Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hello, everyone, and happy Wednesday. We are expecting another hot day though not as hot as east of here. We only hit about 90 officially but our patio registered 100. It acts like an oversized oven with the white concrete and white fencing. Everything except the broccoli is doing well. One plant barely started forming its spear and bolted. They are cool weather plants and don't really like any position in my containers very much. I don't really have a lot of time between when the peppers and tomatoes start petering out and when the threat of freezing temps arrives. I don't think I will plant broccoli next year. Today, however, I plant to harvest and dry some of my two basils and the stevia. I found several sites that provide tips for microwave drying of herbs. I will give that a try. I, also, researched the possibility of doing the same with peppers but quickly gave that idea up, especially where the hot peppers are concerned. Several posters tried that and were driven out of their houses by the fumes. We will freeze ours as we usually do.

Our morning news had a brief story about Gulf Oil that was both not surprising and a bit unsettling. Although the BP well is, and has been, spewing massive amounts of oil for about 75 days now, some oil and tar balls have appeared that are not form that spill. Instead that contamination may come from some of the nearly 3000 inactive oil and gas wells that are scattered around the gulf--some capped since the 1940s. No one know how many of those wells may be leaking, how much, or for how long. None of the governments involved in oil exploration in the Gulf and none of the companies have kept tabs or inspected any of these sites. An update: I found this on MSNBC which goes into much more detail. The actual number of abandoned wells is around 27000 of which about 3000 (the number I mentioned above are of major concern. Evidently there are few rules in place and the few the MMS can use are toothless. They rely on the paperwork filed by companies when the companies decide to permanently abandon a well and don't inspect the sites during or after shut down. Furthermore, MMS has not enforced the rule that requires companies to decide within one year of 'temporarily' abandoning a well to decide whether to permanently shut it down. So the Gulf of Mexico may be a gigantic superfund site (my conclusion).

It would appear that President Obama is going to by-pass the Senate, again, and will make a couple of recess appointments. He will put Dr. Donald Berwick as head of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid and will make two other less prominent appointments during this recess. I really can't blame him for using this strategy. He announced the Berwick nomination back in March but no hearings have yet been scheduled. I understand the whole concept of 'advise and consent' but the Founding Fathers would have been appalled by the way it has been corrupted for base political ends. It has become another stonewalling strategy for both Parties. And, as a result, nothing gets done.

So the Federal Government has filed a lawsuit to block the implementation of the Arizona immigration law on grounds it is unconstitutional. I won't link to anything because the story has been ubiquitous. Instead, I have a comment on the argument some have raised to support Arizona--that Federal inaction has made it necessary for the states to act. I guess I am not surprised at conservatives of the far Republican right taking a position that flies in the face of their usual strict constructionism in Constitutional matters. But, the Constitution is clear on which level of government has the duty to regulate immigration and citizenship matters: the Federal Government not the states. The fact that they believe that the Federal Government has not performed its duty does not give the states the right to usurp the powers to deal with the matter themselves. I also see a certain measure of self-serving hypocrisy in this as so many have Republican Senators and Congressmen who have paid a lot of lip service to solving this issue and then stalled action to serve their own political ends. I don't absolve the Democrats in this matter. If they had been a halfway cohesive and effective party they had the numbers to move this and other matters through the legislative bodies. Instead, each individual has jockeyed for his own or his state's individual advantage.

Back to gardening--It is already over 90 on the patio. I finished watering everything and harvested the stevia and the two basils. The stevia and thai basil were easy enough to process. Their large leaves are easy to handle and they dried nicely in the microwave. Our downstairs areas smell strongly of basil. I even threw a sprig of the thai basil into the asparagus beans Mom is stewing up with onions, mushrooms and (fresh) tomato. That is for supper tonight. I won't do much with the boxwood basil and won't plant it next year. It is a lovely plant and has a strong basil smell and taste but the leaves are small and harder to process. Also, when I dried it, it had so much water in it that the water popped all over. I also found a few small singed spots on the paper towels. Luckily, I kept a very close eye on it and kept the microwaving times very short. I understand now why the sites I saw with instructions on this technique warned of hot spots that could burst into flame.

HuffingtonPost has this story today. Evidently, Europe is getting tougher with its banks and bankers raising the capital the banks are required to keep on hand and changing how bankers' bonuses are paid. On the latter, only 20-30% will be paid up front in cash. When and whether the remainder would be paid out depends on whether the bank does well over the longer term. It is a damned shame that our lawmakers are so wedded to corporate socialism masked as capitalism that they can't do something similar. And, no, the supposed caps we had were 1) ineffective and toothless, and 2) no longer apply for the most part.

A big thank you to Rain at Rainy Day Things for the link to this blog. Joe Begeant has a wonderfully sarcastic wit and many right on remarks.

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