Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wet Wednesday. Best laid plans etc.

Well, the hibiscus is still in its original place.  I was going to move it after we came back from our grocery shopping.  We didn't have much to get so that would have (and was) quick.  However, we had an unscheduled errand that ate up time.  By the time we got back the clouds had moved in.  It merely threatened rain but didn't deliver.  However, my ambition disappeared.  It is wet outside now so I will put the gardening off till tomorrow.

When I read the headline on this article I sympathized with the traveler but thought s/he might have made a costly point.  However, the bags and contents could probably be replaced for just about what the fee was.  The article doesn't say how many bags or how heavy but does note how much the airlines net yearly on such fees.  Reminds me of the banks.

I have often described the discontent most Americans express with respect to our elected representatives as "throw the bums out but not my bum.  I like him/her."  Evidently the attitude extends to other political questions as shown in this piece.  I just love the selfish asininity expressed by the woman who said told two legislators to get rid of all of the tax deductions except those which benefited her.

My comment concerning a story last night on the news that the mortgage market as measured by home increasing house prices is heating up again especially cities like Las Vegas, Albuquerque, and Miami which had experienced a catastrophic drop in prices:  given the water needs of the first two and the power demands of the third I want absolutely nothing to do with any of those cities.  Without air-conditioning none of those cities are particularly comfortable during the summer and the recent rains have not alleviated the droughts very much for Vegas and Albuquerque.  Grist has some interesting before and after pictures to illustrate the problem.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tuesday--cool and sunny. Tomatoes, hibiscus, lavender, lemon verbena. Hodgepodge of comments.

Well, the rain that the weather people predicted didn't come and may not.  I got a spurt of energy and ambition yesterday so I cut back some of the tomatoes and the cucumber.  They were encroaching on other plants.  I sacrificed some blossoms and a couple of pea sized tomatoes but the branches needed to be lightened so they didn't break and damage the plant.  I still have another stand of tomatoes that need pruning.  The nice thing about reading gardening blogs is that my garden isn't so behind schedule as it feels.  Several in my planting zone have remarked that their tomatoes are just now ripening.  Since we have a reprieve on the rain I plant to move the hibiscus today.  My lavenders and lemon verbena are still looking poorly--not recovering from transplant very well.

The pundits and politicians keep telling us that the economy is recovering--more slowly than they would like but recovering.  Stories like this have my skepticism antennae quivering.  Haven't read anything about this phenomenon for a while but evidently it is not only still around but getting worse.

Robert Heinlein attributed a rather apt quip to his curmudgeonly hero Lazarus Long (in Time Enough For Love):  in a government of the people, for the people, and by the people--DON'T TELL THE PEOPLE.  That is a precept our government has been taking to heart even to the extent of not telling us who "we" are fighting.

So all it really takes for an Indiana charter school to get an A on its "report" card is to be owned by a big political (in this case GOP) donor.  I guess that is easier than making sure you students are mastering the material.

Health inspectors have zeroed in on packaged salad mix as the source of the cyclospora outbreak.  That doesn't really surprise me and I don't think they will be able to locate which component of the mix is the primary source or where it was grown.  We stopped buying in several years ago.  It had been implicated in several e-coli and salmonella outbreaks and we weren't happy with the quality.  It seemed to go bad very quickly.  Better to get the components, and cut them up and mix them ourselves.

The nannies, of course, vow to fight on.  I detest the various varieties of food police.

And who is protecting the less-than-wealthy Greeks?

Well, I could guess that the priorities involved in the Detroit bankruptcy were f*#ked up.  Not only do the bankruptcy plans call for paying banks and secured creditors about $0.75 on the dollar but retirees only $0.10 on their dollars but evidently the powers that be want to continue with construction of a new  almost half-a-billion-dollar stadium for the NHL Red Wings.  They want the (temporary) construction jobs because the unemployment rate is so bad.  Or maybe they hope the retirees will quietly die.

And legislators in Illinois, according to the local TV news, are going to court to nullify the Governor's order not to pay their salaries (and his own which he is voluntarily forgoing) until they deal with the pension mess.  After all why should they not be paid for not working.  Of course, they claim "its not about the money."  I call bullshit.  It is all about the money--their money.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Cool but sunny Monday. Garden update. Miscellaneous politics, economics, etc.

I had barely started a post yesterday--Sunday--but didn't get very far.  We had rain early which though light persisted for most of the morning and put a damper on any ambitions I had for gardening.  The day before I got my Christmas cactus, both lavenders and lemon verbena transplanted.  The cactus and one of the lavenders are recovering nicely.  The jury is still out on the other lavender and lemon verbena.  I am shifting the plants I want to keep over winter into clay pots.  I hope they will like that better and make the watering more consistent.  Sometimes I can't really tell how moist the plant really is.  At one point the bay felt moist on top but the lower level was dry.  I got it watered in time and it is now recovering.  A couple of plant were dry on top and very wet below.  I really need to get that more consistent.

I need to cut the sage--still.  I said that early last week.  I think I am in some kind of mid season funk.  There are things I should do but I simply haven't done them--or many of them.  We did enjoy the peppers and cherry tomatoes I picked last week in the last chef salad we had.  I don't know when we will have another.  The temperatures are more normal for mid to late September than late July.  I noticed the hyssop is beginning to bloom.  I haven't grown that before so I am interested in seeing just how it does.

This story isn't just an omen of Detroit's future but the future we all face.  I still remember a bit of testimony Bernanke gave about five years ago--just when the Great Recession was gaining steam.  Asked about where the money for government stimulus was going to come from with the mention of Social Security he said "That's where the money is."  What we have and what all people who have pensions really have is a promise to pay sometime in the future for our services today.  Or if we are already retired for the services we have already delivered.  And promises are worth their weight in gold.  The retiree who said he felt robbed is absolutely right.  He and his fellows have been robbed.  Legally.

Our Senior Circle group collects donations every month for a local "food pantry" and the most frequent request is for personal hygiene products and paper products including toilet p aper and diapers.  This gives you an explanation for the request.  The story did mention that there are few sources for non-food items.  Food banks don't often carry such (ours being an exception) and food stamps don't cover them.

As with anything else the devil in this concern the details.  Like what is the definition of a "spiritual faith."

Here we go again!!  If cattle don't gain weight fast enough simply slip them some drug to increase the final carcass weight.  And blame politics if major markets for U.S. beef refuse to accept the resulting beef.  It can't be that people have a real concern about the safety of what they are eating.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cool Saturday. Garden Update.

They say we won't get out of the sixties today.  Well below our normal temps for late July.  We adjust our meals to the weather so today Mom is finishing off the chicken noodle soup (from scratch) of which we will have one meal today, freeze another and the chicken pot pies she will fix up from the rest.  After our outing to the county fair on Wednesday we wanted something hot and quick.  Unfortunately, we dipped into our "emergency" stock of canned soups and fixed up the chicken noodle.  I don't remember canned soup being so bad.  The salt provided the only flavor for a weak broth, minimal chicken, and limp, soggy noodles.  We were thankful we didn't get the low salt version.  That is the last of that crap we will buy.  Last night, while it was still warm, we had big chef's salads with a pepper from the garden and a couple of the first-to-ripen cherry tomatoes.  They seem to be a month late.

I need to look at the hibiscus, as I have said a couple of times, and see how far along its blooms are.  I think most have come and gone.  Then I need to see how I can get the tomato cage I used to help support its branches off without damaging the plant so I can get it moved into its final home.

We needed some new hummingbird food so we took a trip to one of the garden/home centers.  Found some that we can easily reconstitute as we need it.  At least one little hummingbird visits at least once a day.  More might but we don't see them.  I cleared out the beans so they have an easier time getting to the feeder.  Near the end of the season I will cut back the cypress vine and replant it at the base of the shepherd's hook on which we hang the feeder.  They seem to like those flowers and so do the bees.  I like to encourage both.

Bonus--the hyssop has started to bloom.  I saw some little spots of purple.

Update: I got my older rosemary (2 year old plant) watered and put back upstairs.  I have learned two things about using the grow light: it heats up the area which will be nice in the winter but is not so good for high summer (normally) and I can't put my really tall plants under it because the top leaves may burn.  I don't think it is worth it to put blocks under it to raise it up.  Instead I will use the overhead and a floor lamp to provide as much light as I can for the bigger plants and circulate them to the living room where I am using a day-light balanced sewing lamp for a grow light.  I also got my two lavender repotted.  I am changing out some of the pots in favor of unglazed terra cotta without attached drain pans.  And I plan to remove all of the attached pans on my plastics.  I would rather the plants completely drain after watering.  I think the plants might like it better also.  I still have the lemon verbena to transplant but we are getting some brief waves of wind and rain.  I have to sneak out between the waves.

I have seen several stories in various media outlets (or linked to by bloggers I read) that Attorney General Holder has promised the Russians that Snowden won't face the death penalty or "torture" if he is returned to the U.S.  My response: define "torture?"  I have heard of some very tortuous techniques referred to as "enhanced interrogation."  Where does the one end and the other begin?  And, in the end, for the one being interrogated, what the hell does it matter?

Interesting little article on China and its economic situation.  For most of this recession the western, industrialized nations were relying on China to at least soften if not cure the recession.  Much like Bush Jr. hoped the Saudis would raise production to lower oil and gas prices.  Didn't work then and isn't working now.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday. Garden update.

The weather is certainly changeable.  Last week we were ending a five day heatwave.  This week the temperatures have been (mostly) below normal.  We debated whether we should carry sweaters to the fair and the wind was cool coming off the lake.  I overheard one other fair goer on her cell phone telling someone they should bring a jacket for the evening grandstand show.  We hadn't decided what order to have the chicken soup Mom is making and the chef salad--which one today and which tomorrow.  Well, the weather people say tomorrow's temperatures may not get out of the sixties.  That decided the matter.  Salad today (high 70s or low 80s) and soup tomorrow.  I found a couple of nice cherry tomatoes that should be fully ripe and a couple of sweet peppers.  Both will do well in our salad.

I pulled the beans yesterday--few flowers and fewer beans.  I have never had such a low production.  I definitely will not put beans in next year.  I made some changes that did make it easier to reach some of the areas but I need to make some more changes.  Oh, well--that is what the winter is for.

Mom read an article a while ago giving details of the eugenics/sterilization programs in several states and was surprised that the programs continued for a long time after WWII.  The Nazi programs gave eugenics a blacker name among a broader segment of Americans than before the war.  But several states, including North Carolina, continued to sterilize people--forcibly and/or without informing them of what was being done to them.  Now North Carolina is providing some compensation to the victims after having apologized in 2002.  Very little and way too late but at least some recognition of the injustice.

Another case of way too little and way too late.  I wonder how the fines compare to a single day's profits.

So enrollments at for-profit and community colleges dropped by 2% last school year and are expected to continue for some time to come.  The decline is expected to hit non-profit and traditional schools next year as well.  They cite two factors: the decline in the college age population and the improving job market drawing away the non-traditional age students.  First, I don't see an improving job market.  Too many of the jobs "created" are low wage and dead end.  Few require advanced education.  I hope the decline indicates more people taking a hard headed look at the touted advantages of advanced degrees and deciding that they aren't worth the debt load.  Second, I have seen some stories that indicate a shift among the families of college age kids as well.  They are looking at more lower cost alternatives as well they should.  The parents aren't willing to hock everything on the off chance (only a bit better than a lottery ticket) that the kids will find appropriate jobs with the kind of salary that will allow them to pay off the loan and live comfortably as well as provide traditional benefits.  Maybe a "great re-evaluation" of higher ed is under way.  I can only hope.

We have seen news stories for the last little while that indicated a plea deal for Ariel Castro was in negotiations.  Mom wondered what he could possibly expect to gain.  I thought it was likely a guilty plea in exchange for no death penalty and he would be sentenced to life without parole.  I was right.  I didn't expect life without parole plus 1000 years.

I found this on The Agonist.  So appropriate.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Very cool Thursday. Miscellaneous stories.

Temperatures this morning are in the low 50s and we expect the highs to be below normal.  I plan to finish taking out the yardlong beans and start on the blue lake.  Neither have been as productive usual.  I have some more trimming and tying to do and a couple of plants I want to put in larger pots.  Still watching a couple of tomatoes that are near ripe.  We had fried tomatoes Tuesday.  Mom refused to say 'fried green tomatoes.'  They ripened too quickly.  They did taste good, though.

Another scam to watch out for.  And according to a story on yesterday's news the 'grandparents' scam is back so don't believe it if someone calls telling you your grandchild is in a foreign jail and needs bail money immediately.

This will be my only comment on the "new" Weiner sexting controversy.  It isn't new--it is the same old immature, stupid, asinine behavior.  I don't live in New York so I don't have a vote but I wouldn't want a person exhibiting that kind of behavior as a mayor.  It is bad enough they have a wanna be nanny mayor now but to replace him with a perpetual teenager?  But then I had another thought this morning: I wonder who is orchestrating the news on this?  The timing has been amazing.

Yves Smith cross posted a brilliant evisceration of Obama's Galesburg speech.  Nice to have someone who can translate the "double think" of political speech.

Now this is fascinating.  WWII code revealed.

New confirmed oldest man.  He is 112.  The oldest living person is 115 year old Misao Okawa.

Ronni Bennett at Time Goes By provides a good reason why we should all carefully watch what is happening in Detroit.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wednesday at the Fair. Garden update.

Good morning to you all.  I don't know how much of my usual program I will get through because we are headed for the county fair for the day.  The gardening is on hold today.  I might have to water a bit this afternoon when we get home but that will be all.  I have decided to take out the yard long beans.  They have not produced anywhere near what they should have.  Usually they are very prolific but not this year.  When the hibiscus finishes blooming I will move it into that area permanently.  I do have it in a large pot but it isn't nearly big enough for the plant.  We had strong winds yesterday afternoon and evening.  Thankfully, the plants are a bit windblown but no damage.  I noticed some of the cherry tomatoes are turning color so they will soon be ripe.  The temperature overnight fell into the mid 50s.  I hope that isn't a harbinger of an early fall or winter.

This First Thoughts piece is so right on so many points.  We have a bunch of insiders trying to present themselves as outsiders wanting to fight the system they created.

We spent three or four hours wandering the fair. We beat the crowds that really started building as we left.  I read several blogs by homesteaders who have goats, chickens and other livestock.  I enjoyed seeing some of the animals they have been talking about.  It was a nice way to spend a morning.  The Senior Circle group was there as part of a senior health day and everyone was giving out various pens, notepads and even several new reusable chopping bags.  Free stuff is always nice especially the kind of free stuff you use frequently.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Comfortable Tuesday. Garden update.

We had rain last night.  But it wasn't much and the pavements were all pretty dry when we woke up.  I may have to water.  I got the tomato on the east side of our gate tamed a bit so we can go in and out more easily.  Trimmed back the beans on the other side so both bird feeders are clear of foliage.  I will get some more trimming done.

Curious comment on TV news this morning:  The Brits have the Royals and we have the Kardashians. Given a choice I would rather have the Royals.  Actually, I would rather have neither but I don't seem to have a choice.  That appears to be all whoever chooses what is news thinks we should see.

When I read any article concerning pension "reforms," I notice how the "reform" is going to screw over either current recipients or current but as yet unvested employees who will see their contributions increase but their expected future benefits cut.  Unfortunately, thinking of the situation in Illinois and probably many other jurisdictions, the biggest reason the pensions need "reforming" is because the politicians failed to make the employer's contributions called for in the contracts.  Those bastards won't feel any of the pain.  I call that theft.  Workers performed their part of the bargain but the cities and states are going to renege on their part--and get away with it.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday. Garden update.

Cool with a chance of rain today.  We'll see if we do get any moisture.  Those storms that hit parts of Chicago over the weekend did absolutely nothing for us.  I worked on my strawberries yesterday.  Cleaned up the plants, cultivated and fertilized.  The heat took its toll on some of the plantlets I was trying to root.  Some ten of them failed.  The stevia I cut yesterday is in the dehydrator.  I will grind it and, if it remains dry, will cut lemon thyme and sage.  Also the tomatoes need serious trimming back.  We'll see how much I can get done today.

James Kunstler has his own interesting take on the Detroit mess.  As I read his blog this morning I thought of another interesting presentation of Detroit's decay over the last three decades.  Talk a look at William Kienzle's mystery series featuring Father Koestler.  The Rosary Murder was published in 1978 and thereafter he published almost 1 book per year until his death in 2001.  The backdrop for all of the stories was Detroit in its decaying glory and frequent but futile attempts at resurrection.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Still Sunday. Effect of menu calorie counts. When consumers can't consume.

Much cooler, thank goodness.  We have been busy so far.  Since it is cool we are getting our laundry done.  We did some shopping because we were nearly out of milk.  One of the vendors at the city farm market had some nice blueberries.  We picked up five pounds.  They are now packaged in one cup lots  in the freezer.  Another had some nice tomatoes so we got a couple.  We were surprised to find what had been one of our favorite farm markets relocated to a new spot.  I am afraid it is no longer a favorite.  It is a ghost of its former self.  Not as much variety, not nearly the quality and overpriced.  Oh, well.  We did get six ears of corn and a couple of green tomatoes.  I got the spearmint out of the dehydrator and ground--finally.  The heat thoroughly sapped my energy and enthusiasm.  Didn't want to do anything.  In a bit I will go out and harvest some stevia for drying.

Let's see what is on the internet--if anything.  I didn't see much to comment on yesterday.

This story doesn't surprise me.  All I had to do was consider how we eat out.  First, we don't go to fast food places.  Second, it is a treat and we don't paying attention to the calories.  Those will be balanced by what we eat at home.  Third, if we go out for a full meal we are likely to bring half of it home because we simply can't eat it all in one sitting.  We eat the other half at home the next day.  Therefore, the calorie intake is spread over two days.  Fourth, since eating out is a treat, we don't do it often.  When I was working and eating out frequently, I was more concerned with getting something, anything quick so I could bet back to work within my allotted time.  In this respect, retiring was a good thing.

Balkinization presents an interesting piece on a theme that has recurred in our conversations here: what happens to a consumer economy when the consumer no longer has the income to fuel consumption.

Sunday. Garden pictures.

By this time (midsummer) my gardens always look like jungle.  The pictures today prove that.  My tomatoes, beans, peppers and cucumbers are reaching for the sky.  The heat over the last week has allowed the plants to get thoroughly out of control.  I couldn't take the heat after about 10am and the patio didn't cool down until after dark.  So high on the list this week is restoring order.  You can barely see the hummingbird feeder.  The other feeder is similarly overgrown.  Need to clear.  And collect herbs again.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Rolling Stone kerfuffle. Chicago teacher firings. Detroit. No Child Left Behind. Monsanto dead in Europe.

Now that the garden news has been posted I will take my usual trip around the blogs and news.

I won't provide a link because the story is all over the airwaves and the 'net.  So many people have nothing better to do than be outraged about the clean and neat  picture of the surviving Boston bomber on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.  I don't see anything to be outraged about.  The magazine asks a good question: how did an apparently clean cut, quiet young man with (to outward appearances, at least) a bright future become a terrorist who thought killing and maiming people he didn't know and who had done him no harm.  I think that question should be answered to whatever extent such a question is within human capacity to answer.  Sometimes the devils among us look much like angels and maybe that picture provides a recognition of that fact.

I would hate to have a young child in any public school today.  We get the details of the mess that is the Chicago school system because we live well within the service area for the Chicago TV stations.  So we watched the teachers' strike, the coming and going of one superintendent and the coming of another within two years, the drama of the decision to close close to 50 public schools and the continuing debate about the actual effectiveness (in teaching and cost) of the move to charter schools.  Now we have a new chapter: the firing of over 2000 employees including more than 1000 teachers.  Chicago is one of many cities and towns across the country that is desperately trying to close massive budget gaps. But I wonder if a year or two down the road they will be looking at the state of their schools and seeing a parallel situation to what public safety happened with public safety.  The spokespeople for the city and the police department desperately try to convince the public that crime if largely down but the news is filled with the latest drive-by shooting, the latest brazen daylight rape on the street (or alley just off the street), the latest attempted child snatching.  Sometimes you do get what you pay for and going cheap will get you less than satisfactory results.

So Detroit is (at least according to the broadcast news this morning) filing for bankruptcy today--the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.  Though the title of this article soft pedals the potential consequences (a bankruptcy will hit retirees and employees very hard), the article itself makes one fact very clearly but leaves another facet of the problem unstated and unaddressed.  The obvious fact is that Detroit is not alone.  Chicago, New York, and a large number of other cities are in similar deep trouble--the result of an illusory economic recovery and underfunded public pensions (underfunded on the part of the the politicians who stiffed the pensions repeatedly over the last 30 years not on the part of the workers).  Labor unions and their workers were sold a pig in a poke over the last 60 years or so.  They gave up some wage increases for the promises of pensions, health care, and other benefits.  But employers have either closed over here and opened up overseas or restructured in bankruptcy so that their pension liabilities were cut or transferred to the Federal government.  Either way the retiree and worker gets screwed--legally.  They delivered on the work but the employers' promises are simply not worth the paper they were written on.

Well, the House of Representatives has passed an education bill to bury what little is left of the No Child Left Behind program George Bush II signed.  I always thought that law was surprisingly well named--it left no child behind because it left all children behind.  It made evaluated teachers, students, schools and districts on the bases of badly chosen statistical models, pushed the use of frequent standardized testing, tried to squish every square individual teacher, student, school and district into the same round holes.  For the most part I agree that schools should be controlled at the local level.  For the most part.  There are too many areas that would love to reestablish some form of "separate but (not) equal."  There are too many religious zealots who would like to have public schools teach their religious belief often disguised as "science."  We are a complex society and all too many of us want the schools to cater to our whims.  What are the limits to local control?

I am so happy to read this story.  I often said that the best way to defeat Monsanto and its ilk is to refuse to buy their products or products made from their products. Unfortunately, they have stymied all requirements that they tell us what those products are.  In addition to consumer activism we need governments more responsive to our opinions and not bought by the multinational companies.

Hot Friday. Garden pictures.

Today should be the last day of our heat advisory.  I have watered everything but it is already 80F at 7am.  I found a couple of Mohawk peppers that will be pickable in a few days and a couple of Bullnose in similar stage of development.  Nothing yet on the cayenne or lipstick peppers.

I have a few pictures you might like.  This one of the hibiscus shows the color more accurately than the last one I shared.  The damned Japanese beetles have munched on several parts.  But there are fewer of them now.  I have sprayed with a mild insecticide, drowned as many as I could, and crushed a few more.  Later, at the end of the season, I plan to move the hibiscus to one of the largest containers where the yard long beans are now.  I won't grow beans next year.  The beetles like them too much.  After a couple of years rest I may try them again.
I didn't get a very good picture of the blooming lemon squash.  They are pretty while they last--which isn't long.  The little yellow bulb at the bottom will, with luck, be a nice lemon sized and lemon yellow summer squash.  We enjoy these but I probably won't plant them next year.  They are very hard to control and require al lot of room.  You can barely see a developing tomato just to the right of the squash blossom.  One of the bloggers I usually read showed a picture of her first ripe tomatoes.  I am so jealous.
These are cypress vine blossoms.  I put them in because bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are supposed to like them.  We have seen the hummingbirds exploring them before they go for the feeder hanging nearby.  This is another plant that will be moved to a more permanent place in the largest containers.  It is a very invasive plant so I plan to spend some time pulling stray runners but I think it will be a good replacement for the blue lake pole beans which I won't be planting next year because they are a beetle magnet.
This is borage flowering with the hibiscus behind it.  This plant was an impulse addition.  I saw the seedling at the local farm market and decided to give it a try.  I may not put it in next year.  It is a large plant and I have a number of other herbs that are more useful to me.  But that is a decision for later.  I will simply enjoy it now.  The last picture below is a closer picture of the flower spike.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Heat wave continues. Gardens.

It is a hot Thursday already.  I just finished watering everything and taking the strawberries off the fence.  Getting to them is much easier if I don't have to reach through my jungle of tomato plants.  They are doing very nicely.  Thankfully the temperatures are not high enough for long enough to stop them from setting fruit.  They are blooming profusely and quite a nice number of tomatoes are maturing now.  As I have complained before--everything feels so slow this year.  Perhaps because of the colder than normal spring.  The chamomile is blooming and I have a couple of lemon squash growing bigger.  Though the crystal apple cucumbers are blooming I haven't seen any cucumbers on them.  It is already 82 on the patio--at 7:30am.  I kept telling all my plants that the weekend is coming and the temperatures will be much cooler.  The borage doesn't like the heat of the day.  It starts out nice and crisp in the morning and then seems to wilt around noon and then perks up late evening.  We are wilting also.  Since the weather people say we have a heat advisory beginning at 11 this morning and continuing till late tomorrow, we are staying in.

The title on this article triggered some memories for me.  Some fifteen or so years ago, I was doing some research on comic books (for a dissertation I didn't complete) and a story line in one of the titles made reference to Nazi "werewolf" guerrillas after WWII.  That intrigued me so I did a bit of research to see if the references were based in fact.  Guess what?  They were.  I found this book at that time.  Looking for it I found several new histories of the time.  And Wikipedia has a nice and much shorter entry.

This goes beyond sad to infuriating.  Please don't crow that we, thankfully, never had national health care.  Our system started out pathetic and is going downhill from there.  It is over priced, and underperforms for those who can afford it and those who can't--we can always die.

I love this story.  I hope these Aussies succeed and it pisses me off that, having failed at the local level, McDonalds decided to go to a higher level hoping to cram their pissey selves down the local people's throats.

Every now and then over the last few years I have seen articles about China's "ghost" cities--rapidly built and without many (or even any) residents.  One boom town has evidently gone bust. The notion Yves cites that "if you build it they will come" underpins all of the industrial production model.  Shove out as much product at as possible and there will always be a market for it.  Until there isn't.  But a nasty little notion tickled the back of my mind as I read the section that said the growth of Ordos started and was sustained by a boom in local coal production which has now faltered.  I remembered a couple of stories about the population and building boom in Montana because of the expanded production in oil from the  Bakken shale fields.  I wonder what will happen there if/when the field becomes too depleted or expensive to work?

And here is another item I found by way of Yves Smith at Naked Capitalist that should make everyone spitting mad.  I don't know how many pundit assholes I have heard bemoaning the rising costs of health care and how it is going to bankrupt the country.  So often they blamed individual consumers for demanding too much and paying too little.  They complain about free loaders who won't buy health insurance (not can't, notice, but won't).  They talk about greedy doctors who over charge, game, or actually defraud the system.  None have mention the Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee, aka RUC, a panel of doctors that send recommendations to Medicare which accepts them 90% of the time.  Which then translates to insurance costs as the Insurance companies usually follow Medicare's lead.  Legalized price fixing!!

This amusing story from Grist--the increased use of disinfecting wipes is clogging sewer systems across the country.  They are flushable in that they do get through the household pipes but they don't disintegrate like toilet paper.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wednesday--hot and humid. Garden update. Water & heat.

Another hot and humid day on tap.  We expect the pattern to continue through Friday.  We may get some rain late Friday but for the most part it will be dry.  We try to get what ever errands and chores that take us outside done before 10 or 11am.  Right now the smell of spearmint pervades the house.  I cut that plant back and got seven trays drying.

I'm not upset by the Twinkies either, Kay, although I do notice that the 3 Musketeers and Snickers bars are a lot smaller and they don't taste like the versions I remember from childhood.

I am starting to bring in plants I plan to overwinter inside: lavender, rosemary and lemon verbena for now.  I didn't get any herbs ground or harvested yesterday.  Our landlord's handyman came out to change out an electrical plug that had been giving us problems.  He noted how much I have growing out on the patio.  Most of the people who live in these units are young couples often with children or students who will be moving on within a year or two.  For the most part they have no time, energy, or interest in gardening.  We didn't as long as I had classes or jobs.

The borage blossoms have opened and more of the bean flowers are popping up.  I am rather bummed out because those damned Japanese beetles have munched on my kale.  The had been doing so well.  I have some new photos I will post over the next few days.

Early morning news lead off with the situation in Prince Georges County, Md., where a major water main has failed and some 200k residents will be totally without for five days while the main is repaired. Worse they expect triple digit heat.  We watched and thought about how we would deal with that kind of situation.  We wouldn't be going to the store for bottled water because we have between twelve and fifteen gallons on hand but we would fill the bath tub for water to flush the toilet.

BBC on cable had coverage of this story this morning.  Here is the NBC version.  The two are much the same except BBC said that the suspect contaminant is some kind of organophosphate pesticide.  And they made an interesting linkage to problems with the food production in China as well.  Evidently, according to BBC the kind of contamination that has killed 20+ children and sickened as many more is widespread in India.  Contamination of baby formula sent Chinese parents to western sources and recent stories about rat (and other) meats being sold as pork has hit consumers hard.

I was a bit perturbed by this story until I got into it.  The headline made it sound as if Denver was planning to charge any group, including an informal group of friends, who did yoga or tai chi or some other group exercise for the privilege.  Not so.  The city officials are considering charging a use fee for those paid classes that use the public parks.  Evidently so many such classes are popping up that they are crowding out other users.  I think if the classes are money making concerns they are businesses that should pay for the use of public spaces.  But how soon before they decide that informal groups of friends doing their tai chi or yoga should also pay?  When does it get to the point where the public no longer has access to public spaces?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Good broiling Tuesday. Gardens.

Hello, All.  Not much to report.  With the heat I try to get what I can done very early in the morning.  Since we have our monthly Senior Circle breakfast so I watered while the coffee brewed.  The most important thing this morning was to take the strawberries off the fence and look under the cheesecloth covers and water them.  I got three ripe strawberries which we ate right away.  It is amazing how much even a single home grown strawberry brightens our day.  I was surprised to find that the plants on the east fence were dry while those on the west fence were still moist.  I had watered all of them at the same time.  The covers seem to be doing the job--no bug eaten fruit or leaves. I am not going to harvest any herbs today because the temperatures will be on their way to blistering by the time we get back.  I only got the grapefruit mint done yesterday.  What I cut entirely filled my dehydrator.  I saw some blossoms opening on the beans--finally.  As I said before everything seems so slow this year.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Another Monday. Herbs. Garden update. find Twinkies.

I watered everything really well because we expect high temps today.  We had to put the air on yesterday as we touched 90.  The humidity was very unpleasant.  The weather people say we may get isolated thunderstorms but I am not expecting much.  I also sprayed the Japanese beetles.  They are making a mess of my beans and have hit strawberries (now covered), the hibiscus, and the blueberries.  I made up a tea of tansy and cayenne pepper but I don't think it is all that effective.  I suspect the cayenne has lost its potency since I grew it a couple of years ago.  I have some purple cayenne growing now and will dry it for a new batch next spring.  I also think I will not plant any beans next year and in the fall I will look for their grubs when I get the beds prepped for winter.

I need to finish cutting the grapefruit mint and start on the spearmint.  How many herbs do I have?  A fair few.  I always grow peppermint and spearmint and then add a couple of new mints for a season.  This year I have chocolate mint and grapefruit mint.  In addition I have tansy and painted lady daisy (pyrethrum) for their insect discouraging properties.  They both make a pretty show of ferny foliage.  My sage is a two year old plant that survived the winter very nicely as did the oregano.  Other culinary herbs include lemon thyme (replacing the German thyme which didn't survive last winter), lemon basil, purple basil, sweet basil.  I managed to start stevia, bee balm, hyssop, and summer savory from seed, and put in put in stevia and bee balm transplants just in case I didn't succeed in starting the seeds.  They are all doing well.  The bee balm and pineapple sage I put in mostly for bees and butterflies but I don't mind harvesting them for our tea.  Other new plants this year include borage, foxglove, and chamomile.  The foxglove for the bees only, and for the showy flower spikes next year.  I almost forgot--I got a nice stand of lemon balm volunteers from last year's plants that went to seed.  Again--almost forgot--bay, lemon verbena, lavender, and rosemary in pots inside.

My tomatoes and peppers are blooming well and I see a nice lot of fruits developing.  I have felt like they are slower than usual.  The Amish paste are only now showing the first tomatoes.  I also have several patio, Supersauce, Heatwave, and undetermined heirloom cherry tomatoes showing a good number of fruit.  Nothing ripe yet.  I put in four pepper varieties: Mohawk, Lipstick, Albino Bullnose, and purple cayenne.  They are all doing very well also.

A big news story for the last couple of days has been the return of the Twinkie.  The company that bought the Hostess brand is in production and upgrading their machinery.  Some of the former employees may be hired back but without the union, benefits, and at a much lower wage.  I really have a hard time comprehending the hullabaloo over the snacks.  When production shut down hordes of people filled shopping carts with the cakes as though it were the end of the world.  Now they are flocking to Wal-Mart to stock up on the new Twinkies which are higher priced than the original.  I was fond of the snacks as a kid.  But the last time I had any hostess cake, some six or so years ago, I was very unimpressed and wondered what I liked about them.  They simply didn't taste as good as I remembered.  I find so many things like that now-a-days.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday miscellany. Grapefruit mint and oregano.

Not much to say about the gardens.  The jungle is much like a jungle, thank you.  I need to cut the oregano and the grapefruit mint and put them in to dry.  I have chocolate mint to grind.  It has been a strange year.  Everything feels so slow.  I see peppers and tomatoes forming but nothing near ripe yet.

Update: I have the chocolate mint ground.  Got three trays of oregano and four of grapefruit mint.  And I only cut a third of what needs to be cut on the grapefruit mint plant.  Tomorrow I will probably have at least another four trays of it

I have already turned off the (s)news.  It is the post mortem on the Zimmerman verdict and I have been trying, as much as possible, to ignore the whole damned thing.  I absolutely hate our current system of trial as media circus.  I have never been much for spectator sports and this kind I find incredibly offensive.  I do have some strong opinions on this but they are mine and of no great consequence to any one but me.  Unfortunately, the opinions of all and sundry will be inflicted over the airwaves until they find the next trial that has all the elements of a nice media circus.

This came by way of Naked Capitalism which had some comments about Golden Dawn in Greece as well.  I can't get to the original because the message says the Naked Capitalism is off line.  I read the a good part of it to Mom and she had the same reaction I did--flashback to Viet Nam.  But what is scary about this is Golden Dawn's aim to be the Hezbollah of Greece.  Remember Golden Dawn is a neo-Nazi party and they didn't do too badly in the last Greek election.  Much of what I have read about what is happening in Greece is all to reminiscent of what I have read about interwar Germany and the rise of the Nazi party.  That didn't turn out all that well, did it.

I remember reading that the Commerce Dept. had been hit by a particularly nasty cyberattack.  Well, evidently that was not really the case.  The problems with computer systems include both their vulnerability and our utter dependence on them.  It is a very worrying situation when you  can't determine with any certainty who perpetrated the attack or, as with this case, whether it was an attack at all.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Sunny Saturday. Herb harvest. Garden update. Misc.

I have a full dehydrator that I need to empty shortly.  Four trays of hyssop and three of peppermint to grind.  Then it is time to start over again with the chocolate mint and grapefruit mint.  They need a trimming.  The tents on the strawberry plants on the fence appear to be working but I need to take them down to check and water.  Well, I got seven trays of chocolate mint harvested and drying.  Since that is the maximum capacity of my dehydrator I will leave the grapefruit mint till tomorrow.  I found a section of a stem with little roots starting so I will put it in a pot and see if I can get another chocolate mint plant to keep over winter.  I got two such stems from the peppermint yesterday and they are in pots now.  Two more huge hibiscus blooms have joined the first to for gorgeous display.  Glad you liked the pictures yesterday, Kay.  We had three little hummingbirds visiting this morning.  One actually settled on the perch ring on the feeder before she flitted around exploring the zinnias, cypress vine, and firefly begonia.  I think she also looked the squash and cucumber blossoms over well.  So far the new feeder is doing nicely--no leaks or drips.

I only read the first two entries of First Read but they were entertaining.  I admit I did not see Sharknado.  I have seen way too many lame scifi movies.  But the comparison between the movie and "our" legislative branch seems apt.  I wish I could turn it off or avoid it as easily as a made-for-TV movie whose makers main object is to see how bad their product could be.  I don't claim any ownership or relationship to those collections of idiots that prove the old saying: a committee (or any other decision making collective) is the only form of mammalian life with multiple legs and no brain.  As to the poll showing that half of the GOP voters are dissatisfied with the Repthuglicans in Congress--question: how do they feel about their own Repthuglican.  I have seen all too many of these polls and the key to understanding how the idiots keep getting re-elected is that most people might say they should throw out the bums--but not their own bum.  They like him/her fine.

What were the justifications for " concealed carry"?  Some people should not have guns--at all.  These two boys are adults only chronologically.  Somehow they survived to pass age 21.  As far as common sense goes they are still in diapers.

Mom's comment on this item:  I hope they were used.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Chicago violence.

Let's see what I find on the 'net.

So someone thinks Chicago should be patrolled by the National Guard.  Not surprising though none of this has, so far, made the Chicago news.  The police superintendent and the mayor have been trying to convince everyone that violent crime is really down but the news undercuts that message.  We general listen very closely when the statistics are touted because you have to understand exactly what the numbers mean.  After a very nasty weekend over the 4th the police spokespeople assured everyone that murders were down year over year.  They gave the impression that all violent crime was down.  Not necessarily.   But I am very ambivalent about having military units exercising police power.  I don't like the continuing militarization of our society.

I love the Olde Crone's twist on an old joke.  Enjoy the giggle.

Why don't we hear that some Senators are proposing that Head Start or Medicaid be exempted from the effects of the sequester?

I saw the stories last year pitting Dr. Oz and Dr. Besser (CBS expert) on the questions of how much arsenic was in apple juice and the potential damage such juice posed, especially to children.  At the time the experts agreed to disagree and advocate more study.  I guess the FDA finally decided to establish the same standards for the juice as for water.

So the Chinese are going to try to do something about the pollution around Beijing.  I am interested in seeing how that turns out since demanding that heavily polluting industries cut their emissions 30% over the next three years.  China's GDP growth has slowed since 2008.  I wonder how they are going to balance economic growth with cutting pollution.

Oh, my!!  Does this mean the IRS targeted left wing/liberal groups as well as the Tea Party/right wingers???  Sounds like they don't like any politically active groups much.

I find it amazing how easily companies get extensions for complying with laws.  Earlier this month companies were given till the end of next year to comply with the Obamacare regulations and now foreign banks have another six months to give up records of Americans who may be sheltering assets from the tax man.  Some animals are more equal than others.

I remember reading The Descent of Woman a very long time ago.  The author, Elaine Morgan, died at age 92.  The book was fascinating.  The notion that she pissed off a lot of male anthropologists was absolutely wonderful.

Saw something about this on BBC this morning.  Makes sense.  Technology always has downsides no matter how much convenience they provide.  Evidently the Kremlin isn't the only proponent of old tech.  Old manual typewriters that use fabric ribbon are selling like hotcakes and those who repair them are doing great business.

Remember what I said about carefully examining statistics.  This article reinforces that.  There is a big difference between creating 195k "jobs" and creating full-time bread winner jobs.  As my dad always said: figures don't lie but liars sure can figure.

Hibiscus blooming. Garden pictures.

The strawberries are blooming and sending out runners.  We get a few berries every couple of days.  I only have ten plants from the spring.  I cut some of the runners and have them rooting now.  And I plan to take some inside for the winter.  I know they will survive the winter outside but I would like to see how they will do in the house.  Be nice to have berries when the snow flies.
You can see one of the plantlets here.  Unfortunately, the plants don't look so lush now after the Japanese beetles got to them.
 The Firefly begonia is blooming well.  I will bring it in over winter also.
And here is the hibiscus.  I will try for another picture later and hope I get one showing the true color which is a lovely purple/deep magenta.  But the early morning sun and flash registered a red instead.
This is what my strawberries on the fence look like now.  I cut away all the damaged leaves and covered them with a cheese cloth tent.  Today, I will have to trim back the damaged leaves and wild vines on the beans.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Good Sunny Thursday. Garden update. Strawberries.

Hey, Kay.  Glad you stopped by.  Yeah, a national reboot would be nice.  We need so many aspects of our lives rebooted I can't even begin to count them.

What rain we got yesterday did absolutely nothing for the gardens.  I watered last night especially the hibiscus and tansy.  They are large plants that suck up the water in their containers very fast.  I almost forgot the cypress vine but I noticed it was a bit droopy and got it watered also.  It is nicely perky now.

I didn't get the bee balm ground yesterday so that is first on my list followed by cutting back the pineapple sage and then, the major project today, getting little cheese cloth tents on the strawberry plants so I can put them back on the fence.  That should foil those pesky Japanese beetles.  I can't do  that with the beans, which they also love, because they are too big and growing up (and over) the fence.

I imagine getting this info together was like going to the dentist.  After all do you think either states or companies really want anyone to know how much toxic shit they are "accidentally" spilling into our environment?  And the next question is: where did it all go?  I don't think they cleaned up all of it.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Good sunny Tuesday. Bee Balm. Hummingbird feeders.

I already have seven trays of bee balm drying.  I had to cut it back because the hard rain we had a couple of days ago knocked some of the stalks over.  I pushed them back up but they fell back again so I really had no choice.  If it all dries out early enough I will cut back the pineapple sage in front of it and dry some of it as well.  Otherwise I will cut it tomorrow.  We have had some bad luck with hummingbird feeders this year.  The one we started the season with suddenly started leaking.  We replaced it with another that has leaked as well so we are on the third one now.  So far it is holding up well.  We saw the little lady hummingbird stop by twice (or two did once each).  The cypress vine is blooming now and they might visit that as well.

I have had a lot of trouble with this little pest.  You may recognize the Japanese beetle.  It eats just about everything.  I had to take my strawberries off the fence because they were destroying the leaves.  Very few beetles have found them on the table or the patio surface.  I will have to spray with the pyrethrin insecticide I keep on hand.  I also drown as many as I can knock into a cup of water.  I don't mind a few bugs eating a bit of the garden but these guys would leave absolutely nothing for me.

We have seen the few and short stories on the train explosion in Lac Megantic, Canada.  They don't say much.  I found this on Firedoglake which provides some interesting information.  I have no great love for or loyalty to capitalism as constituted today.  Adam Smith, the founding saint of capitalism, would not recognize today.

Well, we had a thunderstorm race through.  Not much rain but it interrupted internet and cable.  Both have come back after about two hours.

It isn't often I agree with the notions a businessman/woman might have concerning schools in America but this piece I found on Undernews I can agree with thoroughly.  Schools are not businesses; nor are governments.  They can't function like businesses and they can't be judged by the same standards.

So now the meat industry is suing the government to overturn rules requiring them to label the meat as to country where the animals were raised, slaughtered and processed and prohibiting them from mixing meat from different countries in the same packages.  Those rules sound good to me.  I want to know where my food comes from.  That is one reason why we buy our meat from a small local meat market.

No comment except "Well, Duh!!  What did you assholes expect?"

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Good Tuesday. Garden Update.

We have closed up here and put on the air conditioning.  We can take the temperatures--it hit 90 on the patio yesterday--but the humidity is brutal.  The thermometer on the patio was 70 when we woke up about 5am and the TV lists it as mid 70s in Chicago while the humidity is about 70%.  Miserably sticky.  The weather people call for hot and sticky with possible thunderstorms.  We resist putting on the air.  We feel better without it and, of course, not using it saves on our budget.  I have started bringing in our hummingbird feeder during the hottest part of the day.  We don't have any shaded area where we can hang it.  But when the feeder (and the solution inside) heats up the syrup is forced out and drips over my plants.  It does neither the birds nor the plants any good.

I have some tansy "tea" ready to use.  All I have to do is strain it and put it in the spray bottle.  I hope it discourages those blasted little beetles that are eating my strawberries and beans to bits.  I noticed that though the beetles land on the tansy they don't seem to eat it.  Next task--harvest some of the pyrethrum leaves and make a tea of that also.

I don't know how much I will get done.  I have herbs I can cut but we also have shopping to do today and I won't cut anything if the temperature is too high when we get back.

Almost two decades ago I remember reading about a sea change in the Japanese labor market which broke the tradition of permanent, full-time, employment with a single company for life--the salary man. They were about a decade or two behind us in that change.  First, we lost whole concept of working 30 or 40 years with one company and retiring with a gold watch and a bit of a pension.  Then the notion of a single career for life disappeared.  Now this seems to be the norm here.  And this is a very sad sign of the times.

This coupled with this should outrage everyone.  I also read that job cuts due to the sequestration in the military/industrial complex are starting to ramp up.  (sorry--can't find the link on that last.)  If we don't have money to spend on early education or the people making the things the military needs, we don't have it to waste on helicopters the Afghan army doesn't have the people trained to operate maintain.  Not to mention the rest of the waste involved in our operations there.  I say we can't get out of there too soon--and should never have been in there to the extent we were.

Question: do you really want to know?  Second question: is the test all that accurate?  Not really and I doubt it.  And I wouldn't want my insurance company to know either.

Whenever I think I have seen the absolute limit of political insanity/stupidity or whatever, something happens to make me realize that there is no limit to political insanity/stupidity or whatever.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Good Monday. Gardening.

Well, it is Monday.  We expect rain to come in.  In fact the sun has gone and the clouds are coming in now.  How much--who knows?  Right now the weather people say a lot of the system is dissipating as it comes east.  How much gardening I get done depends on when it comes and how much we get.  Sometime soon I do need to take some pictures.  The cypress vine is blooming.  It is rather pretty.  So is the cucumber.  The buds on the hibiscus are swelling so I hope to see blossoms soon.

It is now very apparent that our Constitution is mere toilet paper.  And any law derived from it is worthless.

Status-ization--I love the term.  In answer to his last question: No, we haven't got out of steerage.  They have just changed the name to "Economy."  Another bit of linguistic legerdemain.

Krugman is especially pessimistic today.  Especially note his last sentence.

This story leaves me a bit ambivalent.  I have absolutely no sympathy with the big banks.  I think several of them should have been liquidated not resuscitated with bailouts.  But I haven't had a wonderful experience with credit unions.  I moved to this area several months after I turned 50 and found a local bank that offered a free checking program for depositors over age 50--free checking with interest and without any minimum balances or other such restrictions.  My checking account is still free with interest and no minimum balance.  For a very bnrief time I had also an account with a credit union primarily because I worked for that credit union and the only way I could get automatic deposit was to have an account with them.  When that job ended however suddenly the restrictions kicked in.  Any balance below $500 a certain level was subject to maintenance fees.  The balance quickly declined to below that level because I never did find another job ("retired" on social security eventually) and rather than see it all eaten up by fees I closed the account.  But I stayed with the original bank which never charged a fee no matter how little I had in the account or how inactive the account (it is hard to be active when you have nothing coming in.)  I am firmly in the "if it waddles like a duck and quacks like a duck, bet on it being a duck" camp.  If the credit union acts like a bank, tax it like a bank.

Oh, goody!!!  Another chemical we have to look out for.  I wasn't surprised that the cosmetics industry loves this shit.  I was surprised at the incidence of allergic reactions to it going from 0 to 10% of cases of certain skin conditions within the last years.

The rain has come in and we have had a couple of waves of precipitation.  I won't have to water but I can't do any gardening either.

A couple of days ago Mom read an article about forced sterilizations in several southern states after WWII mostly of young, black women.  She was surprised at how many states engaged in that practice and so soon after the revelations of the extremes of Nazi eugenics.  Well, I found this story about unauthorized and illegal sterilizations in California--from the 1990s through 2010.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Holiday weekend, gardening,

Good day to you all.  I will be so glad when the weekend is over though the annoying fireworks may continue till long past Sunday.  The neighbors both north and south of us out did themselves this year--and I don't mean that as a compliment.  I still need to grind the last batch of herbs I cut and dried.  Then I want to cut the lemon thyme and what ever else looks like it needs it.  The gardens are definitely going into jungle mode.

A day later and it is now cloudy but I have some hope of sun.  I wouldn't mind some rain so I don't have to water the plants.  We got a bit yesterday but not nearly enough for my big plants.  I did get the herbs in the dehydrator ground.  I should cut some more but I don't know that I will.  I have been very lazy for the last few days.

I haven't seen much I really wanted to comment on.  Egypt and Edward Snowdon have dominated the international news and I really don't have much to say about either--except I have boundless faith that our government will make each infinitely worse.  I can't believe the diplomatic snafu involving the Bolivian president.  I kept thinking what kind of reaction we would have had if Air Force 1 had been so diverted and searched--with our president on board.

My assessment of national news is much the same--the political/religious/social zealots have an infinite capacity to be asshats.  After saying that what else is there to say?

I have read about this phenomenon for several years now.  Evidently it is still a problem.  What I find interesting is how quickly the discussion turned, in the article, from the social and economic pressures associated with the hikikomori (the bleak jobs expectations, brutal competition for academic places and jobs, the feelings of shame at perceived failure, etc.) to 'treating' the symptoms (isolation, anger, violence, etc.).  The society/economy/politicsal systems get absolution while the sufferer gets purgatory.

I actually got quite a bit of work in the gardens done today.  We had a treat of a few strawberries I found this morning.  I am amazed by how much I had to trim and tie up.  Got all but one set of tomatoes done.  Moved a couple of other plans that were being over grown by their neighbors.  I am already thinking about where things will go in the fall and next spring.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Happy 4Th, Happy day after, Gardens, gov't snooping,

Hope you all have a nice holiday planned.  We are staying home.  Quite a difference from last year when we had a short stretch of 100+ temps within a longer stretch of 90+.  We had a downpour yesterday so I don't think I will have to water anything today--maybe tomorrow.  I plant to cut some herbs for drying today and trim some other plants.  The entire patio is quickly moving toward jungle status.  We found a cypress vine flower this morning.  I have also noticed that the bugs really don't like tansy.  None of the plants near it have any signs of bugs eating them while several away from it do.  I am making some tansy sun tea to spray elsewhere in the garden.

The government snooping saga continues.  Evidently these programs are long-standing.  Mom and I had a bit of a sarcastic laugh because she remembers when the one program was instituted--photographing all the mail going through the postal service.  Why sarcastic, you wonder?  Because it was sold as a means of tracing lost mail--no more lost checks or packages.  Right!!  Didn't work all that well given we each recall losing some of our letters over the years and they were never seen again.

A couple of blogger noted that the time around July 4th is light on news and blogging.  I guess they are right.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Status of gardens. Whatever.

Well, I guess Blogger is happy with me again.  It published my little rant on the frustrations I had on Monday because suddenly, without any kind of warning, they wouldn't save or publish without a blog title.  I don't often put in a title because I have never been all that creative in that department.  On other matters, the garden is doing well.  I cut oregano, grapefruit mint and a bit of pineapple sage that are now dry and waiting for me to grind them.  I am finding little tomatoes through out the gardens.  I also cut the plantlets from the strawberries and have them in soil to root.  We'll see how they do.  There isn't much to do in the gardens right now besides cutting herbs.  Until more plants like the hibiscus, zinnia, and cypress vine bloom I don't have much to show either.

Blogger hasn't been the only tech irritation here.  We haven't been terribly happy with our cable TV and I am somewhat disenchanted with my Nook e-reader.

Over the last several years we have seen programs we enjoyed end but nothing new as replaced them.  Instead, on all of the networks, we saw the proliferation of "reality" game shows--things like Survivor, Dancing With The Stars, Exit and others.  We don't mind the shows themselves and, if people enjoy them, that is fine with us.  But what about us?  We laugh at all of the ads for the various services that promise subscribers they can record four shows while watching another or that family members can watch different shows in different rooms at the same time.  We can't fine more than one show we want to watch at any given time so the ability to record any shows while watching another does us no good.  Often we can't find anything we want to watch--at all.  And we have only the one TV so watching in more than one room isn't any inducement to sign up.

But even those shows we enjoy and want to watch are much less enjoyable.  The number of commercial breaks have multiplied and expanded.  They cut up the flow of the story so following along is harder.  And the programmers schedule most of the commercials toward the end.  Mom remarked at the end of one show how annoyed she was by the commercials.  I suggested that we might put Pandora  on instead of the TV shows.  No commercials and much more enjoyable.

And then there is the Nook.  I finally yielded to temptation and bought one about three years ago.  Right now I have 215 books and several magazines between the archive storage and on the device itself.  That uses about 70% of the total available storage.  Frankly that isn't very impressive.  It amounts to about four bookshelves.  At one time my book collection occupied about 80+ shelves.  I have since reduced the number of books and the number of shelves by at least half.  I am still reducing the number of books.  But physical books I donate to our local library for their sales room and someone else will be able to enjoy them.  All I can do with the virtual books is erase them if I don't want to keep them myself or if my storage capacity gets too tight.  That has always rankled.  The price for e-books is about a third of the physical copy but I am only renting and I don't like that at all.  In addition, I find that going between sections of a book (for example in cookbooks or such) isn't as easy as with a physical book.  It is easier in some books than others depending on how they are set up but none are as easy as with traditional books.  And I find reading on the e-book is harder on my eyes.  Bottom line--I am going back to the paper versions.

I wish the mother in this case had been awarded more--enough so that the hospital and the child welfare agency involved would think seriously about double checking the results of drug tests and using the most accurate tests available.  At least the hospital is changing its procedures a bit.  However, this isn't the only case and poppy seed isn't the only consumable product that can cause false positives.  Take a look at the list on this Yahoo! Answers page.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Blogger is being a *itch and I am pissed

Good Tuesday, All.  Let's hope today is better than yesterday as far as Blogger goes.   Evidently it insists that I put a title on the blog.  I did and lets hope they like it.  As long as I didn't put a title in it wouldn't save or publish.