Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Good morning, everyone.  Can you believe we have 40F on our patio this morning?? And the official temperature in Chicago is 46F.  And we should get into the low to mid 50s because the skies are clear and we should have plenty of sun today.  Kuma was happy because I let him out on the patio and he had plenty of water from the snow melt.  I don't know what it is but he absolutely loves the water he finds outside.  I thought he might not like the chlorine or whatever in the tap water and gave him the boiled water I prepare for our coffee and tea.  But given the choice he will take the patio puddles first.  The weather person on our local (Chicago) news station had a picture from one of their  'weather watchers' showing a tree in her yard starting to bud.  Poor things--they are simply very confused.  Oh, they also say we had a very minor earthquake just north of Chicago late last night.  We didn't feel anything here although people from southeastern Wisconsin to our area in northwest Indiana called the news stations to report that they had.

This weather story triggered a question because of a story on our local news/weather last night.  The weather person noted that the temperatures in Alaska have been between 10 and 20 degrees below normal at the same time ours have been between 10 and 20 degrees above normal.  And last year when we had a below normal temps and record setting snow falls while they were warmer than normal.  That seems to be a common pattern.  I wondered if there is a similar pattern in Europe

For all the disparagement from Repthuglicans of 'Obamacare,' maybe we should look carefully at 'Repthuglicare.'  Stories like this gives us a glimpse at the mire under the lofty language about 'free market solutions' and 'self sufficiency' in our modern economy and society.  I linked to a story a couple of days ago where one of the victims of the Repthuglican mania for secure IDs for voting said that she felt as if they system had thrown her away by using a catch-22 that prevented her from easily obtaining the required ID.  How many of us are thrown away each year because we can't get health care?

Oh, yeah--everything has been going up, Nicola and Kay.  I know that you depend on Social Security as do Mom and I, Kay.  But the idiots in Washington have told us for the last three years that, because inflation has been so low, our checks have not gone up.  Inflation is low because our economic idiots have cooked the books to remove anything 'volatile' like food, fuel, medical care.  We buy those frequently but the 'core' inflation is calculated based on the those things that aren't so volatile but which are also infrequently purchased--housing, cars, etc.  They have also decided that they should take into consideration the propensity for consumers to purchase lower price substitutes (hamburger instead of steak) when faced with painful price increases.  That keeps the inflation rate also but the real concern is the price increase of both the steak and the hamburger not that the consumer has shifted to hamburger because it still lower than steak.  And that is masked.  Most of our economic statistics have to be taken with a ton of salt because they have been so massaged as to be meaningless.  They simply do not reflect anything in the real world.

Richard Cohen's op-ed for the Washington Post illustrates why I am trying to ignore the Repthuglican primaries.  If I want to see clowns I will wait till the circus comes to town.

A couple of years ago the History Channel presented a series titled 'Life After People' which described how the modern world would fare without if people suddenly disappeared.  On episode detailed how the pythons and boas, released by their owners into the Everglades, would, in relatively short time, become the top predators in the area.  Evidently we don't have to wait till people are gone to find out if the prognostication would come true.  Take a look at this piece on Grist.

I found this by way of undernews.  I wonder if Jourdan Anderson, former slave, ever got an answer from his former master??

Monday, January 30, 2012

Good Monday to you all wherever you are.  We had sun on and off yesterday as well as a couple of brief periods of snow.  We didn't get much.  The predictions keep changing which isn't all that unusual.  But the temperatures are highly unusual and the predictions tell us to expect high 40s--maybe even a 50F.  I wouldn't mind sending you some of our warmth if I could, Nicola.  I just looked up the 'la Nina' climate pattern because I thought that was supposed to be a cold and dry system.  I was right on that but the articles say that 2011 was the warmest la Nina on record.  Hmmm!

Obama mentioned congressional reforms in his SOTU alluding to the problems with the way filibuster has morphed into a means to prevent anything from passing in the Senate without a supermajority.  However, this is another item that needs to be reformed.  These despicable idiots can't get their masters' pet projects through on the merits of the project so they attach it to another bill that has more support.  And then for added fluff they call it a 'jobs' bill.  How about single topic bills with no riders.  Keep the bills strictly highway bills (or defense bills, or whatever) not these bastard many-headed monsters.

We have been somewhat amused by the news reports over the last few days.  Suddenly the media has noticed rising beef prices.  We wonder what world these guys live in because we have watched the prices at the grocery go up for the last five years.  It is almost as if they can't make the connection between repeated droughts in the southwest and southern plains and high beef prices.  Or the connection between increasing prices for hay and feed and price.  Or the interesting statistic that cattle numbers in the U.S. are the lowest since the end of WWII.  Or the fact that we are exporting more beef to newly affluent countries whose new and growing middle classes want beef.  Did someone hit the media masters between their eyes with two-by-fours??  And not a one has asked why, if the prices of beef (and other foods) have gone up so much (double digits) our inflation is supposed to be so low that cost of living raises have been rarer than hens' teeth??

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Good last Sunday in January to everyone out there.  We had some nice sun yesterday and no new snow overnight.  The weather people are forecasting several days in the 40s.  We were deciding what to fix for suppers this week and what isn't on the list are soups and chili.  Much of our winter fare just isn't appetizing.  If this weather pattern continues I will put the cover on the mini-greenhouse in a couple of weeks.  I spent yesterday cleaning out my file cabinets.  The personal and legal papers are taken care of; now for the needlework patterns.  I have an accumulation of quilting, embroidery, crochet, and cross stitch patterns gathered over 45 years.  I started embroidery in my early teens and crochet in my late teens.  Plus all of the miscellaneous craft patterns.  I found one little booklet on soap making.  I may never make my own soap but I am keeping it anyway.

I found this from karoli at Crooks&Liars.  If there were more hosts like Martin Bashir I would watch the talking heads shows.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Good Saturday morning, All.  We had a dusting of snow overnight.  Not much and nothing that requires shoveling.  We may get more overnight.  Temps in the 30s.  But they say we may get near 50F with several 40s over the week.  You almost have to look at the calendar to check that we really are in the last days of January.  The weather people said on a recent segment that our temperatures have been so far above normal that they would have to be 10 degrees below normal for the rest of the winter to bring us back to average.

I am tempted to try the winter sowing technique this year, Nicola.  I wouldn't have any problem getting a couple of milk jugs since we go through three gallons a week.  I will read a bit more before deciding.  I sympathize with the one expert they interviewed who said that he 'rescued' his plantings from the snow the first time.  I am constantly looking over the plants I overwintered in the containers this year.  That is a bit of an experiment because I have never kept plants outside in the patio containers.  So far they are looking very good.  After nurturing these plants all last summer it is hard to leave them in the cold and snow.  But then I read that some seeds need exposure to cold to properly germinate.  Need to re-read that, also.

CNN reported this morning that the UK police have raided the Murdoch parent company, News International, in connection with the bribery charges that helped bring down News of the World.  I wondered as I read what little our news media over here wrote about this scandal how far up the corporate food chain this would go.  The entire Murdoch organization appears to be corrupt from bottom to top.  Unfortunately, I suspect that this is far more widespread in our predatory capitalist system.  I think we need to find a way to execute corporations.

For a number of years now the Repthuglicans across the country have pressed for restrictive voting laws featuring a photo ID requirement.  They have rammed these laws through inspire of widespread reporting of the hardships the laws would impose on many voters, especially the elderly, disabled, or minorities.  Of course they could bleat all they wanted about voter fraud, which was never as rampant as they claimed, but the real purpose was to eliminate as many of the Democratic voters as possible.  I think this article makes that plain.

Don't y'all just LOVE these fiscal conservatives?

Gaius Publius at Americablog has a good commentary on Mitch Daniels praise of Apple as a job creator should be taken with a ton of salt.  I love Apple products, generally.  I have always owned Apple computers and, if our current MacBooks died, would think about the iPad seriously.  Not so enthusiastic about iPhones or iPods.  But Apple is a profit-making company and, like others, looks for the most cost effective way to do business.  I blame our government under both Repthuglicans and Damnocrats.  They created incentives which allowed the off-shoring of jobs and profits.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Good morning, Everyone, on this last Friday of January.  My god how fast this month has gone.  But then I have been saying some version of that for a long time now.  We have been busily cleaning up and rearranging things.  Still have a good bit more.  When we do our normal round of errands on Monday we will take one pile of items to Goodwill which will clear up some space nicely.  Now we have to go through the drawers and shelves and see exactly what we have in them.  We needed to get those items out of the way so we could move after we rearranged the shelves and furniture.  I can't really complain though since we haven't done this for several years.  I am still amazed at the amount of stuff we have accumulated.  Oh, Joy!! we just got sunshine.  With temps around 40F some more of the snow should melt.  And it doesn't look like we will get any more soon from the weather maps.

Now this is intriguing.  I have seen several articles about 'winter sowing' lately.  I think I will research it a bit more and maybe make a note to try it next year.  Has anyone out there tried this?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Good morning, All.  The sun I reported yesterday morning went away by the early afternoon.  It is gloomy with areas of fog this morning.  The temperature is just below 40F.

I have already turned of the TV news.  God what a bunch of repetitive nonsense.  I find that I don't have much tolerance for it anymore.  I did not want to hear about Buffet's secretary who has become the poster child for unfair taxation yet again.  But I did and learned nothing more from the interview.  I am sorry Demi Moore is in the hospital and I DO NOT care if it is simple stress and exhaustion or was part of an addiction gone bad.  And I DON'T want to hear about it yet again--for the fourth day.  And I have to wonder why the rape accusation against the son of the New York City police chief is worthy of national coverage.  But then I switched over to CNN and they had (OMG) an interview with a friend of John Kennedy, Jr., wife who regretted advising her to get on the plane her husband piloted on their fatal flight.  It has been how long?  I turned off the set at that point.

This is the reason why I hope that the new mortgage fraud investigation unit is more than window dressing to ease through a blanket amnesty for the big banks.  I hope JPMorgan's CEO has a lot to worry about.

I agree with your assessment, Kay, of Mitch Daniels.  Unfortunately, the 'Ditch Mitch' campaign last go round failed and the idiot was re-elected.  Thankfully, he can't run again because of term limits.  But he is doing as much damage as possible.  The Repthuglican controlled legislature looks poised to do a Walker on our workers.  I did not listen to his rebuttal to the SOTU.  But then I was so disgusted with the commentary after that we turned off the crud and went to bed.  I noticed the stone faced Repthuglicans who sat on their hands for the most part and gave tepid applause to the other parts.  I figure the only things that will get done will be through executive order.  God, what crap.  You were a better person than I was at that younger age.  I slapped the little brat who tormented me--publicly.  And then watched with satisfaction as our principal took him off by his ear.

An interesting juxtaposition: yesterday Ben Bernanke evidently set a 2% target for inflation and last night on the Nightly Business report they noted that the food commodities the restaurant trade depends on (meat, flour, etc.) have all risen by double digits last year.  Oh, I forgot!!--foods, medical care, and fuel aren't considered in the inflation measure Bernanke was talking about.  I guess the Fed Governors don't have to eat or fill their gas tanks.

I hope this (expletive, expletive) gets the full 15 years in prison.  What gets me is that we have a national organization to supposedly monitor the professional behavior and qualifications of dentists but they have evidently been asleep at the switch.  Dental licenses are, like medical licenses, granted through the state professional association which is affiliated with the national group.  What would be so hard about keeping a record of those whose malpractice or other unprofessional behavior has led to suspension of licenses?

I remember a couple of years ago reading about the spider silk shawl which was currently making the rounds as part of a traveling exhibition.  It was gorgeous.  Well, the creators of the shawl have upped their game with a cape.  Take a look at it here.  My mind boggles at what went into its creation.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Good Wednesday morning to you all.  Frosty this morning.  But it looks like we will have sun which always improves my mood.  We didn't actually get anything done in the sewing room.  We had to check out some of the light bulbs that have burned out.  We need to go out to get the new bulbs and a couple of other stops we didn't get done yesterday.  I think we needed a break anyway.

I have to transfer a couple of individual songs that I don't have the CD for but otherwise the loss of the files won't be any loss at all, Nicola.  I have a large collection of CD (and vinyl and cassette) albums.  If I really want to I to put them on my lap top I can do that at any time.  I also need to scrub the hard disc.  I don't keep much personal info on my computer anyway; but, better safe than sorry.

Welcome, Annie's Granny.  Since I've retired my gardening and needlework have expanded to fill my time.  There are plenty of worse ways to spend one's time.  I am also an almost omnivorous reader, fiercely independent politically, and thoroughly skeptical about much that goes on in our financial/political system.  Come on back any time and I will visit often.

Thomas Day at the Washington Post posted this opinion piece today that I think puts things in a nutshell.  Unfortunately, I don't see the current situation changing any time soon.  The Repthuglicans have, and have had for the last three years, only one goal and it isn't doing what is in the interests of the nation.  It is, simply, to get Barak Obama out of the White House.  Though racial and religious prejudice plays a large part, most of those idiots are simply pandering to the extremes hoping someone they approve of will ride the wave into the Presidency.  In other words, they are cynical, hypocritical a$$holes.  I suspect that underneath it all is simply a lust for power and they will do anything, say anything to get it.  Sadly, those who want power so badly can rarely be trusted with it.  I don't think any of those I have seen so far will be the exception to that observation.

Susie Madrak posted this at Crooks & Liars which I think is a good rebuttal to that quote President Obama used from Abe Lincoln.  I asked last night how much most of us can really do for ourselves in the modern economy where a large number of working people are turning to food pantries and food stamps because the earn so little they can't keep food on the table.  Medicare would be wonderful but the co-pay could bankrupt most recipients.  Think about it: if you are hospitalized and the bill is $10k you have to come up with $2K.  If the bill is $100k--you owe $20k.  Tell me, how many do you think can come up with either without seriously discombobulating your budget.  As I said:  how much of what is necessary to modern life can ordinary people afford?

I cheered, at least for a minute, when Obama announced (as part of his SOTU speech) last night that he was going to instruct the Attorney General to form a fraud task force to look into mortgage initiation fraud.  However, as quickly as I cheered, I had some second thoughts.  The current efforts of the Administration has appeared to run to finding some way to erase the fraud the big banks (and the ones they absorbed) and leave them with the right to foreclose on properties involved in those fraudulent operations.  Yves Smith appears to think that is a real possibility.  One of the main reasons why the foreclosure wave has slowed down is that more and more courts and AGs are holding the banks to the law.  And they don't much like it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Good morning to you all.  We need to do our grocery shopping today.  That is usually a Monday chore but yesterday was wet with falling temperatures and a possibility of snow.  We did get snow but it wasn't much and didn't stick.  But I will spend most of my time today reading my blogs/news and continuing the sewing room clean up.  We got most things put back on shelves and drawers after rearranging things.  Now we have to do the final clean-up, sorting, and repositioning.  That will probably take several days.

And, now that I have most of the seeds I want to plant, I have to set up my planting schedule.  I agree, Nicola.  The bachelor buttons should show nicely in the gardens.  I haven't grown them before.  This is going to be an interesting year with pyrethrum mums, bachelor buttons, and tansy as the new flowers joining the mums, roses, impatiens, and poppies.  So far the mums and roses look like they will survive outside in the large containers.  We have the old TV and my old iMac to take to the city recycling center.  I had kept the computer because I had all my music downloaded on it but I have not turned it on for the last year.  My rule of thumb--if you haven't used or wore it for a year seriously consider finding a new home for it.

Sounds like you are getting some extensive spring cleaning done, Kay.  Hope Miss Ruby stays clear but we still have another month-and-a-half to two months of winter.  We also benefited from the thaw because our car also thawed out.  Take things a bit easy on the cleaning.  We worked for about two hours then played for a while and then did another couple of hours work.  We just get too tired and cranky if we push it too much.

I will watch the State of the Union speech this evening.  I have read some speculations about what will be in it and a couple of those speculations are--disconcerting.  I want to find out if they are accurate.  Tell you my impressions tomorrow.

The Irish reporter in this video is a man whose hand I would like to shake.  He asked the European Central Bank idiot a simple question, after the man waxed poetic about the wonderful understanding the Irish people (even taxi drivers) had of the intricate and complicated problems of the European banking system and the need for bailouts.  Why, he asked, should the Irish people should protect the unsecured bondholders of a defunct Irish bank.  They tried very hard to get Vincent Browne to ask two questions of which, of course, they could choose to answer the least significant of them.  When he refused, the idiot gave some claptrap about confidence in the European banking system and other meaningless evasions.  On which Browne quickly called him.  To my mind, forcing the Irish (or any other public) to make good on the losses of unsecured bond holders is rather like forcing the people of Las Vegas to make good the gambling loss of the losing patrons at Wynn's casinos.  Another example of how certain privileged industries have managed to privatize profits while socializing risks.

Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism linked to this post by emptywheel that discusses an Administration tactic used to get reluctant politicians to go along with questionable proposals.  The first was the bribe of $45 million in expanded Medicaid funding for Kansas if Kansas Senator Nelson (who isn't running for reelection but might have lost if he did) voted for Health Insurance Reform.  The second was the proposal that California homeowners be given $10 billion in foreclosure aid if California's Attorney General Kamala Harris would withdraw her objections and agree to a settlement of the banking scandal the Administration wants.  Isn't government by extortion and bribery wonderful.  And all taxpayers are contributing to the what has become a monstrous slush fund (a.k.a., U.S. Treasury).

Chris In Paris notes the report on the examination of U.K. police logs concerning Rupert Murdoch's hacking scandal.  Surprise, Surprise!  The dear boy's reporters lied to the police.  I am so shocked.  I wonder if they will be charged with crimes??  Perjury and obstruction of justice come to mind.  Will Rupert protect them or hang them out to dry??

Monday, January 23, 2012

Good Monday morning to you all out there.  The temperature rose to the mid 40s overnight but should fall back through the day.  We also had thundershowers during the night.  Thankfully, nothing like rolled through the southeast.  The weather people predict light show in the afternoon but no real accumulation.  Needless to say, this is very unusual for January and 2012 appears to be continuing the pattern of violent and unusual weather set in 2011.

Oh, yeah, it was a busy weekend, Nicola.  Now we have the sorting, rearranging, and labeling everything in that storage/sewing room.  We are going through another spate of deciding what we really don't need any more and finding a new home for it if we don't.  It feels a bit like peeling an onion--one layer after another.  We started putting the sewing/storage room together and found room for some of the seasonal or occasionally used kitchen appliances.  I am sure you all know where that is going.  After finishing with our current task we will have to rearrange the kitchen.  Some might consider this just spring cleaning.  For us 'spring' cleaning happens when we have a significant rearrangement of the furnishings.  Oh well, the garbage men will hate us for the next couple of weeks and the Goodwill people will love us.  We have sizable piles fore each.

But a bit of good news--the last of the seed orders I placed last week came in today.  And I got three free packs of seeds with it--bachelor buttons, love-in-a-mist, a purple radish.  I got some love-in-a-mist last year that didn't do well.  I have to review what I did and make changes.  Hopefully, it will do nicely this year.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Good morning to Everyone out there.  If the weather people are right we should see a good bit of our snow melt away today.  The predicted temperature in the low 40s with rain should make sure of that.  Temperatures over the week will hang just about the freezing point.

I am ignoring the primaries as much as possible.  I don't see any real choice for me in these candidates.  Besides, as an independent I can't vote unless I register as a party member and then only to choose between the candidates in that party.  I find it hard to choose the lesser of the evils when there are hardly any good points on any of their platforms.  Mitt Romney--well, if a man wants the presidency so badly he will repudiate all of his previous actions in the political arena and espouse the most right wing fringe ideas I have no use for him and he should not be elected.  Newt Gingrich--do we really want a serial hypocrite?  I think it is incredibly cynical of him to insist that his marital infidelity should remain private when he led the charge to impeach a President for the same.  And remember the standard for impeachment is 'high crimes and misdemeanors.'  It doesn't really matter that the impeachment failed.  It does matter that he supported impeachment for actions he has engaged in himself.  Rick Santorum--I really don't care to have his religiosity influence the laws that govern me.  I don't mind if these sanctimonious (choose your preferred descriptor--I've used my favorites way too much) hold to their chosen religious dictates but I deeply resent them imposing them on me.  I am not a member of their churches.  Ron Paul--I can respect the man for hewing to his principles.  They just aren't mine.  I don't mind the notion of self-reliance, in moderation.  But I do resent the notion of 'you're on your own' in a society where we really have to depend on the good behavior and benevolence of others, corporate and individual.  Right now we can't expect either.

We are busily cleaning and rearranging things here.  Getting that new TV and stand means we have to find a new place for the old stand/entertainment center.  It is too nice a storage area to get rid of and it would be in our way until one of the family decided to come and get it--if any of them would want it at all.  And unless we are giving away something they really want and have a tight time frame, they might take weeks (or more) to pick up the item.  We found a place for the old cabinet but to fit it in we had to completely re-arrange our sewing/storage room.  That is exhausting since it involved moving five of six file cabinets, a heavy desk, and two 8ft bookcases.  After that we have to go through everything and rearrange what we keep so we know what we have.  That is going to take a while.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Good Saturday to all of you out there.  Well, most of the snow has passed.  We ended up with somewhere  between 7 and 9 inches.  They say we should get some sun before a new system comes in--but that one should bring rain.   In other words, we can expect a slushy mess starting tomorrow.  Till then--cold.

Baker Creek has been very good, Nicola.  This is the second year I have ordered from them.  Everything has performed pretty much as described.  We did get a couple of items that we won't grow again.  We didn't really like the flavor of the little melon we tried last year but it grew well and produced well for anyone who might like it.  The Vietnamese pepper was really beautiful and prolific but it was a bit too hot for our needs.  But the little Dragon's Egg cucumber was marvelous and the Black Peony poppy (which would have done better if the gardener had been more experienced) was really pretty.  You are right on the time difference--6 hours between Chicago and London.

Chris Martenson posted this interesting article on an experiment I have read about off and on for a while now.  I have seen a lot about the local food movement but this one focuses on 'locally sourced' clothing.

Didn't see much worth commenting on and I have some housekeeping to do so I will stop now.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Good morning, Everyone.  We expect snow today and it is very cold.  Only 15F on the patio and half that according to the morning news out of Chicago.  How much snow?  They have no idea.  Their models are all over the place--anything from 2 to 9 inches.

I saw a bit of Morgan's testimony on  CNN, I think.  He came off very badly.  I don't watch any of the talking head shows.  I find they are, as a rule, loud, rude, and very biased while shedding very little light on the issues.  I haven't watched any of Piers Morgan.  I am not surprised that, so far, the Murdocks have been treated lightly--money buys you a lot of gentle consideration--and would not be surprised if they got off with a slap on the wrist.  The story has disappeared almost entirely from our news.  I hope, Nicola, that somehow our political and legal critters finally come back to the notion that criminal actions should receive the appropriate criminal penalties.  But I am not holding my breath.

Well, this has certainly come full circle.  For decades manufacturers have moved jobs out of the U.S. to foreign parts where they could get workers at slave labor rates and our politicians have castigated us because we weren't willing to take any back-breaking, lousy paying, no benefits jobs just to starve a bit slower.  Now Canadian workers are being threatened with the loss of their jobs which the company wants to move--to Muncie, Indiana where we desperate Americans are willing to work for lousy pay and no benefits.

What a day!!!  Our TV went out--right in the middle of a DVD.  It was getting power but it wouldn't navigate between the cable and the blue ray player.  It wasn't a total surprise; we just didn't expect it so suddenly.  So we made a quick trip to Best Buy and found a very nice one.  Brought it home along with a new entertainment center.  We had to put that together which took a couple of hours.  Actually it wasn't actually hard but neither of us are limber or as strong as we once were so we are now aching and exhausted.  It looks good and we finally figured out the TV.  I really hate getting new electronics.  Figuring them out is always a pain.  Something really strange though--we couldn't get the TV to function at all when the blue ray was plugged into the new surge protector with the cable box and TV.  Once we moved it into an older surge protector everything starting working.  I know several bloggers who don't use TV or cable but we can go that route  only if we have no alternative.

On a good note: the first of my seeds have arrived.  Baker Creek really processed and mailed the order fast.  I only placed it Tuesday.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Good morning to you all.  We had a bit of snow overnight with more to come today and tomorrow.  Between 5 and 6 inches here unless the forecast changes.  And the temperatures are dropping from the high 20s to the mid teens over the course of today.  Well we still have a month-and-a-half of winter.  And I am grateful that the season has been mild to date.

I have already turned off the broadcast TV news.  They are spending way too much time on the dramatics of the nomination battle and too little on the substance--as though any of those clowns have much in the way of substance.  Huntsman was the only really serious candidate and he has dropped out.  I was nearly sick when the, again, noted that Palin has endorsed Gingrich and Newt answered that there would be a place in a Gingrich administration for her.  That alone is reason enough to pray he doesn't get the nomination and isn't elected if he does.  Under the circumstances, I don't know whether to cheer this news, if true, or be more concerned.  If Perry drops out of the race that means one less clown in the parade.  Unfortunately, his supporters would gravitate toward either Santorum or Gingrich, which is scary.

On a much brighter note--we used white vinegar for the laundry experiment, Nicola.  We keep a couple of gallons on hand because, a couple or three times a week, I boil our tap water to filter for making coffee and tea, and the vinegar takes the crusted calcium deposits out of the pot very nicely.  I use elbow grease when necessary but only when I can't find an easier way to accomplish my task.  We find that we have gone back to a lot of old (sometimes very old) processes over time.  Vinegar is a lot less toxic and equally, if not more, effective than many of the modern 'conveniences.'

Well, I would say that this is a good start but I would still like to see criminal charges.  And I think it was too hypocritical of Murdock to be supporting SOPA and PIPA while illegally tapping into phones and e-mail.

The Washington Post published this article summarizing the SOPA and PIPA debate.  I have a couple of questions about this issue.  First, the measures won't even effectively address the core problem the sponsors originally wanted to attack--foreign sources of pirated movies and music.  They already have legal remedies for home-grown pirates.  Please tell me how this would have gone after pirates located outside the U.S.  Second--Senator Leahy says he wanted to provide legal protections for 'third party' entities from legal penalties for complying with court orders.  Question--don't they already have that?  One has to comply with court orders.  Question--could people like me have their sites shut down for linking, as I have this morning, to articles, etc.  I put in the links to credit the sources for the ideas and facts, and because I think anyone who reads my comments should have the opportunity to judge for themselves whether I have dealt fairly with my sources.  If I were writing an academic piece it would be called 'footnoting.'  I can agree that piracy, whether of digital content or counterfeit physical goods, is a costly problem but surely there are more effective and less intrusive way to combat it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Good frigid Wednesday morning to you all.  The temperature on our patio is only 15F--or was when I checked it about two hours ago.  I have a very unhappy cat.  Kuma simply doesn't understand why I won't open the door.  And he doesn't understand why I allowed all that cold, wet, white stuff fall all over HIS hunting ground.

I agree, Nicola.  I also love the name given to some of plants.  All of the ones I ordered yesterday are heirloom varieties.  You might find a source for such seeds over there.  I don't know if my sources could ship to the UK.  But Baker Creek is noted for collecting seeds from all over the world.  Last year I planted a Vietnamese Multi-color pepper, two French lettuces, and a variety of cucumber they found in Croatia.  The pepper was spectacular but it is more decorative, in my opinion, than useful.  I have always had a difficult time with lettuce but I will try again with a different planting plan.  The cucumber was very successful.  Mom usually doesn't like cucumbers but she loved these--sweet and thin skinned.  I sliced, spiced and froze several some of which went really well in potato salad and in lettuce salads.  The 'vine peach' is actually a little melon (sometimes listed as 'mango melon) and was originally cultivated by native Americans.  The nice thing about heirloom, open pollinated varieties--if we really like them I can save the seeds at the end of the season for next year.  I am not as dedicated to heirlooms as some others.  The Burpee varieties I plan to get are all hybrids.  I do draw a line--I don't want anything to do with GMO plants but. so far, those are largely cash crop plants.  I grew a yellow cherry from transplant last year and we loved it.  I planned to grow the Burpee Supersweet 100 but ordered the chocolate cherry on an impulse.  I still plan to buy the seeds for the Supersweet and decide later which I will grow.  I keep my extra seeds in baggies in the refrigerator so they last 5+ years.  My Big Rainbow and Brandywine seeds are going on their fourth year.

Yesterday was laundry day and, Lois, as I promised here is a report on the effect of the vinegar.  Mom soaked  our dish cloths in vinegar and wrung them out before putting one in the dryer with each load.  Compared with clothes and linens dried with dryer sheets yesterday's laundry actually actually came out either as soft or a bit softer.  Enough to decide us to drop the sheets and go with vinegar.  Added benefit--we are no longer exposed to the volatile chemicals in the dryer sheets (which are also present in the liquid softeners.)  Mom thought we could use the sheets we had left as sachets in our drawers but when she opened one labeled as lavender scented there wasn't any scent at all.  She threw the sheets away and I promised her sprigs from my lavender plants this summer.

We just had a good laugh.  Mom is on her computer looking up some new recipes because she has some chicken soup to make up.  She found one that sounded good: Chicken Soup with herb dumplings.  Problem:  it is vegetarian and contains no chicken.  She is continuing her search.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Good morning, everyone.  We have rain that should change to snow shortly.  A lot of the snow we got at the end of last week is gone--except for the small mountains where the snow plows piled what they scooped up.  As came down the stairs this morning and looked out the window in the front door I thought it was either getting foggy or we had a very dirty window.  Well looking out now we can hardly see across the street.  The fog has really rolled in.  And the temperature has risen to 40F.

Hi, Nicola.  Thanks.  Update on the weather--we have a fine snow blowing around outside.  Mom said the thermometer on the patio was reading just at 32F so the temperature had dropped 8 degrees in just over an hour.  We aren't expecting more than an inch or two but the news is saying the East Coast might just get slammed.

I am already disgusted with the morning broadcast news.  It has shifted to the fluff all too quickly.  So I put on Pandora and am perusing the internet for interesting items.  So far nothing much.  I will see what happens as I go along.

This BBC report echoes several stories I have read over the last few days  It triggered a memory of a story I saw on one or another news program (on NHK World I think about a month ago).  The slant of that story was somewhat different and concerned efforts to both make antibiotic treatment more affordable (sometimes free) for India's slum dwellers at the same time making it easier for the patients to stay on the long term treatment.  It takes six to nine month of continuous antibiotic treatment to effectively treat TB.  Like many American, Indians often stop taking the drugs when they start feeling better.  One of the reports covered what I think is a minor controversy: whether the cases represent a truly totally-drug resistant form of TB or is merely another extremely-drug resistant strain.  A distinction with no true difference, I think.  But evidently there is some good news on this front: according to WHO the numbers of cases declined last year for the first time since the organization started keeping records.

I just took a break and placed 3 of my seed orders.  Sounds like a lot but involved only 3 packets from each.  I am leaving the Burpee order for later in the month when Menards should have their extensive Burpee display up.  I remember they carried a couple of the seeds I wanted and may have others.  I will still have plenty of time even if they don't to order directly.  So what did I get?  Here is the list--

Schumway--tansy, pyrethrum, and chocolate cherry tomatoes
Jung--Butterbush squash, cabbage babies (small versions of red and green cabbage), vine peach
Baker Creek--lipstick sweet pepper, albino bullnose sweet pepper, lemon squash

Should be an interesting year in the garden--but then aren't they all.

To continue with something far more dismal, Joshua Brown at Reformed Broker posted this bit that should scare the pants off anyone who has a JP Morgan Chase credit card.  And I would extend the caution and skepticism to any of the other too-big-to-fail banks.  If JPM was carrying the robo-signing fraud over to credit cards you can bet their competition did so also--to some extent.

I follow a few bloggers who tat.  Every now and then I find something unusual as here at Suztats.  I keep telling my self that one of these days I will get out my needles and get serious about tatting.  Sigh--something always seems to draw me away.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Hello, All.  Didn't see much yesterday worth a comment or even worth a read.  I spent a couple of hours on that cross stitch tablecloth that has languishing by my chair for months.  Glory be,  I am almost three quarters done.  I need to clean up upstairs so I can find the crochet edging patterns and select one for the finish.  Other than that--not much going on here.

I love this bit from Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism--

 I once saw an exhibition on Indian art that featured crows, and the display included a considerable discussion of corvid intelligence. One scientist was quoted saying something like, “The stories you hear about the intelligence of most animals are exaggerated, but with corvids, they are understated.” The only anecdote I recall was a man was trying to frustrate a crow by giving him more than he could carry away (there was a reason I now forget why it was clear the crow would take any food and go). He tossed two doughnuts at him. The crow immediately stuck his beak through the hole in one, grabbed the other, and took off.

Maha has an interesting take on the Obama Presidency.  Thought provoking and I am going to have to digest the notion a bit.  I am reminded of a change in assessment of a previous President, Dwight D. Eisenhower.  During and Immediately after his term, many thought him timid and ineffective on many counts.  A generation later newer historians suddenly discovered a different Eisenhower--cunning, effective in achieving his goals, and restrained rather than timid.  I have not been a great fan of Obama.  He is far too restrained for my tastes but then perhaps he has been more effective than I have recognized.  Further cogitation required.

Nor am I a great fan of Fareed Zakaria but he also, every now and then, says something that rings a bell in my mind.  He does that with this post on the possibilities that oil prices will decline soon because the demand for oil is in relatively low and not likely to pick up soon.  I have read only a couple of other posts (and those were some time ago) that talked about the price levels oil producing countries needed in order to meet their governmental budgets.  This Reuters report lends credence to Zakaria's point.  

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Good morning to you all.  Still dark here at about 6:30 though that won't be when this is actually published.  It takes me most of the morning to go through my e-mail, news sites, google alerts, and blog roll.  Let's see what I find today.

MSNBC reports this morning that the State of New York is partnering with a Malaysian company to build a resort casino/convention center on the outskirts of New York City.  New York's plans are, evidently, a response to recently passed legislation passed in Massachusetts which would allow as many as three casinos to be built.  I have watched similar measures working through the Illinois legislature.  Chicago badly wants its own casino to alleviate severe budgetary problems.  I view these efforts with a skeptical and, some might say, cynical eye.  The article mentions that the casinos may not generate as much revenue as the politicians hope as gamblers shift their expenditures from other consumption and the associated taxes drop.  I am also not a great fan of the state profiting off of vice.  Over the last several years we have watched the so-called 'sin taxes' go up as cities and states struggled to rake in more revenue.  And with each increase in the tax the revenue from tobacco and alcohol actually declined.  I remember reading a history on late Czarist Russia which described the social and economic problems stemming from rampant alcoholism.  But the government wouldn't seriously address the problem because vodka taxes provided a very large part of the government's income.  Evidently the fiscal needs of the state trump the good of its people.

Good to see you are back on, Lois.  I agree with you about Mittens and the rest of the Repthuglican pack. They are all bad news.  We have become a big dysfunctional family.  I noticed that the McConnell et at. are making nice noises over Obama's proposal they give him the power to consolidate departments and get rid of the Commerce Dept.  Let's see how long it lasts.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Good morning on this cold Saturday when January has finally made an appearance.  We got about five inches of snow yesterday.  Thankfully, our landlord hires a lawn care company to remove the snow outside our patio fence so all we have to worry about is the path from the back door to the gate and to the shed.  I was able to shovel that without any trouble at all.  The lake effect snow stayed east and north of us.  The news said that some of those areas got a foot or more.

With the economic melt down and the presidential election year we have heard a lot about 'reforming' entitlements and reducing government expenditures but we haven't heard much about other kinds of social programs built into our tax code that benefits mainly the well-heeled.  Huffington Post provides a bit of information on that issue.  The most interesting line in the article links the 'tax expenditures' to the recurring bubbles that have burst over the last ten years.

Casey Daily Dispatch posted this interesting article this morning.  I might be able to pooh-pooh the conclusions except for several thoughts.  Bush put all of the expenses for fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq off the books.  The public never knew how much the wars cost or how they would be paid for or what we couldn't afford because we had to pay for the wars.  Since Obama entered the White House our political class has been negotiating with the military over how much of a 'cut' the Pentagon would accept. There was no discussion of what we could afford or how effective our military has been given how much we are spending.  Also all these negotiations are reported in a kind of double speak.  The 'cuts' are touted as though they would reduce the current level of spending but in fact are never scheduled to take effect for a year or more down the road and they only reduce the rate of 'increase.'  So in the end the military budget is going to go up just not as much as originally planned.  And, lastly, we have seen the 'militarization' of all law enforcement at every level over the last 10 years as well as the creation of several new para-military agencies.  I would say the author is right on and the military 'tail' is definitely beginning to wag the political/economic dog.  I would love to know if there are any historical examples where the political/economic power ever were able to reign in the military without a major collapse a la Rome or Nazi Germany.

The Daily Mail had this story today which hasn't appeared on our local news radar--at least not yet.  Although companies have not yet been declared persons by the U.S. Supreme Court (for any purpose), the problems dealing with them are are not very different.  Here the company failed to comply with a court order but the 84-year-old owner of that company and its president are both trying to wriggle out of personal responsibility for that failure.  The judge rejected that and has ordered both jailed until the company has completed the bridge project that is the focus of the court order which may take a year.  The problem here is one of dispersed or diffused responsibility.  Who do you hold responsible?  This is a bridge but what about environmental pollution or other more dangerous possibilities?  I liked one blogger's quip on corporate persons: he would believe in corporate personhood when Texas executed one.  This case should be easier--after all, this is a company owned by a specific individual and managed by someone he hired.  It isn't a corporation owned by a whole lot of stock holders whose ownership and responsibility extends no further than the number of shares of stock.  What if the entity involved had been a corporation with 100k stockholders??  Who would go to jail?

Myrddin posted this item on Americablog that led to some deja vu feelings on my part.  Most weekday evenings here we watch NHK English language news from Japan and a frequent story has featured the negotiations between the U.S. and Japanese governments concerning moving our Futema base on Okinawa.  Okinawans don't want it whether at Futema or elsewhere.  But here we see very little of the controversy.  We agree completely with Myrddin that our news media us a great disservice by making assumptions and then presenting them as fact.  We wonder if the European political leaders really want the U.S. military there, or if they merely want the funds those bases bring in.  And do European civilians want us at all?  Or are they as disconnected from their people as the Japanese government appears to be on this issue?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Good morning, Everyone.  Well, we finally got our first significant snow of the season.  And it brings much lower temperatures with it.  I wish I had the power to put the snow where I would like it, Nicola.  Unfortunately, something or someone (take your pick and name your poison) has considerably more power than I do.  But we were just remarking yesterday, in the wake of the tornadoes in South Carolina, the winter heatwave in California and flooding in Houston, that we don't seem to have our seasons any more.  Tornadoes no longer appear in the spring.  Fire season extends throughout the year.  But to finally get something seasonal makes me feel better and we don't have to go anywhere for the next four days.  During the winter we make sure that we have at least a week's worth of food and necessaries plus a few days.  And substitutes in case the perishables do run out.

The teaser headline on this article ("Winking denial?") seems to reflect a consensus among the news media and bloggers.  I couldn't give you a statistical tally but I get the strong impression that the denials expressed by Secretary of State Clinton have been taken with something more than a pinch of salt.  And the facetious quote from the Israeli general that there seems to have been a rash of suicides among the Iranian nuclear scientists adds to the skeptical reception the denials have received.

Our morning news had a segment on this study this morning.  At least the BBC account more accurately notes that the risk they found involved 'processed' meats.  Our news reader finally mentioned that as a throw-away comment while the trailer on screen harped on the risk from sausage and bacon.  However, the two accounts had one interesting difference:  our local news expert (an M.D.) put the chances into more understandable form.  The BBC report talked about a huge percentage increase in possible incidences of pancreatic cancer with increased consumption.  Sounds horrible to talk about a 30% increase (or something like that).  The local expert said that the actual potential for any individual is about 1.5% which rises to (wait for it!!!)---1.7%.  We found that rather amusing because we only eat bacon or sausage (maybe) 3 or 4 times a month and we either make our own sausage from home ground pork or we buy it from our local meat market which seasons its own onsite ground pork.  Either way--no nitrites.  And our bacon is a brand that smokes it without nitrites.  Either way we don't care to forego the pleasure of bacon or sausage to remove such a small possibility of pancreatic cancer.

This Red Tape article amused me a bit this morning.  I love how the results skewered the agist prejudices so thoroughly.  So grandma and grandpa puttering around the internet aren't the most likely marks for internet scammers.  One factor that no one mentioned in the equation determining who might fall victim to the various scams is experience, unless skepticism is related to experience.  All of the scams I have read about are simply the internet versions of old scams that ran through the phone lines or the mails not long ago.  Thanks to the internet these vermin can reach more people in a shorter time but that is the only difference.  Older people have probably already fallen for the get rich quick schemes, the fake charities, the worthless free gifts to get the 'fantastic' offer and have learned skepticism from the experience.

Gardening has been a growing trend for the last several years--since the financial melt down.  It in't often that a financial page takes note given our highly urbanized society.  Marketwatch has today taken note.  I checked out Gardener's Supply, the site featured in the story, and they have a lot of interesting items.

A year ago the financial pundits were eagerly awaiting the '50 States Attorneys General' agreement to settle the robo-signing scandal.  Then the New York Attorney General Schneiderman balked because the agreement would grant a very large blanket immunity to the financial institutions and short-circuit any state fraud investigations/prosecutions.  Gradually he was joined by a handful of other AGs and now evidently 14 of them are meeting to discuss how to handle investigations and possible prosecutions.  This little item from firedoglake provides the story and some of the background.  And Yves Smith, who has covered this story at Naked Capitalism since it began, has this take here.  My own take on this mess: fraud is fraud and is a crime.  To give the fraudsters a pass because they claim they are too big and systemically valuable to be forced to obey the law or to penalize for their crimes is simply to abandon any idea of a legal/justice system.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Good morning on this cloudy Thursday.  We had some nice sun yesterday and the temperature may have hit 50F.  We won't see that for a while.  The news and weather people were mourning the passing of the unseasonal warmth and the 'cold' weather coming.  The temperatures they were dreading are actually normal for this time of the year.  Just in case, I got into the shed and pulled out our sidewalk salt and the snow shovel.  I use 'salt' as a generic term--we get the environmentally friendly kind that won't harm plants, etc.  We may get 3 to 5 inches of snow from the coming storm but just east of us they have predicted a major lake effect snowfall.  We are close enough to  get involved in that.  Hope not.

I reviewed some of the preloaded web sites after Nicola suggested I explore BBC and find out whether I could receive the BBC radio.  Well, I found that I can and I also found that the site had been preloaded along with a number of others.  As happens too often, I simply got into a rut and clicked on my usual sites without thinking.  I will have to explore the BBC and other sites more thoroughly.

Almost every news outlet has been carrying stories trying to dissect the assassination of that Iranian nuclear scientist.  The BBC radio discussion I tapped into earlier had it as did the CNN interview of a Washington politician (sorry, I didn't get the guy's name), and this article on the CNN site.  We were annoyed with the CNN reporter when she asked her target if the U.S. had any culpability in the murder.  If the man had any real authority in the State Department he wouldn't answer the question and if he answered the question we can be sure he didn't have any real information.  And the question of whether the U.S. had anything to do with the crime (and it was a crime) is all that important.  The BBC piece noted that whatever the actual facts of the situation the episode has further complicated U.S.-Iranian relations which were already mightily complicated and tense.  What matters is perception.  Right now the Iranian government is spinning the story as one of U.S.-Israeli attempts to undermine Iran's nuclear program.  If you think perception doesn't matter just remember the Bush Administration's weapons of mass destruction that provided the justification for our 'adventure' in Iraq.  They didn't exist but that only matters after the fact--to the historians.

Sorry you had trouble with blogger through your server, Lois.  I will be sure to post on the vinegar experiment.  Hope you get the server problems straightened out--again.

Charles Hugh Smith has a good article posted at oftwominds this morning.  We don't often think about medical care and the consequences of our modern techniques.  Our society is fixated on 'more life at all costs' not on quality of life while receiving treatment.  It is amazing to me that effective treatments for various conditions while providing a good quality of life are to expensive for most people without insurance at the same time that we push treatments for other conditions that only extend life weeks or months (at best) but destroying any adequate quality of that life.  Karoli at Crooks & Liars describes exactly the problem I am talking about.  How many of us can afford to pay $6-700 per month on medications, even effective medications?  I agree with Smith--we don't have 'sick care' not health care.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Good morning to you all.

I found the BBC site, Nicola.  Will have to explore it more but I think it may play.  I have bookmarked it. I am getting quite a collection of foreign news sites.  I will go back to it later after we get back from taking the car in for a repair.

I wonder if the European politicians advocating 'austerity' thought about this possibility.

I have been following this kind of story for several years now.  About 25 years ago a history professor who specialized in western water law told me that the Colorado River no longer reached the Gulf of California.  At that same time I was reading a memoir of a cavalry wife, Vanished Arizona, in which she described traveling to her husband's new post by way of paddle wheelers on the Colorado.  In the space of 100 years we had so confined, dammed, and diverted the water that her journey in the 1880s would have been impossible in the 1980s.

This piece led to a quick internet search and some discussion.  We have used dryer sheets forever and never really thought much about what they used in them.  Lately we have become very disenchanted because they don't seem to work.  Now we have another reason to be dissatisfied--the chemicals.  And we found that none of the ingredients are listed on either of the two brands of dryer sheets we have in our laundry space.  I had thought that maybe we should use white vinegar in the rinse cycle.  But mom is going to try soaking a cloth in vinegar and putting it in with the dryer load.  If that doesn't work we will try the rinse cycle addition.  We wish we could hang out the clothes in good weather but we don't have any room to do that.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Good morning, Everyone.  Sunny this morning and the weather people say the temps will get to about 50F.  Reality is supposed to set in Thursday and Friday when the temps will be more normal with the possibility of snow.  The local news presented its usual gardening feature and evidently their experts have been getting questions about tulips and other early flowers emerging.  A lot of plants are confused.

We have had some few stories over here about Murdoch, Nicola.  Usually, the stories hit the news when one of our celebrities have been involved.  A couple of stories popped up when the Senate, I think it was, threatened to hold hearings and when one or another of our criminal investigative organizations or financial regulators made noises about investigating.  I haven't heard much about the investigations in the UK but I am not surprised by that.  I find I get more information from the internet than from our mainstream media.  Unless there is some drama (like the pie in the face episode) stories never get past the filter that considers endless stories about Beyonce's baby more news worthy.  I expect the mess will go on for a long time.  We never seem to get resolutions on these corruption cases for years and then the punishments are mere slaps on the wrist without any admission of guilt.  I wonder how high up in the British and American governments the slime goes.  I haven't heard anything about the efforts some on the boards of Murdoch's companies to get father and son out.  I hadn't heard of Sky News.  I found it on line but its video doesn't work with my computer and my cable carrier doesn't offer it.  From what little I have seen the Murdochs appear to have taken arrogance and sleaze to all new artistic levels.

And I am not surprised about the concerns, Lois, over what a reduced military might mean.  Although I am reserving judgement about exactly how 'reduced' it will be.  All of the hoopla over the automatic cuts that were supposed to go into effect made it sound as though those would be actual cuts in the amount of money the Pentagon would get now.  However, the cuts involved future increases in the budgets not anything immediate.  And a good many of our legislative critters, of both parties and both houses, are furiously trying to figure a way around the mandated cuts.  What I don't see in any of the debates is any consideration of just how effective our trillion-dollar-a-year military is just how effective it has been of the last 60 years.  And by what criteria do we judge effectiveness.  Unfortunately, I think Catwoman's assessment of the rent-a-cops in Batman Returns is right on here:  too many of our politicians "confuse their pistols (the military) with their privates'.  Unfortunately, I think the military towns (here and abroad) are going to face the same problems that many other towns that depend on only a few employers will face if (when?) that employer leaves.  Take a look at Detroit.  Or at some of the towns affected by the last big round of base closings under Reagan.  And, also unfortunately, the means by which our political leaders made those cuts (a dedicated commission whose recommendations had to be voted on in and up-or-down process without amendment) probably won'd work this time.  Look at the results from the deficit commission and the so-called Supercommittee.

The evening news yesterday carried a similar story to this one.  It was only a mention and one story noted that the figures included the debts owed by one government department to another (read the treasury bonds held by Social Security as an example.)  What I find interesting in all of these economic stories is how nicely the numbers can be trimmed to get the results desired for whatever purpose.  If you eliminate the debts owed between government agencies suddenly the debt is 70% of GDP.  But honestly, debt is debt.

The teaser headline on this article was 'Be it ever so humble,' but there is nothing humble about the homes of the main GOP contenders.  And these boys are trying to convince us that they are 'regular' guys who really understand the problems the rest of us face.

A couple of days ago I linked to the Self Sufficient Gardener noting that I liked his writing but disagreed with his point.  Evidently, that post was somewhat tongue in cheek.  That went totally over my head.  His newest post indicates a far more adventurous spirit.   And I had to look up 'naranjilla' because I had never heard of it.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Good morning, Everyone.  Still dark here but it looks like the day will be sunny.  We are still in a warm pattern until later in the week when colder weather is supposed to come in.  That colder weather is, for the most part, predicted to be normal for this time of the year.  I hadn't heard about using bubble wrap for plants, Nicola.  It sounds interesting.  This is the first year I have tried to overwinter hardy plants in the containers.  So far they are all looking good.  I dug out a couple of bricks of cedar shavings Mom had picked up for a project long done and put the shavings around most of the plants.  I also plant to have some late, cold season plants this year and will use my plastic tents to extend the season on them next fall. The nice thing about my very small space is that, if something fails, I can quickly replace it and try something new.  I have several new items (new for me) on my list.  I pulled out my shopping list and will be ordering the seeds I need later this week.

I saw this posted on Natural News as well as here.  I agree the defense Pepsi has put up is a bit insane.  They don't deny the possibility of a customer finding something disgusting in a can of Mountain Dew because their manufacturing process is so tight foreign substances couldn't find their way in.  They deny the possibility because if it had the acid in the product would have completely dissolved it before the customer could possibly have consumed it.  For my part, I never liked Mountain Dew anyway--I found the taste disgusting and I assume there wasn't anything in it that shouldn't have been there.

Undernews had this entry today which echoes a thought I had this morning listening to the news.  Extending the school day by 90 minutes has been a major priority of the Emanuel administration in Chicago ever since he became Mayor.  They bribed a number of schools and teachers last fall to get on the bandwagon while the Union raised a number of very serious objections to the plan including the fact that the teachers would not get additional pay for the extra time and there was no real plan on how that tim should be used.  I have another objection:  the emphasis the current Chicago Public Schools CEO placed on preparing students for college.  So they extend the school day and emphasize the skills the students need for college so those students can spend four years getting a degree only to work as waiters, waitresses, and sales clerks.  That is a royal waste.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Good Sunday morning to you all.  Right now it looks like clear skies today so we should get some nice sun today.  The overnight lows are about where the daytime highs should be and the high--expected to be in the low 40s.  I have read a number of gardeners' blogs, Nicola, and they all say what you did--their plants are thoroughly confused.  What I really worry about is a sudden cold snap that would damage or kill the plants.  Everything I still have in the containers are very hardy but even the most hardy plant can't take sudden extremes.  I am debating putting up my plastic tents early.  However, the lowest temps predicted for the next week should be about normal--high 20s.

I hear you all (Kay, Lois and Nicola).  Computers have made some aspects of our lives so much easier and more convenient.  The only real way to deal with the possible downsides of our technology is to recognize them and plan for dealing with the possible consequences.  But that goes for all of our technology.

Crooks & Liars noted Rick Perry's notion expressed at last night's 'debate' that he would send troops back into Iraq.  Good Morning America showed the clip but without comment.  How absolutely stupid can one person be??  We should never have gone into Iraq in the first place and did so only because the Bush administration stampeded us with the claims they had proof of 'weapons of mass destruction.'  Rick Perry now wants us to go back to keep Iran from going back in.  Iran wasn't a major influence in Iraq until we got rid of Saddam.  Nor was Al Qaeda.  It seems to me that our invasion of Iran produced just the results we wanted to avoid.  How many times must we shoot ourselves in the foot?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Good morning, All.  Thank you, Lois and Nicola.  We are feeling a bit better.  The only thing that really works for colds is time and relieving the symptoms as much as possible.  Thankfully, neither of us has anything pressing to take us out of the house.

This is interesting in light of yesterday's story about computer (in)security.  The fact that Symantec may have been hacked by way of a cyberattack on the Indian military reveals just how vulnerable computer systems anywhere are.

I can relate to your caution with respect to on-line banking, Lois.  It has made a lot about our lives easier but the worry about a failure in the system, for whatever reason, is never far from my mind.  Computers have so invaded our lives that it is almost inconceivable how we would get along without them and the internet.  My nephew remarked, at one of our family gatherings, that his oldest daughter was very impatient when internet content didn't load fast enough for her.  He remembered how much slower such operations were only five or ten years ago.  I reminded him of when every program you used had to be loaded from floppy discs because nothing except operating software was permanently installed and the only 'internet' option was dial-up.  I am not really a Luddite but I am very uneasy depending on something that nature or man can take away easily.

A couple of weeks ago I read a news story about Hispanic Americans getting caught up in immigrations sweeps and being kept in jails until they proved their citizenship status.  I wondered then what would happen if and American citizen were deported during these procedures.  This story gives an idea.  I will grant that the girl did lie to immigration officials but what did they do to confirm her story??  It looks like they didn't do much if anything.  Don't you think they might have gotten suspicious when a 15-year-old African American girl claiming to be a 21-year-old Columbian woman does''t speak Spanish??  I guess intelligence is not part of the qualifications for the job.

I have noted before how unusual our weather has been.  We aren't the only ones experiencing very warm temperatures this winter as you can see from this article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  A 60F day in western Minnesota during the first week of January???  In the last week of December one of the local (Chicago) weather people said that December had been so warm that to get a 'normal' average for meteorological winter (Dec through Feb) we would have to post highs well below freezing for the rest of the season.  Normal high today is 31F but we expect temperatures to reach the low 40s after posting a 55 yesterday.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Good morning on this first Friday of the new year.  Again warmer than normal--by a lot.  They were saying that an ungodly number of record high temps were set yesterday.   And the weather people expect that to continue for the next week.  I am not a great fan of cold weather but I do like my weather to be seasonal and it hasn't been for a long while.  This erratic weather with unseasonal temps is not good for the plants--as the freeze in Florida shows.  Expect higher prices for orange juice--again.

I have read more and more of my favorite bloggers saying that their accounts (e-mail, blog, or other) have been hacked of late, Nicola.  It is totally annoying even though I did get things back to normal quickly.  We do have cell phones--only.  A few years ago we decided to eliminate the land line.  It seemed to us that the only ones who called us on the land lines were telemarketers and wrong numbers.  We preferred having cells as a safety measure while driving around.  I can sympathize with your problem because I used to live in an area where cell reception was spotty and unreliable.

Continuing on the theme of hacking, Red Tape posted a warning about a very scary new virus that can allow a hacker to steal your banking log-in info, use it in fraudulent transactions, and hide the fact from you when you check your account--as the experts have recommended.  And expert quoted at the end of the article recommends that one simply avoid getting the virus into one's system in the first place.  My question--HOW??

Let's see what I can do today.  We have both been fighting through colds so we spend much of the day sleeping or vegetating.  We only do what we absolutely have to as we get the energy--which isn't all that often right now.  They had a story on the news last night and this morning which claimed that driving with a cold is the equivalent to driving drunk.  Yeah, but how do you get around that.  You can choose to not drink when you know you have to drive but you can't choose not to get a cold.  Call in sick??  Yeah, try that with some of the bosses I have known!!

Karoli posted this at Crooks & Liars this morning.  I think anyone who goes into politics these days have had to have their common sense surgically removed, along with their hearts and consciences if they are Repthuglican.  The attack on compulsory education I could dismiss as an aberration if I hadn't read some months ago of an effort by some Repthuglican to directly rescind such laws in Missouri.  It is ironic that on the one hand we are told that for this country to be competitive globally we have to have an educated work force and on the other we see these efforts to kill primary and secondary education as a public enterprise.  As to the move to require any legislation to be justified with a specific article of the Magna Carta--obviously those boy haven't read the document thoroughly or considered the wisdom of tying modern laws into an 800-year-old straight jacket.  Although it is very much related to the Christianist view of putting all of us into a 2000-year-old straight jacket that has been modified many times in the intervening time and which most of them haven't read (or understood) thoroughly.

Well, I think I need a nap.  Take care and see you next time.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Good morning to you all.  Unseasonably warm again today.  Much of the snow has melted at least in the sunny areas.  Most of the next week should be the same if the weather people are accurate.

The Repthuglican Traveling Clown Circus has moved from Iowa, which can go back to the insignificance in which it usually exists, to New Hampshire, which will bask in its quadrennial spotlight until after its primary.  Politics is such a strange game.  John McCain decided to endorse Romney whom he described as honest and straightforward--ignoring the fact that he characterized Romney as a 'flip-flopper' during the last Presidential primary cycle.  Bachmann is out but Perry has decided to stay in.  And not a single Repthuglican isn't pandering to the Religious Right.  Damn!!!

Damn on another front!!  Hotmail froze my account this morning because someone hacked in and used it to send a bunch of e-mails.  I had to give them my cell phone number and get a code to unlock it.  I don't know what would be a good enough punishment for the @$$hole.  Oh, well the account is back.

Hey, Kay, you may have gotten the lake effect snow that set up just east of us and affected Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.  Hope our warmer weather comes your way.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hello, Everyone.  About 10F warmer than yesterday at this time.  We are on the upward trajectory for temperature and the next week looks to be in the 40s.  Mom always says that one extreme follows the other.  Last winter was unusually cold and snowy.  So far this one has been warmer than usual with very little snow.  Most of our precipitation has come in the form of rain.  However, we have two more months of winter, if you count from December 1, or three, if you count from the Solstice.  Either way it is certainly not nearly over.

Sorry about your garden, Nicola.  I know weather happens but that doesn't mean I have to like the results of it.  'Pitching' is an Americanism for 'throwing out'.  Here that is reserved for something that is worn beyond any repair or use.  Not many things get to that point.  I have an old nightgown that though not reparable will be cut up into strips that can be crocheted into rugs, mats, or bags.  When I check my t-shirts some of them will go that route also.  If I can put something, or part of something, to a new use I generally do that.

I was wondering how you were doing with the weather out there, Lois.  I remember some of the fantastic snows we got in Ft. Collins that seemed to melt away as quickly as they came.  Hope your boys aren't as bummed out as Kuma is here.  He doesn't understand that his fur coat is only partial protection agains the kind of cold we had over the last couple of days.  Nor was he at all happy when I opened to door and he got a blast of snow in the face thanks to the high winds.  He suddenly decided he didn't want to go out after all while, of course, he blamed me for not doing something about that awful white stuff.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Good morning to you all.  We have sun but still have a few snow flakes fluttering down.  Later I will go out and clear the doors and paths on the patio and clear what is left on the car.  The landscaping people who work for our landlord have already cleared the sidewalks outside the patios.  The high winds that came with the snow cleared a lot of the snow so it won't be too strenuous.  I did have to go out (thankfully before the temperature dipped below cold into the frigid range) and settled the milk jug cloches more firmly over my blueberries.  They have lost most of their leaves but the stems are still nicely green so I have hopes they will survive the winter in good shape.

Nicola's comment on my last post reminded me of the changes in my attitudes toward snow over my lifetime.  As a child I loved the snow.  I can remember only one time when we had enough snow at one go to cause officials to cancel school so an impromptu vacation was not likely but the cold weather provided the opportunity for different sports and activities.  But as an adult I found the snow simply an inconvenience at best and a danger at worst.  I remember a couple of real hairy almost serious crashes because I had to go out in nasty weather for whatever job I had at the time.  Luckily I emerged from those without even a dented fender.  Now I can relax and enjoy the season because I don't have to go out in the weather.  I have been retired for three winters now and was unemployed for two before that.  We carefully choose when we go out on our errands and make sure we can hunker down for at least a week or more in case we do get snowed in.  Even the big blizzard last winter only kept us homebound for five days while we got the patio shoveled, the landscaping crew cleared the sidewalks, and the city plowed the streets.  It looks rather pretty outside now with the sun on the snow.  I can enjoy it.

This is going to be an unusual day and probably the first of many.  With the new year I have a lot of sorting, pitching, and donating to do  and at the same time clean up the room that has become a catch all over the last few months ago.  We used to spend a lot of time there because that was where our computers were.  When Mom's old iMac died and mine was dying, we got a pair of low end MacBooks.  Since they are wireless equipped laptops we moved our computer use downstairs to the living room unless we have to use the printer (which isn't wireless.)  As a result that room has become a disaster area which really must be cleaned up.  So I do a bit and take a break with the computer, do another task and take a break with the computer, etc.  Right now I am taking a break from my first task--clearing out the storage bins that held (originally) my out of season clothes.  I have three empty small bin, one half filled large bin, and two bags of clothes that will find new homes via the Goodwill store.

The Self Sufficient Gardener has an interesting post but I don't think I will follow his advice totally.  I agree with his assessment of ground cherry having tried it last year.  I found the taste more like a very dilute strawberry drink--not enough flavor.  Although it produced well, I will put in strawberries.  But I like trying different and unusual plants and I look for plants that are suitable for our climate.  I put in my old faithfuls--tomatoes and peppers--but try some new items each year.  Some I won't try again (ground cherry and Tigger melon) because we didn't like the flavor.  Some because the plants don't really play nicely with what I already have.  But I have found some gems--the Dragon's Egg cucumber and stevia.  I have to balance two factors--I only have several large containers and that limited space will not under any conceivable circumstance provide enough to totally take care of our needs.  As such my gardens will always be evolving which makes it ever new.

Grist posted this item today which explains why we don't buy our groceries at Wal-Mart and haven't for  several years now.  But we have found lately that we have to be careful of our local groceries as well.  A while ago I recounted how we put back some margarine (a name brand, at that) because, from the oily residue on the packages and the carton they came in, it was clear that the product had not been kept at a proper temperature and had partly melted.  We also do not buy the bagged salad greens--that is simply asking for food poisoning.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Good morning, Everyone, on this first Monday of the new year.  We woke to snow--light for now.  The weather service has a winter storm warning out for northern Indiana beginning just east of us.  How much we get depends entirely on how this system sets up because we are on the edge of the snow bands coming off Lake Michigan.  But by the end of the week we should be back in the high 30s and low 40s.

I don't know how people afford fireworks either, Nicola.  But then some of my spending would probably amaze those who buy fireworks.  I just wish they had a quieter sort of frivolous spending.

Crabby Old Lady (a.k.a., Ronni Bennett) at Time Goes By expresses my own frustrations with the current election cycle perfectly.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

*******Happy New Year*******

Well, here it is---2012.  It has been a very long time since I partied to bring in a new year and this year did not change the pattern.  We went to bed at our usual time--no champagne, to funny hats.  We did have some idiots who had to shoot off their fireworks and woke me.  I wish they would just go to the nearest 'official' fireworks display.  I also don't do resolutions.  I went through years of making ambitious (over ambitious, perhaps) resolutions that last, at most, a month leaving me feeling guilty.  Instead, I assess what I do throughout the year and plan small changes.

This morning, as on so many over the last month, I looked at the thermometer hanging on the outside of the patio door and wonder if somehow it has broken because the temperature it registered was way too warm.  Well, like every other such morning, the morning news confirmed the thermometer.  The new year is continuing the old year's pattern.  Unseasonably warm days punctuated with normal or slightly below temperatures.  The weather people are predicting a 'major' winter storm is coming in and, as usual, how much snow we get will depend on exactly how it sets up and how much 'lake effect' snow comes with it.  But by the end of the week we should see temperatures back in the mid 40s so most of it will not last long.

I wonder if 2012 will continue another pattern from 2011--earthquakes.  Over the weekend Tokyo and Ohio registered quakes--7 in Tokyo and 4 in Ohio.  Luckily no results to match the March quake/tsunami in northeastern Japan, or the Christ Church (New Zealand) quakes, the couple of quakes in eastern Turkey--to name just a few.

I didn't read Krugman's latest, Kay, but what I have noticed most is that they all argue from an ideological/religious bias--and all of these positions are held with a religious fervor that easily matches the intensity of the Wars of Religion of the 16th and 17th centuries.  The problem is that none of the economic models are the absolutes their adherents claim.  Most of them were formulated to explain what recently happened  but, as the phrase that has been attributed to Mark Twain says, history doesn't repeat, it rhymes.  This down turn does not repeat the Great Depression and the Keynesian theories came out of that episode so the prescriptions based on those theories may not work as expected, if at all.  However that doesn't mean I advocate cutting the Federal spending especially not on the social side.  Those kind of cuts simply increase the number of people without jobs and without any means of subsistence.  Most of those who advocate such cuts argue from their own moral bias and they will never feel the pain of the cuts themselves.  As to the politics--well that is basically about what 'we' are going to do and who exactly that 'we' encompasses.  All too often, as I listen to the Repthuglicans, I feel that I am being read out of the 'we.'  Too old, too poor, too dependent on programs that I paid into but now they don't want to continue.