Monday, December 31, 2012

Good last Saturday of 2012.  Yeah, it does feel like I am counting down.  I am so ready for this year to end in spite of how often I complained that the time was going by much too fast.  Another cloudy day with light lake effect snow.  We still haven't had a sub-freezing high.  But they say that will change around New Year's Day.  Let's see what I find on the 'net today.

Here is one for the 'WTF????' file.  I wonder where the items came from and what would have been required to make them serviceable.


Welcome to the last Sunday of 2012.  I figure I might as well continue with my countdown.  We may get sun today but they predict a high temp only in the high 20s.  If so that will end this year's streak of days that haven't had a high below freezing.  2012 is second on that list--one day below 1978 which had a stretch of 308 days above 32F.


Ah!  Last day of the 2012 count down.  We did get some nice sun yesterday and the above freezing streak continues though it should end tomorrow.  I pulled out the seeds I still have from last season and started evaluating them for this spring.  I got rid of most of the packets that were 3 years or older because the germination rates were not very good last spring for those.  Then I will merge the two lists--the seeds on hand and the wish list from my first pass through the catalogs--and try to figure out what I actually want to plant.  Things progress a slow step at a time.

Jesse' Cafe Americain, I think, defines our current political, social, and financial situation accurately: an 'empire of illusion and a credibility trap'.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Good Thursday to everyone.  We had a dusting of snow yesterday and they say we may get a dusting again today into tomorrow.  So far we have been on the edge of the systems that have moved through over the last couple of days which means we get minimal effects.  We did our shopping yesterday before the snow started to fall.  Mom had no choice but to go out because she had to get a prescription refilled.  We simply combined all our weekly errands.  The worst of it was the wind.

My musical tastes have also broadened over the years, Kay.  I always have enjoyed a wide variety of music from classical to folk to (some) rock 'n' roll.  I still have most of it because my ex didn't really like much beyond cowboy/western.  Pandora has been a wonderful find.  We often put that on because the pickings are too slim on TV, especially since we don't really want to know most of the crap the news puts on.  We shifted after the BBC started to repeat their headline stories--for the second time.  So far we have listened to selections from Scott Joplin, Eric Darius, Celtic Thunder, and Alabama.  I don't know how many different artists and genres we will hear over the next five or six hours.  We moved from the free service to the pay about a year and a half ago and it has been well worth it.


Welcome to the last Friday of 2012.  All of the snow flurries we got over the last couple of days amounted to nothing much.  And the temperature on our patio got up to 42F yesterday so the cement is clear.  I cleaned out the snow and ice that filled up the little platform on the bird feeder.  Some heavy snow is now falling--the heaviest to date.  How much will accumulate--who knows?

Another entry into the 'why I try to ignore politics' file.

I haven't found words to express my disgust at this bit of political/economic obscenity.  We are definitely living in an insane universe when a city with a big crime problem balances part of its deficit by dismissing a quarter of its police force but does nothing about a large gift to the local NFL and baseball teams.  Sports has become a major 'welfare queen' and it really is time to cut them off.  Circuses are continuing even as bread becomes somewhat dear.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Good Wednesday (Day After Christmas), everyone.  Glad to hear from you, Kay.  My ex didn't want the Iron Butterfly album.  We fought over the Highwaymen and Chet Atkins.  I got the Highwaymen and he got Atkins.  Since I bought most of the music I got to keep most of it.  I think Burpee has a heat tolerant tomato I might try this year.  Still working on my shopping list.  I didn't keep a lot of the seeds I had on hand last spring.  I keep records on how many seeds actually germinate and how old the pack is.  Anything over about three years don't germinate well enough to plant again.  So I get to try more new things this year than I normally would.

The news this morning provided another entry in the 'can't trust statistics' file.  We have been told frequently during this Christmas shopping season how wonderfully profitable the powers that be thought it would be.  We have been skeptical especially considering the ridiculously extended hours (like the 500+ continuous hours of operation for one store) and the deeply discounted prices.  Evidently the figures so far indicate a mere 0.7% increase over last year.  I am sure that barely covers the inflation.  Of course, other sources claim much larger sales increases.  So, who do you trust?

In case anyone thought that Fukushima has become part of the distant past here is a blog post I found by way of Bob Brady at PureLandMountain.

I guess this was as inevitable.  We saw corporate America jump on the 'green' bandwagon and on the 'organic' bandwagon while stretching the definitions so far out of shape that anything could be advertised as organic or green.  Now the same process is hitting the 'buy local' movement.  I wonder how they are going to define local.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to you all and hope you are having a really nice holiday.  We spent Christmas Eve with Sister and her family.  Good to see everyone and Sister always cooks up very tasty meal.  We planned our schedule so we don't have to go shopping until Thursday.  That way we avoid the Day After Christmas shopping/return crush.

I received seven garden catalogs over the last couple of weeks.  I love wish books.  Just on a first look I have about three pages of possibles for next season.  After I list everything I would like I have to go back and prune it.   We started putting up a hummingbird feeder last summer.  This year we want to add plants to attract the hummers and bees.  I have bee balm, pineapple sage, and scarlet runner beans on my list.  I plan to move my little roses--they really didn't like anywhere I put them this year.  I have enough pots to put each one in its own pot.  I think hardy hibiscus will fill that space nicely along with some borage.  Both are hardy enough to be treated as perennials.  I found out that the information I had on pineapple sage was not accurate--it is not hardy at my zone 5 position.  I need to replace it this year, either from seed or with a transplant.  So far the sage, lavender, tansy, pyrethrum, strawberries, oregano, marjoram, and thyme show fresh green and may come back well in the spring.

Inside my patchouli, rosemary, lemon balm, and bay are doing nicely.  I think the light I moved over them has made a big difference.  All are showing new growth and are looking decidedly more healthy than they did last winter.  Especially, the lemon balm--I lost the plant I had last year.

My big question each year is which tomatoes and pepper to plant and where to put them.  Looking back I am surprised and bemused.  About five years ago we had an abnormally cold summer and my tomatoes suffered.  I contemplated putting in one of the hybrids that were highly adapted to colder latitudes.  Eventually, I decided against that.  This year has been the warmest on record and the summer was brutal with more than a month at more than 95F.  Tomatoes don't set fruit in that kind of heat.  The peppers weren't exactly happy either.  I will think about the problem.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Good Morning and Merry Solstice to you all.  We woke to snow this morning and high winds.  No surprise.  More often now-a-days I get headachy when we get high winds and I woke with the beginnings of one.  I don't think we got much snow but when we get daylight here (we're still more than an hour before dawn) I will check out the patio and clear what needs clearing.  We did our weekly shopping Wednesday taking into account both the weather reports and the coming holidays.  That is our usual pattern.  We try to avoid going out when nasty weather is due or when we can expect large crowds.

I guess this was inevitable--the confluence of two insanities.  A school district outside Chicago also cancelled classes for "non-specific" threats.  We wondered what that meant.

Hello on this Saturday before Christmas.  Well we all survived the Mayan Apocalypse.  Why the end of the 13th b'ak'tun of the Mayan long count calendar should be any more significant than the end of the 12th month of the 2012th year of our Christian calendar I really don't know.  I have been tired of that hype for the last year.

The s(news) carried the NRA press conference yesterday and this morning.  I did not watch it myself but the parts that made the broadcast aren't a surprise: the protests and the proposal for at least one armed police officer to be posted at each school in the land.  As I said, I am not surprised but I am both disgusted and suspicious.  The notion that the answer to too many guns is more guns makes as much sense as proposing that the answer to flooding is more water.  This is definitely not out-of-the-box thinking.  That is the disgusting part.  What makes me suspicious is how far down the road to an armed camp society some of us seem willing to go.  I also have to ask where the money will come from.  Cities all over the country are cutting police and firefighters because of budget shortfalls.  One city councilman in California (sorry, forgot which city) told the residents he represents to 'lock the door and load the guns.'  So which Peter are they going to rob to pay for Paul's security?  Margaret and Helen have a few very good comments on the issue.

We have a number of glass cooking pans and have used them for years without incident but this story is worrying.  I remember the Consumer Reports investigation mentioned in the story.  We have used our Corning and Pyrex cookware for more than a decade so I don't think we have much to worry about but we will think twice about any new additions.

And then there was this story which made me feel my age.  I remember when In-A-Gadda-Da- Vida came out.  I still have my vinyl record of it.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Good Thursday to you all.  We have rain this morning that is supposed to turn to ice and snow later.  Maybe.  Most of the maps show us on the edge of the snow.  How much we get will depend on how far to the south east the storm tracks.  We have already turned off the cable TV.  The news is simply a rehash of what has been on forever (or so it feels.)  No movement on the 'fiscal cliff' with John Boehner trying desperately trying to gain some advantage in the political contest.  Obama has appointed a group headed by Vice President Biden to study the issue of gun control while the news and other commentators are asking where the President has been over the last four years.  I wonder how far these idiots think Obama would have gotten given the wonder atmosphere of political cooperation and camaraderie in Washington.  As for the rest of the TV offerings--we have either seen it too many times already, didn't want to see it in the first place, or couldn't stand it long enough to see it all the first time around.  We have often discussed whether the so-called service we get is worth the cost.  And those discussions are leaning more and more towards the negative.

I found this item to rant about this morning.  Less than ten percent of Americans have 'optimal' heart health according to a new study.  Frankly, this is a big crock of bull.  First, it is a survey.  No physical examinations involved at all.  Second, it is a self-reporting survey and we know that people always tell the truth an surveys, don't we.  Third, look at the criteria.  People were judged optimal if they had no evidence of hypertension, diabetes, or high cholesterol; exercised according to recommendations; ate five or more servings of fruits or vegetables a day; were not overweight, underweight or obese.  In other words, no kind of actual measurement of heart action.  Another piece of meaningless fluff for the (s)news media.

Gene Logsdon had me scratching my head for the first paragraph.  But with the first sentence of the second I knew exactly what was happening.  An amusing little piece.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Good Monday to you all.  They say we will have another gloomy day though not much chance of more precipitation.  We may get snow Wednesday but the chance isn't all that great.  Hi, Lois, good to hear from you.  I have been following the drought conditions out there in Colorado where I once lived and where several friends still live.  The news hasn't been good.  I am not surprised at the water utility deciding to 'ration' by cost.  I agree with you--it is simple greed.  I don't have to imagine how this will work out.  A couple of years ago, when Atlanta's reservoir almost went dry, one resident of the city maintained a large pool and running water feature, in spite of restrictions, because he was willing and able to pay for the privilege of being wasteful.  Our city didn't impose restriction though they did encourage conservation.  As part of that effort, the water utility offered to supply rain water collection barrels to any homeowner who wants one.  If we owned our home we would have signed up.  If conditions are as bad as last year, or worse, we may get restrictions.  Of what kind I don't know.  Even without that pressure, the utility has been able to get approval to raise prices because of extensive improvements over the last couple of years.  They don't seem to be interested in giving those who use less a price break.

Good Wednesday, Everyone.  The news has been dominated by the shooting in Connecticut and I really have nothing to say on that issue.  Although, every now and then, someone else says something interesting.  Check out Tina E. at anotheroldwoman.  As I noted a while back I could have gone into a coma a month before the election and woke any time since to find nothing has changed.  Krugman evidently feels the same way.  I find myself in the same situation as a couple of bloggers whose posts I read whenever they come up--I need to change and find something else to write about.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Good Sunday to you all.  The Chicago snow 'drought' record continues and another record is threatened: latest first snow of more than a trace at O'Hara airport.  The rain we got yesterday was only three-quarters of an inch and the most since October.  The weather people say we are 10+inches below normal moisture for the year.  The drought monitors still have this area in moderate drought.  Let's see what is on the internet besides the Connecticut shooting which I have begun to tune out.  It is an insoluble conundrum that more 'information' is unlikely to solve.

The Kansas City Star published this investigative report that might put you off beef for a while.

This little article at the Nation (found by way of Chris Martensen's blog) torches the argument that low corporate federal income tax rates translate into more hiring.  We always knew the argument was a scam, didn't we?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Good Thursday to you all.  It looks like we will have bright, sunny skies again today and temperatures above normal by about 10 or 15 degrees.  No snow so the Chicago record watch continues.  The news readers say that the new law which restricts how loud TV commercials can be.  I don't know how effective it will be.  After all imagine you are watching an action move and the commercial comes in at 2 decibels above the explosions.


Hope you are having a nice Friday, Everyone.  And I hope my internet and computer are better behaved today than yesterday.  I got a real appreciation for the old saying "slow as molasses in January."  Let's see how things work out today.


It is now a mild Saturday with the possibility of rain.  As you can tell I didn't have much to say yesterday.  The Connecticut shooting dominated the news.  Most of the coverage was predictable.  The arguments for and against more stringent gun control have been made before and I doubt that this will change them.  There isn't much I can say except I grieve with the families and I simply don't understand the shooter (and probably never will.)

But then there is another idiot I will never understand: the religious asshole who attributes all the evils of our society to 'removing God.'  My reading of history leads me to the conclusion that the prospect for divine punishment, whether sometime in the near future or in an after life, has never deterred anyone from perpetrating horrors.  Indeed, more often than not, the perpetrator believes God is on his side and those who suffer the atrocity deserve it.

Much of the discussion on the news centers on 'prevention.'  How can we "keep this from happening again?"  That question presupposes a positive answer to another, prior question: can we keep this from happening again?  I am not at all sure we can answer that question positively.  And we also have to recognize that we have no positive answer to the logically following question:  are any of the 'solutions' politically, socially, or economically tolerable?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Good snowy Tuesday to you all.  We got about an inch of which not much is left.  However, since the official reporting site is O'Hara Airport where they got no measurable snow, 2012 now holds the record for longest stretch without measurable snow all by itself--281 days.  Now that we have snow I put up our winter wreath.

While shopping today we stopped in at the closest of our local Walgreens stores.  The clerk rang up our little order and asked if we had the 'rewards' card.  We said no and that we didn't want one where upon he told us that the store had gone to restricting their sales to their customers who signed up for the card. Mom was not pleased to say the last and told the young man bluntly that, if that were the case, we would shop elsewhere.  The 'conversation' went back and forth with Mom expressing her displeasure at being required to give out her information to get yet another card to simply take advantage of the sales.  But I got the impression that the young clerk simply didn't understanding her (and my objections).  He is used to a world in which that is the way things are and he didn't seem very concerned about the loss of privacy.  That scares me.  I am not at all comfortable with the amount of surveillance out there and how much information is floating around.


Good Wednesday, All.  Tuesday was actually quite sunny and we expect the same today.  And no more chance of snow till Saturday night into Sunday--maybe.

I am not surprised that the Sunday political talk shows didn't introduce the topic of defense cuts.  I think the question this Crooks & Liars is apt though I don't expect it to be answered.  Certainly not after our legislators passed  an appropriations bill which gives the Defense Department another $600+billion.

Another interesting post on Crooks & Liars on Superstorm Sandy.  An old saying comes to mind: the more things change, the more they stay the same.  I don't doubt that experts were sounding the alert about the possibilities of such a storm and its probable consequences.  Officials had similar warnings about the impact of a strong hurricane in New Orleans well before Katrina hit seven years ago.  I expect the same response--they will build back to the pre-storm level but no more.  I noted Mayor Bloomberg's citation of FEMA statistics indicating only a 1% chance of such a storm hitting New York so, of course, no one was prepared.  I also remember former Vice President Dick Cheney's argument for the expense we went to to prevent another 9/11--no matter how small the chance of a repeat we had to treat the possibility as though it were an absolute certainty.

I mentioned yesterday our experience at Walgreens.  For those of you who might think we are getting a bit paranoid take a look at this article I found by way of Naked Capitalism.  It occurs to me that we don't have to have national ID cards and travel permits as Germans did under the Nazis or Russians under the Soviets.  Over the last decade we got 'secure' ID drivers' licenses largely because the Federal government defrayed the costs for the states that balked.  The TSA has gradually expanded its reach and is trying to go even further using the same tactic.  I can easily see a time when everyone is tracked where ever they go.  Think about programs like Progressive Insurance's 'Snapshot' marketed to customers as a money saving choice for customers willing to have their driving tracked or AllState Insurance's invitation to drivers to prove how good they are behind the wheel to get reduced rates.  We are under surveillance from governments at all levels and from big business.  And it will only intensify.

The prices at one of our local gas stations surprised us.  Not the price though that was the lowest in some time.  Rather because of the contrast between the E85 (ethanol) and the regular gas.  The E85 was four cents per gallon more than the regular.  Remember when E85 was promoted as a cheaper alternative as well as a conservation measure?  I get the feeling that both those promises were illusions.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Good Monday, All.  Still gray with a very slim possibility of snow.  If we don't get at least a trace of snow at O'Hara airport (the official site for the Chicago area) the record for consecutive days without snow will be broken.

This was a surprise.  Not the notion that the cable companies are looking for a new way to siphon off more money from their customers.  Rather that it got to a vote of the FCC without a peep from the lamestream media.  It makes me wonder how much else is getting by under the radar.

We watched a bit of CNBC this morning and started sniping almost half way through Santelli's rant.  Not so much at what he said as what he left out.  I can agree that Obama's insistence on hiking the taxes on 'rich' to the levels set in the Clinton administration doesn't consider inflation.  Santelli claimed that $250k today is equivalent to $167K then.  If they did take inflation into account the cut-off would be more like $325K.  I am fine with that.  I wouldn't mind if they set the cut-off at $500k.  So what is my problem with his arguments?  Basically it is with how many other things haven't been corrected for inflation.  Take the minimum wage.  If it were set taking into account inflation since when it was set at $5.25/hour the current value (if I remember some stats I read recently) the minimum wage would be over $20/ hour.  Santelli's charge that the numbers basically lie because liars have formulated them to do so is quite correct.  Take a look here for another aspect of how the numbers are massaged to give a false picture.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Good Saturday to you all.  Gray and wet again but no snow.  Another day to tie the record for number of snow-free days in a year.


Well, here it is--Sunday.  And we have now tied the record for snow-free days and it looks very likely that we will break the record.  I told Mom this morning that you could tell the temperature was no where near cold enough for snow by looking at the kale.  It is standing up straight.  If the temp was below 30 it would look a bit wilted.  We are getting rain now.

As you cam see I haven't found much to comment on lately.  I read a lot in politics and economics and both have been pretty inane.  What can you say after you have already said how idiotic the whole mess really is?  I could have gone into a coma last summer before the election and waking now I wouldn't know any time had passed.  I think I have to change my reading.  Have to give that some thought.

Coyote Gulch has a post concerning water wars in the Missouri River-southern Mississippi River basins.  It follows on another article in Coyote Gulch yesterday (sorry--didn't keep the link) which described a Horsetooth Reservoir just west of Ft. Collins, Colorado, which is at 40% normal.  I think I have noted before that I lived in Ft. Collins for about fifteen years between the late 70s and early 90s.  I never saw the water level that low.  The interesting part of today's article is the competing interests pressing either for or against a release of water from Missouri reservoirs already at low levels:  shippers how move goods up and down the Mississippi vs. farmers in the northern Missouri basin who depend on the river to grow the crops (much of which is shipped down the Mississippi) vs. sports fishermen vs. cities who need to tap the river for drinking (and other uses) vs. conservationists who want to conserve as much as possible of the natural environment (and it isn't just the birds and fish that depend on that environment--it is us also).

The Daily Gazette of Schenectady, N.Y., posted this story which puts and interesting spin on natural disaster damage.  Think Superstorm Sandy caused the most economic damage this year?  Think again!!  The continuing drought beat her numbers by several times.  And NOAA expects the drought to intensify in most affected areas in 2013.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Good Thursday to you all.  I cut the tall stalks on the tansy and mums.  I probably shouldn't have cut back the mums but it was the only way to get the stakes and cross pieces out so I could put them away in the shed for the season.  I really hope we get some normal temps and snow soon.  I don't want my outside plants confused.  I would rather they went into their winter sleep and stayed that way until spring.  The weather people predict possible overnight Sunday into Monday which, if it comes, would tie the record for the longest snow free period in a year (280 days).  Let's see if there is anything I want to comment on today.


Hope you all will have a nice Friday.  We may get some light rain with a possibility (though the weather people are not all that optimistic) for light, transient snow.  I looked up the 'normal' temperatures for my areas and found that the high should be around 35F.  We haven't seen that except as a low since December began and November was warmer that normal.  Two hundred seventy eight days without snow which puts 2012 in second place for the longest period in a year without snow.

Well, this is a hopeful development.  I am very skeptical about the emphasis our political leaders place on college educations.  I have read several articles over the last couple of years concerning the difficulty high tech employers say they have finding 'qualified' employees.  Part of the problem, as a number of commenters have pointed out, is the unwillingness of some of them to pay a good wage for the work.  But another part is, I am sure, the lack of workers with the training needed.  Going back to well coordinated apprenticeship programs might go a long was to solving at least one of those problems.  The other (paying good money for a good job) is another problem.  As this post on The Economic Collapse aptly puts the situation we have gone from "Good Jobs to Bad Jobs to No Jobs.  Obamacare, however, isn't at fault and may not even exacerbate the problem.  The process has been ongoing for the last half century.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Good Tuesday morning, Everyone.  Chicago (not far from us) hit 70F yesterday.  According to the weather person on the evening news, temperatures in this area have reached that level in December only 3 times (including this time) in the 140 years of record keeping.  One viewer had an interesting question--what kind of snowfall came in the previous years of high December?  Answer: a trace.  Our November just past we got only a trace.  Yeah--we looked out once and thought we, maybe, possibly, saw a flake.  We had rain last night and into this morning for which I am very grateful.

Another three seed wishbooks came yesterday.  Two I haven't seen before and, my favorite, Baker Creek.  Still waiting for Burpee, Schumway, and Jung.  Already found some intriguing possibilities: a really small tomato that is supposed to be a heavy producer.  Ditto a small pepper and, one of our favorite, the Mexibell pepper--a mildly spicy bell.  I skimmed the catalogs yesterday but will look more closely over the next month.


Here it is Wednesday.  Howdy, All.  Time certainly is flying by.  Temperatures are back to near normal.  Let's see what is on the 'net today.

Ruth Marcus at the Washington Post has some good comments which eviscerates the arguments for the Repthuglican positions on tax rate increases.  They have nothing to do with either job creation or a slow economy.

Helen ends her very on the mark post with an appropriate description of Repthuglican antics: pissing in the baby pool.  Unfortunately I don't think we have very many adults in Washington and those few are vastly outnumbered by the over-grown pre-adolescents.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Welcome to December, Everyone.  And a warm December 1st and first week it is.  Temperatures should go into the high 50s or even hit 60 this weekend.  A bit cooler after Tuesday but still a good bit above normal.  We haven't seen 'normal' in so long I wonder if we would recognize it if it bit us.


It is now Sunday, Dec. 2.  I didn't have much to say yesterday.  I got out and swept up the leaves on the patio.  Used them to mulch the roses and blueberries.  It may be my imagination but I don't think we got as many leaves as in years past.  I also checked the moisture levels in all of the beds--doing good.  No need to water anything.  We got a bit of rain--a very tiny bit--last night.  But no snow and none likely for the next week.  We bought a winter wreath last week--I think I mentioned that.  I said I would put it up at solstice or when the first snow fell.  Looks like solstice is most likely.  The weather person on the news this morning said that the latest date on record for a first snow is Dec. 16 and last year it fell on Dec. 9.  Looks like it will be late again.


Monday, Dec. 3.  Another bit of rain last night and fog this morning.  Incredibly warm for December--even early December (low 50s).  You might wonder why I don't have much to say on the political row over the 'fiscal cliff.'  Well, I was bored and irritated by the first iteration during the campaigns and now I am simply bored with  the sequel.  Seen this before, boys and girls.  I was utterly unimpressed.  No matter who wins the debate (Damnocrats or Repthuglicans), we will have some form of austerity.  If you can't stomach what is happening in Greece don't console yourself that it can't happen here.  Steve Fraser's post on Tomdispatch should disabuse you of such a notion.  We have lived with increasing levels of 'austerity' for the last 40 years.

I don't know how often over the last several year I remarked, after hearing about union give backs and declining pay and benefits among non-union workers, that soon enough we wouldn't be able to tell the difference between 'something' and 'nothing.'  A parallel argument holds that those who have jobs--any jobs--are luck to have them and should be grateful.  Well, this Daily Kos post demolishes that argument.  Another article I read recently (sorry, didn't keep the link) cited stats which indicate two-thirds of the jobs lost were high-paying-with-benefits types while two-thirds of the jobs created were low-paying-no-benefits.  That doesn't sound like something to feel either lucky or grateful for.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Hello, again, Everyone.  The morning news noted that the liquidation of Hostess now has judicial approval.  And the top management will split almost $2million in bonuses.  Lovely!! (sarcasm alert) Those boys got paid while running the company into bankruptcy and now they are rewarded with bonuses.  See this from Firedoglake for more info on the obscenity.

More than 30 years ago I read a little book titled The Case Against College.  At the time I thought the author was full of crap.  I had been raised on the belief that College was good in its own right and a path to 'advancement' (what ever that might mean).  Now I think the author was somewhat prescient.  Yves Smith (Naked Capitalism) makes the case in the modern context.  The major problem is that the degrees are far to expensive--to expensive for most of us to simply pursue as a means of self-improvement and way too expensive in relation to the job opportunities to be a good investment.

I think it was Einstein who defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome.  Evidently our political leaders are (mostly) insane.  Frankly, the whole political environment has been insane for at least a decade.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Good Thursday, All.  Nothing much going on here.  The same warmer than normal temperature and sun that we have had for the last couple of days.  The bit of cloud cover that moved over the area a couple of times didn't leave any moisture behind.  Nothing of that nature expected for the next few days.  I wonder how far that 'Pineapple Express' pounding the west coast will spread the precipitation.  The last time I heard that term we had snow in November that stayed until April--along with a lot of additional snow from December and January.  Given how little moisture we have had, I probably should hope for a repeat.  All that snow that hit Pennsylvania, New York and other points ease did nothing here.

First Read put this article up on this morning.  The conclusion isn't surprising--the out going Congress is the least productive in recent history.  I have some sympathy with the notion that the government governs best that governs least but surely a country of 300+million with serious problems deserves better.  For an interesting insight look at the last ten congresses.  Most of them are among the least productive since the late 1940s.  A reflection of how ideologically driven politics has become.

Tosh McIntosh posted this item I can definitely relate to.  I have had a Nook for about two years now but e-books/magazines have in no way replaced printed materials.  For some books I prefer paper--references that I need to use the index (so much easier in traditional books), cook books (because I really don't want to have more electronics on my kitchen counter than absolutely necessary).  I have also found that the Nook more easily strains my eyes and I have already run up against the memory limitations of the Nook--even the available archive capacity.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Good Wednesday to you all.  I was wondering if I would find anything I wanted to comment on.  Well I found this.  All year I have read snippets about the waters of the Great Lakes and none were exactly comforting.  With the extended heat wave and the drought the temperatures of the lakes were at their highest levels ever.  That made me wonder how much we might get in lake effect snow.  Given the water levels cited in the linked article we need every bit of snow we can get.  I noted a couple of months ago that just south and east of us wells were going dry.  I wonder how much further this can go.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Good day to you all on this last Tuesday in November.  How fast this year has been passing by.  I know I say that all too often.  The 2013 gardening season has already started.  I got the first of the garden catalogs last Saturday.  It is from a company I hadn't heard of before but they had a lot of intriguing seeds.  Has anyone out there dealt with Pinetree before?  I will take another look in about five weeks when I put together my seed orders.  By then I should have the new Burpee, Baker Creek, Schumway, and other usual venders.  I will need new seeds because I got rid of the few that were more than three years old.  I keep a record of how well the seeds germinate and noticed that several had less that 50% germination rates and two didn't germinate at all.  I figure that means I need new seeds.  I usually keep my extras in the fridge but this winter I put them in a the freezer for off season storage.

This has been a strange year for me and my garden.  I don't know if I was depressed by the extended heat or the extended and way too irritating political silly season but I really haven't been as enthusiastic(?), energetic(?), whatever.  It isn't as if the garden failed.  I got twenty pounds of stewed tomatoes out and lots of cherry tomatoes.  We had home grown kale, spinach, and lettuce.  I harvested and dried stevia, oregano, sage, basil, patchouli, marjoram, lemon balm, tarragon, and savory.  My slicing tomatoes didn't produce well but that was because of the heat.  The corn didn't do well but that was an experiment I had no real expectations of.  The variety (Ruby Queen) really didn't like containers--it grew but not well and didn't produce much.  I noticed that Burpee has a new variety specially bred for containers.  I might try it next year.  Oh, yes--there will be a next year in the gardens.

Chris In Paris says half of Americans would rather skip Christmas.  I would a gladly skip Christmas as it has become--the buying frenzy, the constant exhortations to spend money you don't have on people who probably won't be happy whatever you give them, the competitive displays of garish decorations, etc., etc.  Christmas (or Solstice, or Kwanza, or Hanukkah--your preference) are fine.  But CHRISTMAS has metastasized into a cancerous merchandising mass that subsumes everything between Labor Day and New Years.  Most of us don't have any real holidays any more--merely buying opportunities.  And retail workers are doubly screwed--they get neither holiday nor time to buy--they are too busy selling to the rest of us.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Good Sunday to you all.  We have spent the weekend ignoring the news.  Too much focused on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday (which has expanded to encompass the entire weekend and more.)  All holidays in the Church of Commerce of which we are not members.  Unfortunately, I too often feel as though we are in transition from the United States of America to the United Consumers of America--a country I am very ambivalent about.  Oh, well--let's see what I find on the 'net.

Via Crooks and Liars--how long do you think the American economy can survive?  The vultures are circling this dying beast.  We'll hold the wake when the vultures turn on each other.

And then Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism posted this piece on another trend in modern America that leaves me more than a little uncomfortable.  Just last week I read about a high school student (in Texas, I think) who was expelled because she and her family are contesting the school districts new policy requiring students to wear a RFID school ID which tracks her movements not only at school but off school grounds and outside school hours.  Big Brother is alive and well.

It seems that our Commercial Madness also infects our neighbors to the north.  Sharon in Surrey (British Columbia) also rails against it.  She knits well, also.  Well worth viewing.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Hello, Everyone.  Hope you all had a really good Thanksgiving.  Ours was nice and quiet.  The temperature has turned colder and the skies are cloudy.  We are expecting a week of colder weather with the possibility of snow.

I found the coverage of the Hamas/Israeli truce interesting.  The local (Chicago) account mentioned Hillary Clinton but nothing about the Egyptian government which played a key role and nothing at all about the terms of the agreement.  The national news (ABC) did mention the Morsi government's role in negotiating and guaranteeing the settlement but again nothing about the provisions of the truce.  We got better coverage from Deutche Weile Journal and the NHK account on PBS that evening.  And the English language version of Al Jazeera and Deutche Weile on line were also far more informative.  Sad how totally uninformative our news services have become.

Good Morning America had only a snippet on this story before they went to the nonsense about the Black Friday shopping frenzy.  Mohammad Morsi seems to be a dictatorship that resembles closely the Mubarak regime and its 'emergency' measures.  Evidently, the protests have already and the offices of the Muslim Brotherhood in several cities have been firebombed.  I wonder how stable the Morsi government really is considering they have guaranteed the truce between Hamas and Israel.

Hey, Lois, welcome back. We haven't been much for turkey either.  I don't think we have had it  more that maybe five times in the last 12 years--when one of my siblings prepared a bird for a holiday.  But fixing a bird for just the two of us didn't seem practical.  Even a turkey breast provided was to much.  But our meat market has the breast tenders and the split breasts and that is manageable.  We do freeze left overs but the chicken we stewed a while back gave us two meals of soup (eaten right away) and two quarts of soup, two quarts of stock, and three parcels of shredded meat all put in the freezer.  Think of what we would have had with a full turkey or even a breast.  We already use every bit of space in our freezers.  I had to rearrange a good bit to get the chicken in.

From the Political Wire another entry in our file of 'Troglodyte Repthuglican Assholes.'

June Calendar at Big 7-0 and More has an interesting take on the Black Friday frenzy--it is marketed to create a mass addiction.  Anyone who has visited this blog this time of the year for any of the past several know how I despise the whole Black Friday craziness as well as the whole commercial culture of which it is a part.  You might wonder why I haven't been as acerbic in my commentary this year.  I have decided that there is only two sane responses to it: don't participate and ignore it as much as possible.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone.  Sunny today with temperatures expected to rise into the mid to high 58s.  We will enjoy it while we can because the weather is supposed to turn colder.  Well, it is late November after all.  I cut some of the kale yesterday which we had for supper.  Very tasty.  I mulched the main kale plants with the leaves (as I said I would--since forever).

Found this by way of Direct ezine:
 "Florida has finally finished counting the votes. What is wrong with Florida? Why is it so hard for the people down there to count votes? We're talking about a state where half the population can play 10 bingo cards at the same time." –Jay Leno
 We think we have figured out what is wrong.  The people who can play ten bingo cards at the same time aren't the ones counting the votes.  The vote counters are much younger.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Good day before Thanksgiving, Everyone.  We have some very dense fog here--so dense we can hardly see the houses on the other side of the street.  We don't have to go anywhere so we can watch it from inside and not worry about driving anywhere in it.  They say a small earthquake occurred on the border between Illinois and Indiana well south of here--closer to Kentucky really.  We didn't feel it ourselves.

The local TV news this morning gave PETA its 15 seconds of fame when the reporter noted that they plant to protest the annual Presidential pardon for the symbolic pair of turkeys.  Huffington Post put up this interesting little article on the fate of the presidential birds--most die before the next Thanksgiving.  Though the birds weren't slaughtered for the dinner table, I wouldn't call their demise 'natural.'  Rather they die because of the very qualities bred into them--overlarge breasts and abnormally large size.  We haven't (deliberately) eaten turkey for a number of years.  We simply haven't been impressed with the taste and the idea of getting such a large bird for just the two of us put us off.  Besides all most turkey we saw was too highly processed.  But our little meat market has had some tempting turkey cuts.  We decided to pick up a couple of pieces of breast tenderloin for dinner tomorrow--nice small pieces that won't provide far more than we need or want.  But I also saw some of the split breasts (with bone) that looked good also.  I was surprised at how small they looked.  I wonder if the market is getting the turkeys from nearby Amish farmers from whom its get its chicken.  We like the fact that those birds are free range and free of antibiotics and hormones.  We might put more turkey on the menu.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Good Tuesday, Everyone.  I started posts for Sunday and Monday but didn't get very far.  Normally, I base my posts on interesting things I read on the internet.  For most of the last year, I have read all too many political things, sometimes politics mixed with economics.  I feel about tapped out on those subjects.  I definitely need something different to focus on.  Unfortunately, the garden is definitely wound down and doesn't provide much material.  Although it does provide a surprise every now and then.  About a week ago the overnight temps fell into the high twenties and I thought the kale and cabbage were gone.  Well, not so fast.  Both have rebounded nicely.  I still think I won't get any cabbage--simply not enough time for the heads to fully develop.  But the kale will provide enough for a good meal tomorrow.  I will also leave the core plants and mulch them with the leaves that the wind has blown into our space.  I want to see if they will come back in the spring.  If they don't I won't have lost anything.  If they do, I will have kale early.  I like experiments.  I always discover something I never thought about.

The fall/winter holidays are upon us.  We will be spending Thanksgiving at home.  My brother just had surgery for back problems and my sister's family has experienced some drastic changes so neither is really up to any big celebration.  We don't have the room for a lot of people.  I don't know what will happen with Christmas.  We will play it by ear.  As usual we aren't participating in the commercial 'rituals' of Thanksgiving.  I am not surprised but am totally annoyed with the retailers deciding to open on Thanksgiving Day.  One spokesman interviewed for the obligatory news piece on the annual shopping frenzy gushed that the it was a wonderful family activity--gather for dinner and then pile in the car to go shopping.  What about workers' families?  I guess they don't deserve family time.  One of the bloggers I always read (sorry I don't remember which or I would link) argued that the only way to change our commercial culture is to refuse to participate.  We don't and I wish more wouldn't.

We watched the Ken Burns special Dust Bowl on our PBS station over the last two nights.  As I expected Burns did a good job on the subject.  I noticed a number of people who had been interviewed for the History Channel special Black Blizzard.  Understandable, I guess, because anyone who lived through the Dust Bowl years are in their 80s.  The comments at the end of Dust Bowl was interesting because it brought implications from some current events.  Over the last decades, farmers have expanded production onto marginal land (again), have discarded contour plowing methods, and discarded the Lister plows in favor of straight plows (again).  And they have adopted large scale irrigation that has used about half of the water in the Ogallala aquifer.  In other words, we have discarded the lessons 'learned' from the dust bowl years and added a new mistake--over use of water resources--the the mix.  The drought this year was as second only to the dust bowl and displaced the 1954 drought for second place.  According to the Drought Monitor, 54% (plus a bit) of the country remains in varying stages of drought.  In spite of recent rains my area is still moderately dry.  One of the people interviewed asked what would happen if the water gave out.  I have read several accounts which indicate that some of the shallower parts have already been depleted.  This piece in the Christian Science Monitor speculates on a link between Sandy and the Dust bowl--human agency. And Charles Hugh Smith has some very good comments on the parallels between the historical dust bowl and 'Our Dust Bowl Economy.'  We have often been told those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it. That notion is seriously challenged by historical human behavior.  We seem to be very slow learners.

In light of the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, this Monitor story is revealing and cautionary.  Evidently the length of time it has taken the utilities to get the power going again isn't at all out of the ordinary.  That rather squares with some of what has happened in the Chicago area during a couple of the high wind storms and snow storms over the past couple of years.  Some areas were without electricity for two weeks or more.  Best be prepared just in case.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hello, All.  I have gotten quite a bit about the Hostess bankruptcy and the associated workers' strike.  This Forbes article validates some of my suspicions on the issues.  I have wondered since this economic downturn began when someone would realize what shitty deal workers have been getting.  With each new cycle of bankruptcy which yielded wage cuts and shredded benefits, I wondered when people would decide that the meager something they were left with was indistinguishable from nothing.  The article also suggest that the Bain strategy (buying a company with borrowed money, transferring the debt to the company while charging exorbitant fees for their 'services,' selling off assets making the company even less able to make a profit and then shutting down) has infected the larger economy.  We have a cannibalistic economy.  Bain never really 'created' anything--not jobs, not product, nothing.  It simply gobbled up companies but each new meal for Bain and its ilk means the larger economy is starved.  Know what happens to a human body that is starved?  It starts breaking down its own tissues--until it dies.

This piece from Undernews is interesting.  In the back of my mind, as I listened to the reports, was the question of how long the company would be open even if the workers accepted the steep cuts in pay and benefits.  I thought it wouldn't be long and the jobs would be gone anyway.  Now we will hear the old song of the greedy workers destroying a good business.  What a crock!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Good Thursday, Everyone.  I have some clean up chores in the gardens but they will wait till a few days from now when the temperatures are predicted to rise to the mid 50s.  I may use the leaves as a mulch around some of the plants.  Otherwise, it is time to do a final assessment on the gardens this year.  I will post some of that when I have completed it.  Let's see what is on the internet.

File this one under "Same song, different verse."  I notice that the Repthuglican hopefuls for the 2016 election are running fast and hard away from the comments.  From the comments not necessarily from the sentiments expressed.  Just as Romney/Ryan tried to cover up the "47%" remark without really changing their views, I expect the Repthuglican wannabes to do the same.  Let's call it what it really is--stealth reactionary conservatism.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Good morning to you all.  Cold and sunny today.  Nothing much planned.  We got all our errands done yesterday.  I am feeling a bit lazy so I am going to do nothing--just because I can.

Now that the election is over the focus of our media has shifted to our so-called 'fiscal cliff.'  I noticed the headlines this morning proclaiming that Obama has proposed raising revenues by, I think it said, some $1.6 trillion over the next ten years.  Much more than anticipated.  Then I saw this little blog post by heather at Crooks&Liars.  Some Repthuglican loud mouth suggested that they would go along if the retirement age were raised (along with Medicare eligibility) to 67.  Over the last year, one of my brothers who is a little less than 2 years younger than I am has decided to retire earlier than he wanted because of job related health problems.  He has spent almost as much time on sick leave (and vacation when that ran out) as he has working.  Thankfully, he has very good health insurance and won't have to wait for medical care till he is 65.  I really do resent those who have nice cushy jobs with really good salaries, adequate health insurance, and air conditioned offices telling others who have none of that they have to work longer to cure the fiscal mess they didn't cause.  I think they should do more than walk a mile in our shoes.  They should live 30 years in our skins.

Interlude:  I just went out to check on the gardens.  Wanted to see how the plants were faring considering that we have had sub-freezing temps for the last several nights.  I found ice on the table/potting bench.  I was afraid for my cabbages and kale and rightly it seems.  They are gone.  I started them about a month too late for them to mature.  I think the pineapple sage is also.  I found an icy crust of varying thickness on all of the containers.  I guess now all I can do is wait for spring to see what comes back.  I did get my moisture probe under the crust in most of the containers and found good moisture.  At least that isn't a problem.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Good morning, Everyone.  Coldest morning since last March.  We didn't get any of the snow here though it did cause traffic snarls in parts of Chicago.  Surprised all of the weather people.  They don't think we will get much warmer temperatures for several days.

I saw this item on another site yesterday and checked with  It's real.  Texas has apparently got enough signatures to get a response from the White House.  Petitions for quite a number of states are listed--more than listed in the article.  No other has generated enough signatures to trigger a response.  I also noticed a petition that suggests all those who sign the secession petitions be stripped of citizenship and exiled.  It as just under 800 signers.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Good Monday, everyone, and I hope your weekend was enjoyable.  The weather here was really nice but now the temperatures are cooler (bordering on cold) with a bit of rain and snow.  What little snow we had melted on contact so no accumulation.  Let's see what is on the 'net today.

I only hope this NY Times article is on target.  I can remember about 20-25 years ago when the religious right was gushing about a rising membership among the Baby Boomers who were raising families and returning to the fold in large numbers.  Among my own group--not so much but then the results of too many elections over the years seemed to bear out the assertion.

Tom Englehardt posted a good run down on our 'fiscal cliff' at Tomdispatch this morning.  Yep-It's the politics, stupid.  The politics and nothing but the politics.

This is interesting.  The GOP in California is on the brink of extinction, at least for now.  I don't know if the condition will spread much beyond California or how future events may affect the process of extinction.  The last time a major national political party disappeared from the scene was in the 1840s and 1850s when the Whigs disappeared to be replaced by the original Republicans (you know, the party of Lincoln--not the Repthuglicans of today.)  Before that the Federalists committed political hari-kari in the wake of the War of 1812, which they vigorously opposed going so far as to threaten succession.  I wonder what would replace the GOP?  I don't see much on the horizon so I think the Repthuglicans will somehow redefine themselves.

Maureen Dowd posted an op-ed worth reading--another interesting post-mortem on the Republican loss.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Good Sunday, everyone.  Mild temperatures and sun for a while today.  But high winds and rain later.  We are back into our winter mode of planning our shopping and errands for the week.  During the summer we split our shopping to coincide with the days our farm markets are open (or when our preferred vendors are at the markets) and, secondarily, with an eye to the weather.  In the winter our primary concern is is the weather--we plan our shopping around snow storms and other nasty weather.

Post election comment:  I am truly sick of the self-serving calls from both sides of the aisle (but primarily from the Repthuglicans) for all sides to 'rise above politics' and craft a scheme to keep us from falling off the 'fiscal cliff.'  I have to ask them to define what the define 'rising above politics.'  How can anyone rise above politics when the whole issue is political?  And how do you rise above politics when a significant number of politicians seem to believe that their political notions were handed down by Christ as addenda to the Sermon on the Mount?

On that 'fiscal cliff' thing:  perhaps they should just ignore it until the new Congress comes in.  That Congress could then deal with it without the current panic and, perhaps, more thoughtfully.  I am not persuaded by the claim of how much it will cost the various groups whose budget will be cut or whose taxes will go up.  After all, Congress has pass retroactive tax cuts before and can easily enough put back the funds selectively.  Nor am I persuaded by the hysterical screeching about the economy going 'back' into recession.  If government (at all levels) curtails spending and no other segment of the economy increases spending, the GDP will decline.  If governments don't have the revenues to meet all of its expenses, it must either reduce expenses (see above) or it must increase those revenues or it must borrow increasing its debt.  Increasing revenues means increasing how much people and companies pay in taxes which reduces how much they have to spend (see above).  Increasing neither revenue nor reducing expenditures means debt which (now that they aren't driving the bus) the Repthuglicans are shitting their pants about, means the government will be spending more on debt servicing and eventually will have less to spend on anything else.  Funny isn't it how the attitudes changed.  Once upon a time, debt didn't  matter.  Now it  is next to heresy.  It all depends on who is in the White House.  I think we are going to have a very slow economy (if not an out right recession) no matter what we do and the only question is whether we want to pull off the bandage slow or fast.  A train wreck is a train wreck whether it is fast or slow.

Found the link to this on Crooks&Liars.  Two words: OH SHIT!! And yes, I am screaming.

Another irritation in the (s)news this morning:  Ex-Illinois Governor and now convicted inmate in Colorado Rod Blogojevich will have a new prison job soon--moving from kitchen duty to the library.  Nice, but--what in the hell makes this news??  Why spend any time at all on it??

I notice that the news of the aftermath of Sandy and the nor'easter is disappearing.  Most of what I get now are blog posts and op-ed pieces.  But, if this piece is anything to go by, the efforts to get the area up again is falling woefully short.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hope you all are having a nice weekend.  We are.  We have moderate temperatures and partly cloudy skies through tomorrow.  The frosts of the last week haven't bothered the kale and cabbage as much as I thought.  They are doing well as is the sage.  I don't know how the pineapple sage will do.  It may come back in the spring so I won't take them out just yet.  The lemon balm looked dead at the end of last winter and it came back beautifully.

Evidently, LA has passed a resolution to encourage 'meatless mondays.'  If I lived in LA, I wouldn't be all that impressed.  I am not vegetarian and will never will but here we have far more 'meatless' days than the 52 the city government is urging on the city's citizens.  I am also getting very tired of all of the nannies out there urging this, that or the other--for our own good, of course.  In another ridiculous example of nannying people to death, new rules promulgated by Bloomberg in NY will prevent some regular food donors from giving to the homeless shelters because the donated food can't be certified to have 'healthy' levels of salt, fiber, and fat.

Another entry in the 'Unintended Consequences' file.  Although the U.S. and Israel have not acknowledged creating 'stuxnet' they haven't denied it either.  But how anyone would think they could control it (and any 'offspring' others might create) is beyond me.  For more information this article is pretty good.  And, as if cybersecurity weren't already stressful already, criminals are getting more inventive.

When I signed up for Social Security I went ahead and signed up for the automatic deposit.  I am comfortable with banking on line banking having used it for several years and with automatic deposit because several of my past employers used it.  But I wondered about those who might not be comfortable with either.  I am enough of a libertarian to be extremely uncomfortable with pushing all of us variously shaped pegs into the same shaped holes.  (Just to clarify, I am not much of a libertarian.)

As if we really needed a window into Mitt Romney's character, this provides the image of a grand bastard that many of figured lurked behind his pleasant facade.  But then, perhaps, those who worked so hard to elect a man who wrote off 47% of the American population as lazy moochers should have had second thoughts long ago.  Why should Romney respect them any more than he has anyone else who isn't part of the 1%?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Good day to you all.  This Thursday is starting out a bit gray--much like yesterday.  I have had the light on the indoor plants a good bit over the last couple of weeks but I am happy with the result.  All of the plants are showing new growth and are looking good.  Even the little lemon verbena is doing very well.  I moved the bay, rosemary, patchouli, oregano, and lemon verbena to a little table and put one of the daylight balanced fluorescent lamps on them.  We got the lamps when both of us were doing a good bit of needlework.  Mom doesn't do any sewing other than mending and so doesn't need the extra light.  I have slowed up but still need mine.  I transplanted the little Christmas cactus about a month ago and it has rewarded me with a whole lot of buds.  It is over by the patio doors because it doesn't need as much light.  Gardening on my patio is a bit complicated because it is in deep shade during the early spring (before the spring equinox) and late fall (after the fall equinox).  I think I noted that the sun hits the very top of the fence on or very near those days.  Then during the height of the growing season we get full, intense sun that turns parts of the area into an oven.  Well, I am a novice gardener and especially a novice container gardener.  It is all a learning process.

I am watching Good Morning America and am amazed at how loose their definitions of humility and conciliatory as they described the 'new' stance taken by John Boehner.  I saw no indication that is is now humble and willing to compromise.  He said exactly what he has said before: the Republicans are willing to compromise on new revenues so long as the 'conditions' are right.  What those conditions are he didn't specify.  I don't see that as a change in attitude or a willingness to compromise.  This article assess the 'new Boehner position very well.

This story (also from really warms my heart.  I said before that the amount of money spent on the election just at the national was obscene.  It appears it was also ineffective--at least on the Republican side.  The NY Times posted this interesting summary of the economics of the election.  The info is for the presidential campaigns.  I have no idea of the total amount of money was spent on local and state elections.

Hello, Annie's Granny.  Glad you stopped by and glad you like Margaret  and Helen.  They are a hoot.

I had a thought as I read yet another article on what the election means given that though Obama won re-election the legislative branch remains divided with the Senate in Democratic hands and the House in Republican control.  In past elections I always split my ballots--I firmly believed that a divided legislature produced better legislation because compromise was necessary to reach a decision.  Until the Bush II years when the Republicans started to redefine 'compromise' as 'my way or no way.'  They intensified that behavior during Obama's first administration and for the first time I found no Republicans I would even consider voting for--except for our Indiana Attorney General who I was glad to see was re-elected by an almost 60% majority.  Until the Republican Party decides to separate itself from the extreme Chrisitanist crusaders and Tea Party assholes, I don't think I will be splitting my votes again.

Another interesting thought--one that hasn't occurred to me in quite a long time--concerning several of the assessments of the Republican loss this election.  Back in the 1980s a lot of the men I knew were very bitter about the gains of the feminist movement.  Their bitterness was reflected in a lot of the news and opinion polls.  Tact not being a big part of my personality at that time, I told them that they relied too much on only two assets, their white skins and their penises, and neither was worth as much anymore. (Warning: I am only marginally more tactful now.)  Most of the pundits' assessments mirror my long ago comments: the Republican Party is too old, too white, too male.  I can only agree.  It is surprising in a way because I have been reading projections for the last 30 years which predicted that whites would be a minority in this country by 2050.  The predictions appear to be right on target and the Republicans are in trouble.  This Huffington Post piece indicates that the attitudes haven't changed much in 30 years.

Yves Smith posted a bit about Sandy and the all-too-quickly following nor'easter.  I have also been thinking about the whole mess out east.  I have noted before that we have been increasingly concerned about the possibility of an event that would interrupt power, water, or food supply lines.  We haven't even come close to such a disaster here but a flood a couple of years ago messed up my Sister's basement and cost her and her partner quite a bit of frustration, discomfort, and money.  Storms over the last few years have caused power outages west of us and many of the customers were without for up to two weeks.  And areas east and south of us suffered the devastation of tornadoes.  Every winter heavy snows have shut down areas around us and two years ago we had a winter when it seemed like it would never stop snowing.  We try to be prepared for such events but the sequence on the east coast has me pondering again.  After nine days the area hasn't really begun to recover from Sandy: a lot of homeless, more without power (though less now than just after), fuel and food still in short supply.  Now with the nor'easter they have snow or rain, high winds, and renewed power outages.  Yves last paragraph should tickle our concern:
If you see worries about fragile delivery systems and the risks of extended supply chains fade quickly from financial news, it’s likely that even after Sandy, companies and officials lack will to take issues like infrastructure risk seriously. And when predictable bad things happen, the costs will again be borne by ordinary citizens.
Read more at 
 From Robert Reich's pen (or word processor) to God's ear.

John Michael Greer, who writes Archdruid Reports, has some good comments on our recent election.  You all remember that, though I voted for Obama, I am not exactly enthusiastic about any real change coming in any time soon.  I wasn't all that enthusiastic about the 'hope and change' promised by the prior campaign.  The notion  any one man can, by himself, stand against some of the forces moving in our society is more than a little nonsensical.  The inertia built up in our industrial, military, political, and social institutions is massive and difficult to shift.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Good day after the election, Everyone.  I feel much better with the end of the campaigns, the end of the non-stop campaign commercials, and with Obama's re-election.  I said all along that I wasn't voting for CEO-in-Chief, Chameleon-in-Chief, or Liar-in-Chief.  I didn't care for the notion of a president who would serve me up as Hors d'Oeuvres to the Koch brothers or any of the other 1%.  Nor am I a devotee of the 'trickle down' theory of economics.  All too often what trickles down is something no one really wants and I don't care to be pissed on by the banksters.  I don't know what to expect from a second Obama term (as I said before) but that uncertainty is more acceptable than the dread of a Romney term.

Actually, I have some idea of what to expect.  This op-ed in Der Spiegel describes the current American political/economic condition rather accurately.  I thought for some time that Americans had to decide, first, what we wanted to do and, second, whether there is a 'we' to do it.  Obama's first term didn't really answer either question and I don't expect the second will either.  The commentary on our fractured society last night during the election coverage made that quite clear.

Robert Reich echoes some of my thoughts on this election cycle and underlines the comment I made just above.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Good day to you all on this election day.  We voted this morning almost as soon as the polls opened here.  No wait--except for my delay finding my drivers license.  We also ran our other weekly errands right after.  We could have voted early but our precinct is only three blocks away and we weren't going anywhere away from home so we waited even though we both had decided long ago.  The Repthuglican field decided for us--such a bunch of troglodytes I have never seen.  The price sign on one of the gas stations provided a nice bit of news: the price of regular was barely below $3.30 for the first time in months.  However, the price at another gas station was almost $.20 higher.

We had a hard frost last night and may have lost lost several plants.  The cabbage, kale, pineapple sage and sage aren't looking very good right now.  I started the cabbage and kale late hoping to miss those pesky little white butterflies that lay eggs which become cabbage worms.  I succeeded there but the plants didn't have enough time to mature.  Next year I plan to put up netting over those plants and start them earlier.

Just got a bit of a laugh listening to a comment by a CNBC talking head:  if the election were a business, given the return on the unimaginable money spent is so negative that everyone connected with it would be out of their jobs.  Another laugh:  one of the main anchors discussed the possibility of a tie in the electoral college--unlikely but possible if Obama takes Wisconsin, Ohio and Vermont and all the rest of the 'swing' states go to Romney.  In that case the election of the president goes into the House of Representatives which is, and likely will remain, in Republican hands--therefore Romney gets the election.  Why the laugh??  The Senate elects the Vice-President which is in Democrat hands and Joe Biden would then serve in a Romney administration.  That is a hilarious idea!!! :)

I think this story so perfectly illustrates the difference between the Romney and Obama campaigns.

I hope this isn't wide spread.  I am especially skeptical because of Romney family connections to one of the touch screen software companies.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hello to you all on this day before the end of our quadrennial madness.  Although if the history of the last four years the next insanity season may begin the day after this one.  After all that was about when Mitch McConnell announced that the whole purpose of the Repthuglican party was to make Obama a one term president.  Given the animosity sown in the last four years I can easily see the Democrats treating the Repthuglicans, should Romney win, to the same kind of obstructionism the Repubs have dished out.  What's the old saying? What goes around, comes around.  Even if Obama wins I don't expect any real progress on the many problems confronting this country.  Gridlock for at least the next 2, maybe 4 years.

Robert Samuelson posted an op-ed this morning that sums up my assessment of this obnoxious election: candidates who are willing to say anything, promise anything no matter how contradictory to get votes. At all levels the vitriol is stunning.  Candidates and/or their campaigns can't seem to simply agree to disagree; they have to demonize the opposition.  We have a system now in which religion, economics and politics are thoroughly intertwined and the True Believers are trumpeting their venom loudly.  I wonder how many are like me--totally not a member of any choir.

Michael Moore makes the best case for holding your nose and voting for Obama this time.  Actually, I shouldn't be so negative on Obama.  In spite of Repthuglican obstruction over the last four years, Obama has gotten a good bit done.  If Romney is elected people like me won't have a president because Mr. Romney will be the president of the United States of the 1% not of the United States of America.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Good Sunday, Everyone.  Didn't see much to comment on yesterday.  The news isn't much different and I have already said what I wanted probably more often than you all would like.  I have sounding like a broken record.  I got an interesting little card in the mail telling me what a good girl I have been because I have voted in the last 5 general elections.  Well, that's nice but I haven't missed a general election for the last 12 and more.  I certainly intend to vote Tuesday.  It would take a major disaster to keep me away.  I used to split my vote but not this year.  I have not found a single Repthuglican worthy of my vote this year.  Our Republican mayor isn't up for re-election this year or he would be the only one.  I was sardonically amused with Romney's assertion that those who had voted for Obama on the hope of change should shift to him for 'real' change.  Real change??  Define that please.  How far back in time would you want to push us for real change?  George II (Bush)??  Ronnie I (Reagan)??  Herbert I (Hoover)??  I have no desire to go 'back to the future.'

We have done our yearly 'fall back,' which all of you know I really don't like.  I have wished for some time that they would leave the damned clocks alone.  For those who are curious about this ritual of changing the clocks back and forth, posted this piece.  The author doesn't really talk about the 'science' of daylight saving.  But it is a nice history article.

As if we didn't have enough to worry about with the Repthuglicans trying very hard to disfranchise large numbers of (particularly) Democratic voters, the Christian Science Monitor raises the question of hackers mucking up the works.  I had heard about the computer attacks on the Russian election but not the others.

Jasmine Tea and Jiaozi provides an interesting light on life in China.  No one gets heat or cooling until the dates the government dictates.   I read the post to Mom and she remembered some years ago when those over here who lived and worked in large buildings were in a similar situation.  Shifting from heat to cooling was a major undertaking and was coordinated around the most likely date when the weather turned permanently cold or hot.  Though the inhabitants had some control over their temperatures they couldn't go from heating to cooling or vice versa.

Robert Reich posted a nice summary of 'Romneyism.'  I think he perfectly defines the core values of the Romney/Ryan Repthuglicans.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Good day, All, on this Saturday before the election.  And the weekend when we have to turn back the clocks (ugh!!!!!).  And, in case you didn't already know, I hate these time changes as much as I hate the endless election season.  Oh, well--as the old saying goes: what can't be cured must be endured.

So they finally cancelled the New York Marathon.  On the one hand I can see the argument for holding the race as scheduled--it gives a sense of continuity and resilience.  But then it does give an unfortunate impression that recovery was taking second place.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hello, All.  Four more days till the election.  I will be so glad when it is done.  Then all we will have to endure will be the usual ads trying to sell me something instead of all of the ads trying to sell me (for or against) someone.  I disconnected the garden hose, drained it, and rewound it on the reel for the winter.  Took a closer look at the plants that will spend the winter in the gardens and all appear to be doing well.  The mints and lemon balm are actually doing very well.  They are all growing like the weeds they once were.  The blueberries look better with the cooler weather.  If we get the same kind of heat next year I may have to rig some kind of shade for them.  I still have to sweep up the leaves for the compost bin but that can wait until later when the temperature is a bit warmer. has some astonishing before and after satellite pictures of damaged areas post-superstorm Sandy.  Anyone who thinks that these areas will get back to a pre-storm normality any time soon (if ever) is living in a fantasy world.  Unfortunately, from the news coverage, a number of people in the disaster zone expect exactly that.  The news media love drama and those simply coping patiently don't provide that drama.

Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism is the second blogger to post on the theme of Sandy, the aftermath, and the fragility of complex systems of which our cities are a prime example.  The problem with complex systems is they will fail--it isn't a question of if but of when.  And then we have to figure out how we will get buy till something like normal conditions can be reestablished.  As I watch and read accounts of disaster aftermaths (Katrina, Snowmageddon, Irene, the tornadoes) I get the feeling that too many of us are oblivious to the possibilities.  We are so immersed in our complex environments we are like fish in water--absolutely unable to imagine what would happen if that environment failed us.  At least until we are facing an immediate threat.  I am always amazed to see all of the people out filling grocery carts, buying snowblowers or generators, etc. in the few days before a major storm hits.  I visited the site to check it out after reading about it on one of the blogs.  They recommend at least three days of food and water on hand in each household.  Why do I emphasize that?  Because if you had stayed in New Orleans or parts of the east coast or parts of New England after Irene and had only 3 days of supplies on hand you were, to use a technical term, shit out of luck.  You ran out.  I was totally surprised when the ABC national evening news did a small segment on how much food (and of what kind) and water someone should keep on hand.  I had never seen any such discussion at all, ever on national news.  But I rather expect that we will see similar images next time--and there will be a next time.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Good day, again, to you all.  Had a very quiet Halloween.  Not many kids came by.  We found out that the front porch light had burned out so that probably discouraged some.  Even so far fewer kids came by and about half of those were much older than I would have expected.  Here, because this is a rental neighborhood, Halloween is variable because the population is always changing.  Oh, well, this year we have a good bit of left over candy for us.  That is why we always buy the kinds we like.  Anyway, welcome to November.

This is an aspect of the news coverage of Superstorm Sandy I would never have thought of.  I wasn't at all surprised at the wall-to-wall coverage of the storm in our news media.  Because the stock exchanges were closed for two days even CNBC covered the storm focusing on both what was happening and the potential economic impact.  BBC also provided extensive coverage.  But they did intersperse other news in their broadcasts.  I thought the suggestion that the Chinese state TV media provided such extensive coverage to provide information to top members of the Communist party who have children and assets on our east coast.

Our top officials in Defense and Homeland Security are beating the drums hard on the threat of a cyberattack.  I don't necessarily doubt the risks but I don't think much will be done without a sea change in our private sector's mind set.  Some weeks ago I saw a story detailing how the banking industry was pushing against regulations which would require them to upgrade their security.  They didn't want to foot the bill and were demanding big subsidies from the Federal government for the upgrade.  I am sure the utilities across the country will do the same.  The attitude reminds me much of the debate we had both in Indiana and Illinois a couple of years ago when rate increase proposals came up for our utilities.  The companies wanted a much larger increase than the one eventually allowed.  They justified their demands on the grounds of the cost of needed infrastructure improvements that would eventually lead to a 'smart' grid and they wanted state subsidies as well.  At the time they had nice fat profits but they wanted the states to soak the customers and taxpayers at the time they were paying out nice dividends to stockholders.  Although these industries are regulated they are 'for-profit' companies and, theoretically at least, they should be paying for upgrades that benefit their businesses from their profits and paying their stockholders after.  Another example of 'capitalism for thee, but not for me' mindset so prevalent now-a-days.  Unfortunately, it isn't just short sighted businesses that are dragging their heels on cybersecurity.  South Carolina recently announced a breach of their computer systems that has dumped almost 4 million taxpayers' personal information into criminal hands.  The mainstream media had a very terse snippet on the story I have seen on line for the last couple of days.

This story sets my skepticism antennae quivering at a much faster rate than they have already been.  This smells so much like the putrid stories from the Bush II administration about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq which were never found.  We know where that went.  Now a similar drum beat is building in an arena in which it is even more difficult to unearth real, unequivocal evidence.

There is an old saying that there are no atheists in foxholes.  Feminists quipped that all it would take to change a conservative woman into a supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment was a bad divorce.  Well, all it has taken for Mitt to suddenly become a supporter of FEMA and Federal disaster relief has been a little thing called Sandy.  But I so totally suspect his new-found piety.
Something else I am totally suspicious of is the supposed 'glitch' that suddenly reduced the early vote tally in a largely black precinct in Florida by better than 30%.  One thousand votes suddenly disappeared.  To say my trust in officials is at a low ebb is a vast understatement.