Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Good Tuesday, Everyone.  We had a lot of thunder and lightning last night but not much rain.  The storm line has already moved south of us.  I will have to check the container gardens later to see which need more water.  We plant to cook a couple of the lemon squash for dinner today.  Hope the taste as good as the butternut we had earlier.  Got four trays of spearmint and two of peppermint dried yesterday.  Have to get them ground soon.

Huffington Post asks a very good question this morning.  I have been reading about the various 'Voter ID' laws being pushed by Repthuglican politicians all over the country, including here in Indiana.  Given that there has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud (the major excuse for the laws), that the majority of the people affected adversely (read: disfranchised) are racial minorities, the poor, and the elderly, and some evidence that reducing the rolls of Democrat-leaning voters is the real reason for the push, why hasn't the media covering the story?  My own guess: their corporate masters don't want it covered so they insist on presenting fluff instead.

This is almost unimaginable.  Yesterday India experienced an electrical grid failure that affected 300+ million people (I think I linked to a story).  A population the equivalent to that of the U.S. was without power.  Today, in the same area and some,  the electricity failed for 600+ million.

I noticed the gist of this story on a couple of blogs today and noticed how the mainstream media has totally ignored this gaff by our very clueless Repthuglican presumptive nominee.  On this trip designed to bolster his foreign policy credentials he has insulted the British and the Palestinians, impressed the Solidarity Union with his anti-union stance at the birthplace of Solidarity, and praised the so-efficient Israeli medical system without realizing that it is socialized.  If he didn't have two degrees from Harvard, I would think he failed to graduate from the same schools from which Sarah Palin failed to graduate.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Good day on this last day of July.  Right now we have clouds but they appear to be moving out.  It doesn't look like they will drop any rain.  I watered well yesterday so I don't think I will have to do it today.  I got three trays of oregano and four of basil dried.  We tried the first new pepper that the tag described as 'spicy.'  We challenge that--it is hot!  We will give those to our maintenance man who loves hot peppers--the hotter the better, he says.  The little bullnose is a keeper--sweet and crunchy.  If the clouds clear out I will harvest some of the mints for drying.

I noticed a story on our TV morning news about a massive power outage in India.  The only surprise was that it was covered at all but then some 300+million people without electricity is somewhat spectacular.  If anyone has any access to news outside the U.S. they will have seen stories over the last few years about spotty electrical services in India, parts of China, Pakistan, Iraq and other such countries.  Here is a sample from Pakistan.  I notice they didn't mention the heat wave and spotty monsoon that has hit the same area of India over the last couple of months.  I really do wish we had real news over here--instead of shills for whatever hot show the network is promoting.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hello, Everyone.  Nice cool night last night.  Today is sunny and clear with mid 80s expected today.  I got a number of plants trimmed yesterday and got a good bit of dead leaves cleared out.  The plants seem to enjoy the cooler weather.  I collected a handful of the cherry tomatoes, four large plum tomatoes ad two lemon squash.  I will water everything today.  I checked the lemon balm beer and oh! does it have a nice beery smell.  And it has an interesting flavor--I tried a spoonful.  The fermentation has stopped and I put it in the refrigerator to mature for a week or two before I give it a try.  However, I don't think I will repeat the experiment no matter how good the final product.  It requires a lot of lemon balm and this batch took everything I could reasonably take off my plants.

I wasn't going to comment on this story and then changed my mind.  Another company claims it did nothing wrong but is settling because, given the uncertainty of going to trial, it is better for the company, the share holders etc.  But a $150+ million settlement with states for inflating the prices of a large number of name brand medications on top of a settlement a few months ago with the Federal government for $190 million for overcharging Medicare seems to me to be a pattern of bad behavior.  And I think the penalty is way too low.  I wonder whether they overcharged individuals who paid out of pocket?

Once upon a time I spent a lot of time watching the Olympics.  Even after I stopped watching the sporting events themselves I still watched the opening ceremonies.  I just narrowly decided not to watch this year's opening and reading this piece on Agonist I am glad I didn't.  I would probably have thrown something at the TV and that would have been expensive.  But then, a second thought--this is precisely why we no longer watch as much of the "news" as we used to.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Blessedly cool last night.  We have come to the conclusion that our lethargy is the result of not sleeping well.  We keep our summer thermostat at 78.  I know, I know.  I can hear all the conservationists yelling now.  But we have a problem because that setting is a bit too cool for downstairs but not cool enough for the upstairs.  That is the best compromise we have come up with--along with using our fan to move the air upstairs.  This is an old building and the designers never considered either energy efficiency or that the building would be occupied during the hottest decade on record.  And we have an attic that is an oven.  Part of our cable/internet problem a couple of months ago was traced to damage to the cable (which was I don't know old) through that attic.  Right now the air is off and it is comfortable.  And Kuma is very happy to be able to go outside at will.

We have had a couple of hands full of the Chocolate Cherry and the Super Sweet 100 tomatoes.  Both are delicious but I have to say the Chocolate Cherry is absolutely wonderful.  That is a keeper.  I don't think I have ever tasted a sweeter tomato.

Hi, Kay.  I think you will like the coming weather--so long as the violent thunderstorms stay away.  They tell us we may get some tomorrow afternoon through Monday.  Sorry Firefox is acting up.  I hate it when the computer goes haywire.  Having said that--my system decided to go wonky.  Hope going out and coming back in has cured the problem.  Otherwise this might be short.

Friday, July 27, 2012

TGIF to all of you.  We have temps in the 60s and sun this morning.  We had a nice though short rain last night so I don't need to water anything.  We have a number of errands to run today so I don't think I will get much done in the gardens.  But with highs in the mid 80s I can take short trips outside to do little chores.  Let's see I if find anything to comment on this today.

The first headline I saw on the BBC site this morning claimed that 'Assad's fall is only a matter of time'-- according to the opposition, of course.  I won't link because you can find it easily enough and my comments concern something else:  what a post-Assad Syria might look like.  That is a bit unsettling.  I saw an article yesterday that has been percolating in my mind since.  The reporter described the situation in a small Syrian village after rebels blew up a vehicle carrying army officers.  The damage and death was somewhat selective--one house burned to the ground while the next left alone,  bodies and blood all over another house while those around it were completely untouched.  The Syrian army weren't responsible.  The perpetrators were Alawite fighters aligned with the regime.  Assad himself is an Alawite, a Shi'ite sect.  Yes there are Shi'ites in Syria.  The struggle in Syria is becoming, if it wasn't always, a sectarian religious struggle.  That Assad's removal will not create a stable Syria.  It might even increase the bloodshed and chaos.  Think Iraq and Afghanistan.  The only plus--we don't have troops on the ground.

As you all probably realize, I like reusing things.  Over time I have used a variety of plastic containers in my gardens.  It is a cheap and thrifty use for things that would otherwise be thrown away.  I am always concerned with exactly how safe those plastics are for growing plants we intend to harvest and eat.  I found this little article at Resilient Communities that provides some good information on the issue.  Thankfully, everything I use now is in the safe categories.

I just dropped in on Market Watch and saw that the Dow was up 200+ today after a similar rise yesterday.  The explanations involve 'optimism' over developments in Europe.  Strange I haven't seen any developments--just a lot of hot air about 'doing whatever is necessary' to protect the Euro.  Nothing is fixed and no proposals have been made that will fix Europe.  Greece is still in a depression and going deeper in hopes of a paltry 130billion euro bailout that is too little way too late.  And it is another loan that has to be paid back along with all the other loans.  Spain is in depression and going deeper.  Borrowing costs are rising and the various provincial and local governments are all well past their borrowing capacity.  Italy--has anyone heard anything hopeful there?  I wondered if the surging stocks are the result of speculative buyers hoping to time their exit so that they reap massive rewards before the  excrement hits the fan.  I seem to remember similar wild swings in the collapse of 2008.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

How are you all doing on this overcast Thursday?  Temps should only reach the high 80s today. But we have already closed up and put the air on.  We have a bit of rain now but none of the lightning we had last night.  We didn't hit the 100 level some areas of Chicago did but we came close--98.  We were fairly comfortable until about 1pm when we closed up and put on the air.  I agree, Kay.  We have been so lethargic with this heat in spite of the air conditioning.  Kuma isn't as insistent about going outside this summer.  He would just as soon lie around and sleep inside.  Wehave been able to keep our electric and water bill lower than most of our neighbors and not much higher than previous years.  And our infrastructure is evidently as badly stressed as we are.

I found this interesting little 'then vs. now' piece on MSNBC this morning shortly after reading your comment on yesterday's blog, Kay.  I guess my age is showing because such stories that contrast past times with the present reflect some of my own musings.  Your comment on the fish and the cost hits home in a way.  As I said yesterday, we have never been big fish consumers but over the last few years we have become more aware of nutrition.  Sea food does have some important nutrients and we have wanted to increase our number of fish meals a bit.  However, we find it is a bit of a challenge given a number of different problems including the increasing levels of toxic substances and chemicals found in fish now-a-days.  However, we have also reduced our portion sizes of both fish and meat drastically.  Interestingly, not because of budgetary necessity.  We simply can't eat like we used to.  I grew up in a 'meat and potatoes' household.  Dad would have thrown a serious fit if dinner didn't have a generous portion of meat and some form of potato plus at least two other vegetables plus a big desert.  We remarked on the change a couple of days ago when dinner was a 4oz piece of salmon, generous side of mixed veggies, and small lettuce and tomato salad.  No desert.  Another meal this week consisted of homemade manicotti, small salad and peas.  We have had meatless meals more frequently without feeling at all deprived.  I have referred to another change often over the last couple of years--buying better quality meat.  Less waste and more palatable.  And again the portions are smaller.  No half to three-quarters of a pound or larger potions.  Given the predictions concerning food prices for the next year (at the least) frugality is a necessary virtue.

And now a couple of entries in the 'companies behaving badly' file.  Here and here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Good Wednesday to you all.  We expect high 90s or 100 today--then a week of 80s.  That will feel good.  Right now we hear some rumbles of thunder and it looks like heavy clouds coming in from the west.  I got everything in the gardens put back upright.  Do damage--thankfully.  Tomorrow I have to start another round of herb harvests.  I also decided to do some rearranging--not what I had planned which is unworkable.  Too many of the plants have intertwined and I can't move one without damaging the other.  And I can't bring the trash tote back inside.  It will have to stay where it is until I clear things up in the fall.  Instead I swapped the positions of the greenhouse and the potting table.  Hopefully that will moderate the temperatures inside the greenhouse.  I just finished watering everything in the lower pots/containers and will finish watering the plants on the fence before I finish for the day.  Will also harvest some vine peach and lemon squash over the next couple of days.  We will get to sample the first butternut squash today.

With this hot and strange weather the mainstream media seem to have suddenly discovered the climate change issue.  This story was on one of the news broadcasts last night.  Huffington presented this story about some unsuspected ways climate change might affect us.  And this little story makes me wonder about what we might expect come this winter.  A hell of a lot of lake effect snow?  And if Lake Superior is running so far above what was once considered normal how warm is Lake Michigan?  Check out this local news story--80 F and the story says the temperature rose the previous week 10 degrees between Sunday and Friday. (The story was posted July 8)

Well, this is good.  Not near enough of a punishment but better that the none that has been so typical.  The TV news last night carried a snippet which quoted one of the defense lawyers claiming his poor client 'only followed orders.'  Sorry but that defense has been tried before--at Nuremberg

Another story we saw last night on the TV news.  About the third or fourth over the last year.  We have become pickier about where the fish we buy are caught and where they are processed.  We aren't great fans of fish anyway nor are we great experts on fish other than having a fair grip on telling how fresh it is.  Earlier this year we saw a couple of strange species on sale at a couple of local supermarkets--swai and basa.  Reading up on where those fish are found (basa in the Mekong delta of Vietnam which one of the most polluted waterways in the world) we immediately struck them from any shopping list.  The problem is only made worse when you can't rely on the vendor to be selling what he says he is.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Good Tuesday, Everyone.  We had a bit of rain overnight and the weather people predict some more through the day.  I will hold off on any watering until I see what we get.  Hopefully not the penny-sized hail they say is possible.  They still have a mid 90s on the forecast for tomorrow.  I can't begin to say how tired of the heat I am.

I lost quite a bit and didn't realize it when we had three small brownouts a little while ago.  The rain hit and hit like a hammer on an anvil.  The trees danced drunkenly in the high wind that came up suddenly and I think may have exceeded the reports from other areas earlier this morning.  During a lull I went out and retrieved our wheeled trash tote which had sailed away from our fence and into the street half a block away.  Luckily we had little in it.  Three of my pots and the greenhouse were upset.  I don't know how much damage and won't for a while.  But I will have some clean up and rearranging.  Whether I want to or not I have to make room for the trash tote inside the fence.  We needed rain but I would so much rather have the kind we haven't seen much of over the last few years--long, slow, steady rain.  Thankfully, no hail--so far.

Well, back on line.  We did our errands and grocery shopping this morning but came back to find the internet and cable dead.  Service was out for about four hours.  The trip around town was a bit strange. I saw more damaged trees and downed limbs than I have at any time in the last 12 years.  Then I realized that we have experienced more power outages of varying severity than at at any time in the last 12 years.  This has been one strange year.  The city was a patchwork of power outages.  One block had power and the next didn't.  Several major roads were without traffic lights--no fun for those trying to cross or turn onto divided highways.  Thankfully, all the drivers were really very nice and polite and waited their turn.  Watching the news and we are very grateful.  A couple of major towns--Gary and Merrillville--are without power and likely will be for several days.  Hope you all east of me don't get this mess.

I will make one last observation on the Penn State sanctions unless something outrageous comes to my attention.  Last night the local news quoted from several tweets and e-mails from viewers.  All bemoaned the fact that the sanctions hit the guilty and the innocent which most felt was unfair.  Well, I think somewhat differently.  I noticed that the NCAA tried to soften the blow for some of the athletes by allowing them to transfer without requiring them to sit out for a year.  That was reasonable.  However, I have to ask how you would sanction what was obviously an ethically challenged (to put things nicely) organization without somehow impacting innocent parties?  That is the problem in trying to discipline corporate wrong doing.  There are always innocent parties who suffer.  And there are always guilty parties who get off far more lightly than they deserve.  The NCAA can't send Penn State or its athletic department to the slammer but I think it did the next best thing.

I found this article on Huffington Post first thing this morning.  I am not surprised.  I saw a report last week on the Postal Service which claimed it would be broke as early as August because it had exhausted its borrowing authority.  Nor am I surprised at the rural areas taking such a big hit.  Fewer votes and less wealth therefore no clout in Washington.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Good morning, everyone.  We expect another hot day on this Monday.  Yesterday my thermometer touched 90.  I had already watered everything thoroughly, moved my Mexican tarragon and one of the stevia, and picked a small handful of cherry tomatoes.  Today we expect high 90s and maybe 100.

I didn't see anything on which I felt any motivation to comment.  The media is still in mid-orgy on the Colorado shooting.  I see the usual treatments.  In one breath they wonder how this obviously disturbed individual managed to plan the assault and gather his equipment/weapons without anyone noticing how obviously disturbed he was.  Fruitless non-conversation really.  They seem to be hoping that if they can decode this individual they can then predict how others would behave and nip future problems in the bud.  Then there are the pronouncements about how easy it is to get guns and use them inappropriately.  Once again a fruitless non-conversation.  "Non-conversation??" you ask.  Yes.  Because all sides in these debates are talking from nearly hermetically sealed bubbles and to their own choirs.  If we could really predict human behavior with any certainty psychiatry would be a real science instead some kind of alchemy.  I am somewhat bemused by the blame people attach to a mindless tool.  And once again the various parties to the gun control issue talk past each other.  "Guns don't kill people.  People kill people," says one side.  To which the other side replies, "But people kill with guns." And to that latter I say, "Not always.  People also use cars, knives, fists, and anything else they can find."  I don't hear anyone suggesting that we ban cars, knives or amputate hands.  And please don't tell me that guns make it easy to kill large numbers at one time.  The 9/11 terrorists killed 200 times the number killed in Aurora--without guns.  Timothy McVeigh killed  17 times the 12 killed in Aurora--without guns.  And tell me--who do you trust with guns.  The news this morning carried a story of an off-duty Chicago policeman who got into an argument with his girlfriend at a children's party and shot her as several of the children watched.  And if you think members of the armed services are any more trustworthy you have been avoiding the news more assiduously than I have.  I had a thought on the matter that rather intrigued me:  we talk often (and about as effectively) of how our democracy requires an educated citizenry.  There is another requirement as well that isn't discussed very often:  a citizenry that recognizes moral and legal boundaries.  That last, I think, has been in very short supply.

I wish I could take credit for the weather coming your way, Kay.  But since I don't want the blame for what is coming--I will simply hope you enjoy it while you can.  I sympathize with your situation with respect to gardening.  If our landlords had not extended our patio and fenced it in, I doubt I would be doing any gardening.  The fence provides a nice fairly controlled area that isn't as open to potential vandalism or children's errant balls.  I certainly wouldn't have as many containers.  Your observation on the cost of eating healthy hits home also.  All the fresh veggies are higher than ever and going higher.  And my limited gardening space cannot make more than a minimum dent in our food needs.

This Tomdispatch post ties in with the remarks I posted above.  How can we expect ordinary cities to recognize and respect moral and legal boundaries when our government splits some very fine hairs on the whole notion of 'due process?'  Or when the large institutions can violate both morals and law with impunity?  Where are the prosecutions for mortgage fraud?  What about perjury charges in the robo-signing scandal (you do remember that one, don't you)?  One of the news stories over the weekend featured some kind of psychologist speculating on the possible mental disorders the Aurora shooter might be suffering from.  No one is responsible for his behavior anymore.

And, in case you think I am unnecessarily gloomy, consider this article posted on Naked Capitalism.

Well, somebody is certainly sending a message.  Long overdue but I have to question how effective.  The sanctions are a good start but the problem as with the above links is that they are too inconsistently applied and without a change in culture the behavior will simply go into stealth mode.  The article mentioned two other instances of severe discipline being meted out but can anyone really say that the message has been received and has resulted in an authentic reformation of the culture of college sports.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Good Saturday, All.  We had an absolutely gorgeous day yesterday.  High was about 80 with a nice cooling breeze.  It was cool enough that we needed the covers last night.  Unfortunately, the temperatures are supposed to rise to 90 again.  I have a couple of plants I want to move.  I collected two nice little butternut squash.  Mom plans to cook them up soon.  I don't think I have to water anything today.  They all got enough with the rain earlier in the week.

Glad you stopped by Mary from Missouri.  I have been following a bit of the drought in both Missouri and Colorado.  I have lived for some years in both states.  Like you we have become much more aware of the harmful effects of drugs and much more discriminating about which drug therapies we follow.  Almost two years ago when the reports came out about the link with osteoporosis medicines Mom had a long talk with her doctor about the one he prescribed for her which had not yet been so linked.  They agreed that she should stop taking it.  We began reducing the salt six or seven years ago.  We use very little in cooking and watch closely the salt in the food we buy.  Like you we have also reduced the amount of meat.  We were very unhappy with the quality and the packaging of the meat at the local supermarket and Wal-Mart.  Thought it better to pay more and get our meat from a local meat market that buys from local farmers who pasture/free range their animals and don't use hormones or antibiotics.  I don't think we would ever go totally vegetarian.  I agree--cherish and enjoy every day because you have no guarantee how many more you will have.

Glad you got some of the rain we enjoyed, Kay.  Thankfully, Mitch Daniels can't run again.  Unfortunately, I don't have much hope that who ever is the Democratic candidate will win.  We are with you--we don't much recognize this country any more.  We sometimes wonder if we are just getting older but too often we look at events/pronouncements/policies and see a fundamental shift in the basic values we grew up with.

Greenpa at Little Blog in the Big Woods has an excellent on the media coverage of the latest mass shooting (and all previous murders du jour).  Most of the coverage simply repeats what has already been broadcast and most of it provides nothing enlightening.  It is simply an orgy of wallowing in the misery.  We have turned it off.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Hello to you all on this not-so-good Friday.  Watching the news covering the Colorado shooting.  My only comment--we seem to have a lot of people out there with a whole lot of hate and resentment.  On a different note--we had some more rain last night but it is clearing out now and drying out.  The temps aren't expected to go much above 80 so we will have a one day respite from the 90s.  Sounds like a good day to take things easy and let the gardens dry out a bit before I check things out.

The Washington Post put up this long article on what should be a major medical scandal.  Unfortunately, since we have so many similar cases out there, it may not become one.  It is one reason I am both a 'medical minimalist' and a skeptic.  I am increasingly skeptical every time I see a story about some 'pre-'whatever condition that we must now treat.  What once was considered high normal cholesterol or blood pressure suddenly becomes a cause for concern and they push drugs on us to cure a condition that may or may not become a problem.

Tom Englehardt posted an excellent piece on the insane and obscene costs of protecting the 'secrets' of our 'national security state.'  And we wonder why we can't repair our infrastructure, fund health care, find it an increasing burden to care for our elderly and educate our young!!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Good wet Thursday to you all.  We had thunderstorms overnight and, from amount of water in a drip pan on the patio table (which was empty yesterday at this time) we received about 2 inches of rain here.  I won't get anything done in the gardens today because it is much too wet.  I had to retrieve our trash tote--the high winds sent it rolling half a block away.  I forgot to bring it in yesterday.  All this is coming your way, Kay.  I hope it is enough to revive some of the corn, soybean, and other crops that have been suffering under our extremely dry or drought conditions.  From what we have seen on line and in broadcast news a fair portion of the crop may be beyond help.

I checked the lemon balm ale yesterday.  It is beginning to smell somewhat like beer.  Good sign that.  I wanted to move the three stevia to the area where that stand of corn I removed yesterday had been.  But I will wait until the gardens dry out--probably tomorrow.  That will give a few of the other plants a bit more room.

We have seen an increasing number of stories (even if the stories contained no new information) concerning the drought and its potential effects--especially on U.S. food prices.  This story from allAfrica.com takes that a step farther.  Just yesterday I was wondering what effect our weather conditions might have on things like food aid--to which the U.S. contributes a large amount.  Not to mention the fact that shipments of corn, soybeans, wheat and other ag products are a significant part of what we sell abroad.  As I said above, I really hope that the rain we are getting is both widespread and supplies enough moisture to put a dent in the dryness and revive some of the crops.  By the way, I have harped often enough on the downsides of our global, industrialized (and agriculture as practiced here and in most leading economies is industrialized) economy.  Here we have another example of a rippling disaster that has become all too common over the last decade or so in our highly interconnected world.

I thought this was painfully amusing.  Mitch Daniels, (not-)soon(-enough) to be our former governor, has indeed been a major proponent of 'privatizing' governmental functions to for-profit companies.  I find it amusing that these guys are so committed to the 'gospel' of privatization and so-called small government that they simply don't learn that it more often than not doesn't deliver on either the monetary savings or efficiency promised. Another case where the cost of failure is being born publicly while the profits (what there were) are privatized.  I love the Judge's ruling: neither side deserves to win this case.

Two stories are sure to make me turn off the news: anything that pretends to divine where the election is headed and anything about George Zimmerman (or any of the other spectacular legal cases the media flails to oblivion.)  Unfortunately I couldn't miss Zimmerman's self-serving and self-righteous interview (with his attorney at his side hanging on his every word).  Pam Spaulding at Firedoglake sums up the performance perfectly.  His apology was no apology and his remorse totally fake if he wouldn't change anything he did.  His notion that the course of events were God's will was ludicrous; they were George Zimmerman's will and no one else's, divine or otherwise.  George is engaging in what has become an American sport--evading responsibility and shifting the blame onto someone else.

Here is one for the 'what's old is new again' file.

Robert Reich writes a good bit of sense on our job outsourcing and insourcing.  I have said for sometime that our largest American companies (and those of other nations) are American in name only. They are global and have an allegiance only to the bottom line.  He has also noted the deficiencies of American education which barely educates anyone anymore but the question I ask whenever anyone writes this is 'who is going to pay for education.'  We have an interesting situation up in Chicago as the Mayor and CEO of the school system are at an impasse (for the moment) with the Teacher's Union.  The former want to expand the school day (but aren't specifying what they want to fill that time with) and expect the teachers to take on 20% more instructional time while accepting a paltry 2% raise in pay.  Ant that doesn't even begin to address all of the concerns the Union has raised.  As with so much else in this society everybody wants somebody else to pay.  I could go on but you see where this is going.  Companies want ready made workers without taking any financial responsibility for the education of those workers.  Homeowners want a good school system so their children will have a chance at advancement through education but they don't want to pay the necessary property taxes to ensure it.  The Unions are tired of having their pensions looted, their health insurance costs increased and their dedication to their careers questioned when they object to being beggared by minuscule raises that don't keep up with inflation.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Good Wednesday to you all.  Hope you are staying cool.  They predict a bit of a cooling to the high 80s instead of the high 90s--at least up here at the southern tip of Lake Michigan.  I didn't have much to do in the gardens except water the various containers.  I also pulled one stand of corn because the ears were not developing or were developing in a strange and misshapen way.  I was surprised at how dry that container was.  Far drier than any of the others--even the other container with corn.  Those ears are developing nicely.  Tomorrow--early--I will move the two basils into the space where the corn was and give all of the plants a bit more room.  Otherwise everything looks good.  We are still hibernating inside.  Update: we have seen some lightning striking somewhere nearby with the attendant really loud thunder.  Now we are getting a heavy rain squall.  Hopefully, it will make a dent in our moisture deficit.
Update 2: the rain has stopped.  Only lasted about 15 minutes.  See if we attract another wandering storm cloud.
Kathleen Parker writes a nice sensible opinion piece on the Washington Post today.  We have remarked often here about how little real information is put out by our 'infotainment' industry.  More often we simply turn off the broadcast news and go to sites on line for real news.  All too frequently we watch a news story only to say 'didn't we see that on line a week or two ago?  Sure took them long enough.'  The Presidential campaign has come down to a personality contest without much substance on either side.  The choice is between the devil you know because he has already been in office and the devil you don't because he is saying anything he thinks will solidify his position with the most rabid of his supporters while disavowing anything he did in his previous political life.

Contrary Farmer posted this humorous item this morning on how wild animals are, increasingly, invading more settled areas.  We can testify to the truth of his statements.  For the last month or saw we have watched a family of raccoons trolling the neighborhood for what ever scraps they can find.  They always visit a couple of duplexes across the street where the occupants have small dogs.  They may have dog food where the clever little pests can get at it.  We think that some recent building about a half mile away that has eliminated a field usually planted in corn or soybeans may have driven them to invade our built up area.  The drought may also be pushing them over here.

Threatwatch published an update/analysis of the TB outbreak in Florida.  Small government and the 'let them die' Repthuglican philosophy in action.

Susie Madrak has an interesting article on the effects of the drought on the Mississippi.  I have read about major rivers in eastern Europe, India and China drying up.  The Danube had been closed to barge traffic earlier this year because water levels were so low.  They were in the middle of a prolonged drought also.  Now the water levels in the Mississippi are getting too low for barge traffic.

I would love it if the U.S. would follow Iceland's lead.  At least they are investigating and, sometimes, prosecuting the bankers that precipitated the financial collapse.  None of ours have yet been penalized for their roles.

Anyone else notice the irony in the news stories concerning the FDA's new ruling banning BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups?  The producers have already eliminated it in response to consumer protests.  The broadcast news I saw last night probably didn't make any friends among the producers when the news reader speculated the industry's support of the ban was probably a hope that the issue would end there and they can continue using BPA in other food and beverage related containers.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Good Tuesday, Everyone.  I am already exhausted.  Since we expect temperatures near or above 100 today so I have already spent almost two hours getting herbs harvested, trimming done, and everything watered.  Usually, we spend the first hour or so in our robes with our morning coffee.  Not this morning (or yesterday either.)  Most of the plants are doing well.  I found another nice cucumber which is now waiting to be put into a salad.  Took some stevia, savory, pineapple sage, sage, and patchouli to try.  After today the temperatures are supposed to moderate and I can go back to selectively watering.

I like this piece found on MarketWatch this morning.  We are in an 'invisible depression.'

This article on the solar storm and the resulting northern lights has some awesome time lapse pictures.  One sequence shows the lights in southern Michigan.

One small village in Japan found the will and wherewithal to reject both fossil fuel and nuclear to generate power.  Though it doesn't provide for all of the villagers' needs it provides a significant part and was built in a short time and fairly cheaply.  They do need the services of the local power company which buys the power generated and pays the village for what they produce.  But the solar array will never fail in the catastrophic way Fukushima did.

Dana Milbank provides some very appropriately sarcastic commentary on Romney's 'retroactive retirement' from Bain Capital.  I seem to remember a comment yesterday (sorry I don't remember where) that Romney's 'retirement' was lucrative as he was paid during the time he magnanimously took no salary as CEO of the Olympics.  If you are retired you don't get paid.  You may get a pension but don't get a salary.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Good Monday to everyone.  We are in the middle of another heat wave.  Temperature is supposed to reach 98+/- and 100 or so tomorrow.  We looked at that and decided to forego the farm markets until Saturday and went grocery shopping early this morning for the few items we needed instead of waiting for our usual shopping day.  The grocery store opened at 6am and we got there about 6:30.  When we got home I watered everything well and picked some tomatoes and beans.  I noticed some little bullnose peppers, a nice bunch of cucumbers and several vine peaches turning yellow.  They will soon be ready.

Well, the mainstream media has finally taken notice of the drought and are warning people of the probably effect on their food budgets.  We have been watching the situation for the last six months--ever since we read accounts of farmers planting in fields that were likely too dry for germination hoping for either rain or a crop insurance pay outs.  I don't know if you would call us pessimists or realists.  We wondered whether the drought was really over as so many idiots were proclaiming earlier on.  They get a bit of rain and think everything is back to what they think is normal.  We got a couple of brief rain showers over the weekend.  The weather people say we got about 1.22 inches.  Wonderful!  We were at a -3+ inches.  Over the entire region the deficit runs between 9 and 12 inches.  Given the expected temperatures that rain won't do much except, maybe, keep us at the same level of deficit.

Here is another issue that is really taking off on the mainstream media.  It seems to me to be a "damned if you do; damned if you don't" situation.  The economy will still exist whether they extend the Bush era tax cuts or not and whether they cut the spending as they are supposed to under the budget reconciliation legislation they passed or not.  The issue is whether it will grow and I strongly suspect that it won't show the kind of growth they say we need no matter what they do.  Or don't do.  And no one is talking about what the only slightly longer term effects will be if they extend the spending and tax provisions on the deficit.  Or we have Repthuglicans demanding cuts in their most hated programs (the ones more of us depend on) before they will agree to any extension of tax cuts or spending programs.

I found this interesting but for reasons you might not think.  I remember listening to some politician after 9/11 loudly insisting that we had to devise a security system that would detect 100% of all terrorist threats targeted on American soil.  I thought the notion idiotic (along with the man proposing it).  Any supposed 'fool-proof' system underestimates the intelligence of fools and anyone who depends on a 100% secure system is a fool.  Now the politicians at Homeland Security are finding out that such a system is way too expensive in any reality we inhabit.  I guess we could starve to death in a totally secure system because we surely won't have any resources left after constructing it to provide for food (or clothing, or shelter, or medical care, or education.)

Hi, Kay.  I agree on the swipe fees.  We use our debit cards and a couple of the merchants process them as debit rather than credit or ask us to do that.  That way they aren't hit with the fees.  We are happy to oblige in spite of our bank's encouragement to select credit.  The heat has been something, indeed.  They say that by the end of today we will have had 30 days of 90+ temps.  That is more than double the normal.  And with everyone I am glad I decided against signing up for that garden spot at the local church's community garden.  I simply have not got the energy or heat tolerance to manage dragging the water, or tools, or produce back and forth.  My not-so-little container gardens are more than enough for this old girl.  Hope you are keeping cool out your way.

Maha has an excellent post today on Romney and Bain Capital.  The recent debate on this issue has focused on Bain as a 'pioneer of outsourcing,' as President Obama has described it and Romney's very ambiguous role in the post-1999 company.  However, the period between 1985 and 1999 (when Romney was unambiguously in control) is perhaps even more relevant to Romney's claims that his experience as a businessman suits him to 'fix' the economy.  There is something in the argument that, in a healthy economy, sometimes businesses have to go bankrupt, be dissolved, and in the process jobs will be lost.  However, buying a stake reasonably run company with debt and then loading that company with debt to pay off the debt you incurred to buy that stake and to pay your executives and investors handsome dividends which then forces the company into bankruptcy--that is immoral.  What is worse--he thinks that is legitimate capitalism.  It isn't.  It is parasitism and we don't need him and his fellow ticks running our government and economy.  They will get fatter and we will be bled white.

We have all seen the value of our money melt away as oil prices and food prices rose (with only a partial relief as gas prices dropped a bit), but it must be an entirely new sensation for some Canadians to see the physical bills melt in the current heat wave.

I wondered sometime ago when something like this would surface.  It seems individuals aren't the only ones unable to afford health related insurance--some hospitals can't either.  I wonder how individual doctors are doing?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Good Sunday, All.  We are supposed to get temperatures in the 90s today and for the next several with a possible 100+ on Tuesday.  We are back into the oppressive heat--number two for the year.  We did get some rain yesterday afternoon--how much I don't know.  Certainly not enough to break the drought.  The next time we might get rain will be Tuesday.  I harvested five trays of peppermint and two of basil which are drying now.  Also got five nice Chocolate cherry tomatoes for our salad later today.  I saw some Roma tomatoes ripening so we will soon be making sauce for the freezer.  I have a pot of lemon balm and brown sugar on the stove from which I hope to brew up a batch of lemon balm ale.  I have no idea how it will turn out.  This is a just-for-the-hell-of-it experiment.  It may or may not be repeated.

I have been listening and reading the news-hype on this story for the last week.  It is a bit amusing actually.  On the one hand, as Susie Madrak says, it is nice to see the banisters take one in the teeth.  On the other, we can bet on the notion that somewhere, somehow they will recoup.  This is another of those fascinating situations where a service is provided that no one really wants to pay for: not the banks, not the merchants and definitely not the consumer.  To date, the credit card companies charged the merchants a 'swipe' fee on each time the card was used but the merchant couldn't recoup the fee by passing it on to the card user.  Now they can.  And they can give discounts for people paying cash.  It may get interesting.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Good day to you all on this sunny Saturday.  I hope the temperature will be less today than yesterday when it reached the mid 90s.  Plants I had watered well in the morning drooped by mid afternoon.  The weather people say there is a chance of pop-up showers that may deliver scattered showers. I'm not holding my breath.  I haven't done much in the gardens.  My painful hip is recovering and I think I will give it another day.  I don't really want to stand at my counter today filling the dehydrator with herbs.  We saw the little female hummingbird yesterday morning.  If this heat keeps up I am going to change and rinse out the feeder more frequently.

I looks like Japan simply can't catch a break.  Last year it was the earthquake, tsunami, and Fukushima Dai-ichi.  This year they have unbelievable rain, landslides, and flooding.  NHK last night mentioned that more than 100k people are still displaced from last year's disasters.  Now they are joined by 250k from the flooded areas.

As I perused MSNBC this morning I saw two nearly juxtaposed headlines that amused me.  The first noted 'China growth slows, world worried.'  The second trumpets 'Dow surges 204 points on economic optimism.'  Really???  I don't think so.  I see panic.  Those boys are looking for a savior.  China's growth between late 2009 and late last year was phenomenal and likely softened the economic downturn elsewhere.  Pundits have said often over the last months that the U.S. is the 'cleanest dirty shirt in the laundry.'  That doesn't sound like optimism.

I think the above cartoon pretty much sums up my take on our election silly-season.

Muddy Boots Dreams has a humorous take on the heat wave.  I sympathize fully.  Keeping the gardens watered is a bit of a challenge (see above).

I have been very positively impressed with the new French President.  I read somewhere that he ordered a 30% reduction in the salaries of government officials at the same time that Angela Merkel raised her and her ministers' salaries in Germany.  And then there is the article I found this morning which outlines further economies.  I think any government that expects to impose 'austerity' on its people should start with itself.  So few of them do.  The conservatives who are now out of office criticize the measures as 'meaningless' in light of the budget deficits they face.  But the symbolism is right on the bull's eye.  As I have often asked of our Repthuglican politicians:  What are you willing to 'sacrifice;' what financial pain are willing to suffer while putting the screws to the poor, the middle class, and the working class?  From what I have see--not any.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday, Everyone!!  Hope you all have a really good day.  We are back in the heat and expect 90s through next week.  We open the doors and window in the morning and close up to put the air on in the afternoon.  We had two back-to-back brown-outs yesterday afternoon and another sometime last night while we slept.  Though the power came back on quickly the cable for our TV and internet was out for about four hours.  Don't know what happened--no wind, no rain.  The news this morning said that all of Illinois and Indiana are now in some level of drought.  They say our area at the southern tip of Lake Michigan has, this year to date, has a deficit of 9 to 12 inches of rain.  And we don't have much chance of catching up any time soon.

I was curious when I read the tease headline--something about exploding hay bales???  Spontaneous combustion apparently.  I didn't know Indianapolis has a sprinkler ban.  I had read that our mayor had urged people to conserve water.  Earlier this very dry season I started experimenting with way of reducing the major summer water use for us--the gardens.  So far our water use has been at or below what we used last year and that was well below what our conserving neighbors have used.

This illustrates one of the problems of living this close to Chicago.  We have heard absolutely nothing on the news (even in the weather segments.)  But we thought we were experiencing more sneezing episodes and Mom had more nasal congestion.

I saw this last night and wondered, yet again, how politically and socially tone deaf our various organizations and businesses can be.  Lauren may be an 'iconic American company' but ordering the uniforms for the U.S. Olympic team made in China??  What were they thinking?  And why the U.S. Olympic Committee didn't think about this is a total mystery.

The morning TV news said that Romney is considering Condoleezza Rice as his choice for VP.  That's nice but, for me, not a deciding factor.  I don't vote for the #2 on the ticket.  I see nothing about Romney to make me vote for him and his choice for VP is immaterial.  In 2008, McCain's choice of Sara Palin merely confirmed my negative opinion of him to begin with.  Even if I had thought well of his VP choice I wouldn't have voted for him.  If the top of the ticket isn't someone I can vote for I am not going to vote for the #2.

Oh, wouldn't Hitler and Stalin (or any of their ilk) have loved to have this technology?  But, I guess we shouldn't worry.  After all we have a democratically elected government which is only looking out for our best interests.  Riiiight!!  And if you believe any part of that, there are a lot of bridges you might like to buy.  I can get them for you real cheap.

This piece on Crooks & Liars struck a chord.  About a year ago Mom had to renew her license.  Here in Indiana, at least then, she had the option of getting the regular license or the 'secure ID' license.  She decided to get the latter since such an ID is increasingly demanded (when you get on a plane, open a bank account, etc.).  It took almost two months, a letter to whichever department deals with birth certificates, a trip to Lake County (IN) to get a certified copy of a divorce decree and a temporary regular license before she managed to get her 'secure ID' license.  And she started six weeks before her old one expired.  I have all my paperwork together so I can get my 'secure ID' license when my current one expires.  I gathered everything when I went on Social Security.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Good Thursday, everyone.  I don't have anything planned for the garden.  I pulled something in my hip over the last couple of days and it hurts.  Less today than yesterday but some rest seems in order.  Thankfully, all the gardens require is a little water.  The herbs I need to harvest will wait till tomorrow.

This story from NPR sparked a bit of a conversation and a few chuckles here.  Many of the major stores have a problem because, according to this account, Millennials have much less brand and store loyalty than Baby Boomers and earlier generations.  I have news for them: this Boomer has NO brand or store loyalty.  I have moved too many times to have much store loyalty--the store I patronized in one area may not have outlets in the new location.  Or the stores may not carry the same brands.  Our shopping habits today are not the habits we follow today.  We buy our meat from a small local meat market where the price is comparable to the local supermarket and the quality is better.  We buy few packaged foods having found that most have too much sugar or salt or preservatives.  We cook pretty much from scratch.  Once upon a time the one-stop model worked.  It doesn't any more because no one outlet has everything we want at the quality and price we want.  I wonder how many Boomers are doing the same.

I have often thought as I listened to various economic pundits talk about what they thought would get our economy moving again that they were living in some fairy tale land that had no connection to the real world--the one we actually live in.  Yves Smith has this cross-posted article that says much what I have thought.  For every real world small businessman/woman they interview who tells them that the problem is demand and that they would gladly hire new people if the demand were there regardless of taxes and regulation they interview four others from the rarefied world of gigantic/global business who rail about taxes and regulation.  Or they cherry pick the data for the most optimistic of the massaged figures to tell us that the economy is on the mend.  Or they spin negative data to pretend that everything is really find in spite of the dismal news.  The Confidence Fairy lives.

Then there are the small businessmen who are also affiliated or lobbyists for trade organizations and whose affiliations are not disclosed by the interviewers.  As shown in this piece--they testify against consumer protections, labor laws, or for trade agreements but their their positions are those of their organization.  How much does their livelihood depend on their lobbying position and how much on their business?  But to not disclose the ties implies that they are truly independent small businessmen and that their opinions can be trusted.  Which may not be the case.

I saw this on a couple of newscasts yesterday--surprised only that it was on financial sites not general news.  No real commentary on it from the talking heads.  As I said--I was surprised only at where the story was not its content.  Given the prominence of social media, texting, and cell phones in the Arab Spring and other events, including flash mobs and the mobbing thefts only infrequently mention on the news, I would have guessed that the government would take action to control the technology as much as possible.  I also expressed the thought that the Executive Order simply gave the government the cover of legality for operations they are already engaged in.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Good morning on what looks to be a mild Wednesday.  The temperature yesterday didn't make it to the 90s, thankfully.  But it was uncomfortable enough that we did put the air on.  I have already harvested four trays of oregano and two of orange mint--all drying right now.  And I found a little cherry tomato ready for the picking.  We plan on big chef salads for dinner tomorrow so I hope the chocolate cherries will be ready.  I noticed several ear tassels on one patch of my corn--nothing yet on the other patch.  I need to water well since I didn't yesterday.  A little at a time.

I agree, Elaine.  I don't really understand why the production of Excedrin has to be shut down for so long.  I know the problem is supposed to involve different drug pills have gotten into the Excedrin line and, according to one report some time ago, broken pills.  But the company should have been able to correct that within a week and thoroughly clean the entire production line.  I have seen documentary reports on food production lines that can be shut down, totally scrubbed and sanitized, and back in operation within 8 hours.  We got the Walgreens house version last time which has the same ingredients in the same proportions and seems to work as well--at least for us.  We can sympathize with those who find it doesn't work for them.  We find the same problem for us with several lines of decongestants--they simply don't work or they have side effects that cancel their usefulness.

Another entry in the "Don't you just love living in the country with the best health care system in the world?"

Yves Smith has another repulsive example of 'capitalists' acting badly.  If they can find a way to steal they will.  If these were ghetto gangbangers the authorities would mobilize the SWAT team to take them out.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Good Tuesday to you all.  We got up to 88F yesterday but after the heat of the last two weeks that is positively balmy.  I thought about putting on the air and closing up but I really didn't want to.  As I have said we really prefer to have doors and windows open for any breeze to come through.  But I expect that over the weekend into next week we will have to resort to the air conditioning--the 90s are supposed to come back.

Glad you stopped by, Elaine.  Hope the temperatures in your area abate.  We have had a very strange couple of years weather wise.  We are going up to our year round farm market because the peaches are in--three weeks early and in short supply thanks to the March heat and April freeze.  My green thumbs are developing and not consistent.  I almost killed my roses because I put the pot in the wrong place.  I am happy to report they seem to have forgiven me and decided to live.  The foliage is coming back nicely and they have some buds.  I am watching a couple of butternut squash, several vine peaches, and a few cucumbers that will soon be ripe.  My mouth is watering.

The teaser headline for this Huffington Post linked story was 'The Long Con.'  An absolutely perfect description.  The story says big banks have been manipulating a key inter-bank interest rate for more fifteen years.  The banks were greedy and the regulators didn't care.  But the question I have is--how many more 'long cons' are out there?  Our system of insurance?  Our 'health care' system?  Our mis-education system?

We are watching a news item that absolutely amazes us.  Evidently people are so desperate for Excedrin they are willing to pay huge amounts on e-bay and on-line for a supply.  We used Excedrin until it was pulled off the market but switched to the store brand that had the same compounds in the same quantities and it has worked well for us.  We are astounded that people would pay the prices cited and that they would trust on-line venders.

Well, we're back after a very busy morning.  We went to Porter Hospital's Senior Circle breakfast.  We joined that over the last month and this was the first breakfast for us.  Very nice.  And they had a good talk on drug interactions.  They hit most things to think about when getting a new prescription.  Thankfully, I don't have any--crossed fingers and knocking on wood.  Mom does however so we are rather conscious of potential side effects and interactions.  Each monthly breakfast will have a similar presentation.  Then we swung by the city farm market where we picked up tomatoes and a couple of eggplants.  After that we went up to the year round market for the peaches I mentioned yesterday, I think.  Followed by our regular grocery trip and a visit to our favorite meat market.  There we splurged.  With the drought and its effects on corn and soy we figure that the prices on most meats will be going up.  Might as well stock up now.  We already had a good list of things we had recently run out of.  We are both catching our breaths.  Unfortunately, we had to put the air on because the temps are already around 88F which means we might hit 90 two days ahead of predictions.

Talking about things to think about, check out this little piece on The Rural Blog.  Most of the news stories covered the power failures in towns and cities but rural power failures takes the problems into a whole new dimension.  But our so-wise legislators in Washington evidently don't think rural energy programs are a investment of Federal money.

Isn't it wonderful that we have the 'best health care system in the world.'  (SARCAM ALERT)

No one should be surprised by this.  Twenty years ago I saw a news story which discussed the prevalent notion among college students that various forms of cheating was acceptable if by those means the student got the desired grade.  A similar story ran on 60 Minutes 10 or 12 years ago.  Where do you think those students are now?  How about in our banks and financial institutions.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Oh, has the weather changed.  We shut off the air conditioning Saturday night and haven't had to put it back on since.  While I am grateful to whoever invented it I really don't much like it.  I much prefer to open doors and windows to get what ever breeze comes up or set up a fan.  However, neither of us can take the kind of heat we experienced over the last two weeks.  I finally got back out in the gardens for more than a quick watering.  Put five trays of spearmint and one of stevia in the dehydrator this morning.  In the process I saw a few of the chocolate cherry and sweet 100 cherry tomatoes are showing color.  We will have some for our salads soon. The rain we had yesterday morning wasn't enough to do anything for the plants but it did persuade me to put off major outside work for the day.  I did step out for a quick look in the afternoon and was glad I did.  Two tomatoes and one of the largest containers had dried out dangerously.  I gave them a quick watering and all have bounced back. We checked our computers over the weekend for that nasty virus the news reports have been warning us about.  Neither of our computers were affected.

Well, we lost a couple of legends over the last couple of days: Ernest Borgnine and Andy Griffith.  I won't link as there have been numerous easily found stories.

I saw headlines on this story a couple of weeks ago.  It is sad to think that there are criminal assholes out there preying on people like this but I think it is sadder that there are so many desperate people out there who fall for this scam.

If I had believed the crap about 'compassionate conservatism' Bush Jr. dished up, this story would have disabused me of the delusion.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Good Sunday to all.  The heat broke yesterday afternoon.  We watched our patio thermometer top out at about 92 before falling back into the 80s.  We turned off our air conditioner about 8:30 and opened the window upstairs.  A nice rain has fallen this morning.  No thunder or lightening or high winds--just a nice rain.  (Correction: we just got some thunder). I won't water today and for the next five will go back to selective watering.  I may not get anything done today if the rain continues--and I hope it does.  And I hope it goes east to where they really need it.  Kuma just came in soaking wet.  He was outside when the rain started and refuse come in.  I can't blame him.  I hated closing everything up during the heat.

Maha makes some good points about the wind/storm caused power outages that were so prevalent over the last two weeks.  I don't expect anything will be done to change the current situation.  Not when we have a major political party that thinks government shouldn't govern, that the market is rational, and that capitalism will find a workable market solution.  That is all a crock of bull.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Good Saturday, Everyone.  The temperature should only reach the high 90s today.  The rest of the week should stay in the 80s which well feel really good.  The 75 on the patio this morning felt like mid 80s when I watered everything and, again, that is all I have done.  Starting tomorrow I will start taming the herbs again.  They have grown like crazy.  One little butternut squash is just about ready and we will have it early next week.  I am watching the tomatoes and vine peaches very carefully.  And the cucumbers.

I found this article on NPR and the last paragraph is particularly interesting.  The earth is at its farthest distance from the sun for this year.

The morning news had an interesting segment.  The comments came in a discussion of the economic data which the reporters noted has been dismal.  Noting that no President has been re-elected when the unemployment has been over 8% or with a couple of other poor economic statistics which I can't remember now, they tried to explain why Obama and Romney are essentially tied in the polls.  By all historical patterns, Romney should be well ahead.  They cited some polls which indicate that voters may be 'losing faith' that anyone can really do anything to cure our economic malaise.  And we may be getting away from blaming individual politicians for the mess.  If so, maybe we are becoming more realistic in our expectations of our politicians.  And, perhaps, we aren't so ready to believe pie in the sky promises from either candidate. The above cartoon, from MSNBC, says it all.  I told Mom a couple of days ago that anyone or any group who thinks they can control the economy has a serious case of hubris.

This is utterly ridiculous.  To go back 21 years to try to find a tax overpayment and then try to get a refund??  If you or I tried that we would be laughed out of the office.  Seems to me it is a ploy to get out of paying the rest of what the company owes for the bailout that kept its sorry ass in business.  And from its major shareholder at that.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Hello, everyone.  I am already exhausted.  I got everything watered and managed to trim a bit on the roses and harvest a couple of strawberries, a lemon squash and three dragon's tongue beans.  We plan to have chef salads for dinner and will use the strawberries and lemon squash.  The temperature was a bit over 80 but with a brutal humidity.  We expect another triple digit day.  They have extended the heat warning to tomorrow.  We just saw the news report on the damage from a pop-up storm that hit Gary and Merrillville--about 25 miles west of here.  Thankfully, all we got was a bit of cloud cover that temporarily reduced the heat.  I have noticed that the cucumbers and beans are showing a bit of stress.  But the more corn plants are tasseling.

As the heat continues some news outlets have taken note.  I saw a couple of stories yesterday where reporters sounded an alarm over the possible consequences--general food prices increasing by 2-5% and meat prices as much as 10%.  The Department of Agriculture has severely reduced its early, optimistic estimates of corn and soy yields.  I was a bit skeptical because I was reading accounts of some plains farmers sowing corn in fields that were much too dry for the seed to germinate. They had a no-win choice: plant a crop that was likely to fail and collect the crop insurance or not plant and have no income.  And the weather people see no easing of the drought and an intensification in most areas.

Reading this article led me to ask a question that I am sure the powers that be would rather we not ask.  The economy produced a paltry 80K jobs last month.  That by itself was disappointing since most of the supposed experts thought the number would range from 100K to 150K.  But then most experts I read have maintained that we need 150K each month to keep up with the new workers entering the labor market.  That means that last month 70K new workers didn't have jobs waiting (150K-80K=70K).  But the unemployment rate stayed at 8.2.  So how many fell off the statistical radar?

Attaturk at Firedoglake has noticed the silence on the climate change denial side now that we have an ongoing heatwave of historic proportions.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Good hot first Thursday in July, Everyone.  Hope you are staying cool.  Our temperature on the patio hit 102 yesterday and today is predicted to top that.  I had to zip out and bring my sage in--it had dried out even though it was in the 'wet' category by my touch test and moisture meter.  But it had gone bone dry by late afternoon.  I will keep it inside for the next couple days but a thorough watering and the cooler temps inside have revived it.  On the whole I am very happy with the gardens.  They have come through the brutal weather very nicely--better than in past years.  But I think I will be watering each morning, whether I think the containers need it or not, until this heat breaks.  The nice thing about well drained containers is that you can't overwater most plants.

I saw a headline that intrigued me.  I won't link because the headline was for an article in the Wall Street Journal and I couldn't read more than the first couple of paragraphs.  I refuse to subscribe for the few articles I really want to read.  Any way--WikiLeaks has released some 2.4 million e-mails between the Syrian government and various western companies.  What intrigued me since I couldn't read the details?  The volume.  How in the world does one sift through that much information much less put it into some kind of meaningful context?

So the Fukushima disaster was man-made?  I will let you read the article.  I have long been a skeptic of the whole notion of nuclear energy.  The whole history of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and now Fukushima has reinforced my skepticism.

Economic Collapse has another of the 'evil empire of Wal-Mart' articles.  Though the headline promises  I will be shocked, I am not.  I am not surprised at the number of Americans who shop there each week or who spend $4k a year there.  We were once among that group.  We aren't any more.  Why?  Because of our experience on our last trip, which is typical of the very few such trips over the last half-dozen years or so.  We went in partly because we needed some new bras and were curious about the beef they have been advertising.  The beef--pricey, too much packaging (still), and though the label noted it was processed by Tyson it didn't list the country of origin (something we have become very cautious about.)  The other meats also had the same excess packaging with the nitrogen or CO2 gas to make the customer think the meat is fresher than it may be.  Walking back to the apparel area Mom checked the prices for some other items we normally buy--several cents higher than what we pay at our neighborhood supermarket.  Why drive farther and expend the gas for no benefit?  As to the bras--we found plenty in my size (a definite change from earlier years) but only a couple of black ones in Mom's size.  More often than not we come away from Wal-Mart empty handed because don't find what we want or we find what they offer more expensive that it is worth.  We don't mind paying the price for quality but we resent paying dear money for crap.

The continuing effects from the storms that blew through here and areas east all the way to the coast makes one think about what one really needs as a back up.  Some five days later a lot of people are still waiting for their power to be restored.  I remembered that FEMA recommended keeping a three day supply of nonperishable food and water.  But anyone who does that hopes the emergency doesn't last longer.  All too many emergencies over the last few years have lasted a full week or more.

Don't you just love our capitalist system?  The bankers evidently do.  Although one has to ask where capitalism ends and fraud begins.  I wish I felt sure that justice would be dished out on that case and on this one--but I think justice has been thoroughly purchased and, unfortunately, its price is way beyond my means or anyone in the lower .01% of our socioeconomic system.

We have listened to the news readers presenting various statistics from the FBI or the Chicago Police which claimed that various categories of crime were down.  Our skepticism antennae were raised because all of the categories involved crimes in the news with what seemed to us increasing frequency. I wonder if this report sheds any light on this discrepancy.  It would appear that economic and educational statistics aren't the only ones vigorously massaged to create the appearance the powers that be want us to see.

Franklin Roosevelt is supposed to have once said he wanted to be remembered for the enemies he made.  Perhaps we should remember Mitt Romney for his friends.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July.  They predict another very warm day and we may exceed the 100 we hit yesterday. I have already finished in the gardens.  We decided to put the trash tote on the outside of the fence and redistribute the pots to give a bit more room to move around on the patio.  I discovered a little lemon squash that had hidden from me until I moved the pots.  I have a bunch of herbs that I need to harvest and dry but that will wait for tomorrow at the earliest.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Good sweltering Tuesday to you all.  Our thermometer on the patio registered 100 yesterday though, as  I have mentioned before, our little patio is something of an oven that concentrates heat.  Today we expect much the same with the possibility of afternoon thunderstorms.  We told Sister yesterday that we won't be over for her 4th of July cook-out.  Interesting bit of weather trivia--we have had 19 days of 90+ temperatures.  Normal--5.  And that tis the most for this early in the year.  We need to do our bi-weekly shopping this morning so all I have done in the gardens is water.  I found only four plants needed water: two tomatoes and the lavender and rosemary.  I am very pleased with the results from adding vermiculite to my soil.  It has cut my watering by half to two-thirds.  I found some little cucumbers and a couple of little vine peaches.  All of the tomatoes are showing good fruit.  And those two peppers I thought were never going to develop--well they are flowering.  Go figure!!  The roses are  showing life also.  I thought I had lost them. I had tucked them into a space between two large pots and they responded by dropping most of their foliage and some canes.  I moved their pot onto my potting bench/patio table where they get more sun and air circulation, and then left them alone.  Sometimes the minimalist approach is best.

This is a very sad sign of the times.

I don't know about anyone else, but I think $3billion is much too low a fine for this kind of corporate criminality.  Actually, I am not sure exactly how much GSK is getting hit with and has agreed to.  Undernews cites the figure at $4 billion with another $2 billion possible.  I really should read a bit closer.  The GSK figure is the same while the rest of the money figures come from fines either levied (against Abbott) or pending (against Johnson&Johnson.)

Here is a clear indication that we are reviving 'debt slavery.'  Predatory capitalism at its finest. (And yes that is sarcasm.)

Update: I noticed that a few of my corn plants are tasseling.  I hope to get a few ears.  We just finished our shopping and found that our favorite stand-alone farm market is open again.  Yipee!!!

One of the many really good aspects of the Affordable Care Act.  I really resent these companies soaking it to me because I am a woman.  Just as much as I resent the private company that runs the Indiana Tollroad charging more for those who use cash.  They just raised fares again for the cash customers only while leaving the fares charged various electronic pass customers the same.  That is why we refuse to use the Tollroad any more.  We didn't use it much--3 or 4 times a year--so it wouldn't break us to pay the higher fees.  But the discrimination really pisses us off.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Good Monday, Everyone.  After a very lazy weekend I got out in the gardens this morning.  I don't have to water--thanks to our monsoonal rains on Friday and Sunday.  Between the two I think we got about an inch.  Yesterday afternoon's thunderstorm had more high winds and driving rain.  The wind almost blew my rosemary off the fence and did blow the sheet I had shading the greenhouse off onto one of my tomato plants.  I ran out and grabbed the sheet, the rosemary and the hanging hummingbird feeder just before the rain slammed into us.  Thankfully, no damage here though the news said that areas of Chicago had some severe damage and widespread power outages.  From the weather forecasts we can expect such episodes for the next week--at least.  The say the winds reached 80 o 90 mph.

We just took a nice walk around the neighborhood.  Only a few tree limbs down and one building is missing a section of its eaves.  The city has been repairing, widening and extending the sidewalks along a couple of the main streets here and they are very nice.  The old ones (those we had) were so narrow that only one person could walk comfortably.  Now we can walk two abreast and still have room to pass others (or be passed.)

I found this interesting because I had a good bit of dental work done in our local Aspen Dental office this last spring.  Comparing my experience with the woman in the story is revealing.  I needed a broken, infected tooth removed.  I got the free exam and x-rays as promised.  Then I also was presented with an extensive list of other work that the dentist thought I should also get.  The quoted cost amounted to nearly the same $7+k mentioned in the story and I was also offered the credit card.  I rejected the credit card outright and told the office manager firmly that I don't do credit cards--period.  Then we started dickering over what I really needed and what the costs would be.  By the time we got done the treatments included two crowns, two fillings, one tooth pulled, and a thorough cleaning/descaling for around $3500.  That may sound like a lot but it was a bit under half the original.  Considering my teeth hadn't had any attention for 50 years (thanks to the last brutal treatment I got at age 13) and I got to keep all but the one tooth that was removed--I feel I got a good deal.  We aren't used to questioning doctors and dentists but given the commercialization of medicine and dentistry, which rewards the practitioners for the number of procedures they can talks their customers into, we need to question and then we need to understand the answers.  It is sad that we have to be so vigilant about protecting ourselves but that is the world of predatory capitalism.

There is something disturbing about the headlines like the one for this article.  I can't remember widespread blackouts due to storms when I was a child.  In fact, for most of my adult life, electrical service has been so reliable that we never gave it a thought.  Although our local service has been highly reliable other areas not too far away have not been so lucky.  As a result we think more about what we would do without electricity.  And, every time we see headlines like the one I linked to above, we think about it even more.