Saturday, November 29, 2014

This last Saturday in November should be a bit warmer before the next cold wave comes in.  I changed out our door wreath and we broke our usual rule of not going out or shopping on Black Friday.  We had to pick up our car which was in to get its airbags repaired.  It wasn't part of the recall and the units were not produced by the company that produced the airbags under recall.  We bought the new-to-us car only a week ago and thankfully the repairs were under their limited warrantee so it was replaced free of charge.  But while we were out we decided to pick up a couple of items to perk up the wreath.  The traffic was heavy but inside the store we finished up without any delay at all.  I put up seasonal wreaths not holiday wreaths and I put them together myself.

Since it will be warm(er) today I hope to trim the rose back a bit and get the frame for its winter mulch and cover set up.  I am not sure how I will do it because the ground in the containers seemed to be getting quite frozen.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Good morning on this day after Thanksgiving.  We spent yesterday with family as I said we would.  We came home feeling as stuffed as the turkey had been and spent the evening dozing in front of the TV.  Unlike so many of our countrymen we won't be shopping.

On a day when so many of the herd are stampeding to the stores to engage in the annual spending frenzy a friend sent me an e-mail with a link to this story.

Becoming Minimalist has a good take on the holiday.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Good morning, all.  Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We will be with my brother and his family for dinner.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Chalk one up for the self-fulfilling prophecy.  After weeks during which the news media, politicians and police spokespeople emphasized the potential for violence after the grand jury decision in Ferguson, the violence has come.  Is it any surprise?

Dana Millbank echoes my thoughts on Obama's foreign policy pretty well.  Obama does seem to be morphing into an imitation of GW Bush.  I was skeptical of how well Obama would extricate us from our Middle East wars.  Inertia isn't just a matter for physics--it is evident in societies as well.  Trajectories are very hard to change.  The problem is that the underlying premises behind our actions haven't changed.  Our policies are still based on the assumptions that the area is somehow critical to our national interests and that we have the right to remake those societies into something resembling our own.  If the assumptions are wrong, the conclusions are also.

I don't know about any one else but this item is not likely to do anything for us.  We don't eat out much any more and when we do we aren't any more likely to look at the calorie counts than we are the prices.  And if the results of the rules requiring fast food restaurants to post calorie counts are any indication, few of us will change our normal behavior and opt for lower calorie items.  We are certainly not among those who consume one-third of their calories away from home.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Good Monday morning to all.  I don't know what I will find to comment on today.  We pretty much shut down the TV yesterday after our local news.  I really don't want to hear about "All Ferguson, all the time."  Nor did we what any of the fluff that dominates the so-called news.

An excellent piece by Andrew Bacevich at Tomdispatch this morning.  Unfortunately, most of the political idiots in Washington probably aren't listening so sometime soon reality will rise up and bite us in the ass.

I am a skeptic on most technology.  On the one hand, it can be very convenient.  On the other, it can fail and sometimes the consequences of that failure is dire.  Ronni Bennett has an interesting piece on "Elder Surveillance For Their Own Good."  All of the devices out there are peddled to us as for our "good" in some fashion or another.  Depends on how you define good.  What strikes me in Ronni's piece is the persistent effort to substitute increasingly scarce and expensive human contact with some form of robotic and/or electronic care.  I find that a dismal and depressing prospect.

As my Dad always said: figures don't lie, but liars figure.  Or as others have noted: there are lies, damned lies, statistics and government statistics (in increasing order of untruth.)

Fear + stupidity = tragedy.  If you buy a damn tool, of any kind, damned well learn to use it and use it properly.

We do like Pope Francis here.  Too bad there are so many other aspects of his faith that make it unpalatable.  I love that phrase: God always forgives, the earth does not.

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Thanksgiving is next Thursday and the commercial "silly season" is following fast on the political silly season, a.k.a. midterm elections.  Over the years, as commerce has reduced holidays to shopping frenzies and most, if not all, meaning to them has been lost, I have felt more and more disconnected from them.  If we didn't, usually, spend Thanksgiving, Christmas, and (sometimes) Easter with my brother and his family, the holidays would barely register on our consciousness.  I like this piece by John Beckett at Patheos on the Thanksgiving Arms Race.  I have said, all too often, that the yearly yammering by Christian pundits bemoaning a "war on Christmas" reveals a war already lost.  For all their screeching about people saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" or other faiths insisting that their sacred days also be recognized with their symbols on public spaces.  The real war killed the soul of Christmas and replaced it with a "golden calf."  But few have said a word about that.  After all, who wants to piss off his sponsor?

Another episode in The Obscenity of Modern Employment.  If they can't build a robot to do the job, they will try to make humans over into robots.

We see a lot of products whose manufacturers claim they are "natural."  We take that labeling with a ton of salt because when we read the labels (and we do read the labels) we know there is no way that crap is natural.  Well, General Mills has agreed to a settlement of a lawsuit on its use of "100% Natural" which will strip the term from some of its products that include more than 0.9% of ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and others of that ilk, or GMOs.

Gee, I didn't know Moses was "the first American."  And I have a MA in History.

Friday, November 21, 2014


Beautiful day today.  Cold but sunny which is always a plus.  Whatever snow the weather people predicted failed to materialize.  That is usually a good thing.  We seem to be between systems that gave lake effect east and north of us as well as south.

Two places we rarely shop any more are Kmart and Walmart. Our drift away from what were once mainstays in our shopping lives came gradually because they just don't meet our needs any more.  They simply don't carry what we want or they want far too much for their shoddy goods.  We came to the conclusion a good while ago that spending a bit more for something that will last is better than spending less for something that won't.  Though we are far less disenchanted with Kmart, this item adds a further inducement not to shop there.  Our commercial culture has pretty much destroyed any notion of holidays for ordinary workers.  We simply refuse to shop on holidays.  We make sure we have whatever we need well before.  If we forget anything, we simply do without.  Participating in such exploitation simply nauseates me.  I refuse.


The weather people say today should be like yesterday: a beautiful sunny but cold day.  We'll see.

Now this is an interesting post on the American electorate.  The notion that "we want what we want" and "by we I mean you and I" explains the phenomenon of overwhelming expressed disapproval of elected officials generally but those same officials being re-elected--over and over and over.  We say we want to throw the bums out but our bums are ok.

Since none of the major networks carried Obama's immigration speech last night, preferring to protect their bottom line during the November sweeps by broadcasting their regular popular (in some quarters) programs, we couldn't watch it even if we had intended to.  I will be honest we had not planned to watch it figuring that we could get more out of a transcript and/or the commentary on line.  We figured correctly.  Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism has done a nice job of dissecting the speech and finds it sadly wanting in substance.  A lo of political flash, no practical bang.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


It is a bit warmer this morning.  Actually in the low, very low, 20s.  The weather report on the morning news said that all fifty states had below freezing low temperatures.  "All FIFTY???  Even HAWAII???"  I found this at the same time the news reader was talking about the extent of the arctic freeze.  I remarked that it seems a bit odd to think that 2014 will be, barring something unforeseen, the warmest year, globally, since records were started in the late 19th century.  We experienced the coolest summer I can remember--much below normal temps.  But the West of the country baked under relentless heat and drought.  The hot areas more than compensated for the cold ones.

Now this is an interesting idea.

As a person once owned by cats I can attest that everything the Archdruidess says is absolutely true.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


I am not a great fan of either Anonymous or the KKK but in this skirmish I cheer for Anonymous.  Score so far: Anonymous 2, KKK 0.  Crooks & Liars has this account making me think the score should be more like 3 or 4 to zip in favor of Anonymous.

From the Adventures and Musings of an Arch Druidess.  Great jump rope that.


Cold. Cold.  COLD!!!  The TV news says 11F.  Whatever site Mom was on said 9F here.  And the wind chill takes that down to sub-zero.  But we didn't get the snow that is falling, and has been, overnight east of us.

Mom had heard a snippet about this some time ago.  I hadn't seen anything at all.  Bottom line: no one knows how the LSD got in the beef.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Lazy Sunday.  I have watered my rosemary plants and fertilized them.  They are doing quite nicely inside.  I put a few more stitches on a shawl/scarf.  We'll see if I get anything else done.

I found this item with a prediction of the kind you sincerely hope won't come true but fear it is all too possible.  I have seen a number of articles over the last couple of years concerning cancellations of fishing seasons and one where boats came back in with no fish--at all.  I linked to a few of those in earlier posts.

Found this "Pocket Paradigm" on Undernews.  What a load of s$#t we are constantly fed by the self-help gurus and other such.  Worse is that so many of us believe it.

Saturday, November 15, 2014


Oh, it is CHI-I-I-I-I-LY this morning.  Only 20F.  We expect snow--a bit more than the flurries we had every now and then over the last week.

I have become very skeptical of medicine as practiced today.  I am always amused by stories like this AARP piece on the "10 medical tests you should avoid."  I laughed at the last entry: the yearly physical.

So Russia might blame the U.S. for its drug abuse problem.  Russia is unhappy because our troop withdrawal is also cutting funds to "fight" the opium production in Afghanistan and they are the nearest market for the product.  In truth the multi-billion dollar effort was marginally effective and were efforts to shift farmers to other crops.  Those other crops never provided the income opium poppies did and, being good capitalists, the farmers followed the money. Hitting the production of the arrangement hasn't worked in Afghanistan.  On this side of the world, South and Central American countries are unhappy because the U.S. is the market for the drugs produced in their territories and they feel that the U.S. should address the demand side of the equation instead of demanding they disrupt their societies/economies by crushing the production side.  Perhaps we need some out-of-the-box thinking.

This little piece on education "reform" raises an interesting point.  We keep hearing from our politicians and pundits how important education and yet teachers, overwhelmingly women, get very little respect and very much blame for whatever ills those politicians and pundits.

I have been reading about the drought in Brazil for some time now.  Evidently it is getting somewhere beyond serious.  However, I remember a Scientific American piece I read about 30 years ago each time I read another installment in the continuing Brazilian drought saga.  The Amazon rain forest is connected to the Northwest cold climate rainforest in this country.  Moisture streams between the two carried by the wind currents and they feed off each other.  The drought in the west this year extended over Washington and Oregon as well as California.

Amazing how religious freedom for some means religious repression for others.

Friday, November 14, 2014


Again we have cold temps and chance of snow flurries.  I am not complaining because areas south and east of us got slammed with 6+ inches of snow.  As usual for a first significant snowfall, everyone had to relearn how to drive in it.

I always enjoy reading David Kaiser's posts.  The one I linked to had me humming that line from Buffalo Springfield's For What It's Worth:  nobody's right if everybody's wrong.

This just about sums up the Repthuglicans and their election victory.

We should all give the Roberts Supreme Court a big "thank you."  I guess it all depends on how you define "the people."

March Matron has some really cute video snippets of animal antics.  Love the bunny!!

Interesting observations on the direction of the labor "market" in this country.  Doesn't sound all that pleasant.

I saw a headline that made me curious.  It said more than half of U.S. cities are too expensive for most people to live in.  I wondered if the article was referring to general cost of living or something more specific.  It was indeed more specific:  what it costs to buy a home.  I wonder how rentals are in those cities and other costs like food, transportation, and utilities.  Is city living any more affordable if you aren't trying to buy housing?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

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An interesting piece from The Contrary Farmer.  He makes an good point in saying that our so-called experts can say anything about Neolithic peoples because no one really knows anything about how they lived.  That is what makes me giggle every time someone talks about the Paleo-diet.  I have often thought "ADHD" was simply psychobabble for "high-spirited kids who are bored shitless in school."  Frankly, I sympathize with the kids.  And the Farmer makes a second good point: not only are the "experts" ignorant of Neolithic life--the don't know much about many aspects of modern life either.

Been hearing about this for a bit now.  The source of the bug, we are told, is Russia and government backed hackers.  Now, over the last couple of days, this story has popped up, though not much in our own media.  We may be too late to prevent Cold War 2.0.  And we can't forget that Russia isn't our only problem.

We woke this morning to snow flurries.  They have passed and now we have bright sun though I don't think it will make things any warmer.  In spite of the cold I stepped out on the patio to bring in the bird feeder and the water dish I leave on the birdbath for the little feathered pests.  Both are filled and back in place.  A more substantial and, possibly, sticking snow is due over the weekend.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


I love days when I read something and say "I didn't know that."  This article is one of those somethings.  It makes sense that some of the channel islands would have once spoke French but that they managed to not only retain the French but have their own dialect of French is fascinating.

We did our weekly errands this morning and were surprised to see empty shelves where a some items we wanted normally are.  We don't often see that because we don't go in for fancy or highly processed foods.  But both grocery chains were out of the brand of yogurt we buy and the brand of butter they advertised on sale had already sold out.  The dairy manager told us their supplier failed to deliver their full order of the butter--to any of the local stores.  We have remarked fairly often over the last year and a bit that the stores have fewer items and/or more empty spots on their shelves.  Makes me wonder what is going on.


I had a couple of odd thoughts on this story.  It is a shame that the children were subjected to such rude treatment.  However, I wonder if the fault isn't with the higher management of the company and not with the individual managers.  For this kind of incident to happen in two geographically separated stores makes me think that the store managers and their staffs are subjected to considerable pressure from the top to maintain both sales and sales per customer levels.  That thought makes be wonder exactly how good sales have been and how good they expect them to be.  Indications are: not very.


Only in the mid 20s this morning and the weather people say the cold weather, which feels more like early January, for the next two weeks.  We had rain as the snow stayed well north of us.  They predict flurries for Sunday.

So far we are very happy with our new TV arrangement.  When we didn't find an antenna that gave us acceptable reception we cut our cable back to very basic.  The hardest part was convincing Comcast that we really did want less service--they kept trying to move us into a bigger package for a nice low, introductory price.  What it was about paying too much and getting too little didn't register we don't know.  Finally, they did what we wanted.  So we get our local channels and a couple of the shopping channels which we would gladly do without.  We signed up for Netflix.  Now we listen to Pandora during the afternoon, watch Jeopardy and news on cable, and then go to Netflix in the evening.  We especially enjoy the lack of commercials--and look forward to reducing our overall bill by about a third.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


Welcome to the "internet of things" and the tyranny of unintended consequences.

From the Agonist, just about the best summation of the recent mid-term elections.  And it doesn't bode well for future elections.

I read Jenna Woginrich on her blog and her Facebook posts.  I thoroughly enjoy those posts and this Huffington Post article says a lot of sense.  I have thought for some time that the major problem with this society is that too many people have been reduced to indistinguishable parts labeled "worker" and "consumer," and the first exists solely to fund the second.  The worker doesn't know any way to live but work his ass off to exchange his earnings (often inadequate) for the consumer product he needs (or wants).  That he might better secure some of his own sustenance by making some of it himself has become an alien concept.

Druid Life continues on that theme.  And makes a good point: anything we make for ourselves rather than exchanging money earned at some "job" doesn't contribute to the GDP--it isn't exchanged for money in the market.  It becomes economically invisible.  Oh, yeah--the "hobbies" are definitely subversive.

Saturday, November 8, 2014


Anyone remember Gordon Lightfoot's Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald?  Especially the line about the "Witch of November came stealin' "?  I was reminded of it over the last while as we have been hit with nasty, strong and cold winds from the lake.  I did a bit of Googling and discovered the phrase has a longer history and traditionally refers to the cold, high winds coming out of the north.  We have been plagued by those winds all year giving us a delayed spring, a summer that didn't merit the name, and now a fall that is turning wintery quickly.  The Witch isn't stealing--she has been stomping through leaving us wondering what the hell is happening.  It is chilly here and about to get cold with a chance of snow over the next week.

At least I got the last of the clearing done in the gardens thanking the petunias for their beauty this summer and the hyssop for feeding the bees as I pulled the plants.  I emptied the last of the long planters and put it in the shed.  I plan to move it to a new area next season.  The rose remains but it is much too early to cut it back and mulch it for the winter--at least, I hope it is too early.  I hope it will survive the winter in its container.  If it doesn't I will stick with annuals or perennials that will be planted as annuals.

With friends like these---the disaster can't be far behind.  These guys are on the same page as our government officials in distorting language to the point where words have no meaning.  What does "democracy" mean when dealing with autocratic monarchies and military dictatorships?  And what does"terrorism" mean when it covers people who simply disagree with you?


Isn't it fascinating how this keeps expanding.  The numbers have gone from 100 to "a couple hundred" to 350 to 1000 and now to 1500.  Of course they aren't counted as "boots on the ground" since they are simply advisors, trainers, whatever.  Like they don't have boots and their footwear isn't on Iraqi soil.  Don't you love semantics.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


I am taking a wait and see attitude toward the recent election.  Just because the Repthuglicans had an excellent (from their point of view) result doesn't mean they can do anything with it.  I was amused by one little snippet:  The Repthuglican majority in the House is the largest since Herbert Hoover's administration.  Does anyone remember that Hoover was president from 1929 to 1933?  Anyone remember what happened in 1929?

Another amusing comment on the TV news this morning:  Wall Street is evidently happy with the election results because stocks are back in record territory.  Why do I find that amusing?  All the info I have read on economic history indicates the economy does better under Democrats: better asset value growth, better profits for business, more jobs created in the economy.

Another intriguing bit--Obama said that 60% of our voting age population didn't vote.  This US News piece seems to confirm that.  I wonder why so many don't vote.  Laziness for some, I am sure but surely not most.  I saw a bit of a report on problems in Chicago with long lines and one voter who simply couldn't hold out for the 7 hours it took at his polling place.  The last voter in that precinct left around 2am Wednesday.  A few interviewees felt their votes don't really count.  Much of that I am sure comes from having been on the losing side.  I wish one of the political/sociological academic types would look into that.

HuffingtonPost has this interesting summary that goes beyond which contestant won where.

And for the joke of the day.  Enjoy.  We did.  I am still smiling.

Think there might be a connection?  I believe the 48% cited is a bit high.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


I don't have anything to say about the elections right now.  The pundits are still digesting the results--those that are in.  Several races won't be decided just yet.  I will let it simmer for a while.

But this is an interesting development in Man's war against bacteria.  Most of us should know that we have a world now of resistant bacteria thanks to our over-use, mis-use and abuse of antibiotics over the last 70 years.  Many strains of disease causing bugs are resistant to multiple antibiotics and a few are resistant to almost all antibiotics.  The problem with antibiotics is that, no matter how well or conservatively used, bacteria will develop resistance.  A couple of Swiss researchers have found a way to combat bacteria that doesn't lead to resistance.

Fabius Maximus has a good summary of the ebola crisis, which is a crisis in west Africa--not so much in western countries.  I am always amazed at how easily some of us panic and how little some of us think critically about anything--terrorism, disease, whatever.

I have been reading about this possibility for a while now.  Not many now can remember the polio epidemics of the last century.  Anyone my age were too young and anyone older got the vaccine.  I was remarking not long ago that part of the problem with vaccines is their success.  I remember having measles, mumps and chicken pox.  My youngest siblings were vaccinated.  I remember my father talking about his baby sister who died of pneumonia long, long ago.  That is outside my memory.  Now many of those diseases are making a return.  Part of the problem is people are now more afraid of the possible side effects of the vaccinations than they are of the diseases themselves.  But if the viruses are evolving a way around vaccination they may become the problem they once were.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


I would say Good Election Day but that is yet to be determined.  We will be going out a bit later to vote, get some medical needs attended to, and run an errand or two.  Our day is starting out wet but fairly mild--only 55F.

Well, we're back errands done and voting finished.  Not that we are entirely happy with the latter.  I did something I have never done since I came of age to vote.  I voted a straight Democratic ticket.  Let me be clear--I don't much like the Democrats but I absolutely loath the Repthuglicans.  I once believed that government split between the parties was best and ensured a more balanced and reasonable policy.  No more.  What we need are reasonable people who will honestly debate the issues and, in the end, choose a compromise.  I haven't seen much reasonableness, damned little honesty, and no willingness to compromise.  What I have seen are plenty of zealous assholes who don't mind burning down the church so long as every possible apostate dies in the conflagration no matter how many believers also die.  This little piece speculates on an possibility I heartily endorse--maybe both major parties should go extinct.

Tom Englehardt has another good summation of our present and, likely, near future.  Goes a long way to explaining why my political mood is very sour.

Saw headline a bit ago that is nagging at me.  I wonder how true it will be and for what areas.  Sorry I didn't write down the site.  It read:  Most Americans Will Exercise Their Constitutional Right--to not vote.  It nagged at me because our polling place was quite busy this morning.  More than we usually found it in years past.

On our travels this morning we saw an interesting sight:  All our gas stations are showing gas for $2.97-2.99/gal.  Good Huh?!  Not really.  Last week it was running $2.79 and in that time WTC oil was losing $4/bl.  What gives?

Ah--some sentiments on this Election Day I can sympathize with.  Thankfully, the TV has been off today since we went out to vote right after the early news and the crockery is out of reach.

Adding to my disgruntled mood:  retailers already have Christmas goods out and I saw the first ads with an underlying Christmas theme.  They didn't explicitly mention that holiday but the color themes and other visual elements of the ads were definitely not Thanksgiving.  Damn!!  They must be desperate.

Monday, November 3, 2014


Only one more day and this election season will be over.  Well, the voting will be.  Pundits think some close and hotly contested races won't actually be settled until early next year.  At least the ads will be gone.

I thought this Buzz Feed piece was amusing.  Target is selling Orina sandals and now trying to rename them because "orina" is Spanish for "urine."  It reminds me of the Chevrolet campaign to sell its Nova in Latin America which fizzled badly.  Nobody realized that "nova" in Spanish translates to "don't go."  No one wants a car that doesn't go.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


Cold today to start--only 28F.  Or there about since that is the temp at Chicago O'Hara airport.  Over here it might be more--or less.  That miserable weather we had on Friday pretty well finished the garden.  Time to clear out the petunias and hyssop.  If the patio is dry enough I need to sweep up the leaves and get them into the compost bin.

Of course, we have been up since about 3:30 because of the time change.  Have I said before how much I HATE these time changes.  Yeah, I guess I have--at least twice a year since I started this blog about seven years ago.

I didn't read all of this article by Lambert Strether and cross posted at Naked Capitalism.  Yeah, I am sick of this election and wish I could ignore most of the non-information in the news about it.  I didn't realize how many vulture venture capitalists are running for gubernatorial office where they would control the appointments to pension boards.  Bruce Rauner I know of because we live near the Indiana/Illinois border and get news from Chicago.  I have checked out the anti-Rauner ads and noticed something interesting.  As bad as the ads are the stories in the newspapers (ironically the same newspapers that have all endorsed Rauner) are actually worse.  Ever since Ben Bernanke told Congress that Social Security funds were in the cross-hairs because "that is where the money is" we have thought that the finance industry and their bought Congress-critters would go after that and pension funds because those were the biggest pots not yet thoroughly looted.  I loved Strether's notion of "honest graft" and laughed as he cited Tammany Hall of late 1800s infamy.  We had been thinking much the same thing not long ago.

There is something about the assumption under the argument in this article that pisses me off.  The argument seems to be that a retiree, who may have qualified for three different pensions, should choose only one. Or should refuse a pension if they are still working.  My once-upon-a-time father-in-law retired from the Navy after 20+ years, qualifying him for a military pension he couldn't take until he turned 62, he then earned a teaching degree and taught for another 25 years, qualifying him for a state pension, and because he also contributed to Social Security and had his required time in he also qualified for Social Security.  Why the hell should someone who has earned those pensions forego any of them?  And if he had been disabled shouldn't he get that two?  I saw a pair of dueling ads out of Illinois where one ad lambasted the incumbent for taking a pension while she earned a nice fat salary as a state employee and the incumbent's ad insisted she had refused the pension.  I don't know what kind of linguistic legerdemain which campaign was using to make their assertions but both arguments rest on the same assumption--if she was qualified for the pension but still worked she should refuse one or the other.  I don't see the validity in the double dipping charge nor do I see any particular virtue in her refusing to take her pension.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


Happy Halloween to those who celebrate that holiday.  I prefer to think of it as Samhain.  That has less of a commercial taint.  And it has a bit more of the flavor of the change of seasons.  We'll feel that today.  The temperatures right now are in the low 40s but will fall over the day.  We had rain overnight and may get slushy snow before the day is our.  That may be driven by high winds.  Poor kids trick-or-treating this afternoon.

For years technology, especially It or computer tech, has been peddled as a panacea that will make life easier, more efficient and more productive.  The health care industry has been the latest to fall under the spell of the magic technology and the Federal government has been the head cheerleader on the project to reap the fantastic savings and efficiencies.  As usual in such cases the the promise is well mixed with frustration and the results haven't lived up to the promise.  We belong to a seniors' group that meets for breakfast and a talk on medical topics each month.  The group is hosted by the major local hospital so, naturally, the hospital and services are highlighted but the info is good.  We have had a couple of talks that touched on records and each time several members complained about lost records, inaccurate records, difficulty accessing records, and having to answer the same questions every time the see a doctor the answer which then have to be input into the records system.  It seems that the ease, efficiency, accuracy, and productivity have been over promised and under delivered.

I saw a report last night about a vote in Alaska on legalizing recreational marijuana use which might, if passed, take away the local options that have been available.  The account claimed that laws on marijuana use are quite liberal and much of the regulation is left to local communities some of which control it more strictly.  Evidently, the election has attracted a lot of outside money and personnel which the locals are not happy about.  My reaction: get used to it.  After all out of state money and activists entered the efforts against gay marriage in California and a lot of corporate money (read Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta) was applied to the votes on labeling GMOs in Washington and other states.  We have seen former NYC mayor Bloomberg inserting himself and his money into Illinois elections.  The line between local and national has been blurred for some time now.  The Founding Fathers may have set up a system of divided powers and responsibilities between Federal and state governments but I doubt they ever foresaw a time when the population would reach the 312 million it is now or a time when communication between distant parts of the country could take place at the speed of light or a time when people could travel from ocean to ocean in hours instead of months.


Welcome to November and Dia de los Muertos.  Yesterday was nasty: rain, rain/snow mix, sleet and high winds--really high winds.  As a result we had no kids coming around trick-or-treating.  Oh, well--we will freeze most of the candy.  We woke to inside temps in the low 60s so we put the heat on for the first time.  We keep the setting at 68.  Doesn't sound like much of a difference but we can feel it.  I brought out my favorite heavy shawl and we put our heavier blankets on the beds.

We spent most of the last two days trying to find an indoor antenna we could use here.  Our ultimate goal was to disconnect completely from Comcast.  We have debated the cable service for the last six years or so as the charges went up and the satisfaction went down.  Two factors fueled our debates: how happy we were with the programming and how satisfied we were with Comcast's customer service.  Most of the channels we used to enjoy have been taken over by the "reality show" craze which neither of us like at all.  And the customer service should really have been called customer disservice. We finally decided to change.  Our first choice was to cancel cable entirely, install the antenna to get our local channels for news, and sign up for Netflix.  Well we tried three different successively stronger antennas but none really worked well.  We are simply too far away from the transmission towers.  So we shifted to plan B: change our service to simple basic, which cut our bill by about 60%,  and sign up for Netflix.  The conversation Mom had with the company rep ran true to form:  the woman couldn't seem to understand the simple instruction to change to simple basic and leave our computer service as is.  The process took a good 20 minutes as she tried to get us to take one of their limited-time specials which wouldn't really address the major complaint: too much for too little.  And, of course, she pushed their Voice service which we have repeatedly told them we don't want.

And having just written the above paragraph what do I find?  This piece on "throttling," a word that has been in the tech news just lately.  Another case of companies behaving badly.

I love this cartoon posted on Bob Cesca's blog.

I have read several sociological/political writings whose authors have posited the notion that the U.S. is entering a new Dark Age.  With news stories like this one, I would say we are already there.