Thursday, June 30, 2011

A good Thursday to you all. I will be in and out on this today. My jungle needs taming--again. I am amazed at how quickly it goes out of control. We also have other chores to do today. My usual pattern is to do a couple of chores, take a rest at the computer, do a couple of chores and repeat.

Mom and I were just listening to a story on CNN about a new drug treatment for prostate cancer that may be approved for Medicare payment. Why did that attract our attention? Well, several reasons. First, the price tag--a whopping $93,000/4 month (I think) course of treatment. The treatment is touted as extending the lives of prostate cancer patients by four months (this I am sure of). That is almost double the average yearly salary of an American worker. For an extra 4 months of life?? Second, the cynical comments that "of course, it would be approved because no wants to be accused of 'killing Grandpa.' " I have thought for a good while now that the major problem with the skyrocketing medical costs is the fact that the people who pay for the care are not the people who get the care and the providers simply send in the bills without having to seriously justify the charges. Third, it wasn't very long ago that the medical establishment recommended a wait-and-see stance toward prostate cancer because most such cancers are very slow growing and the patient was more likely to die of other old-age related conditions before the cancer would kill him. In other words, don't go to the aggressive treatments right away.

I am sitting down again. I have most of one section of containers pruned and tied up. I have already dried 2 trays of cilantro and 4 of spearmint with 3 more spearmint and 4 of basil drying now. It is getting warm so I am taking this very easy. I wrote a couple of times about the community gardens I have seen and what some of the arrangements with them are. I got to talk to an elderly man who was tending his plot at the one over by the Lutheran Church yesterday. He said that it is open to anyone (not just church members) and cost $10/year. I am thinking about it but I don't think I will go for it. It sounds nice but what I have now is pleasantly exhausting. I don't know that I really want more work. There is a fine line between burdensome toil and enjoyable activity. I think I am just at the enjoyable limit right now. Also, there isn't much more I can grow that we can't buy at the farmers' markets and we do want to keep them in business as much as possible. And there is only so much of that produce we can use and only so many people we can give some of the excess to. Ah well, another daydream hits the hard wall of reality.

This item from The Agonist expresses something that has been in my mind for a goodly while. Greece is becoming a debtors' prison but without bars. Although, I seem to remember a couple of stories that described the new trend in some states of imprisoning people for debt so I guess we will be joining them soon.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Good morning, everyone. As you can probably tell I was in a very contrary mood yesterday. It has been building for some time and I finally cut loose. I agree with you, Kay. I am very tired of all of the sanctimonious, self-serving idiots out there who insist on 'austerity' for me but not for them and theirs. The only ones sharing the sacrifice of their plans are those in the lowest 80% of the economic food chain.

Well, Well!!! This might put an interesting wrinkle in the debt ceiling 'negotiations.' (In quotation marks because it isn't really a negotiation when one side absolutely refuses to negotiate.) It makes me hope Obama has the backbone to play the card. Bi-partisanship is fine when both sides want to work together and not play 'gotcha.'

I guess we shouldn't be surprised anymore by Repthuglicans railing against 'entitlements' or other government programs while benefiting mightily from them. Can anyone else spell 'hypocrite.'

And then there is this item for the 'Greedy, Irresponsible Company allied with Feckless Government Agency' file. So let me follow the logic of this story: you have a company that has filed suit against the state to set aside a clean up order (for radioactive waste discharged into a creek feeding into a major city's water supply) but which is now allowed by the state agency governing environmental matters to discharge 90k gallons of radioactive sludge and waste into a retaining pond that is leaking??? And I am not at all reassured that other natural barriers would prevent anything from getting away from the pond (and would be even less reassured if I lived out there).

All I can say to this one is--Right on, Bernie.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Good Morning to you all. The thunderstorms did not make an appearance yesterday for which I am grateful. Rain is one thing--serious storms another entirely. And it got hot enough that I had to water some of the smaller containers late in the day. Because of the rain yesterday morning we delayed our errands till this morning.

Well, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has been found guilty on 17 of the 20 corruption charges with which he was charged. I was really, really, really pissed off with the news coverage. Evidently the local ABC station (the one we normally watch for news) had wall-to-wall coverage from about 1pm when (I think) the verdict was announced till almost through the 5pm news. Frankly, I would have preferred to see Jeopardy.

I am still royally pissed off because they are continuing the coverage this morning bringing in the foreman of the previously jury and everyone else who might have provide some minimal bit of drama. And other news stories have simply added to the irritation. Yesterday several of the talking heads talked about the Greek situation and the dissension in Greece. Their comments seemed to sympathize with with contentions of the bankers that the people of Greece deserve severe austerity because they have overspent for so long, lived beyond their means for so long. The people of Greece don't deserve the pain of austerity because it was their politicians who created the situation just like the politicians at all levels over here have created a parallel situation. Meredith Whitney was just on CNBC talking about the problem of under-funded pension with special reference to New Jersey. She generally talks sense but her focus is on the here-and-now without any reference to the history of the situation--the long line of political decisions to underfund the pensions. Rick Santelli did make a nod to the history of the situation. The problem I have with the whole discussion is the the pain of getting out of the morass will fall most heavily on those who had the least to do with the situation. I wish I didn't absolutely believe that however this resolves itself the people at the top of the economic and political food chains will get off with minimal sacrifice (if any) while the rest of us are screwed.

I just got another shot of irritation when one of the talking heads on CNBC (sorry, I didn't see his name) compared Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to living on credit cards. Somehow buying something now and paying for it later is comparable to paying for something now and enjoying it later. Now, as someone who has had credit cards (and who will never have one again) and who has also paid the taxes supporting Social Security taxes since age 18 that the situations are entirely different. And the situation for my generation (the so-called baby boomers) is even worse. In the early 1980s the payroll taxes were raised because Alan Greenspan and the supporting cast of politicians raised the alarm over the strain so many retirees would place on the system and argued that we should 'pre-pay' for the benefits we were promised. We have done that for the last nearly 30 years. But now that there is a $2.5 trillion dollars in the alleged trust fund, they want to loot it for whatever program they want and we are greedy geezers for fighting that looting.

Well, talk about looting--this gives us an idea of where whatever passes for Eric Cantor's heart is. If he is wearing a red/white/blue flag pin (which has become almost part of the Republican uniform) maybe he should replace it with a gold dollar sign. That is where his loyalty really lies.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Good morning to you all on this rainy Monday morning. Until half an hour ago I had some hope that the rain would bypass us but then in came in so stealthily I didn't notice at first. Right now it is gentle with a bit of a breeze but the weather people say we have a chance of thunderstorms developing this afternoon. I did get out to check my slug traps--so far clear. I did get everything fertilized yesterday so the rain is a bit welcome since I won't have to water today. I will try to get some new pictures of my jungle later this week.

I wish these boys a lot of good luck. I like the idea a lot. I remember when I bought a number of stock pantry items from the bulk bins. Those have disappeared and it has been about 5 years since the last grocery here eliminated them.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Good morning to you all. We have sun today and the latest weather report indicates that we won't get much if any rain. I should get the gardens fertilized and put out my slug traps. I haven't seen any sign of slugs this year but I figure safe is better than sorry. Yesterday I cut the weakest of the sunflowers out of the pot, trimmed the fading lower leaves and added soil to the pot. They look better. Four of my tomatoes are about to top the supports I have put in so it may be time to get some more of the longer ones. I find more little tomatoes and peppers each day. The Giant Marconi pepper has one that is 3+ inches long already. The weather people predict dry and sunny conditions for the Wednesday through Saturday so that will be the perfect time to take my second cuttings of basil and the mints.

I agree, Kay. There is nothing balanced and reasonable about the gay marriage debate. But that is a condition that bleeds over into every debate in our political life. Once the issue is wrapped up into religious/moral platitudes the debate spirals into extreme unreason. Mom and I commented on the topic this morning. We thing that a large group of people in this country are so fragile in their own self-worth that they see the recognition of the human rights of 'unworthy' groups as diminishing their own rights. I simply fail to understand that position since none of their rights are being taken away. We saw (and still see to a lesser extent) similar attitudes during the civil rights movement. And then, of course, we have the political hacks who are happy to pander to such notions to shore up their own influence. One the economic front we have a similar situation: so-called free-market capitalists hold their positions with all the fervor of a revivalist preacher and with just as much rationality--which is to say none at all.

MSNBC provided this bit this morning. I looked up the normal territories for gray whale migration. Generally they follow the west coast of the U.S. from northern Alaska to South America. And I looked up the town in Israel where one a gray whale was found last year--the Mediterranean. And Rick Santorum assures us that climate change (or 'global warning' as he insists on calling the climate phenomena) is all 'junk science.'

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Good morning, everyone. We have clear skies, bright sun, and the temps are supposed to go into the low 80s. The temps were cool enough yesterday that we kept the doors closed. Kuma was totally bummed out because he couldn't go outside at will. Since I didn't do anything in the gardens, I poured candles. I have a bunch of candle containers that I have to melt the used wax out of and clean up. I want to reduce the number of those things I have around.

Well, the New York legislature has approved and Gov. Cuomo has signed the bill to allow same-sex marriage. Of course, the issue won't end there as challenges come out of the woodwork. I have a solution: reserve the term 'marriage' for religiously sanctioned unions and make 'civil unions' the term for unions sanctioned by law. Give the partners of civil unions (whether same-sex or heterosexual) all the rights married couples now enjoy.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Good morning, everyone. Again it is gray and wet but they say this will move out by this afternoon bringing in some sun. It is also quite cool--not expected to get out of the 60s. The little jungle is growing nicely. I think most of the plants like the cool and wet.

Glad you liked the 'Ten Little Republicans,' Kay. I think it was right on the money. MSNBC has a nice series of cartoons on the employment situation. Go down to the 'Business' section and look on the right to find the link.

MSNBC also posted this article. If the recession has created a generation of skeptical teens I say 'hallelujah!!'

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Good morning, everyone. It is a gray day to start. The weather people think it will remain cloudy through out the day but, probably, no severe weather. Illinois still has some 100+k people without power. They did have two EF-0 tornadoes in the western suburbs but most of the damage came because of straight line winds. The garden is doing nicely. The tomatoes are all blooming very well. I trimmed a lot of the lower leaves and some of the leaves that were interfering with other plants. The peppers are also blooming well and several small peppers are developing nicely. Next week I will have to take new cuttings from the mints and basil. They have recovered nicely from the last cutting. The melons, cucumbers, beans, and squash are growing nicely and I have the vines training against the trellises. Keeping them there will be the trick.

So President Obama has announced that 30k troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of next year. If I sound unimpressed--I am. That means that the troop strength will fall back to what it was before all the troops 'withdrawn' from Iraq were sent in for another 'surge.' Of course, we have the usual divided opinion on the issue. What I notice, which doesn't bode well for the future, is no one is questioning whether we should have gone in the way we did in the first place. And I really can't credit those who think we would "lose everything we have gained" by withdrawing so many troops. Especially since this is part of what we have 'gained.' Don't you just love fighting for someone else's 'democracy.'

I have been following this story for a bit now. I wondered how the Democratic legislators' strategy would work--passing a budget that wasn't balanced and that the governor was likely to veto and then argue that merely passing the budget would suffice to keep their pay flowing. I am glad the comptroller has ruled against the scam. Of course, it will probably go to court. Another waste.

As I read this story I had a flashback to various histories I have read about the period between WWI and WWII. Russia provides Belarus a bailout which is supposed to help them pay their debts including the debts to Russian utilities providing power and Russia is now threatening to cut power because part of that bill hasn't been paid. The treaty ending WWI saddled Germany with horrendous reparations while France and Britain owed the U.S. fantastic sums for assistance during the war and U.S. exporters needed free-spending European customers to maintain their prosperity. So the American government gave Germany loans to pay the reparations to France and Britain which used the money to pay some of their obligations to the U.S. Government and buy goods from American producers. Of course, this was an upward spiral which was sustainable only as long the various economies were growing and when the Great Depression hit it imploded. The author of a blog I recently read diagrammed the relationships between the various players in the current sovereign debt morass and then translated the diagram into a more easily understandable form: one man with empty pockets transferring phantom money to another man with empty pockets who transfers phantom funds to a third man with empty pockets who transfers phantom money to the first man in an endless cycle. All three situations (the Belarus/Russian, the European present, and the European past) are eerily similar.

Tom Englehardt at tomdispatch has a nice little essay on the language of war as it has mutated over the last couple of decades. Take a look at why he says that 'victory' is the verbal equivalent of a 'yeti.'

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Good morning to all of you. Thunderstorms rumbled through last night. The only we see here are bits of leaves from the taller trees but no damage around here. The gardens are nicely moist and everything is intact. West of here is another story. There they had straight line winds gusting to 100 mph which topples trees and power lines. According to the news some 250k people are still without power and several of the commuter train lines are out because the power lines are down. Right now--we have clouds but earlier we had a couple of brief sun and a brief shower. The temperatures are supposed to be cooler for the next five days--which I definitely appreciate.

I agree with you, Kay. I also feel like crawling into bed and pulling the covers over my head. I saw the news clips of Jon Huntsman's announcement of his candidacy for the Repthuglican nomination for the Presidency. The only thing that I agree with is his assessment that America is a much less compassionate country. Eli at Firedoglake has a nice piece that reflects my own feelings about our 'United States of Bass-Ackwardia."

Well, the common wisdom was right and Prime Minister Papandreou did win his confidence vote. And his government plans to carry through its program of severe cuts to government employees and services, massive tax hikes (in a country where tax evasion is a national sport), and sales of public assets to private interests. What I find really pathetic about this situation is that the money the expect to get from the EU and IMF is a loan that will have to be paid back (sometime) which is more money drained from Greece in the future and the respite the money provides will be only temporary. I am entirely in sympathy with the Greek protestors--all their pain will benefit only the international banks and their share holders. Isn't progress wonderful--we now have the means to turn entire nations into debt serfs for the foreseeable future. I wonder how many other populations will be enslaved to the international banks before we are done.

But of course there is plenty for me to feel disgusted about on this side of the pond. Here is one example. This sounds like the program a lot of consumers followed for the last 30 years (and which some are still trying to follow): max out one card, get another and max it out, into the infinite future. Instead the small banks borrow from TARP and pay off the TARP loans with loans from the Small Business Administration getting out from under the onerous restrictions (especially on executive compensation).

Foreign Policy In Focus has a cute little poem this morning. Ten Little Republicans is first in its line up, so head on over and have a chuckle.

The Mail Online reported that the water industry trade group has sent legal letters to weather forecasting companies in the UK ordering them not to forecast drought warnings and possible 'hosepipe bans. Why? Such warnings might negatively impact the water companies' stock prices. One of the companies that received the letters accurately predicted the recent drought. Talking about killing the messenger!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the first day of summer. We finally got some sun yesterday. We wondered for a bit if the weather people had lied to us--again. We may have some nasty storms later today but I hope to get some rosemary and lemon verbena harvested and dried. And I saw a number of tomatoes that need a bit of pruning and some plants I need to tie up on trellises.

Hey, Lois, your boys can commiserate with my boy. We close up when the air conditioner kicks in and he has to, reluctantly, stay in or when we get heavy rain. Right now he is very unhappy.

This was the first story I saw this morning. About three years ago I saw a similar story though i that one the 'criminal' committed the crime to get housing until the time when he could qualify for public housing. All I can say is--how pathetic is a system in which anyone would see jail as the only way to get the medical care he so obviously needs. Another fabulous example of our 'ownership' society where everyone is on his own.

And then following that story was this one. As far as doing anything about it--well considering that a conference between various governments to put stricter limits on harvesting blue fin tuna (a population that is near collapse) failed to do anything. Particularly influential governments (read--Japanese) refused to even consider new restrictions.

The record flooding on the Missouri hasn't made much news over here. This story indicates that there may be more of a story than we might think. Of course, everyone and every agency at all levels are denying the story--though the FAA did declare a 'no-fly zone' and evidently there was a fire at the spent fuel pond. But then I remember how the Japanese government and TEPCO denied there was a problem at Fukushima. I don't necessarily trust the source of this story--but then I really don't trust the denials either. And, of course, we have other problems with nuclear plants that rarely make the news.

Well, the lemon verbena and the rosemary are in the dehydrator. I filled all six trays--the last is half verbena and half rosemary. I normally don't mix the herbs on a tray but the two are so different I won't mix them up. I cut both plants back severely so they should bush out very well. I think I will try to take cuttings off the verbena--my little book says it is easy to grow from cuttings. We'll see.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Good Monday morning to you all. We have clouds and fog this morning with the chance of heavy rain shortly. That line of thunderstorms may be moving in because it is getting very dark outside now. We may or may not get out grocery and other errands done today. We will see if there is a good break between the raindrops.

I didn't have much to say yesterday, as you could tell. Much of what is going on seems to be in the 'same old, same old' category. Nothing much changes.

According to the local (i.e., Chicago) news this morning gardening has retained the increased popularity that began with the recession two and a half years ago. A couple of the anchors mentioned that they either are starting gardens or have been gardening for a while. The pictures showed either a large container or a raised bed. They mentioned the increase in food prices as a major contributing factor for the prolonged popularity. I would also have thought that many people, having tasted fresh grown food, are also doing so because what they grow simply tastes better.

On the gardening front here--I noticed some blossoms beginning to show on my ground cherry. The tomatoes continue to bloom well. The melons, squash, beans, and cucumbers are all rapidly growing up the trellises. I have a couple of pepper and tomato fruits growing. If you look at the spearmint and ginger mint you would never suspect that I just cut a nice lot for drying last week.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Good morning, everyone. We may get some rain and may not. It all depends on how the front moves. I will water the gardens, anyway, just to make sure they don't dry out. Yeah, Kay, the herbs are doing very well. I am very pleased with them. The tomatoes are also progressing well with several small green tomatoes already growing. Several of the peppers are doing nicely but the Zavory are a bit behind the others.

On the computer topic, Kay, security is only one of the problems. The news this morning featured a system wide shut down on United Airlines. So far no one has mentioned malicious tampering but for some, as yet unknown, reason the system failed. Result: very few went anywhere for hours. That is the problem with high tech systems we have come to depend on--we have no lower tech back-ups for when they fail. And it isn't a question of if these systems will fail; it is a question of when.

There are few politicians of any party with whom I would often agree. However, Richard Durbin of Illinois has a proposal I think is absolutely right on the money. We have seen a wave of 'privatizations' over the last few years as cities and states (and national governments) struggle with massive deficits. Take a look at the public assets the Greek government is being pressured to sell--water systems, power systems, telecommunications, and even one or more of the islands. Durbin proposes that any sale of of such assets that have been built or maintained with Federal funds must include a payback of those Federal monies. I totally agree. I see no reason why private firms and their stockholders should get assets built with public money to run at a profit to them and to the detriment of the public that paid for those assets. Since the Chicago parking meters were sold less than two years ago the parking costs have increased 400%.

I have been reading and watching the turmoil in Greece all week (and long before). The New York Times had this (by way of Chris Martensen's Blog) that is an interesting account and connects the troubles in Greece to problems in the rest of Europe. And, I think, gives some indication of the root of the problem (beyond the fiscal madness that has infected governments, individuals, and institutions). I don't know how many times my blood pressure has spiked when some politician, economist, or banker talked about either 'moral hazard' or 'shared sacrifice.' I haven't seen much sharing of the sacrifice by those at the top of the economic food chain--they are sharing out what the rest of us have 'sacrificed.' As for 'moral hazard,' where were the consequences for the insane decisions the bankers, mortgage bankers, and others at the top made? I haven't see any. Even now, as the Greeks protest, the major question is how much of a 'haircut' investors in bank bonds should take on bad investments. I thought one poster a Greek protestor had was right on the money. It showed the just ousted finance minister (I think they said) and proclaimed him the 'employee of the year' for Goldman Sachs. Goldman advisors were instrumental in advising the Greek government on how they could hide some debt so they could appear to be in compliance with EU financial rules.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Good morning to you all on another Friday. The weather cleared up nicely yesterday and we had plenty of sun with temperatures rising into the 80s. The weather people have projected temps at or above normal instead of the below normal the had predicted early in the week. I have several tasks planned in the gardens this morning. Generally I do one bit, relax with the by blog reading and writing, have breakfast, do another bit, go back to the computer, do another task, etc. Nothing frantic or rushed or terribly exhausting. Today I have to tame the ginger mint and the oregano. I may be able to get to the cat nip and lemon verbena. I won't water everything because the weather prediction for tonight and early tomorrow is thunderstorms and rain. I will check the sunflowers and the lemon verbena because I have a lot of plant in those pots.

HuffingtonPost has a good article on 'cyber' security today. The author raises a number of questions that I have thought about for sometime. I don't have any really good answers and I don't think any of the so-called experts do either. We have become so dependent on computers and the internet that the consequences of a failure are both unfathomable and terrifying. I remember the crimp simple power outages and temporary network failure put in the small retail business I worked at not too many years ago. The inventory was all on computer. The business was a franchise and all of the sales (on which franchise fees were based) were transmitted to the home office. The computer programing simply didn't work unless the internet connection was working so any sales had to be done completely by hand and then later entered in the computer if there was any interruption in the internet. And, of course, a significant number of sales were on credit or debit cards which we couldn't get authorization for without internet and/or phone connection. How much of your banking do you do on line? Right now all of our bills are paid on line except for one and we could pay that one on line but we like to talk to our landlords so we take it into their office. All of my latest book purchases have been on line since I got my nook. Mom's medications are all ordered from an online service. In how many ways is the internet now integrated into our lives and how disrupting would an outage be?

And then there is this reminder of just how vulnerable we are to our various technological systems. And how expensive it is to repair the systems when they fail. The Army Corps of Engineers estimates that repairing the Mississippi levees damaged by the flooding this year will cost between $700M and $1B. Their budget for this year--$210M. They are hoping for a supplemental appropriations but considering Rep. Cantor's response to the notion of disaster funding for Joplin--nothing unless it were off set by cuts elsewhere--their hopes may go unfulfilled. On the other hand, the best plan may be to start removing the levees and returning the land to wetland. But such a plan would raise a howl from people who now have nice productive farms in what used to be wet land.

Just finished cutting the ginger mint and got enough to fill my dehydrator. I won't go after the oregano until the mint is dry. Shouldn't take more than an hour and a half.

The copper thefts continue. The FBI is weighing in on the issue noting that the thefts endanger public safety because of the disruption in power and communications systems. And what is the theft of the copper fittings in fire hydrants doing? I would hate to have a house on fire near one of the stripped hydrants.

The ginger mint is dried and bagged. It took a little less than an hour. Oregano and cat nip are in now. I think I will leave the lemon verbena and rosemary for another day.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Good morning, again, everyone. It is overcast but with patches of sun. I hope we get more but the weather people have predicted rain for every day for the coming week. I would rather they removed about half of that. I was afraid that the rain would keep me out of the gardens but I have been able to sneak out between the showers. Got the first herbs out: 3 dryer trays each of sweet basil, lemon balm, stevia, and spearmint. That will be enough for today.

Thanks, Lois, on the green thumb compliment. I agree that African violets can be very temperamental. I had no luck with them before I lived in Missouri and I didn't have much after I moved to Indiana. Nothing I did made them happy. I finally gave up.

For anyone who wants to see what a governmental shut down would look like we may get a preview by watching Minnesota. What we seem to have at all levels of government these days is a MAD strategy (mutually assured destruction, for those who don't remember the Cold War). The problem with that is what would happen if one side decides that destruction is acceptable so long as the other side goes too. They could do what Illinois is studying--sell advertising space on their license plates. I hope, if they put the plan into action, they give the individual drivers the right to choose which logos they would have on their plates. There are some companies I think are so reprehensible I would not want to support them in any way.

The mainstream news media has carried reports on just how much all those 'fees' make for the airlines. This USA Today story gives the bare bones of it. This is eerily familiar. I remember similar stories about the banks. Any industry that relies on fees only tangentially related to the service it is selling is unhealthy. I was going to say that no likes to be nickeled and dimed but the fees are so much more than nickels and dimes that the phrase is a terrible understatement.

The copper thefts continue. And the thieves are getting incredibly brazen. And the consequences are increasingly inconvenient for a lot of people--other than the thieves themselves, of course.

It seems that pensions are being targeted in places other than where Repthuglican wingnuts have gained control of state governments. Teachers in the UK have authorized a one-day strike over proposed changes to their pension arrangements. One of the two unions involved has never before, in its 127 year history, voted for a strike. Hungary will post a debt of only 77% of GDP (as opposed to a projected debt of 81%) thanks largely to a transfer of 97% of private pensions (with their assets) to the state system. So the pension surpluses will mask the real size of the debt just like Social Security does over here.

Natural News had this surprising story this morning. Do you know what is in your commercially produced bread? I checked this out and evidently it is real. It isn't as bad as the 'pink goo' and the meat 'glue' but if you like to know what is in your food and where it comes from--it is just another consideration.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Good morning, everyone, on this rainy Wednesday. The storm moved in just about the time our coffee finished brewing along with some lightning and thunder. The weather people say this round will end in about three hours and the next won't come in before late this afternoon. I don't mind the rain since I fertilized the gardens yesterday afternoon hoping the rain would come and help wash the fertilizer down to the roots. For once, everything worked as I hoped.

Good to have you back, Kay. I agree on needing a rest from the media. Our choices seem to be endless repetitions of meaningless (s)news or endless re-runs of shows we didn't want to see in the first place. Monday I was so disgusted I put Pandora on. At least that media is soothing.

Thanks, Lois. I am really pleased (so far) with how the gardens are developing. It takes time to figure out what works and raising everything in containers is definitely new for me. The last time I was able to do anything more than raise a few African violets in pots inside I had a 20'x16' main bed with 2' beds lining the yard along the fence. That provided a lot of space. Here--I am definitely dealing with the 'law of the minimum.' And what limits me here is space. But it is something I will have to live with because we just signed a new two-year lease. Gaining space simply isn't worth what we would loose.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hello, again. I don't know if I will have much to say on the non-gardening front. I turned off the news this morning because I simply couldn't stand the extended campaign commercials masquerading as news segments. They started off with coverage of the non-debate last night featuring the currently running Republicans. This won't get serious until the primaries start.

The Merkel government in Germany has decided to get out of nuclear energy and now voters in Italy voted to continue their ban on nuclear energy established in another referendum after the Chernobyl accident. I love another part of their vote--against the Berlusconi government's attempt to privatize the Italian water supply. Some things simply should not be put into profit-making hands.

MSNBC carried this NY Times article that goes along with all of the other recent similar reports. The problem with any widespread technology is what happens if it somehow fails, and security breeches leading to data thefts is a form of failure. And, unfortunately, this kind of failure has much longer repercussions that a direct bank robbery that only takes cash.
Good morning, again, everyone. I thought I would share some more pictures of the gardens. These are some of my favorites of this year. First up--the Vietnamese Multicolor pepper. It has some beautiful purple developing on the leaves and the peppers (when they come) will range from light green to cream to lavender to red. And they can be picked at any stage. They are supposed to be mildly hot. It is a beautiful plant and has a very different growth habit from the peppers I usually grow. I will show some of those another time.

This is the lemon verbena. I haven't grown this herb for many years and had a very hard time finding it. I have only one source in the area. I also forgot how tall these grow--4 to 6 feet. Therefore, it has its own pot and, since it isn't hardy in my growing zone, it will spend the winter inside. I also need to keep it pruned to a short height. I may also try to prune the roots as well to control the height.

And look at this--the first little tomato!! This is on the yellow cherry. Since I first found this one several more have appeared on a couple of the other tomatoes. I am so looking forward to the first slicers that get large enough for fried green tomatoes and then the first that ripen. Any we can't eat we will sauce and freeze.

And here is my new stevia. I tried growing from seed and had no luck at all. I also tried growing from cuttings with the same lack of success. As long as I can get seedlings I will grow it that way. Right now I have two local sources and it seems to be popular with local gardeners. We love it for hot or iced tea and it works well fresh or dried. The white below is a collar made from a gallon vinegar jug to support the plant and keep it from spreading over the lavender and other plants.

This is my spearmint--another herb I haven't grown for many years. This is another plant that needs its own pot because it is very invasive and spreads from the roots. I have to start pruning it back and drying the leaves. For the fall I plan to split it, put it into smaller containers to sink into the larger containers to overwinter. It is hardy in this zone and I plant to mulch the beds and cover them with plastic tents. The last time I did anything like that I had large raised garden beds and I lived in Colorado. I wonder how the plants will do here in large containers.

This is a ginger mint. I loved the variegated color and bought it on impulse. It is also a very invasive and needs its own pot--a large pot. This is another plant that is hardy in this zone and I hope to overwinter it in the gardens like the spearmint. I don't know how strong the flavor is yet.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Good morning to you all on this cloudy (at the moment) and cool Monday. The clouds are supposed to clear off but the cool temp will remain. The highs are supposed to soar--into the high 60s. That is where it topped out yesterday. Oh, well!!

I haven't been able to wear my contact lenses since December. When I tried to put them in my eyes burned and itched intolerably. I tried them a little more than a month ago and the same result. I had almost resigned myself to going back to glasses permanently but decided to try again this morning. I was surprised to get them in without the least discomfort. Has anyone else had such an experience with contacts? I think I will limit the time each day I wear them for a while. I used to put them in as soon as I woke and took them out just before I went to bed. Maybe only 8 hours from now on.

Susie Madrak has a nice bit this morning on the NIH decision to list formaldehyde as a carcinogen. I found it just after the CNN news carried a bit of a story that indicated some of the products that might expose consumers to the chemical. But they made no mention of David Koch, Georgia Pacific, or his position on the NIH Cancer Board of that the decision came only after he had left the board.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Good morning to you all. A bit foggy with the possibility of a few more showers this morning before the sun moves in this afternoon. We will be going out to see what is at our city farmer's market a bit later. Our favorite one hasn't opened yet but, if I remember rightly, it opened later toward the first of July. They usually have the first local corn. I saw a couple of plants in the gardens that will need to be moved. They simply aren't happy where they are. But most plants are doing very well.

As ou can see, I didn't get back to the blog yesterday. It is now Sunday and we now have some cloud cover that moved in after a brief appearance of the sun. We are on the edge of the clouds as usual. It should burn off or move off later today. The entire week is supposed to stay in the 70s. We can handle that. I am getting some of the little gardening chores done a bit at a time. It is too cool to spend much time out there at the moment but the temperature is rising and should move into the 70 in the next couple of hours. I found several little tomatoes on three of the plants. I have pruned and tied up only about one-third of my plants so far. The have grown so much over the last few days. All of the plants have.

We did visit the farmers' market yesterday. It has grown over the years and should get bigger as the season progresses and after the downtown park that will be its final home is finished in August. I was looking for some new plants to replace the roses in the fence holders but I didn't find anything really suitable. I will go back to Home Depot Tuesday.

I have been avoiding most of the broadcast news lately. Yesterday after the second repeat of the asinine coverage of the Weiner 'story' and the idiocy of the spectators at the Casey Anthony trial I put on Syfy even though we had seen everything at least once. My complaints: the constant repetition without any new information, the hyping of rather mundane stories, the uncritical presentation of political opinion, and the spotlighting of sanctimonious political whores who adopt what ever position they think will benefit them at the time.

I agree, Lois. Nature has been and is giving us a beating. How long? If this is a shift from a normal, cyclical warm spell to a normal, cyclical cold spell it can last several hundred years. The last shift came around 1300 and lasted to the early decades of the 1800s. Thanks to a combination of famine (due to crop failures), epidemics (primarily bubonic plague but including other diseases), and warfare (the Hundred Years' War began around 1345 and lasted till 1453) the population of Europe dropped by about 50% in 100 years. If it is something even more catastrophic thanks to the effects of human action--no one knows. I remember an interesting statement from the PBS film 'Black Blizzard' about the Dust Bowl. Agricultural practices introduced in the 1870s which quickly spread across the Great Plains changed the weather patterns over the area deepening the drought. In other words, man's economic activity had a detrimental effect for the weather humans living in the area depended on. Those who claim that puny man cannot affect something like weather, or climate, or the atmosphere, or the oceans because they are simply too big simply have a selective acquaintance with history.

Chris Martensen has an interesting essay this morning. The first item that attracted my attention was his description of our modern economy as requiring infinitely expanding credit. Nothing can expand infinitely except in pure mathematics. The physical world has limits. The second item I found fascinating was his graph of the growth of the U.S. credit market since 1970. It has doubled 5 times in 40 years. The pattern is a nice parabola that mirrors the ideal exponential curve. As I looked at it I was reminded of the problem of trying to accelerate past the speed of light. As you get closer to that limit the energy you put into the effort produces less and less result. I would guess, as Martensen concludes, that all of the efforts made to increase the amount of cash available to lend has bumped up against the same phenomenon--no matter how much we put in the result will be disappointingly small. And something else comes to mind: if business and industry has no real expectation of resumed growth on the scale of the recent past, will they have any real interest in increasing payrolls? I think not. And all of the talk of reduced regulation and reduced taxes is just that--talk. I am quite sure that all of the industries and businesses lobbying for those 'reforms' are quite honest on one level: such measures would improve their bottom lines. But their promises of new jobs is nothing more than self-serving hot air.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Good morning to you all on this cool and wet Friday. More thunder storms rumbled through last night and we expect more later today and overnight. At least I won't have to water anything until Monday at the earliest. Everything out there is growing like the proverbial weeds. I will have to harvest most of my herbs. Several tomatoes need pruning. The squash need to be trained through the trellis which needs some low cross bars to attach the plants to. I may need to do the same with the melons. I can't believe the number of blossoms on the tomatoes and more of the peppers are blooming also. I guess I will definitely start those seeds as early next year as I did this year (late February.) (Update: We have sun!!)

Hey, Lois, I am glad you're back blogging again. I forgot all about the cookies and cache. I haven't had much of a problem with that for a long time.

I have been reading about this for a couple of months now. The drought that made such a spectacular appearance in Russia last year seems to have moved west. Add that to the report yesterday that the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture reported drastic reductions in the number of acres planted in corn, the projection of the number of acres of corn that will be harvested (actually more than the the reduced number of planted acres would suggest), and in the projected number of bushels to be harvested. CNN noted the story but most of the talking heads remarked on how 'bullish' the report was for the commodity market which saw the corn (and other commodity) prices bump up. 'Bullish' for investors but higher costs for the rest of us. Elaine at Elaine's Place had this link that illustrates some of the problem. Note the drought from Texas to Georgia/Florida. But also consider that the floods that hit several areas came at just the wrong time and the ground won't be dry enough to plant till it is too late to plant corn.

Karoli at Crooks & Lawyers has this little piece which reminds me of the conclusion: while the press focused on one 'dick' they were ignoring what another bunch of 'dicks' were doing; and that may have been the purpose behind spending so much time, ink, and hot air on such aninconsequential matter.

Yves Smith at Naked Capitalist answers the question I had yesterday about the real effect of the decision by the Treasury to delay the incentive payments to three too-big-to-fail banks over their abysmal performance with respect to the HAMP program. I thought it would amount something indistinguishable to nothing. I was right. Her comments are wonderfully, justifiably sarcastic.

Tom Philipot at Grist had this take on the dismal, depressing, (choose your adjective) employment numbers for May. That more than half of the jobs created last month resulted from McDonald's hiring push places the data onto an all new level of disheartening, dismaying, (choose your adjective) data.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Good morning to you all on this rainy Thursday morning. The thunderstorms moved in overnight with a major drop in temperature. The high for today arrived sometime very early this morning and the temp is supposed to settle around 60 for the day. I will enjoy the relief from the heat while I can. Given how wet it is I won't be doing anything in the gardens today. I was relieved to see that all of the plants on the fence are still on the fence. Considering how the wind howled last night I wasn't sure they would be. The only ones I really worried about were the roses. They are in small, lighter pots. I think I will put something else on the fence and keep the roses down where they will have more protection. After nursing two back to health and blooming I don't want to lose them to a wind driven topple out of the fence racks. Oh, I almost forgot--almost all of my tomatoes are blooming and one actually has a little tomato growing. I noticed that the acorn squash has gotten big enough that I need to put the low rungs of my trellis in so I can start training the plants to grow up the trellis. Also I have to trim a couple of low branches off the tomatoes. They resemble little trees now but trimming away the lower branches leaves some space and sun for lower growing plants.

I just had an interesting thought (to me anyway). I see a strong resemblance between some of the arguments on the economy and those on the issue of climate change. Consider this item from Huffington Post which quotes Austan Goolsbee saying that we have no economic crisis and one months' down data doesn't mean anything. Then think of the number of times climate change critics insist that the latest nasty weather event doesn't mean anything and there is no climate change (with which climate change proponents would agree). What is the parallel you ask? Well, each is rejecting the selected event (a monthly worsening in the labor statistics or a sudden severe weather incident) and then proceeding to use it to reject the broader trend. I could agree that each item by itself is no indicator of a trend. That would be like trying to describe a line by a single point--a meaningless exercise in futility. However, a large number of similar incidents (or points) starts to describe a meaningful trend (or line). I don't think there have been many years over the last twenty when I (and others) haven't commented on how very odd the weather was. Most of those twenty years recorded average temps among the highest in history as well as other weather anomalies. Twenty points are much better indicators of the direction of a line than one. The situation is a bit messier with the economy but there are interesting indicators. We have the second recession in a decade that has been described as 'jobless.' We have thirty years of statistics showing that wages have basically stagnated. We have thirty years of statistics showing the concentration of wealth in the top 10% and even more strikingly in the top 1%. The talking heads tell us that inflation is low or non-existent and we shake our heads and wonder who is doing their shopping. We have a bunch of Pollyannas telling us "don't worry and be happy" because this or that piddling little data point doesn't mean anything and that we don't have to do anything because there simply is no crisis out there. There is an old saying that describes a committee as the only living organism with six or more legs and no brain. That makes a society the largest committee around and ours is worst of all.

CNN just had a news flash that the Federal Government is going to withhold a subsidy from three banks, including Wells Fargo and JP Morgan, because of their poor performance in the mortgage modification program. That is nice--maybe even a good start. But the talking heads asked a question that I would like to know the answer to--how much of a hit is this really?

I think the kids had this one right and it is really too bad the parents had to get bent out of shape.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Good morning, all. We expect another hot day. Yesterday the temperature topped out at 96. Today should be almost the same. Thankfully, we expect much cooler conditions with some rain over the next several days. Nothing much else to say--see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

And another good morning to you all. I thought it best to separate the gardening post form the social/political/economic/environmental etc. issues.

Huffington Post carried this excerpt from a new book, "The Ripple Effect." I don't know, yet, if I will try to pick it up. But I like the excerpt because it really brings home several aspects of industrial pollution. First, its long history. Pollution has been along as long as human beings have been human beings. We have always had waste and by products from our activities. Some of the most revealing remains archaeologists have found were trash piles. Medieval cities segregated noxious, but necessary, manufacturing facilities outside and down wind/down river. No one wanted to live next door to the dyers, butchers, or tanners. Second, the long term and unanticipated consequences of industrial pollution. No one, I am sure expected an explosion of highly volatile hydrocarbons that had pooled underground leaving a crater in a New York Neighborhood. Third, how those most affected are those with the least information, least political power, and fewest economic resources.

Reading about the uprising and repression in Syria I suddenly had a thought: I wonder what is happening to Riverbend who wrote the "Baghdad Burning" blog from the early days of the American occupation of Iraq till the sectarian violence forced her and her family to move to Syria.
Good morning, everyone. Yesterday's temperature topped out, officially (in Chicago), at 93. They say Valparaiso reached 89. But neither temp really matters to us. Our patio reached a bit over 100. I watered all of the small(er) pots well and planned to water the large containers in the evening when things cooled down. That last didn't happen. By 7:30 pm the temperature was still just below 90. Since nothing looked at all unhappy (i.e., wilted) I decided to postpone the watering till this morning. I was surprised to see that nothing had dried out very much. So, after soaking everything well, I took a few pictures.
I wrote about the mini-green house we got over the winter. Here it is. I am still learning how to use it effectively. Right now I don't have any plants in it but I want to start some new lettuce soon. I found out earlier that it can get quite hot under this plastic so I have to be very careful to open it up before it cooks my seedlings.

So, what have I planted this year?

Seventeen tomatoes: Big Rainbow, Brandywine, German Queen, Fresh Salsa, Roma, Yellow cherry, Big Beef, Rutgers, Marion.

Fourteen peppers: Zavory, False Alarm, Vietnamese Multicolor, Giant Marconi, Red Bell.

Other: Tigger melon, Dragon's Egg cucumber, Blue Lake beans, Table Queen Acorn Squash, lettuce, ground cherry.

Herbs: cilantro, ginger mint, sweet mint (spearmint), stevia, oregano, lemon balm, lavender, cat nip, sweet basil, lemon verbena, rosemary.

Flowers: impatiens, love-in-a-mist, miniature roses, ageratum, marigold, petunias, portulaca, Black Peony poppy.

And here is King Kuma on his throne. Right now he is pouting upstairs because the temperature is already past 80 on its way to the mid 90s (without the oven effect on the patio.) We have already closed up and put on the air. The heat isn't the major problem for us--the humidity is brutal.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Good Monday morning, everyone. We are expecting another round of very hot (90+) days. My gardening will be confined to the early morning and late afternoon and our errands to the morning when we can. Hopefully I will have some pictures tomorrow or the day after. The camera needs a new battery which is on our shopping list today.

I heard a news reader utter a thought I have never heard one express before and I was very surprised. The story concerned the growth of 'cloud computing' and cited a service that for $25/year will keep all of the data, information, pictures, etc., on its servers eliminating the customers' need to have large amounts of storage on their own computers. Flicker and similar sites are growing in the internet. And now one computer company (sorry, I forgot which one) is planning to offer a computer with only about 16k of memory because it will link to one of the cloud servers where everything will be kept. It has been 30 years since such a small amount memory. I remember working with them. What really surprised me about the story? Well, it was the reporter questioning the wisdom of keeping data on a system which might just fail. How often have you heard anyone question a new technology?

The news this morning say that officials in Germany are close to identifying the 'real' cause of that deadly e. coli outbreak. I don't know if anyone else had a deja vu moment reading how the suspicion shifted from Spanish cucumbers to salad greens from who-knew-where to, finally, German grown sprouts. This BBC story gives the latest. Why deja vu? Well remember the shifting story of the outbreak here a couple of years ago: Florida tomatoes to Mexican peppers to California salad greens. And they never nailed down the actual source. One aspect of the story is very interesting and has received little attention. The sprouts suspected as a source of the e. coli are industrially grown in steam tanks at 38 degrees C (104 F) which provides an excellent environment for bacterial growth. That is a far cry from individuals growing sprouts in glass jars on their kitchen window sill. Another example of the downside of industrial production of foods? And then there are the economic consequences as detailed by this Guardian story. I wonder if the Florida tomato growers or the Mexican pepper growers ever got adequately compensated for their losses.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Good morning, everyone. It is certainly cooler and less humid this morning. We closed up everything early yesterday--when the patio temps reached 90. I managed to water everything before and everything looks really good. We had severe thunderstorm warnings and even a brief tornado warning yesterday. A couple of places recorded straight line winds of 80+ mph and one even had a brief tornado. Thankfully, most of this went south or stopped west of us. But we were concerned enough about the wind that I took all of the planters hanging on the fence down for the night. No way I wanted to risk the nice roses, catnip, lemon balm and others. Besides, if the wind did blow the pots out of the planters they would have fallen on tomatoes and peppers. One good thing about the storm front--it dropped the temps into the 70s and we were able to open up after it passed.

We just had a bit of thunder and some sprinkles. I barely got my first three tomatoes staked and tied. It may be a day of getting a little done sporadically.

I guess an issue is really an issue when the New York Times takes notice. Of course, this is just an op ed piece.

Crooks & Liars had this article this morning with a video link. Definitely sweet justice.

Robert Reich asks a good question: why aren't our politicians actually doing something about jobs and wages? Republicans don't really want to because they see the continued week economy as a key to retaking the White House next year and they want to convince the electorate that nothing government can do will help anyway. Meanwhile, the Democrats don't think they can get the votes for anything they might propose. And those most affected by unemployment and wage stagnation are not a particularly powerful group politically. After all, if you don't have a job or don't make enough to make you basic living expenses, you aren't going to donate lavishly to the politicians' campaigns

Nicholas Kristoff has an interesting op ed piece in the NYT. I don't think I need to comment.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Good Saturday morning to you all. The sun finally broke out yesterday and we got to near 90. In the late afternoon we had to close up the doors and windows and put the air on. My tasks for this morning are to fertilize the peppers and tomatoes, stake both sets of plants, and add some soil to some of the containers because what is in them has settled. Update: well I got everything watered and fertilized but it got too hot too fast to do anything else. I will do the stakes later this evening.

Hey, Kay. Enjoy your trip and decompress a bit. I saw some encouraging reports this week that all of the Repthuglican lawmakers with recall petitions against them in Wisconsin will face recall elections--the petitions have been validated. Those filed against three petitions filed against Democratic legislators all have serious allegations of fraud that are under investigation so no Democrats are yet scheduled for recall elections.

HuffingtonPost had this story about job seekers' reactions to the dismal employment numbers from this last week. I guess 'dismal' is a good description of numbers that come out half to one-third the levels the 'experts' expected. I am not surprised because I generally don't believe the numbers. The powers that be have so cooked them that they are meaningless. Now even the mainstream media is talking about a so-called 'double dip' recession. My only observation: when did we get out of the first dip?

I heard a disturbing little line on a news program last night. It started with the e. coli outbreak in Europe and then proceeded to talk about safe handling of vegetables. The reporter used a black light to show the bacterial load on a cucumber before she rinsed the cuke with hard hand rubbing under the faucet. The black light showed that much of the bacteria still remained. That wasn't the disturbing aspect of the report. The comment that got me was the last observation that, with ground water contamination, bacteria could actually be growing inside the veggies where you can't wash!! And ground water contamination has been an increasing thread on many of the news sites and blogs over the last couple of years.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Good morning on this overcast and rainy Friday. I don't mind the rain since the temps are at or above 70 to start the day. We may get to the low 90s. Now that the plants are all in I don't have much to do with the garden. I plan to take a few leaves of lettuce for sandwiches today. I found blossoms on several of my tomato plants and on one of the peppers.

Johann Hari in the Independent has an interesting take on the IMF in the wake of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn rape charges. I have read IMF horror stories for thirty years now. But I had another thought as I listened to some of the points Hari made. Forcing governments to raise the costs for low income health care (resulting in a large increase in deaths from treatable illness but increased profits for Western medical suppliers), forcing governments to reduce prenatal and early childhood medical care (resulting in a large increase in infant and child mortality while shifting the money to Western banks), forcing governments to increase the costs of educating children for poor parents (resulting in a drastic drop in school attendance while also shifting the money to Western financial institutions) sounds too much like our Repthuglican proposals. If you think I am unduly harsh read this from a Repthuglican governor who just had to pay the state for his private use of a government helicopter.

This item tickled me as an example of a snake eating its tail. When I enlisted in the Navy (a bit over 40 years ago--my goodness, where has the time gone?) they issued me an id number that appeared on my id card. Then, I don't remember exactly when, they shifted everyone over to the social security numbers. The changed didn't affect me directly because I was already out of the service but my (then) husband did get a new card with his ssn instead of the old id number. Now they are going back.

Here is another good reason for anyone retiring in Michigan on a public pension to emigrate to another state. Maybe Rick Snyder will be a one term governor.

I debated whether to link to this article. Most of it is no surprise to me who spent more time than I like to think reading history. There is an old truism from 'The Wizard of Id' that defines the Golden Rule as 'he who has the gold rules.' Recent history only underscores the truth of the observation. I like the part of this piece where the author notes the convoluted thinking that allows corporations to be legal persons without requiring them to exercise the responsibilities of persons.

Grist posted this interesting article this morning. I was totally not surprised many years ago to read that the use of low levels of antibiotics in animal feed was leading to an increase in the incidence of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Well, duh-h-h!! I didn't know that the first study on this issue came out 35 years ago. I was a bit surprised that chickens fed low doses of tetracycline quickly excreted e. coli that was resistant not only to tetracycline but to a whole group of other antibiotics as well and in rather short order (within 3 months.) Then I realized that tetracycline and the other listed antibiotics are all in the penicillin family. Nor am I very surprised that, when the politicians have to mediate between public health and private profits, the decision to date has been in favor of the latter.

Hey, Kay, you got a good one today (like all days). There is a scene in the mini-series version of Dune where Paul Atreides has a vision of Mother Romallo who tells him 'When rage and politics ride in the same cart you create a whirlwind.' I have said for some time now that we have a system where rage, politics and religion are riding in the same cart and we are creating the mother of all whirlwinds. This piece made the religious connection clear.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Good morning again, everyone. Yesterday was nearly perfect. Sunny, mid-80, light breeze. We were able to leave the air off and open the doors and bedroom window. Today will be about 10 degrees cooler but still nice. I hope we won't get any of the thunderstorms coming in from central Illinois. They say the northeast wind will keep them south of Chicago--how far south they don't know. Anybody else as floored as I am by the tornadoes in Massachusetts? What a year we have had so far and we have only just entered hurricane season. I just remarked over coffee this morning that we went from temperatures oscillating between the 50s and 60 to the 80s and 90s. What ever happened to the in between? Spring--the tolerable day between freezing you butt off and broiling.

I was going to take some pictures of the gardens but found the battery in the camera is nearly gone. We will get a couple of new ones next Monday. I shouldn't be surprised since it has been a while.

Now this is a notion I can support. Actually, I think the Treasury should have started not paying legislators before it started raiding the Federal employees pension funds by not paying the government's share.

Chris Martensen's blog had a link to this story from Wheeling, W.VA. I had wondered often in the past about what happened to people who had to try pay off the cost of winter heating if an early heat wave hit which has happened frequently over the last few years. In our area utilities cannot (by law) cut off customers for non-payment between October (I think) and April 1. The news media carry stories at each end of the time frame. I wonder how many people here are visiting Salvation Army shelters for cooling because they are paying off the winter's heating bill and cannot afford to turn on the air.
And then there is this bit of cruelty. At least the shelters aren't charging what a bargain rate motel would. I'm wondering why they don't. I love the selective application of the tough love. Free services corrupt the self-reliance of the poor but it does wonders for the too-big-to-fail banks' fiscal health.

We had a bit of a chuckle over breakfast. One of the CNN talking heads asked "What has happened to the recovery? Has there been a recovery?" We haven't seen it and none of the 'hopeful' signs touted by the media has affected us.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Good morning to you all out there. The weather people are right today and that the temps will be in the lower 80s with lower humidity. We put the air on for the last two days. And we are back on a summer schedule for our errands--as early as possible to beat the heat. And I do the gardening early or late.

The more I read about the European e. coli outbreak the worse it appears. I wondered if the strain causing the outbreak was the same as the one we are so familiar with over here. Evidently not. And they are having the same difficulty we had trying to trace the source of the infection. The Spanish are very unhappy at the early finger pointing in the direction of Spanish cucumbers.

I just reviewed a comment I thought I should comment on. I was glad the writer liked my post. His French didn't bother me. I have no idea of how fluent his command of the language really is. I can get a general idea of what it means thanks to some intense tutoring almost 15 years ago preparing for the language translation test which was part of my (never finished) PhD program. I haven't kept up with it. He could have written in his native German and why he didn't I don't know. Why did I not post the comment? Well, the blog he listed as his seems to be a commercial debt relief site. As I noted before, my site is not commercial and I don't advertise for anyone.

Thanks, Lois. I am feeling better although I have to take things a bit slowly. I just transplanted my ginger mint and sweet mint to individual large pots and feel like I got hit by a steam roller. The ginger mint was trying to take over the bed already and I really don't want it crowding out the tomatoes. In the process I moved the melons to one of the large containers where I think they will be happier and restarted the cucumbers that simply didn't thrive where they were. My philosophy--if it doesn't grow well where you got it, move it. The temperature isn't going up very fast so I think I have plenty of time to accomplish what I want to get done. I often think I would really like a larger planting space but every time we talks about finding another place the costs/benefits simply don't come out in favor. I agree on the restaurants--you never know anymore. We have a couple of favorites and we have gone back to a traditional pattern--going out to eat is a special treat not an everyday expectation. And we expect an excellent meal we can't do better at home-- without the side of e. coli or salmonella or listeria.

Every now and then I come across a cute idea. Here is one that comes from the UK. Growing a garden in a spiral tube. And then I found this on care2 that has several ideas for using stuff you can't use for the original purposes any more.

Well, the gardening is done for the day. I got all of the petunias, marigolds, ageratum, and portulaca planted. Thankfully, before any were irreparably damaged by the prolonged period of neglect since this cold attacked me. I also got the new beans, and cucumbers started and the survivors of earlier plantings transplanted. And the two mints are in their new pots. I am bushed. If it doesn't rain tomorrow I will start the next stand of lettuce.