Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday.  Last day of March.

Not sad to see March go.  I wish April would start out warmer but at least the temperature will be in the mid-30s to mid-40s (instead of ten degrees lower) after the mid-60s today.  I don't think enough of the patio will thaw out enough for me to do much outside.  I just scooped off a large part of the snow remaining on the one container still covered and spread it on the patio.  It should melt nicely.  Several containers have lost the ice layer that remained on them.  I also transplanted the borage plant that needed a larger pot and planted more borage and epazote seeds.  The epazote didn't come up at all.

My first rose has arrived.  I brought in one of my large pots and will plant it when the soil thaws out in a couple of days.  I don't think my containers will be ready to work for another couple of weeks.

Now for a minor contrary rant.  The TV (local) news this morning finally took notice of the U.N. report on climate change that (as far as I know) is only available in a leaked version--that is, not officially released yet.  I have been reading about parts of the leaked report for the last two or three weeks and the news media has been mum about the whole thing.  The reporter today noted that the report used the word "risk" five times per page on average.  And that the report insists that unless "something" is done we are in for a very rough time.  Problems:  what is the "something" that is to be done and who is the "we" who will do it?  And I have noted my skepticism (often) that we can actually roll back the part of climate change that is human caused.  By the time people (as a group) come to a consensus about a major problem, it is usually well beyond any attempts to roll it back to any reasonable starting point.  Another major problem is that most of the situations that become major problems are not really under human control however much we wish they were.  But then humans seem to be consistently afflicted with hubris.  Update: according to the MSN story the report has just been released earlier today.

One of the things I most resent about our (not)news media is how the focus on important stories moves away before the issues are resolved leaving the impression that everything is fine.  This Crooks & Liars coverage shows how wrong that impression might be.  How long will it be before people along the Elk River feel comfortable using their tap water or have much faith in their governmental agencies/officials?

Now this is an interesting notion!!  My major problem with our current legal treatment of corporate crime is that we have no way to exact an appropriate punishment for corporate crimes.  The owners or managers are insulated from personal responsibility for what the corporation does unless some direct evidence is found that links them to the action.  Financial punishments rarely provide any great deterrent since most corporations consider those "costs of doing business."  And if the financial pain seriously threatens them they simply file for bankruptcy and reorganize as a different entity with no responsibility for the damages the predecessor corporation caused.  If Hobby Lobby wins its case against the ACA the separation of owners and the corporations they own may disappear and the owners (or managers) can be held to account.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


I finally got all of my reading list transferred onto both the Safari reading list and Bloglovin.  The one good thing about the process is that I culled a number of blogs I no longer read or whose writers are no longer blogging.  I had felt the growing need to do that but always put it off.

We decided to put off our weekly shopping so we can be here for when ever the rose will be delivered.  I don't want it to remain on my door step for very long.  I plan to take advantage of the warmer temps to get some cleaning done out on the patio.  It has indeed been a hard winter and a lot of debris has blown in.  I also need to clean out the fallen leaves I put on several of the containers to provide a mulch for the plants.

I am sure you remember the toxic spill in West Virginia a couple of months ago that shut down the water supply for towns along the Elk River and, eventually, along parts of the Ohio into which the Elk River flows.  Here is a nice retrospective of the not-so-nice event and I don't think the title is at all alarmist.  Or, rather, I think we all should be alarmed about what industrial companies are storing, shipping, or otherwise exposing the public to.

Earlier this last week we saw a news special on counterfeit health and beauty supplies.  I shouldn't have been surprised but I was at the range of the brand name products crooks were counterfeiting.  And some of the counterfeits were often ineffective, of insufficient strength, or even toxic.  Then I found this item and wondered if some of this was not tampering by itself but also counterfeiting.  The two frauds may have very different motives and perpetrators.  In any case, our commercialized world is becoming very dangerous.  Reuters has better coverage here.

I thoroughly agree with this court decision.

So, cyber criminals have moved from stealing the customer info to demanding payment from companies to go away.  Not much of a leap from theft outright to theft by extortion.  I read about similar hackers locking up people's computers and demanding payment to unlock them.  Once upon a time protection rackets depended on thugs with baseball bats to confront their targets.  Now all they need is a computer.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


Oh, the joy!!  I can really believe spring is here.  Early spring, yes--but spring.  Most of the snow has finally melted though some of the pots still have ice on the surface where the melted snow has refrozen.  But I saw green--real, growing GREEN in four pots.  The tansy, strawberries, pyrethrum and oregano.  We expect three days in the fifties starting tomorrow followed by forties.

Conversation at the local Barnes & Nobel:  I made the trip only because I had received the rebate resulting from the settlement of the lawsuit over fixing e-book prices.  Barnes & Noble, Amazon and others were hit with it.  I had been thinking of getting hard copies of several books to replace copies I have on my nook so this seemed a good time to do that.  I found two easily enough (in the gardening section) but the third was somewhere else or not in stock.  I asked one of the clerks who looked it up and walked me over to the nature section to find it.  As we walked I told her "I have two of these on my nook and I hate them on the nook.  The side bars don't translate well to the e-book page."  "I probably shouldn't tell you this," she said, "but I have a nook also but I use it to play my games.  I don't like to read on it.  I can't flip back and forth between sections easily."  Hearing that I confessed, "I find that clumsy and frustrating, also, and it is too hard on my eyes."  I have given my nook a good try and I won't totally stop using it.  I do have a couple of games I like to play as a break from other activity but most of my books will be old fashioned paper copies.

Just checked my e-mail and one of my roses have just been shipped!!  When it comes I will pick up some garden soil and plant it in one of my large pots.  I will keep it inside until the gardens thaw out enough to plant it outside.

This just boggles the mind.  Seven years in and no one knows for sure what caused kidney failure in more than 600 dogs and a few cats.  They haven't identified a specific causative agent or company.

Al Jazeera's The Stream had a program concerning the legalization of marijuana and its possible consequences.  Part of the argument concerned whether legalization (where it has occurred) has or has not lead to increases in crime.  This article says recent study results say "no."  What struck me about the discussion on the Stream was the almost religious fervor with which the partisans claiming that legalization of marijuana held their position without ever producing any support for their conviction.  They were asked directly at one point what study or other evidence they had and they gave none.  One bemoaned the fact that they had no statistics about how many auto crashes, or robberies or other crimes may have had involved stoned participants.  But my thought on that point was "we don't insist that alcohol be banned or sold only through government dispensaries though a lot of drunks are involved with auto crashes (many of which are fatal) and may well be involved in other crimes."  Why is there such a difference in perception between the two "drugs"?  And have we learned nothing from Prohibition?

Friday, March 28, 2014


Things are back to normal.  Bloglines is back up and functioning.  I spend a good bit of time trying to rebuild my reading list on Bloglovin and in my bookmarks.  Now that everything is functioning I can complete the process a little at a time.  I do get cranky when my technology doesn't function.  I hate to think of what a prolonged outage would do to my moods.

I just saw a headline which irritates me.  I won't link to the story itself which deals with the search for the Malaysian jet.  The headline read: "Eight Days Squandered?  Search Zone Shifts Hundreds of Miles."  I heard the gist of the argument on the TV morning news.  Evidently the jet was traveling at a higher speed than originally thought so it would not have flown as far as searchers originally thought.  Since the beginning the authorities have been refining their search as new information becomes available.  Think about what the original search areas were like--an arc from the central asian countries to almost the Antarctic Indian Ocean.  And the results of those "squandered" days helped refine the search and limit it.  What do the news writers not understand about that process?  I sometimes think being half brain-dead is a job requirement for news writers.

I hadn't intended to "squander" my time reading the article itself but I thought I should to be fair.  After all, the writer might have intended to debunk the headline.  Unfortunately, if that was the intent, s/he failed.  All they did was reinforce the notion that those heading the search are bumbling idiots and played up the drama.

While the premises of this article may be true--Russia may, indeed, be some form of capitalist economy--the conclusion does not follow from the premises.  It reminds me of arguments very well respected experts made prior to WWI that no prolonged period of war could occur because industrialized countries wouldn't want to suffer the damage to their prosperous economies.  The author compares Putin to a gang leader protecting his turf.  Does the fact that two gang leaders share a social/economic/political philosophy prevent gang wars?  Not likely.  For another take on this issue check out Sovereign Man.

The first segment on this Automatic Earth post makes an interesting point.  The semantics of the climate change argument do matter and those may mark a shift.  Instead of talking about reversing the anticipated effects it looks like they are shifting to how we can adapt to keep the merry party going forever.  I have always had a suspicion that the whole argument was futile to begin with.  First, all of the proposals for reversing the process required far more collective will among a far broader swath of our global population than is in evidence.  There really is no "we" do do anything.  Second, I think we are far enough along in our F*#king up this planet that things will happen that we won't like much and there isn't a damned thing we can do about it.  So the only alternative is to adapt.  And I think the adaptation will be at the individual and local level.

Finally, someone who is asking the same questions I am about our politicians and other pundits pushing "education" on us as though it were a drug.  There are pushers and there are pushers.  Not all that much difference between them.  Both are promising paradise if you only follow their advice and expend a large chunk of your time and borrowed money in pursuit of that mythical beast--an education.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


We had several brief but often heavy waves of snow yesterday.  Left maybe two inches.  It won't last long.  Most of the mountains of snow we had for the last couple of months are much reduced and will probably be gone by early next week.  The sooner winter goes away the better--it has been hanging around way too long.

Two "price shock" stories from the morning news:  price of limes have increased from about $14/case to $100/case and theater companies are bemoaning their economic plight and thinking about cutting prices for their tickets one day a week.  The California drought is blamed for the increased cost of limes.  No one tried to trace the source of the second.  I could tell them.  Prices are too high for too little and people have too many more pleasant and cost effective choices.


Well, I guess spring really is here in spite of the very cool temps.  Snow yesterday and rain today.  The weather people say the rain should hang around most of the morning.  If the temps stay where they are much of the remaining snow on our patio should disappear.

My last pepper (corno di toro rosso) variety has popped its head up.  I think I can give up on the hibiscus seeds.  No sign of any activity.  And no sign of growth in the wonderberry.  Didn't get anything from those seeds last year either.  Oh, well.  I will find something else to try.

I remember the pressure put on residents of several small towns that were flooded during the big Mississippi River flood in the early 1990s to move.  One made news by putting all of the homes on stilts while another moved to higher ground nearby.  The Feds threatened to cancel flood insurance for some and made it much too costly for others--and the Feds are the only source of flood insurance. That is why my cynic-o-meter pegged out when I first read articles on this a few weeks ago.  I am glad to see that the FBI is investigating but considering how much of the government has been bought by the wealthy interests I don't expect much.

Well, I am not a happy camper.  I can't get onto bloglines.  Blast and damn.  So I am trying to rebuild my reading list on bloglovin and in my bookmarks.  I found this piece on Grist and I am linking here to see if it works.  If it doesn't I will have to find another work around.  Again--damn and blast.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


One of the two pots of albino bullnose peppers have popped.  Now only the corno di toro rosso remains to sprout.  I see several plants I should put into larger pots.  If only the weather would catch up to my plants and turn warmer.  I still have snow on some of my containers and areas of the patio.  I do so want it gone.


There must be something in the air.  Crimea isn't the only secession-bent area.  Check out this one.  Robert Reich calls the phenomenon a "reversion to tribalism."  Interesting thought.

Some very many years ago I read an autobiography by Martha Summerhayes, Vanished Arizona, in which she described traveling up the Colorado River by steamboat to an army fort.  The fort where she disembarked to continue her journey to the outpost her husband had been assigned was about two hundred miles from the mouth of the river.  I thought of that book as I read this piece.  For most of the past century the Colorado never got near the sea.


As I said yesterday--secession seems to be in the air.  As the old saying goes: be careful what you wish for.  There is a lot about our country today I don't like but I am pretty sure I wouldn't like living in Russia.

Ah!! Someone else is asking a question I have been asking for a long time now:  who are the "People?"  One of the blogs I read a couple of weeks ago showed a map of the election results of the last Ukrainian election.  The western third of the country went 70-30 for Yulia Tymoshenko.  The eastern third 70-30 for Viktor Yanukovych.  The middle third of the country was split about evenly between the two.  Because the eastern (more Russian) section is the more populous, Yanukovych won a slender majority.  The events since the election shows what might happen when politicians play solely to their base supporters.  Yanukovych played to his when he sharply pivoted away from an economic agreement with the EU and courted Russia.  He totally alienated the EU oriented west of Ukraine which led to the civil/political disorder that led to his exile in Russia.  But his successors immediately scrapped a longstanding political arrangement allowed considerable autonomy in the Crimea and recognized Russian as a co-equal language for Ukraine.  That heavy-handedness resulted in the referendum in which an overwhelming majority of the Crimean "people" voted to secede and join Russia.  In each case, politicians (legitimately) claimed that the "People" had spoken.  And please don't think such can't happen here.  Consider how polarized our social/political culture is now.

It's a small world after all.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Another pot of lipstick peppers is sprouting.  I am thinking of reversing my decision of last fall not to plant pole beans again.  We haven't had a package of commercially produced green beans without biting into stems or that tasted good.  Mary is getting more than a bit contrary on the issue of the lack of quality we are getting in the goods we buy.

Sing it, Brother!!!  The inane and vacuous coverage of the Malaysian jet mystery is another thing that is pegging my contrary meter to the extreme.  The tragedy has been converted into a meaningless soap opera and that infuriates me.  And the assessment of two "old fossils" in the Senate is right on the money.

Found this by way of Undernews and the theme has been a rising one on the financial news channels. It doesn't really surprise me.  We don't often visit the big enclosed malls in the area.  They don't have much of interest.  The strip malls are another story.  Many of the small stores that carry what we normally buy are located in those malls.  But we have noticed that the retail spaces in those malls have been slower to rent than a decade or so ago.

I didn't read all of this item but what I did read made me wonder why some of our regulators were so upset with BofA and others for hiring the children of high ranking Chinese officials.  It seems to me that the practice is as American as apple pie.

Marian van Eyk McCain has an interesting post concerning the recent push (which has received plenty of free advertisement on news programs) to have physicians prescribe more cholesterol controlling medications to more people--even those without family history or symptoms.  I am not really surprised that the studies providing the ammunition for the efforts to increase the population who will be taking those medication are funded by Big Pharma.  That alone makes them suspect.  But I have a further quibble:  I don't see the need to give people a drug on the mere possibility that one in ten of them might develop heart disease--which may or may not be linked to cholesterol levels.

Friday, March 21, 2014

More seedlings emerging.


Welcome to Spring!!  Even if the weather doesn't correspond, the spring equinox says winter is over.

Update:  Ack!!!  We have snow!!  I hope it doesn't amount to much.  I was so enjoying the sight of containers I haven't seen for three months.  Well, if we get to 60 tomorrow it won't last long.

Update 2:  the sun is trying to shine while the snow is winding down.  Now I know it is truly equinox--the sunlight is touching the top of our fence so the patio will get more strong reflected light from now on.

The lipstick pepper has poked out of the soil along with the lemon balm and bee balm.


Sunny!!  We had a dusting of snow overnight but it is disappearing quickly.  The weather people have backed off the predicted 60 and suggest we will probably get into the mid-50s.

I haven't been following the news as much as I used to.  I have complained about our mainstream (lame-stream) media too often before.  Right now the two main stories are the search for the Malaysian airliner and the Russian take over of Crimea.  The first is only mildly interesting and not as a steady stream of repeated nonsense.  It will either be found or it won't.  And all too much of the air expended on this story has been so much blather.  The commentary on the Crimea story isn't much better.  I have my own contrary take on the situation:  Russia has decided it is time to get back into the territorial race in Europe.  Between 1989, when the Soviet Union fell apart, and about five years ago, when Russia intervened in the Georgian contest with their breakaway provinces, NATO and the EU had a free hand in recruiting former USSR and Warsaw Pact countries.  And they did quite well.  Russia now wants to reconstitute much of the old USSR as an Eurasian trade zone which means reacquiring some of those countries created out of the rubble.  Many of them have areas that are Russian in language and culture, as does Crimea.  Let the territorial games begin continue.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


No new seeds and nothing worth commenting on.


We have had heavy rain for most of today with temps starting in the mid-40s but dropping.  We may get a dusting of snow later--no significant accumulation.  I can see parts of the patio table and containers I haven't seen in two months.

I was watching CNBC and listened to a most idiotic discussion centered on the question of whether traders "trusted" Putin whose assertion that he had no designs on more of Ukraine territory or any other part of eastern Europe that used to be part of the Soviet Union were credited with the market rally.  I don't see any part of the situation, including the stock markets, as involving "trust" in any one person. The whole question seems to assume Putin is the only actor who can influence the situation.  Granted he is an 800 lb. gorilla over there but a lot of lighter weight players exist and can throw wrenches into the works.  He can say he is satisfied with Crimea but does anyone think he would reject parts of eastern Ukraine if the Crimean pattern was repeated?  I don't think so.  And don't forget the "government" in western Ukraine (Kiev).

I hadn't thought about pre-sprouting seeds but it sounds like an interesting idea.

Monday, March 17, 2014

More seeds sprouting.


All my little pots with poppies have sprouted as has one shiso and another lemon basil.  No peppers yet but I will restart if nothing comes up by the end of the month.  No hibiscus yet but then the mother plant is a hybrid so the seeds may not sprout at all and I have no idea what will result if it does.

I was amused earlier this last week when I heard a news snippet (and all it was was a snippet) that the European negotiators for that trans-Atlantic treaty want to reserve certain names of cheeses for use by the regions that originally created the cheeses.  Feta would only be officially feta if it were made in Greece; Parmesan would be Parmesan only if made in Parma.  I was amused because all American cheese makers would have to do is create a new name and put something like "Parmesan style" on the label.  Evidently that is what a number of small dairies are thinking of in Ohio.  I love the remark one made that the big producers hate the notion while the smaller ones are rolling with the notion and creatively renaming their product.

Monday.   Happy St. Patrick's Day.

And it seems the old saying is true: everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day.

So some 97% of the Crimean populations who voted approved separation from Ukraine and union with Russia.  Kunstler has remarks that reflect my skeptical thoughts on the subject.

And Paris has a pollution problem.  The government has ordered that drivers only drive every other day.  At least they have also made public transport and bike sharing free while restricting cars.

Every time I see stories like this I always have the same question: will all the robots that will displace human workers (because contrary to what we were promised when automation began invading the work place they aren't creating jobs faster than destroying them) be buying what they will be making?

Saturday, March 15, 2014


I saw a couple of poppies coming up.  We had a beautiful day yesterday with temps in the 50s.  A lot of snow disappeared--including the about five inches we got early this last week.  Our temps are still above freezing and may get to 40 today.  Once we had some light outside (have I said before how much I hate time change?) I saw containers I hadn't seen in a couple of months.  If the weather people are right we should see much more by the end of the coming week.  I can hope.

This article tells us exactly how invasive the "meta-data" the government is sucking up can be.  And this study was from Stanford University researchers so just imagine what government agencies--or insurance companies?--might make of it.

I have been reading more and more stories like this one.  When I was a child measles (and mumps, and chicken pox) were a normal part of life.  Everyone got these "childhood" diseases.  My younger siblings and each generation since has, generally, been vaccinated.  But I have also been hearing about a growing movement against vaccination and that worries me.  All of these diseases can have serious consequences (including death) among groups without previous exposure to them.

I view our industrial food supply system with a large dose of skepticism.  This article suggests why--at least in part.

Over 40 years ago, my long dead uncle (who worked in the electric power industry) said much the same thing--bringing down the electric grid would be easy for a small crew of dedicated individuals.  Actually he thought that crew would have to hit more crucial points so things have become more precarious.  Don't worry.  He didn't specify what sites would have to be taken out and I have neither the inclination nor the technical abilities needed.  And the scenario involves a physical attack on the infrastructure.  It says nothing about a cyber attack.

Friday, March 14, 2014


Nothing new in the seedling nursery today.  I am not worried because the room is in the high 60s and the germination is slower in cooler temperatures.

A good many years ago, when I taught Western Civ at several schools, I inevitably got the question about ancient Athenian democracy concerning how it could possibly be described a "democracy" when most of the people couldn't vote.  I always wrote on the board "democracy" and told them that the key to understanding the term was finding out who constituted the "demos," the people.  Some women and children were politically incompetent parts of the citizenry and couldn't vote.  Slaves weren't citizens.  Adult men whose fathers and mothers weren't citizens also weren't citizens unless granted citizenship for service to the state.  It is all in the definition as this FPIF article notes in discussing the unrest in the Ukraine, Egypt, and Venezuela.


Seeds coming up nicely.  Saw chamomile, lemon basil, cypress vine, and sunflowers popping above the soil.  I really, really want the snow to go away and the gardens to thaw out so I can get to digging.  And find out what has survived.

Found this on Naked Capitalism and I wonder if it is a sign of times to come--and how many other institutions have the same policies.  It also brought back the memory of a conversation from more than 30 years ago.  An acquaintance who was a grad student in history at the same time I was took a job as the curator of a small local history museum.  She held the job for less than a year and came back much disillusioned.  She had been promised a reasonable salary but it was contingent on her being able to raise enough funds to cover both the operation and maintenance of the museum and her salary which would be paid out of what ever was left over.  That last hadn't been mentioned when she was being interviewed.  I wonder how many of the inspiring professors I knew during my long sojourn in academia would have been able to meet the requirements Columbia has set.  And how many in the humanities would?  Another indication that the only measure of value any more is money.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

More plants emerging. When is a choice not a choice?


The borage that peeked out yesterday has been joined today by summer savory, the Martino's roma, and Amish paste.  Looking good so far.  And we can see broad swaths of lawn where the snow has melted.  The mountains on the patio lost several inches in height and I can see pots I haven't seen in a couple of months.

The first quote in this article floored me.  The Obama administration sold the ACA to Americans largely on the 47million uninsured who would finally be able to get health insurance.  Evidently they didn't think it necessary to record the actual statistics on how many uninsured individuals actually sign up.  One would think that might be an important metric for determining the success of the program.  I guess not.

Oh, my, I feel like I might be back in the 1950s watching TV with rabbit ear antennae.  And it is Comcast because the snow is on all channels.  First time I have see that kind of interference in a very long time.


We have had a couple of very wet snow overnight.  Perhaps enough to move our area from fourth on the list of snowiest winters to third.  Maybe even into second place since we have several hours before the system moves out entirely.  (morning news just announced that this year is now in third place officially.)

From the plant nursery--all my tomatoes are showing now.

I have seen a couple of stories about how the oil "boom" has strained the transport system.  Last fall, at the height of harvest, the demand for diesel fuel to fill tanker trucks to transport oil had farmers scrambling for diesel to fuel their tractors.  Also last fall, we had a minor fracas here because the long trains of tanker cars were forcing commuter trains to the sidelines enraging businesses and commuters.  If this story is accurate the squeeze on transport is on going.  It is wonderful that the grain harvest was so good in the Dakotas last year but what good does a record harvest do if you can't get it to market?

Huffington Post had this interesting article on the Crimean referendum on whether to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.  When is a choice not a choice?  When your options all lead to the same end and you don't have the right to reject that end.  It occurs to me that we over here aren't in a much different position.  We have two parties vying for our votes but both serve the ends of the business at the expense of the rest.  It is just a question of do we get domination by global business quickly or a tad more slowly.  We don't have the option of effectively saying we don't want that domination.

We (here in our little patch) have often said that if businesses depended on us and others like us to stay profitable they would not survive for long.  Usually we make that observation when we see a particularly annoying ad urging us to save money by buying something we don't need because it is on sale.  We save even more by not buying any.  So I smiled a bit as I read this piece on The Automatic Earth.  Not because of my own memories.  I was born less than half a decade after the end of WWII.  Rather because of the 180 degree shift in in our cultural attitudes.  During WWII Americans were urged not to buy something they didn't need.  When George W. declared war on terrorism he urged us to go shopping.

But then business--especially big, global business--doesn't rely on us as consumers.  They rely on us as taxpayers in a system in which we have little or no control over where the tax monies go.

Interesting set of questions these!!  And an uncomfortable answer.

Monday, March 10, 2014

More garden dreams and other contrary thoughts.

Yeah!!! I have seedlings starting to peek out.  A couple of borage which are the fastest to germinate.  I plan to plant another bunch of seeds today.  The temperatures in the mid-40s yesterday took a large part of the snow down though there is a lot of snow to melt.  We should have mid-50s today.  That is very welcome.

I didn't read all of this article but the premise of the headline doesn't surprise me.  In our government of the people, by the people, and for the people the operative basic principle seems to be don't tell the people.  And that principle extends to all parts of our political and economic system.

Nor does this article surprise me although it seemed like we were hearing about more recalls there were actually fewer in terms of actual number of recalls.  But those recalls affected (or potentially affected) more people.  Several of the recalls were massive a large quantity of product.  How could a recall of millions or tens of millions of pounds of beef not affect a large numbers of consumers.  But then add the complexity of our food chain to the problem.  Take that recall of the beef from Rancho Feeding a couple of weeks ago.  That beef went to consumers directly and indirectly.  Think of the hot pocket varieties that were recalled because beef from Rancho was used in them.  And hot pockets weren't the only products using that beef.

Just took a break and planted several kinds of seeds: bee balm, cypress vine, black peony poppy, California poppy, lavender, Ms. Mars sunflower.  I still have 17 pots ready so I might put in some of the greens tomorrow.  I intend to keep them in pots separate from the gardens this year.

I always knew we had a "state religion" and, unlike those who espouse the notion that we are a  Christian nation, was able to identify it.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

So, we had a "good" jobs report for last month.  That's nice.  But, perhaps, we should read this before we celebrate.


Well, here it is.  One of my two least favorite days of the year.  Daylight savings starts and it will take a week for my system to fully adjust.  I really wish they would set the time and leave it.  I think it is a bit of an anachronism given our 24/7 society.

I remember when the pundits foresaw a "paperless" office.  We haven't got it yet and I for one am glad.  We have gone pretty much the way this author has.  Our bills come via e-mail and we pay them on line.  We have automatic deposits.  But the paper hasn't gone away--and won't.  I prefer physical books to my e-reader--they are easier on my eyes.  I like hard copies of needlework patterns and recipes.  They are easier to juggle with what ever I am working on.  And I don't have to worry about what would happen to all my electronically stored info if the power goes out for a day (or a week or two.)  Technology always has its advantages and its drawbacks.

I have seen several articles concerning exactly who the Kiev snipers were and what their affiliations may have been.  Some writers take for granted they were deployed by the Yanukovych government; others by the opposition to discredit the Yanukovych further.  The author of this notes that no one really knows.  I wish I could believe that our government knows and is backing the right horse here but I don't.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Another sunny day and we expect temps about 40F.  Yesterday was a bit busy because we had to replenish groceries and run more errands than usual.  We picked up another couple of bags of potting soil, 2 of bird seed, and 4 5-gal buckets.  Those last are going to replace the kitty litter buckets of about the same size that have spent four or five years outside as part of my container gardens.  They are fragile and brittle so it is time to get new ones.  Because we planned not to go out at all during the nearly two weeks of 0F and below we had an unusually large grocery list.  But everything is back up to normal levels now so we can go back to our usual pattern of weekly shopping trips.

Our experiment with the dried apples (crisp chips actually), bananas, and peaches did not turn out well.  Those were the most tasteless mess I have ever had the misfortune of trying.  So we got a bag each of frozen sliced apples and peaches to try instead.  We repackaged them into small snack sized baggies so we only take out a small amount for cereal.  See how well that works.

I heard on the morning news that "our" legislators voted to approve the $1 billion in loan guarantees Obama promised for Ukraine.  I put that word above in quotation marks because I don't claim any of them--not even those from my state.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Beautiful sunny day and expected to stay that way.  We should begin a warm up that includes a couple of days in the mid-40s.  Some of these mountains of snow should start shrinking as the accumulations won't keep up with the melting (I hope).  I won't be happy until I can see my container gardens and I won't be really happy until I can see some indication of what has survived out there.  I made up another 37 paper pots and totally used up the strips I had left over from last year.  But that should get me well started on starting seeds.

Now this is a perspective I can agree with.

And this one as well.  And we ask here where in our supposedly strained national budget is the money we have pledged to Ukraine going to come from.  As noted no one we know of has proposed this or voted on it.  I deeply resent being asked to support Ukrainian oligarch or Gazprom.  And let's not kid ourselves--that is where it will go.

Love this Automatic Earth post.  Oh, the amount of drivel we swallow each and every day!!  Trying to get that out of our mental diet is harder than getting the high fructose corn syrup and other such crap out of our bodily diets.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Political icebergs. Garden dreams.

As I have gotten older I have been less and less eager to get on any political bandwagon.  That is especially so when the political issue involves our relations with foreign countries.  The Ukraine is a case in point.  I always wonder what is embedded in the nine-thenths of that iceberg that is below the surface.  This blog on Automatic Earth today confirms my growing skepticism.  Golem XIV thinks the maneuvering as a sign of even more devious designs on the part of the U.S.--a way to limit Russia and keep the EU fragmented.  Nothing like acting against both allies and adversaries at the same time.


I have the first tray of seeds started.  Here's what I have so far: tomatoes (Martino's Roma, Amish paste, Patio Princess), Peppers (lipstick, albino bullnose, corno di toro rosso), shiso, epazote, borage, hibiscus, summer savory, chamomile, wonderberry, and lemon basil.  I used borage and hibiscus seeds I harvested last fall.  I don't know how the hibiscus will do since the mother plant is a hybrid.  My gardens are still under small mountains of snow.  And we are getting more light snow right now.

I thought, when our idiot politicians (including Obama) started mouthing threats of economic sanctions, the whole issue would come to either a fizzle or a disaster--for us more than Russia.  This blog indicates exactly why.  Isn't globalization wonderful?  And if you think the Ukraine is the only place in the former Soviet Union where Russia is active, please consider Moldova.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Good morning on this snowy Sunday.  We got about 4 inches with another forecast.  We got the car and the patio cleared first thing this morning and I can see the shovelers with the landscaping company out.  They will have the outside walkways and the street cleared quickly.  We saw the latest massive multi-car pile up--outside Denver this time.  I can't remember seeing so many in any season before.  The pictures from California are mind blowing.

For a bit of philosophical contrariness enjoy this post form Druid Life.  We used to say that giving a man a fish and he eats for a day but teach him to fish and he eats forever (at least as long as there are fish to catch).  I remember a few months ago Vice President Biden used the same phrase in praising a job training program.  I wondered, though, how long the "skills" the program would be teaching would be in demand (long enough for the students to graduate and get a job?) and exchangeable for money which would be exchangeable for the food the worker needed to live.  So in our modern world we do abstract work (often for people far removed and unknown to us) to create final products (broadly speaking) we don't see and have no ownership of for another abstract substance (money) we have to exchange for the tangible goods we can no longer make ourselves and don't even understand the making of.  How much more abstract can our existence be.


Monday now.  Didn't have much to say yesterday.  I did get the potting area and my first tray of paper pots filled.  Also trimmed dead branches off of my rosemary.  It looks so much happier upstairs with a lot of new growth.

So much of the news has been about the Oscars.  I didn't watch and I didn't see any of the films up for the award.  Actually I haven't seen any Oscar nominee since Return of the King such a long time ago.

The other major story has been the Ukraine.  It isn't that I am uninterested in it.  Rather I am irritated with the coverage which has been simplistic and bombastic and largely uninformative.  I did have one flash of irritation when a Ukrainian-American insisted (in an interview) that the U.S. must keep the peace around the world.  Hell, NO!!  It is well past time to let go of the illusion of superpower status.  The talking political idiots are talking about "isolating" Russia and I ask: how much can the EU isolate a country that controls much of their gas and oil supplies?  James Howard Kunstler has a few cogent remarks on the situation here and here.

The Agonist has this to which I can only say AMEN!!!!  We have become more and more irritated by the infotainment industry which dominates our (s)news.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Miscellaneous contrariness on a dismal Saturday. And welcome to March.

I noticed a tiny TV news snippet about demonstrators in Mexico demanding the release of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the jailed lord of the Sinaloa cartel.  Here is a Washington Daily News piece on the demonstrations.  They see Guzman as a "defender and protector of the people" who supports the poor.  The TV news readers noted that his organization provided jobs.  Hmmm??  A Mexican drug lord vs our 1%?  I suspect that the former might deserve the title of "job creator" more than the later.

I think this might be a good idea if they provided a clear definition of "terrorist."  That, however, is a might big if given how the word has been applied (in this country and else where) to mean anyone who disagrees with the powers that be and their good buddies.  The major proponents of the Keystone XL pipeline have referred to peaceful demonstrators (often landowners who object to the seizure of their land) as "terrorists."  The ex-president of the Ukraine referred to the demonstrators (peaceful before the security forces attacked them) as "terrorists." Nicolas Maduro, besieged president of Venezuela, refers to all opponents as "terrorists." The list goes on.

A long but very interesting article in the Economist that could be titled "Democracy and its Discontents."  I have long wished our politicians would stop invoking "freedom and democracy" every time they want to interfere in other countries.  All too often the recipients of our "generosity" get neither.

And consider this blog from David Kaiser.  I always thought the notion that the dissolution of the Soviet Union marked the beginning of a Golden Age when Western values in government, society, and commerce would rule forever was so much bullshit.

This is not in any way unexpected.  Evidently Vladimir Putin has decided that whatever "costs" the U.S. and the E.U. can extract are well worth the effort.  The question is now how far he will push things.  Will he simply stop at annexing the Crimea or will he go on to try for all of Ukraine?

So, how vulnerable to cyber attack are energy and how effective are their defenses?  Lloyds of London, evidently, is refusing to issue policies.  What does that tell you?

And then there are the increasing number of internet capable appliances that the manufacturers have been pushing at consumers.  The implications of which few think about.

Oh, yes, language does matter!!