Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Good Tuesday, everyone.  They say we should get temperatures in the 80s today.  Yea!!!!  I have to go by the garden center to pick up some more vermiculite and some fertilizer.  I tested the pot the blueberries are in because they aren't looking all that good--after a good start.  The pH is fine but the nutrients aren't.  I will get some azalea fertilizer for them and some of the slow release general purpose for the rest of the gardens.  I think I can put the tomatoes and peppers in the greenhouse to harden off for the next week.  I didn't see any low temperatures that were anywhere near freezing.  And I can bring them back in quickly if necessary.  The hibiscus is doing very well.  We see new sprouts every day.  Unfortunately the cranberry didn't survive.  Let's see what is on the internet this nice sunny day.

I agree, Annie's Granny.  One of my grand-nieces uses them but we don't seen the benefit to the K-cups.  More expensive machine, more expensive coffee, and more packaging to throw away.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Good Monday, Everyone.  Sunny and temps predicted to rise into the mid-70s.  I have some work planned outside--transplanting the kale and getting the strawberries cleaned out and transplanted.  I should be able to put out other plants also--with protection.  We'll see.  Now let's see if there is anything interesting on the net.

So the Army gets force fed funds for something they don't really want while the sequester kicks in to cut funding for cancer patients' treatments.

I would definitely like to see this Vermont law go nation wide.  Health insurance companies now have to provide information on their rate of claim rejections, CEO pay and board compensation, and lobbying and advertising costs.

I guess it is all a matter of perspective.  And I remember every bit of it.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Good day on this wet Sunday.  The clouds moved in yesterday evening after I had finished what I intended to do outside.  I moved the tansy into its own large pot.  Digging out the container it had been in over winter I found roots infiltrating at least half of the container all the way to the rock layer on the bottom.  I knew it is invasive but it is more so than I expected.  So it has been banished from the main beds.  It will make a real nice show of ferny foliage all by itself.  Tomorrow afternoon I plant to fill another large pot and put the pyrethrum in it.  It didn't invade as much of its container but still I think it will be easier to contain if it is by itself.  All of the pots on east side of the patio are changed out and refilled and the shepherd's hooks moved.  The little birds are happy--I refilled the feeder.  We were overjoyed to see new shoots coming up on the hibiscus.  The little heating pad seems to be working--quite a few of my recently planted seeds are poking their little heads up.

You might find some of these pictures cute.  I have been reading about ultra-small houses for quite a while now.  Some are real gems.

I guess long-term unemployment isn't a very important topic on Capitol Hill.  A hearing on the problem before the 19-member Joint Economic committee began with only ONE senator (a Democrat) in attendance.  Three more Democrats joined at varying stages of lateness.  The quote indicates that because of a very busy schedule it isn't all that unusual for committee members to be late or to make a short appearance for 'important' hearings if only to be seen.  Long-term unemployment, I gather, falls well below 'fixing' the 'disruption' the sequester caused for the nation's air ports and air-traffic controllers.

Ours economic/political/social system is based on trust.  That has been a constant refrain every time some scandal of some sort hits and the powers that be insist that we 'must restore trust' in what ever system was involved.  My frequently asked, but not explicitly answered, question has been: what happens when the trust is fully lost?  This might provide a glimpse at an answer.  I have seen articles for the last several months about shortages of baby formula starting in Australia and New Zealand then moving to Britain and other European countries and, as in this story, Hong Kong.  I don't blame Chinese parents for wanting safe formula for their babies, especially since the one-child policy is still enforced.  Evidently the Chinese authorities haven't been able to 'restore trust.'

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Good morning to you all.  Sunny and clear--at least for now.  The weather people say there is a system that may brush our area with a bit of rain later.  But the temps should be in the mid 60s.  I hope to get two more of the new containers filled today and two shepherds' hooks moved.  I should refill the bird feeder.  But that is for a bit later because it is hanging on one of the hooks that will be moved.  I am watching the longer range weather forecasts to see when I can put my seedlings out.  I have a number of milk jug hot caps so they will have protection.

Hi, Kay.  I can sympathize on the chilly weather.  Today however has been really nice.  And we expect a few more before we get a chilly spell at the end of the week.  Have to be careful not to over do things.  There is so much to do so that is hard to manage.

Well, the season for recalls of contaminated veggies has started.  I wonder how many more we will see this year.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Our Friday is starting out sunny with the likelihood that the temperatures will be in the mid-to-upper 60s so I think I will get some digging done.  I have a short stack of seeds to get started on the heating mat.  Otherwise everything is going along pretty much as planned.  That won't last, of course.  Just planted chamomile, wonder berry, squash lemon, zinnia, lollo rossa lettuce, big ruffles spinach and cypress vine in paper pots in the tray on the heating pad.  I am interested to see how that pad affects germination.  Was surprised to find a couple of pots that I thought weren't going to sprout did.  I think one is a stevia (more than a weed after the other seeds started at the same time).

I agree, Kay.  I rarely get through the reading list without swearing.  I have gotten better at controlling that impulse--but it is still there.  Watching the Cyprus looting I commented that the Cypriots would have been better off opening an account at the 'bank of Sealy.'  Mom just chuckled.  She remarked that we were lucky that we have no where near the insured limits.  However, we both turned a bit pale when I read a story from Ireland where the officials tasked with unwinding one of their large failed banks have decided that any funds depositors left in retirement accounts were not insured for any amount.  How long before we go back a century to when there was no kind of insurance for depositors against bank failure?

The Red Tape Chronicles posted this item.  Isn't globalization wonderful?  On the one hand we are subjected to risks from our globalized too-big-to-fail financial institutions but on the other we face risks from globalized criminal gangs.

AH!!! Jon Walker at Firedoglake thinks the way I do.  If we are all citizens of this Great Republic we should all be covered by the laws of this Great Republic--including the law makers and their staffs.

What a surprise!! (and yes that is sarcastic)  An academic study finds that U.S. companies use overseas workers to drive down wages in the U.S.  The study concerns high-tech jobs and the companies bringing in foreign workers because they complain that U.S. workers don't have the skills they need.  Truth is U.S. workers aren't as cheap as foreign workers and don't kiss their asses with sufficient gratitude.  But another truth is that the whole process of globalization has forced U.S. wages to remain flat or actually go down.  When they moved jobs overseas that hit the lower and medium skilled jobs in manufacturing.  Now higher skilled jobs are on the chopping block.

Alternet posted a piece from Steven Pizzo that asks a good question: Has America Become A Drama Queen Nation?  We have become increasingly disgusted with the over-hyped, drama laden news stories of late.  Sometimes all we can do is laugh at the pathetic pleas on the news from families of shooting victims for the shooters to turn themselves in.  Or for the hit-and-run drivers to do the same.  The 24/7 coverage of the Boston bombing presented (and continues to present) more baseless speculation than fact and do so with as much drama as possible.  I don't know how many stories started with proclaiming 'BREAKING NEWS' only to listen to speculation about what might happen in the next hour, day, or whenever.  Once upon a time I described my self as a 'news junkie.'  Unfortunately the news isn't the news anymore.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Good Thursday to anyone out there.  Overcast for now but they say the sun will shine.  I will let the gardens dry out a bit more and continue digging tomorrow.  Besides, they say it will be warmer.  I have a small stack of seeds to get into starter paper pots warmed by the new heating pad.  I set it up yesterday and I am glad I did.  The center of the pad heats up more than the ends so I will plant the heat loving Wonderberry (sunberry) in the center.  We still have two weeks before the average last frost day.  I have planted seedlings before that if the temperatures were likely to be high enough--with protection just in case.  But right now, with changing out the containers, I am not nearly ready to put anything out that isn't out already.

Caution: PROFANITY ALERT!!!  My first reaction on reading this was "Goddam fucking hell!!"  Sorry to all with sensitive ears but there isn't any way to soften the obscenity of this political hypocrisy. Every time I think these bastards can't sink any lower--they do.  NOBODY in government should be exempt from the laws passed and signed.  Sorry for shouting.  But I am incensed that they claim the programs are too expensive for them.  What about people like me who have less than 1% of their salary?  I would ask why they don't fix the programs for all of us but we all know what the term 'fix' means in politics.  If those assholes fixed a wheel it would have four sides.

Here is another story to make your blood pressure go into the stratosphere.  No profanity alert this time. I guess I expended too much energy on the last one.  Some years ago I had an account at a credit union.  I opened it when I started working for the credit union because they could automatically deposit my pay checks into their own accounts but not into other bank's or credit union's accounts.  After that job ended, I kept the account for a while because I was satisfied  with the service and thought I would soon get another job and would be using the account.  Well no job appeared and I couldn't get unemployment so no new deposits.  When the account fell below the minimum required they started charging maintenance fees.  The balance never went to zero because I was not as math challenged as our government seems to be and closed the account to conserve as much of the money as possible.  I still had another free checking account at another bank which I had opened some ten years before so I went back to using it.

And another sad commentary on the finances of higher education in the U.S.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Good Wednesday, Everyone.  Oh, how chilly it is.  Sorry, Kay, but this rain and cold is going your way.  Wish I could wish it away but Nature has a mind of her own.  The news this morning said we have set a new record for the wettest April on record.  I don't know about you all but I am damned tired of these weather records.  Too wet to do anything outside but I have a number of things to do inside.  Stopped by the local home/garden stores yesterday to pick up vermiculite and soil test kits.  I was just a bit naughty and picked up a couple of things I hadn't planned on: two new plants (chocolate mint and spearmint) and a plant heating mat.  A couple of the seeds that haven't sprouted well need warmer temps than the 68 we keep the house at.  I have put the pineapple mint on my list for plants to add or replace.  I have heard really good things about it.  I need to rearrange my area upstairs (where I put the grow light) and get most of the starting materials up there.  That is for after I warm up--just taking the garbage out for pick up froze me to the bone.  I just put my winter coat away.  I hope I don't have to bring it back out.

My first thought on reading this-- the smaller size will cost as much or more than the bigger size.  I have seen that all too often.  I really resent the sanctimony.  I will decide what is 'responsible snacking.'  I don't need Mars to decide that for me.  All Mars is doing is piggy-backing on a popular fad to screw their customers and pad their bottom line.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Good Monday to all out there.  We should have a nice warm day and I plan to get as much of the digging in the gardens done as I can.  The weather people say we should get more rain tomorrow, especially in the afternoon.  I did get one of the old 30 gal containers half emptied--after I dug up the pyrethrum and put it into a container I won't be working on soon.  I have the drain holes put in one of the new 30 gal tubs.  I thought I would try something new this year.  When I put in the old ones I placed the drain holes at the very bottom edge.  This time I am putting the holes about 5 inches from the bottom all around.  I figure that will keep a reservoir of moisture that the plants can draw on during the really hot weather when it is often difficult to make sure the plants have enough water. I also trimmed my rosemary and bay a bit when I watered them.  They are doing very well--both showing vigorous new growth.  I pulled the roses.  The winter killed all three of them.  I won't replace them but will put in something else in their place.

Evidently the story I linked to a couple or so weeks ago citing a paper presented in an American Chemical Society journal claiming high levels of led in rice has been withdrawn because the results were highly inaccurate.  As in 1000x higher than they should have been.  Natural News presents a  good summary along with the contrasting Consumer Reports results.

It is now a cloudy and soon-to-be wet Tuesday.  I got part of my garden digging and rearrangement done.  However, I have much more to do.  But I think it will be too wet to do anything before Thursday.  Yesterday's work was some hard slogging.  The containers I worked on were still very wet and the soil more like clay.  I will pick up some bags of vermiculite and, when I start filling the new containers, I will mix it in generously.  I got a potentially pleasant surprise.  I carefully dug out the lavender, sage, and oregano and found really nice roots.  They may come back after all.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Good day on this chilly April Sunday.  I didn't get anything done outside yesterday--except looking around a bit.  Our temps didn't get into the fifties even.  Hopefully, today they will.  Instead of gardening I did a bit of dusting amid the bookshelves.  I have been in a 'de-acquisition' mode for several years now and it is time to do another round of culling among the books.  The main question I ask when looking at my books is 'How likely is it that I will want to re-read it any time soon?'  So Heinleins' Time Enough For Love,  or Rumer Godden's In This House Of Brede, or S.M. Stirling's Dies The Fire stay on the shelf.  But William Kienzle's Chameleon, Kathy Reich's Bones Are Forever, and Monica Ferris' Framed In Lace will find new homes through the local library's book sale.  I enjoyed them all and I have read them all at least twice.  But it is time to pare down.

Now for a grumble: has anyone else noticed how very useless the news on Boston has been?  I don't know how much verbiage and hot air has been expended but I have noticed how little real information was imparted.  And I have also noticed how repetitive, how maudlin, and hyped so much of it has been.  We just turned off Good Morning America.  The lead was the surviving Boston Bomber and his injuries, followed by a shooting at a pro-Marijuana rally in Denver, and whether the 'cupcake craze' might be over and, if so, what the next fad will be.  I am not terribly interested in any of that.

Somehow this doesn't really surprise me.  That officials from the Czech Republic would have to make a public announcement to make it clear that The Czech Republic is not Chechnya says something very sad about our education system.

One way or another our safety net programs are going to be privatized.  The big banks and financial firms will skim a nice profit one way or another.  I am sure that any attempts to 'reform' any of the 'entitlements' will simply increase the profits of the financial middlemen while those who are supposed to be the beneficiaries will receive fewer benefits.

Hey, Kay.  Good to see you.  I didn't send you that miserable cold and wet weather.  I really, really want warmth and sun.  Actually,  the climate scientists say these extreme weather events are more likely with global warming (or, as they prefer, climate change.)  Remember last spring with the heat wave in February followed by the severe freeze in March?  All the apple growers in Michigan and Wisconsin were hit very hard.  My lavender and thyme survived last year nicely but not the winter just past.  And don't forget the prolonged heat wave that followed last year's strange spring.  I agree--Sam presents some very interesting items on Undernews.

I wondered a couple of times during the endless and unenlightening coverage of Boston last week how  those injured by the bomb blasts would be affected financially by suddenly needing expensive medical treatment.  That is a topic none of the lames-stream media has even mentioned.  The Agonist does mention it here.  The friends of one of the injured have started an on-line fund hoping to raise at least a part of the needed money.  I noticed on the news this morning that there is an internet movement to provide the boat owner with a new boat to replace the one damaged in the capture of the surviving bomber.  But no one mentioned any efforts to raise money for the medical treatment of the injured survivors of the blast.  Sad, very sad!!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Good Saturday to all.  Cool this morning but clear.  The sun is just coming up.  If the temps rise into the low 50s I will bundle up and get some digging done outside.  I have to move a couple of plants before I can start emptying the old containers to move them out and put in the new ones.  I really should take some pictures of my seedlings for you all.  They are doing nicely--so far.

I agree with you, Cop Car.  P&G's suppliers should be charging them interest from delivery, better, insist on payment upon delivery.

The Agonist posted this item.  Says it so perfectly I don't have anything to say.

I have said before here that some things in life should not be commoditized.  Undernews published this on water.  I wonder how long the CEO of Nestle can go without water if he is so sure it should not be a public right.  Perhaps he is immune from the 'Rule of Three' and can go indefinitely without.  (Rule of Three ranks the necessities for survival: you will be dead after 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter in a harsh environment, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food.)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Good cloudy and wet Friday to you all.  They say the rain is past for the most part and we don't expect more till Tuesday.  We just had a spit of grapple or granular snow.  Not much and didn't stay long.  I plan to check my containers tomorrow and, if the soil has drained enough, start getting the tubs emptied so I can move the new ones in place.  I have several seedlings I want to put in more durable pots but that isn't urgent.

You might find this interesting and useful.  I browsed a bit but not extensively.  The notion of on-line electronic libraries intrigues me though there are some books I prefer to have in hand as a physical object.

Something about this smells to high heaven.  P&G wants to push out their payment cycle to their suppliers to 75 days from the present 45 days.  They say it will free up $2billion in cash.  And they say they will offer 'financing' to any small and medium suppliers who might suffer from this delay.  The best financing would be to pay their bills in a timely fashion in the first place.  I don't know about anyone else, but a 45 day delay in paying bills is ridiculous.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Good very wet Thursday, Everyone.  And I do mean wet with more waves of rain to come.  We here are fine but some areas of Chicago have some nasty flooding and at least one sinkhole that has eaten a couple of cars.  I am resigned to the notion that I won't get much digging in the containers for the near future.  We had a very brief bit of sun but it won't last.  In fact, it is already gone.  The counties just south of us had tornado warnings last night and we had high winds.  We had some errands over the last couple of days that took us out of the house and we saw a number of branches that had broken off some of the bigger trees.  And several areas where either the homeowner or the power companies were taking out dangerous large trees.  The major roads in Chicago have serious flooding and backups--including interstates.  I don't remember when rain has shut down so many schools but this storm has.  The local news has taken over the time Good Morning America usually has.  They just interviewed a woman who lost two cars to the sinkhole I mentioned above.  I imagine her comment is common "This is Chicago not Florida!"

The local news still has pre-empted regular programming (9:30am).  They have been on the air since 4:30am.  I cannot remember a time when they have done this for rain storms.  A squall line just went through here and the trees across the way from our back door were swaying more than I have ever seen.  They just announced that more than 100 roads in Lake County Illinois alone have been closed because of flooding.

The other major story on our news media this morning is the Texas fertilizer plant explosion.  I am just now beginning to read what is on the news internet outlets on it.  However, this article reinforces a couple of other pieces I linked to over the last couple of days.  The government agencies that are supposed to inspect and regulate various industries are understaffed, underfunded, and, all too often, captured by the industries whose main effort is to undercut any regulation at all.  I wonder what will result of the investigation to come.

Sorry, the Blogger didn't want to take your comment, Kay.  I am glad you stopped by.

In between reading I have done a few little chores.  I made up several paper pots and got my peat plugs with stevia, hyssop, fox glove, and bee balm put into them.  I think I said before I won't use peat plugs any more.  The paper pots do better and if the paper disintegrates before the garden is ready (as a couple have done) I simply put the whole thing into a plastic pot till the final transplantation.  I have a couple of plants yet to (in paper pots) to transfer.

I hope this gets through.  Given how many of our Senators and Congresscritters are really representing the interests of the drug companies I won't hold my breath.  I really do resent the various welfare programs for corporations.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Good  Wednesday, All.  Cloudy so far today with rain expected later.  We did get some sun yesterday which was nice.  I really could use several days of sun and no rain to dry out the gardens.  We'll see if nature cooperates.  The news is still dominated by the Boston bombing even though there is nothing new on it.

This story annoys me no end.  I read the headline out lout and both of us asked 'Who the hell are they shitting???"  Reading the story you realize 1) the stats are for one month only, 2) the touted decrease in prices of gas didn't even counter the increase in the month before, and 3) the decrease wasn't enough to make a real appearance in the market place.  This is spin and nothing more.

Harold Meyerson has good comments on his op-ed for the Washington Post.  The Walmart model has infected much, if not most, of the American consumer retail economy.  I have noted before that we rarely go to Walmart anymore--for all of the reasons mentioned in the several articles lately.  Reading Meyerson's piece I realize that we haven't shopped at a Penney store in at least seven or eight years.  And the last time we left without buying anything.  I don't remember what we went in for but I do remember we didn't find it.  We now shop at a several small shops where we get good products at reasonable prices and get wonderful service.  And a couple of those small shops are part of national chains.

Here is a gently amusing story from the BBC.  This guy has style.

Found this on Grist today.  Enough to convert one to vegetarianism.  Oh, shit!  I almost forgot about the contaminated spinach, tomatoes, peppers, sprouts, and melons of recent years.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Good Monday, everyone.  It is cloudy and we expect rain.  Blast--I wanted things to dry out a bit so I can get some digging in the gardens done.  I did get the cranberry and pineapple sage repotted.  The hibiscus is now in a large pot.  I will be watching to see how it does.  We are still recovering from some kind of stomach upset.  We don't know what it was but we do know that we didn't want to do anything or eat anything for about four days.


Good Tuesday to anyone out there.  As you can see I didn't have much to say yesterday.  I had turned off the computer by the time the news of the Boston Marathon bombing.  No real reason to comment.  What can I say except to express sorrow and condolences?

Although this kind crap makes me nauseous and thoroughly disgusts me, it doesn't surprise me.  In our present economy the greatest good is how great a company's profit is.  How they make that profit doesn't really matter.  If someone is harmed--well the litigation will take forever during which the products will still be sold and, if by some odd chance, they have to pay some damages, it is simply a 'cost of doing business.'  If these companies were really persons, as the Supreme Court recently held, they would be out of business and in jail.  That they aren't simply proves that they are not persons.  No one is ever found responsible for this criminality

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Good day to you all and I hope your Sunday is proceeding pleasantly.  I finally got some paper strips cut yesterday so I can fold up a bunch of paper pots today.  I also need to get a few of my seedlings and the cranberry and pineapple sage repotted.  My hibiscus arrived Friday and, Oh, was I surprised to find a bare root plant.  I thought I would get a potted seedling.  I checked back on the web site and found I had totally missed the description of what would be sent.  Thankfully I didn't miss the description of how hardy it is supposed to be--well above my growing zone.  So another job today will be to get it into a pot.  I hope it warms up to the point where I can do that outside.  I also got about 12 to 14 inches of the crochet chain stitched to the table scarf that has been sitting by my chair forever.  The other one with the cross-stitching started has been keeping it company.  I need to get to it also.

I don't know how many of you read Riverbend's Baghdad Burning blog and wondered what happened to her and her family after they left Iraq for exile in Syria.  Yesterday I made one of my rare excursions on Facebook and found a bit by Tom Englehardt which linked to her update to which I have linked above.  I wondered after her last post from Syria when I read about the difficulty Iraqi refugees had finding housing and work in a country that didn't want them.  I wondered again after the vicious civil war started in Syria.  I never though our invasion of Iraq was wise or just, as most of you who have read my posts know.

Technology is always a double edged sword as this article demonstrates.  Our technology is re-writing our definitions of privacy and we hardly even notice.  And then there is this item.  We have become so dependent on computers and no one really considers what might happen if that technology failed in some way.  Our banks depend on computers.  Our information systems depend on computers.  Our refineries depend on computers. Our electrical generation systems depend on computers.  How much else?  How much would our lives change if our computers didn't function?

The fall out from the Cyprus mess gets murkier.  It is bad enough when banks operate (and often mis-behave) across state lines but it gets really messy when it is across national boundaries.  Isn't globalization wonderful?  And, yes, I am being sarcastic.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Well, here it is--Friday again and April is almost half over.  How the time has flown.  I know I say that often but tis true for me.  The weather turned colder here--not freezing cold but cold.  We had rain yesterday.  At least a couple of inches, which we do need.  Illinois just west of Chicago have flood warnings posted.  They had a couple of 10 and 12 inch snowfalls over the couple of weeks around April 1 and I am sure the ground did not have enough time to thaw.  Then they got more rain than we did over the last week.  They say we should have warmer temps Sunday.  I hope so because I really want to get started in the gardens.

Here is an amusing item--unless you are a woman intent on defying time.  Those of you who have visited here often know I am not such a woman.

The author of this little piece is so right but he doesn't take it far enough.  It isn't just the switch from the peculations of those occupying the corner offices to the alleged gaming of the social safety net by 'welfare queens.'  How much of the news is really news any more?  We get maybe a line or two about a real news story and then five minutes dissecting the latest round of Dancing With The Stars.  If someone wants to watch the program I don't mind but I do mind when it invades the news I want to watch.  I guess Psy has a new 'music' video out.  I would rather not know about it but I can't get away from it.  It is on the (s)news program.

The news last night had another segment on how much food the 'average' American family wastes each day, week, month, year.  While I can agree that modern Americans have been conditioned to waste way too much of everything (not just food.)  But I feel that focusing on the individual or individual family ignores all too much of our wastage.  How about laws that prohibit farmers who can't sell a crop profitably from donating it to food banks?  Forcing them to sell at a loss or plow under is a big waste.  Or what about the frequent (and seemingly more frequent) recalls of food for bacterial or other kinds of contamination?  Some of the companies hit with such recalls over the last couple of years had been running dirty operations for months if not years before the FDA or other agency shut them down.  That is not only a threat to consumer health and safety but a criminal waste of food.  They estimated that the so-called Average family wastes 23 lbs per week.  I would guess that at least that much (that is 23 lbs x the number of families per day) is wasted in our industrial food processing system.  Why don't our lamestream (s)news media address that wastage?

About a month or so ago I read accounts from Australia concerning shortages of powdered baby formula because Chinese visitors were buying it up and sending it back to relatives.  Evidently, Britain has also had that problem--to the point that some suppliers and stores are putting a limit on how much can be purchased at any one time.  I saw a BBC piece awhile back which included complaints from British customers who were upset with the restrictions because they couldn't buy enough from their usual supplier to meet their needs.  Often they had twins or they only shopped once every or twice a month.  The phenomenon stems from the scandal of a couple of years ago involving melamine laced formula sickening and killing babies.  I would say, from stories like this one, that consumers still don't trust the Chinese producers.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Good Thursday, everyone.  I was surprised to see two posts I had started but not posted.  The posts have become so intermittent because I am tired of writing the same (or very similar) posts on the same old issues.  I don't know how often we have watched the news--especially the political and economic news--and wondered at the fact that the same old problem is featured and everybody is saying the same old things.  I wonder, given the results of the last election, if I am the only one who thinks most of the politicians re-elected should have been booted?  Right now the new readers are touting the agreement between two conservative senators that may lead to a 'historic' agreement on gun control.  Historic?? Really??  All it provides for is expanded background checks for gun purchasers.  The measures restricting so-called 'assault' weapons and large capacity magazines aren't going anywhere.  My problem with all sides of this issue is remains the same: nobody really addresses the real problem here.  As the old saying goes: Guns don't kill people; people kill people.  Yeah, they may do it with guns; but, they also use bats and other clubs, knives, cars, and anything else that is handy.  A couple of the bloggers I read regularly noted that there isn't any movement to restrict the sale of x-acto knives or other knives.  Nor is there a demand that we submit to background checks before buying knives.  Or, get some kind of permit to carry one.  With guns we blame the tool for the use to which some asshole puts it.  How about a smarter way to hold the assholes accountable for what they actually do and not everyone for what some asshole might do.  Sorry for the monotonous use the the same noun.  I guess that makes my earlier point.

This is an interesting little story but I don't really know what conclusions to make of it.  Our confusion was simply compounded because the amounts of lead in the rice are different in the BBC broadcast report we just saw.  Since we eat rice maybe six to eight times a month I think we will wait further developments.  At leas the BBC account addressed our question of how some of the lead got into the rice but only for that from China and Taiwan.  I would love to know how the drought several areas have experienced over the last couple years or so would have affected the levels of heavy metals in crops including rice.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Good Sunday, everyone.  We had a wonderful day yesterday.  Temperature was a bit over 70 though the weather people warn that it probably won't be repeated for a while.  The ice on the patio cement is almost gone--may be totally gone since the temperature out there was 45+ overnight.  Sometime today I need to cut paper strips and make some more pots.  We are looking at how we can arrange out pots outside to make it easier to reach in and work.  But I may not be able to do much for at least another week.  Our weather people say we will have rain off and on all week.  How much? Anybody's guess.

I agree, Susan.  The banking situation is scary.  We have had 80 years of being assured that our bank accounts are safe.  After all, our government 'insures' them--right?  Well, that account is greatly under funded.  I remember reading about the level of bank liabilities a couple of years ago and thinking there isn't enough money to cover those liabilities--world wide or in individual companies.  And yes I have also seen the stories about the various schemes to squeeze more money out of bank customers and how much fees and penalties contribute to the bank's profits.  When the publicity bites them they roll back the contentious fee/penalty and quietly apply a new one while the attention is elsewhere.  I refuse to have a credit card.  All those offers go straight in the garbage.


I greet you now on a rainy Monday.  But the temperatures are in the mid-40s so nothing is likely to freeze again.  Right now I think I still have living blueberry bushes and tansy.  Still waiting for clear signs of life from the other plants I left out over the winter.

Hey, Kay.  Glad to see you back.  I agree on all you said.  I really hate the thought that Social Security and Medicare has become a 'bargaining chip' for our supposedly progressive President to get his 'grand bargain.'  It will be anything but grand for you, me, Mom and others like us.  Thank the powers, gods or whoever for Bernie Sanders.

I just got a plant in the mail.  I thought it would be the hibiscus I ordered but it was a pineapple sage.  I thought I had ordered seeds.  Oh, well.  It is upstairs under the grow lights until it is warm enough for it to be outside.  Next fall I will take cuttings and put them under grow lights over winter.  I wish I had done that last fall but Mom reminded me that those cuttings might not have done well since it wouldn't have had enough light.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Hope you are all having a nice Friday.  It looks like a sunny day today and our over night temperatures remained above freezing.  I hope that continues.  I so want to get out and start digging in the gardens.  Can't do that until everything thaws.  The last two containers are starting to drain.  I started some more seeds yesterday in my homemade paper pots: more stevia along with chamomile, summer savory, wonder berry, and bee balm.  Sometime over the weekend I will make some more pots.

I followed the link I found on Natural News to this article on a change the USDA (of which the Food Safety and Inspection Service is a part) in the designation of sodium benzoate, sodium propionate, and benzoic acid as (now) safe for human consumption.  First, I don't trust any of the government agencies who are supposed to protect citizens health and safety.  They are too much in bed with the industries they are supposed to regulate.  Second, I am amazed that these products are now approved when sodium is one of the several substances we are supposed to limit in our diets.  Are they going to declare it on labels?  This is a big issue in this household since Mom's doctor has strongly advised her to limit her sodium intake.  Third, do you really believe a food conglomerate like Kraft when they say they are not going to use the chemicals to disguise inferior of sub-standard meat and poultry?  I don't.
Good day to you all.  The skies are overcast and we should get rain.  However, the temperatures are now in the high 30s and we should see a 60+.  That will be nice.  The forecast even projected three 60s in a row.  My goodness.  All of my containers are now free of ice.  It won't be long and I will be able to start working the soil.  We got four new 30 gal totes to replace the worst of the old ones.  But until the soil is thoroughly thawed and drained I can't change them out.

Just had a couple of very nice encounters with seed companies I usually deal with.  Schumway sent an e-mail to say they had shipped the pineapple sage seeds that had been on back order.  And Burpee sent an e-mail telling me the supplier of the grow light system I purchased is sending a replacement for the defective bulb that came with the fixture.  I have never had a bad experience with the seed companies.  All I have yet to receive from the spring orders in the purple hibiscus plant and I expect it will come sometime between now and end of May since the usual last frost date for this area is May 15.  Just in time to set in the gardens.  The little cranberry plant is doing well and has shown some new growth as has my bay and Christmas cactus.  Just dug around in a few of  my containers.  Centers are still frozen.

Found these remarks from Bill Moyers by way of Crooks & Liars.  I think it is right on the money.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Good Thursday, All.  Supposed to be in the high 50s today.  A few more days like this and all my containers may finally be ice free.  I still have two that needs to thaw and drain.  Can't tell too much about what has survived and what hasn't out there.  The blueberries are survivors and they show a lot of new leaf buds.  Yeah!!!  One of the pyrethrum looks probably and can't tell about the others.  The tansy looks probably, also.  Can't tell about the oregano, sage and lavender yet.  Maybe by this time next week I can get in for a closer look.

I think this is a very hopeful sign.  It is absolutely ridiculous that corporation or other business, is somehow 'bad' enough to justify prosecution, executives had some responsibility for creating and/or encouraging a corporate environment of corruption.  Under our current legal system a company could get off with paying a fine that amounted to a financial pin prick (compared to the profits it made from its  corrupt behavior) and the executives who encouraged it get off without penalty.  Can anyone wonder why our financial system is such an amoral mess?

Another black eye for Walmart!  I have watched this story grow over the last week when one of the economic bloggers linked to the Bloomberg story (I think).  I saw the follow up yesterday and this morning our local morning news mentioned it in its economics segment.  Some five or so years ago we started drifting away from Walmart.  It started when we became increasingly unhappy with the low quality and excessive packaging in the meat department.   We found (at that time) better quality and comparable prices without the wasted packaging at our local supermarket.  (Note: we have since shifted over to a small local meat market which has much better meat at only marginally higher prices and much less in the packaging.  The change has been made much easier because we don't eat as much of anything as we once did.)  About that time we also noticed gaps (sometimes large ones) on the shelves and the disappearance of many products we customarily bought.  I don't think we have visited our local Walmart over the last good while without commenting on how empty the shelves are.  We don't go there often and, as often as not, we don't find what we want or the quality isn't worth the price however low.

Once upon a time I (and I think most of us) thought that our money remained our money when we entrusted it to a bank or brokerage firm or other such entity.  Evidently, we were just a bit deluded.  It becomes an unsecured loan to the bank.  And the Cyprus expropriation is not likely to be the one-off all of the politicos and their tame pundits promised and limited to Cyprus.  Check out this post.  From news stories I have read over the last couple of weeks some governments are explicitly enacting the same policy, New Zealand and Canada most recently.  I wonder how long before insurance companies will offer those wealthy enough to have deposits over the government insured levels insurance for the rest and how much it will cost.  A couple of times I have made quips about shifting to the Bank of Sealy and Mom remarked how easily that money could be stolen or destroyed in a fire or some such catastrophe. But I wonder what the real chances (not any low balled estimate) of having our bank legally steal our funds.

Another good reason to buy food grown locally and process it yourself.  Absolute safety is never achievable but I don't feel altogether comfortable trusting companies whose only loyalty is to their bottom line and consider any costs to marketing unsafe or contaminated foods a business expense.  As for the customers who die, are incapacitated, or require expensive treatment for food borne illness--they are collateral damage.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Hello to you all on what looks like a bright Wednesday though a bit on the cool side.  I need to water a whole lot of plants.  So far the new grow light is working very nicely.  All of those seedlings are growing nicely.  The peppers I thought were not going to sprout have sprouted nicely.  They had taken so long I was about to start new seeds.  I need to make some new paper pots so I can get some more seeds started.  I think those are working much better than the peat plugs.  I don't think I will use the peat plugs any more.

I found this blog on the Washington Post this morning.  I remember all of the official proclamations assuring everyone that the radiation from Fukushima would certainly not reach our territories.  That was at the same time monitors in Washington and Oregon were showing radiation spikes directly traceable to Fukushima and radiation tainted fish were showing up in our waters.  How can you tell if a politician is lying?  His/Her lips are moving.

I have a couple of thoughts about the Korean mess.  The first came this morning as the news readers noted China's concern over the brinksmanship.  They are afraid that the situation will escalate 'accidentally.'  I put that word in quotation marks because, as a character in a movie I like said, if a loaded gun discharges while you are threatening people with it, it is no accident if some one is shot.  The North Koreans are threatening people with a loaded gun and there are no accidents in the consequences.  The second thought involves some of the political pundits' comments that describe the North Korean actions as 'blackmail.'  There is only one effective way of dealing with international blackmail--change the terms of the interaction.  Right now we are trying to achieve an unattainable goal--limiting nuclear technology to those countries that have it now.  The key feature about technological genies is that once they are out of the bottle they don't go back into the bottle and no one can control where they go.  We have to find a way to live with that fact and the fact that people we don't much like or trust are going to get the technology.

This situation has appeared in a number of articles I have read for some time now.  Now the practice is increasing in Britain.  We were assured by our various pundits that the upsurge of temporary workers and workers hired 'on call' nothing to worry about because when good times (that were surely just around the corner) many of those workers would be hired permanently.  We were, and remain, skeptical.  I just saw a report on BBC that touts the 'improving' U.S. job market.  The only criterion by which the job market is improving is in the number of companies planning to hire more workers.  That doesn't mean they will actually hire more.  Or that the wages will improve.  Statistics I have seen elsewhere indicate that two-thirds or more of the jobs lost during the last several years paid well while sixty percent of the jobs created were low paying jobs.  This Alternet piece provides a tonic for irrational optimism on the jobs issue.  That does not indicate an improving job market.

I like reading the Contrary Farmer--he writes a lot of good sense.  Over the last couple of years I have read a number of stories about farmers converting a large amount of land to corn and soybean production and much of that in areas that require extensive irrigation to make bring in the crop.  Worse the aquifers that irrigate that land are dropping rapidly at the same time drought conditions continue.  The whole process reminds me of descriptions of the years just before and into the early years of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl.  Farm commodity prices fell leading farmers to convert more land to crops hoping to squeeze a small profit out of more acreage leading to lower prices.  And much of the expansion was fueled by loans.  And then the music stopped and everybody fell down.

Isn't this wonderfully craptastic!!!  When is oil not oil?  When it is from oil sands.  Which means that Exxon doesn't have to pay into the oil clean up trust fund.  By the way--the oil the Keystone XL pipeline is planned to carry--same thing.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Good day to you all and welcome to April.  I know--it is the 2nd so April has already started.  I just haven't found much I wanted to say about what is going on in our world.  It is more of the same and I have felt somewhat exhausted in the way of something new to say.

Here is an interesting article concerning resistance of crop pests to GMO plants incorporating toxin genes.  The theory behind the pyramid strategy (incorporating genes for two or more toxins into a plant's genome) is that if on is good two is better, and so on.  The results say that may be be very mistaken.  Unfortunately, Monsanto and its competitors have so much capital invested in this strategy that changing course would be expensive and difficult.  And even more unfortunately, the recently signed 'Monsanto Protection Act' will allow those companies to introduce such engineered crops without oversight and without liability.  The worst part of this is that it was attached to the continuing budget resolution at the last minute.  The best part--the whole thing will be in effect only until September when the resolution expires.  Maybe something can be done to keep it out of any budget in the future--if any, given the recent track record of our overpaid representatives.

We listened to the morning news with a sense of bewilderment.  The economic segment proclaimed a fantastic drop in gasoline prices to an average of just under $3.60/gal.  Why bewilderment?  We were out yesterday and the lowest price we saw as $3.83/gal.  That has been typical for while now.  What ever 'good' news we hear don't seem to appear at our level of the economy.