Thursday, February 28, 2013

Good morning, all, on another gloomy day.  We had snow all day yesterday but it was so light and wet and the temperatures warm enough to turn it to slush.  The guys our landlord hires to clear snow have been out clearing the parking areas between the cars and the sidewalks outside the fences.  We have an appointment this afternoon. Hopefully, the conditions for driving will be reasonable.

This is a truly obscene situation: major international drug companies are partially suspending all drug shipments to Greece because they are afraid the low price drugs they are (or were) supplying might be intercepted and sold in nearby countries where the prices are higher.  It rather reminds me of the frequent stories we saw about Americans going to Canada, Mexico or on-line because they could get drugs cheaper than at American pharmacies.  There are certainly times when capitalism is immoral and obscene.

I noticed the story this morning about Sec. of State Kerry's new pledge to the Syrian rebels of $60million in non-military aid.  That's nice but 1) where is the money coming from and 2) where are the Repthuglicans insisting that the spending be balanced by cuts somewhere in the social safety net side of things?

I saw a headline this morning that implied the American public isn't raising hell about the sequester because they aren't really following the issue.  I didn't read the article so I don't know if the author indicated any reasons for voter apathy; however, I think this article gives a very good reason--no body knows what is going to happen.  We have Damnocrats crying that the social cuts are apocalyptic while the Repthuglicans screaming about how the cuts will gut the military at the same time significant minorities on each side are singing 'let it be' (as in let the cuts go forward.)  Most of the economic bloggers and reporters have prophesied a drop of 1-2% of GDP--a pretty safe bet since government spending is a significant portion of the GDP and there is no one out here to take up the slack.

I do love the tit-for-tat games.  Trouble is I think both the tit and the tat are probably true.  Or as an old saying goes: pot calls kettle black.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Good Tuesday to you all.  We have some brisk winds and expect rain turning to snow over night.  We seem to be in a trough between two areas forecast to get much higher amounts of snow.  However, they aren't expecting anything like what has hit (for the second time) out west.  We plan to get out visit to the Y done early.


Well, it is now Wednesday and a gloomy day it is.  We did get out as planned yesterday.  The conditions changed in the brief time we were out.  By the time we finished our mile on the track the rain had started.  By the time we got home the walks and parking areas were slick with a thin film of ice.  I just cleared the snow on the patio and part of the ice under it.  I will wait till later to put the deicer  on the cement.  I really hope that the conditions are warm enough to melt it without my assistance.  I would much rather let nature clear off what nature put there.

One of the lead stories on our morning news involved a lawsuit against the parent company of Budweiser for allegedly watering down their product.  Last week it was Markers Mark lowering the alcohol content of their bourbon and then coming back to claim they have reversed that policy.  At least Markers Mark were up front.  The Budweiser people were sneaky (if they did water down the beer--the suit has just been filed and the plaintiffs say they haven't actually tested the beer on the store shelves.)  They simply sold their product without acknowledging on the label the true alcohol content.  For more on the story check out this article.  I find the story interesting as an indication of the level of corporate misbehavior in this country.  I don't drink Budweiser or any other mass market beer.  Since I drink very little beer anyway I prefer something with flavor.

A second thought on that story:  it really doesn't matter whether the beer has been watered down or not.  The damage is done because any trust customers have in the company to provide the product promised is gone.  What I found interesting in my reaction is that I could readily believe it had been done.  Once upon a time I would have been incredulous that a major company would do something that would damage their brand.  Once upon a time a brand meant something.  This incident is simply one more nail in the coffin of brand names.

Then there is this nasty little story.  As usual with a story found on Natural News I checked this out because neither of us had even heard of escolar and Wickipedia had confirming stories and sources.  We aren't great fish eaters anyway but we do like the 'canned' tuna and salmon.  (I put that in quotes because we get the foil pouches--less water.)  We haven't had any of the digestive upsets so I guess they haven't included escolar in that tuna--yet.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Good Sunday to you all.  We have sun and we will enjoy it because the next two, maybe three, days will be cloudy with snow possible.  Both of my patio tomatoes are peaking through as are all of my kale and lettuce starts.  I have the larger starter tray and its cover ready for the larger starts.  So far only two of ten spinach but they are from the oldest package.  Next weekend I plan to start the next batch of lettuce and spinach and will use different and newer seeds.  I won't plant any more tomatoes and peppers before mid-March.  I don't know yet what has survived in the gardens and probably won't have any idea of that for another month.


It is now Monday and I hope the week is starting well for you all.  We are trying to reform our schedule  somewhat--get in more exercise and other activities.  Mom's insurance went up drastically--almost  doubled in fact.  But the insurance now pays all the costs for a Y membership.  So we decided to take advantage of it.  I am not yet 65 so mine is still full price but once we get ourselves doing things there I think it will be worth it.  The problem is, of course, breaking old habits and getting off our asses.  We also made a start with those monthly gardening classes I told you all about a couple of weeks ago.  The Y also has a canning and freezing class next month.  Should be interesting.  As I mentioned to Mom I haven't canned anything since I made jelly one summer some forty years ago and the books told cooks then to seal the jars with wax.  They don't recommend that any more.  We'll both get an idea of how much things have changed.  I don't know what this new pattern will do with my blogging but I have felt that it has been a bit stale of late.  The idiocy in our political arena , the inanity in our economy, and the utter nastiness in our social environment isn't going to go away any time soon.  And I am hard pressed to say anything about it that I haven't said before.

Shocking sight today.  We filled the gas tank and paid $3.78/gal.  But wait--that wasn't the shocking sight.  It was the price a few hours later at the same station: $3.99.

 I found this by way of The Apartment Prepper and, frankly, the whole thing pisses me off.  We don't need sweeteners, aspartame or others, added to milk.  And to allow the milk industry to add them without noting it on the label is a total crock of bullshit.  It is bad enough that the food processors have so far been able to avoid labeling GMO crops in processed foods.  And don't you just love the notion that we can fight childhood obesity by allowing them to add artificial sweeteners to milk?  Courthouse News Service has this on the issue.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Happy Friday, All.  We only have about two or two-and-a-half inches of snow.  Some areas may have more.  We won't go anywhere today though we could if we had to.  The snow isn't at the immobilizing level.  On the garden front--all five of the lettuce seeds are up along with 3 cabbage, 2 spinach, and 2 kale.  Nice start.  I start the number of individual seeds I can comfortably put in my containers because I  would rather get transplants to replace those that don't sprout than discard healthy plants I can't find a place for.

Hope you are all having a good Saturday.  Ours should be nice and quiet.  Nothing much planned and nothing much that has to be done.  Let's see if there is anything I want to link to on the 'net.

I wonder if anyone else has noticed the totally inane coverage of the possible effects of the sequester?  Our wonderfully astute news media has reduced the whole mess to two dramatic effects: the reduces services of the TSA and FAA.  Job cut in both agencies would mean longer check-in lines at airports (fewer TSA agents) and more smaller airports with limited or no air traffic controllers (job cuts and furloughs at the FAA.)  Juxtaposed to that story was a snippet from the press conference the head of the FAA (I think it was) where a reporter asked why a cut of $1billion from a budget of $74 billion (a whopping 2%--oh, the horror!!) should be so catastrophic.  The bureaucrat bleated (rather shrilly) that it that was 'a lot of money.'  Yeah, but it is less than the hit ordinary Americans are taking from inflation (real inflation, not the BLS cooked statistics.)  We have seen gas prices here go up $0.50 in the last month $0.30 since the last time we filled up.  That, my friends, is an 18% hike.  Mom's insurance premiums have gone up by 100% not including the increase in the co-pays.  We haven't walked into the grocery store without seeing another price hike on something--often disguised because the price is the same but the amount is smaller.  Those all cut our budgets and by more than a measly 2%.  I have to wonder what kind of fantasyland those bureaucrats are living in.

Robert Reich has a good comment today.  It underlines an observation other writers have made over the last few years.  It also illustrates why Greece, Spain, and other countries are in deeper shit than they were at the beginning of the Great Recession.  Gross Domestic Product is a reflection of spending by the private sector (individual and corporate) and Government, and the differences between imports and exports.  Increases in GDP (that is, an expanding economy) reflect increases in one or more of those factors over any losses in those areas.  If people (and companies) aren't spending (or are reducing their spending) and government isn't spending (or is reducing its spending) and imports exceed exports your GDP will go down.  Well, DUH!!  Right now our half-bird-brained representatives are trying to drastically cut government spending but expecting that, magically, the economy will expand.

Josh Brown, The Reformed Broker, has this little historical parable and some very cogent lessons to draw from it.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Good Thursday to you all.  We are between weather systems here.  By late tonight we should be in the middle of the storm that is blasting the plains now and that snowed out that golf tournament in Arizona. We are going out to the Y for our mile or mile and a half this morning.  We have managed to get two days in this week between weather and other commitments.  We would like to make that a minimum of three days a week but that depends on what else is going on around us.

I have often said that I am a medical minimalist and a thorough skeptic.  This article rather supports my position.  I think much of modern medical technology is amazing but too much is over used, used in situations where other less expensive techniques would be more effective, or applied to conditions for which the techniques aren't proven effective.

Gene Logsdon, the Contrary Farmer, provides a bit of humor and a nice bit of 'perspeck.'

This piece has rankled me since I first saw it this morning.  To be blunt, I am old and getting older by the day.  Not referring to my self as old won't change that one whit.  And I wouldn't really want to be young again--I was a stupid shit then.  The author(s) do make one valuable observation--we are a youth obsessed society and women are particularly penalized for aging.  But simply not referring to yourself as old (or fat, etc.) won't change that either.  I would rather accept myself at my current age since I can't really change it.  I am working on the fat part.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Good Tuesday to you all.  Our weather has turned cold again--our temperatures won't get above the low 20s.  That after a 50 degree day.  The winds were vicious last night.

Oh, my, but the wind is still vicious.  We just got back from our monthly Senior Circle breakfast and just walking to and from nearly froze our faces.  We are getting some very light snow but it is driven by that wind that is swinging our bird feeders like pendulums. If we get any mail it can wait till tomorrow before I get it.


Wednesday now and a frigid Wednesday it is.  Single digit temps with negative wind chills.  Needless to say we aren't going anywhere.  Lately we have been trying to get out early for a mile or so on the track at the local Y.  But that plan depends on the weather.  The wind yesterday simply took every bit of energy out of us.  We usually split a pot of coffee in the morning and a pot of tea with supper.  When we came home yesterday I fixed a pot of tea to warm us and we badly needed it.  We will see what we want today.

I checked my seed starts this morning and found that all of the lettuce and two of the spinach are peeking their little tips out of the peat plugs.  Good start so far.  I will start another set of lettuce in two weeks.

The news media has suddenly ramped up the talk about the 'sequester.'  I am amazed at the coverage.  The Repthuglicans insist that Obama wanted the sequester so the mess is all his fault.  The Damnocrats insist that the Repthuglicans did it all by themselves.  Hey, Idiots!!  This was a bi-partisan screw-up.  One of the few bi-partisan pieces of legislation that passed that dysfunctional mess in Washington.  The whole thing was a bizarre 'Mexican stand-off with each side holding the fiscal bazooka to the other side's head and automating the triggers to go off at a certain date unless they agreed to some action to disarm the ordnance.  Mutually Assured Destruction worked so well in international diplomacy they thought it had to work domestically.  What a bunch of useless morons!!  I am amazed because none of the talking heads are calling either side on the issue of how we got to where we are.

Interesting, also, how cyber attacks are suddenly a big topic (for the moment at least.)  I have been reading about this issue for the last couple of years.  Only once has anyone noted that the U.S. has been an active player in the game.  It is nice that the Obama administration has 'raised' the issue at 'the highest levels' frequently.  However, most of the discussion fails to make two very important facts.  First, hacking is a highly deniable crime.  A couple of years ago a denial of service attack shut down banks and government offices in Lithuania (I think it was) during a squabble with Russia.  The Lithuanians blamed Russia and Russia denied any complicity.  There was no way to prove that the Russian government was behind the attacks or that the Russian government simply turned a blind eye to unaffiliated Russian hackers or that it was someone else entirely.  Last year I read about two specific attacks on utilities in the U.S.  Again no one could prove where the attack had come from.  The story last fall about a vulnerability in command and control software used in a large percentage of U.S. utility companies was a momentary blip on the non-mailstream news sites.  The second important involves how extremely dependent we are on vulnerable systems.  Think about how SOL (shit out of luck for those who don't remember the acronym) we all would be if our electricity, gas, water, and bank accounts all were knocked out.  We have a gas furnace with an electric fan to push the warm air throughout the house.  Our cookstove, freezer, fridge and lights are electric.  And without the city pumps (electric) to provide pressure we wouldn't get water.  And we use debit cards and ATMs to access our money which is electronic blips on our bank's computers.  When you (personally) depend so totally on such systems you should look at the possibilities of system failure(s) however they might come about and formulate backups and alternates.  When you (as a society) depend so totally on such systems you (as a society) should be considering the consequences and alternatives.  Believe me we have considered our own personal options but it I don't have any faith that our dysfunctional society or its so-called representatives have been, are, or will be able to do the same.

I didn't read all of this article but I know pretty well where it is going.  And I think it is indicative of exactly how deep the bullshit is in this economy.  I read the remark from that managing law partner where he claimed that college graduates were more career oriented and 'weren't in it for the money' and wondered how brainless someone could be.  Hell, yes, college graduates are in in for the money.  They have the student loans to pay off.  But no one asks just how wasteful this system is that requires one to spend a minimum of 4 years and tens of thousands of (usually borrowed) dollars to get a $10/hour job.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Good day to you all.  We have had more lake effect snow.  Nothing significant.  They aren't predicting anything significant.

I got my first tomatoes (the Patio hybrid), peppers (Mohawk patio), cabbage (can't predict which variety--the seeds are a mix of three varieties), kale (Red Russian), lettuce (Garnet Rose), and spinach (Bloomsdale Longstanding) started.  In about two weeks I will start more lettuce and spinach.  No more tomatoes and peppers till the first of April.

I didn't get the hem pinned on that table scarf but I did put a few more stitches in another I just started embroidering.

Gaius Publius at Americablog has a good post this morning.  I don't think I can add anything to it.

Here it is Monday--again.  I could have posted that bit above yesterday but shut off the computer before I got to it.  Oh, well.  I got about 12 inches of the table scarf hemmed. Let's see what I find today worth a comment or two.

The news media has (re?)-discovered the rising gas prices.  We can't help but notice here--our gas prices have gone up about $.30 since our last fill-up.  Fifty cents over the last month.  What I find interesting in the last few news segments dealing with the issue is that no one can explain why the prices are going up.  Everyone says the supplies are stable.  Some think increased demand from China and others think speculators are behind the run up.  It is fascinating when experts are stumped.  Mom may have been on the money when she noticed that the increases coincide with the increased protest and media attention to the protests over the Keystone pipeline.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Good Saturday, Everyone.  We had a bit of snow yesterday and again overnight.  Not enough to be troublesome although we decided not to go out yesterday before everything cleared off and we got some lovely bright sunshine.  Oh, well.  That's how things go sometimes.  As I mentioned before we schedule our errands and other optional outings around the weather this time of year.  I did get a part of a table scarf pinned for hemming.  The embroidery has been done for a while now.  I hope to finish that and get started on the hemming later today.

This is my major objection to any expansion of nuclear power and am in favor of retiring those nuclear plants in existence.   What do we do with waste materials that will remain dangerous for longer than the span of time from the founding of Rome to the present?  And who are we going to trust to manage such storage for an indefinite time into the future?

The horse meat  scandal in Europe keeps growing.  The author of this article does a bit better job of covering the issue than many I have seen before.  Johnston hits both the push for greater profits for all of the commercial actors and the consumer's demand for cheap goods as roots of the problem.  I think Ronald Reagan's old dictum for dealing with the old Soviet Union applies here: Trust, but verify.  And I would add: If you can't verify, don't buy.  Before we found our little meat market we ground our own beef and pork.  If anything happened to our market (it goes out of business or becomes unreliable) we will grind our own again.

I fervently hope this decision goes against Monsanto.  One of the blogs I read yesterday indicated that more farmers--especially small farmers--are dropping GM seed.  The yields aren't as promised so they aren't worth the extra cost.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Good morning, everyone.  We have flurries today but don't expect much to accumulate.  Most of the lake effect snow this season has hit east of us.

This was one of the first stories I saw this morning.  Evidently it isn't all that unusual in 'cosmic terms' but historically it is somewhat more rare.  The last I can think of was the Tunguska strike in 1908.

And their point is???  In other settings this is called extortion and is criminal.  I would say filibuster reform failed but then I never really believed those idiots would reform a corrupt system.

I agree, Kay.  Wait and see on anything in politics anywhere.  My BS meter is always twitching.  And when the BS meter beats time with the skepticism meter the pols are in trouble.

I really do detest the Nanny mentality of so many in our society.  They find is so hard to change behavior so they instead try to change, or eliminate, the product.  Once upon a time, when I was growing up, our 'soft' drinks were Kool Aid (which Mom mixed up with regular white sugar), juice, tea, milk, or water.  The carbonated soft drinks were special treats for family picnics or cookouts, birthday parties, or such.  They were not consumed every day, several times a day.  Maybe we should ask ourselves what has changed and if those changes were all that good.  I am not suggesting that the 'good old days' were that good.  In many ways, I am damned sure, they weren't.  But I definitely don't find now to be all that much of an improvement.

This is one reason I don't think now is an improvement over yesterday.  Our industrial food production has only one redeeming characteristic:  it produces a large amount of cheap product.  Whether that product tastes good, or is as healthful as the foods produced by traditional methods is never a part of the equation.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Good morning, All, and Happy Valentine's Day.  We have already had our high temp for the day (somewhere around 40F) and it is now dropping (38F).  They say we should have wind but not nearly what we had a couple of days ago.  Since we expect colder temps over the weekend we plan to have some nice homemade chili (with homegrown tomatoes).

Nanny Bloomberg strikes again.  I can understand banning styrofoam containers because it isn't biodegradable or because it clogs up the landfills that are becoming overfilled anyway or any other such reason but please don't tell us it is for our own good.

One of the proposals--one of the few--in Obama's SOTU to receive favorable comment is the 'Trans-Atlantic Partnership' free trade agreement already being negotiated.  A companion piece to the Trans-Pacific Partnership that is nearing completion.  Of course the major hope for American business and industry is that such an agreement will gut environmental and health/safety rules with which they are so unfairly burdened (sarcasm alert.)  This is only one of the stories which should give us all some sleepless nights when considering such an agreement.  So far the investigation has yielded a bunch of fingers pointed in every direction and a whole lot of "Not Us!!" proclamations from the targets of the pointing fingers.  And that is a scandal entirely within the Eurozone.  The bigger the zone the harder it will be to track such incidents.  And this is the second scandal in as many weeks.  Just a couple of weeks ago authorities found ground beef contaminated with various amounts of pork.  And one of the most offensive components of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (unless it has since been scratched) is the clause which prohibits country of origin labeling.  We refuse to buy fish from certain countries because they are farm raised in highly polluted waters.  We know where the fish comes from only because they are labeled with the country of origin.  Sometimes we have to look for labels that say 'Packaged for X company in Y country" but usually we can find that.  We should have the right to know where the product comes from and what is in it.

Hey, Kay--glad you had someone to watch the SOTU with and it sounds like you are getting geared up for the next set of elections.  I don't expect much for two reasons--first, many of the same Repthuglican idiots who define 'bipartisan' as the Democrats roll over and give them everything they want are still in Washington and, second, we don't know what Obama will really fight for.

Thankfully, our little meat market gets its supplies from farmers who use no antibiotics and no growth hormones.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Good Monday, Everyone.  It looks like we will get sun today.  Good!!  I feel like we haven't seen the sun in a month or more though I know that isn't so.  Temperatures are predicted to get into the low 40s today before more normal temperatures (30s) reappear.  I am so ready for spring.

We did not watch the Stat of the (Dis)Union last night.  The dogs at Westminster were far more interesting.  One of the teasers on the news asked what we would hear in the SOTU as if he could answer before the fact.  I answered 'Words.'  I expect very little action and much that will be managed will do me no good.  It may even do me harm.  Let's see what is on the 'net.

We can add some kidney cancers to the list of cancers that may not need aggressive treatment from the outset.  Evidently, for older patients with small kidney cancers, aggressive surgery may cause more problems than it will cure.

We shifted away from our local news programing (and its national companion) early this morning.  The utterly hyped presentation of the (possible) end of the Dorner situation in California turned our stomachs.  They treated the situation as though it was some kind of sporting event with blow-by-blow, or play-by-play, or bullet-by-bullet commentary.  Infotainment with the emphasis on the '-tainment.'

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Good Tuesday, everyone.  Oh, my!! What wind we had yesterday.  I think we started out in a bit of a lull but by the time we arrived I felt like a kite about to take off (and I am not a light weight.)  By the time we got home we had little energy left.  The wind seemed to suck the vitality out of us.  Otherwise it was a mostly dry and a very gray day.

Our class was on seed starting.  An introductory class through the local park department.  You might wonder why we would go to such a class but I often find that introductory classes provide information I never found in my self-taught gardening activities or information that I forgot.  Most of the other attendees were also not strict novices so that was nice.  And most want to do container gardening to some extent.

The blizzard is still in the news as this article shows.  I am somewhat surprised that areas on Long Island are still snowed in.  Our little city (30k people) has been very good about clearing snow.  During the 2011 blizzard here they had even side streets passable after three days and continued moving snow after that until everything was cleared.  I remember the 1967 blizzard that is still number 1 on the all time list.  We lived in a different city a bit west of where we are now.  They were also somewhat slow at clearing the snow but I don't remember the anger I read about in New York and those areas.  Those city officials bluntly told residents that they would be snowed in for at least a week unless they could get some private snow removal service to come in--not likely on short notice.  The homeowners on our street tried to do that but ran into one idiot who figured he could get the benefit without chipping in on the cost.  Totally pissed off the rest who grabbed their shovels and snow blowers and cleared the street and sidewalks--all except for those in front of his house.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Good rainy Sunday.  I sympathize with those in the east digging their way out of the snow drifts that walloped them over the last couple of days.  I remember all too well doing the same after the Blizzard of 2011.  You remember--the one that turned Lake Shore Drive in Chicago into a snow packed parking lot.  We didn't move for three days except to shovel out our patio or rather a path through the patio to the gate.  A short sound bite on one of the stories opened a frequent discussion we have here--what would we do if (fill in your favorite disaster.)  The woman in the clip was filling a gas can for her generator and remarked that they were prepared for something that kept them in for three days but not one (like Hurricane Sandy) which would last one, two, or three weeks.  We probably go a week (maybe two) without serious hardship.  Our biggest concern--loss of electricity.  That would seriously affect our ability to heat or cool this place.  Since we rent putting in a generator isn't on the agenda.

Over the last ten years that kind of conversation has come up more frequently.  We can't remember a period during which so many weather related events have occurred.  I don't know if we simply don't remember such events or if the weather did dump on us it simply didn't have the same impact.  Tina at Another Old Woman expresses some of the same thoughts and notes the downside of deregulation.  I saw a number of bloggers who pooh-poohed the severity of the drought of 2012.  It wasn't, they said, nearly as bad as the drought of the mid-50s nor was it as severe as the Dust Bowl drought.  Well, those are outside my experience.  I was about 5 when the 1950s drought hit and not even thought of during the 1930s.  I remember the big snow of 1967 which they say is record setter for this area.  But, between then and 2000, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of such snow storms I have experienced.  And I can't remember serious blackouts before 2000.  Since then hardly a year has passed without a report of at least one (and usually several) widespread blackouts within 50 miles of us.  We consider ourselves lucky that our area has not had more than momentary interruptions in power.  But such incidents started us thinking about what we could and would do in such situations.  And, considering how long it took for real help to reach people in New Orleans after Katrina and the New York/New Jersey area after Sandy, what we would or could do if we were on our own for more than the 72 hour minimum for which FEMA recommends that we have supplies.

And this kind of story has resurfaced with greater frequency than I remember in the pre-2000 period.  Food recalls for bacterial contamination, for undeclared allergens, for foreign substances, or for some kind of adulteration have become common place.  I have read several stories from Europe covering meat or meat products labeled 'beef' that contained significant amounts of pork or horse meat.  That tells me that the problem is somehow inherent in the factory food production system.  All these stories have led us to a few basic rules.  First, buy products with the shortest 'supply lines.'  Local if possible.  My ideal would be a supply line that reaches a few feet to my gardens.  Not possible--too small a space.  Second, buy the least processed products possible.  The recall in the link above wouldn't have affected us at all.  Any 'chicken fried steak' we would have prepared from scratch.  Given the nature of our food supply system we allow ourselves some wiggle room.

I noted yesterday that we have too many 'one size fits all' systems in our culture.  This Undernews piece presents another: education, or rather, the Common Core policy which replaces to an extent another 'one size fits all' policy (No Child Left Behind.)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Good morning, Everyone.  Not much to say about weather.  They say we may get sun later with rain overnight into tomorrow.  It is just gray and dismal.  I have errands today so I will go out in a little while.  The streets look clear and dry.

This is an interesting little story.  Over the last few years new studies have cast doubt on the efficacy of tests and procedures we have considered 'normal.'  I will admit that I am one who does not go for yearly physicals or other medical exams.  I do see a doctor for abnormal conditions--a serious intestinal infection combined with bronchitis about six years ago, and an infected and broken tooth a year ago. But those are the only medical visits over the last 15 years.  On the other hand Mom sees two doctors regularly each year--but she has conditions which require closer monitoring.  Different strokes for different folks, as they say.  The problem with our modern medicine is that we try to construct a 'one-size-fits-all' system.  We know all too well how that works with clothes.  Such items are too big for Mom and too small for me.  I think we have a hard time dealing with individuals in our commercialized world.

There are times when doctrinal purity comes off as pure BS and this is one.  Ironic that the authorities who govern one interpretation of the religion founded by a man who ate with publicans and sinners prohibits its ministers from praying at public events where those of another faith will also pray.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Well, now that the pretty pictures have been posted I will take my usual trip around the 'net.

We didn't get much snow, thankfully--but did get more of the sleet and freezing rain.  We woke to icy patio, sidewalks, and streets along with gusty winds.  We won't go anywhere today.  The east coast might not get off so easily.  They are expecting heavy snow.

There are times I really like Chris Christie and this is one of them.   The doctor and the (s)news media are both annoying on this non-issue.  We have become an intolerable  nation of interfering busy-bodies.

Here is one good reason to peruse different foreign news sources.  Our news media has become much too cozy with the powers that be--whoever they are.

This is an interesting reversal of fortunes.  I remember the flap over the higher cost of prescription drugs in this country and the furor when American began going through Canadian sources to lower their out of pocket costs.  And the story brought back some memories from much farther back when I spent some time working for a pharmacy in northern Virginia.  It was a small store in a larger chain which also had outlets in Washington, D.C.  I had to receive shipments and price goods before they went on the shelf.  Most of that involved checking the invoice for our cost and then cross referencing that with the company supplied list of multipliers which determined the retail price.  I noticed that inner city D.C. stores had a much larger multiplier.  The pharmacist explained that those stores had higher costs due to theft, vandalism, etc. ( I won't give you the racist terms he used for the people who were the major customers in those stores.  I am sure you can supply them yourselves.) The explanations never really sat well with me.  They simply didn't make that much sense.  Evidently, the various explanations the manufacturers have given haven't convinced the Canadian officials either.

Another story for the 'why we shouldn't trust government agencies' file.  Most of my first comments are much too raw to put in here.
Good  icy Friday to you all.  On a gloomy day some bright pictures are definitely in order.  I said a couple of days ago that I finished the edging on a table scarf.  Here it is.  I completed the embroidery a couple of weeks ago.  I don't know what it was about 2012 but nothing seemed to satisfy.  I did very little needlework and was very discontented with the garden.  Looking back I don't think it was at all as bad as it felt at the time. As always happens somethings worked and some didn't but on the whole most things worked very nicely.

Sometimes it is a good idea to remember what spring looks like.  And what we can get from all of the work in the gardens.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Good totally miserable Thursday to you all.  Miserable because we have cloudy skies and a mix of sleet, rain, snow, and freezing rain predicted.  We are hibernating for the day.  We hope our car won't be encased in ice by the end of this mess.  Update: we had a brief bit of sunshine but the clouds have moved back in.  The rain, snow, etc., is still coming in.

Hey, Kay.  I think you got some of the snow that chose to miss us.  I will certainly stop by and check out the video.  I loved the Old Fart's Rant.

I have been following the accounts of the whooping cough epidemic this year.  I did note the few mentions that indicate the vaccine isn't as effective as it has been in the past.  I have wondered why and strongly suspected strains of resistant viruses.  Anyone who has had basic biology should not be at all surprised at that kind of development.  Researchers have some evidence that such resistance is behind the epidemic.  Why we seem to think our technology solves problems forever I don't know.

Chris Cillizza has an interesting post this morning: Are we in the end times of trust in government?Certainly we have entered a period of increasing distrust of government--Federal government especially.  However, I disagree that there have been no identifiable events to cause the erosion of trust.  There have been a lot of them frequently over the last decade and a half.  He noted the high opinions of the Federal government in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 but fails to mention the events that followed.  How about the revelations of how the Bush administration lied and manipulated to get its war in Iraq before the more justifiable action in Afghanistan was anywhere near finished?  How about the grand promises Bush made in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and how pathetic the rebuilding has been?  I remember a couple of disaster movies which portrayed FEMA heroically and they were believable.  Now--such a portrayal would evoke laughter not applause.  Remember the too-big-to-fail banks?  Guess what--they are bigger too-big-to-fail banks today.  And the promised regulation of the financial industry?  Financial industry-1, government regulators-0. We have paid into social security and medicare with the assurances that they would be there--but now we are told that that was never really assured.  I won't even mention how our government has been leading the charge to eviscerate the rule of law and the Constitution.  You can fill in that part of the story your self.  Tell me--what is there left to trust?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Good Tuesday, Everyone.  Light snow predicted for today--again.  Can't complain since we haven't had anything like normal snow this winter.  We'll see what I get posted today because we have appointments and shopping today.


It is Wednesday and, obviously, I didn't get anything posted yesterday.  Mom's doctor's appointment took longer than we thought.  We finally got back mid-afternoon and I really didn't feel like reading or commenting.  Let's see what I find today.

Well, this should not be a surprise to anyone who has been following the travails of the Post Office.  I have said before that limiting Saturday deliveries wouldn't bother us at all.  And Post Office officials are giving everyone until August to get used to the notion.

Nor should this surprise anyone who isn't brain dead.  Does anyone remember a couple of years ago when Atlanta almost went dry and the thieves in charge down there proposed building a pipeline to tap the Great Lakes water?  I think they had better find another source to loot.  By the way, pay attention to what has happened to the money collected for harbor and other maintenance.  The Kleptocracy is alive and well--though everything else is falling apart.

So the Magdalen Laundries are back in the news.  Question--why isn't the Catholic Church on the hot seat as well as the Irish government?

Tom Englehardt has a good piece today on how much the "Bin Laden Tax" is costing us.  Osama Bin Laden is dead.  Long live Osama Bin Laden.  I would almost like to see the sequester go into effect because it is the only way the increases in the military budget would be curtailed.  Notice I said the increases.  The whole argument over the budget has been about increases to the budget not about real cuts in actual spending.  I still don't see why we need a military budget larger than the combined budgets of the next 10 largest spenders in the world.

Many, Many, Many years ago I discovered Isaac Asimov's robot stories--more than just I, Robot  that was made into a Will Smith movie a few years ago.  One (the title of which I have long forgotten) has stuck in my mind.  Asimov described an unemployed human whose life has diminished to one long drinking bout because jobs for human workers have disappeared with the widespread shift to robotic workers.  The government provided benefits that at least did give him enough cash so he could buy the booze he needs to stay inebriated.  As he finished his current bottle he saw a robot walking by and, in a fit of rage, hurled the bottle and a string of incoherent curses at the source of his misery.  The bottle, of course, merely shattered on the metal figure which turned around, surveyed the derelict human, and tells him "At least you can get drunk!!" before walking on.  The robot has been displaced by new robots.  I though of that story as I read this piece, which is one of several similar stories I have seen lately.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Good snowy Sunday to you all.  We woke to about two inches of snow yesterday and another two this morning.  It is snowing now.  Thankfully the lake effect snow has hit western Michigan not here.  We don't have much choice over the next week--we will have to go out on snowy days.  At least the temperatures will be closer to the mid-30s normal.

Hey, Kay.  Good to see you back.  I know what you mean about Faux News--unfortunately the disease is spreading to all news programs.  The internet does provide more real news from a greater variety of sources.  One of the most frequent comments here is 'They didn't cover that on the news today!!"  Hope Miss Ruby gets thawed out soon and that our Blue Monster (aka the car) doesn't join her as a snow boulder.

It is now a snowy Monday.  It seems we are (finally!!) into the season when we plan our outings with an eye on the weather.  Today we will stay home.

Yesterday was productive.  I spent about four hours crocheting the trim on a table scarf I finished the embroidery on a while ago.  I will post a picture in a couple of days.

Found this interesting article by way of Grist.  Check out a packet of seeds with the latest SF or mystery.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Good first day of February, Everyone, and a really frigid day it is.  The temp on the news is at 2F with wind chills of -20+.  Another day we will be inside and as snug as possible.  Let's see what I find on my trip through the 'net.

Buried deep in this little op-ed piece is a statement that struck a cord.  Once upon a time (30 years ago) a president could address most of the 'whole nation at will' because people (at least 50 million of them) watched the evening news each and every evening.  Well, yeah, I can relate to that because I was one of them.  And I read at least 1 news paper daily and two news magazines each week.  And I watched several TV news 'magazines' each week.  So, what happened?  Well, the nightly news programs expanded from half an hour (fifteen minutes each for local and national news) to two hours (an hour and a half for local and half an hour for national programs) much of which is devoted to pure fluff.  The newspapers and magazines are a shadow of their original form and mostly filled with ads.  The TV versions are equally insipid.  The coverage of presidential appearances are reduced to minuscule sound bites devoid of context or coherence.  I turned off Good Morning, America this morning when the fluff appeared which happens predictably after 20-30 minutes and two commercials.  I simply don't waste my time.