Sunday, June 30, 2013

Cloudy today with rain probable.  But the temps will be cooler.  I can't complain (much) about heat considering what the southwest is getting.  I just hope it doesn't move in here.  The gardens are doing well now and I would like them to continue.  I was surprised to see my hibiscus drooping a bit yesterday given all the rain we had over the past week but it had sucked most of the moisture out of its pot.  I watered it well and it has perked back up.


That was Saturday.  It is now Sunday and we have broken clouds with the promise of at least some sun.  I don't think we got much rain yesterday so I will have to see what the plants need a bit later.  I saw a couple of actual cherry tomatoes forming on one of the plants.  The others should be following suit soon.  I think I was a couple of squash forming also.  Let's see if there is anything forming on the 'net.

What does it say about a legislative body when the bar for success is "keeping bad things from happening?"  Unfortunately, too keep the "bad things" from happening no good things get done either. That is not success.  And we are paying those bozos for doing nothing.  I think we should save the money and fire them all.

So our supposed allies are pissed over U.S. cyberspying on their officials and agents.  I am fascinated by how little outrage (domestic or foreign) appears in our (s)news media.  Even the game of "Where is Edward Snowden" has largely disappeared from the airwaves.  Once upon a time we were told that democracy required an informed and educated electorate and that the news media was key to educating that informing the electorate on public matters while public schools provided the education.  Both key institutions have failed us.

There are a couple of unfortunate aspects to this story.  First, if you want to take the high ground (that is, make an argument from a position of moral superiority, as we so often try to do in our international dealings) we should not be doing things that allow all the Mr. (or Ms.) Pots out there noticing how grimy our own bottom is.  Second, the 4th Amendment doesn't mean all that much for the privacy rights of Americans, at home or abroad.  Third, the argument "everybody does it" is truly juvenile.  That it works for our political leaders when all it got me was a swat on the bottom is so wrong.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Hope your Friday is going well.  Sunny so far but we may have thunderstorms later.  Hope not.  We did not get the winds that went through a bit west of here with the usual damage from falling tree limbs and such.  I got the first of the pots with more than one strawberry plant cleaned out and the plants repotted.  I have at least three more to do.  I also got the planter I plant to put the extras in cleaned out and ready.  On my early morning check of the gardens I found the yardlong beans were sending their vines into one of the strawberry plants.  I managed to unwind the two without damaging either.  Some six or eight strawberry runners to get potted so they will root.  For the rest, I have some trimming to do.

Well, Duh!!!!  What the hell good is it if students are educated in science, technology, and math if they can't communicate the ideas of those fields to others?  And if they can't write clearly are they really reading with any comprehension?  Questions that aren't even being asked in the various controversies over education today.

This is a stronger argument for seriously curtailing or even eliminating taxpayer support of University research than the various stories of WTF research programs.   You know what I mean--the stories about the "wasted" money spent on really loony studies that have no apparent benefit to anyone.  Or better that we insist that any research done with any government support is totally public and what ever benefits from that research is broadly and affordably distributed throughout society.

Golem XIV has some very interesting thoughts on secrets and lies.  I wonder how many people are like us here--we don't believe much of what our "experts," politicians, and other movers and shakers say.  I wonder how many are like me--once a news "junkie" who can't stand most of the "news" programs anymore.  I don't consider wall-to-wall coverage of the Zimmerman trial or the Duchess of Cambridge's maternity fashions or other such fluff and nonsense news.

This Huffington Post piece underlines  the points made by Golem XIV.  What better way to get your lies across than to inundate the (s)news media with anonymous "sources."

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Good Thursday, Everyone.  Foggy this morning--though it is dissipating now.  We may get more thunderstorms later this afternoon.  Hope not.  I am so ready for a dry spell which might come over the weekend.  Everything survived in the garden but it was ugly.  The rain and wind laid down six of my peppers.  They now have support stakes.  One, and only one, of the large containers failed to drain properly and had about three inches of water on top of the soil which settled and compacted badly.  I punched more drain holes so it eventually drained.  Why that one container and not a single one of the others didn't drain I have no idea.  I checked everything a bit ago.  I think I see buds on the cypress vine and am still waiting for the hibiscus to open.

So this labor dispute has been settled and the hostage boss is now free.  I saw an interesting interview on the standoff on CNBC, I think.  Evidently the interviewee reads Chinese and said that the accounts in the Chinese press gives a different picture.  Notice how the linked story mentions that the workers demanded severance pay even though they still had jobs and the company assured them the plant wasn't fully closing.  Evidently, according to the account from the CNBC interview, the workers saw an entire division of the plant close and the jobs shipped to India.  The workers in that division got severance pay.  But they also saw the machinery in other areas of the plant boxed up which caused serious concern among the rest of the employees for their jobs.  Should they believe their eyes--or what the company tells them?  How much do you trust your employer to be honest with you?

Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism posted a link to this article.  We look very skeptically on all medical therapy.  There are always side effects or possible negative consequences to all medical interventions.  Treating depression (not curing--treating) at the risk of diabetes, however low, doesn't sound all that appealing to me.

I didn't read all of this article but it presents a new study which contradicts a key argument Monsanto, et al., present in favor of their GMO seeds--increased yield.  Recent studies have contradicted the biotech companies' arguments that their seeds require fewer applications of herbicides and pesticides.  As the weeds become Roundup resistant and the insect pests become bt resistant, that is less true (if it ever was true).

Gene Logsdon posted this on the Contrary Farmer yesterday.  I have seen stories about the efforts of Chinese governments (local and national) to "encourage" rural folk to move into high rise apartments in cities.  I have also seen stories about "ghost" cities being built in areas where the infrastructure (power, water, sewage) simply can't sustain the planned population.  Or cities already built but where people are most definitely not beating down the realtor's door.  The sentiment of that official is rather telling: if they can induce half of the Chinese people to start consuming the economy will take off but they are living in rural areas where they don't consume.  Once upon a time everywhere, people lived in a "household economy" where most of the family's needs were produced in the household and consumed there.  Only surpluses were sold outside the family.  Notice the attitude that the people who produce their own "don't consume."  Well, they do consume--they just don't exchange money for the items they consume but are produced elsewhere.  I have noticed that modern economics ignores the household except as a locus of consumption of goods and services produced outside the household.  The twenty-two pounds of stewed tomatoes I got out of my gardens last year only added to the general economy when I bought the seeds last spring.  I can imagine that economists might actually view my gardening as a drag on the economy. After all, because I grew my own I didn't buy about $35 worth of canned stewed tomatoes.  I think the economists are screwy.

I never knew a sports injury at a military prep school could be a "service related" injury that would qualify a business owned by the "injured" party as a "service-disabled veteran-owned small business."  Neither did Tammy Duckworth who does have service related disabilities.  Thank you, Tammy, for calling the asshole on his scam.  His actions may not have been illegal but it certainly was unethical.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Good wet Wednesday, All.  We did get some rain last night and expect more over the day today.  Thankfully, the wind is not nearly as brutal as it was Monday and the rain wasn't falling like millions of miniature hammers.  But I don't think I will be doing any gardening done until later in the week when we are supposed to dry out.

Oh, my!!  Pity the ultra-rich.  The prices for luxury living have risen faster than inflation.  That is if you believe the inflation numbers.  I don't.  And I will save my sympathy for those who find unacknowledged inflation is making it hard for them to pay for food, shelter, and medicine.  Golf club dues and private boxes at the opera simply don't even register in my world.

Grist posted this.  We stopped using body washes a while back because all of those we checked had triclosan in them.  In case you missed it, the antimicrobial chemical is also can cause cancer.  We went back to bar soap.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Good Tuesday, Everyone.  Oh, what a storm we had yesterday evening.  The weather people had warned that the line of thunderstorms was coming in "at highway speed."  And it did.  The wind drove the rain sideways--and I do mean sideways.  It looked like some of the pictures we get from hurricane coverage.  Usually, our fence protects the patio from winds.  But I cringed as I watched it whip my strawberries on the fence and the tansy which is, for now, the tallest plant in the gardens.  The lower level plants were also pummeled.  I checked everything this morning.  The borage was badly beaten down but it may come back, and the chocolate mint and lemon basil were a bit bedraggled.  Otherwise I have a couple of plants that need a bit of support. The forecast for today calls for more thunderstorms this afternoon.

Our news showed this story last night but left everything as a mystery--no possible explanations given.

Hi, Kay.  I wish I could say I paid all my student loans back.  Unfortunately all of the jobs I had before (reluctantly) retiring paid much less than the payments would have been--or I was unemployed.  I consider my last stint in academe the worst "investment" I ever made.  The only reason austerity hasn't hit us harder is pure, dumb luck.  Mom has good health insurance thanks to her late husband (although that is getting more expensive) and I have no long term health problems.  Our combined social security is just enough--if those bastards in Washington don't muck it up.  I don't mind the idea of Taco Bell or McDonalds or any of the fast food places.  I just don't really want to eat there.  What we cook up here at home tastes so much better.  Mom is much more finicky, especially about anything resembling Mexican or TexMex.  Me?  Not so much.  I figure, if you aren't expecting authentic Mexican, you won't be disappointed.

We paid a visit to our little farm market this morning.  We got some nice red tomatoes and green tomatoes, and some lettuce.  Had a nice conversation with the vender who remarked on the egg cartons Mom carried.  We were taking them to another vender who re-uses them for the eggs he brings to the market.  The eggs we get are from a farm that keeps its hens cage free and doesn't use antibiotics.  The man we talked to has been involved in "organic" production of eggs and veggies since before we had a word for it.  He remembered when, only fourteen years ago, he couldn't sell eggs from his free range hens at any price as the customers rejected "that organic shit."  Now they ask how long he has engaged in organic agriculture.  All his life, he says.  His mother and grandmother were Cherokee/Cheyenne and used what we now call organic practices.  He asked his mother once why she didn't use modern methods and chemicals.  She told him "If the Sky Father didn't make it, don't put it in Mother Earth."  She asked him if he thought they took the toxic chemicals and shot them to the moon.  He said, "of course not."  "So where are they?" she asked.  "You are walking on it and eating it.  Some day it will kill you."  We are Blackfoot/Shawnee (plus Scots, Irish, English, French, and Dutch) and we thoroughly agree.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Good Monday to you all.  Cool right now but we expect temps near 90 with possible thunderstorms--if the systems hold together long enough.  Some of my herbs need cutting so that is on the agenda.  I also want to get some the plots cultivated a bit and fertilized.  Sometime this week I want to get some strawberry plants split and replanted.  Peppers, hibiscus, tomatoes, and squash are budding.  I expect blossoms any time.

Well, I did get lemon thyme, sage, pineapple sage, bee balm cut and drying.  Also got everything fertilized and cultivated.  Surprise--my lemon squash are blooming.  I didn't think they were quiet ready.

Glad you enjoyed the links, Kay.  Lets see what I find today.

I found this shortly after I started traipsing through the 'net.  I have spent a much too large a part of my adult life in institutions of higher learning.  I have watched as the schools increased their fees to the point where a student who, like me, could once fund their programs with part time work during the school term and full time work during the summer could no longer work enough hours at any time to afford the tuition/fees/rent/books etc.  I have seen the schools reduce the number of grants and scholarships while steering their students into loans from which they often got a kickback from lending institutions.  What we have to remember is that colleges and universities (non-profit or for-profit, private or public) have become big businesses and the bottom line is the only consideration any more.  But we now have to judge education by the same standards we judge any other consumer good: its utility for us and our lives.  I remember being very disgusted by former Secretary of Education William Bennett who advised people to "kick the tires" on education.  Unfortunately, education has become a commodity on par with cars, refrigerators, computers.  We have to decide, as consumers, what we want "education" to  do for us, will it have the desired results, and is it worth mortgaging our futures of it.

Why anyone really thinks "austerity" is a good idea, maybe this story from U.K. will give them pause.  Let's call a spade a spade here.  Austerity really means pain for people who are already hurting while those who really cause the recession get off and prosper.

I find linguistic legerdemain fascinating.  In answer to the last question, I have a friend who referred to the chain as "Taco Hell."

I can definitely relate to these sentiments.  My past seems so distant and gets more distant every day.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Good Sunday, everyone.  We finally got some sun yesterday and temperatures in the high 80s.  Same expected today with a possible 90+.  Needless to say we are staying inside and not doing very much.  I will check everything this morning and will water tonight if we don't get rain over the day.

This is an interesting little lesson in American political history and speculation on the future.  That some in the more conservative camp would think it a good idea to resurrect property qualifications to protect their own power and influence doesn't surprise.  The devil is, of course, in the details.  For instance, how does one define "property?"  Originally, property qualifications often specified property that generated a given level of income each year.  It might be a farm, a workshop, a store, warehouse or ship, etc.  Key here is it generated income.  The left out a large number of professionals whose activities brought in income but whose property (a house they lived in, for example) didn't.  Or it left out a rising population of skilled workers whose labor earned a tidy income but who often didn't own any property income generating or otherwise.  And how much of the nearly 81 or so percent of actually own property?  And even if you decide to use property value as opposed to income from property what property how what kind of property would you include/exclude?  Interesting can of worms.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Good Saturday to you all.  Lazy day to day.  We are expecting some rain--maybe.  Whether we get it or not hardly matters.  Nature dumped better than an inch and a half yesterday afternoon in less than an hour.  And I do mean dumped.  That rain fell like a million hammers.  I slipped out between the raindrops to get a couple of plants out of drip saucers that were full.  The borage had been flattened but it is standing up today so it may be ok.  Everything else came through the deluge nicely.

Found this by way of Yves at Naked Capitalism.  I was curious about why a NASA photo would freak people out.

So Anthem in California dropped "more than 6000" customers illegally and now has agreed to a $6million settlement in which it does not acknowledge guilt.  I wonder how big a hit that made on their bottom line.  The LA City Attorney originally filed for $1billion but I doubt that would have made a blip in their profits either.  When will we start "executing" criminal corporations.  They are people after all.  At least the Supreme Court says so.

I have often said (and written) that some functions should not be profit based.  This nauseating story merely underlines that notion.  The only bright spot in the story is that three states may have discovered that truth and dumped the private prison company they were doing business with.

The Daily Mail (U.K.) published this article on various food additives that are banned in other countries but common in our supermarkets.  I think our rules for grocery purchases are well justified by what is presented there:  few processed foods, nothing with chemicals we can't pronounce, and the fewer the ingredients the better.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Merry Solstice to you all and welcome to summer.  It will feel like it this coming week with temps north of the mid 80s.  I am watching my gardens more carefully for watering.  All my tomatoes are blooming nicely.  The hibiscus should bloom soon.  We were thinking that the goldfinches had passed on toward where ever they winter because we hadn't seen any for a bit.  But we saw a little female.  The bright males haven't shown up though.  We saw a large flock of geese heading further north and the two or three families of geese that usually hatch their young at a pair of ponds a few blocks from here are gone.  The last time we saw them the goslings looked nearly fully fledged.  Our little hummingbird is back.  She came by and surprised us by flying low on the patio looking at the plants.  None of the plants we put in for her and the butterflies have bloomed yet.  Several of the strawberry plants are putting out vigorous runners so I am planning on taking some cuttings soon.  Can't have too many strawberries.

I looked out at the bird feeder because I heard the characteristic twitter of the goldfinch and saw a female with her chick.  She kept twittering as the baby pecked at the feeder almost as if encouraging the baby to eat up.  Several times the little one flitted up to where she sat on the fence and they seemed to kiss before the baby went back to the feeder.  They have now flown off.

Just as I started reading this the BBC news noted freak storms bring golf ball sized hail and hurricane winds in Switzerland and early winter storms in New Zealand.  I am getting used to the notion of weather events described as freak or multi-century occurrences.  That I guess you could say is a new normal.  We have gotten used to remarking on how unusual the weather is.  That comment used to come up about once or twice a year a decade ago.  Now it is several times a month.

My opinion on this story is split.  I am thoroughly pissed that the government is in profit-making mode on the backs of students and their families who have been sold a "pig in a poke."  We have been brainwashed to believe that education is the royal road to social and economic advancement while that connection has been broken for the better part of the last 30 years.  At the same time that our politicians and pundits push education the scholarships and grants have been largely replaced by loans, public and private.  However, I think, perhaps, increasing the costs to the individual students and their families might not be a bad idea as long as the availability of loans is reduced as well and as long as some honest statistics are presented to the borrowers.  What stats you wonder?  Like how long it will really take you to get out from under that loan.  And what you will have to forego to make the loan payments.  And that, for all intents and purposes, you can never get out from under it--except by dying.  And, maybe, some honest statistics about what you expected income might be--not that crap about the "average" income in given fields but what newbees make.  And, lastly, some honest career counseling that offers something other than college as a legitimate option.

Some 30 years ago, when I lived in Colorado, I read about school districts, usually rural, that were so poor they couldn't repair the toilets.  But having to choose between teachers and toilet paper?  That evidently is where some Chicago schools are with the new budget.  I guess they will have to do what a couple of cash strapped schools did last year--demand that the parents provide toilet paper as part of their children's school supplies along with the writing paper and pencils.  According to this story, a toilet paper drive was held outside the location where the chief of the city schools gave a speech touting the benefits of the new budget.  Didn't hear about that on the coverage of Barbara Byrd-Bennett's speech.  I wonder why?  This ironic little piece was from August of 2010.  Something to think about when our political asses tell us how powerful this "super"power we live in is.  Good to be #1 isn't it!! (sarcasm intended)

Perhaps the legislators are hoping that a few more fire years like last year and like this one is shaping up to be and they can do without any funds at all for fire prevention.  There won't be anything left to burn. And just think of the boost to the economy as so many of their constituents have to replace million-dollar homes and everything that goes into them. (sarcasm alert #2)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Good Thursday to all of you.  It is sunny and cool with expectations for the low 80s.  I don't have any gardening planned today.  The mints I dried yesterday I should grind today.  But that is about all.  Let's see what is on the net today.

Several days ago we drove over by a local shopping center on our way to the Target and Home Depot. A Kohls store is also located there and we saw a huge sign reading "Kohls--Shame Shame Shame on you."  We wondered what was going on thinking perhaps it reflected a labor dispute.  Perhaps not.  I found this right off this morning.  I am not really surprised.  Not all that long ago, when a number of retailers when out of business, stories appeared showing that the companies hired to sell off the inventory, the sales advertised were no sales at all.  The prices were jacked back to above what had been the usual prices before the closing and then discounted.  Customers often found they were paying the everyday price for items supposedly 50+% off.  Scamming seems to have become the business tactic to choice now-a-days.

As if my conclusion above required any further proof, here it is.  I have to ask--have we become a nation of psycho-/sociopaths?

I found this on Natural News and I didn't follow my usual habit of checking the sources.   The Gallup Poll cited seems to accurately reflect our assessment of the so-called news media.  I usually call it the (s)news media (snooze+news a term I pirated from a friend some years ago.  Thanks Lynn)  It doesn't matter whether the media is broadcast, cable, or print.  Our complaints, you ask?  Important stories are given a two line segment while fluff get 2-5 minutes.  I don't care that Kanye West and Kim Kardashian had a baby.  So the British Royal Family is expecting another heir--and that means what to me?  Accuracy has been sacrificed to speed and sensationalism.  And they go for the visual even when when their picture adds nothing to the story.  The teasers are annoying--we wish they would simply tell the story rather than telling us what they are going to tell us after the commercial break.  And then the teaser is longer than the story.  What is there to trust?

I just love stories about corporate extortion.  If someone pulled a gun and demanded your money--it is a crime.  A corporation or company says they will lay of scads of workers if the state doesn't give them money (or tax breaks or other expensive perks)--it is just business.  I ask wtf is the difference?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Good sunny and cool Wednesday to you all.  Hope your day is going as well as mine is so far.  I want to cut and dry some mints today but I am waiting for a bit till the temperature hits 60 degrees.  Then I need to look at all my plants and water where needed.  The winds have been high even if the temps have been a bit cooler.  That dries things out almost as much as heat does.  I saw a fully open tomato blossom--my mouth is watering in anticipation.

So Gary (Indiana) may shrink in geographical size.  Or rather the inhabited portion will shrink while the rest goes "back to nature."  It can join a list of cities doing the same thing.  The city has lost about 25+% of its population over the last 40 or so years.

The AMA has decided to "recognize" obesity as a "disease" which I am sure will be a great boon for the medical/drug industry.  Think of how much more money they will get from pushing pills and surgery.  Think of the pass the food/agribusiness gets because the focus will be firmly on obese individuals not on the environmental/economic/social factors that contribute to the problem and which the drugs and surgery won't cure.  I think Ives, on whose blog I found the link, was right on target in her comment:
Yes, I know this is really about Big Pharma, but…obesity wasn’t common 40 years ago, we’ve had bad changes in diet, stress levels, and lots of weird stuff in the water in microdoses that interact in not well understood ways (and more hormones in food) but we are gonna pathologize it so doctors treat individuals rather than have us look at root causes?
Has anyone else noticed a bit of "inflation" in the stories on the NSA spying?  I seem to remember when this all started we were told that the spying prevented one "major" terrorist attack.  Then the count rose to twenty and now it is "more than fifty" world wide.  But of course none of this will be openly documented in unambiguous and reliable ways.

The Contrary Farmer has an amusing and somewhat whimsical little post this morning.  But an interesting and more serious aspect is his observation that in the midst of an explosion of obesity we have never had so many marketing outlets for food.  And so many occasions for us to pig out.

The latest search for Jimmy Hoffa has ended.  He is still missing.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Good Tuesday, Everyone.  Much cooler today.  I don't think we got any rain with this system so I will have to look at the gardens to see what they might need.  I watered well yesterday so they might not need much.  I found buds on the hibiscus yesterday so it should bloom soon.  All of the plants I moved are doing well.

As I read this story I remembered that Brazil was supposed to host the next Soccer World Cup and the next Olympics.  Evidently more than a few Brazilians aren't too happy with the money their government is going to throw at both these events.  And the Olympic Committee has committed additional funds to assist Brazil's efforts to stage the games.

I have heard and seen some desperate students in my time in various universities and colleges.   This story takes those stories to a new low and gives them a high tech twist.

So "international cities" are turning into "elite citadels."  Anything surprising there? I remember reading about workers employed in Vale (Colorado) tourist and hospitality establishments who couldn't afford an apartment in Vale even when they had 4 or 6 roommates.  Others were camping in the national forest outside town.  That was 25 years ago.  Only a couple of years ago I read stories about employers in some of the high price enclaves in the Florida bussing low wage employes in from Miami each day.  The workers couldn't afford to live near where they worked.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Good Monday, All.  I finished off some transplanting yesterday--the peppermint, verbena, and firefly begonia.  I put them in individual pots not the big containers.  I told Mom this morning that the garden is filled and she should keep me away from any garden sections.  I finished cutting back the grapefruit mint and another seven trays of leaves are drying now.

I didn't see much worth commenting on yesterday.  Let's see what I find today.

Tom Englehardt has some very well targeted thoughts on the NSA revelations of the last couple of weeks and connects them to very disturbing trends.

Hmmmm!  NYU proposes an expansion which will cost them billions while graduating the most indebted classes of students in recent history.  And doing it with borrowed money.  I wonder what the University plans to do with the space beyond their nebulous notion of 'more space' for faculty and students.  The increased debt means that somebody is going to have to pay one way or another.  And you can bet that somebody is going to be students who have to pay for their "education" with borrowed money because grants and scholarships will be shorted to shift funds to building.

I heard a bit about this but it has largely disappeared from the news here.  They didn't specify what the unnecessary procedures were.  Why do I see a parallel between this story and the one about NYU's expansion plans?

Well, someone else has noticed that the talk of preventing climate change has ceased pretty much.  Instead, some have taken up the notion of adapting to what ever comes along.  When the discussion heated up about a decade ago (or when I noticed the talk) I wondered if it were already a bit late.  After all the concentration of CO2 was already 30ppm above what had been posited as the max for stable climate.  And that doesn't even consider the increase in methane and other more potent "greenhouse gasses."

Sunday, June 16, 2013

 Good Sunday, everyone.  I have some new photos for you.  I yielded to temptation and picked up a new lemon verbena and a peppermint.  I wasn't going to put in peppermint because I already have three other mints but--well, you know how intentions go.  I decided to give lemon verbena another try.  The last two didn't make it through the winter indoors.  I will try this one under the grow light upstairs.  I still have to get these into larger pots.  The greenhouse is mostly for storage right now.  A month ago I had the first shelf full of seedlings.
The front two pots have stevia (left) and bee balm (right).  After two years of failure my stevia seeds sprouted well this year.  I guess persistence is sometimes rewarded.  Hope the same goes for the lemon verbena.  I have lettuce and spinach in the long planter in the back and two rosemary in pots behind on the right.
 My how things have grown.  Squash on the left, spearmint in the middle, and my surviving cucumbers on the right.  You can barely see tomatoes and peppers behind.  All of the peppers and tomatoes are growing rapidly.
 Grapefruit mint.  I have already cut a third of the plant and dried it.  Plan to cut more this week.
Sage (left) and lemon thyme (right).  Just after I cut them back.  The thyme roots easily so in the fall I will split it and put part inside in smaller pots.  The rest I will leave in the garden and see if it comes back in the spring.  The sage did come back after last winter.  I will protect it better this year (along with everything else I leave outside.)
 Chamomile in its new position and thriving.
 The yardlong beans have found the trellis and the kale is growing well, both the seedlings I started and the ones I bought.
Chocolate mint (back) and pyrethrum (front).   I cut a bit of the mint to fill the last tray of my dehydrator.  Will cut more this week.
Tomato in the white bucket and oregano in the pot on the rack between buckets.  The oregano is another winter survivor.  I haven't cut any of it yet.
Mohawk pepper (black pot) and patio tomato in the white bucket.  The tomato is the only one without any blossoms yet.
 This is borage in the other white bucket--one of several new plants this year.  We'll see how it turns out.

I told you earlier that the last of my original blueberries gave up the ghost after a game struggle.  I found a new one at our local farm market.  This one is a three-year-old plant.  The others were only a year old.  The opinion on line is split on whether blueberries self-pollinate.  Most say that they will but are more productive with two or more plants.  I will find out.  I got three last time because the plants were a very small variety and three would fill the area nicely.  This one is a northern highbush variety so it will get up to six feet.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Good Saturday to you all.  We got rain last night so I won't do much gardening today.  Just as well since I cut quite a bit of herbs yesterday.  I have several more I can do when the beds dry out again.  Got four strawberries into larger pots.  I think they will be happier now.  Several of the Quinault are putting out runners so I should have new plants soon.

I have used DuckDuckGo a few times.  It is a nice and efficient search engine.  And I did notice that it promises not to track your internet searches which is a nice plus.  Evidently a lot of others are also finding it since Prism was outed.  This article provided some information neither of us here knew: Google Crome and Firefox, which we have used often, have anonymous features for incognito browsing.

This little story rather proves the old biblical saying "the love of money is the root of all evil."

I heard about Roman concrete a couple of decades ago and evidently it is superior to modern forms of concrete.  Scientists are finally beginning to understand why is it so durable and they are also discovering that  less CO2is emitted in the production of it.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Good day to you all.  We have a cool but sunny Friday and the clear weather is supposed to stay till tomorrow night.  I got out early and harvested herbs (stevia, lemon thyme, chocolate mint and sage) all of which is drying now.  I hope to get the lemon verbena and peppermint into permanent pots later today.  I also need to move the sweet basil.  The bee balm and pineapple sage are vigorously crowding it out.  I will put it with the purple basil and lemon basil in front of one of the sets of tomatoes.  Most of the tomatoes are showing flower buds.  Looking forward to our first home grown tomatoes.

Not a surprise.  I not only don't trust our legislative bodies to do "the right thing" (and my definition of that is likely not the same as yours) but that they will do anything.  My dad used to tell ditherers to "shit or get off the pot."  My late ex-husband used to yell "do something even if it is wrong."  I can relate to that feeling of frustration.

And this is why I have not trust in our executive branch either.  This worries me on several levels.  First, the only input is coming from companies and trade groups who are probably writing much of it.  Consumer groups are frozen out.  Second, our legislators are also largely cut out of the process except to rubber stamp.  They don't even get draft copies.  Third, think about the 80+ people sickened by the pomegranate seeds from a foreign source included in a frozen berry mix.  The FDA would be powerless to inspect and ban such imports.  We have already refused to buy foreign sourced seafood because we are concerned about the pollution in some of the areas where they are raised.  But under the TPP the measures mandating country of origin labeling would be cancelled.  Our government is selling us down the river.

The Raw Story featured this warning to medical device makers and hospital system creators that they are vulnerable to cyber attack.  It is only the latest such warning.  Others involved power generating companies, banks, and various governments as well as social networking sites.  With all of the repeated warning I wonder if anyone is really thinking this through.  Our society is totally computerized.  Therefore all aspects of it are vulnerable to hacking from whatever source.  The problem is what to do about that vulnerability and who will bear the cost.

This is another reason why we don't shop at Walmart very often.  But they are simply following what the Darden Restaurants (Olive Garden, et al.) said they were going to do.  They got slammed by public opinion but I expect they simply have quietly gone to part-timers, if not the temps Walmart is bringing in.

I have heard that parts of the Keystone XL pipeline are being dug up and replaced.  Hasn't even gone into full use yet.  We have been repeatedly assured that such pipelines are safe.  Yesterday I saw an article concerning the testimony of a Canadian who was employed by (I forget which) Canadian oil company to oversee construction and compliance with safety and environmental regulations.  He presented documentary evidence for his charges that the Company put fierce pressure on him to pass procedures and construction that did not meet requirements or violated safety.  This story about a spill, that the company is minimizing as mostly water with a very small amount of oil mixed in, is exhibit number one for why I feel no oil company should be trusted to do what is right.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Good wet Thursday, Everyone.  Everything in the gardens survived pretty well--a bit bedraggled but intact.  I am glad I took all of the planters off the fence.  The weather people say reports of a possible tornado a little east of us is being investigated.  The damage may have been caused by the very strong straight line winds that came through.  We got about one and a third inches of rain last night.  At one point I saw a river in our street.  Thankfully we have very good storm drains here.

I have seen a number of articles over the last little while which loudly proclaim a "retirement crisis."  Usually they bash, to one extent or another, the baby boom generation.  Our benefits are too generous or people who don't really need Social Security are getting it (never mind we have paid our share and more into the funds) or we simply are too expensive to maintain.  Private companies over the last two decades have scuttled the pension plans their workers had counted on by converting them to 401k or other such plans or by dumping them onto the federal government.  Public pensions all over the country have been underfunded or funded by borrowing for the last two or three decades.  Unfortunately, I figure that a legal move is afoot that will defraud employees (public and private) of the deferred wages they thought was going to fund a comfortable retirement.  For a while now I have thought the we need to rethink the notion of retirement.  Evidently, Dennis Miller also thinks the same.

Supposedly the wide surveillance programs of the NSA have "prevented" "dozens" of terror plots.  Of course, because everything is top secret, they don't provide any proof.  We should just trust them that this is true.  Sorry, but my fund of trust has been seriously depleted.  Been lied to far too often.  As St. Ronnie once said "Trust, but verify."

Well, the Supreme Court finally made a common sense ruling on genetic patents.  Human genes, at least, cannot be patented.  Now if they would just bring common sense to bear on GMO patents and limit them.  It makes no sense to allow Monsanto, et al., to pollute the gene pool in perpetuity.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Good Wednesday, Everyone.  We are bracing for nasty weather they say could extend from the Rockies to well east of us.  It is chancy right now as to how bad (or not so bad) it might be.  We are very glad we aren't out in Colorado.  I picked up some kale seedlings, borage, peppermint, and (for a third try) lemon verbena yesterday.  I planted the borage and kale in the gardens last night.  I may not get the rest in before the weather comes in.  I will take the plants hanging on the fence and put them in more protected places.  I certainly don't want to lose the strawberries or my sole surviving cypress vine. I did get the grapefruit mint cut back a bit and the first of it in my dehydrator.  All seven trays are full of mint leaves with more ready to go in as soon as possible.  My little machine will only do seven trays at a time but it is rare I need more so I am not looking for anything larger.  I have several strawberries that I should put into larger containers but that will wait until this weather system passes.

Here is a story that simply bewilders me.  Why in the hell would anyone show this film to anyone much less a 6th grader.  Someone had their common sense surgically removed.  Or was born without it.

This, on the other hand, is totally understandable given that we have a surveillance state instead of the republic our founders gave us.  Combine 1984 with Brave New World and you have a road map for living in our world today.

Update: the first trays of mint are dried and ground.  The second set of seven trays is drying now.  We had bought a small food chopper/grinder that happened to be on sale.  We hoped we wouldn't have to bring out the big one for small amounts of herbs or veggies.  Well, it simply didn't work.  Thankfully, Mom is handy.  She took it apart, adjusted it a bit, put it back together and--omg--it worked.  I am not that handy.  I will give it a try with the next batch of mint.  I used the big one for the first.

I lived in northern Colorado for nearly 14 years (late 1970s to early 1990s).  I don't remember any wildfires during that time.  This is the second year in a row for some big ones.  I don't remember any serious droughts either.

The morning news featured a Consumer Reports story about those single serve coffee makers.  My niece got one over a year ago and seems to like it.  We got to try it out at a Thanksgiving dinner she hosted.  We quickly put it in the "nice--but" file.  Wouldn't really work for us.  We couldn't comment on the quality of coffee--we aren't connoisseurs by stretch of the imagination.  What did the report say, you ask?  As usual price is no indicator of quality.  Some of the most expensive were the slowest and least consistent.  A couple of the lower cost units were quieter, faster, and held a more consistent hot temperature.  None of them made a cup of coffee that passed the taste tester's standards.  We will stick with our under $20 Black and Decker drip unit.

I am always amazed at how little our news media informs us on what is going on in the rest of the world.  I saw a brief mention of this story on NHK (Japanese English Language) and the BBC.  And our media usually focus on national pride or religious antagonism or ethnic tensions not on resources.

Interestingly, there is more outrage over the broad net cast by NSA spying operations overseas than here.  This item from Bangkok is only one.  See yesterday's link to the Washington Post poll showing 56% of us don't see anything wrong with it.  The EU isn't exactly pleased either but I wonder how much of that is merely an attempt to convince their own citizens that someone is looking out for their interests and wellbeing.  While they bash us I wonder how much their own intelligence services have benefitted from the U.S. programs and how far they are pushing the surveillance envelope.  After all, London has more security cameras than anywhere else.

This hit the news big last night and this morning, and we can't avoid it because we live so close to Chicago.  They played a good part of Daley's advertising/announcement.  He went over a litany of problems Illinois faces but in all of the ad, though he clearly holds the incumbent governor responsible, he says nothing about how he would solve the problems.  Somehow, magically, changing the occupant of the governor's mansion will make the problems disappear.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Good soggy Monday to you all.  We had some heavy rain over night--about an inch and a quarter.  Everything in the gardens have come through well including the stevia and bee balm seedlings I moved out of the little greenhouse yesterday.  The summer savory looked a bit more beaten up.  Hopefully it will recover.  I got the greenhouse and the shed cleaned up yesterday.  For a good while we collected plastic food containers--cottage cheese, sour cream, etc.--that made nice starting planters.  I finally trashed most of them because I have accumulated a nice collection of transplant pots from the nurseries along with the plants.  As long as they are still useable I will use them and each season I will get some new ones.  I will always try new plants for a season--or more.  This year I actually got fewer new pots this year.  All the tomatoes and peppers are completely home grown.  First time I haven't had to get transplants.

It is now a bright and sunny Tuesday.  We went to the last of the gardening classes our parks department had scheduled.  They don't have any more scheduled.  I guess because gardening from now on will be maintenance and harvesting.  The classes were aimed at beginners so much of the information wasn't new to us.  However, we did get some good ideas and reminders of things we should be doing but haven't been.

I don't know how many stories I have seen bemoaning the rapid rise in costs of medical care.  This story illustrates one of the contributing factors.  We'll always have these kinds of criminals but I often feel that our current political/social/judicial systems are tailor made to allow these human weeds to flourish.

Ezra Klein had a snippet on his Wonkbook and a link to a Washington Post survey that rather supports some of my thoughts on the "scandal" over NSA collection of phone data. Some 56% of Americans don't see anything wrong with the broad collection of data not related to specific incidents or people.  It doesn't surprise me.  How often have we seen interviews with "ordinary" Americans concerning restrictions on their movements, intrusive searches at airports (and the push to expand those searches to other modes of transportation, or secret courts approving secret demands for information.  It is sold as an effective way to combat "terrorism" and too many of us have swallowed the line.  I have said before that we don't have any recognizable privacy any more and no right to privacy.  We have to start acting accordingly.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Good Sunday to you all.  Cloudy right now with the possibility of rain, maybe even thunderstorms.  We'll see.  I picked up a new blueberry bush at the farm market and got it put in one of the large round pots.  I am somewhat stubborn and I really do want a blueberry out there.  It is a nicely grown 3-year-old plant with a few berries ripening on it.  To put it in I had to move the zinnias and the chamomile to other spots.  I have fewer blank spots in the gardens.  The vender who had home produced maple syrup was back and still had some jars.  We picked up two pint jars.  That should do us very well for some months.  A bit of sticker shock at the grocery store--the honey (locally produced) went up $2 per pint jar.  And they say inflation is low!!  Who the hell does their shopping???  Let's see what might be interesting on the net.

Thank you, Ronni (Time Goes By), for the link to Charles Simic's post.  I can relate to much of it.  I don't think anyone ever really thinks about what their lives will be like as they age.  I certainly didn't.  I think that is one of the things about the discussions about planning for "retirement" that so amuses me.  I never planned to retire and most of the plans I did make resulted in either partial success (varying degrees of success) or failure (again varying degrees.)  In a way the lives of the older people I knew when I was thirty or forty or fifty years younger lived lives I couldn't even fathom I would eventually live.  I certainly never though I would get that old.  I don't read as much as I used to.  It seems that I know where the story is going--after all I have read it before by a different author.  I find that all too many of the movies are also retreads.  Sometimes the most amusing part of them is trying to count the number of lines or scenes that have been lifted wholesale from past movies.  And the news is more annoying than enlightening or informative.  I give Friedman and Will even less time than Simic does.

And another thanks to Ronni for this Frank Bruni post.  The only thing I really love about summer is my gardens grow.  But I think both the plants and I would prefer more moderation in the temps.  I am not really a great fan of winter either.  That also marks a break from my young self--before the heat of one and the snow/ice of the other became impediments to my life.  And I so totally agree about the summer movies (see above).

And now for a bit of sarcastic humor based on the very broad electronic surveillance made public last week.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Good sunny Saturday to you all.  Should be dry today so I will have to check my containers closely.  The farm market is open today so we have started our twice a week shopping schedule.  We do that for the entire season the market is open.  Let's see what is on the 'net.

Oh, this post hits way too close to home.  Too many are very accurate.  This is the gal who has three types of basil, three varieties of mint, tansy, pyrethrum, chamomile, lemon thyme, sage, two rosemary, two lavender, bay, pineapple sage, stevia, and bee balm in her small set of containers.  The only veggies in the garden this year are four types of tomatoes, four types of peppers, one cucumber and one summer squash.  The herbs out number the veggies by about four to one.

Ron Fournier at The National Journal says what I have thought for some time.  There really isn't much difference between the Damnocrats and Repthuglicans.  And the differences are diminishing rapidly.

This is interesting and leads to some uncomfortable questions.  I think the electronics industry would rather not think about the implications.  I wonder how close to the router or cell phone you have to be?

Friday, June 7, 2013

TGIF, everyone.  They say we might get some rain today.  I hope so.  The little bit we got yesterday barely moistened my container plants.  Everything is looking pretty good except the little blueberry which has decided to give up, I think.  Let's see what I find on the net.

Our useless (s)news media carried segments on the NSA's long-running program collecting data on ALL Americans' phone usage (who calls whom at what numbers when and for how long).  They also noted that a rather comprehensive program also exists to collect internet usage data.  My only reaction was to ask where these guys have been for the last decade.  Where they have been is featuring stories that interviewed people "on the street" who shrugged and dismissed the whole thing "if it makes us safer."  The questions that are never asked are "safer from what or whom?" and "does it really make us safer?"  When does our own government (assuming it is our government) become more dangerous than the enemies we have been taught to fear?  And who is the "us" whose safety "we" are securing?  I have never felt less secure as our traditional concept of our legal rights have morphed out of any recognizable form.  And I have felt less and less a part of any recognizable "we," and more and more some less protected "other."  I can just image how Xi Jinping (China's President) will respond when Obama brings up Chinese cyber espionage.  Perhaps a remark about how equally sooty the pot's bottom is.

Like most states, Colorado has a serious urban/rural split.  Evidently some want the split to be formalized into a new state.  I wouldn't be surprised it there aren't similar rumblings on the west slope.

What an interesting and contradictory set of stats on jobs have come to light this week.  On the one hand the economy produced more jobs than the experts expected but the unemployment rate went up by a .1%.  At the same time wages fell by the largest amount since such records have been kept.  My translation of the two stories:  the economy created a meager number of jobs, one job for every 3 or 4 people who entered the work force and they are being paid less.  But, hey, the economy is sluggishly improving. (Sarcasm is entirely mine)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Good Thursday to you all.  Looks dismal outside with gray skies.  The temperature is around 60F and likely to remain cool.  It may rain.  I emphasize that because we actually have seen little rain over the last week or so.  I have to watch my containers closely because sometimes the rain we get is too little for the plants.

Does this surprise anyone?  It doesn't even surprise me that the story broke over here only after the Guardian (in the U.K.) ran it first.  Without the Brits the U.S. media would probably have ignored it.  After all, they get more traction out of the suicide attempt by Paris Jackson.  In fact that story, in the morning news, had more minutes of coverage than the secret court order authorizing the government to gather, wholesale, information on the phone calls of Americans.  That emphasis was reversed on the BBC--which is why we are watching that and not Good Morning America (or any other such program.)

I am not terribly surprised by this article either.  But I would add that not only are we rather evenly divided in opinion we are also very intolerant of the other side.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Good Wednesday to you all.  Not much going on in the gardens.  The city farm market did open yesterday for the season.  Only two days a week but we always enjoy it.  We were surprised to see the number of venders there--nearly as many as the height of the season last year.  And a couple of new ones--one who does his own maple syrup and another who makes his own cheeses.  We will be visiting each frequently.  I did pick up a purple basil and a lemon basil which are both in the gardens now.

This fully illustrates why I say that one of the biggest factors keeping medical prices high, and forcing them higher, is the costs of the health insurance industry.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Good sunny and cool Tuesday, Everyone.  Nothing much to report on the gardens.  We will stop at the city farm market later today--the first day of the season.  Usually, this early, most of the venders are selling plants.  I am looking for something interesting for the gardens.

Let's start off with this from HuffingtonPost.  We often question the effectiveness and need for the drugs we see advertised.  And I have seen a few stories over the last few years that show doctors are also.  I think 60 Minutes did a story a couple of years ago about a hospital that established a panel of doctors to review the literature on drug studies and examine the effectiveness of the drugs.  They found that many of the new drugs were actually less effective than old standbys and had more side effects, many severe.

I know your opinion of the Repthuglican broads, Kay.  And I agree--they are not ladies.  Like you I am very alienated by the politics.  Nobody has our backs which makes me, like you, an angry old lady.  Given what is going on, I am likely to get much angrier as I get older.  At least Ben&Jerry's gives us a bit of good news--and it was good enough to make our local news this morning.

This post on Raging Wisdom hits the drug policy nail on the head.  It is a totally screwed up mess based on hysteria of a bygone age not any real scientific fact.  I agree--regulate marijuana as alcohol is regulated.  And before anyone makes any assumption about my drug habits--I have never knowingly consumed marijuana and have refused opportunities to do so in the past.  I just don't see any sense in pursuing a so-called war most thoughtful people think is lost.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Good sunny Monday to you all.  However, the sun comes along with very cool temps--45F on the patio so far.  For all of the wind and clouds over the weekend we go no rain.  I did transplant two of my hyssop, cabbage and lavender before the front came through yesterday.  I am still at a loss as to what I should put in the empty spaces in the gardens.  I think I will look at what seeds are still in the stores.

There is an underlying assumption to this story that pervades many concerning reviving the GOP.  Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin never appealed to me.  I found their philosophy and proposals repugnant.  And their possession of breasts, uteri, and ovaries did not counter that.  I have only seen one report which rightly described the so-called shift in the GOP as 'cosmetic.'  It doesn't matter how many women, blacks, or Hispanics they put out front.  They are still a party of old, white men.

I have thought for some time that the stock market was seriously disconnected from the everyday economy.  This NBC story illustrates one reason why I have thought so--what one would normally think was bad news (i.e., rising unemployment) sent the stocks higher because the Fed would continue pumping money into the economy (a.k.a., QE).  The schizophrenia in the financial industry is amazing. They decry government spending (at least some government spending particularly that which benefits ordinary Americans) while any indication that the Fed will end their infusions of money panics the market.  The stock market speculators are as addicted to all that "free" money as thoroughly as a heroine addict is to a different "drug."  And that "free" money isn't free--tax payers are providing it.

Found this on HuffingtonPost.  Good for Ben & Jerry's.

Another bit of good news for those who can their own food:  Ball has shifted to making lids without BPA.  By the fall season they will have their boxes labeled as BPA free.  Until then canners have to check the box codes.  Thanks to Food In Jars for the link.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Good Sunday to you all.  We have had a bit of sun for a moment or two.  I took that opportunity to check things in the gardens.  We had a hard rain last night.  I found splashes of dirt on the fence behind the containers and a couple of the tomatoes are a bit bedraggled.  I plan to go out between raindrops and stake them.  We are looking forward to Tuesday when the city farm market reopens for the season.

I just did get out for a few minutes.  I got the cabbages and purple hyssop moved, several tomatoes staked, and all of the containers cultivated before the clouds rolled in, the wind came up and the temperature dropped.  Hasn't started raining yet but it might at any time.

Well, there is power and then there is power.  It depends on which kind you want.  Possessing the one kind makes a country at least a bit player on the military scene while not possessing the other confirms a country as a third world society.

I saw the commercial this story references and thought it cute.  When I heard on the news this morning that the company's web site had to shut down comments and that many of the comments were vitriolic to put the matter mildly I wondered why.  I didn't even notice that the couple was mixed race.  It is the 21st century, for goodness sake.  I thought it was cute but I don't eat Cheerios so it won't influence my buying habits.

R.I.P., Jean Stapleton.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Good Saturday, Everyone.  Well the weather forecast has changed yet again.  The thunderstorms should hold off till later and we have sun right now.  The weather people have had a hard time with the forecasts lately.  Several days the storms held off through the daylight hours giving us several very warm, sunny, and muggy days.  We have a wait and see attitude.  We know what we want to do but wait to see what the weather is in the morning before deciding which day to do what.  Since we have sun today I will, I hope, get some gardening done.  I have a couple of plants to move to more appropriate places.

Wonderful satire alert!!!  Thank you, Scientific American and Patrick Mustain.

First WTF??!! moment this morning:  the price of gas is at $4.19/gal with a few outliers at a nickel lower.  A week ago last Thursday it was $3.75. Since then it has been $4.95, $3.88, and $3.99 before going up to today's high.  The pundits have used every excuse for why and none of them make any sense.

Second WTF??!! moment: we went looking for some plants to fill in spots in the gardens and visited all my favorite garden shops.  I didn't find a single item I wanted to buy.  Never happened before.

I just what I think was the worst interview on Monsanto, the discovery of GMO where it shouldn't have been and the whole issue of genetic engineering.  The person interviewed (and sorry I don't remember who he was or what his so called expertise was) was absolutely on Monsanto's side.  First, he dismissed the Japanese, Korean, and European Union rejection of GMOs with the notion it was merely a "cultural divide" and some how an emotional quirk not based on any evidence.  Second, the idiot equated hybridization, which humans have practiced since they discovered agricultural, and genetic engineering, which we have not.  Humans hybridize plants and animals by selecting and cross-breeding individuals exhibiting desirable traits but the process does not introduce genes from another speciest.  The genetic engineer does just that.  The genetic engineer assumes that he know absolutely and for sure what any specific gene does and that it does nothing else.  We all know that assume makes an "ASS of U and ME."