Friday, August 31, 2012

Good day to you all on what promises to be a hot Friday.  We did hit the low 90s yesterday and expect the same today.  With that we would post 45 days in the 90s or better for the year.  The record is 47.  I would rather not tie or exceed it.  Nothing much planned for the garden today.  Watered the rosemary but that is it.  The temperature will go too high to do much all too soon.

I didn't watch the convention so I didn't see Clint Eastwood's performance.  I heard on the commentary from the ABC local political reporter that it was 'bizarre' (according to the prevalent comments on twitter.)  But when I read a headline concerning it on MarketWatch I laughed and am still more quietly amused.  The headline quoted Eastwood saying 'It is time for a businessman to become President.'  Evidently he hasn't read much history.  The last successful businessman to become President was---Herbert Hoover.  (Note--though Harry Truman was a businessman he wasn't all that successful.  He was far more successful as a politician.)  Eastwood's right wing politics bothers and influences me not at all--any more than the left wing politics of other entertainers.  They have a right to their opinions as I have to mine.

I just had to look at the link to find our what the hell Honey Boo Boo was that beat out the Repthuglican National Convention for viewers.  I had no idea.  Our TV was off and our DVD played Starship Troopers: Invasion and an old Vincent Price movie based on three Edgar Allen Poe short stories.  Far more entertaining.

As you all know, if you have been reading her for a while, I love Margaret and Helen.  Their assessment of the Repthuglican campaign much resembles mine.  But if I want to see clowns I will wait for the professional circus to come to town.  Why waste time on very inept not-quite-amateurs?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Good Thursday, everyone.  Nice and cool right now; but, they expect temps in the 90s so sometime today I will have to close everything up and put on the air.  Same for tomorrow before Isaac come up here.  I hope for a couple of days of steady rain.  Only plan to water everything and harvest some herbs for drying.  I might get a couple of plants pulled before it gets too hot.

As I noted before I am not watching the convention and won't watch the other one either.  I find the commentary on the Internet far more interesting and if, by some strange happenstance, I want to read a speech I am sure I can find a transcript.  But I found a critique of Christie's speech yesterday that noted something very odd:  he recounted his own 'achievements' in New Jersey for most of it and only brought up his party's flag bearer toward the end.  I think one blogger counted some 37 references to Christie himself and only a few at the end to Romney.  This article reinforces a niggling notion in the back of my mind: the Repthuglican hierarchy aren't all that sure Romney will win.  That is far more interesting that watching the convention itself.

While the Repthuglican once and, possibly, future contenders are busy plunging rhetorical shivs into their candidate's back, this is an ongoing problem in health care.  We have known for sometime about the increasing incidence of 'superbugs'--those resistant to antibiotics.  However, we have to go back to my mother's generation to find those with experience of medicine without antibiotics.  We may be heading back to that time.  And we may not like it much.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Good Wednesday to everyone.  Sunny and mid-80s today.  I think we may have touched 90 yesterday. The patio thermometer read 85 and it is in the shade.  I tried out the little nut/spice grinder this morning. It does a nice coarse grind that is perfect for tea.  We still need to use a mortar and pestel for the finer grind Mom likes for cooking.  At least I don't have to set up the blender to do that grinding any more.  Even with the blender she had to use the mortar.  The little food processor doesn't seal well enough and the fine herb dust flew all over the last time I tried it.  Besides I would rather have something that doesn't require electricity to operate.  I am going more and more retrograde all the time.

I haven't watched any of the coverage of the Convention, as I have said before, and damned little of the lamestream media reports.  This is why.  The Romney people are trying very hard to control things and they aren't showing much grace in handling events and people who upset their little charade.  In a world where some degree of flexibility is required they are showing how inflexible the are.  I wonder how many crises that don't follow Romney's vision of how things ought to be will it take to shatter him.  And we already have a society/political system that has become increasingly intolerant of dissent.  How much farther can that intolerance be driven--and do we want to find out?

I just had one of my very nasty thoughts reading this little essay on the Republican disdain for women and remembering how little has been made of Paul Ryan's comment that 'rape is a method of conception.  How about we redefine castration as a 'method of birth control?'  Think they would go for that?  Sauce for the goose, as they say.

I wonder how long before this becomes standard over here.  We have been complaining about the trend of producers cutting the size of their products while charging the same price.  Recently the brand of juice we buy went from 64 to 59 oz.  Our favorite brand of canned fruit is going from 10 oz to 8.  Unilever thinks 'poverty is returning' to Europe.  Well, I think it never really left.  It has just been hiding in plain sight where we could easily ignore it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Good Tuesday, Everyone.  We have a bunch of errands to do today so I won't get any gardening done. The weather should be much like yesterday: mid 80s and sunny.  The weather people are tracking Isaac to see if it will track through our area.  I hope so.  We need  it to break the drought.

I am not going to watch any of the conventions.  I figure I can read transcriptions of any of the speeches I think might be interesting.

Well, we just got back from our errands.  We had a few more stops than usual.  Mom had an early morning appointment for blood work.  Because she couldn't eat before, I treated her to breakfast out.  Then we had to pay rent and visit the downtown farm market to get some acorn squash.  The lady who runs the stand asked if we would take a slightly marred pepper.  It has a couple of soft spots but we figured we could add it to a batch of the bullnose peppers ready to be cleaned and frozen.  We will be seeing her later over the next few weeks because we also want some butternut squash.  We will cook them up all at once and freeze most of it for later.  Cooking for two is always a bit of a pain.  We find that doing up a full recipe and freezing the extra is a good plan.  Our version of TV dinners.  Then we visited the little natural foods market we had wanted to see.  It is a nice little place and we will be going back there.  Mom wants a little creamer--you know, the little glass or porcelain pitcher for cream.  In another retrograde move we have shifted from dry, powdered creamer to half&half to condensed milk.  Mom doesn't like to leave the condensed milk in the can.  But we have had a hard time finding a small cream pitcher.  We will keep it in the back of our minds when we are out.  We even tried our little Ace Hardware (where we found a little herb/spice mill I have wanted for a while) and the local Kmart which used to have a nice housewares department.  Now we are resting.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Good last Monday of August to you all.  Hard to believe how fast the year is going.  No gardening today.  We had good rain last night--only about an inch but slow and steady.  They are watching the hurricane to see if it will track into our area.  I didn't do much outside yesterday other than water the cuttings and seedling in the greenhouse.  They are all doing well so far.

Found this 24/7 Wall Street article by way of MSNBC.  I only read it to see if my gut instinct about what industries are 'most hated' and why were correct.  I guessed that banking and the petroleum industries would be at the top and I was right there.  I also figured right that the industries that were most necessary to our way of life and over which we have the least control would be high up there.  No brainer and no surprise.

Reading things like this rather pisses me off.  Especially when I remember Alan Simpson's famous quip that, for Social Security and others who receive government checks, the Federal government is like a milch cow with 310 million teats.  How many of those teats are feeding our 'capitalists' businesses?  What ticks me off more?  The fact that the lawsuit has been sealed in Federal court for the last three years and has only been unsealed since last Wednesday.

This intrigued me.  I wasn't aware that some U.S. Government Printing Office publications were available in e-book format from Barnes & Noble and will soon be available from Apple.  I looked at the B&N site and found what they have but I didn't find anything of interest to me a this time.

And this could get very interesting.  All those Repthuglican ideologues occupying state houses may have a local revolt on their hands.  Can only hope it is a prelude to an ouster in the near future.

During what passes for news on TV this morning we were expressing thankfulness to Isaac for shortening the 'reality' show called the Republican Convention.  And we don't really think any more of the Democratic Party's version.  We much resent the wasted time and the total lack of any enlightening information from this exercise in futility.  It seems we aren't alone in our attitudes.  Jeff Jarvis at HuffPo asks reporters why they are even in Tampa and what they can possibly tell us from there that they can't from their local areas.  Add the money wasted by the news organizations to the tally of some $2billion+ this damned farce is going to cost when all is (not)said and (un)done.

Paul Slansky's piece on Huffington Post this morning highlights Repthuglican hypocrisy.  I know.  I know.  We shouldn't be all that surprised.  But in a week which saw both Romney and Ryan (supposedly) try to persuade Akin in Missouri to withdraw from the Senate race because of his comments about female reproductive physiology and rape, and then the passage of a plank in the Repthuglican platform which proposes criminalization of abortion with no exemptions for rape, incest, or the health of the mother, one would expect the lamestream (s)news media to go apeshit.  Well, it hasn't.  As noted in Animal Farm--"All animals are created equal but some animals are more equal than others."  Depends on how big the pig is whether he gets slaughtered or not.

I saw this post on Cassandra's Legacy yesterday but thought I would link to it today.  We are naturally focused on our own drought but we shouldn't forget that a large swath of the planet is in the same boat.  Our (s)news media, unfortunately, helps mightily to reinforce that insularity.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

We have the window and doors open this morning and the air off.  I hope we can keep that over the week.  The weather people say temps in the 80s.  Later today we should see rain.  They say a slow system should deliver a long slow rain which we badly need.  I have some peppers to take today and some tomato two tomato plants to take out.  With the rain coming I should zip up the greenhouse.  Otherwise I continue the slow winding down of the gardens.  Let's see if I find anything worth spending the effort to comment on.

One passing to note: Neil Armstrong at 82.  I remember the moon landing.  I was stationed at a Naval command in DC at the time.  I remember everyone who had leave and seniority taking a few days leave  so they could relax in front of their TVs to watch.  I had neither but the command had sets throughout tuned in.

I found this Economist op-ed piece by way of the Political Wire and it neatly sums up why I am not voting for Romney/Ryan.  I will be voting for a President not a Chameleon In Chief.

For a fascinating and very depressing then vs. now set of pictures go here.  The first picture was from last year when the Mississippi was at flood stage and the Corp of Engineers had to open levees to relieve the pressure.  A lot of farmers had their land flooded, scoured by the force of the water, and ruined for a considerable future thanks to the water, silt and sand.  This year is a very different picture as the levels are at near record lows impeding barge traffic.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hi, All.  We expect another warm hot day on tap.  Nineties again.  I will be satisfied to get everything watered and leave everything else to a cooler day which is expected tomorrow or Monday.  Let's see what is on the internet today.

Hmmmm--not much.  See you tomorrow.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Pleasant and enjoyable Friday to you all.  Our temperature did reach the low 90s yesterday.  I think the weather people said that was the 42nd day in the 90s this season.  We may or may not get the four more needed to tie the record.  We have errands on tap today so I don't think I will do more than water everything in the gardens.  I did take out two of the spent tomato plants.  One big difference between last year and this: I had a whole lot of green tomatoes late last season but not many at all this year.  The prolonged time with 95+ temps stopped them blooming.  All of the plants in the greenhouse are doing well though one of the patchouli doesn't look too good and one of the cabbage pots doesn't show any sprouts yet.

The hype leading to the Repthuglican coronation is in full spate.  I am ignoring it as much as possible as I intend to ignore the Damnocratic convention.  Everyone on the (s)news media was ballyhooing Romney's energy 'plan'.  I put that in quotes because the only thing beyond 'drill, baby, drill' he has added is a 'frack, baby, frack' clause.  Oh, and if I were Canadian or Mexican I would worry about his promise that his policies would lead to North American energy independence by 2020.  Did anyone else catch that?  I wonder how he would define 'cooperation' with respect to Canada and Mexico?

I don't know how often over the last five years I read some pundit predicting that the booming Chinese economy would pull the rest of the world out of the Great Recession.  Well, lately, I have been reading more stories like this one.

I think this cartoon (found by way of accurately describes the current economy very well.  But I saw a piece on CNBC yesterday that rather pissed me off.  They noted that middle class income had fallen over the last decade at the same time that the middle class had shrunk by about 5%.  They also cited a poll which indicated that more than two-thirds of the respondents had no hope that they or their children would have better lives in the future.  Then they brought in this 'expert' who debunked the whole argument.  Sure the middle class has shrunk, he said--because 60% of the people moving out of the middle class had moved up into the wealthy class.  Sure, middle class income as a share of the economy had declined, he said--because those who moved up were wealthier.  Sorry, you all feel so bad but really we are doing so much better.  Excuse me while I go barf.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hello, All.  It looks like another nice day here.  The weather people predict high 80s with hit or miss showers.  So far, from the weather radar, it looks like we are on the miss side of that.  Just the usual chores to do.  I have a couple of spent plants to remove later.  I checked all of the cuttings and seed starts first thing.  So far only one of the patchouli looks very iffy.  All the others are crisp and standing up.  I did get the thyme and variegated marjoram cuttings started yesterday.  Our cable/internet went out for about two hours yesterday.  No idea why.  But that has happened often enough that we just put the computers aside and do some chores.  And it hasn't happened with the almost daily regularity it did in June.

This story is making the rounds--again.  The details haven't really changed from the coverage earlier this year.  The study cited claims that 40% of the food produced is thrown away--for a variety of reasons.  Some is plowed under because the farmer can't make enough to cover his costs.  Why not give it to food banks?  In some cases, state and local health regulations prohibit that.  The notion that the average family throws out a bit more than $2k each year while (according to the article) Gallup polls indicate that more people are having difficulty making their food budgets is mind boggling.  I remember a storage bag maker who used that as the theme for their commercials.  They showed customer at the meat counter ordered two large steaks and asked the clerk to only wrap one because 'we'll just throw the other away.'  They put out several commercials on that same theme.  I always thought the premise ridiculous. We are anything but average here but always look for ways to do better.    On another front in the waste war, I wonder what the value of the various food products recalled because of various kinds of contamination would amount to.  Or, how much undeclared allergen recalls cost.  Our industrial system of food production is inherently wasteful but no one discusses that.  I did like the 'buy one--get one free, later" program in some British stores.  But then we have found our grocery store will let you take one item at the sale price during their 'two-for-one' sales.

Update: it is already getting warm outside.  We just went for a bit of a walk around the block and, though it was comfortable when we started, it is getting a bit too warm to do much--especially in the sun.  So I think the gardening will wait till tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Good day to you all.  Expecting 80s today and tomorrow with low 90s Friday through Sunday.  So far August has given us below normal temps after one of the warmest Julys on record.  Anyone else feeling whipsawed by the weather?  I didn't get much done yesterday.  I generally don't on days we do our shopping and especially on those days we have to make a series of stops.  We started out at Panera for our bread, the farm market to look around (didn't get anything but will pick up some onions and squash next week), the grocery store and finished up at one of the local dollar stores.  By the time we get home and put everything away we figure we have done enough work for the day.  Today I plan to clean some shelves downstairs and move the books upstairs to open up some storage space, take cuttings from the marjoram and thyme to get started, water what needs it outside and a few other chores.  We'll see what I get done.  All too often I get side tracked by something else I see that also needs doing.

Every now and again I have to be somewhat amazed by the absolute inanity/insanity/asininity of our politicians.  Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akins apologized not for his opinions but for his word choice.  No one has really commented on that. Somehow he should have found a way to express opinions many find offensive in words that won't offend.  Worse very little follow up with this kind of information.  The Repthuglican platform will, as so often in the recent history, contain anti-abortion language while remaining silent on exceptions for rape and incest.  Again they want to support the policy without telling the voters what that policy really means.  Yesterday I saw one news story connecting Ryan and Akin in an effort to introduce legislation that banned abortion with no exceptions.    And I found this one today that goes into more details.  This says to me that the pressure the Repthuglicans put on Akin to withdraw from the race is simply a maneuver to allow them to put in a more accomplished liar.  They agree with the policy they just want someone who can hide that fact more convincingly.

Hi, Kay.  Thanks for stopping by.  I know you are very busy with the campaign.  Keep up the good fight, girl.

I saw a story on this a couple of days ago but the Contrary Farmer has a humorous take on the problem.  There are definitely technologies that cause more problems than they solve.

Granny Geek published a quasi-humorous post that says something about generational differences.  I will admit I don't wear a watch--haven't since I admitted I am retired.  I don't have to tell time to the nearest minute any more and, when I am out, I have my cell phone with me which provides me with the time if I need to know.  But I can read an old-fashioned dial watch--I actually have a couple in my jewelry box if I ever really need one.  It make me wonder how these kids will function if their technological umbilicals fail them.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Good day on this sunny Wednesday.  The weather people tell us the temperatures are going back to something at or above normal for the next week.  They did put a 90 on for later in the week.  We hope we won't have to put the air conditioning on.  We'll see.  I dried two trays of oregano and lemon balm, one of patchouli, and half a tray of sage and pineapple sage.  I also started cuttings of pineapple sage, sage, patchouli, lemon balm,  and lavender.  They look good so far.  The earlier cuttings look good also--no wilting so far.  I saw two cabbage and one kale sprout already.  By the time they are ready to be put in the large containers I will have some spaces available.

Oh, yeah, Annie's Granny.  Kunstler's post yesterday does deserve a standing ovation.  We have become increasingly skeptical of technology that offers us 'convenience.'  They also carry with them serious inconvenience.  We are not looking forward to the time (hopefully a number of years off) when we will have to change out our cell phones.  All we really want is a PHONE.  We don't want to surf the internet.  We don't want to watch movies.  We don't want to play games.  We do that on our computers.  We laugh every time we see that commercial with the kids telling younger kids how easy they have it now that they can move the TV anywhere they want because they have (whichever) wireless service AND they can record as many as six shows at one time.  When we moved in here we had two TVs (mine and Mom's).  We now have one.  We have trouble finding ANYthing we want to watch much less six shows at the same time.  So much of the new technology simply doesn't offer us any features we really want or need.  We did our shopping this morning and were surprised to see the beginning of fall color in the trees.  The drought has definitely taken a toll on them.  I noticed a couple of trees where about half or more of the tree is actually dead.  I really, really hope we have some very good snows this winter.

Here is a story for the "WTF??" file.  I can understand someone wanting to avoid sunburns or excess exposure to the sun.  But I would find an indoor pool or a very good sunscreen.  Obviously the true objective here is to be seen on the beach not to swim.  I was amused by the reaction of governmental officials--they are concerned that the 'facekini' can be used by criminals.  Ya think???

We have been hearing a lot about the drought in the U.S. that has damaged a large part of the corn and soybean crops.  The mainstream media has begun covering it heavily over the last month--day late, dollar short to my thinking. The problem is that the U.S, situation is only part of the story as this Al Jazeera story points out.  I haven't heard anything about the light and late monsoon in India, or the dry conditions in Russia and eastern Europe, or the droughts in southern Europe (Spain has had a severe drought and it is a major producer of corn) or the heat wave in France.

And another piece from Al Jazeera brings back memories.  As a much over-educated (four college degrees--two bachelor's and two master's) who has mis-spent all too much of her adulthood in higher education, I can bear witness to all of what the article describes.  When I worked as an adjunct my compensation was about $1200-1300 per course.  The institutions I worked for limited their adjuncts to 3 courses per semester.  The adjuncts I worked with when I lived in Colorado worked for schools in Boulder, Ft. Collins, and Greeley simultaneously.  And they still didn't make a living wage.  Twenty five years ago I saw the beginnings of the shift to adjuncts.  It was a dirty little secret that our academic advisors tried very hard not to mention because, if they did, many of their Teaching Assistants would have rethought their prospects and jumped ship.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a teaser for one of the climate-change denier sites (don't remember which) which triumphantly proclaimed '6 inches of drought!!' after northern Colorado (where that big wildfire charred a nice wide swath) got a bit of rain.  This Coyote Gulch post gives some of the reality of the situation.  That six inches was a drop in the bucket of what they need--we need.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Good Monday, Everyone.  Hope you had a pleasant weekend.  Ours was cool and sunny.  They say some areas had thundershowers--brief and light.  We heard a couple of thunderclaps but no rain.  I got three trays of spearmint and two each of orange mint and peppermint.  I threw the root balls of the spearmint out because, like last year, they were so tightly bound in roots that getting any soil out was too much of a chore.  So far the cuttings are still standing up.  I have hopes they will produce daughter plants for next season.  I need to get the oregano cut.  I also should to take cuttings from the patchouli, sage, pineapple sage, lavender, and thyme for new plants.  These are all good plants, my books say, for propagating by cutting.

I love James Kunstler's posts on clusterfucknaition.  Today's curmudgeon's rant is worth of prolonged applause.  Consider it given.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Howdy, All.  Hope your have a good Sunday.  We may get some rain today but not much according to the weather people.  Some more leisurely gardening today.  Nothing is pressing.  I got five trays of basil and two of stevia dried yesterday.  I plan on drying more today.  Our little hummingbird has returned frequently for the last few days.  She surprised us a couple of days ago when she came by while we were going out and then stayed in spite of our presence.  We watched as she flew all around the patio examining everything.  Then she went back to the lavender and the feeder.  Mom made up a spaghetti sauce yesterday using the last of last season's stock.  One of the spicy peppers was ripe so I gave it to her for the sauce.  When I tried to move the pot a bit a green one caught on the cage supporting the bullnose peppers and fell off so I gave her that little one as well.  We found out those are some potent little peppers.  Not quite as hot as the regular jalapeƱos but a bit hotter than we intended.  It was some good sauce and, thankfully, the spaghetti noodles muted some of the heat.  The left over sauce is going into a chili later this week.  We never have left overs here.  We have ingredients for another meal.

I found this on Natural News this morning and I was a bit skeptical.  However, having read several items concerning Google's new policy of blocking sites offering tarot readings, magic spells and such, I thought I would explore the issue a bit.  And the information is accurate.  I can get all kinds of information on the search part of Google but when I go into search the message comes up with zero results but I noticed that Walmart and a couple of other big vendors are listed.  This smacks just a bit too much of Big Brotherism to me.  I read somewhere that Google intended to 'preserve the integrity' of their business environment by cutting off information leading to 'hucksters.'  Crap!!  I generally like Google but I don't want my search results censored or my access to products limited by their sensibilities.  I have been an adult for much longer than Google has been around and I can make my own decisions.

Now this idiot has put a new coat on the old notions of eugenics.  Craptastic!!!  Given the numerous ethical, moral, and religious systems that exist (and have existed) I sincerely doubt that there is an identifiable 'morality' gene.  But these (choose your own epithet--I can't think of one severe enough to cover this evil) always try.  We would probably wind up with a whole lot of people who think like the Christianist thugs who disrupt military funerals, support raping lesbians to 'cure' them, or beating children because you think they are possessed.

Maureen Dowd takes a very sharp scalpel to Paul Ryan's 'moderate' facade and shows it for exactly--a facade.

I read Patrice Lewis' blogs consistently.  I don't always agree with her.  I am far more liberal, am not raising children and have little interest in religion.  But here is a post I agree with 100%.  Some 25 years ago the notion that what passes for higher education had become an exercise in futility--it cost far too much and delivered way too little to be worthwhile.  But it took another ten years for the lesson to sink in thoroughly.  Once upon a time I thought a Secretary of Education (I forget which) told Americans they should 'kick the tires' was batshit crazy.  Now I think he was on to something.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Hello to you all out there.  We had a beautifully sunny but cool day yesterday.  The overnight temp went to 55 on the patio.  Supposed to be much the same today.  We woke to a bit of condensation on the upstairs window--haven't seen that for a long time.  The little hummingbird came back this morning.  She visited the lavender first--I didn't know they liked lavender--and then to the nectar feeder.  She is visiting more frequently--may be feeding up for migration.  I got cuttings from all three mints started as well as the cabbage and kale.

I found absolutely nothing so far to comment on.  I think I will give it a rest for the rest of the day.

Friday, August 17, 2012

TGIF again, Everyone.  They say we will have sun today.  We did get some rain yesterday but not enough to make a big dent in the dry conditions.  The temperatures shouldn't get out of the 70s.  I finished packaging the stewed tomatoes for the freezer.  We have another 6 pounds in 2 lb. packages.  We might get another batch out of the remaining tomato plants.  I have a few chores planned--like starting some cuttings from my mints, patchouli, and sage.  Some of them also should be harvested and dried.  As I said yesterday, the season is definitely winding down.

So Mitt claims he has paid at least 13% in taxes for the last ten years.  The Democrats are saying exactly what I said when I heard it last night:  Prove it.  As dear St. Ronnie said about 25 years ago "Trust, but verify."  Talk is cheap.  Although, in this case terribly expensive.  I have already turned off the TV news.  It is almost all crap or I have already seen it and they aren't presenting anything new.  I'll catch the evening news.

I found this quote on one of the blog sites this morning I visit frequently.  Enjoy!!
“You will often hear people who ought to know better dress up Ryan's savage economic priorities with euphemisms. Ryan wants to "fix" Medicare. No, he doesn't. He wants to kill it. Saying Paul Ryan wants to "fix" Medicare is like saying the vet wanted to "fix" my dog Major; that which used to work very well no longer works at all—and Major is none too happy with the procedure.” -- Paul Begala 8/11/12
  I saw a short piece this morning which described this unfortunate possible consequence of the drought.  As this drought has affected more and more of the corn crop I thought often enough that at least the farmers could grind it for silage and feed it to their cattle.  Well, maybe not.  I didn't know that drought stressed corn would concentrate nitrogen to toxic levels.

Our little hummingbird came back!!  She gave the flowers on my lavender (what few there are; it is still a young plant) a close examination and flew off.  But she came back just a couple of minutes ago and maneuvered around the bees to get at the feeder.  We have had a lot of bees visiting the hummingbird feeder getting ready for winter.  I don't have much for them in the garden now that the cucumbers and squash are spent.  I must do some planning for more hummingbird, bee and butterfly friendly plants next summer.

Wise Father at ragingwisdom posted this inventive protest in Spain at at Bankia branch.  Loved it!!!  No abuse, no shouting.  But they got the message across.  Watch the video.  It is in Spanish but the message is clear.  Their banks are about as popular there as ours are here.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hello, Everyone.  The weather people say we should have a line of thunderstorms move through here ahead of a cool front.  I don't know how much I will get done in the gardens today before the rain comes in.  I am not in a great hurry.  I pulled two of the tomatoes yesterday and will package up the stewed tomatoes I cooked up yesterday.  Things are definitely slowing down.  Last week one of the weather people teased his summer/heat loving colleagues by telling them that summer was over--solar summer that is.  Solar summer is that period when the most solar energy hits earth.

Ruth Marcus has a good opinion piece in the Washington Post this morning.  She specifically addresses the dueling slanders each side is leveling at the other.  However, it doesn't matter which issue one looks at the pattern is the same.  As Marcus puts it,
The laws of political gravity drag every debate from the lofty realm of ideas to the grungy plain of invective. The more complex and weighty the issue, the more it is at risk of being distilled — distorted — into a 30-second caricature.
That is why I watch the news now with the remote in hand and hit the mute button when the campaign 'news' comes on.  I am tired of the invective and the sound bits which take up time that could be devoted to a serious consideration of issues.  I am also tired of the 'he said, he said' nature of the campaign as though every outrageous statement has to be 'balanced' by an equally outrageous statement from the other side.  That is supposed to be 'fair and balanced'????

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Good Wednesday to everyone out there.  I have a whole bunch of tomatoes to stew today.  Far more than I thought I would have.  I also have one tomato plant that has no more tomatoes developing so I plan to remove it.  It may start blooming again but I don't know if any fruits would have the time to ripen.  The sunflowers are also done so they should come out.

For the most part I have been trying to ignore the campaigns.  Or at least the news on the campaigns.  That has degenerated into a tit-for-tat sound bites.  Every now and then one of the news shows actually discusses something of substance.  Last night one covered Romney's remarks on energy policy.  Being in coal country he, of course, hammered the notion that we have another 200 years worth of coal if only the Feds would get off the industry's back and let them give us unlimited energy.  Lie number one--those bastards won't give us anything.  I correct myself--they will give us polluted water, polluted air, and polluted land and more dead miners.  They will take the profits and leave us to clean up the mess and console the survivors.  If we demand 'clean' coal the cost will have to be absorbed somewhere along the line most likely somewhere between the mine and the final electric consumer.  Unless, of course, we want to scrap the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and a whole lot of other environmental legislation.  So that is Lie Number Two--it won't be cheap energy.  Lie Number Three--relying on coal won't make us energy independent.  Our transportation system runs on oil.  And transforming solid fuel (coal) to liquid of whatever kind won't be cheap either because resources and energy is required to make that transformation.  By the way, that 200 years worth of coal he cited--that depends on a number of factors.  One that we don't increase our current consumption.  Two that we really do have that much reserve in the ground.  And three--how easily accessible is that coal; or are we already through the easily mined supplies and going for the more difficult deposits (as we are with oil.)  Maha deals with this story also and does so very nicely--as usual.

Here is a pair of absolutely right on political cartoons found on NPR.
Randy Bish/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

I just had a thought as I read a teaser for an article about Obama's latest ad--the 'Get Real Mitt' ad.  According to the teaser the ad claims that Romney's policies would make it harder to pay for, among other things, college education.  On both sides of the fence there is no effort and, apparently, no desire to as more fundamental questions.  Whether they talk about education, energy, health care or anything else, they all assume that we should perpetuate the system we have (or had until recently.)  They don't ask if that system is at all sustainable or truly humane and productive.  Do we really need more college grads who can't find a job that will allow them to eat and pay off their student loan debt?  Do we really need an energy system that poisons our water, air and land?  Do we need a high-tech, massively expensive medical system that seems best designed to produce bankruptcies rather than cures?  Our society and economy seems to be seriously out of kilter and none of our political leaders are asking, let alone answering, the more important and more basic questions

As you all know if you have visited over the last couple of years you know that we have been thinking more about various what-ifs: what if we had a prolonged power outage or gas shortage or what ever.  I read a number of 'prepper' blogs because they give good information even if the suggestion can't really be applied to our situation.  However, I found this Washington Post article this morning that surprised me.  I have almost never seen a mainstream news outlet put out an article that suggests that power outages and other emergencies might be a part of our 'new normal.'  I was also surprised to read the suggestion that we have a 14 day stockpile of food, water and other supplies on hand.  Last I heard FEMA suggested 72 hours or three days.  Makes us wonder... .

We have heard about the problems the drought is posing for food prices.  Here is another impact to think about, power generation which accounts for nearly half of the water usage in this country.  CNBC is carrying an all day series on the drought and its effects.  Think the powers that be are getting worried?

I love the people at Crooks & Liars.  They so often say what I am thinking just more politely.  This assessment of Joe Biden's comments ending with 'they are going to put you all back in chains' says exactly what I thought.  We are in chains.  Chains wrought by the finance/insurance/medical industries (among others).  Unfettering Wall Street (and, by implication, the rest of big business) will simply tighten the chains we already wear.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Good Tuesday, All.  Something unusual this morning--fog.  We haven't seen much of that for a good while.  It should burn off and give us sun later today.  We had a nice day of on-again-off-again rain yesterday.  However, we need a lot more of that if the ground is going to regain the moisture it needs for next year's planting season.  I will look around the gardens later after it dries out.  I have a bunch of tomatoes that should be stewed and frozen.  Not as many as before but enough.  I need to start cutting on the herbs again.  It is amazing how quickly they recover after each cutting.

This story made our local news this morning but it isn't news in this household.  A couple of years ago we followed a History Channel series titled Life After People. The premise was what would happen to the physical remains of our civilization if we suddenly disappeared.  One of the segments noted the pythons in Florida and how the numbers of snakes over all and of large snakes particularly are increasing--because they have no natural predators.  Think the pythons will be controlled by alligators? Think again.  The alligator population is declining and a large part of that decline is due to pythons.  And the snakes wouldn't necessarily stay in Florida.  They can easily spread well north and west.

We saw this item on the TV news last night and this morning but with a local twist.  A couple of weeks ago the big news was that Motorola Mobility was moving its U.S. headquarters from one of the suburbs to downtown Chicago.  The city and state promised tax breaks--to keep the company in the state instead of letting it move out of Illinois.  But part of the deal was a promise to keep at least 2500 jobs at the headquarters.  Now they may not fulfill that promise and may not get the tax breaks.  Good!!  I have seen way too many stories of cities, counties or states that gave tax breaks and other bribes while promising some pie-in-the-sky number of jobs and then moving out again after getting most of the benefit and delivering almost none of the jobs.  And, for the most part, they got away with that theft.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Good Monday, Everyone.  We did have rain overnight and it is still sprinkling.  Thankfully no lightning and wind.  I cleaned out five containers and moved my roses to their permanent home.  They seem to be coming back nicely.  I am giving the gardening a rest today and letting everything dry out.  The weather people say we will be lucky to break 70 today.

It looks like the U.S. government is getting back into the buying of meat to help support farmers forced to sell off because of the drought.

I posted a link to a story yesterday that I said hit a bit close to home because it described wells a county away going dry.  This story is surprising only if you haven't been reading about the nearly record low water flow in the Mississippi.  If the river levels are going down you know the water table is also.

About eight years ago I had a major problem with my credit cards--after a period of very marginal jobs (or no job at all) I was so far in the hole I had to file for bankruptcy.  I then decided never to have another credit card and I have stuck with that decision.  Shortly after the nationwide economic meltdown the credit card companies seemed to get religion and became more selective about to whom they sent their wonderful introductory offers and the number I received went from at least 4 a month to (maybe) one every six months.  I noticed that lately the number of offers have increased again.  But this story reinforces my determination not to carry credit cards again.  Interestingly, the part of the story which describes the credit card companies selling the accounts they have already written off to other companies that try to collect struck a chord in my memory.  About two years after my case was concluded I received a call from a collection agency demanding payment of the debt they said I owed.  I asked for particulars and recognized the account they were talking about.  I knew the account was included in the bankruptcy and told the agent so.  He explained that they had just bought a block of debt from the original company and were working through it.  They didn't call again.  But I remarked at the time that the card company was more than a little dishonest in this matter.  They knew very well that the debt had been expunged by the bankruptcy.  Interesting what a dishonest little system we have.

This bit of educational chicanery surprises me not a bit.  If there is any way to nickel-and-dime students to poverty our for-profit schools will find it.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Hello, Everyone.  Cool and pleasant today.  They say we should have a nice soaking rain overnight tonight.  I hope so.  I have been clearing out some of the spent plants--cucumbers, lemon squash, butternut squash, and beans.  The roses are in their new pot.  I have some more I want to get done but can do it slowly.  So let's see what is out there.

Robert Reich sums up the political philosophy of the Repthuglicans perfectly--Social Darwinism.  Ryan's budget, which Mitt has appropriated for the most part, isn't the only symptom of this sickness.  Take a look at the efforts in so many states to pare back the voting roles--largely by eliminating racial minorities, seniors, the working class and the poor.  I have even seen some remarks from Repthuglicans that fall just short of reestablishing property requirements for voting.  They justify it, of course, as a return to the philosophy of the Founders.  But we aren't an 18th century society any more and we ditched property restrictions very early in the 19th century.

Part of this article strikes a little too close to home.  About halfway down the first page they mention wells running dry in Parr, Indiana which is in Jasper County just south of and adjacent to us.  

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Good Saturday to you all.  Nicely cool again.  The clouds are moving off and we should have sun today.  It is time to pull some of the plants and get everything ready for the fall planting.  I had thought to start the seeds in the greenhouse but I think I might just try them in the pots.  I still have a couple of chores I need to do that have been on my to-do list.  Just haven't had much get-up-and-go.  But I am getting some things done.  A case of do something--sit and read--do something--sit and read, etc.  So far I got all of the last batch of stewed tomatoes packaged and freezing--all six pounds 12 ounces of it.  I also got a good part of the dried herbs ground and put in jars--spearmint, peppermint, orange mint, stevia and basil.

Well, Mitt has decided on Paul Ryan as his VP choice.  Whoopee!! (sarcasm alert)  Doesn't make any difference to me--except to solidify my decision to not vote for the Repthuglicans.  The stock markets should love this--but I don't think much of our financial/business elites.  Mitt did promise to 're-introduce' his economic/tax/budget proposals to the voters.  Since he basically adopted most of from Ryan's plan anyway, why not adopt the author as well.

Think Progress provides another example of how Repthuglicans intend to win the election.  I guess they don't want to rely on the Supreme Court for the third time in this very young century.  Start yelling, Kay.

Friday, August 10, 2012

TGIF, Everyone.  We have nicely cool temperatures and rain.  We had rain off and on yesterday and last night.  We were assessing the gardens over morning coffee.  It is looking a bit ragged after all the heat.  I haven't started the cabbage and kale yet but I may be cleaning out a couple of the pots anyway.  The tomatoes are blooming again--they pretty much stopped during the heat.  Mom noted that this cool down is a bit early--we usually get 70s in mid-September.  But everything has been about a month off.  Unfortunately, it is also more than a bit unpredictable.  If I had given in to my optimism during the March heat wave (remember that unseasonal 80 degree stretch?) and planted the garden I would have lost everything in the April freeze.  Some over-enthusiastic gardeners did.  Well, no gardening work today.  Let's see if I see anything on the 'net.

Oh, yes!, Kay, our elections are an incredible waste of money.  And I would say time as well.  I wish we could somehow limit both the amount of money spent and the campaigning time.  I wonder how many out there are like me and ignoring, as much as possible, both the 'news' coverage and the ads.  I don't care at all about the dueling insults (Romneyhood vs Obamaloney) or the ads on both sides that stretch the truth out of any recognizable shape.  And we have had two years of this crap.  Actually if you consider  the fact that the Repthuglican knives have been out since the day after the 2008 election, we have had four years of continual electioneering.  I am glad you are having a good time working on Obama's campaign out there.  Between the two I definitely prefer Obama.  In fact, I haven't seen a Repthuglican I would waste my vote on.

Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds provides an analysis of three big expenditures common in modern society that have been sold as sure-fire investments but which are, in fact, massive wastes.  I have, over a good number of years, come to the same conclusions.  I grew up with all of these 'values' drummed into my head: get a good education and get a good (read lucrative) career that will allow you to buy a house (the bigger the better) and provide health care and retirement benefits.  That bargain has broken down all along the way.

We just got back from some errands.  I have decided it is time to go back to using the public library.  I don't want to accumulate any more books since I am in the process of seriously whittling down my collection.  And I have found that a number of books that sound interesting simply aren't once I begin reading.  I do have a Nook but I have a couple of reservations about that as well.  I find that reading off screens as much as I do puts a strain on my eyes.  Reading from paper isn't as much a strain as the Nook.  Also I just don't want to trust a high tech system that can fail at multiple points.  We also needed to get new pencils (Mom goes through them with her crosswords puzzles) and wanted to look at the bird feeders at Home Depot.  We found a couple that are light enough for the shepherd's hook.  They are now hanging waiting for some birds to find them.  But on the way home, as we were stopped at a traffic light, I looked over at the sign at the gas station on the opposite corner and asked Mom, 'Am I reading that sign right??  $4.14 a gallon??'  I hadn't gone suddenly blind.  That was the price.  It has gone up by $.15 since last Tuesday.

I have said often during the last decade or so that we have to act on the premise that we have no privacy in our modern age.  This piece from Undernews simply confirms that assessment.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Good Tuesday, Everyone.  Nicely cool (70s) with rain possible.  Not much going on in the gardens.  Maybe some tomatoes to collect but everything else is recovering from that prolonged hot spell.  I still have to package up the stewed tomatoes today and get them frozen.  The pot didn't cool down before my energy died.  We had planned on chicken yesterday but switched plans.  I had wondered what I might suggest to Mom as a substitute when she said she was fixing a pot pie.  That worked.  Let's see what I find on the 'net today.

Huffington Post published this story today which should be filed in the 'more things change, the more they stay the same' file.  What is really pathetic is that a lawyer for BofA sat down to a foreclosure conference with the person whose home the bank is trying to take and couldn't say if the case was under review or was closed or had never been reviewed because they don't know where in the hell the paperwork was in the bank.  And then he asked the homeowner if she had a copy with her of her paperwork.  What I find absolutely infuriating is that the political powers that be are convinced that this fucked up entity (pardon the profanity--it seems appropriate) is too big to be allowed to fail.

Finally someone treats Jamie Dimon (of JP Morgan/Chase) with the sarcastic disrespect he deserves.  Too bad most of our politicians are fawning sycophants who spend most of their time kissing his ass.

And for another example of self-important bankers who think they should be able to do whatever they want.  His bank can deal with Iran all it wants but should be willing to accept the consequences--they can't deal with us.  This is a parallel with the Chick-fil-a brouhaha.  The CEO can espouse any religious position he wants but to expect those who thoroughly disagree with him to support his company and fork over their cold, hard cash is ridiculous.  The banker and the CEO simply have to decide which market is most desirable rather than expecting to both have their respective cakes and eat them also.

Arianna Huffington is right on the money here: half a billion dollars and all we got is this lousy election.  And the projections for total spending on this 'lousy election' is--wait for it---$2.5 BILLION.
That amount of money would provide 25 people with $100million; 250 people $10 million; 2500 people with $1million; or 25000 people with $100k.  And it would be far better spent.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hello, Everyone.  No 90s in the forecast for the next week.  Today we should be in the low 80s so we shut off the air and opened the doors and window.  We may not put the air on all week.  I just picked a handful of cherry tomatoes and another small batch of roma.  We didn't get any of the tomatoes in the half-bushel lots from our year-round farm market.  It was a disappointing trip up there.  We got nothing at all.  The tomatoes were almost over-ripe and I would have had to process all of them today.  Instead we got a nice bunch of roma at the local supermarket for 50 cents less per pound.  I will process them and what I got out of the garden today at a leisurely pace.  We also didn't get any eggs--that is one of the biggest surprises but when we thought about it we should have expected something like this.  They had a half empty cooler with Dutch Farms eggs instead of their usual brand.  I read that Rose Acre farms (part of the same company as Dutch Farms) had lost a couple hundred thousand laying hens with that heat wave.  I imagine all of the egg farms have had similar problems.  Even if they didn't lose birds the hens probably aren't laying as well as normal.  So far the egg prices aren't increasing that much.  Unlike the gasoline prices.  Over the last two weeks our prices have gone from the $3.50s to $3.99.

When I read this item I asked Mom if she had heard anything about a drought in Russia.  I haven't heard much but it is evidently worse than the few snippets I saw indicated.  My irritation with our non-news media has just increased yet again.  This morning I was watching the coverage of Hillary Clinton's Africa trip which focused entirely on her dancing at some reception in South Africa.  I would rather know what the business side of her trip is accomplishing and what are the issues she is discussing.  I am sure there is more going on than talks on AIDS.  You wouldn't know it from the broadcast news reports.

Shortly after reading the item above I found this one which highlights another problem brought on by this drought--water fights.  I have seen similar stories sporadically this year.  Several areas have seen contention between agriculture and the gas fracking companies.  Both use huge amounts of water.  Farmers on the lower Colorado and along the Rio Grand were upset when water regulators wouldn't release water from dams early.  Some cities are looking for new sources of water or seeking to stake a claim on water at some distance.  Las Vegas wanted to tap rivers in northern Nevada which had farmers there up in arms.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hello, everyone, on what is predicted to be another hot day before we get something we haven't seen for at least two and a half months--a trio of 70 degree days.  I have everything watered in the gardens.  I think I am getting the upper hand on the squash bugs.  It will be a while because I found several little caches of eggs.  That means I will have more little bugs.  Yesterday was a productive day.  I put up about five pounds of the spicy freezer cucumbers--a kind of freezer pickle.  Took out the vine peach.  As I wrote yesterday they are not very palatable (at least not for me) so I saw no reason to keep the plant going.  I put in one of the double shepherd's hooks and moved the blueberries into that pot.  I won't be putting anything else in that pot.  Oh, well.  I intended to simplify the gardens anyway.  We are looking for a couple of nice bird feeders to put up.  The little hummingbird hasn't come back--at least not that we have seen.  But we'll leave it up because the bees love it.  It will keep them coming around until my plants recover from the heat and begin their next round of blooming.  I moved the orange mint and peppermint to replace the blueberries and had to cut back the runners the peppermint was sending to invade the spearmint pot next to it.  I will tackle the spearmint pots--split them and replant.  I looked at how I have the over-the-fence pot hangers placed and will have to make some changes next year when I have all of the shepherd's hooks in place.  That is one of the nice features of those small pot holders--they are easily moveable.  I thought about getting a couple of the larger pots that straddle the fence but, considering the winds that came with those nasty storms we have had, I am glad I didn't get them.  Those might have blown off damaging both my gardens and the fence.  Our landlords would not have been pleased.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Good Sunday, Everyone.  We got slammed by rain, wind and lightning yesterday evening.  I haven't seen rain like that except in news clips of hurricanes.  I could hardly see the houses across the streets front and back.  Widespread areas in Chicago have power outages thanks to downed trees.  Ours has had no trouble on that front.  All I could do about the gardens was hope, fervently, that they weren't damaged.  It looks like any damage was minor.  I didn't get the herbs ground so that is still on my mental to-do list.  I will slowly get some of the gardening tidying chores done that have been on hold with the heat.  We had to go out yesterday morning to pick up my new glasses and do our weekly grocery shopping.  We went out at 9am and it was already suffocatingly hot.  Whatever we had planned evaporated as the heat sapped our energy.

Well, it is now Monday.  Our cable and internet went out yesterday for a couple of hours and I never got back to this.  After every one of the severe, sudden storms over the last month we have lost cable and internet the next day for between 2 and 6 hours.  Makes you think about how much we depend on such services.  We had a nice comfortable day yesterday.  Kuma was a happy cat and spent the day lounging on the patio.  It has been a long time since we have let him do that.  He is 17 and getting frail now.  He had a couple of bad days during one of our 80 degree stretches.  He seemed to have no energy at all and his movements were unsteady.  He recovered nicely after we brought him in, closed up and put on the air.  We were comfortable but he clearly wasn't.

Update on the gardens.  I cleared out dead leaves on several plants.  The heat really hit hard in spite of the watering.  I still have several to clean up including the vine peach.  In fact the vine peach vines are coming out totally.  We tried or rather I tried one and really didn't like it much.  I have read a number of contradictory reviews of it.  Those who like it like it a lot and those who don't really don't like it at all.  I am in the latter camp.  I thought it tasted like a cross between a not very tasty cucumber and a very tart apple.  I will put up one of the double shepherd's hooks and put the blueberry bushes in that container.  I harvested cherry and roma tomatoes, cucumbers, bullnose and spicy peppers, and lemon squash.  Really do have to get the cucumbers prepped and frozen.  I need to start the cabbages and kale this week.  On a related topic I have sampled the lemon balm ale I started last month.  It is actually pretty good.  However, I won't repeat the experiment because it took every bit of lemon balm I could harvest at that time.  If I don't get some dried over the fall I won't have much for tea this winter.  And lemon balm is not readily available in the stores.

Damn!!  I just cleaned up the butternut squash and found a nasty infestation of squash bugs.  Evidently, I let more than old growth get out of hand during the heat.  I sprayed them all with pyrethrin.  I resist using any pesticides  and then use the least toxic with the shortest breakdown time.  I will be watching carefully to see how the situation develops.

I saw this on the Chicago TV news we watch.  It doesn't surprise me that Wal-Mart would decide to sell GM sweet corn.  It is nice (sarcasm alert) that they say they have read the various studies which show that 1) it is not harmful when ingested, 2) is more productive than non-GM varieties, and 3) requires less chemicals.  All I can say is--they haven't read the studies I have which draw exactly the opposite conclusions.  About four years ago we stopped buying groceries at Wal-Mart and their decision on this issue simply ensures we won't start again any time soon.  Why did we stop, you wonder.  We didn't like the quality, the excess packaging and the prices were not enough below the closer supermarkets to justify the cost of the gas to go out there.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Good Saturday, Everyone.  Another hot day on tap--low 90s again.  But they say relief is on the way with low to mid 80s for the rest of the week.  Some visitors may be thinking that I haven't put up as many pictures of the gardens as I have in the past.  You're right.  My jungle looks rather stressed.  A couple of plants look like they are about to expire.  They droop in the afternoon but the next morning they show some life and they are trying to put out new shoots.  I have several caches of herbs already dried I need to get ground for use today.  No harvesting today.

The early morning TV news said that authorities in Oklahoma are looking for an arsonist in connection with the wildfires that have sprung up.  If an arsonist is responsible for this, I have a few suggestions for an appropriate punishment.  My inclinations when contemplating this kind of crime are positively Medieval.  This fire season is definitely straining resources.

This is amazing and not in a good way.  I remember reading, a year or so ago, a book about disappearing rivers around the world.  Even rivers one would think were way too big to go dry have had increasingly frequent periods when their flow drops to the point where stretches go dry.  About twenty years I was blown away reading about the Colorado River which no longer flows into the sea thanks to the dams that have been built.  I had just read the memoirs of an army wife in the late 1800s which described their steamboat trip up a long stretch of the Colorado to reach her husband's post.  Haven't been able to do that for a long time now.  Makes me wonder what is happening to the water table.

Hello and welcome, Annie's Granny.  I agree the 'stay-out-of-the-supermarket-for-30-days' notion advocated by that article is a dilemma--on many levels.  Though I said we almost meet the rules for participation I did not mean to imply we are actually participating.  We're not.  I agree with you on the impact of consumer boycotts.  They may crap all over the innocent as well as the not-so-innocent.  I see a good example with a Chicago alderman's announced intention of blocking a new Chick-fil-a outlet in his ward and with the Mayor's statements that the company's values are not 'Chicago values.'  The owner of the existing restaurant got a few seconds on the news to proclaim that she is part of the city and her husband is a Chicago police officer.  Her business is part of the city's economy and provides jobs.  The issue of local economic impact, especially jobs, is also complex.  Our simple rule is to shop locally whenever possible.  But it isn't really all that simple in practice.  Our meat market is totally local.  They provide skilled jobs (butchers--real butchers) for local people and the profits stay in the community.  Our three grocery supermarkets are regional.  They provide more jobs in their meat department alone than the meat market does all together.  But they are lower skill and lower wage.  I have no idea of how many of the jobs are full time with benefits but what we have heard from the cashiers makes me suspect not many are such jobs.  And a large part of the profits go elsewhere--still in the region but elsewhere.  And then there is Wal-Mart and Target.  They provide a lot of jobs--more than the three grocery stores and meat market together.  But I always take the loud proclamations by the Wal-Mart spokesmen that their average wage is between $11 and $12 per hour with very large doses of salt because I know how averages work.  Put me and Bill Gates in a room and average our incomes and I am suddenly a billionaire.  NOT EVEN!!   And their profits go way outside our region.

On another level, I haven't so much left the big box stores and grocery supermarkets as they have left me.  I as amused by the author's observation that millennials and younger have broken the spell of name brands that hold baby boomers and older people in thrall.  Considering the reactions high end sneakers and such elicit I think that is an over broad.  And I know this boomer broke the spell a long time ago.  We changed our buying habits as manufacturers changed their products and those products no longer worked as efficiently or economically as they once did.  We switched to other products.  We shop at the supermarkets and big box stores but only for those items that still meet our needs as I mentioned yesterday.  We have another simple rule that governs our buying habits:  as long as the products we buy meet our needs or tastes good we will continue to buy it; when it doesn't we won't buy it again, at any price.

And welcome to you, too, Mary in Missouri.  We have also noticed that our farm markets are not as abundantly supplied as usual.  One of the vendors told us about a month ago that farmers growing green beans were having difficulty because the beans would mildew over night unless they had coolers to keep them in.  Not many do.  The sweet corn isn't as fully developed as it has been in previous years.    We have decided to forego corn on the cob this year.  I am debating whether to clear the beans out of their container or see if they will recover to produce some more.  I will probably leave them until the kale and cabbage I plan to start next week.  Oh, yes!! it has been a summer to remember.

Now for the too-cute-side of the heat wave.  Bless the kind human who provide this overheated little squirrel with a bowls of food and ice.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Hello, All, on this expected-to-be-hot Friday.  Another 90 possible.  I have watered almost everything--only have four more small pots on the fence to attend to.  Harvested some tomatoes--cherry and roma.  I saw a Mr. Stripey that is almost ready along with a couple of cucumbers, peppers and vine peaches.  I also cut some patchouli, stevia, pineapple sage and orange mint that are all drying now.

I haven't really seen much to comment on lately.  The news is either the latest (maybe) gaffe by whichever candidate; or, perhaps just the latest comment taken out of context.  Or the latest bit of trivia on the Drew Peterson trial.  Or the Olympics.  Or the latest meltdown over Chick-fil-a.  I really don't follow any by choice--I just can't get away from it.  Let's see what else I find today.

Now this is interesting--a challenge to avoid the grocery supermarket for 30 days.  The participants can allow themselves $30 for items at the supermarket that can't be found elsewhere.  We are nearly there as it is.  All we buy regularly at the supermarket are diary products (except eggs which we get from our favorite year-round farm market), vinegar (we use a lot for cleaning), frozen vegetables and oatmeal/farina.  During the summer most of our veggies come from the farm markets.  Our meat comes from a small local butcher shop.  We have actively tried to eliminate most of the mass produced canned goods because of the quality (bad and getting worse) or the heavy doses of salt, sugar and preservatives.  I wonder how many more baby boomers have joined the movement away from one-stop shopping which doesn't meet our needs any more.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hello, again, on this first Thursday of August which promises to be hot and dry (90s with no rain).  I am taking a bit of a rest.  I went into the gardens planning to harvest herbs for drying and watering everything and got diverted.  Checking the corn I decided it was as ready as it was going to get and cleared it out.  We got four small ears--that's all.  They are pretty little ears and we will enjoy them and since I did get to harvest some I don't consider it a failed experiment.  I just won't repeat it.  I was amazed at how dry that container was when I pulled the plants.  Even with almost daily watering.  Conclusion: you can grow corn in containers but the plants aren't happy and the yield isn't worth the space.  I also replaced a board I had supporting the blueberries on the edges of two large containers with a nice heavy wire rack.  The board was a stopgap until I found a permanent solution.  I knew it wouldn't last past this season.  And everything is also well fertilized.  I should have done that this time last month but got waylaid by the heat.  And I took the hose off the reel to tighten up the connection.  The small leak suddenly got too big to ignore.  Tomorrow I will tackle the herbs again and check the tomatoes and peppers.  As pitiful as my corn yield was I am grateful considering the fact that I am under no watering restrictions and something like half of the country is in some stage of drought.  Even if the rainfall next year (or sooner) goes back to 'normal'  I intend to think seriously about how to make my gardens more efficient with respect to water.  We just got our monthly report from our utility showing our water and electric usage with comparison to last year's consumption and our neighbors.  So far we are 7% below last year's use and 40% below our 'efficient' neighbors.  In spite of the heat.

I remember a a couple of times in this recession they aren't calling a recession when the empty headed economic pundits joyfully proclaimed the rise in temporary employment as a sign that employment, and the economy along with it, was improving.  They saw, and see, temp employment as a leading indicator of recovery on the theory that employers wanted to hire more workers but didn't want to commit fully in case the recovery was a bit further off than they thought.  Skeptical me wondered out loud if there was more to the story than the pundits thought.  I may have been right to be skeptical.  The strong possibility that temporary work (without health or retirement benefits) is becoming the 'new normal' for a larger part of the workforce makes Social Security and single-payer health care programs absolutely necessary.  Unless of course we want to go back to the 19th century model epitomized by the unredeemed Scrooge:  'If they (the poor) are like to die, let them get on with it and reduce the surplus population.'

To follow up a bit on the observations above or rather the implication that the pundits are somehow divorced from reality check this article out.  I love the following bit of the article:
To paraphrase Voltaire’s observation on doctors, Mr. Economy’s faith healers prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, in economic and financial systems of which they know nothing.
I have often thought that economics, like medicine, was more art (or witchdoctory) than science.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Good Wednesday to all out there.  I have had a busy morning already.  Our first pot of stewed tomatoes is on the stove spiced with fresh basil, onion, a handful of Marconi peppers (frozen from last year) and the one 'spicy' pepper we picked a couple days ago and decided was too hot for omelets.  It has a strong chili smell so I will label it for chili.  Should make three or four packages for freezing.  Just tasted it and it is definitely chili tomatoes.  I watered everything so I am now done for the day.  Tomorrow I will go back to collecting herbs for drying.  Mom found some really nice green peppers to do up as stuffed peppers that we will freeze.  She isn't ready to do up the chilies rellenos and the poblanos she saw were smaller than she would like.  Update: tomatoes are stewed, cooled and packaged.  I now have two and a half pounds of stewed tomatoes in the freezers getting frozen.  The half pound we put in the small freezer for immediate use in any casserole or other dish.  Others in the large freezer for chili this winter.