Tuesday, November 20, 2012

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

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

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

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

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