Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Oh, my--a (possible) new high temperature record.  In Antarctica.


Sunny today which feels good.  The temp should rise to near 60 which will also feel good.  I got the second flat of seeds started today.  The first is doing pretty well.  I finally saw one of the peppers emerge--the violet sparkles.  I think I see another emerging.  They have been so much slower than the tomatoes were and a couple of them that haven't come up yet.

Isn't technology wonderful!  Well, yes it is--unless it so dominates your life that other important things are crowded out--like friends, family and the natural world (or what is left of it, anyway.)


Found this by way of another blogger I always read.  We have noticed the bastardization of the notions of "organic" foods for some time.  We totally ignore the labels that scream "organic" or "natural."  We check the back of the label because no food that contains a long list of additives (usually preservatives) or additional unpronounceable chemicals can be truly organic or natural.

Leigh at 5 Acres and A Dream provided the above link in her discussion of language and word usage.  We often think we understand what the words mean only to find that others use them in an entirely unfamiliar way.

As an example of such linguistic ambiguity take a look at the Onion's satyric coverage of Indiana Governor Mike Pence's half-assed attempts to justify the half-assed Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Another item for the "What's old is new again file."  Preparation from a 9th century medical text proves effective against MRSA.  If that is confirmed we might see modern medical researchers going back to ancient sources to deal with our modern problems.

Saturday, March 28, 2015


I got my second tray of 50 starter pots filled and watered.  I will check it later to see that the water has been absorbed and whether I should add more.  I plan to start the greens which don't like a warmer soil temp to sprout effectively.  So far I have seedlings of the tomatoes, Moldavian balm, bee balm, and savory.  The peppers and stevia are slower germinators and haven't made their appearance yet.  We have snow flurries and cold temps this morning but next week we should have more springlike temps.

Saw this this morning and could only say "Oh, crap-tastic!!"  I guess we should simply face the fact that we are all "assets" to be sold to the highest bidder when the need arises.


We had off and on snow yesterday--a gift of the lake effect.  But it was all very light and none of it is left as far as I can see which not much since it is still dark.  I think I saw the first of my peppers popping above the soil.  If the warm(er) temperatures actually show up next week I will start getting the patio swept clear of the winter debris and put the cover back on the mini-greenhouse.

Interesting summation of our current foreign policy and political mindset.  Not flattering.

For quite a while now I have thought that "social media" was anything but social.  In fact, it often seems incredibly antisocial.  After all how many of your "friends" on Facebook are really friends in any traditional sense of the word?  This article indicates that the phenomenon goes well beyond friends who aren't really friends with whom you have no real interaction.  Modern hermits??  To what purpose?  Early Christian hermits sought separation from a sinful world and spiritual growth in the wilderness.  I don't see anything of that in the modern variety.

Translation:  a lot more of us will be the invisible servants of the technological "shut-ins" detailed in the article above.  I read a piece some thirty years ago in which the author argued that purpose of technology was to render the process invisible.  You want light so you flip a switch and get light but the entire process which delivers the light to you is invisible.  If the modern hermits want food they call up one of the apps and prepared food magically appears at their door.  They don't even have to interact with the delivery person.  I thought at the time that wives were the ultimate technology.  Some of the more acerbic Feminists caught the same implications with their joke that wives were the devices men screwed on the bed which did all the work.  Notice that most of the "Alfreds" are female.  I wonder how much buying power these invisible servants will have in a world where money buys less and less and most of us have less and less of it.

I found this by way of the Archdruidess and tried to follow it up but found that four links on my Google search ended with a "database error" as did the one on her blog I tried to follow.  She doesn't know if it is true and neither do I but I do agree:  if true, karma has bit someone who deserves it right on his ass.  The question I have is why so many "database errors"?

Thursday, March 26, 2015


Good news--the Tumbler tomato, Costoluto tomato, Moldavian balm, and lemon basil plants have started to emerge.  Haven't filled the other flat of starter pots yet.  Need to do that soon.  We got somewhere above the 4 inches of snow the weather people predicted but the temps are supposed to warm up a bit with heavy rain overnight tonight.  I expect it will all be gone (or nearly) by tomorrow.

Exactly why we don't watch as much TV, don't take newspapers or news magazines, and don't believe anything we do read or watch without subjecting it to serious examination for truth and accuracy.  It is all the same message slanted the same way and it all ignores stories we think are important.


Most of the snow has melted as I expected.  The patio and other shaded areas have some remnants.

Ah, bipartisanship!!  I wish this would go far but I don't think it has a snowballs chance in that very hot place.


Overcast for now with the possibility of sun later.  Low temps expected for the next few days.  The seedlings are coming up nicely--for the most part.  I do have a few slow germinators that haven't popped yet.

Speaking of seeds--this story rather pisses me off.  I have read too many stories about how highly hybridized and/or GM seeds have failed.  Often the areas into which the big agribusiness companies want to expand (i.e., Africa and parts of Asia, etc.) are poor areas where the farmers can't afford the chemical additions (fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides) the high-tech crops require.  This effort to capture a market and protect the companies from "investment risks" only speeds the spread of commercial agriculture.  The companies are enriched while the local farmers are impoverished.  As a disclaimer:  I do plant hybrid seeds as well as heirloom varieties.  I draw the line at GMOs.

Monday, March 23, 2015


Just finished starting the seeds for those plants that need warm(ish) soil--tomatoes, peppers, Moldavian balm, bee balm, stevia. lemon basil, lemon balm, and summer savory.  They are all in the tray on the heating mat.  I have another set of starter pots in another tray ready to fill with soil.  I think I will put the cool tolerant greens in that set later next week.  Got a pleasant surprise this morning--my eucalyptus seems to be waking up.  I found new growth and two new side shoots.  The lavender I expected to expire throughout the winter is also waking up and putting out new growth.  My rosemary has also done well over winter and seems quite happy in its new home (with the eucalyptus and lavender) on a table we moved over to the window.  That is the only place in this apartment which gets adequate natural light.



Ah, yes--springtime and it is snowing.  And it is accumulating.  The weather people say we should get between 2 and 4 inches.

Yesterday was a very lazy day.  Did read but didn't comment on anything.  Let's see what I find today.

Another "war" that is going so well both for the warmongers in this country and the people over whose bodies it is being fought.  Maybe we should simply "declare victory" and spend our money elsewhere--like on single payer medical care in this country.

Finally someone has the guts say this in very emphatic terms.  Robert Reich is absolutely right:  not everyone should go to college.  We should have options and those should not include enriching the educational industry.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday--Welcome to Spring

We should have sun (after the clouds clear off) and warmer temps making it feel like spring--for today and part of tomorrow, according to the forecast, before the temperatures go back down.  In other words, we can expect the typical weather roller coaster.

For most of this young century we have been bombarded by messages wailing about the "shortage" of STEM educated workers.  We have seen a major push to emphasize STEM education in primary and secondary schools (elementary and high schools).  This U.S. News article calls bulls**t which supports my skepticism about the whole issue.  We, as a society and as individuals, have spent huge amounts of money to prepare for jobs that either aren't there or don't pay enough to justify the expense (often borrowed) or time invested.

An interesting point with regard to semantics: who is an expat and who isn't?  And why?  File under: Hell, yes, language matters.

Charles Hugh Smith at Of Two Minds encapsulates exactly why I am ambivalent about Obama's plan to provide free community college or about a critique of that plan I read earlier today by an author I usually agree with which contends that we should have free college education for all.  Experts/Pundits have touted a college diploma as the ticket to the socioeconomic up-escallator.  Over the last twenty (maybe thirty?) years that has proven bitterly wrong.  See the paragraph above on the disappointment STEM graduates have found.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Ah, yes!!!  It is almost mid day and I noticed that the shadow of the house is just kissing the top of my fence.  The patio will be getting more light and heat from now on.  Spring has arrived, or almost since tomorrow is equinox.

Found this as I wandered the web.  I can't remember a time when I haven't had to wear glasses because of shortsightedness.  Evidently the increases over the last three or four generations has been breathtaking.  The old explanation that our genes are to blame doesn't seem to hold water when the incidence of myopia goes from less than 10% in the grandparents' generation to over 30% in the present generation.

Mark Morford always provides a good read.  He has this take on California's water problems.

I have rarely seen a mainstream outlet put this matter so bluntly.  I have thought for some time that contamination of the food supply is an inherent problem in the industrial food manufacturing system. "Components" come from very long distances (often from other countries), large volumes of product are pushed through at the highest possible speed, and any contamination (bacterial, metal, or plastic) at any point int he process can taint large batches that are sent to many locations and sold before the manufacturer becomes aware of the problem.  I should have said above that contamination is an inherent problem in food processing, period.  Small producers can also experience contamination problems.  However, their lower product volumes mean that fewer consumers will be affected.

Every once in a while you hear someone spouting off about "mandatory" voting.  Oregon has just passed a new law that would automatically register eligible voters when they get a driver's license or state id.  The secretary of state would automatically mail all registered voters a ballot before each election unless they opt-out and are dropped from the rolls. But nothing in the article says those ballots have to be returned.  Americablog discusses the pros and cons of mandatory voting.  If they want to make voting mandatory I want more of a choice.  Something like "Hillary or Jeb or None of the Above."  Right now I know I will vote for local and state candidates but leave blank the presidential race.

John Michael Greer has another interesting post on the growing split between science/scientists and the larger non-scientific society.  I have noticed that I am far more skeptical of scientific claims and am very likely to ask, especially about drug studies or medical advice, who is paying for the research.  I am very likely to subject the latest "nutritional" advice to severe examination.

Ilargi at Automatic Earth is on a good roll today.  He is totally right--we have lost Jesus, we have lost our compassion and we have lost our humanity.  I love the IMF's claim that Greece is its worst "client" ever--just because it won't cut it's throat with its own knife because the IMF wants it to.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Supposed to be nicely warm today--in the 70s.  But only for today.  Tomorrow puts us back to more normal temps in the mid 40s.  The snow is mostly gone from the patio and I was able to sweep up some of the seed that the birds have scattered all over.  With the spring cleaning/de-cluttering over the last couple of weeks I haven't got seeds started yet but I hope to do the first round over the next couple of days.

I found this by way of Down to Earth.  Anyone who can read this and still have an appetite for commercially produced "foods" has an amazing tolerance for crap.  I don't so we avoid it as much as possible.

Tuesday--Happy St. Patrick's Day

Much cooler today and so very windy.  I thought it had taken off my wind spinner (for the second time) but found it entangled on the double shepherd's hook.  I won't be disentangling it any time soon because a pile of icy snow still lingers below and in front of the hook.


Thankfully the wind has died down.  We would have been comfortable in spite of the cooler temps yesterday but for the wind.  I didn't see much I wanted to comment on.  Let's see what I find today.

No need for me to comment on this.  Englehardt and Levinson say it all too well.

Saturday, March 14, 2015


The warmer temps surely are welcome and the sun.  I can see garden containers that have been buried since sometime in January and the wind spinner that blew off our shepherd's hook during a high wind over a month ago.  Can't get at it yet.  The rose look like it might have survived.  We'll see. Cleaning is on our agenda today.

On the political scene David Kaiser has a good piece and it is depressing because it is so accurate.  I am in and uncomfortable position.  I see no one in either party I am willing to vote for and I am increasingly unwilling to try to find the "lesser evil" of two almost indistinguishable choices.

I have followed water shortage stories for a number of years now.  I remember the drought in the southeast during which Atlanta was reduced to less that three months of water in its major reservoir just before the rains finally returned.  I see stories each week about the drought in southern Brazil which has left Sao Paulo with weeks of water left.  This piece, however, focuses my attention closer to home.

I remember the triumphant claims in the 1980s that "democracy" was expanding across the globe.  We don't really hear that much anymore.  This piece in Zero Hedge might give you an idea of why.  The financial elites simply can't trust that democracy to give the results they want.  Which is why they are gaming the system everywhere.

Friday, March 13, 2015


More decluttering today and getting all the boxes and bundles together for the Salvation Army which is supposed to pick up tomorrow.  I hope I will get one set of my seed trays set up and on the heat mat to get acclimatized before putting in the seeds.

For something very different--I do enjoy reading about colorful eccentrics and this is definitely in that category.


We should have another nice and fairly warm day with temps going into the mid 50s.  The snow piles have dwindled dramatically.  We can see garden containers on the patio we haven't seen in two months.

The Archdruidess summarizes exactly why we no longer watch any of the TV channels listed.

I have been catching all kinds of stories about the Apple Watch.  I am not interested.  I haven't worn a watch since I (un)officially retired (i.e., was unemployed for two and a half years before going on Social Security) and don't intend to take a retrograde step by acquiring one of any kind.  I also don't need another computer--a teensy one at that.  I made a similar decision about iPhones (and by extension all "smart" phones.)  Neither device have much real utility for me.  I am so glad I am not alone on this issue.  Erica Manfred at Senior Planet has a humorous take it.


I have said before that I think the "sharing" economy is a fraud.  It looks like that may be confirmed in court as two U.S. court judges have rejected requests for summary judgement from Uber and Lyft attorneys in a case that challenges their classification of their drivers as "independent contractors."  According to the judges the ambiguities of the case requires a jury verdict which the companies have tried to avoid.

Well, the raids on pension and social security funds can begin in earnest now.  We have seen some attempts to cut pension payments and increase worker contributions on a state and local level but Greece will pave the way for more extensive theft just as Cyprus did for looting depositors (a.k.a., "bail in") to pay bank debts.  Some six or so years ago Ben Bernanke was asked at a Senate or House committee hearing about tapping Social Security and he replied that that "is where the money is."

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Foggy this morning but we should get near 50F today.  Most of the snow on the south side of the house is gone and about half of what was on the north side.  I am so looking forward to the day it will all be gone and I can see how my garden containers are doing.  Our de-cluttering continues.

Evidently voters say they want change.  Problem:  I don't see any real definition of what change they want.  And I doubt that all those who say they want change all want the same change.

Once many, many years the state legislature here in Indiana tried to legislate the value of pi as 3.2.  Why I have no idea but the most used value is 3.14 (and can be carried to infinite places if one has the patience or computing power).  The point I am getting to is just because a politician or a body of politicians declare something to be true doesn't make it true and just because a politician or body of politicians refuse to allow certain facts to be mentioned don't make them disappear.  Perhaps the political dunderheads in Florida should think about that considering their refusal to mention the words "climate change," or any of several terms connected to the phenomenon.

I have been reading recently that the old wisdom about salt leading to hypertension might be a tad over blown, if not actually false.  The new wisdom talks about sugars as a major culprit.  Rational Preparedness has a post today on the subject.  I know I mentioned that we restricted our salt intake after Mom had a blood pressure spike a couple of years ago though we have loosened up on that a bit.
We will never use as much salt as we once did--we have simply lost the taste for it.  At the same time we also started watching the sugars eliminating first the artificial sweeteners and then sugar itself.  That wasn't as hard as one might expect because we eliminated most processed and packaged foods.  We find we have also lost the taste for highly sweetened foods.

Considering yet another passenger train derailment and yet another oil train derailment/fire--this piece from Economist's View makes sense.  We aren't investing in our infrastructure until it fails (hopefully without loss of life and limb) and has to be replaced.

Did you all know that inflation actually declined by 0.1% which means that your income last month "surged???"  Yeah, I didn't either.  As SHTF Plan puts it, the figures are the latest CPI lie and utter bullsh*t.

Monday, March 9, 2015


The warm up begins.  Yesterday at this time we were at -2; today the temp stands at 30.  We hope for a full week of 40s and 50s.  If so we should lose a who lot of that snow.

I love stories about unusual or forgotten but potentially useful plants.  Here is one about the "potato bean" or American groundnut.  I have put it on my list of plants to think about for the future.


I actually saw some grass this morning--in the middle of the yard space not just on the edges by pavement.  The weather people say we got up to 42 yesterday.  I can't wait for all that snow to go away.


We have been busy with a major de-cluttering.  That means I don't have as much time for reading and commenting.  We will be continuing that today.  We are always amazed by how much we have held on to which we no longer use or which no longer suit how we do things.

Interesting and beautiful.

Grist makes the point I have made before:  The so-called sharing economy of Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb is bull.

Friday, March 6, 2015


Cold again but we do have hopes for the weekend for more normal temps (40s) and a nice stretch of sun.  We are still rearranging stuff and getting things sorted for redistribution elsewhere--as in to the Good Will or Salvation Army.  We have done that on an irregular basis since we moved here sixteen years ago.  Mom had an overstuffed one bedroom apartment and I had a not so overstuffed two bedroom house when we decided to merge our households into a two bedroom townhouse apartment. Although we both got rid of a lot before we came here we still had a lot to shoehorn into our small space.  Time to do that again.

Here is something I can definitely approve.  I hate exercise for the sake of exercise not matter how it is talked up as a health benefit.  I have noticed a number of articles lately recommending we spend less time exercising.

We saw this on the news last night and could only shake our heads and say:  What??? Another one???

A good reason not to travel to New Zealand or to leave your electronics at home if you are.  And then there is Canada where you can be charged with the crime of hindering immigration officials by refusing to give up your passwords.  That last is now in the courts.  The surveillance state is alive and expanding world wide.

Thursday, March 5, 2015


Oh, damn.  Just heard on the news that the Daylight Savings switch comes this next week end.  I hate those time shifts.  Our temperatures are dropping right now and will end up in the mid to low teens.  With between a quarter and a half inch of ice on the sidewalks we didn't go out at all yesterday.  Can't see what things look like right now--too dark.  We'll see what it looks like later.  Hope the forecast for the weekend pans out--dry, sunny, temps in around 40F.


Didn't have much to comment on yesterday.  We got into a rearrangement of furniture which took up our energy.  We still have some finishing up to do but I have a plant table in front of our living room window--just about the only place in the apartment where we get any sun at all.  I need to get the starting bench arranged with the heating mat so I can get starter pots filled and seeded.  That area is under a grow light.  My plans to start seeds are the only real sign of spring so far.

I have seen this on a couple of other posts.  Thought I should finally take the time to share it.

The news flash that Wal-Mart was rolling out a "green badge" to help its customers make more environmentally savvy choices passed me by.  Even if I had taken notice of it I wouldn't have changed my shopping habits.  I don't shop Wal-Mart if I can possibly avoid it and, usually, I can avoid it.  Grist has a post which concludes that the new program is just a continuation of Wal-Mart's old strategy of going for the appearance but ignoring the substance.  That is often the least expensive option.  They don't have to actually do anything.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


Looks like a good day to stay inside.  The weather people are showing a nasty mix of rain, sleet, and snow in the area.  I thought I heard rain last night just before I drifted off and we saw ice on our storm door.

We laughed all the way through this article.  I did a double take to make sure it was indeed the Guardian and not the Onion.  I love the author's comments on the DEA agent's hypocrisy concerning agricultural deforestation and erosion involved with commercial marijuana growing while the same goes on with other commercial crops but doesn't seem to elicit the same level of concern.  I find it disturbing that the jerk thinks he is dealing with "science" and "facts."

On the surface this sounds like a good idea.  But on second look I don't think so.  I remember a saying often attributed to Daniel Moynihan that we are "entitled to our own opinion" but "not our own facts."  The problem is defining what are "facts."  Using software that rates posts on how few statements conflict with the received wisdom of what the net consensus agrees are true facts is no better than relying on the consensus of public opinion.  That consensus might be very wrong.  Think about the dueling "facts" concerning the downing of that airliner over Ukraine:  the Russians claiming that it was shot down by a Ukrainian military plane while the U.S. claimed that Russian backed rebels shot it down with an surface to air missile.  Whatever evidence either side presented to bolster their case the other side pooh-poohed as fabricated, misinterpreted or otherwise suspect.  Which "facts" do you trust?  I don't like the notion that Google will be the gate keeper for the 'net and especially not one that relies community consensus to determine fact.

Another article that had us laughing all the way through it.  We stopped using most prepared foods because we realized we didn't like the taste and wondered why we put that "crap" in our mouths.  We produced much tastier food when we made it ourselves.  When Mom had an bit of an elevated blood pressure her doctor worried about we looked at salt and decided to cut our use of salt here at home and began looking at the salt content of the food we bought.  (Her blood pressure spike was due to something other than the salt--as her other doctor discovered.) Because of that concern, driven by medical advice, we buy very few canned veggies anymore, having already cut out processed foods, and only those that have no added salt.  We have since loosened up on that a bit but we still don't buy many canned veggies or soups.  We have lost our taste for the salt and added sweeteners in commercially produced foods.  They just aren't palatable anymore.  If that is "orthorexic" behavior, I am orthorexic and proud of it.

Monday, March 2, 2015


In the deep, deep freeze again.  Somewhere between -6 and -8F.  We don't have anywhere to go and nothing to do outside so we will be staying inside and warm.

I like seeing new (to me, if not exactly new to everyone else) gardening techniques.  Here is a DIY set up for a vertical aeroponic set up I found because this commercial application intrigued me.  Vertical systems are very interesting because I have a very limited horizontal area to use.


Welcome to March.  We had a bit of light snow overnight which is continuing now and it is about 25 degrees warmer.  This photo of the "slurpee wave" off Nantucket has made the round on the various news outlets.  It has been the coldest February here as well though the snow total, thankfully, did not make the record books over all.  The weather people tell us that the "normal" temperature for this time of year is around 40.  We might get one day of that mid-week.  And the "normal" for the end of March is low 50s.  All I can say is "from you mouth to the weather gods' ears."--


After the snow ended yesterday we had another 2 inches.  It looks clear right now but it is still dark.  The weather people say we should have sun though the temps will say below 20.

There is one thing I definitely do not want to participate in:  the internet of things.  I don't want my refrigerator compiling my grocery list, sending it via e-mail to my local store to be filled and delivered while they bill my bank account directly.  Nor do I want to take pictures with my phone and up load them directly to my "cloud" account.  Or surf with my "smart phone."  I don't need to control my thermostat with my cell phone.  I sincerely hope the day never comes when I have no choice but to participate.