Monday, June 30, 2014

Monday.  Welcome to the last day of June.  This year is half gone.  We see lightening in the sky so far this morning.  Whether it gives us rain is another question.  We'll see.

Well, we can see outside now.  We have had some moderately heavy rain and high winds.  No garden work today.  If we get a clear spot (new rounds of rain expected later) I will take a look outside.

Damn!!  The Japanese beetles are back--right on time.  My info says they reappear around July 1 and that is tomorrow.  I will put out the pheromone trap I picked up a while back.  They have gone from nothing to more-than-I-like overnight.

Interesting take on the situation in Iraq and Syria.  There are times when I read something and say "Naaah!! That has to be wrong."  Often I find out that "OH, SHIT.  It is accurate."  What sent me to Google was the notion that ISIS is resorting to crucifixion not the description of the political instability of even apparently stable regimes in the area.  That last accords with what I have been reading elsewhere.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sunday.  We seem to be in the middle of a hot and humid spell with chances of storms right now. We had planned to take the garden walk yesterday but the heat and humidity took our ambition away. I did get my last seedlings transplanted.  I was very glad I put all of those small plants under cloches. The really heavy rain late yesterday would have smashed those plants flat.  I probably won't have to water anything today.  We still have spotty showers this morning and expect more later.

One of the broadcast news programs had a piece on this a month or so ago.  I wish some of the excess water falling on the upper midwest could detour to California.

For more than a decade I asked "what happens in a consumer economy when the consumer can't (or won't) consume on the heroic scale of the recent past?"  Well, we have our answer.  (I don't agree completely with the sentiments of the author but I think many of his points are on target. And character assassination doesn't help support his arguments.)

It is amazing what money, or the threat of a lack of it, will do in politics.  Marijuana has long been a Schedule 1 substance, along with opium derivatives and hallucinogens.  Not because it is as dangerous other schedule 1 drugs but because it was supposed by so-called experts to be a "gate-way" to more the dangerous drugs.  Now, because the DEA is faced with possible loss of enforcement funding, it has become less dangerous??

Here is a delightful little story from Thoroughly Modern Millie.  It had us giggling in delight.

I didn't realize that charity work was a "competitive" business with "trade secretes" to protect.  Evidently, the American Red Cross does and uses that as an excuse to refuse requests for information on how it spends the donations it receives.  A good reason not to donate if you are so inclined.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Saturday.  In the gardens--harvested shiso and got it dried.  Trimmed a couple of the tomato plants.  Potted all the four new petunias which look very pretty on the fence.  Watered everything which surprised me a bit because of the rain we have had over the last week.  But even though I have a lot of large (and larger) pots they have large plants in them and those large plants suck up moisture very fast.  I need to harvest the lemon thyme and dry it.  I will probably get a full dehydrator out of it.

Just when you thought politics couldn't get any weirder something like this happens.

Found this on Senior Planet.  No, I won't be getting the book but I like some of the points quoted.  When we aren't annoyed by the anti-aging commercials we are laughing.  Well, they do say having a good laugh is healthy.  I agree on the wrinkles--I have earned them and every gray hair.  I am wearing mine with pride.

Are we really so dumb that we will rush out to buy a pink or purple pen advertised as "for women?"  Bic seems to think so.  Crap!!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Thursday.  Foggy this morning.  Not bad but I will wait till it clears before I do anything in the gardens.  I found a nice handful of strawberries on my plants yesterday.  They are destined for our morning cereal.  I pulled the mystery plant and the remains of the hibiscus.  Sad that one didn't make it through the winter.  It was so pretty and we enjoyed it so much.  I have three small pots of shiso I will put in that spot.  Our weather people are predicting hit and miss storms so I will put them under cloches.  I found early buds on my melon plants and on the bean vines.  I also have some lavender seedlings and a chamomile to put in.  Cloches for them too.  And a lot of weeding.

Pitted about two-and-half pounds of cherries most of which are not in the freezer.  I put them on a tray to freeze individually so I need to package them up today.  The ones we put on our cereal were a real treat.  We may pick up some more if we find some at a good price when we shop next week.  I am planning to harvest and dry some shiso today.  I have another plant that is thriving in its space.  Looking forward to experimenting with it.

Friday.  I didn't get the shiso picked because we decided to do some errands yesterday rather than next Monday as we had planned.  The weather looks a bit more unsettled early next week.  While we were out we picked up some red petunias that I will put in the over-the-fence holders.  The hummingbirds appear to like the purple ones so we will give them something else to play with.  I watched one looking over the portulaca which is blooming very nicely.  I saw a bumblebee working among the melon blossoms.  I did get the lavender, shiso, and chamomile seedlings put out.

Found this on Americablog.  Didn't say anything I didn't know about how over-the-counter drug makers try to hoodwink customers but it was interesting to read a doctor's take on the issue.  I agree with his final assessment: hands on wallet in pocket and eyes open.  I would add: skepticism antennae on full.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wednesday.  A bit of fog so far.  Cooler temps predicted.  We finally got out to do our shopping but much later than usual because the heavy rain lasted till mid morning.  We found some nice cherries so I will pit some for our cereal this morning and the rest for freezing.  Don't have much planned for the garden.  But walking by the rose yesterday was a joy as I caught a whiff of the rose scent.  The survivor is doing very well.

Minor rant coming:  I don't know about anyone else but I am really tired of idiot politicos (and others) who say or write something racist, sexist, or otherwise bigoted and then bleat that they aren't racist, sexist or otherwise bigoted as if that excuses their idiocy.  The Superintendent for Public Instruction of Arizona provides a new example of this strain of stupidity.  He was intentionally offensive and dishonest--otherwise he wouldn't have published that blog under a pseudonym.  The story brings to mind a cute, possibly apocryphal, story I read a bit ago.  A man standing in line at a supermarket was pissed off by a woman in front of him talking on a cell phone in a language he didn't know.  He aggressively confronted her and said, "This is America.  If you want to speak Spanish go back to Mexico.  Otherwise speak English."  The startled woman responded,  "Excuse me??"  whereupon the repeated what he has said in a louder voice.  She snapped back, "I was speaking Navajo.  If you want to speak English, go back to England,"  paid for her groceries and left.

After reading about Repthuglican hysteria over "voter fraud" and their attempts to make voting far more restrictive and difficult for Damnocrat voters.  (I am equal opportunity skeptic.)  Through all those articles, news reports and such over several years I have yet to read about real voter fraud--until now.  Evidently a health insurance executive has been charged with vote fraud for voting a dozen times (in his own name and two other names) during the 2011 and 2012 elections.  The juicy part--he voted for Republican Scott Walker and other Republican candidates.  It looks like the focus of concerns over who is committing vote fraud has been focused in the wrong direction.

I seem to remember a bit in the Bible about criticizing the "mote" in someone's eye while ignoring the "beam" in your own.  But I have noted that Bible thumpers are rather selective about what parts they hold to.  Case in point--political speech and activism.  Fine for me, not for thee.  Jesus quite rightly called such people hypocrites (Matthew 7:5).  And there isn't a religion existing that isn't engaged in politics.

I really have to wonder where Texas Governor Rick Perry learned his history.  He warns of a "trail of tears" if the Federal government doesn't act on the problem of unaccompanied children coming into the US along the southern border.  As I understand it the "trail of tears" resulted when the Federal government did act and forcibly removed the Cherokee from their lands (much coveted by whites) in Georgia marching the tribe to Oklahoma territory.  The route was littered with thousands of Cherokee who died along the way from starvation, disease, and exhaustion.  Worse, then-President Jackson acted inspire of a Supreme Court ruling that such action was unConstitutional challenging the court to enforce their ruling.  These aren't parallel events.  Those kids aren't being driven through the desert by troops under the control of the U.S. government.  But, reading the article, I have to wonder at the reporters who don't recognize the phrase either and take it as a witty description of an unfolding tragedy.  Are we so focused on and mired in the present that we see neither the past in all its complexity nor the possible futures?  Something else I have noticed in all the hot air (and ink) expelled over this issue: everyone talks about what the pundits think draws these kids here and nothing about the conditions in their homelands which are driving them here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tuesday.  The spate of rain that ended my gardening work yesterday was only one of several waves that came through.  Late in the afternoon we had another that had some worryingly gusty winds with it.  The big trees were rocking wildly while the rain came in driving sheets.  Rain continued through the night and is still falling.  I hadn't any gardening planned because we are (hopefully) going to do our regular shopping.

 Spelling error!!  Evidently the second such in a week.

Global temps above normal in May--again.  Ours weren't.  In fact, the map reflects our experience.  While some areas of the globe were considerably above normal while our's were slightly below.

I am not Catholic but I really like most of what Pope Francis says.  I hope he is around for a good long time.

I agree with John Aravosis--obscenity doesn't begin to cover the drug companies' pricing policies.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sunday.  I had a productive gardening day yesterday.  Harvested stevia and spearmint.  The stevia is steeping in vodka to extract its sweetness and tomorrow I will drain it to simmer it down to the syrup.  I dried the spearmint and ground it for tea.  So far I have about three-quarters of an 8-ounce jar of dried spearmint.  I moved the sage to the new stacked pots along with some petunias and wonderberry seedlings.  The new pot of stevia I picked up last week is in the place the sage had occupied.  The tomatoes are doing very nicely and I pruned them a bit.  I am waiting for the light to bet stronger before I go out to see how things are.  We had heavy rain and strong wind that brought damage in some parts of the southern Lake Michigan area.  The morning news has been showing the downed trees and associated problems.  I would like to pick and dry peppermint this morning.  We are moving into the season when my dehydrator will be working almost daily.

Monday.  Dried peppermint and staked up a pepper the heavy rain pushed down.  If the rain holds off I will give the hyssop a haircut and dry it.  Maybe do either the lemon thyme or the rosemary also.  Areas west of us are getting rain now.  We'll see if it moves more north than east.  I also need to strain the stevia vodka and boil it down to get my syrup.  Otherwise not much planned.

Update:  hyssop, seven trays of it, is drying and the house has a slightly licorice smell.  Yesterday it smelled of peppermint.  I love drying herbs.  The stevia syrup is done and in the refrigerator.

Update 2:  My gardening is done form the day.  Thunder and heavy rain suddenly opened up.

      What an incredible waste--but then so much of our consumer-driven economy is wasteful.
      So, it isn't just the poor whose ambition is threatened by not having to work.
      Water, water everywhere nowhere--
      After all, what you don't know won't hurt you--will it?
      This is an idea I may have to try.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Saturday.  Foggy so far.  Should be mid-80s with possible thunderstorms late afternoon.  Welcome to Summer-it is the summer solstice today.  Hope it is dry enough for some garden work before it gets too warm or the storms come.

Amazon made a bit of a splash with a preliminary plan to use drones to deliver packages.  A couple of other commercial outfits jumped on the bandwagon.  Perhaps they should read this.  And perhaps the FAA should also before it approves such drone flights in the U.S.  We have had several airplane crashes in populated areas over the last couple of years.  Why add to the danger from things falling out of the skies?  Just this morning Good Morning America has an account of another plane crash that killed two and destroyed at least one house.  Here is the NBC account.  Rather makes my point--we don't need more flying objects in our already crowded air space.

We haven't heard much about the ebola outbreak in west Africa lately.  If the Doctors Without Borders spokesman quoted by NBC news is right it is spreading.  Nothing official because the governments of the countries first affected aren't releasing any information so they don't "create panic."

Friday, June 20, 2014

Wednesday.  It was hot enough yesterday we put the air on.  That system that slammed Kansas and did damage in Wisconsin is near enough to increase the humidity though we haven't received any rain.  I have to soak the gardens well this morning while it is somewhat cool.  The news showed snow in parts of Utah.  Snow in June.

Thursday.  Yesterdays remarks about the weather could be pasted here with only a little editing. I don't have to water anything.  We got rain from mid afternoon on.  The early phase of the storm hit with high winds driving a heavy downpour that left one of my peppers and two tomatoes laying on down.  Luckily they didn't break and I was able to stand them back up and stake them.  Everything else was fine.  I have a new stevia to plant but I won't do that today--maybe not tomorrow.  It is safe in the greenhouse until things dry out.

Mark Morford has a take on the "internet of things" I can sympathize with.  How many of our things need to be connected?  How much will such things make our lives easier--or more comfortable--or more interesting?  As he points out, only a minuscule number of these so-called products will actually be "brilliant and innovative" while the rest are bound for the land fill.

Friday.  Rained most of the night (at times heavy) after a pretty dry day with temps in the mid-80s.  Looked out yesterday and actually felt satisfied with how the gardens are progressing.  It looks quite pretty.  Most of this spring I have been rather dissatisfied and discontented.  Everything seemed very behind time and the weather miserable.  I still have spots to fill and the second rose has, I think, given up.  I won't take it out until fall because the tomato sharing that container is doing very nicely.  I don't think it will dry out enough to do much until tomorrow.

Ah, well--just did a brief walk around the gardens.  Most everything is doing well--except the mystery plant which has been fairly flattened.  I will take it out (when things dry out) and put in my shiso and bee balm starts.  I am surprised because that plant was in a protected corner and stood up to the wind and rain which earlier put one of the peppers and one of the tomatoes in horizontal positions.

At last--asking (one of) the right questions: "and then what?"  I just hope the answers bear some resemblance to reality.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tuesday 2.  Now that I have posted the pictures of the garden let's see if there is anything I want to comment on in the usual trip through the internet.

I just saw a rather stupid headline just now.  "Failed us?:  Should Obama have foreseen the Iraq crisis?"  That was the teaser headline.  The actual headline references the opinion of so-called experts that the events should have been anticipated.  Well, yes--but why should the blame be place on Obama only?  Where were his advisors?  The author of the article seems to give us a choice between a failure of our intelligence services or a policy failure on the part of Obama and his advisors.  Why not some of both?  And it irritates me to hell and back that idiots like John McCain and the Repthuglican talking heads (along with a few Damnocrat allies) want us to get back in that quicksand.  I think I would die of shock if someone, anyone, in our government actually admitted that a) it is their country and their oil, b) that we can't remake them to resemble us and we shouldn't try, and c) we could better employ our money and personnel dealing with our own problems.

Nice bit of archeology.  I guess that "a spoonful of sugar" would definitely be needed to make this medicine go down.
 Tuesday.  Thought I would post some pictures of the gardens.  The first one up shows my two rosemary and one of the scented geraniums.  Poor little geranium is recovering from a rough shipping.  It arrived nearly upside down in its pot.  As you can see from this photo and the next, we use our patio chairs as plant stands.  It is much too hot to sit outside during the heat of summer and we don't hove much shade which wouldn't moderate the temperature much if we had it.
 My sweet basil and purple basil have been trying to bolt but I have been clipping the blossoms before they can open.  The flowering plant is one of the two geraniums that came through shipping well.  The geraniums are a new hybrid from Burpee called "Angel's perfume" and it does smell very nice.
Here is an over view of one side of the patio.  Another geranium at the bottom and (going up) Patio Princess tomatoes, Blue Lake pole beans running up the trellis, strawberry (that white blob is the pot) with lemon basil, gold leaf lemon thyme and pepper mint.  This is a new stack arrangement that, for the moment is working very well.  It packs as much growing space into as small a space as possible while allowing me easy access to all the containers.  The whole area of the patio is about 16'X20' with the storage shed, air conditioner, trash tote, and compost bin taking up about a quarter of that space.
This is the other side of the stack shown in the last photo.  I have peppers (albino bullnose and corno di toro rosso) in the two lowest buckets.  The strawberry in the white pot is in an over the fence style hanger hanging off the uppermost pot that contains the gold leaf lemon thyme.  That works well with a block of wood as a spacer.  The blue container has borage, stevia and sage.
 The northwest corner.  My beard-tongue foxglove by itself for the time being.  A mystery plant against the fence, lemon balm and cypress vine in the long container straddling the two large containers and strawberries, portulaca, summer savory and bee balm in the pink tub.  Why "mystery?"  Well I had hibiscus in that space last year.  A real beauty with big purple blossoms.  It didn't survive our nasty winter.  Damn and blast.  Instead this plant came up and I have no idea what it is.  For now it will stay there while I try to identify it.  I know I didn't plant it.  Probably come in on the wind or birds.
 North Center.  We picked up the little bird bath with the intention of putting it in the container but we couldn't find a good way to stabilize it.  So it is in front on the cement.  Rose, hyssop and petunias in the left container and a couple of dwarf sunflowers in the bucket by the bird bath.  Then the new planter stack I bought on impulse over the weekend.  I haven't filled it fully just yet.  I do have transplanted portulaca into two of the cells.
 View from the other side along the path through the stacks.  Black pot to the left has melons coming up nicely which I will train up the trellis.  Lower bucket on that side has lipstick peppers in it.  And the bucket on the other side has yellow crook-neck squash planted.  I saw seedlings poking through the soil there.  Like the melons and beans these will be trained up the trellis.
 East side.  Martino's Roma tomato, shiso and lavender.  Shiso is a new plant for me this year.  Thought it might be an interesting addition.  I have more plants coming up in the mini greenhouse.  Where I will put them I have no idea.
The strawberry tower I constructed in the corner.  I put in a lot of new plans this year because most of last year's plants didn't survive.  The only survivors are in the top.  Below I have a mix of Loran and Tristan varieties.  The Tristan caught my eye because it has red flowers.  I didn't know strawberries could have red blossoms.  We have had a handful of berries so far.  They make a nice treat right out of the garden.
I put the rest of the strawberry plants in the long planter on the table.  In front--a bird feeder.  Why there you wonder.  Well as you can see birds are very messy eaters.  They scatter more seeds than they actually eat.  I can sweep up the seed, sift out the dirt and put it back into the feeder.  And I don't get as much in my planters.  As it is I will spend far more time weeding than I have in the past.  But we do like watching the birds.
And this is what I put in the bird feeders old place.  It is a spiral with space for three small pots.

That is the tour for now.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sunday.  I didn't get to anything I had planned to do in the gardens yesterday.  The tickets for the annual garden "walk" went on sale yesterday and Mom wanted to pick them up while we could still get them at the lower "early bird" price.  I wrote "walk" because the gardens are spread out over a considerable distance so the only walking will be at the gardens themselves or between the few that are fairly close to each other.  Should be an interesting day though.  So we did a bit of shopping as well.  Mom broke her veggie peeler so we needed another but in finding those I found an intriguing  set of stacked planters.  I don't often yield to impulse when shopping but these were interesting.  I had to move another pot to find a place for the stack and then used the last of my garden soil to fill the three pots.  I am still thinking about what I want to put in them.

Monday.  I had a lazy Sunday of puttering and reading.  Transplanted a couple of plants, started filling up the new planter, and swept the patio a bit.  It was quite warm but no rain in spite of the clouds that came over a couple of times.  They say hot today but the no rain likely until late tonight which will be hit or miss.

What has happened to compassion and common sense?  I ask that frequently because I keep finding stories like this.  And this.

So Tony Blair thinks blaming the current situation in Iraq on the invasion in 2003 is bizarre.  He is correct only if you try to argue that the invasion was the only cause.  It wasn't.  But it provided another crack in an unstable structure.  However, that doesn't absolve the "coalition of the willing" from their share of the blame.  Another area where common sense is sadly lacking.

I have always viewed the old Biblical notion of the "sins of the fathers" rebounding on the children for generations.  One the one hand I don't believe children should be punished for the transgressions of the parents or the parents for the transgressions of the parents.  Actually, I just found that the Bible shares that notion.  On the other hand, it does recognize the fact that actions have consequences and those don't just fall on the perpetrators of the actions.  Case in point: the carving up of the Ottoman territories into "spheres of influence" after WWI.  For a good summary go to this article by Robert Fisk in the Independent (UK).

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Saturday.  Another sunny day predicted for today with temperatures around 80.  The weather we have had makes me feel like I am trapped in some weird time machine that takes me from late March to July and skips everything in between.  Yesterday we barely made it into the low 70s.  This next  coming week--the 80s.  Most of my plants look like they are a month behind.  I plan to finish sweeping up on the patio and trim my older rosemary.  All of the tomatoes have either buds or fully open blossoms as do two of the peppers.  The beans are climbing the trellis nicely and I need to train the vines along the cross bars.  The melons are doing nicely and will soon be long enough to train along the trellis as well.  I just put some yellow crook-neck squash seeds in my last 5 gallon bucket so they haven't had time to sprout yet.

Mom read me an interesting factoid she found this morning.  It seems the zone 5 we live in has experienced a zone 4 winter.  Yeah!!  Which is why any perennial plant I put in has a zone 4 hardiness rating.  Doesn't guarantee survival but it helps.

I was amused, sardonically amused, at a headline on this morning.  Obama, it proclaimed, is asking Iraq's neighbors to help contain terrorism.  Really!!!  Which neighbors?  Syria is in no condition to do anything anywhere.  Iran might be happy to send help but you know it would be to support the Shi'its and might fight both ISIS and the Kurds in northern Iraq.  Turkey might send help but they have a refugee problem thanks to the Syrian civil war, a problem of civil unrest within its own border, and would just as likely to move against the Kurds as against ISIS.  The Saudis??  Maybe, but they might try to find Sunnis they can work with against both ISIS (ISIL) and against the Shi'it central government.

"In a government of the people, by the people, for the people---don't tell the people."  Lazarus Long in Time Enough for Love (by Robert Heinlein).  Somebody read at least part of the book.  As did other somebodies.

I like to do needlework and I have become increasingly frustrated with Michaels because they have reduced or eliminated the materials I like to work with.  Like so many others in our economy, if they can't sell a bazillion of the same item they don't want to carry it.  I had been happy when Hobby Lobby arrived to give them some competition.  However, I have become increasingly unhappy with some of their politics.  First, they wanted to be exempt from the requirements of Obama because they didn't want their employees to get contraceptives through company mediated health care policies.  But this has persuaded me I don't need to do business with them.  I am not easily offended but the statement by a company representative quoted at the end is very offensive.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday.  Clear so far though the sun hasn't yet risen.  Weeding and sweeping up are the only planned garden chores today.  (Update: beautifully sunny but windy and very cool.  Won't be doing much of anything outside.  Luckily we can watch the birds from inside.)

I have been listening to the Repthuglican bleating about the situation in Iraq insisting that we have to do something to counter the ISIS (a.k.a. ISIL) insurgents.  All of a sudden Nouri Al-Malaki actually wants U.S. help--in the form of air strikes.  However, reading this piece from the Guardian reinforces my feeling that we should not dive back into that quagmire.  Our military trained the army of which 30K men ran from, supposedly, 800 ISIS fighters??  Really??  That doesn't say much about either the teachers or the students.  And I doubt only 800 men are holding at least four Iraqi cities and moving on Baghdad.  I don't know how much support ISIS actually has in the Sunni Triangle but I am sure it is much less than the Shia led "central" government.  My references to "Shia" and "Sunni" should clue you in to the fact that Iraq as a unified country has been a fiction from the moment of its creation in the aftermath of WWI when the French and British divvied up parts of the old Ottoman Empire to suit themselves and their oil interests. (ISIS=Islamic State in Iraq and Syria; ISIL=Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant)

Although the event described here was a bit more than 50 years in the past and totally unknown, for the most part, it falls somewhere in the OH, SHIT range.

I read an interesting post yesterday which argued that the political divide today resembles the religious divide of five centuries ago.  The vitriol is indeed strikingly similar.  This Pew Research poll reinforces that assessment.  Our economics and politics have become so intertwined with religious (and pseudo religious) attitudes that they are nearly inseparable to separate.  Religious extremists are conducting a new crusade using politics as their vehicle to enforce their version of religious law on everyone at the same time they seem to assume that Moses came down from Sinai with an eleventh commandment: thou shalt honor Capitalism in all ways.

And here is another OH, SHIT post from Salon.  I know, I know.  How many of us over here eat squid?  But how soon before the carbapenem-resistant bacteria (or other bacteria similarly resistant) spreads beyond raw squid?  It wasn't so long ago that experts were warning us about entering the "post-antibiotic era."  If that doesn't scare you then I don't know what would.

We have a simple rule when shopping: ignore the front label and read the back label carefully.  This story reinforces that rule whatever the courts rule in the end.

My reaction to the title of this piece:  Well, DUH!!  This is Capitalism in action.  A bit of a history lesson: before the 1930s electric power was virtually unknown outside the big cities and wealthier towns because either the wealth or the population density was missing from the equation.  In other words, the companies couldn't extend service because they wouldn't get a return on the investment.  With the Great Depression the federal government made the investments necessary to electrify the country hoping to jump start a stalled economy.  The economic take off didn't happen right away but the new infrastructure did facilitate economic development after WWII along with another federal infrastructure project--The Interstate and Defense Highway System.  Ironically, I don't think Eisenhower would have gotten it without the Cold War hysteria and the word DEFENSE in the title.  If we think the rural population and the poor should have access to good roads, electricity, or internet connections then we have to rely on mechanisms other than capitalism to deliver.

I didn't get very far into this piece when I really wanted to throw up.  The logic here escapes me totally.  Let me see if I can make sense of it.  The Repthuglicans, who evidently don't have a single gnat's brain amongst them, want to replenish the highway trust fund, which will be empty by August (if not sooner), by ending Saturday mail delivery (except for packages) and transferring the savings to the highway trust fund.  But I seem to remember that the US Postal Service is running a massive deficit thanks to the Congressional mandate that the USPS prepay retirement funds for the next 75 years.  So any "savings" accrued by canceling Saturday mail service would be swallowed by the deficit.  I can't think of a more efficient way to wreck both the highway trust fund and the Postal Service than robbing broke Peter to pay slightly less broke Paul.  Unless the unstated but real purpose is to totally wreck both agencies.  Then the plan is f&%$king brilliant.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Thursday.  It looked a little wet and foggy when I looked out this morning.  Hoping it will burn off and give us the sun the weather people are promising.  I have some yellow crookneck squash seeds I want to put in one of the open spaces I still have in the gardens.  I'll try to get some pictures to share.

I just might get the idea that Mark Morford doesn't like Tyson or Hillshire, those two giant meat processing companies that merged this last week when Tyson bought out Hillshire for some multi-billions of dollars.

I have seen a couple of stories on this "creative" trend.  The scramble for money continues.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Wednesday.  Cool and wet so far and likely to stay that way.  We might not even get past 70.  Therefore, nothing more than a walk through the gardens on the agenda.  I saw blossoms on one of my Patio Princess tomatoes yesterday so everything is going nicely.  But things still feel out of phase.  Last night on the evening weather segment of the local news one of the reporters asked the meteorologist when we would see June.  I quipped, "When we hit July!!"

It looks like the often repeated announcements of the death of the Tea Party are, to use Mark Twains' words, "an exaggeration."  Eric Cantor was defeated by a Tea Party candidate.  That candidate is likely to win in the general election because the district is strongly Republican.  Now all the pundits are trying to make some sense of the changed political landscape.

Tom Englehardt presents another excellent piece on "war American-style."  I have thought for a long time that our leaders have jettisoned the first half of Theodore Roosevelt's advice on foreign policy (speak softly) and concentrated on the second half (carry a big stick).  Unfortunately, as Englehardt notes, that big stick has been exceptionally ineffective for the last half century.  And, as he also notes, the role of the military in the world at large and in our own society and economy is forbidden territory for discussions.

This is a a sad indictment of the for-profit higher education system.  Can these guys spell "fraud."

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tuesday.  Cool again this morning.  We should get rain later today which I won't mind because I might not have to water anything.

I hadn't planned any gardening yesterday but got a good bit done anyway.  Transplanted the summer savory into its place.  Found a volunteer hyssop in the wrong place and transplanted it to where it should be.  My new seed starts of melon are doing nicely and growing quickly.  I only got one of six of the original starts but the replacement five are coming up well.

Cut stevia, sage and spearmint and got it all dried.  I used the molcajete we picked up last fall from a little Mexican grocer that, sadly, is no longer operating.  For those who aren't familiar with the molcajete take a look here.  Over the last few years I have tried several grinders to grind my dried herbs and haven't been happy with any of them.  We have two small mortars and pestles but they don't do the job as well as I would like.  The molcajete however did a beautiful job of reducing whole dried leaves to consistent crumbles in very quick order.

Trimmed the tomatoes also and got the bean vines twined around the lower trellis crosspieces. They are doing very nicely.  So are the peppers which, along with the tomatoes, need staking soon.

I still have a couple of bare spots that I would like to fill.  Should get one taken care of with transplants of yellow crook-neck squash, if I can find them while we are out today.  I might find something interesting for the other spots.  If not, I have some possible seedlings in the little greenhouse.  The lavender, shiso, bee balm, and wonderberry are coming along nicely.  First time I have succeeded in getting this far with either the lavender and wonderberry.  The epazote however is still not showing anything at all.  But I won't reseed it just yet because it is a slow germinator.  Also this inconsistent weather might be a problem.  Epazote like it warm and we have had some cool days and cooler nights.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Monday.  Cool today but sunny--though it is now about five minutes after sunrise so not much sun just yet.  Just some puttering planned for the gardens today.  The tomato plants need some slight pruning and some weeds need pulling.  We love watching the birds that come to visit our feeder but they are so messy.  I moved the feeder to a new area where fewer seeds will fall on my containers but I have to deal with the weeds in the area below where the feeder used to be.  My new starts of shiso and bee balm are doing nicely and a couple of lavender, chamomile and wonderberry seeds actually decided to sprout.  They are much too small to move into the gardens yet but I have a summer savory, an acquired transplant, that is ready.  The Arctic Flame rose is blooming but the Abraham Darby is still deciding if it wants to live or not.  Two of the Angle's Fragrance begonias are doing really well but the third is trying to come back from a difficult shipping.  It looked like it had been tossed and fell back into the pot askew.  But I see new leaves so I think it has made up its mind to live.

Major irritation this morning:  the first 4th of July commercial!!!  The holiday is three damned weeks away.  Once upon a time it commemorated the signing of the Declaration of Independence; now, the freedom to shop ourselves into a zombified stupor.

In case you thought slavery was dead... .  Isn't globalization wonderful!!  (and, yeah, that is sarcasm.)

Another major irritation from last night's TV news: the story of the helicopter escape from a Canadian jail.  The morning stories said that the escapees had been recaptured.  Not true.  More and more often those guys can't get the facts straight and rush to tell a story that is inaccurate (and that is putting the case mildly.)  At least the evening news was more accurate.  However, after the intro sentence or two the slewed off into a sequence of a film about a helicopter escape from a prison and then to "Hollywood" style escapes that had nothing at all to do with the original story--not even a damned helicopter.  If I were grading this as an assignment for a college level class, I would give it a D for more than half of the content being irrelevant.

Found this on two sites I always visit.  As usual the FDA has decided to enforce rules that were made by idiots who have no real understanding of what they are regulating and ascribe to the notion that all bacteria and other microbes are bad.  They also haven't read any of the research that show wood surfaces are actually better than plastics or other surfaces that can be sanitized.  Worse, the only cheeses I have seen recalled recently were produced by large food manufacturing companies not small artisanal outfits.  I am sure they do not have wood surfaces so please tell me why they produce contaminated product.

There are times when the unplanned is a timeless gift as Robert Brady at PureLandMountain reminds us.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Saturday.  Should be warm and clear at least till late in the afternoon.  Some rain should come overnight.  But our meteorologists are using two dueling models: one showing almost no rain and one showing much more tonight through tomorrow and on Tuesday through Wednesday.We'll see which, if either, is right.  We have a busy morning on the schedule--two farm markets and grocery shopping for what ever we can't find at the markets.  Summer and fall are the seasons when we split our shopping errands into two trips to coincide with the days the farm markets are open.  During the winter those errands are consolidated to once every week, or depending on the weather, every two or three weeks.

Sunday.  Wet and cool to start out.  Should stay cool but dry out over the morning.  We didn't get anything at the farm markets.  I didn't see any plants I wanted to add to the garden and the only produce stand that had veggies we would have liked was jammed.  That is the bad thing about the northern market--it is bigger with a lot more sellers but they attract a lot more sellers.  We really didn't want to spend the time going through the lines when we had two more stops to make.  The southern market (the one set up in our town) is smaller with fewer sellers but at this time of the season they have less in the way of veggies for sale.  All of the plants they had that intrigued me were, unfortunately, peppers and tomatoes.  I already have all of those plants we need and can eat or process for winter storage.  We won't go north again this year.  It isn't worth our gas or time.

George Washington provides details on one very big reason why infrastructure projects are so expensive: the financing.  Although the notion wasn't all that surprising the numbers are breath-taking.  I had seen similar calculation on the effect of interest on mortgages on other time-payment plans.  By the time the note has been paid off the item costs double or more what the original sticker price.

Why should we expect our "system" of higher education to be any different from any other part of our profit driven society/economy?  I remember a fellow grad student who was looking for adjunct teaching positions near her family while she finished writing her dissertation describing what she expected if to experience as "genteel poverty."  Well, there is nothing genteel about poverty.  I hope she made it out and into the academic career she was preparing for.

I am always fascinated by technology stories that question just whether and by how much technology improves what we do.  Many, many years ago I saw the beginnings of laptop computers being used by students to take notes in lectures.  I had a laptop but I never was tempted to open the contraption in class and take notes on it.  I often wondered how well those students did and how effective their note-taking was.  My classes were all in the humanities so the idea of specialized notations were not a problem.  I agree with the conclusion toward the end of the piece:  we need to think about the technology and critically evaluate its place in our lives.  Lower tech might be as (or more) effective and much less expensive.  This assessment is worth a couple of laughs.  Have you been zombified yet??

I have been reading about the heatwave in India for some time now.  I guess the situation is getting serious.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Friday.  Coooool today.  Temperature is in the mid 50s.  But should warm up and we should have nice sun.  Don't have much planned for work in the gardens.  Everything is perking along nicely.  I found three ripe strawberries yesterday.  We ate them as a treat as soon as I brought them in.  Most of the plants are blooming profusely so we should get many more.  Yum!!

For a while now, whenever we listened to or read a story about the increasing rates of allergies and asthma, we commented that perhaps the emphasis our culture places on extreme cleanliness--antiseptic cleanliness--might be the cause.  Over the last couple of years I have seen news reports of scientific studies that seem to back up that notion.  Here is the latest.

As most of you know, I am a medical minimalist.  I see a doctor when I have a problem and I choose the treatment that solves the problem with the fewest side effects.  I have refused medications that address don't address the problem or that I have found to be ineffective for me.  Evidently some doctors are now questioning our current medical system which seems to be set up to find something, anything, to treat.

I wasn't at all surprised by this story.  It seems a logical development of the science.  But just because it is logical doesn't mean it is at all comfortable or desirable.

Moon of Alabama has an interesting post that paralleled my own thoughts listening to the TV news last night about the 70th Anniversary of D-Day observances and the delicate dance around Russia's Vladimir Putin.  The tone of the stories seemed to be both a bit miffed at his attendance at the ceremonies.  I just commented "What the hell??  Doesn't anyone remember the the Soviet Union fought that war and at the time of D-Day was our ally??"  Evidently not.  But then we have all been taught history only from our own country's perspective.  Much of what Moon of Alabama described was new to me and I have read more history than most.  But most of that history was written from an American point of view.  It reminds me somewhat of a controversy over a TV series from way, way back called The Desert Rats.  The original Desert Rats were a British unit involved in the battles for Tobruk.  The 1953 move maintained that but in the translation to American TV all the characters became American.  The British were just a bit miffed.

So some of our junk has now received geological classifications. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Wednesday.  Supposed to be cool and wet today.  We shouldn't get some of that severe weather they showed on the news last night, thankfully.  It looked dry right now but then it is still dark so can't see much.  Well, I can see outside now and it is wet.  So, nothing outside.

I love Tom Englehardt's blog tomdispatch.   He has another good one by Peter Van Buren: A Rising Tide Lift All Yachts.

Thursday.  Real cool this morning--low 50s.  But should be sunny today and no rain till Saturday night.  We had a good day of rain yesterday with a couple of hard downpours.  I won't have to water anything for a day or two except for the sees I have started in the greenhouse.  I found three ripe strawberries which we enjoyed fresh out of the gardens.  All the plants look happy to have a break from the heat we had early over last weekend.

I guess "domestic outsourcing" sounds better than "privatization."  Whatever you call it the losers are workers who lose wages and benefits.  I keep thinking of the argument I have seen for months now on economics posts on whether we can expect inflation or deflation in the near future.  Well, I guess we have both: price inflation (though not recognized by the government agencies that measure inflation) and wage deflation.

I missed this article on Dow Chemical's effort to get a pesticide that combines 2,4-D (of Agent Orange infamy) and glyphosate (a.k.a. Roundup when made by Monsanto).  The EPA has opened up comments from the public on the possible (probably?) approval since (supposedly) the new formulation makes drift less likely reducing the danger to nearby fields from "accidental" exposure.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Monday.  The temperature hit 90F yesterday.  It was hot enough on the patio that I didn't do anything outside after noon.  Thankfully, we had rain in the evening and overnight so I didn't have to water anything.  We may get some scattered moisture today.  We'll see.  I did get some seeds started during the morning: chamomile, shiso, epazote, wonder berry, lavender and a couple of others.  Although my shiso in the gardens is doing nicely it hasn't turned purple.  I did plant, according to the package, the purple variety but it is staying stubbornly green.  The blue lake beans are starting to twine up the trellis.  I just wish we had had more spring before the summer slammed us.

Yippee!!  Found blossoms forming on the Biltmore and the Martio's Roma tomatoes.

Saw a little hummingbird seriously examining every part of our patio.  I am sure he is wondering when all that green stuff will bloom and if any of it will be edible.  Well, I can assure him that he will have a lot to pick from: bee balm, hyssop, cypress vine and hibiscus.  But it will be a while so he will just have to make do with what I can put in the feeder.

Tuesday.  Cooler today.  Thank goodness.  Took my usual little walk through the gardens.  The geraniums are blooming profusely and they are pretty.  I need to cut some more off the stevia and I think, this time, I will dry them.  I have spearmint I need to cut and dry as well so I should have a nearly full dehydrator.  I do need to get it out.

Our local farm market should open its season today.  We have been looking forward to it.  I will tell you about it later since I won't actually be posting this until much later today.  (Right now the time is a little before 6am.)

Our local news is featuring a story that was on the national news last night: another round of stealth price increases as manufacturers reduce the size of their packages without changing the price.  But Mom asked as reporters warned viewers to "watch what they buy closely" what we are expected to do about it.  The problem is that watching what we buy won't really do much for us except make us aware that we are being shorted.  Our only real options are to 1) do without, 2) substitute another manufacturer's product if a similar product is available, or 3) prepare it ourselves at home from scratch if possible.

Update on farm market opening:  they had a nice number of venders.  This market has grown considerably over the last few years.  I found a nice summer savory to augment the one I started inside and Mom bought almost three pounds of early asparagus.  We haven't bought asparagus from the supermarkets because none of it looks very good by the time it gets on the shelf.  We stopped buying canned and frozen because of the amount of inedible woody stems we found.  She is going to blanch and freeze most of it.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sunday.  Welcome to June.  I can relate with considerable sympathy to one blogger I read regularly.  She wrote that the weather had gone from "too cold for my tomatoes to too hot to work in the garden within two days."  I try to get all of the work done early and in small bits throughout the mornings.  All I plan to do today is putter--maybe start some seeds that didn't sprout earlier, maybe plant some directly in the gardens.  I already have the stevia syrup boiling down and heating the water for a new batch of iced tea.

Update: Stevia done and tea done.  And the stevia syrup is very sweet.  I don't think we will need much for our dinner glasses of iced tea.

You know this had to come.  Too many stories about sick and dying pets resulting from, often still unidentified, ingredients in commercially prepared pet foods impelling pet owners to start preparing their pets' foods themselves from scratch.  I wouldn't be interested.  It looks like a nice bit of slight of hand, an illusion.  The companies give pet owners the illusion of preparing their pets' food themselves but the constituents are still prepared for them and the supply chain is still just as long and just as opaque as with the fully prepared foods.  It is rather like giving your kids a Hamburger Helper meal and claiming you made it entirely with your own hands.

Yeah, this is Caracas.  But how long before something similar happens in some of our drought stricken areas?  I have read about areas of Brazil and Argentina that are rationed to power and water only every third day.  How would you function in a similar circumstance?

Also from Venezuela.  I take these kinds of stories with a grain of salt.  The major problem though is that the past actions of the U.S. government in Latin America and elsewhere make the scenario entirely plausible.  However, plausibility doesn't necessarily mean fact.

This should add gasoline to the fire of the anti-vaccination movement.  And we really don't have any good basis for forming an opinion on the issue.  What are the chances of death or severe disability from getting a disease you might not get with vaccination versus the chances of getting some kind of long term disease (diabetes, obesity, autism) which requires long term (often expensive) medical treatment?  I haven't see any such data.  And what part of the vaccine may be responsible?  No one really knows that either.