Friday, September 27, 2013

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Lazy, cool Thursday. Disappearing birds. Schoolyard bullies. American Exceptionalism (sarcasm intended). That's a bargain??? Unusual little gardens. Plastic recycling.

It is almost 7am at the moment and the sun isn't really up yet.  It is light out by no sun.  A month ago it would have been well up by now.  The seasons are definitely changing.  The weather people are predicting a "warm up"--into the low 80s.  I did collect some more borage and cypress vine seeds.  I said before that the hummingbirds have disappeared but I think some of the goldfinches have also gone on to where ever they go in the winter.  A couple of the males showed up but where they were almost fluorescent yellow they are more dun colored now.  For a while we had crowds of small birds flocking to our feeder.  With the cooler weather the gardens don't need as much water and the tomatoes and peppers are ripening much more slowly.

Ezra Klein takes apart what the Repthuglicans are putting out as an opening bid on the debt ceiling debate.  This illustrates why I find our current political atmosphere so nauseating.  These aren't serious statesmen.  We have a bunch of schoolyard bullies trying to steal our lunch money.

Tom Englehardt has a post this morning on American Exceptionalism.  He is so right on the money here.

I love to look at pictures of unusual garden containers--especially the small, space conserving containers.

It looks like we Americans are going to have to figure out how to recycle our plastic waste ourselves.  China doesn't want it any more.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hello, All, on laundry Wednesday. Congress critters at (not) work.

Ah, yes--the mundane chores need to be done every once in a while.  Since I don't have any gardening news I will go straight to what is on the 'net.

Fascinating story from Venezuela.  You can't get a ticket on an airline even though the flights leave half empty.  The seats are booked months in advance so that Venezuelans can get a favorable exchange rate on their bolivars for dollars.  A similar advantage comes with using credit cards for foreign purchases.

I loved a comment by a reporter covering Ted Cruz's "filibuster:"  "Your tax dollars a work."  And, yes, it said with a sarcastic inflection.  I have seen another couple of comments on the whole mess on the food stamp issue:  Those congress critters who don't work, shouldn't eat.  And make no mistake--they aren't working.

Oh, my God!! Sanity has struck Wal-mart.  I wonder how long that will last.  And whether it isn't the usual smoke and mirrors.  But I also wonder how far the infection has spread.  We have noticed more empty shelves at the various chain stores we shop at and, if not empty, shelves with only a facing of a couple of items in front of empty space.  That is a big change from my last stint as an inventory counter a decade ago.  Then the shelves were so stuffed you could hardly count the individual pieces on the shelves.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sunny Tuesday but cool.

It definitely feels like fall.  One of our weather forecasts calls for only two days (Saturday and Sunday) above (barely) 80F.  We didn't get out of the 60s last two days.  Today may be low 70s.  I haven't seen a single hummingbird for last few days.  The bees have also disappeared.  I probably should cut spent blossom spikes off the hyssop.  I noticed the shadow of the house is at the top of the fence so the plants will definitely be in the shade from now until the spring equinox.  I don't know what I might do in the gardens as nothing is pressing.  The inside plants need some attention so that will be my major effort.

Interesting ruminations on death by Lewis Lapham.  I think our culture's fear of death is only second to the fear of growing old--perhaps because death inevitably follows growing old.

Kevin Klein has some interesting things to say about the impasse in Washington over the budget and the debt ceiling.  This is worse than the notion that the inmates are running the asylum.  The worst mannered of the child bullies are running the playground.  Don't I just wish I could reach out and paddle the lot of them.

I have heard the conclusion Eugene Robinson posts only a couple of times before.  I am surprised not many more are expressing it.  We have heard the Repthuglicans hysterically telling us they have to save us from the train wreck that is Obamacare.  In truth they are much more afraid that it will actually work.  After all, if it is such a train wreck wouldn't it be a good issue for the next elections?  If it works, they are screwed and they know it.

Oh, the vultures are circling.  Or to use a different metaphor--some Peters are loudly complaining about being robbed to pay various Pauls.

Tom Toles evidently writes a few things for the Washington Post as well as the cartoons which are always quite good.  This little piece struck my cynical funny bone.  Especially the last line.

Monday, September 23, 2013

First Monday of Fall. Cypress vine. Borage. Hibiscus.

Got the basil plants pulled yesterday and put three pots of strawberry in there.  Didn't do much else but look at what is going on.  The blueberry hasn't survived so I will pull it later.  Start again in a different pot next spring.  I plan to put a new plant in a five gallon bucket that I have adjusted for pH and will monitor it through the season.  As I looked over the cypress vine I found a handful of seeds that I managed to catch and put in a small matchbox for next spring.  That joins the matchbox with borage seeds.  I found four volunteer plants in the borage bucket so I know the seeds are good.  Last month I found a volunteer cypress vine trying to come up through the pineapple sage and bee balm so those seeds should sprout next year.  I found three seed pods on my hibiscus so I will see if they will sprout next spring as well.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Welcome to Fall. Strawberries. Basil. Hummingbirds. Goldfinches.

Very coo this morning--only 50F.  I plan to fix oatmeal for breakfast.  Time for something hot in the morning.  It should be dry so I plant to get out in the gardens.  My poor tattered and bedraggled basils will be pulled and I will put three--maybe four--pots of strawberries in their place for the winter.  Then I will see what else should get done.  The weather people noted freeze warnings across the northern half of Wisconsin and Michigan so it won't be long here either.  I have noticed that the bright male goldfinches are becoming duller and maybe going into their dull winter colors.  The hummingbirds aren't visiting as frequently.  I wonder if they are continuing on their migrations.

I have said before that the longer a supply chain the less you can know about the product.  This story illustrates the point.  And China, again, is at the center of the problem.  Aided and abetted by the Germans.

I think this is a good response to the sanctimonious idiots in our national legislatures who insist on cloaking their hardheartedness in scripture.  I can't improve on God.

This is a pretty good assessment of the dishonesty of modern American journalism.  And it is one of the reasons why I watch more BBC and Al Jazeera.  Also why I prefer to read my news on-line.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Last Saturday of summer. Stewing tomatoes.

Tomorrow is the Autumnal equinox.  In other words, Fall begins and things are winding down for my gardens.  I have toyed with the idea of shifting to cool weather plants but haven't done anything about it--yet.  We may get dried out today.  It sprinkled on us yesterday but didn't give us much more moisture.  Right now I am waiting for the sun to come up and give me enough light to see what is out in the gardens.

I collected a bunch of tomatoes so far--on Amish paste and about a quart of cherry.  They are all in the pot along with those I collected over the last few days.  The Amish paste was hiding in the middle of the neighboring tansy.  I only saw it when the wind blew the leaves around and I caught a flash of red in the middle of the green.  I have been debating what to do with the tomato vines gone wild and decided to reduce some of the weight by lopping off the new growth, especially the branches that are trying to bloom.  It is way too late for that.  For the rest I will wait until a bit after Oct. 5 to cut more or remove plants.  We will busy for the next couple of weeks so I can delay dealing with the tomatoes.  The average first frost here comes mid October so there isn't much need to hurry on that point.

I noted the wind above.  It is cold and heavy.  I may do some more but I will wait till it warms a bit.  My basil plants are looking very ragged so they will come out providing room for several strawberries which will be sunk in the container in their present pots.  Looking out right now I notice that the sun is only about four inches below the height of the fence now.  In another couple of days my gardens won't get any direct sun except for the very corners very early or very late in the day.

Mom and I paid a visit to the local Target.  Mom needed to get her prescription for new glasses filled.  On our way to the optical department we passed a refrigerated display that held what looked like rolls of sausage or ground beef.  It turned out to be pet food.  That seems to be a new trend now--feeding fresh rather than canned or dry.  Mom remarked that if we still had pets that would be the way we would go.  I replied that I might actually consider preparing pet food at home.  This is why.  As well as the e. coli outbreaks.  And the melamine contamination from a couple of years ago.

I shouldn't be amazed at the level of hypocrisy the Repthuglicans show every chance they get.  It seems that we shouldn't give federal aid to people (or states) because it creates dependency.  Unless of course it is their kind of people and their states.  Somehow the laws of human nature they cite doesn't apply to them or theirs.

Another fake meat scandal in China.  I am too busy throwing up to comment.

Friday, September 20, 2013

TGIF but a wet one. Winding down the gardens. Blueberries.

I think we had more rain overnight and may get a bit more today before we get sun.  If it dries out I will collect a few more tomatoes including a couple of the sauce types.  But I am looking at the tangled mess of vines on the west side of the patio that are on the verge of collapsing.  If they do crash they may damage some plants I would rather keep.  So I may try to start pulling them.  They don't have all that many tomatoes any more and I still have two pots of tomatoes still producing the cherry types.  I am also looking at the herbs to see which ones I will repot to bring in for the winter, which I will overwinter in the gardens (and where I will put them), and which I will pull.  Obviously I will take cuttings from and put parts of the current spearmint and peppermint in the large containers overwinter.  My stevia is blooming and when it is done I may cut it back severely and move the pots inside.  I still have five strawberry plants to put in the beds.  They will make a nice start next spring.

I don't know if my second try at growing blueberries will survive.  The problem (I think) is keeping the pH at the right level.  I did use an acid-loving plant food and an acidifier but if checked out the water and found that it is both highly alkaline and very hard.  I am considering ways to deal with that.

As you may gather from what I have written before, I am skeptical of the statistics for how much good food is thrown away.  I don't doubt that consumers, as a group, can be wasteful.  But I don't think the whole problem is consumer behavior.  This article on MarketWatch has some interesting thoughts on the effect of the various "use by," "sell by," and "best by" dates on products.  We do look at them but we take them with a big dose of salt.  We have bought milk that spoiled before the "sell by" date.  We don't throw anything away based only on the dates stamped on the product.

Why am I not surprised by another example of incestuous relations between an industry and a supposedly and neutral "ratings" agency?  I have come to see the whole higher education industry as a con game that scams both the governments that provide education loans and the students who have to pay those loans back.

Right on!! Tina E. at Another Old Woman.  I have no use for the food purists of whatever stripe.  I wish they would shut up and mind their own business.

This is funny! But I had to do some checking because Mom thought both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig were associated with the 1940s.  But story checks out.  However, this bit on the Baseball History Blog postulates that Ruth, Gehrig and others agreed to the strike outs so the girl wouldn't be embarrassed.  I wonder though if the male sports writers had to postulate that to salve their male egos.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Very wet Thursday.

We had a good bit of sun yesterday and temperatures about 80F before the clouds rolled back in and the rain hit--hard.  We had rivers running down our streets front and back.  It is still wet outside.  We may get some sun later today.  I will let things dry out a bit before going out to see how the gardens did.  Everything looks good from the door.

I was intrigued by the teaser headline for this story.  It said "Apple didn't have this in mind for the iPad."  I wondered what possible application for the iPad Apple hadn't thought of.  The article says that Apple had anticipated possible bellicose uses given the quoted passage of the licensing agreement.  But I notice the rebels shown aren't engaged in the manufacture or production of the listed weapons--just the use of them.

Sherri Lewis at Rural Revolution posted this morning on a concern that has tickled my mind off and on for a while.  I collect information on line but, as long as it is a link or on the computer, the information can become unavailable if the technology supporting it fails.  I am also way behind on printing off my information.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tuesday/Wednesday. I just got my editing bar back. Let's see how long this lasts.

Didn't do much yesterday.  We had our monthly senior group's breakfast and health talk.  Afterward we just chilled out.  Today I have already collected a bunch of tomatoes which will be stewed tomorrow and the first of the pretty little read Lipstick peppers.  Did a bit of cleaning up in the gardens but am holding off on the watering till later.  The weather people are predicting half an inch.  Good but not nearly what we need.

I had just noted that I was tickled to read the subtitle to this AlterNet article when the editing bar disappeared.  Interesting question of which is more dangerous--the cantaloupe or al Qaeda.  Obviously, our government considers terrorism the more dangerous event.  When have we seen our legislators suggest that they would trade cuts in the Homeland Security budget? Or the TSA?  But if you look at the CDC page you see that food poisoning kills about 3000 Americans each year.  That means the equivalent of a 9/11 occurs every year because of contaminated foods.

And then there are the 23k people who die each year from infections from antibiotic resistant bacteria.  This SFGate article covers the problem which has exploded over the last couple of decades.  Only part of the problem is due to over prescription of antibiotics by doctors.  The larger part of the phenomenon stems from farmer's routine use of small doses of antibiotics to facilitate weight gain in livestock.  But every effort the USDA has mounted to regulate the agricultural use of antibiotics has met with intense opposition by the Agribusiness lobby and the regulators have caved.  I have seen a couple of articles that use the same quote about entering a "post-antibiotic era."  Most qualify that with "if nothing is done."  But I think we may be in the "post-antibiotic era" no matter what we do--because what we have done in the past will linger well into the future.

Tuesday/Wednesday. Google is screwing up. No editing bar. I can't link to anything

I don't know what is going on with Blogger but I can't link to anything.  I can't put in special characters.  And I lost everything I had written yesterday and today.  I am spitting mad.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Cool and gray Monday.

Lazy day today.  I have the herbs I cut yesterday to grind.  I stewed those tomatoes I talked about yesterday and combined them with the batch I did a bit earlier last week.  They yielded almost four pounds of tomatoes for the freezer.  We have our weekly grocery shopping and nothing beyond basics to get: bread, juice and milk.  Can't even think of something we would like to have that we haven't got. I will also go to the library and return some books.  But that is about all on our schedule.

I am following the floods in Colorado.  A couple of my friends still live out there.  So far they are fine and high enough that the waters haven't hit them.  But I remember driving through Big Thompson Canyon ten years after the flood which occurred a year or two after I moved out there and seeing damage that still had not been repaired.  The damage I see in the reports will be with them for a generation--at least.

Robert Samuelson has an opinion piece today in which he reiterates his thesis, which I think has a lot to recommend it, that the financial crisis of 2007 (which is still with us in spite of all of the reassurances that the economy is recovering) was caused not so much by scoundrels with evil and selfish intent but by more than twenty five years of prosperity and a constantly growing economy.  We never asked what would happen if things changed.

And this might put you off chicken if you buy yours at a chain supermarket.  And the bastards don't want to have to tell customers where the product comes from.  And if the TPP goes through with the provisions I have heard (but since the negotiations are secret no one knows exactly what is being proposed) the won't be allowed to list country of origin.

I have only one question on this article: and exactly what goods and services will the computers be buying to stimulate that future economy?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Cool Sunday with possibility of a bit of rain. Tomatoes, spearmint, stevia, and grapefruit mint.

I don't know what I will get done in the gardens today.  We expect some rain but how much is a good question.  So far the predictions indicate too little to do any good.  The temperature is cool enough that we had condensation on the bedroom windows yesterday morning and today when we woke.  I just remarked to Mom that it seems we just took the plastic off the windows and we may be putting in on again soon.  Our windows leak badly so we started putting plastic over them several years ago.

Well, I did get a bit done already (not yet 9am).  Three trays of spearmint, three of stevia, and one of grapefruit mint are drying right now.  And I have a pot of tomatoes stewing.  I saw three or four of the paste and sauce tomatoes that will be ready tomorrow or the day after.  I have closed the patio glass door because it is still very cool and the clouds are moving in.  I should get our first red peppers this week.  Three of the lipstick peppers are rapidly turning.  I know I have complained about this but everything is so slow this year.

Evidently the agriculture officials in Oregon have confirmed that a farmer's alfalfa crop has been contaminated with the Round-Up Ready GMO variety.  He didn't plant it.  Of course Monsanto is trying to minimize the issue on the grounds that the contamination was only a small part of the crop and seeds and it doesn't pose a health problem.  According to them.  I have a problem with the whole think on other issues.  First, it is getting increasingly difficult for consumers to choose non-GMO because Monsanto and their buddies have, so far, successfully stymied legislation to label products made from such crops.  Second, if their GMO crops can cross pollinate (and if they are in the open they most certainly will) then they are contaminating the rest of the food chain by their mere presence.  I think that as soon as any GMO contamination is found in fields where it wasn't deliberately planted the patent should be voided.

Washington's Blog has a good post on the "real" problems with the Fukushima meltdown.  I have always thought any technology that had the potential (however small the proponents claimed it to be) to cause widespread environmental damage and kill or maim a large number of people should not be widely adopted and, maybe, not adopted at all.

I have seen stories on this obscenity at odd intervals for the last five years.  California has finally decided to take their case to court.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  So the only way our manufacturers can compete internationally is still to pay our own workers the starvation wages common else where.  And do as  Wal-Mart does relying on the public purse to support their low paid employees with food stamps, health care, and rent subsidies.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Very cool Saturday. Seasons changing. Tomatoes.

Woke to temperatures in the mid 40s.  As I said yesterday the seasons are changing.  It was evident on our drive to Mom's eye doctor.  A lot of early color.  We should get some rain tonight and tomorrow.  I hope so.  Unlike Colorado we have had too little.  Although I think they also were somewhat dry before this last week and then the deluge hit.  I have a few tomatoes ripe enough to pick and I have four green ones Mom is going to fry today for dinner with our chicken.  I took them because the branch they were on broke.  I need to start taking our some of the plants and getting the gardens ready for winter.  I look at them and, so far, think "not yet."  The hummingbirds are still here and I have to make up more nectar for them.  They are hitting the feeder hard.  The seed eaters are hitting their feeder hard also.  I filled it last Thursday so it is all right for a while.

We have some errands to do today.  Mom has a prescription for new glasses--the first in three or four years.  And she want's to get her hair cut so that means a trip to Wal-Mart and Target.

This is an interesting little bit of legal hair-splitting.  You can refuse to reveal the combination to that wall safe that has ledgers that would reveal all your illegal dealings because the combination is something you know and therefore your refusal is covered under the 5th Amendment.  However, if your safe has a key they can compel you to turn over the key because it is a thing you have not a thing you know and it isn't protected.  Why is that important?  Because the biometric locks on the new iPhones fall under that second scenario and can be compelled.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Busy Friday.

I hadn't intended to post today but what the heck--I found a cute Tom Toles cartoon concerning the NSA spying that says a lot in a small space.  See it here.

We have a couple of errands today that will keep us out and about so I don't know how much further I will get or how late this will be posted.  We'll see.

The temperatures are cool today (low 50s) and the sky is overcast for now.  The weather people said that the low tonight will be the lowest since early June--upper 40s.  Well, it is about time.  The seasons are changing and I find I am ready for it.  As it says in Ecclesiastes "To everything there is a time and a season to every purpose under the sun."  Now is the time for the earth (here anyway) to get ready for its winter sleep.

I have just seen the Good Morning America segment on the flooding in Colorado and all I can say is "OH, SHIT."  I saw some buildings I saw almost every year when we took our annual drive through the canyon.  And now they are saying that at least three dams have failed up there.

We keep hearing about the civil war in Syria but very little about what has fueled the violence.  Take a look at #1 on this list of climate change conflict hot spots.  I had read about the long drought in Syria before but it is amazing how such things disappear from our news media's coverage of the conflict.  Or about the conflict in Egypt which has deep roots in resource shortages, primarily food and fuel.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Blessedly cool Thursday.

The heat has broken with same very scattered rain.  We had a meeting yesterday evening and were surprised to find, on our way out, that just two miles away east of us the highway was very wet.  One of the women at the meeting who lives two miles west of us said they had a heavy, short storm.  We, at that time, were bone dry.  By the time we got back a couple of hours later we had small puddles indicating we had a bit while we were gone.  The weather people are expecting the same today but temps below 80F.  I didn't have anything ready to pick yesterday and don't expect anything today.  With the shadow of the house now half way up the fence the gardens are getting considerably less sun. By the time of the equinox in a couple of weeks the entire garden will be mostly in shadow.  The season is definitely turning.

This is an interesting trend--highly educated, degreed nannies.

Now for the horror story of the day.  I can't even begin to express my disgust with the politicos that facilitated this or the hospitals that abetted it neither of which will suffer any consequences.  I would love to see the doctor in prison for a very long time as well as financially broken.  I doubt that will happen either.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wednesday: last day of the current heat--hopefully.

We expect temperatures in the mid 90s today but are very ready for the cooling to come.  I don't have any tomatoes or peppers to harvest so all I have to do outside is water everything.  The weather people are not predicting any significant rain.  Too bad.  We do need it.  The tomatoes I stewed yesterday are ready to package for freezing today.

I hear you, Kay.  We don't have to shovel it and, if we had to find a cool place because something happened to our air conditioning, we have several options near by.  You should enjoy what is coming--much cooler with the possibility of rain.  Enjoy your trip.

When we think about technology or are being sold a given technology, we think about the advantages however small they may be.  However, every technology has disadvantages and those disadvantages, over time, may outweigh the initial advantages.  That is exactly what is happening with genetically modified crops.  I read these stories with the same reaction each time: what the f**k did they think would happen?  Evidently the problem is becoming more complex.  I remarked to Mom that I thought I remembered a more complex crop rotation system when I was young--not just corn and soybeans alternated in the fields but corn/soybeans/sorghum.  She said she remembers a four crop rotation.  But economic pressure, technological promise and, let's be blunt, greed have pushed farmers to change their practices to their detriment.

So "Pink Slime" is being resurrected.  We haven't yet found a stake that will kill these vampires.

At least New York City voters showed some common sense and sent Weiner and Spitzer packing.

I read the headline on this and said "Whaat?"  Everyone has fingerprints.  Well, yes--but evidently some can't be read by the scanners Apple is using with its new iPhones.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tuesday. The heat continues. Cypress vine. Borage.

Our temperatures reached 94F yesterday and the predictions call for a 97F or so today.  It may set a record.  The lows last night are on the edge of setting a new high low for the day.  A significant number  of schools and school districts have either closed or shortened days.  I grew up in this area and we never had a day off for heat and very few for snow.  All I plan to do today is check the tomatoes for ripe ones and water well.  Oh, yes, Kay.  It looks like this is coming your way.  Stay cool.  The weather person last night said that it has also been abnormally dry.  We have had less rain since July 1st that we had last year--and last year we were in extreme drought.  The lawns around here definitely agrees that we haven't had nearly enough rain--and what we have had has come in short, very hard spurts that mostly runs off.

While watering this morning I found a little volunteer cypress vine trying to get started under the pineapple sage and bee balm--and doing a fair job of it.  I pulled it because I don't want it there--at least no now.  Next spring I will have to look out for new ones coming up.  Probably will have to do the same with the borage.  I managed to collect about two dozen seeds but many, many more have already fallen into the soil of the container.  A couple of days ago I pulled a borage seedling--another volunteer in the wrong place.  I won't be growing borage in that container next summer.  Both are aggressive plants.  The borage is a vigorously self-sowing annual while the cypress vine spreads by runners as well as seeds.  If I were gardening in the ground I might think again about keeping them though the bees and hummingbirds love them.

The more I read about droughts, water shortages, aquifer depletion I wonder if this is what our future will be.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Monday. The heat returns.

Today should be the first day of a two day heat wave.  Low 90s with mid 90s tomorrow.  I will get everything watered well early today and we will get the grocery shopping done before the heat hits.  I saw a sauce tomato ready to pick but not much else so I think I will do stewed tomatoes tomorrow.  I collected several peppers yesterday some of which Mom cooked with our polish sausage and potatoes yesterday.  We will eat the left overs today.  Otherwise I am looking at what is in the garden and planning when to take out what, whether to take cuttings and other such fall activities.  And of course thinking about what will be in the gardens next year.

I am very tired of hearing pundits claim that "our" credibility is on the line in Syria.  Or "our" resolve.  Whatever the hell all that means.  They all seem to be of my late, ex-husband's school of thought: DO something, even if its wrong.  What does it mean to say we have to "punish" Syria or Assad when the country is already in hell?  I guess some 30 odd percent of Americans are convinced by the Administrations so-called proof but I am not.  The pictures are horrendous but they don't say anything about who actually perpetrated the horror.  And I have seen too many such pictures that have later turned out to be faked.  When you talk about "punishing" someone or some group one should be sure of the guilt of that someone or group.  But worse I just don't see what real good that can come from any kind of military action.  I saw a sound bite from John Kerry this morning insisting that the consequences of not doing anything is worse than acting with military force.  I am sorry, Mr. Kerry.  Your assertions are not proof.  It is merely opinion.  And I trust mine over yours.

As usual, a new, widely advertised consumer good has caused new problems.  Only one news story that covered the London story noted that wet wipes added to the congealed grease creating a bus-sized clog blocking a sewer.  One of the stories noted that a California city (sorry, I don't remember which) was contemplating outlawing baby wipes and flushable diapers for the same reason to the dismay of mothers and day care operators.  Undernews has another bit on the problem.

Fascinating speculation on how Washington figures would fit into small town, real America.  Not very flattering but very accurate.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Saturday. Sunday now.

I would like to say that we are going to be lazy today after the cleaning we did yesterday.  However, we have laundry to wash, dry, and put away.  We always know when it is time to wash clothes when one or the other of us runs out of something.  This time we are out of wash cloths--we had just enough to wash our faces this morning.  I love your "sweeping the room with a glance," Kay.  There are so many things we would rather do--even if it is just sitting down with the computer and playing a game.

I see a couple of tomatoes to pick but I doubt that I will find enough to stew.  I might have to stew small batches and keep them in the fridge until I have enough to package for freezing.  But the production from the gardens is definitely slowing down.  I saw on the news that northeast has freeze warning and one of the bloggers I usually read reported 38F that made her put on her fingerless gloves before finishing her homestead chores.  We have seen more and more leaves here turning.  The temperature trend is certainly moving down.

I heard about this phenomenon last year.  Moose get drunk on fermenting downed apples.  Evidently humans aren't the only creatures that like the taste of alcoholic treats.

Cheating among college students has become a perennial story.  The only thing that makes it newsworthy is the prestigious school involved.  And it says something both sad and disquieting about the future leaders of this country.

So many of our problems, in the U.S. and the world generally, seem to cry out for a collective solution but repeatedly we haven't been able to assemble the collective to do what is necessary.  There is no "we" here.  Hurricane or storm damage that affects multiple state or wide swaths of a single state?  How often have we seen elected assholes loudly and proudly, in the name of conservatism or economic "responsibility," block any aid while demanding everything they can get for their own disasters?  Has any kind of workable collection of states or governments been able to come to a consensus about environmental pollution?  Obama has pointed to U.N. resolutions banning chemical weapons but has been able to assemble any kind of coalition to counter the use of such weapons even if he could provide definitive evidence (as opposed to unsubstantiated assertions) that the Assad government did it.  David Kaiser makes some excellent points on the total lack of a We and makes some good points on where the anarchy is going.


I had intended to post the above and somehow didn't.  Today is a lazy day since we did housework and laundry the last two days.  I need to water some of the patio plants and check a couple of those inside.  I may have a couple of sauce tomatoes to pick so I may plan on stewing a batch tomorrow.  Let's see what I find on line.

Ah, well.  Not much worth commenting on.  See ya next time.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Housekeeping Friday.

Conversation over coffee:  Me: I think I need to vacuum--been thinking about it for a bit.  Mom:  I was thinking of starting upstairs in the bedroom.  We haven't swept there for a while.  Me:  And, since I don't have anything beyond watering outside, I think it is time to get the sewing/storage/whatever room straightened out.  Mom: Then you could use the table. I think we have a table in there.  Me:  Yeah, there is a table there somewhere.

I have said before that we do serious cleaning "when the spirit moves" and are thankful it doesn't move often.  We straighten and keep clutter under control but don't do much heavy cleaning.

This poll from The Onion is right on the money.  I think our House and Senate can do much more good in Syria than they are doing over here.  And if you think they aren't doing any good over here--that is my point.

I am constantly amazed at how we (or at least some of us) manage to twist language to hide the reality of their proposals.  Politico examines the linguistic cover for what would be war by any honest definition.  Syria is embroiled in a civil war and if we intervene we will be also.  Let's not be fooled by the political obfuscation.

Charles Hugh Smith at Of Two Minds has come to a couple of conclusions that we have here:  the convenience we are promised by the advertising for convenience foods and appliances aren't all that convenient and most of the convenience foods are way too salty, sweet, or otherwise unpalatable.  Not too long ago we opened some canned chicken noodle (I wouldn't want to embarrass Campbells so I won't mention the name) and found it totally unpalatable: damned little chicken, very limp noodles, and, if it hadn't had way too much salt, it wouldn't have had any taste at all.  It is off our shopping list permanently.  We don't buy canned veggies any more: too much salt and often inferior quality (I hate biting into asparagus and getting all woody stems).  I could go on buy Smith does a better job.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Thursday--for real.

Yes, it really is Thursday.  Yesterday, for a bit (long enough to start off the blog with the wrong day), I thought it was Thursday.  Every now and then I forget which day it is.  Our daily routines don't vary much and, when we don't have special events or appointments, they are much the same.  I went back in later and corrected the post.  I have herbs to grind and stewed tomatoes to package for freezing today and some trimming on the tomatoes.

Yesterday we got a reminder that we aren't youngsters any more and that we aren't in the best physical condition.  Our park service has a lot of educational programs and we signed up for one that we thought would be on owls.  I expected that it was some kind of hike because the flyer touted it as an "outing" but turned out to be on geology.  (Evidently there was some kind of major mix-up because one of the other participants thought it would be an indoor class on owls and another thought it was supposed to be on ecology.)  Anyway, to cut to the chase, we dropped out after only about 20 minutes after getting half way up one of the hills.  We won't be signing up for any more of those but we will try to get back to taking walks through the neighborhood now that the weather is turning cooler.

Robert Samuelson at the Washington Post makes some very good points.  I have noticed a number of references to "war weariness" applied to either the British or the Americans or both or to the world in general.  Attributing wariness on the issue of Syria is a nice way to deflect any possible recognition that our strategy of using military means to solve all international conflicts isn't working and, probably. could never work.  But, with the dissolution of the Soviet Union a bit over two decades ago, we have wallowed in the supposed glory of being the only "superpower" or the "hyper-power."  Few explicitly recognized that the only measure by which we were "super" was military spending and military hardware.  I am not surprised, therefore, that the military became the weapon of choice in all our confrontations.  When all you have is a hammer, all your problems look like nails.  Samuelson is right.  Our problem isn't war weariness.  It is frustration.  We have lost more lives on the various battlefields than we did in the 9/11 attacks in the first place and those lives have gained us nothing.  We have wasted a whole lot of money and materiel and deferred the payment to sometime in the future.  I don't think I have to go on.

I said "wariness" above.  Dana Milbank's opinion piece illustrates why that word is appropriate.  The old saying is "Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me."  I have seen nothing that convinces me that our political leaders know what is really going on.  I have seen nothing that convinces me that we have something to gain by intervening on any side in Syria.

Last week, I think, the local news carried a story about a number of school districts opting out of the Federal School Lunch Program.  Because so many students were refusing to eat the food provided under the program and so much of it was winding up in the garbage, the schools were facing a large bill and getting nothing for it.  Gene Logsdon at The Contrary Farmer has some on target remarks about school lunches and the industrial food production system.

There are damned few points on which I agree with any religious leader but I would agree with Pope Francis on this one--as I think you would guess from what I said above.  The only problem: I don't think anyone is talking.

On top of the plague of pig carcasses earlier around Shanghai (I think--more than 20k), another river has a massive die-off of fish thanks to a discharge of ammonia from a chemical plant.

I do love sarcastic comments on the idiocy that goes on in Washington.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Miscellaneous Wednesday.

Miscellaneous because I don't have much to say about a garden that is progressing along into fall very nicely.  What is going on out there is what has been going on all along.  Let's see what I find on the 'net.

This morning the news quoted Vladimir Putin saying that Russia doesn't discriminate against gays--after all they love Tchaikovsky who was gay.  Yeah. Right.  He is also long dead.  Here is a link to the story.

And then there is this story which I think hits the financial nail on the head.  We are no more ready for the next financial meltdown than we were for the last one.  I rather doubt that "we" are ever ready for a financial crisis.  But I do think our financial and political idiots have set us up for the next crash.  All of the "too big fail" institutions are bigger than ever and more likely than ever to fail.

I think I have mentioned this sadistic piece of nonsense before.  I say sadistic because how else can a sane person describe forking out money for a sports stadium for a team owned by a billionaire while erasing 90% of pensions and 80% of unsecured bonds.  A city that is already bankrupt does not need to be allowed to raise $450 million in bonds to fund a stadium.  The rule is: stop digging and don't give the idiot in the hole another shovel.

On a related note--the Rude Pundit expresses my sentiments with just the right tinge of rudeness on the whole Syria mess.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

First Tuesday of Sept.

Hope your Labor Day weekend was good.  Nice and quiet here.  A bit cooler but very sunny.  I have a bunch of tomatoes to collect today but I won't cook them till tomorrow.  But this is a quiet time for the gardens.  The next spate of effort will be the clearing and preparation for winter.  The Farmer's Almanack predicts a hard winter and the way the birds are feeding (frantically) lends some credence to that.

The updates on Fukushima get worse and worse.  And the "remedies" get more bizarre and expensive.  I have said before that the most powerful argument against nuclear power is how to handle waste that will be very dangerous for tens of thousands of years into the future.  How much power will it take to create and maintain an "ice wall" and how long will it take for the contaminated water to find a way around it?

Thank you, Diana Nyad for an uplifting story.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Monday, Monday. Blueberry experiment.

We expect a comfortable Monday--dry and cool.  As usual for Mondays we are planning our errands for the week.  I should have enough tomatoes tomorrow to do another batch of stewed tomatoes for the freezer.  So far we have almost six pounds done and frozen.  It doesn't sound like much but that doesn't include what we have eaten and what is still on the vines.  And I don't have a lot of room.

I found a web site yesterday that suggested using a dilute vinegar solution to lower the pH in my blueberry pot.  I figure I don't have anything to lose and tried it out.  It did lower the pH nicely to just above the range blueberries find comfortable.  I don't know if it will bring back the bush or if it will survive the winter in its weakened condition.  We'll see.  But that whole thing has me thinking about the house plants.  I will be checking the pH on them more closely.  I think they might benefit from an even more dilute treatment--smaller pots.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Foggy Sunday. September already. Sickly blueberry. Our contradictory view of the Presidency. Is the car culture dead?

It is foggy but cool.  And not expected to go above the mid 80s.  We turned off the air conditioning and look forward to a week without.  Welcome to September.  With the latest batch of tomatoes I have almost six pounds of stewed tomatoes in the freezer.  I will check things out in the gardens but I don't plan to pick anything.  That may change depending on what I find.  The hummingbirds and goldfinches are feeding frantically which makes us wonder what the winter will be like.  We have noted the changing leaves for about three weeks now.  It has been slow but will soon pick up speed.  In three weeks (by the autumnal equinox) my patio will be in shadow and I will be cleaning up and preparing the gardens for winter.  I hope my blueberry makes it.  It looks rather poorly right now.  I think the soil is way to alkaline for it.  I don't know if I can modify the soil enough and keep it at a low enough pH to grow blueberries.  We have very hard water here which is the equivalent of adding lime to the soil every time I water.  I have to research the problem.  I would love to water with rain water but collecting it would be a problem because we don't own our place.

Well, let's see what I find on the 'net worth commenting on.

The headline on is fascinating.  It asks if Obama's decision on Syria diminishes the Presidency and poses six related questions.  The questions aren't what fascinates me.  It is the underlying attitudes.  I have heard and read carping on the increasingly "imperial" presidency since Nixon.  But in all that time no one has commented on an inherent contradiction in the Constitutional role of the President.  We have seen it on occasion before as when Jefferson interpreted Presidential powers to allow him to purchase Louisiana without relying on Congressional powers to ratify treaties.  He simply didn't call the purchase a treaty.  Or when Andrew Jackson ignored the Supreme Court ruling that the Cherokee removal was unConstitutional daring the Court to enforce its decision.  We seem to want a President powerful enough to act forcefully on the international stage and, in fact, we glory in Presidential expressions of aggressive power.  But we don't think about what that means for our so-called democratic system.  As Presidents gather power into their role other parts of our delicately balanced system of institutional checks and balances lose power.  The results of a poll this week (sorry, I didn't keep the link) which showed that a majority of respondents wanted Obama to get Congressional approval while at the same time most of us have a very negative view of the Congress we want to pass judgment on the President's plans.  The Onion had a spoof that hits this contradiction very nicely. (Again, sorry, didn't keep the link.)  Their fictional poll revealed that most of us would rather have a charismatic dictator rather than an elected leader.  I wonder if anyone has thought to construct a poll on that theme.

Another interesting headline screams that Americans are driving less although the economy is rebounding.  My first response was: what economy is recovering?  The economy below the statistics doesn't seem to be improving all that much.  If you cherry pick the stats you can make a case either for an economy recovering or one on the verge of another dip.  But the story is much more interesting than just how the driving statistics are not following the economic statistics as they have in all previous recessions.  The author lists a number of intriguing reasons for the lag between driving miles and the economic statistics.  They indicate a possible cultural shift away from the automobile.  But I also note that the "fact" of an economic recovery is not questioned at all.