Saturday, February 27, 2010

Good Morning, Everyone. We have had on-again, off-again snow over night. I was going to clear the patio and car this morning after I had my juice and bagel since the snow was very light at the time. By the time I got my bagel in the toaster, set up the coffee pot for tomorrow morning and cleaned out the cat box it was coming down faster and heavier. We decided to wait until this afternoon since we are going out to a birthday party (niece turning 30) and we don't really want to do this twice.

I hear you on the price of meat Kay (and everything else). We are in a good position here. We generally have toast or bagel with juice for breakfast, a very light snack (if we get hungry mid-day), and a supper around 3 pm. That is generally when meat is included in the meal. Mom does most of the cooking. It is winter now so we eat more casseroles and soups all made from scratch. A large chicken breast or a very small beef roast will make a soup that will last 3 days or a casserole that will last 2 and provide a side dish for a third day. We just don't eat the volume of food we once did. We can't because it makes us too uncomfortable. We figured out the cost of the meat a little while ago when we decided to start grinding our own ground beef and pork--less than $1 per day. We don't have much waste either. Any left overs we aren't going to use right away are frozen and when we make up the soup or what ever we check for those first. The chicken soup we had for the last two days used up the left over great northern beans, left over green beans w/ tomatoes, left over kidney beans, and left over carrots. And we still have another meal of soup in the freezer and a smaller container that can be the base for another meal. And our weekly grocery bill is between $40 and $60. For the two of us.


Well, it is morning again. We had a very nice birthday party. Unfortunately we had too much caffeine and didn't sleep well last night. I can remember the days when I had three or four pots of coffee each day not just 3 cups and when I drank coffee from first waking up to almost time to go to bed. Not anymore evidently.

Robert Reich has an interesting blog this morning that claims that the Republican base is charged up and on the march while the Democratic base is 'packing up' and lacking in enthusiasm. To a certain extent he may be right about the yuppie part of the Democratic base but I think he may be wrong about the blue collar part. Most of my family is in the latter and frankly they are as mad as the so-called tea party Republicans. More they don't blame Obama for the current mess--they blame obstructionist Republicans. That may make for an interesting fall election season.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Happy TGIF. The weather is as it has been for the last while. No snow but only glimpses of sun. I do feel for the people out east. They are getting what we had last year about this time. The snow systems seem to come every other day and the amounts simply pile up. I forget which city the news readers cited this morning but they have better than 80 inches when their normal yearly total is around 24 inches. Nothing like getting 4 times the usual.

I knew that the Republicans had little sympathy for ordinary Americans but I don't often see it expressed so baldly. Take a look at this story dealing with the effort by the Senate to extend unemployment benefits. A damned basketball game is more important.

And then there is this bit of information from the EU. We already have a big problem of bacterial contamination in ground beef because the packages we buy in the supermarket can be derived from hundreds of animals from widely separated geographical areas. The process enhances the chances that surface bacteria can contaminate a large amount of product. We don't need another composite product especially if we would not be able to see the difference between the composite and a regular piece of meat. Once upon a time the scraps they are putting into ground beef (and I suspect those the manufacturers want to use for composites) would have been processed for pet food. I don't think I want to ask what were are feeding pets now.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hello, Again, everyone. We had some lake effect snow last night but not as much as predicted or as much as some other areas got. We may get a bit more today but the sun is trying to come out. We get a glimpse every now and again. Luckily this won't be coming your way, Kay. I hope the new system that is supposed to hit the northeast misses you.

A banking related topic that doesn't involve executive compensation, unwillingness to loan, or gouging customers has reappeared lately after hibernating for the last couple of months: bank failures. Yesterday our nightly news business section noted that a 20th bank has failed so far this year and Saturday the local news note that the Fed took over 3 Chicago banks after closing on Friday night. Last year somewhere around 130 banks failed and some 400 were listed as in danger. If this pace continues this year will come close to last year and the watch list contains 700+ banks so far.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Good Morning, All. Snow hasn't been too bad so we will do our shopping today between the systems. I have to look at the weather predictions for the rest of the week and find a good day to take books back to the library. Finished Colleen McCullough's Antony and Cleopatra and a collection of ghost/vampire stories by Conan Doyle. Antony and Cleopatra wasn't bad. I like it better than Caesar or The October Horse. The best entries in this series however are still the first two--First Man in Rome and The Grass Crown.

I am in your boat, Lois. I have no children and I divorced the man I was married to just over ten years ago. The only nice thing about the twenty years and a bit of that marriage is that I have qualified for Social Security a year earlier than I would have on my own and at a higher stipend than I would have had. Who would take care of me? Relying on the kindness of strangers is a chancy thing in a world that has championed unbridled individualism and greed. The old social ties between members of extended families don't really exist outside of small ethnic communities.

Our conversation over morning coffee centered on the employment situation. It was our response to the Senate's vote to extend unemployment benefits and a mannerly (for a change) discussion of the same yesterday on CNBC. One of the participants in that segment opposed the extension because it would provide incentives for people to not look for work while the other pointed out that there are and estimated 6 applicants for every job out there. What do you do with the five who won't be hired? It occurred to me, for about the hundredth time over the last several years, that this debate is still couched in the same terms that labor debates of the early 19th century used. On the one hand you had the apologists for slavery who claimed that the n*****s were congenitally lazy and would not work hard unless someone stood over them with a whip. On the other you had apologists for the northern factory system insisting that the lower class white trash were congenitally lazy and morally deficient and the only way to make sure they worked hard was to keep them hungry. The words used today are somewhat softer but the meaning is the same.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Good Morning, everyone. The weather wasn't as bad as predicted. Thankfully. Not as much snow and temps a bit on the warm side which should melt what fell and a little more.

Moving on, I found this link at Huffington Post this morning. Don't you just love it when these moral cretins get points for voting against these measures and then line up to make sure they can garner votes by pointing out how they 'brought' this windfall to their constituents? The good people of those districts would not have gotten any of the benefit if their representatives votes had killed the program. I guess hypocrisy pays--big!!!

To continue on the hypocrisy front--Paul Krugman has a good opinion piece in the New York Times on the Republicans and Social Security. I have long suspected that the Republican strategy for at least the last 40 years or so has been to destroy Social Security either by making it over into a poverty program (because on one wants to provide a free ride to the undeserving poor) or by running up the deficits to the point where the only way to save the whole financial system was to cut anything and everything in the so-called safety net. So we have had a plethora of tax cuts for the wealthy, tax evasions by major companies and well-heeled individuals, and off the books wars while social security recipients are denied cost of living raises because the core inflation rate (which discounts food and energy cost increases) says that we have had no inflation over the past year. I have a lot of words to describe this mess but none of them are in the least polite so I will let you supply your own descriptors.

And for a third installment on this theme here is NewsHound's commentary on Glenn Beck's notion that we should all 'toughen up' and give up our Social Security and Medicare. I would let this one slide if Beck weren't so typical of the far right and their notions. Take the idea that the young should care for the old. I remember first hearing this spouted by a news anchor some thirty years ago while I was living in Colorado. I am assuming that he meant (and Beck means) that young people should care for their elderly relatives. However, how many young people live with or near their parents or grandparents? Americans have been on the move since the first Europeans hit these shores. The pace of movement has only increased over time. Next question--without Social Security or some other form of income and without Medicare, what kind of a burden would caring for the elderly place on the young? So what Beck and his ilk propose is that we shift the burden from all young people through Social Security taxes to specific young people who would be saddled with the sole responsibility of care without the wherewithal to care. Then, of course, there is the ritual nod to charity and other local helping organizations. But what the Great Recession (and the Great Depression before it) should have made crystal clear is that those organizations have been severely hurt and the demand for help far outstrips what they can provide. Maybe Beck thinks that older people should just die relieving the young of any responsibility for caring. Would he like to lead the way?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Good Morning, Everyone. The snow hasn't hit yet. From the temperature I see on our patio thermometer, we may get rain before we get snow. We intend to hibernate for the next three days.

I found this item on Huffington Post this morning. Not a very bright look at a possible future. It covers many of the observations and complaints we have expressed over our morning coffee. MSNB also carried this which is an nice surprise since the mainstream media usually carries the more panglossian stories of how the recession is 'over' and things are looking up.

The Washington Times had this story about the 'unbanked' population in this country. This one links the problem to an underground economy that is largely cash based and often evades taxes even if the commodities and services are legal. I have heard other stories about this 'problem' but none of them mention some pertinent facts that have arisen in my own experience. During my brief 'career' as a bank teller I had an account with the bank I worked for. Free checking there required the account holder to have either funds automatically deposited or a minimum balance of a couple hundred dollars. That wasn't hard since the bank had electronic deposits for its workers and the take home pay was above the minimum balance requirement. That all ended when the job ended. No more automatic deposits and I couldn't maintain the minimum. I had forgotten about those requirements until the first month my balance dropped below the minimum and got hit with a whopping maintenance fee. I would have closed that account long before if I had remembered. I am not 'unbanked' because I opened an account at a different bank when I first moved to this area long before that miserable experience as a teller. One of the attractive features of the account was free checking and the only requirement: being over 50. Several times over the last ten years I would have had to close the account if the bank had charged a maintenance fee because the fees would have eaten a significant portion of what little was in the account. That is the real problem behind the unbanked--not black market activity, illegal alien status, poverty, or ignorance. But nobody wants to talk about it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Good Morning, Everyone. The sun has gone away again and will be out of sight for most of the week according to the weather people. I do have to keep reminding myself that it is still winter.

Welcome, Gina, and thank you for noticing that comment I had intended to reject. I hit the wrong button. When I first started this blog I thought that the only comments I would reject were those that were abusive. I haven't had any of those but a number of very good and very nice bloggers I follow had. Recently I have noticed a number of comments that 1) don't really say anything about the contents of the post, 2) contain a link to another site and 3) are anonymous. I did check out the links and found they were selling things or services (usually of a sexual nature). So I have had to modify my rules a bit. I will not accept any anonymous comments. And I will not accept any comments linking to sites that sell anything. My blog is entirely non-commercial. If at any time I decide I want to sell something I will establish my presence on ebay, etsy, or amazon. I won't sell anything here. Also, I would rather not give even the slightest impression by posting such comments that I approve or endorse what ever is being sold.

I am glad you visited, Gina. I write about almost anything, as I said in my subtitle: things that interest, intrigue or irritate me, or that drive me absolutely bonkers. I do include my needlework enthusiasms, which include crochet, needlepoint, embroidery, cross-stitch and quilting and, most recently, tatting. In other words any fiber craft or art. If I don't do the particular craft or art myself I still enjoy seeing what others do with it. You never know--it may sit simmering on the back burner of my mind for quite a while before coming in a different guise as a project of my own.

Warren Mass posted an interesting column at the New American, that I found this morning. I did notice this past week that the news readers were providing contradictory data on consumer prices. One report said that consumer prices fell--to which we replied "Where???". The other said consumer prices rose which correlated more closely to what we had seen. Even though he gives the technical definition of inflation which isn't simply increased prices, he does a good job of showing how unfair it is to use a 'core' consumer price index (which excludes fuel and food) when talking about lower and fixed income consumers. We had noted before the discrepancy between official figures and the pain we felt at the gas pump and grocery check out.

The internet has been a bit sticky today and everything very slow to load. I think I will quit for now.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Good Morning, Everyone. Nice, bright sunshine today. We actually got well into the 30s yesterday and some places actually got above 40. I would dearly love to see the snow melt and go away until next season. I got all my african violets repotted over the last couple of days. One that had been coming back from some kind of crown rot had produced three young plants and another also had a new plant coming out. So I now have four more violets than before. I also planted some of the Burpee's cat grass seeds for my three monsters. Yes, the Burpee's order came in and that has only added to my fervent desire for spring to come in so I can get at my outside planters.

I found this nasty story on NPR by way of the Facebook feed. It is one reason why I get turned off whenever some, usually, Republican idiot starts talking about getting government out of our lives. They have been pushing the notion that people should do more for themselves--get health savings accounts and individual insurance so they don't rely on government or employers, get individual retirement accounts of one form or another so they don't rely on government or employers, etc.--but they don't address what to do about situations where people have done exactly that and then get defrauded out of the savings. Worse, the people whose savings have been stolen become unsecured creditors of a bankrupt company which means that they go to the end of the line and get anything that is left--if anything is left.

Yeah, Kay, I sometimes feel that we are loosing our collective minds. Or, worse, that we are trapped in an insane asylum and can't find our way out.

I cheered when I saw this article in the New York Times. I have said frequently over the last year that bipartisanship works only when you have two sides willing to honestly negotiate and compromise. It does not work when one of the sides insists that 'compromise' be defined as 'you give up all of what you want and agree to all of what I want, or else.' I hope that either Obama goes through with the plan to write his own health care bill and attach it to a budget bill (which doesn't require 60 votes to end debate followed by another 60 votes to pass), or that the Republicans sit down and honestly negotiate a workable compromise. If there are any honest Republicans out there they haven't made the news recently.

You may be right, Lois. If so we have a Gresham's Law of news acting here. There is so much 'cheap' news that it is driving the 'dear' news out. We are getting so much drivel that the serious news is simply drowned.

We have a rather humorous and recurring exchange here. We will be watching the news and the news readers cite some figure on how much the 'average' American consumes or, in the case of waste, produces. Last night we were told that the 'average' American produces 4 lbs of waste daily. Mom and I looked at each other and asked who was producing our share because we certainly aren't--not even if you consider the amount we scoop out of our cats' box each day. On the other side, we don't get our share of the meat, or the chocolate, or the sugar, etc., either. Has anyone ever met an 'average' American?

Mark Morford posted a little piece that pretty well sums up the current political scene. As I read what he wrote about the polls indicating that 92% of Americans want a total turn over of our elected representative I thought back to another poll some years ago that indicated much the same thing. However, that poll showed that, although people were overwhelmingly disillusioned with elected officials generally, the were very supportive and approving of their own representatives. And that is why we probably won't get a major turnover except for those seats whose current occupants, like Bayh, who are retiring. Most of us can't understand why other citizens in other districts and states don't vote the snakes out of office while voting to reelect our own snakes.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Good Morning, all. As you could tell I didn't find much to comment on yesterday. I thought I would have a picture of a new quilt top by now but instead I took it off the wall and put it away for a while. The new arrangement didn't work any better than the old one did. Usually my seams line up and my points meet much better than they were. I will let the problem simmer on the back burner of my mind until I can see a solution to the problem. Until them I will do other things. The sewing area needs to be straightened out and rearranged again. It gets so disorganized when I am playing with the quilts and I need see what I have again and put it all where I can find it.

I agree, Lois, on the doom and gloom. That is one reason why, though the news may be on, we aren't paying that much attention. A second reason is that so little reflects my experience and so little is really news. We have been getting a lot lately on the continuing Tiger Woods soap opera and I, frankly, don't give a rat's ass. This isn't news and, yet, we can't get away from it. If we don't have a continuous stream of disgraced public figures beating their breasts and crying 'mea culpa' hoping we think they are sincere, we are whipped between either the 'doom and gloom' prognosticators who make Chicken Little look optimistic or the panglossian pundits for whom the silver linings are about to turn golden. It all is so irrelevant and out of sync with my life. Things that matter to me--health care, the repeated attempts by the conservative Neanderthals to destroy Social Security, jobs--are superficially covered with no real analysis and, God forbid, any out of the box thinking.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hello, again, everyone. The weather hasn't much to recommend it so I will ignore it today. I have spring fever so bad it isn't funny. I can't really call it cabin fever since we haven't had so much snow that we were immobilized but I want warm temps and sunshine.

Robert Reich had a good post today and one which hit a very sore nerve for me. I used to enjoy some of the talk shows but I don't watch many any more because most of them are way too much heat and bad manners with too little information and analysis. I think most of the political and economic pundits have decided that he who shouts loud enough or prevents the other party from expressing their points has won the debate. I chuckled a bit when Reich noted that he had been on CNBC this morning. I turned the channel when the segment was introduced because I wasn't interested in a couple of talking heads 'duking it out.' I didn't even wait to hear that Reich was one of the participants. Maybe it is just as well because I would probably have been screaming at Kudlow to 'shut the f**k up and let them talk!!!"

Monday, February 15, 2010

Good Monday morning to everyone out there. We had a nice sunny weekend and I did as little as possible. The snow that we were supposed to get last night into most of today has been pushed back to tonight and, maybe, tomorrow. But the accumulation prediction has been lowered as well. It has been one nasty year for snow, hasn't it. Wish we could send it to Vancouver which needs it badly. No, I am not following the Olympics except what can't be missed because it is on the news.

I found an interesting article at the New York Times this morning. I have been hearing and reading a bit about the debt crisis in Greece, one of the so-called PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Iceland, Greece and Spain all of which have severe financial problems) and who that may affect the European Union. Evidently, Goldman Sachs helped Greece hide billions in debt from the EU financial managers over the last decade. If this didn't involve a sovereign government I think it would be called fraud. And, if I remember rightly, some executives at the now defunct Arthur Anderson accounting firm got jail time for similar actions involving Enron.

Huffington Post's Adam Geller has this story on health insurance. The news readers this weekend announced that Anthem had shelved its plan to raise rates for individuals 39%. At least for as long as the current furor lasts. I expect they will try to do it in some more stealthy way. There is only one way to make health insurance both affordable and widely available and that is to have a single payer system funded by everyone. The only way I can think of to do that is to make it a taxpayer funded system. Everyone in and on one out. But 'our' legislators are much more interested in serving their true masters--the insurance industry, the finance industry and any other industry big enough to shovel massive amounts of money into the system that gets the bastards reelected.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Good Morning, Everyone. It is beautiful and sunny but a bit cold. But then it is February. The weather people say we won't get much snow for the next week. Just a small system coming in Sunday night into Monday morning. We decided to shift our shopping to Monday afternoon when that system is supposed to be gone.

I just finished putting the last of the blocks into my new arrangement on the design wall. This one should be much neater to put together. The technique, tube quilting, is nice enough and, for anyone who wants speed, much quicker to do up. But speed isn't the major concern for me. It gets done when I get it done. I will show a picture when I down load the camera.

I agree with you, Lois. Jobs are critical. But I don't see anything that will significantly affect (except, perhaps, negatively) job creation or retention. It is a nasty, vicious circle--consumers don't spend, business cuts back on its largest cost (labor), people who have no jobs or whose hours (and benefits and wages) have been cut don't spend which triggers another round of cuts. One suburban school district outside Chicago just announced 150+ job cuts for the fall. That district is facing a $60 million deficit and have to make it up somehow. The deficit 'hawks' in the Senate and House aren't considering what would happen if the Federal government reigns in its spending at the same time local and state governments are cutting with an ax (forget anything as delicate as a scalpel). Trouble is--how do you break a downward cycle? And how much pain do you want to inflict in doing it?

My, My but we did get some 'bipartisanship' yesterday. Less than a week after Obama suggested he would consider making recess appointments the Senate managed to confirm 27 of them. Maybe he finally found the right 2x4 to whack those Senatorial GOP mules in the head with. It sure got their attention. Or so it may seem. John Aravosis at Americablog links to two pundits who have a different take. They may be right--the big win isn't so big after all.

Paul Krugman has an opinion piece in the New York Times today which notes that the Republican position on Medicare is hypocritical and calls them out on it even if no one else seems to be interested in pointing out their failings. I can't add anything to his analysis so I will take this discussion on to a different track. I have noted a large number of stories in the news lately noting that Obama's and the Democrats have lost significant ground in the political polls of late. I might have an idiosyncratic take on this because though I am not happy with the mess in Washington I am not moved to support Republicans. I am unhappy because the Democrats have not followed through with the programs that won my support in the first place and they have not placed the blame squarely and forcefully where it belongs--Republicans.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Good Thursday to all. Sun today after two and a half days of snow. We came up with about 10 inches so it wasn't too bad.

Thanks for the good wishes, Lois. I have heard of New Trier. The school is sometimes in the news here. Mom went to another high school in Chicago. By the time I was old enough to attend schools they had already moved out of the city. I have only felt two earthquakes and was far enough away that it was a mildly odd sensation. Thankfully!!

Rob Herbert has an opinion piece in the New York Times that is very interesting. I found it in a link on The Curious Capitalist blog. I am not surprised at the data. After all, it simply parallels the income and wealth data. Those at the top of the list (say the top 10%) command the lion's share of the income, own a massive share of the wealth, and suffer the least from un/underemployment. But what is more interesting is that those at the lowest levels get the least attention. When you see the angry Tea Baggers, who do you see? Those are people who still have nice houses, nice clothes, access to medical care, health insurance. Maybe the news media should look at the bottom of the heap a bit and explain why the Tea Baggers are so angry and so afraid. Also, maybe, we should ask how any jobs bills will affect those at the low end of the scale. I suspect that none of those programs will help the largest number of the unemployed. Especially not when the 'clean energy' programs have (according to a news report on ABC a couple of nights ago) have resulted in far more jobs in China than over here.

Robert Reich has another on-point analysis of the current economic situation. I can't argue with anything he has written. I would add something, though. I don't begrudge people who have worked hard and taken advantage of their lucky breaks to gain wealth and success. I think people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and others like them deserve their wealth. They took an idea, built a product, convinced others to buy that product and built their companies--companies they owned. However, Blankfein, Dimon, and the others running the major banking houses are managers not owners. They are managing companies built long ago by the generation of entrepreneurs who came before Gates and Jobs. Do mere managers really deserve those outsized salaries and bonuses--especially given what has happened under their watch?

John Michael Greer, at the Archdruid Report, always puts out an interesting blog and today's is no exception. He says a lot of things and weaves in a number of themes that have been in my mind for sometime. The U.S. well on its way to becoming a third world country? He makes a good case.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hi, Everyone. Well, the snow seems to be winding down but the wind is gusting so the drifts will pile up. Our landlords have a good crew working to clear the sidewalks and the parking areas. We will go out later and get our patio and the car clear. The news said that a small earthquake hit just west of Chicago. No, I didn't feel it. A lot of other people from Wisconsin to Tennessee and from Iowa to Ohio did. No damage so far and no injuries.

I have spent most of the morning, so far, unsewing the latest quilt top. The arrangement looked good on the wall but just didn't look good when sewn. So I am trying to come up with something that will go together well.

Robert Reich has a good post about that abortion named Anthem that just announced a 39% increase in individual insurance rates in California. I agree with him until he speculates about joining the Tea Party movement. I am sorry but a group that says it is speaking for right-to-lifers, right wing Christianists, those who want government to keep its hands off their Medicare, and disgruntled liberals is rather like the product of a mating between an elephant and a whale. There isn't anything coherent about it. I also notice that the rates for groups aren't going up. Is that because individuals are more vulnerable? After all, if a group composed of a large number of people, like a union, walks away the loose a lot of business all at once. Another reason why those who see unions as a major problem are full of s**t, unless they have a lot of Anthem stock.

I did get some good news. I am officially retired and the Social Security will start coming next month. We can breath somewhat easier now. We have been managing but the margin was very narrow. At least now we can indulge in a little treat every now and then.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Hello, all, on this snowy Tuesday. I'm not complaining since we got several nice days that were mostly sunny. It was a nice treat. Sorry all those east of me--what we are getting, perhaps as much as a foot by noon Wednesday, is headed your way. But, then, the weather people have been telling y'all about this for a couple of days. The nice thing about this mess is that our legislative branch has a real excuse to do nothing. They should make the most of it.

I found this item this morning from Chris In Paris at Americablog. Normally, I don't take too kindly to kidnapping and other forms of lawlessness. However, in this case, I sympathize totally with the kidnappers.

John Aravosis, also at Americablog, had this story and commentary. Beth Maxey, at Old Musings, I normally follow had some commentary a couple of days ago. Once upon a time, we didn't have health insurance. It became more widespread after WWII when it became a benefit that unions bargained for in labor contracts. Also, once upon a time, medical care didn't bankrupt people. Does anyone remember the scene in The Shootist where John Wayne's character was told he had cancer? Cancer and other serious conditions were, more often or not, fatal. Now we have the means to treat them but the cost is more than the average person can afford--often the equivalent of a lifetime of wages even for a person making the national 'average' of about $45k per year. Even an uncomplicated pregnancy and labor can cost upwards of $15k. Think about that. Even before you take a baby home from the hospital (over and above the expense for clothing, bottles, crib and what not) you are in hock for more than one quarter of your yearly income. This is a truly obscene situation.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Good Morning, everyone. It is a beautiful, sunny day here though the temps won't get out of the 20s. We were on the edge of the storm that Kay told me is supposed to dump a foot of snow on Ohio and points east and well north of the tail end of the system that socked in DC and the east coast. We got only a light dusting of snow but the weather people say that a more substantial system will come in Monday night into Tuesday morning. We'll see.

I found this in my Google alerts this morning from Forbes. Michael Fumento asks 'Why WHO faked a swine flu pandemic?' I think you have to take a step back from that question what assumes that they did fake it and ask what the technical definition of a pandemic is and whether the technical definition has any real meaning for ordinary people. defines a pandemic as an epidemic (a sudden outbreak) that affects a wide geographical area such as whole countries or continents. In that case we did have a swine flu pandemic. The definition does not take into consideration the severity of the disease itself. A better question, and one that has much more relevance and doesn't call into question the motives of the administrators at WHO, is whether governments, the media and individuals overreacted.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Good Morning, Everyone. I usually ease into the morning blogging but I came across this item from TPM that raised the blood pressure and the swear meter to record heights for this early in the morning. We seem to be governed by extortionists, blackmailers, and thieves. I have a few fantasies as to what we should do with Senator Shelby but they are all highly illegal, definitely immoral and would exact a higher price on us than that piece of dung is worth. This (insert your own favorite descriptor) wants to scuttle Social Security, destroy medicare, tried to prevent the expansion of medical care for low income children, has stood against medical insurance reform and yet for a mere $85 billion he will not (for now) filibuster Obama's nominations. I say his price is too fraking high.

I saw this article in my Google Alerts and on Facebook this morning. Bob Sullivan on his Red Tape Chronicles talks about a subject that echoes one we have had over morning coffee for some time--the effect of technology on our lives. In the last 6 months we have had to replace our computers and our cell phones. We wanted out phones to be phones not hand held computers. What we got, of course, were phones fully capable of surfing the internet, texting, taking photographs, keeping appointments, phone books etc. The only thing we use of that list is the phone book. We don't want the extra cost of texting or internet, much to the dismay of some relatives who have taken to texting with a will. We went with a very simple version of the iBook that has all of the power, speed, and memory we need. Making these choices has become a way of life here. I have often repeated a maxim when it comes to the failure of technology--the more complicated something is the more things can go wrong and the more likely something will go wrong.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Good Morning, everyone. Elaine asked in an e-mail if I was getting cabin fever yet and, yeah, I am. As I mentioned before, though I like the change in seasons, my least favorite season is winter. The sooner it is over the better.

Thanks for the compliments, Kay. I have been doing some forms of needlework (crochet and embroidery) since I was a teenager. Others (quilting, needlepoint, cross-stitch) I picked up along the way. I call stitching my 'therapy.' A lot cheaper than a therapist and none of the negative consequences of drinking.

We heard a bit about this proposal on the tv morning news. I have my doubts about how effective the program will be. I remember a small businessman who commented on the proposed tax breaks on new equipment. Basically, he didn't see any sense in upgrading his delivery vans (and by extension any other still useful equipment) if he had no customers to deliver something to. I am glad to see the part that prohibits firing workers to make room for new tax-exempt employees. But then the exception in the case of workers who leave 'voluntarily' or are fired for cause means there is one hell of a big loophole. Those concepts can be stretched to infinity and have been by employers trying to avoid unemployment payments.

I have been reading about the crocheted reef project for some time now. The pictures are absolutely fantastic. Here is a short video talk by the founder of the project. Enjoy!

U.S. News has this article I found by way of Elaine who shared it by of Google Reader. We have implemented most of these sometimes for economic reasons but often for reasons of simplicity,health, or other esthetic considerations. Those we haven't actually implemented we constantly re-examine to see if they would fit our needs. How many reflect your reality in these times?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Good Morning, Everyone. We had snow over night--just a dusting. We are supposed to get a bit more today, but just a bit. I am definitely ready for spring.

I thought I would show a bit of what I have been doing for the last little bit. I think I showed a full picture of the Mother Goose Crib Quilt just before Christmas. Here is a close up of part of the center. I gave it to my sister (the new grandma--again) to give to my niece (her daughter--the new mom--again). Sister liked it but haven't heard anything from the direct recipients.

The main motif of this table scarf has been done for a very long time. I just had to get off my butt and get the hem and lace done. Being me I just couldn't do an invisible tacking stitch to attach the lace. I have a whole lot of embroidery thread in my stash so I decided to use a stem stitch. Turned out pretty nice so I am in the middle of finishing another scarf with more embroidery to finish it off. I will show it when it is done. I have at least two more pieces I finished the embroidery months (years?) ago and just haven't got around to actually finishing the pieces. I am hoping to finish more projects than I start this year. Get the UFO pile down.

Now that I have cleared my design wall by putting the final segments of the quilt in the last picture (below) I have some room for a new one. This one I call 'All the Pretty Horses' because the multi-color fabric has a pattern of brightly colored stylized horses running over it. I stumbled on a technique called 'tube quilting' I hadn't heard of before and decided to try it. It is an interesting way of making small blocks that can be arranged in a number of different patterns. It does work up quickly, though that is not a major concern for me. My pieces get done when they get done and speed piecing doesn't necessarily speed up the process.

Here is the top that just came off the design wall. I call it 'Little Safari.' The worst part of it was setting in the little diamonds but I got proficient enough towards the end that if I do another pattern that needs diamonds I won't be put off. But I won't go out of my way to do another with diamonds.