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.)