Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Good morning on this "eve before the Eve." It feels more seasonal with our colder weather. We expect a few more snow flurries but at least we don't have to worry about flooding. Rivers south of us are high and getting higher. We were wryly amused when the weather reporter this morning noted that the Mississippi is expected to post a flood level second only to the record breaking 1993 floods which was a "500 year flood." Though they didn't note that fact I guess because they don't want to remind us of what kind of records are being posted. I cleaned out my collection of seed/gardening catalogs. It is time to get my new order ready to go. Several of the bloggers I normally read are already receiving their seeds.

Well, it is just past 9am and the bread dough is rising. I did the potato bread and a full recipe. Have made a couple of decisions in bread making on our small scale: no more full recipes unless it is for one loaf only and remember that potato bread dough is messy to work with being a very soft dough ball. I had planned on only a half recipe but things changed and I did the full recipe so I should have one loaf for the freezer and one to eat for the next week. I don't know what kind of bread I will make next but it won't be potato bread.

I always like to read Gene Logsdon and I think his last observation--that perhaps farming is a religion and every farmer is convinced he is right--can be applied to politics and economics. Each pundit and politician is the high priest(ess) of their own little religion and they alone know the true way to salvation.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


Well, I am getting a late start today.  We did our grocery shopping and other errands so now I can settle down and read my news and blogs. We still have a white coating of ice from the storm yesterday. Some areas are still dealing with power outages. Ours lasted only about three hours yesterday and was resolved by about 3pm. We have had some flurries but nothing major though the wind has been brutal. I was going to bake bread this morning but can easily put it off till tomorrow.

W.J. Astore has a good piece this morning saying what we have been thinking for sometime. Unfortunately, I think he is right: on tap for 2016 more useless wars our leaders have decided to pursue at great cost and no gain.

Kunstler also has some good points about our news media which is as useless as our warmongering leaders. Well, "useless" depends on your point of view. For the politicians and leaders of the finance/"defense"/and other looting industries, it does its job admirably well. It distracts us with the side shows and ephemera while concealing how rigged and out of balance our system (political, economic, and social) really is.

Reading this I told Mom to remind me that we never, ever want to live in Kansas. They have such a thin notion of "probable cause."

Monday, December 28, 2015


We have sleet and freezing rain right now. Our neighbor cleared our walk as well as his own for which we thanked him profusely and told him that if he needed salt we have a good supply. We had decided to postpone our grocery shopping back when the weather people were predicting  just rain. If we were likely to run out of anything we could have advanced our schedule as easily as delay it. Looking at what is happening down south and west, we are grateful that our experience isn't as bad (so far.) This mess should turn to rain later today. Thankfully, we aren't in an area where the melting slush and following rain will produce flooding on a scale that would affect us. Tomorrow should produce snow flurries but nothing more.

The electricity went out for about three hours. The ice did some damage somewhere. But everything is back on now.

Sunday, December 27, 2015


Oh what an unusual year of weather. A couple of weeks ago we had temps in the 50s and heavy fog. Mom remarked that it was more like early to mid April than mid December. This is a blog I read regularly and the author has some pictorial evidence of the weirdness. Her plants can join the poor, confused little tree we saw last week trying to put out buds. We should be getting more normal temps over this next week--if the weather people are right in their predictions.

The wind has been high last night and so far today. We were getting breakfast when Mom asked if I had closed the gate. Because the ground shifts the fence when it freezes and the gate might not latch (or worse unlatch), I leave it open blocked by an 8"x8"x3" cement brick. At first I wondered if someone had taken the block and closed the gate but we found the block just outside the closed gate. Still thinking someone had intended to be kind and closed the gate we opened it and set the block in place again. A few moments later we found the gate closed again. The wind had done its work--again. We opened the gate and blocked it again adding a filled 5 gal bucket planter to the little cement block for good measure. So far it has stayed open.

Saturday, December 26, 2015


Hope you all had a good holiday. Ours was nice and quiet. We spent Christmas Eve with my brother, sister-in-law and their family. Good company and good food. I did spend time reading news and blogs yesterday but spent my energy baking some bread instead of commenting.

About a month ago I found a book I put on my nook titled Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. Over the last three weeks I have tried the process several times. The five minutes a day is an average including the about 15 minutes it takes to mix the ingredients and form the loaves. The authors' process eliminates the kneading involved the traditional yeast bread making operation because the gluten sets up during the slow rising time in the refrigerator. It is nicely convenient because you can take part of the dough ball as you need it for a single loaf or pan of rolls. However, I find it doesn't really save that much time and, although the bread tasted good, I didn't really like the "feel" of the finished loaf. It didn't rise as well in the oven as I expected from the authors' descriptions. So yesterday I went back to one of my old recipes and did up a loaf of oatmeal/walnut/cranberry bread. I spent a whole half an hour mixing and kneading the dough and about five more minutes forming the loaf and greasing the pan. The nearly two hours rising time I spend doing other things and in the end pulled a nice high, light loaf that tasted better than anything we have had lately, including both what I have made and the commercially produced breads we bought. I stopped baking bread when my schedule was so hectic about 12 years ago I barely had time to sleep, bathe and eat much less cook. Well I am not retired and time isn't a factor any more.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Thursday--Happy Christmas Eve to those for whom Christmas is the holiday of the season. Happy Holidays for those who follow other traditions celebrating other holidays at this time of the year.

The solstice just past was welcome because I truly don't like not seeing daylight before 7am two or three hours after I woke up. I really do wish the powers-that-be would leave our time alone.

This is a phenomenon we have groused about forever. The last new shirts I bought were flannel, on sale, and in the men's section.

Ah, yes!! Something with which I can totally sympathize. And it isn't just knitting/crochet yarn. Embroidery thread can tangle maddeningly also. And sewing thread.

If only Nestle were a better company on the issue of water and didn't think of it as simply a commodity to be pumped, bottled and sold at what ever the market could bear. But the notion of going solely to suppliers who provide cage-free eggs is a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


Interesting snippet on the long history of the "surveillance state."

Love this cartoon from Life Hack. Reminds me of a saying attributed to the Dalai Llama: Live like you were going to die tomorrow; learn like you were going to live forever.

The Archdruidess has a cute post today. The question hasn't come up for me since I have never had seasonal allergies.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Hummm? "Security psychosis." Interesting phrase and a very apt description. But--a certain old saying comes to mind: just because you are paranoid doesn't mean someone isn't out to get you. I had an odd thought about when our "security psychosis" developed. My guess, which is only a guess, is when the Soviet Union exploded its own atomic bomb. After that, with the development first of long range bombers and then intercontinental missiles, we suddenly realized we could be "touched" from an incredibly long distance and our focus shifted to more and more distant threats. Now, considering the possibilities of this and other such incidents, we may not even know who is attacking us. Think I am kidding? Think of how many known cyber attacks our government has accused which ever enemy du jour they were on the outs with and how few of those came any concrete evidence.

How do you protect yourself and your family from the pollution that came from your country's drive to industrialize? At great effort and financial expense. Which opens up some interesting marketing possibilities.

This article asks a good question: how do you define GMOs and how well do our definitions correspond to reality? It has been tickling the back of my mind occasionally as I read some articles on the problem. We try to avoid GMO products as much as possible. Partly it is a question of safety. If the corn that was ground to make your cornmeal (or anything made from corn meal commercially) came from plants engineered to make the Bt toxin (by inserting a gene from a bacterium that produces the toxin naturally) how much of the toxin are you ingesting and what are the effects on you? With a quick and dirty Google search I found a lot of articles from a lot of different sources which came down on all sides of the issue. And even if I chose to read every one of them how do I choose which to trust? What is the evidence the authors use? How were the studies/experiments conducted? Do those protocols translate to the real world? And how much do you trust the authors and/or those paying for their studies? Do you trust Monsanto, et al., or do you trust the FDA, or whoever? Frankly, I don't much trust either of the first two and I examine carefully the "whoever." And a legal definition isn't going to be any real help because you can bet the the companies who depend on selling GMO products will have massaged any definition to allow them the maximum freedom to continue their business and they will have figured out how to game the legal game anyway.

Monday, December 21, 2015


Another contender for who "discovered" America: Romans. I would like to see the wreck excavated before coming to any conclusion.


I love this story. And the Cashier would join the Bagger on my Christmas list.



As you can see I didn't find anything I wanted to link to or comment on yesterday. We decided to do our weekly shopping yesterday since the weather was a bit warmer and sunny. We didn't have much on our list but we don't really enjoy the Christmas crowds and the forecast called for rain. Now we don't have to do any errands until next week. I am ignoring a lot of the news so nothing to comment on there.

I am nor sure what I think about this story. When I was young and very dumb, this offer might have tempted me. I hope I would have second thoughts. Now the so-called dream wedding wouldn't interest me at all. And I don't think a show wedding is much of an investment in a marriage.

As I read this article I thought of the buds I saw on a tree outside a supermarket yesterday. Our temperatures have been, for the most part, 15-30* above normal. We have only seen one snow that barely covered the ground. They have changed the forecast I mentioned above. We are getting the predicted rain now but Wednesday through Friday will be warm and sunny.

What in the hell has happened to this country? This is not the "land of the free, home of the brave." We have become cruel, unthinking, stupid, cowardly assholes. There are times when I am totally ashamed of my countrymen. I hope the parents of child held three days in jail without being notified on the word of a bully sue the school district, the teacher, the principal, the police department (which is defending its actions because--Texas), and the parents of the bully.

Two interesting things about this story: first, no one is demanding tougher controls on the "deadly weapon" involved and, second, the authorities had to go out of their way to assure everyone it wasn't "terrorism."

I have seen repeated expressions in financial news stories and blogs about the how the financial and corporate elites have a different set of rules from the rest of us. They can steal from us with impunity, they can commit fraud without consequences, when they "make mistakes" we bail them out. Reverse that and we get the legal book thrown at us and no bail out. Evidently, the police in a fair number of states are in the same boat. One set of rules for the people they arrest and another for officers accused of crimes.

Thursday, December 17, 2015


An interesting article on China, the Paris COP21 Agreement, and low carbon energy from Ambrose Evans-Prichard. He says something I have been thinking for sometime: it doesn't matter if climate change and its effects are "man made" or not. It is happening and we have to somehow deal with its impact. Think about what our politicians are not doing as you read. I wish they would stop playing with themselves and do something to move us off fossil fuels.

We hear all too much about how Muslims must shed some of their religious tenets to assimilate into "modern" society but this article indicates the there are Muslim tenets and practices which Christians would do well to emulate.

The only response I have to this is: oh, shit, how fast can I cross the nearest border.

Morford has a good snark on that Republican idiocy "defending" the Christian symbols of Christmas.

Under more normal circumstances I would ask which senior(s) don't want to take their final exams. Unfortunately these don't seem to be normal times.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


The weather has turned a little colder but still is way above seasonal norms. We remarked some time ago that the weather has been so abnormal we don't really know what normal is any more. Yesterday was chilly and the rain made is seem even colder than the thermometers said it was. The remaining inside plants are doing well so far. I gave up on the St. John's wort and the peppermint. They simply didn't thrive inside. Will definitely get new peppermint next year but maybe not the St. John's wort. The two lemon verbenas are doing better than any I have ever had before. The new grow light is part of the reason but I think I am a bit more patient with them. Last time when the plant started dropping its leaves I thought it was dying. That may be a normal feature because the new plants are putting out new shoots at the nodes where the leaves were. The eucalyptus is looking poorly but it has before and come back. I will give it time. My little blueberry is hanging on and even showing a little new growth. So far it has lasted months longer than any I had before. The combination of slightly acidified water and an acid based fertilizer seems to be helping. The oregano and the two rosemaries are thriving as it the lime basil. Those three are turning into pretty little bushes.

There are times when I am convinced that parts of our population have escaped the asylum and gone off their meds. Be sure to follow some of the links. They would be funny if they weren't so (insert your favorite expletive) sad.

I read yesterday that the Danish government relented on wedding and engagement rings only because of the outrage the measure originally generated. So the Danish government is going to loot the refugees to "pay" for their upkeep? When they will have to spend at least some of the resources they came with (if any) to pay for their needs anyway?? So how much is the government going to skim? Theft by government taken to an abysmal new level.

Gene Logsdon has a nice commentary on the end of the gardening season and putting the gardens to bed for the winter. My gardens have been asleep for a month and a half so far. Next year I might put in some cold hardy flowers and veggies after the tomatoes, peppers and other warm weather plants are finished just to have some color out side later in the year.

Monday, December 14, 2015


Well, another week gone and another year will be in three more weeks. Our temperatures here have been much above normal with several days yet of similar and with rain thrown in as well. We are in a familiar situation of being grateful our weather isn't as bad as that in other areas of the country. But it is a bit unsettling to be this far into December with so very little snow to show for it. The small hill of snow plowed off the street is gone. I wonder what will hit us in January (and February and March).


This sounds so familiar. The assumption of the title is that West=liberal democracy. All you need to do is look at our politics to see that that is a false assumption. We are as "Western" as you can get and the same trends are all too evident.

I learn something new every day. Today I found this article on the D.C. cherry trees blooming now because of extraordinarily warm weather. Evidently such a late season flowering is natural for the autumn blooming cherry species and they will bloom again in the spring. We are also having warmer than normal temps though the record highs the weather people thought possible won't be happening.


Every time I think I can't find a new low for the stupid bar I find I am wrong. I, like the author, hoped the story he linked to was satire. It wasn't.

Found this piece of idiocy also. What a total waste of time when they could be trying to resolve some of the more intractable problems we have. Christmas is not under attack--not when it has become a major commercial event. Not when so many of us who are not Christians also celebrate it at a family holiday. Why don't they pass a resolution to protect the symbols of Kwanza or Hanukkah or Yule? After all the Constitution mandates that the Federal government not "establish" religion and protecting the symbols of Christmas while not protecting the symbols of other religions is certainly playing favorites. The clause "for those who celebrate Christmas" is meaningless and doesn't negate the preferential treatment of Christian symbols.

Friday, December 11, 2015


Another example of our over medicated society. We evidently want to hook 'em young. And the younger the better.

On the question of who knew what when regarding the Fukushima meltdown--evidently everyone but the general public. And government agencies knew early in the event.

This is no real surprise. I read the initial news report a few weeks ago and wondered how soon it would go beyond China.

Any school, college or university which gets a Title IX exemption and imposes religious tests for students, faculty or staff should be denied any federal funds of any kind. The students don't get federally guaranteed loans, grants or scholarships and researchers get no federal funds. I don't mind them applying the religious criteria but I don't think they should get tax money to do so. And those schools should have any tax exempt status revoked. Jon Green is absolutely correct on that.

Perfect description of Donald Trump and American politics today. I think it was Aristotle who first noted that democracies die by demagoguery and we have entered the age of the demagogue.

Thursday, December 10, 2015


This looks like a formula for success--depending on how you define success. If your definition includes a bombed out landscape with destitute people but with its oil in "friendly" hands, then you might have a success. For comparison read about Europe's religious conflicts from about 1530 to 1650.

Isn't the "internet of things" fun. I wonder if your new fridge will be programmed to tell your dietician when you break your diet.


Poor alligator!! I am not so sympathetic towards the criminal who was stupid enough to hide from the police in the alligator's home.

I like the idea of the chocolate in jelly rolls and some of the other confections but not on a "sandwich." For me a sandwich is a meal you can eat on the go--not a bastardized dessert masquerading as a meal or vice versa.

I have come to a similar conclusion over the last quarter century. And I say that as one who had been thoroughly indoctrinated into the notion that more education was always good and would yield economic benefits. Unfortunately, we seem to have a problem recognizing that "one size" doesn't fit all. Too often the issue is couched in terms of equality--as the way the poor and racial/ethnic minorities can enter the middle class and prosper. I don't regret my long experience in higher education but I would have been better advised to go a different route.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Interesting how technology seems to suck all our attention. Once upon a time one of the main arguments for public schooling was "socialization." That concept is still directed against homeschoolers. But how much socialization occurs when all of the kids' attention is focused on the pretty screen?

Tom Englehardt has another interesting piece at Tomdispatch.

And Englehardt (on Facebook) led me to this article by William Astore.


Got the Baker Creek seed catalog yesterday. Time to get serious about evaluating last season and planning what I will plant in the coming season. I really liked the sunflowers which made a really good trellis for the beans so I will plant them again inside the fence to give them more protection from the winds which were totally brutal this last year and to rotate what is in which space. I don't know why my red-seeded asparagus beans didn't germinate but I will start them inside this year. The Gold Marie vining beans, Blue Lake pole beans, and Blauhilde beans all did well for us so they are on my list for planting again. The sweet potatoes didn't do much for us so I won't repeat that experiment. We really like the Roselle and Amish Gold tomatoes--another pair to continue planting. I am looking for a Roma style tomato to add to the line up. The Shishito peppers did well but the others didn't but we really like the Albino Bullnose and Lipstick so put them in again. We also want a hotter pepper and I have my eye on a couple listed in Totally Tomatoes catalog.

A little while ago I found an interesting little book for my Nook: The New Artisan Bread In Five Minutes a Day. I decided to try the basic white bread recipe which turned out pretty good even though it is a bit over cooked. I told Mom that I am 16 years out of practice--it has been that long since I made bread. I said "pretty good" but that is a bit of an understatement. It tasted better than any of the supermarket breads and as good as what we have been getting from Panera. I will try one of the wheat recipes next. Looks like we will be baking bread in the future. Another nice part of this--besides the flavor--no preservatives, no artificial colors or flavors.

I can empathize with Carolee's situation. She has much more space than I do though much less than she used to have. My gardens are eight very large containers (33 gal. repurposed storage containers), two moderately large pots, eight five gallon buckets,  eleven over the fence hangers for 6 inch pots, two plant towers, and an assortment of pots ranging from 24 inches to 3 inches. Where I will put what is always a major concern and the gardens I see when I plan, fill out my seed orders, start my seeds, and buy my first transplants is never the garden I have at the end. It is ever a fascinating surprise.

Sunday, December 6, 2015


I have loved Bill Moyers for years. This piece shows why. It is on target all the way.

Another mystery--where did these boats come from? Speculation at the moment is they are from North Korea.


The Economist asks "Who will fight our next war?" Good question. A better one is for what will that war be fought? Since WWII no conflict we in which we have been engaged has been worth the price. And a related article is worth a glance. Gaius Publius is right. We don't have two parties. They are both war parties whose main purpose is enriching the arms industry. I don't think Sanders will get the Democratic nomination. If he does, I will vote for him. But the office of the Presidency is a strait-jacket and I don't think he, or anyone else, will break out of the constraints of the office and shift the momentum of our society/economy.


This one reason why I am not a fan of the "internet of things." The so-called convenience isn't worth the money, trouble or risk.

And this is why I don't pay much attention to the weekly (or monthly revisions) of the employment numbers. The numbers are so heavily massaged to make the government look good (or at the least less bad) that they bear no resemblance to my reality.

And this is why I try to verify as much as I can on news stories. Too often the story changes after the first exposure. The news media rush the story out and later facts undermine the initial story. It really hard to know if an event happened, or if it happened in the media present it.

Thursday, December 3, 2015


We did get the snow the weather people promised but none stayed around. Three more seed/gardening catalogs so the season for garden evaluation and getting together my orders for the new season.

Some food for thought after the San Bernardino shooting. Yeah, Jeb, "Stuff happens." Just wish it didn't happen so often. More food for thought--this got swamped by the San Bernardino news. Even the local news gave it short shrift. Guess 4 casualties vs nearly 30 just isn't dramatic enough.

What would we do and what would we pay if we were serious about prosecuting "the War on Terror?" Andrew Bacevich atTomdispatch gives a good estimate. I am all in favor of bringing all of our troops home, telling all the participants to settle their own hash, and offering modest help rebuilding when things are settled. I would like to see a U.S. leader disavow the notion of "regime change" and forswear the policy of trying to remake the world in our image. It isn't too attractive an image anyway.

I agree that our opinions on guns don't matter to the politicians or those who have bought them or to those who push their interpretations of the 2nd Amendment to allow almost unfettered gun ownership. However, the basis of the argument is that we have two values in conflict: the right and freedom to own guns and the right to life. I disagree. We do value our Constitutional freedoms but I don't think we value life as much as we think we do. We definitely don't value all human life. Even those who say they are "pro-life" value mostly pre-born life. Those already born--not so much. Whose life do we value and to what extent? I wonder at times, reading stories like the one from San Bernardino, if we haven't created a society of psychopaths who have no empathy, whose only reality is dominated by their wants or pains, who feel entitled to respond to perceived slights by blowing away whoever crosses their path.

This has gotten absolutely no play in our media. Tell me--why are we sending our troops in when our supposed ally, the legitimate government of Iraq, and its armed militias say the don't want us?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


For some time the environmental activists have been trying to convince the rest of us that we can't simply throw our waste away--because there is now "away." See this Grist article for confirmation of that truth.

For those Christians who think the end of December is all about them and only them:
December 1 - 20
December 6 - 14
December 8
Rohatsu (Bodhi Day)Buddhism
December 21
December 23 
Mawlid an Nabi
December 25
December 26
Zarathosht Diso (Death of Prophet Zara Thustra)
African American
Maybe the "Happy Holidays" greeting is more appropriate after all. List found on Deily.

This is good news. It seems the market for GMO salmon, recently approved--over protest--by the FDA, is shrinking. Hopefully, it will soon be non-existent.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


Welcome to December. Now for the final push to our great commercial celebration, a.k.a. Xmas. I'm sorry but Christ has been excised from the holiday for decades now. It's all about the money.

I do love this bit of satire!! I have noted before how low our politics has sunk. Once we valued the truth but now many of us don't seem to care. Hillary Clinton was trashed in the media for slightly embellishing her experience. A news anchor was fired for doing much the same thing. But the current crop of Repthuglican candidates aren't held to any standards of truth at all.

No, Kunstler isn't alone in wondering if America has lost its collective mind. Some of us went round the bend long ago.

Unfortunately, our news media, which once was concerned with truth and accuracy, have become more interested in hype and drama. The New York Times is no exception to that rule as shown by this Salon article. A "gentle loner" doesn't blaze away killing three people and wounding nine. It is hardly Planned Parenthood's fault that deceitful assholes with a political agenda released fraudulent video in a smear campaign. But I haven't seen anyone in the media place that blame squarely where it belongs--on the deceitful assholes.

That the political fundraisers are taking a page out of the playbook of some of the worst charities should surprise no one. Both are obscene.

I agree with the sentiments in this Salon piece. I may not vote for president at all. I will vote in the local and state issues and offices but not for president. I don't really like any of the likely candidates out there now on either side. (I don't think Sanders is a likely candidate unless something miraculous happens.)

Monday, November 30, 2015


An interesting Psychology Today article which is somewhat terrifying in its implications for the future. That college age students lack resilience is only part of the problem. I wonder how large a proportion of the student population these fragile personalities are. But imagine a generation of leaders who break down when faced with problems for which there is no "correct" or "certain" solution? A generation who can't bounce back from a failure to find a successful path out of a quandary? And it isn't just college students. Think of the news stories, provided to give "comic" relief or "human" interest, of people who were not students calling the police for some trivial matter analogous to the mouse in the article? "Helicopter society"--a good description. But that means we have all, as a society, become less resilient, less resourceful, less independent.

What can you say when Satanists show more Christian charity, humility and compassion than so-called Christians?

And here is a repost of something William Edelen wrote about Christian Terrorism. Something to think about given the recent shootings in Colorado.

Saturday, November 28, 2015


An interesting discussion of "privacy" and how it has developed through history. And on the notion of privacy, the NSA is going to end its bulk surveillance program which is lauded as a victory for privacy. I guess they will simply be more sneaky about their data gathering.

I have heard the assertion that Trump "tells it like it is" repeated all too often and I wondered exactly what "it" is he is telling, what that "it" says about him and about us. I don't think any of it is good and this American Prospect post is right all the way. But lets go a bit further. Much of what he proposes, when he proposes anything and doesn't just emote, is unConstitutional. And yet so many of his supporters say they revere the Constitution. Their biggest complaint, one I didn't hear them raising during W.'s terms, is that Obama's actions are unConstitutional. They don't mind surveillance of Muslims, or proposals that they wear some kind of distinctive badge, or that Mosques be under heavy surveillance if not closed down all together--actions that would not be tolerated if applied to any other religious group in modern America. It seems to be a case of Constitutionally protected rights for me, not for thee. It isn't just that we don't respect the truth (as I noted last post) any more (as seen by the lies various candidates are getting a pass on) but we don't respect the very foundations of our laws.

Friday, November 27, 2015


Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving. We spent part of ours with my brother and his family. Good meal and good company. Interestingly only one of the party planned to do any shopping later on the day or on Black Friday. I remember Thanksgiving Days past when more than half of those gathered spent a good part of the time planning their Black Friday excursions. Those had all the markings of major military assaults. We are staying put today nor are we buying anything on line. Nothing out there really tempts us even with the coupons for on-line shoppers.

Several of our relatives have gone in heavily for tattoos which makes this piece interesting. I didn't recognize the site so I looked a little further and found a couple of other articles from sources like Scientific American which confirms the information. I will let you do your own search if you are interested.

Now for something straight out of the Twilight Zone.

The City of Chicago and the Police Department actions in the McDonald killing get more despicable by the day.

Thursday, November 26, 2015


Happy Thanksgiving

I found this to tickle my funny bone this Thanksgiving morning.  The interesting things people are thankful for.

I have a few minor quibbles with Kathleen Parker's opinion piece in the Washington Post but, on the whole, I thoroughly agree.

Once upon a time we valued truth and honesty. Now--not so much.

How many people remember reading Fahrenheit 451? Evidently The Donald didn't bother reading it.

When I read that Rupert Murdock had bought National Geographic I knew what would happen--and it has. Crap!!!!

Damn good question!! I am not on board with the gun control argument but totally agree with the critique of the media for the hysteria of their reports--even when the words seem to be minimizing the fear they induce. Why to they think they have to reassure their viewers that every violent act isn't a part of a "terrorist" plot? Another illustration of what is wrong with our news media is this story. Our news comes out of Chicago and this has been the dominant segment for the last several days. The coverage of the court case to force the release of the video and the release itself rather faded into the background as the focus shifted to a potential explosion and riot that would (might) result from the release. All the accounts were peppered with pleas from political, police, and religious figures arguing, pleading for calm. I wonder what would have happened if the news readers had simply read the facts without going for the sensational emotion?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Warmer this morning than yesterday but still cold. The weather people say the temperatures should rise into the 50s by Thanksgiving Day when we should also see rain.  Should be warm enough to start melting some of the snow we got but not much. I hope for a bit of sun.

Can anyone else spell "bogus trumped up accusations designed to get the guy into U.S. hands and Guantanamo?"

Is this a real trade agreement and not a stealth take over of governments by the global financial/commercial interests? And how would such an agreement interact with the TPP, if The TPP ever gets implemented? Interesting how the TPP excludes China and this Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership excludes the U.S. Perhaps the countries involved in each should get together and come up with a deal that excludes both the U.S. and China.

Mother Jones dissects Hillary Clinton's definition of "middle class." And, yeah, she seems to have set a very high ceiling (a cathedral ceiling, actually) for her cut-off point--$250K.

Huge and pleasant surprise today: we filled up our gas tank for less than $2/gal. Haven't seen prices that low in ages.


The warming continues today and a large part of the snow is melting. Hopefully enough will melt so I can get the bird bath cleaned up and refilled. I didn't have to shovel off the salt-pitted ice yesterday because it melted. I think it got a bit warmer than the weather people thought.

The more  stories I read like this one the more I am convinced that we have a culture of corruption in our large national and global companies. Unfortunately, if they manage to get the TTP and TTIP in place they may get a free pass to continue their bad behavior.

Ah, someone else is asking the kind of questions I have asked on the proposal (nebulous as it is) to keep temperature rise at or below 2C: is it too little, too late. A decade ago, when I first began reading on the subject, I looked up when we passed the 350ppm threshold so often cited. Back in the mid 1980s, for any who are curious. The question now is how do we adapt to the world we are creating because I doubt we have either the political will or the technology to reverse the process or the time.

This was likely to happen.  It was simply a question of who would be involved and when. Now the question is: where will it go from here.

Rebecca Gordon posting at Tomdispatch has an utterly depressing piece aptly titled Home, Sweet Kleptocracy: Kabul in America.

Sunday, November 22, 2015


We finally got our internet connection back. Nothing else went out but that was a major bummer. I am always amazed at how much of our day revolves around the computers. Nothing feels right if they aren't working. On top of the snow we got a thick layer of ice. I spread salt, cleared the crusty four inches of snow off the trash tote and the bird feeder--sort of. I thawed out and cleaned the feeder (and the one we leave for the little ground squirrels) and refilled but couldn't get the dish in the bird bath out. It was frozen to the pedestal.

I would dearly love to see this followed through and implemented. That would take care of a good bit of the "air" pollution on the TV airwaves. The drug ads don't really provide the consumer with much useable information. I often wonder what kind of information doctors and pharmacists are getting.

I agree with Pope Francis that Christmas is a charade but for another reason. If Jesus were really the "reason for the season," then the Pope's critique focusing on a world filled with war and hate would make sense. But the merchants and money lenders have cast Christ out of Christmas. The holiday is so thoroughly commercialized that there is no meaning to it other than a spending orgy. And our society spends more readily on arms and war materials than on people. As for hate, take a nauseating listen to our political candidates.

Saturday, November 21, 2015


We woke to cars and roofs covered in snow. The ground itself is still too warm to accumulate much. Some areas of northern Illinois have had up to 10 inches. (Update: we have some light outside and the snow is sticking a bit on the grass. Not much on paved areas.) (Second update: we have had steady snow, sometimes heavy, all day. I think we got somewhere over five inches.)

I noticed this phenomenon some time ago. Some of the drugs cost more than I have made in income in the last 10 years together. What did people do before all the "wonder drugs" came out? And how often have we seen the drug ballyhooed on the outset only to find that the serious side effects were worse than the condition it supposedly alleviated? And how many "helper" drugs have been introduced over the last few years? You know the ones I mean--where the commercial asks if your dose of X drug doesn't seem to be working and suggests you "ask" your doctor about Y drug to take along with it. Makes me wonder just how effective X was in the first place.

The title of this one has it right. The a#@hole is a terrorist even if he hasn't been charged as one. Might it be because he is white? I notice no one mentioned his religious affiliation.

Friday, November 20, 2015


Leigh at 5 Acres and a Dream has a rant on the planned obsolescence that is the base of our economy. Things seem designed to fail and quickly. And all cost more to fix than buying new ones unless you are very handy and can find the parts. And, yes, the largest component is plastic.

We started looking for salmon labeled "wild caught" and "Alaskan." This provides another reason to continue and to insist on accurate labels. Unfortunately, the agribusiness industry is trying very hard to eliminate labeling. Their interest is in profits which means they need to sell their product however they can do it. Health and environmental costs are no consideration because someone else will pay them.

So, BP was largely responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill but has tried to get courts to reduce the penalties and damages they had to pay. Now they may be able to claim a large part of those costs as "business expenses" and get a huge write off on their taxes. That is nauseating and just proves that what they had to pay in recompense for their short sighted fixation on profits negligence is simply a "cost of doing business." Yeah, it is good to be the king a big business.

As our politicians bluster about allowing Syrian refugees into the country because they might be terrorists this little fact is totally ignored. Europe hasn't been kind to its Muslim residents who often are third, fourth, or even fifth generation citizens--a legacy of the colonial past. And here is another bit of conveniently forgotten truth--most of our terrorists in this country are white males. Why aren't they called terrorists?

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Our media has covered Paris in nauseating detail, most of it for dramatic effect and very little truly informative. Every so often someone, in the blogosphere because the media pundits are pretty much clueless, has an interesting take and tries to put the carnage into some kind of meaningful context. Today Tom Englehardt has done a good job on that score. All my adult life I have heard it said that "America needs an enemy." I don't know who said it first but it appears that we have found the perfect enemy in "terrorism." It can't be tied to specific and identifiable people in specific and identifiable territories. Anyone anywhere can be a "terrorist" so the treat is eternal. Given Englehardt's observations perhaps we should come to the same conclusion the computer did in War Games: the only winning move is to not play.

And here is an illustration of Englehardt's point about the elimination of the gray areas. This is Us vs. Them at its most black and white.

Morford has a good post about America's real religion as opposed to the fake religiosity of our Repthuglican candidates who think we should close mosques or admit only Christian refugees. It is a religion I left a long time ago.

So "the religion of consumption has proven unfulfilling." Evidently, people are still buying but not the things that drive the profits of the big retailers. We aren't buying "stuff" but are buying the big ticket items and "experiences." We aren't buying those either.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Wet today with gusty winds. We got all our errands done yesterday before the rain and winds came on. Today we will hibernate and probably for the next several days as well. Thankfully, though we do have snow predicted for later in the week it won't be anything like the blizzard in Colorado.

I said in my last post that we had twisted the definition of "terrorist" to cover a disparate multitude--basically anyone the powers-that-be find troublesome.  Case in point this story from Saudi Arabia. Anyone who calls into question any aspect of the status quo is by definition a "terrorist."

It seems the old saying is true: the more things change the more they remain the same.  Another case in point. I am totally sickened by the attitudes/ravings of so many of the political contenders.

I constantly shake my head over the stupidity and viciousness of people. People like whoever threatens a bookshop that is named for an ancient Egyptian goddess.  Isis existed long before the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria became an acronym.

Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana and wanna be candidate for President, just raised the intellectual level of the Repthuglican field slightly--by dropping out. I hope it never becomes his "time."

I would say that someone had given Ben Carson a brain transplant from Sarah Palin--except Sarah never had a brain to transplant. Looks like Ben doesn't really either. How the hell did he get through med school?

Monday, November 16, 2015


I think Pope Francis has best described the Paris attacks--"a piece" of a "piecemeal Third World War."


I noticed that the evening TV news covered the Pope's remarks focusing on his condemnation but ignoring the part linked above.  I have noticed another phenomenon that hasn't received any attention by the media: the terrorists have successfully shifted the focus from their terrorism to our  "war on Islam." No matter how our leaders insist that we aren't fighting Islam the appearance now is that we are. And some over here help solidify that impression. "Terrorism" here is almost always applied exclusively to actions by Muslims. Just as the term "hate crime" is almost always applied to white violence against blacks. Our media's use of those terms erases the fact that Christians can commit acts of terrorism or that blacks can commit violence because they hate.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


The wind has been high all night, as predicted.  They say the temps will not get out of the 40s.  Mom said we had rain just about the time we went to bed last night which was also expected.  I got everything likely to blow around in the shed or tied to something not likely to blow away.

The gardening catalog season has begun.  I received the first--the 2016 Pinetree catalog a couple of days ago.  Right now the notions for next year have been simmering since I started taking plants out and getting the beds covered for the winter.  I need to sit down and think about how things worked out this year and evaluate the plants I had.

This is a story that has reappeared regularly over the years since the melamine poisoning episode in 2008.  The twist this time is the phenomenon is being driven by predatory marketing claims that infant formula, especially foreign produced and imported by what ever means, can turn a baby into an infant Einstein.

Slate has a post about an interesting case before the Supreme Court originating from Florida.  When can the government freeze assets owned by a person who has not yet been convicted of a crime and is, therefore, entitled to the use of those assets? I would like to see something similar with the whole issue of "civil forfeiture."

I, like one of the people quoted in this story, have never shopped on Black Friday.  I have been stuck on the other side of the counter all too often and don't miss it one tiny bit.  The sooner the phenomenon ends the better in my opinion.  What is replacing it is only a bit less annoying because we aren't seeing as much of it--incessant ads from Halloween on.  Our TV is off for the most part nowadays.  And we are watching less and less of the news which has improved our moods tremendously.

Tom Englehardt has another good article about the corruption that is a dominant feature of the "American Way of War."

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Another start of another week.  The frost cleared off the roofs, at least on the south sides.  The cars and north roof slopes will take a bit longer.  I moved all the bird and critter feed inside so I can reach it easily.  Our shed door often freezes shut during winter.  I need to take out the snow shovels soon as well.



Didn't see much to comment on over the last two days.  Been cleaning up a bit in the gardens and putting some things away because we are supposed to get high winds overnight with rain into tomorrow.  Didn't want the old plastic patio chairs I use as plant stands to go flying so I stacked them and brought them inside the fence. Cleaned up the bird feeder and filled it with fresh food.  A couple of days ago I saw a couple of robins visiting the feeder and the birdbath. I also got a bit rearranged in the sewing/storage/planting room (a.k.a., small bedroom sans bed). I have a lot more to do up there.

Interesting what you can find in birds nests--especially in an old structure where generations of birds have nested for centuries.

I have seen more stories about architects and others trying to incorporate living plants into their plans. Here is an ambitious example. This is the third structure the designers have proposed.  The other two are in construction in Italy. However, I do have a lot of questions about the practicality of the notion some of which the critic cited in the article brings up.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


Heavy frost overnight.  Though it hasn't felt particularly warm we are three weeks past our normal first killing frost date which indicates we haven't been particularly cold either.  Next week is more of the same just no 70s in the forecast.  Plenty of 50s and 60s with lows in the 30s and 40--and one possible dip into the high 20s.

So on to what I am reading.

Found this item early on.  It sparked our usual conversation about our situation and what we would do under what circumstance.  We are lucky.  Mom has good insurance thanks to her late husband's long employment with and retirement from the steel mills.  I have no health concerns so far.  But it does piss me off that we, the American public, were sold a pig in a poke scammed with the Affordable Care Act (which is neither affordable nor reliable care when you need it). Instead we were saddled with a system rigged to provide maximum profits for the insurance companies and minimum service for their captive customers.

For years Mom and I have been amused by the juxtaposition of headlines which screamed, alternately, that the consumers weren't spending (horror of horrors) and that savers were not saving enough. From Lambert Strether's remarks leading into this piece by Don Quijones the powers-that-be aren't too worried about savers not saving anymore. Instead they worry about "withholding consumption." I agree with the assessment that we are giving up our privacy and anonymity for the illusion of convenience.

Saturday, November 7, 2015


We have one more day of unseasonably warm weather though the sun the weather people promised has not appeared.  I am puttering around on the patio.  For some reason our patio is wet though we haven't had any rain.  That side of the house simply isn't drying out.  Even so I got the leaves swept up and spread then on one of the containers before covering with newspapers weighted with pieces of wood.

Our government protects us so well!! And, yes, that is sarcasm.


We got rain overnight--much needed so I won't complain.  I cleaned up the little greenhouse and shifted some things around.  I brought the sidewalk salt inside so it will be available when needed. We have plenty and we use it sparingly but when we need it we do need it. Our patio can become a very slick skating rink and neither of us wants to fall. I know I swept up leaves yesterday but you can't tell it. The wind has blown down a lot more.


The temperatures, as the weather people promised, has turned colder.  Actually it is seasonally appropriate but we were spoiled by unseasonably warm temperatures for the last week.  I should sweep up the latest batch of leaves, put them on a couple more containers and cover with newspapers for the winter.  I will mix the whole mess of leaves and newspapers into the top of the soil next spring.  I need to find the plastic I have somewhere in the shed so I can tent the hyssop and lemon bee balm.  I hope they will come back next spring but I have seed if they don't.

I haven't had many comments on news because I really don't see much new in the news.  We have turned it off earlier and earlier because a) the stories don't interest us, b) they are repeated to the point of nausea, or c) they aren't really "stories" but just one or two sentence of uninformative verbiage. Has anyone else noticed how little real content is in our news any more? "Breaking" news broke two or more days ago and the report has nothing new to add. The stories focus on the emotional and dramatic not necessarily on accurate information. I am both bored and annoyed with the media.

Found on Business Insider.  The map sees oddly familiar.  It resembles those I have seen for poverty, states that refused to expand Medicaid, high unemployment levels and other such problems. Maybe FAT isn't the only new normal out there.

I heard the announcement that Northrup Grumman had been awarded the contract for the new stealth bomber--which hasn't even been fully developed yet. Reuters covers it in far more depth and I am simply dumfounded. I shouldn't be. I should be inured to the bureaucratic morass that passes for government in Washington. I have said often enough that there are some aspects of life that shouldn't be governed by the profit motive but we should have some level of accountability, some measure of efficacy. And we don't. Of course, what we often have are for profit companies that milk (and bilk) the treasury to fatten their profits.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


Cleaned out the last three planters so the gardens are totally in winter mode.  Still have to finish cleaning up but we should have good weather for that.  Now to start filling in the plans for next year. The new seed catalogs should be starting to arrive soon.

Does this surprise anyone?  Why would we think that Porsche would be honest about their emission software when the parent company, VW, cheated as easily as we breathe? Cheating seems to be the strategy du jour.

I hope the Obama administration puts a stake in this vampire and ends the uncertainty.  Although the article focuses on the political climate, which has turned unfavorable, I wonder if TransCanada isn't also considering the economic climate--prices in the $40-50/barrel aren't exactly profitable.  Perhaps their execs are hoping that both the political and economic circumstances might improve in two years.

This study calls into question several bits of employment advice I have heard over my lifetime. The "any port in a storm" advice--take anything to just keep some income coming in--doesn't hold for middle aged workers. That leads to short term, limited gains and long term losses.  Especially if the worker is "overqualified" for the position. And the same goes for the notion that you can take a low level job and work into something better either at the company you already work for or at another. Those intro jobs ("burger flipping") don't have any career ladder leading upward and the bridge to better jobs at another company may have been washed out by our current economic conditions. I wonder how the results might change if the authors had included a 20-something category.

Monday, November 2, 2015


Well, I did get some clearing done outside yesterday and plan more today.  I took out the mandevilla and the pot tower with the strawberries, spearmint, and peppermint.  I still have two window box style planters and one five-gallon bucket to clear.  The bucket has hyssop so I will cut it back to the soil, water it well, and mulch and cover it for the winter.  Hyssop is a hardy annual so I will find out how hardy it is.  I have seeds just in case.  I also plan to mulch and cover the lemon bee balm since it is trying to come back from the roots.  If it comes back next spring I will be happy and if it doesn't I have those seeds also.

Found this this morning.  We have never reached the average household spending on any holiday for years.  We haven't any children of any age and even before I officially retired the costs on our limited budgets were getting too much and (to be brutally honest) the pleasure of seasons too little to continue the patterns.  We decided this year that we wouldn't buy and pass out candy.  It has become impossible to predict how much we would need and we really don't want to keep any on hand.  This year we had no trick-or-treaters because the weather was cold and wet.  We don't really celebrate any holidays anymore especially when "celebration" is defined as spending massive sums we don't have.

It seems some of our iconic brand companies have suddenly discovered that the disappearance of the middle class is impacting their bottom line.  I wonder what their pay scales for the line workers are like.  How many of their employees can qualify as "middle class?"  I also wonder how many consumers are like us and read the labels.  Too many of the products our brand name companies make have too much salt, sugar, high fructose corn syrup and unpronounceable chemicals.  The disappearing middle class may not be their only problem.

Another story to file in the "sounded good at the time but it doesn't work in the real world" file.  From my point of view the whole mucking around with education over the last decade and a half has been more about siphoning off as much public money (tax money, folks) as possible into private pockets and relieving the public (i.e., political) institution of the responsibility of administering the system than about actually educating children for whatever role they will play in adult society.  And this story reinforces that opinion.

Although I frequently criticize our educational system--see above--I do believe that children should be educated.  This is a story that leaves me ambivalent.  Why, you wonder?  Well, am not sure the state is doing all that good a job largely because we, as a society, have no clear notion of which children should receive how much education and for what and by whom.  The charter schools cherry pick the best and brag about their, often cooked, results.  The public schools have, apparently, become dumping grounds for the charter school rejects.  And for years the test scores have been dismal and getting worse.  The Texas parents may have decided that educating children isn't necessary because Jesus coming but the effect is hardly worse that the most benevolent efforts of our so-called education system.  Why penalize the parents when the school system gets a pass.

Sunday, November 1, 2015


Cold, windy and drying out yesterday.  Should be a bit warmer with some sun today.  We got a tease of sunshine yesterday but then the dismal gray moved back in.  Got a couple more rows on the cap yesterday.  It is an interesting experiment and looks pretty good so far.

I saw stories yesterday that China has ended the "one child policy."  Now couples can have two.  That the government hopes will still keep their population growth in check while addressing some demographic problems created as a result of limiting families to one child: the decrease of working age people, the problem of only child couples caring for two sets of elderly parents, and the fact that they have far too many young men for the number of young women.  However, the new policy won't have any significant effect for twenty years and the demographic problems are evident now.  And I have read some stories in which young, urban Chinese expressed no interest in having more than one child, or, in some cases, any at all.  They face the same problems we have over here: the expense of child care.

This is more than a bit pathetic.  It is nice that NBC wants to negotiate "in good faith" with the RNC but that assumes that the RNC and the various campaigns/candidates will also negotiate "in good faith.'  Would someone please define the terms "negotiate" and "in good faith."  So far they have complained about CNN, Fox and MSNBC.  None of those are flaming liberal media organizations.   Maybe they would like the moderators kowtowing abjectly to each of them, kissing their asses and apologizing if the weather wasn't exactly to their liking.


We actually did get some sun yesterday which was nice but we are back in the cloudy and wet today.
Hope you all have a fun Halloween or a blessed Samhain or what ever holiday you celebrate and that your weather is pleasant for it.


Welcome to November.  And to the change of time--something you all know I wish our powers-that-be would discontinue.  I spent most of yesterday finishing the new cap and tending the plants under the lights upstairs.  I cut back the larger lemon verbena and the leaves are nearly dry and ready to grind.  So far the two lemon verbena plants I added this year are doing very well and have lasted far longer than any others I have had.  I may try wintergreen and bay laurel again.

This is exactly why Big Ag doesn't want GMO labeling.  We have shifted to honey and cane sugar. So far sugar cane hasn't been invaded by the GMO companies while GMO sugar beets represent 95% of the beet crop.  We also look for any of the artificial sweeteners in anything we buy and choose items which don't contain things like high fructose corn syrup.  GMOs may or may not carry negative health impacts but I believe we should stick with simpler and less processed foods starting with the seeds.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


Definitely chilly--30s with wind chill in the 20s.  I started a new crocheted winter cap and got about a third of it done.  The gardens are winding down and the inside crafts are picking up.

I have just seen the morning TV news segments on the Repthuglican faux-debates.  We should be honest and drop the word "debate" from the political lexicon.  Lincoln and Douglas had debates.  Nixon and Kennedy had debates.  What has passed for debate for some several cycles now is anything but debate.  In a real debate the parties would present their positions with supporting facts (which could be checked for accuracy) and reasoned argument while presenting counter facts (which could also be checked for accuracy) and reasoned argument.  What I have seen in all of the clips and quotes are a bunch of egotistical assholes who wouldn't know a reasoned argument if one hit them over the head or a real fact if it bit them in their collective asses.  If someone from the media (like the moderator, for example) tells them their facts are bogus or their numbers don't add up, they whine about how nasty and unfair the moderator is.  I think it is time to get rid of these side shows.  They don't add anything but opacity.

This piece in the Washington Post is interesting but not for the political analysis, which though interesting is not a fascinating as the linguistic knots involved.  Take a look at the author's use of the words "responsibility" and "responsiveness" and how he applies them.  Politicians are "responsible" when they support the financial austerity which benefits the bankers and investors.  They are "responsive" when they support their electorate's desire for relief from that austerity.  Why aren't the politicians who support austerity not "responsive" (to the investors and bankers) and the side opposing austerity not "responsible" (to the electorate)?  In truth, politicians from both sides are both responsive and responsible--just to two different and opposed groups.