.  We put about three inches of pea gravel in the bottom and then started filling with garden soil.  We were going to drill drain holes in the bottoms but thought better of it and went with the gravel.  We are also using some old plastic containers to make watering reservoirs which we hope will make our watering more efficient.

We will get most of the set up finished today and tweak it as time goes on.  We are supposed to have sun (this afternoon) and temps around 60.

60 Minutes had two interesting segments last night.  One was the first (and to date only) interview with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.  I noticed this morning's news focused on his optimistic prediction that the economic situation won't deepen into a depression, that the recession was 'likely' to end later this year, and a recovery would begin next year.  I also noticed that nobody mentioned the caveat he provided along with that rosy prediction.  He expects all that to happen IF we have the political will to follow through with the various bailouts, rescues and stimulus programs. In other words, if we are willing to throw as much money as it takes to 'cure' the problem.  I think there are strong indications that the will may be lacking.  The European representatives at the G20 conference were not with Geithner who was pushing them to throw in more money and they don't appear to be on track with that strategy.  I wonder how many of our representatives and senators (of which ever party) are on board with it either.

Here is another item which contributes to the question of political will.  Ronni at Time Goes By well expressed the rage of the constituents of those representatives and senators who will have to deal with any new appropriations to continue the bailout, rescues, and stimuli.  She is absolutely right on several items: the fact that contracts, especially labor contracts, are no longer (if they ever were) chiseled in stone (with or without bankruptcy); that the very executives that caused the mess are not valuable employees who can get us out of the mess; and that something smells badly if bonuses are given for jobs 'well done' because none of those employees did a good job.  One of the major problems here is the disconnect between the main street/common man definition of bonus (which is the thrust of the definition Ronni quoted) and the financial industry's definition.  That is clear in any of the interviews the reporters on CNBC have conducted over the last months with executives and experts concerning this topic.  What most people forget (and want to forget) is that the present system of compensation was adopted BECAUSE of a previous period of outrage in the early 1990s over exaggerated and extreme compensation packages.  The financial institutions then made an appearance of reform that was, in fact, a smoke-and-mirrors game.  The reduced the amount of compensation that was labeled 'pay' and moved it to the 'bonus' category.  As a number of pundits noted (in passing and without follow-up from the reporters) the people signed on with financial institutions for a relatively low direct pay with the understanding that they would (whatever the outcome) get 'bonuses' worth several times their formal paychecks.  It is nothing more than a shell game.

To continue to beat this dead horse, Robert Reich, at TPM Cafe, makes a good point (and, again, one that gets almost no play in any of the stories or commentaries).  If AIG had been forced into bankruptcy these bonuses would not have been paid.  Legally.  As unsecured creditors those executives would have been at the bottom of a long line of creditors waiting to see what was left to divvy up.  The only reason they are getting paid is because the government decided that AIG could not be allowed to fail and provided the capital to keep it alive.  What really ticks me off is the fact that all of those self-righteous Republican idiots (I had to stop for a second before I used some very gross profanity here) berated the UAW for its excessive compensation but have said very little about the employees of AIG and other financial companies whose compensation is hundreds of times what an autoworker gets, even at the fictional levels the Republicans like to report.  Frankly, I would rather pay the autoworker.

Another fact that should be mentioned concerning the claim that the employees getting the bonuses should get them to encourage them to stay on and clean up the mess they caused because they are the only ones who understand the mess is--THEY DON'T REALLY UNDERSTAND THE MESS.  The whole credit default (and other creative investment options) was set up by mathematicians with computers.  Hire the damned mathematicians and get rid of the other idiots.  Reich, linked above, is absolutely right.  The use of the words 'talent,' AIG, and 'credit default swap' in the same sentence is three times oxymoronic.

The second story was on Alice Waters and the 'Slow Food' movement.  I like most of what she had to say.  Processed foods loaded with additives, preservatives, salt and sugar are killing us.  Eating locally produced organically grown foods is a better alternative.  However, I disagree with her on a couple of items.  She doesn't own or use a microwave.  That is nice but we own and use a microwave/convection oven.  During the summer it is a godsend because we can cook good meals using less power and creating less heat than with our conventional stove/oven.  The second point of disagreement is with her aversion to frozen foods.  We freeze produce from the local farmers' markets and our own patio containers in the summer for winter use and supplement with commercially frozen foods.  Our farmers' markets operate only between May 1 and October 1.  Not a surprise since we live in northern Indiana not southern California.  Slow Food is  good idea but we have to tailor it to our needs and circumstances.  By the way, cost is not a factor here.  Taste and quality is.

I thought I had misheard an item on CNBC late last week.  It came up only once, briefly, when I was doing something in the kitchen and couldn't hear the TV all that well.  I didn't hear anything else about it on the evening news and dismissed it.  Evidently I wasn't hearing things because Chris In Paris at Americablog made note of it.  The Business Round Table has decided that the American health care (non)system is hurting the U.S. in the global marketplace.  No sh#t.

Well that was a long post!!  I guess there is nothing like some warm temps, sunshine, and some nice physical work to get the juices flowing.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Good Sunday Morning to everyone.  We are expecting sun again and temperatures above 50 today (and for the next couple of days.)  So today we start cleaning up the patio and getting our containers ready to become gardens in a couple of months.  I got the seed started for the tomatoes, peppers, asparagus beans, sugar peas, fairy eggplant, and sweet peas yesterday.  It is amazing how projects just seem to grow.  Last fall we found one of the large storage tubs on sale for $10 and bought it thinking it would do very nicely for the tomatoes which need something much larger than the largest pots we have.  That is all we really thought about at that time.  Then I retrieved another large bin (slightly smaller than the one we bought.)  Suddenly we had room for peppers also and the beginnings of a container garden as opposed to simply a large tub with tomatoes.  During spring cleaning we found an old litter box, a discarded fish tank, a tub from when we bought a particular brand of cat litter--all waiting to be turned into gardens.  I haven't even begun to think about the pots of which we have a dozen--give or take.

Well, the mainstream media has finally brought up the issue of food safety--in a completely innocuous manner with little real information and none about the various pending legislation.  The ABC evening news had, MAYBE, a minute on it with a sound bite from the President citing the urgency of the issue.  This morning, on my way to my e-mail, I saw this at MSNBC.  So the Administration has banned the slaughter, for human consumption, of 'downer' cows.  My question is simply--why couldn't the present meat inspection laws have done the trick?  The real problem with our interstate trade in foods is that the FDA has been underfunded and understaffed.  The previous administration was pathologically averse to any kind of limits on any industry and failed to enforce what laws they couldn't remove.

Archcrone at The Crone Speaks has an acerbic but right on assessment of some of the news this week--including the 'pork' in the continuing budget passed this week and signed by the President who promised to examine budgets 'line by line' and veto any pork he saw.  She also makes a very cogent comment on the matter of the failure of government entities, at all levels, to faithfully regulate business and industry.  Governments, at all levels, have eliminated needed regulations and failed to enforce those regulations that remained.  We should remember that the Peanut Corporation plants, which were the source of the salmonella outbreak, should have been inspected by the health departments of two states (Georgia and Texas) either escaped inspection or were not subjected to rigorous follow-ups.  Further, both states' agencies relied on the company to honestly report the results of self-administered bacteriological tests.  What was Reagan's famous quip about dealing with the Soviets?  'Trust, but verify.'  Perhaps it should be applied closer to home.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Good Morning, Everyone.  It looks like it will be a very nice Saturday today.  We expect lots of sun and temps in the high forties.  Tomorrow and Monday look even better.  Hopefully we have seen the last of the winter-like temps we have had over most of the last week.  I will finally get my seeds started today and, maybe, get a couple of catch-all areas of the house cleaned out.  We have a large load of stuff to go to Goodwill when we do our errands on Monday.  And it won't be the last.

As usual I have been tripping through my google alerts and favorite blogs this morning.  I found this one early on.  I read the first to Mom and her response was "Oh, SHOOT!!!"  Mine was somewhat stronger--another word one letter shorter, a different vowel, but with all the same consonants.  Thankfully, it pertains only to Oregon and I can only hope that Oregonians clean house next election.  The other stories I have covered before.  I think this blogger covered the likely results of these laws very well.  The small craftsmen (and women) and the small growers will will be driven out while the Monsantos, Tysons, Wall-Marts and their ilk will continue to make a lot of money from those of us lulled into a false sense of security thinking these laws will truly make use safer.  Just think about the fact that the salmonella scare with peanuts and the wide spread e. coli scares with hamburger of recent years all originated in inspected facilities that, in actual fact, were not as well inspected as laws allow and consumers expected.  The lettuce and spinach incidents resulted from run-off from INDUSTRIAL meat producing facilities nearby.  We have a much larger problem with the big boys than the small producers and yet they are hip deep in formulating this legislation.  Yeah, the foxes are guarding the henhouses and the agribusiness aristocrats are knee-capping the peasants.

For more on these issues take a look at Rain's post at Rainy Day Thoughts.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hello, everyone.

It looks like one state, at least, is getting on the food safety bandwagon.  In the wake of the peanut-linked salmonella outbreak, Georgia is changing its reporting and inspection laws.  It addresses one aspect of this whole food safety matter that troubles me about any food safety laws at any level--providing adequate funds and personnel to do the job.  The proposed Georgia law will allow inspectors to beef up their ranks by 'deputizing' assistants as needed.  Good start.

I did look at the text of H.R. 875 a couple of days ago.  I don't think, from my reading, that the bill goes as far as the blogger I linked to thinks and would, potentially, outlaw backyard gardening for individual consumption.  However, I do think it would devastate local and organic growers by burdening them with extra costs.  Local Harvest asks some very pertinent questions about government efforts (in other proposed bills) to track domestic animals.  I have several problems with this spate of laws.  One, they fail to address the major problem of the last 8 years--a Presidential administration philosophically opposed to even reasonable regulation of any industry.  The FDA had neither the personnel nor the funds to adequately do their legally mandated job and no incentive to do it well.  No matter what laws are passed, we may, in the future, find ourself in a similar position.  Second, these proposals are akin to using a shot gun to kill a fly.  They will do a lot of damage but none to the target.  Third, they extend the Federal government into areas that could be more efficiently handled on a local level.  I do agree that Federal laws and agencies should be overhauled and made more efficient.  But the focus should be on adequate staffing, adequate funds, and on the interstate traffic in food products.  The commercial farms/feedlots that produce animals and plants for interstate traffic should come under the Federal mandate.  A last concern,  after 9/11 we responded almost hysterically.  The result has been billions of dollars and thousands of lives lost (tens of thousands of lives blighted) in a needless war in Iraq, a shredded Constitution, and a dysfunctional Federal Government.  Much of what I have read on the food safety matter smacks of a similar hysteria.

Chris In Paris at Americablog has a link to a CNBC story that forecasts as many as 20k jobs lost in the hedge fund industry.  As I read that my mind went back to the news last yesterday afternoon.  CNBC noted that AT&T (I think it was) is planning to hire 3000 new employees in its wireless division this year.  Then the commentator glided over the fact that they still planned to cut 12,000 jobs in it land line divisions.  Net loss 9000.  But the focus is on the 'good' news.  I have seen a lot of that grasping at straws lately.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Good Monday Morning, again.  

I am a sucker for lists.  Top 10, top 100, whatever.  It is always interesting to see how many pertain to me.  I found this pair of lists by way of BitchPhD this morning.  One was compiled by library professionals and the other by a vote of readers.  Surprisingly I discovered I had read the same number of books on each site--30 of 100.  What surprised me even more was that on the librarians' list nearly all of the books I remember reading I read for lit classes.  Less than 10 of the readers' list fell into that category.

Well, here it is--Tuesday.  Blast!! Where is the time going??  We are still spring cleaning.  Why is it taking so long?  Well, for most of the time we have lived here I have had very strange schedules until a bit over a year ago when I suddenly had no schedule at all.  Much of what we are doing takes two people.  Also, when we moved in we jammed two households into one.  We culled a lot of stuff before we came here but we still had way too much for the space.  We have culled a lot more since and now are rearranging what is left.  That takes time and effort--and two people.  This month is devoted to two projects--spring cleaning and setting up our container garden on the patio.  The weather has definitely not cooperated on the second.  We have had about four inches of rain since Saturday night into this morning with more coming.

Sorry, Kay.  I am afraid we are booked as far as cleaning goes.  A road trip to Ohio is not in the picture.

I found this picture at ohdeedoh this morning.  No, I am not going to try this.  But I do appreciate the work it takes to do this having killed three bonsai in the past.  

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Good Morning on this blustery, rainy Sunday.  We are supposed to get on and off heavy rain with possible thundershowers all day.  Some areas are under flash flood alerts.

I found this little article by way of my google alerts.  It asks a good question--one that has been lurking in the back of our minds for some time.  The prices of commodities and fuel has gone down but manufacturers continue to raise the prices of food and/or shrink the product.  Why? I ask with arched eyebrows.  Part of the answers, according to the author, lies with the manufacturers strategy last fall when prices were high and threatening to go higher.  They bought futures at the inflated price and are now stuck with them.  So we pay the price.  I reminds me of the discussions Mom and I have every time the local utility sends out their sales pitch for their budgeting programs.  You know--the ones where the bill is averaged so that you pay the same amount each month and then settle up at the end of the year for whatever you might have used in excess of the cumulative payments.  Of course they charge for this 'service.'  And any excess you pay they get to keep until they have to give it back or, more likely, apply to next year's usage.  Needless to say, they also keep any interest their bank pays on the money also.  We have always rejected these 'deals.'  None of our monthly bills come close to the amounts they figure on for the program and we would much prefer to keep the money in our pockets (and the interest in our bank account).

If you go to this site, though, read the section on H.R. 875.  The bill is titled 'Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009.'  I haven't read the bill myself--yet--but if it contains even part of what is described it should be named 'Industrial Agriculture and Food Manufacturing Industry Full Employment Act of 2009.'  I have a lot of problems with what I have read so far but I will wait to post anything until after I have read the thing myself.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Good Morning.  Yes, I am still here.  We have been very busy this week and I haven't had much time to write.  You can tell spring is trying to spring because we actually feel like cleaning.  As I said before, we clean when the spirit moves and it doesn't move often, thank God.  You can also tell because the cats are lining up at the patio door hoping to get outside.  One will actually paw at the door like a dog.  They haven't done that since sometime in November.  They will get out a bit today because the outside shed is on our agenda.

Well, it's good morning, again.  I started this yesterday (Friday that is).  Didn't get far before we started cleaning.  The temps hit something close to 70 and we decided to get an old book case moved down to the shed so we could clean it out and get things organized.  We can actually find things now.  Among the finds--an old cat box that will become a new planter, a serviceable fan that will go to Goodwill along with a bunch of insulated drink containers we haven't used since we moved in here, and some garden tools that we forgot about because we just couldn't find them.

I haven't been able to do more than skim my google alerts and favorite blogs lately.  Today I can spend a bit more time at this since we are tidying up a few spots we passed over in our cleaning.  I found a nice blog that describes how to make 'Dorset' buttons.  If you visit CraftStylish, be sure to follow the link provided to some pictures of beaded Dorset Buttons.  They are spectacular.  Heck, I will provide it here.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Good Morning, everyone, on this nice lazy Sunday.  I am glad I can be lazy today because this week we begin our spring cleaning.  Have I said before that we hate cleaning and most other housework?  Well, no matter how much we hate it, sometime or other it has to be done.  Perhaps, it is a sign that spring is really on the way.  We have a couple of days coming up that will be in the fifties.  Maybe it is simply wishful thinking, magical thinking.  If we do our spring cleaning, Spring might just decide to make an appearance.

I stumbled upon the following post at The Hawthorne Works blog.  I especially like his take on 'mistakes.'  He has some sound advice overall.  I would just add one thing to it.  Choose a project that is just beyond your level of expertise.  Then you can stretch yourself and learn new things.  Trying an expert project when you are still a novice is a sure fire recipe for disappointment and frustration.  But trying an intermediate project, just beyond novice, can lead to immense satisfaction when it is completed even if you have made some mistakes along the way.  Another piece of advice I would add is: don't go whole hog in buying supplies and equipment especially if you are new to the craft.  Don't think that you have to have the latest, most advanced, or most expensive equipment or materials to create something beautiful.  Moderation in all things has been a corner stone in most ethical and religious systems.  It is good advice in all areas of life.

I have a number of google searches set up to look for various needlework and craft blogs.  Although some are beyond anything I want to get heavily into or have the room to pursue, I always find something interesting or inspiring.  This little piece at Joy In Tatting is really pretty.  I am just starting (re-starting, actually) to teach myself to tat so I am no where near ready to do this pattern.  But someday.... .

Hooked on Crochet has pictures of a 'cross over' project that reminds me of a couple of mine.  Her blanket is finished more neatly than I finished mine.  The other isn't finished because I have yet to figure out where it is going.  I will have to take them out and get some pictures.  This shows why I check out blogs from crafts people whose crafts I won't ever do in a big way.  The pieces and techniques can sometimes give you ideas.  And, even when they don't turn out exactly as you thought they would, the results are always interesting and instructive.