Tuesday, June 28, 2016


We should have several cool days which I think my gardens and I know I will love. I hope I won't have to water as much. I saw blossoms on one of my sets of cucumber plants. I have to examine my peppers more thoroughly to find the developing peppers so I can keep an eye on them. The beans are also beginning to bloom so I have to watch for developing pods.

I have seen this story before and the link doesn't add much to the story. But I agree with the headline. The situation illustrates perfectly why I am against these "trade" treaties which are nothing more than gimmes to the big corporations. They are simply "I win and win big or I lose and win a little less." Heads I win, tails you lose. Total shit.

The Atlantic has a good analysis of our political system. "Chaos syndrome" sounds like an accurate diagnosis and it won't be cured easily or quickly. The author notes the rise in self-interested individualism in the process of how our politics became dysfunctional but I have to ask: what do you expect considering how long we have cultivated rampant, atomistic individualism in our society?

Monday, June 27, 2016


Well, I was planning to harvest some herbs after I finished watering everything and exterminating Japanese beetles but I saw dark clouds moving in and decided to leave the herbs for tomorrow. Good thing because we have a monsoon rain outside now not ten minutes after I came in. I hope I can get ahead of the beetles before they become more than minor pests. I have drowned about 25 between yesterday and today and stomped two more that fell on the cement. They seem to like a couple of the calibrachoa and black velvet petunias. I haven't found any sign on the nearby strawberries.


Good morning on this first day of the last week of the first half of the year. As awkward as that sounds what it amounts to is an OMG this year is half over. We expect another hot day so I will do the minimum in the gardens. The rest of the week is expected to be much cooler so I will harvest herbs and do what ever else should be done then

Tom Englehardt put up this post by John Feffer that I think is right on the money explaining why we are seeing the rise of Euro-skeptic/nationalist movements (which culminated but might not end with Brexit) and the rise of Donald Trump, and why this year's election is not (contrary to the fevered vocalizations of some political pundits) the most important election of our lives. The next one (or two) might be real doozies.

Saturday, June 25, 2016


The most severe weather passed us. We did have thunder last night but not much rain. I will have to see what the gardens look like when we have light outside. The weather people are reporting four confirmed tornadoes overnight in areas west of Chicago.

Nimue Brown has a nice piece this morning about our national smugness.


Nice and sunny and somewhat cool this morning but the weather people predict highs in the 80s today. I need to check out the plants outside. I am sure we didn't get enough rain to matter all that much. I saw some areas I need to trim a bit before the plants get overgrown. Otherwise, not much work to do.

I do love Betty White. She is old enough she simply doesn't worry about those who might not like what she says, so she says what she thinks. I agree with this sentiment and thank the Archdruidess for posting it.


Supposed to be warm and sunny today with temps topping out around 90. The first of the lisianthus is blooming. It looks something like a rose which is nice since I can't grow roses out there. I tried but the cold during the winter will freeze my containers solid which roses don't like at all. The beans have also started blooming while the tomatoes and peppers are covered with flowers and some fruit forming with more to come. I really should take some pictures--I have been way too lazy in that area.

An interesting analysis of the political season which notes a few parallels with the situation in Europe. Contrary Perspective also has a good piece which makes points I have noted in conversations over the last months. Like that author have noted, with more than a note of cynicism, that our media had said nothing about the British vote until the unthinkable happened. Then all the commentary has been about the effects on the value of currencies and stocks. It pisses me that our media has become increasingly parochial in this supposedly globalizing world. What? did they think globalization only applied to economics? It occurs to me that Cameron violated a couple of rules taught to budding lawyers and which politicians perhaps should remember. First, never ask a question (or pose a referendum) you don't know the answer to. (Corollary: you never know the answer when an election is involved.) Second, never ask a question you don't want to know the answer to. I find it fascinating that Brexit is all over our news now--of course with slight attention to the underlying causes and overwhelming focus on what might happen to us. We are nothing if not self-centered.

I heard a bare snippet of this on the morning TV news--which hardly surprises since our faux news is totally unexplained or analyzed snippet. But I am reminded of a time I lived in Missouri and the referendum concerning riverboat gambling appeared so often it began to smell like a fish left out for three hot days. The evangelicals opposed it bitterly while others supported it with equal fervor. The supporters won the first round by about the same margin the Leave side won Brexit. The evangelicals came back and won the a second vote by about the same margin. Then the third vote went back the other way. Democracy is not "vote-vote-and-vote-again until your side wins." Nor is it stacking the deck so there is no way the vote can't go your way.

I have seen a number of articles and posts which posit the notion that older Britons screwed the younger ones by voting for Brexit. A good many noted that the young favored remaining in the EU by about the same margin that the older voters wanted to leave. Key: who didn't vote. This article basically makes it clear that the young voters basically screwed themselves because they didn't turn out to vote. One chart reveals that somewhere around 75% of voters older than 35 voted while only about 50% of those under 35 did. Then look at the chart of the age distribution for those voters.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


I am waiting for enough light to see outside. It is only a bit after 4:30am and still dark though the eastern side of the sky is getting a bit lighter. I don't think we got any rain yet. We are under flash flood warning but I don't expect that we will have any problems in our little corner here and we aren't planning on driving anywhere. The first pulse of rain/storm should come a bit after 7 if the weather people have their timing right.

I just had an odd thought connecting the stories about the attempt to restrict guns, assault style weapons particularly, in the wake of the Orlando murders and some of the medical stories I have read over the last year, especially those dealing with high blood pressure/heart attack where doctors advocate expanding the pool of people who should be on statins. In each case we can't readily identify people who might "at risk," at risk of developing heart failure or at risk of going off the deep end and killing a bunch of people. So advocates recommend using a meat ax instead of a scalpel. Most patients won't develop the physical ailments that statins might help and most people who have or can get access to guns won't use them on fellow human beings. It reminds me of a scene in an old Charlie Chan movie where Charlie is running out of time to identify a murderer and one of the characters noted that ancient Chinese emperors didn't have that problem. Charlie replies that the emperor would indeed solve the problem quickly and efficiently. Given ten people of whom one was guilty he would simply order ten heads chopped off. We have entered an era where we are guilty until proven innocent and where accusation equals guilt.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


Welcome to the first full day of summer. The solstice was yesterday. The temperature topped 90 by a degree or two and it should do the same today. Thunder storms may be coming in later today and sporadically through tomorrow which, we hope will be cooler. Gardening right now consists of gathering herbs for drying, watering and pruning a bit here and there to keep the tomatoes under control. The beans look like they are beginning to flower.

I said a couple of days ago that if Paul Ryan agreed to allow a vote on the gun control bills the Democrats filibustered to get to the floor, it was because he was sure they wouldn't pass. The benefit on the Republican side was they could bask in a (marginal) aura of being democratic and allowing other opinions to be heard while being assured their constituents (the NRA) wouldn't get their noses out of joint. The benefit to the Democrats: a pyrrhic victory that gives the illusion they are actually doing something. Smoke and mirrors. Well, the House voted down all of the bills. My cynicism was well justified.

I read this and expressed my opinion in some very bad language. My take: they simply couldn't allow a girl to win in a typically male competition.

Monday, June 20, 2016


Watered everything today. That is going to be an everyday activity from now on. We just aren't getting anywhere near enough rain. At the end of last gardening season I got three sets of hoop frames for the gardens. I finally got to use them this year but I find I can make better use of them if I don't use them the way they were intended. I will have to take pictures soon to illustrate what I am doing with them. I think some of the beans are trying to bloom and the tomatoes and peppers look like they will yield very well this year, if nothing untoward happens. The herb drying season is about to get into high gear also.

I didn't see much I really wanted to comment on so I will leave this until tomorrow.


The weather people say it will be another hot and sunny day. I will have to get out early and water everything and fill the bird feeders.


Another 90* yesterday and warm overnight. The heat makes you feel like a wrung out dishrag. I got everything watered outside and even snipped a few dead blossoms off some of the plants as well as running the claw cultivator over some patches of weeds trying to establish themselves. But the heat built too fast to do much else. Update: the temps outside reached 90 a couple of hours ago. We gave up and put the air on.

Yves Smith had this post this morning. It lays out a good case against toll roads and the so-called private/public partnerships. All those terms mean is that the private investors have built in guarantees of profit while the public is assured of shouldering all the risks.

I have never seen this before although it may have happened. An airline turned back to its origin in Texas because of temperatures in Phoenix. The article says it is illegal for airplanes to operate once the temperature reaches 120* because of the adverse effects on the plane's systems. The temperature at the time was 117*.

Friday, June 17, 2016


We actually ran the air conditioning yesterday. The humidity was stifling which was a worse problem than the heat alone. It should be cooler today and dry. We'll see.

I saw this story sketchily presented on the morning news broadcast. I had a couple of thoughts on it. First, the Repthuglican agreement to consider and vote on the Damnocrat gun control measures doesn't mean much if a 2/3 majority is required to pass it. Allowing a vote you are sure will fail looks a lot more democratic than refusing to vote at all--which is what they are doing with Presidential nominees. Second, as far as the bills themselves go they constitute another shredding of American legal rights. The "no-fly list" and the "terrorist watch list" are both sick jokes. People who have done nothing wrong get on them for any number of reasons (names mistyped, similar sounding names, etc.) and can never get off. Their right to travel is cancelled with no judicial process or review and now our politicians think being listed on such a list should cancel one's right to legally own fire arms a right supposedly protected by the constitution. I don't know how many reporters have reported that the Orlando murderer was "under investigation" wondering how he could possibly have been allowed to legally buy his guns. They don't seem to understand that "under investigation" does not mean "arrested" which does not mean "indicted" which does not mean "convicted." We have become such cowardly wusses that we don't seem to mind the erosion of our rights. Or are we such idiots that we think the abrogation of such rights only applies to "those people" and will still be available when we might need them? The only good thing about the Damnocrats' action is that they did get up on their hind legs and make a stand.


What a whiplash pair of days we had. Wednesday was hot and humid. The temperature topped out in the low 90s. Yesterday didn't get out of the 60s. Today we should be back in the 80s with plenty of sunshine. Just some general puttering and maintenance in the gardens today. Everything is doing nicely.

Nimue Brown has an interesting and thought provoking post this morning: Contemplating Violence. Everyone seems at a loss trying to understand the motives of people like the Orlando Murderer, or the Church Murderer who is going on trial soon. A good many are trying to see what "signs" they missed (or that the FBI or other agencies missed). I wonder if they, like Nimue in the event she describes, simply didn't understand what they were seeing. And in an era of diminished expectations and failed dreams finding scapegoats is very easy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Sunny today and getting warmer again. Yesterday was a nice relief from the heat. However, we didn't turn on the air conditioning at all during our two days of 90+. Several years ago we changed our patterns of both air-conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter. Our winter setting is 68F and we don't turn on the air (or didn't until this year) until the temps hit 85+. We have developed a wider range of temperature tolerance and actually feel better for it. We simply don't like having the house closed up so much of the time. The gardens are doing well. I found little peppers and tomatoes forming on several of the plants which we are looking forward to. The beans and peas are growing fast but haven't bloomed yet.

This little article at Grist had us reminiscing. I can remember when my Dad would capture the lion's share of the gizzards and livers when ever we had fried chicken. His favorite part along with the drumsticks. Every roast turkey or chicken had stuffing with the gizzards and livers chopped up in it. And/or gravy with the same. When was the last time you bought a stewing hen? We usually buy one or two a year that we cook for soup, stock, and pieces for casseroles/salads. But we haven't seen a package of gizzards in years. That used to be included with the bird. I can remember cooking beef heart and tongue. They were cheap and tasty. I haven't seen either in stores for at least 30 years. Mom remembers cooking them also. They were great budget stretchers.


I don't know how much I will get into today or how much I will post. I have already had some difficulty with my e-mail site. The scrolling keeps hanging up in the most frustrating way. Nothing much planned in the gardens unless I find something when we go out. I am at the filling in stage. Not many spaces left to fill up.

The garden spaces are filled up. But I didn't find anything I wanted to comment on.


Squalls of heavy rain so far this morning with thunder and lightening. No gardening today but I got the new plants put in yesterday. Too dark just now to see if anything was damaged. I will check in a little while.

I have tuned out most of ht so-called news about the Orlando mass murder. Much of the coverage is what has become normal in our news media: look for dramatic local ties (especially victims who once lived in or grew up in Chicago or whatever location the station is located), give plenty of time to the political blowhards (all the better if they fan the flames of some controversy.) I have to ask one question: why is it that when a murderer has some ties to some version of Christianity the guilt is always attributed to the individual and not the religion while when a killer has a Muslim background the guilt is spread to the religion and less to the individual?

Sunday, June 12, 2016


Our mini-heatwave continues. They say we hit 93F yesterday and we can expect the same today. The temperatures should break much lower tomorrow. I harvested a bit of lavender and spearmint which is now dry and ready to be ground. I need to water things today even though we have a chance of storms later this afternoon or evening.

David Kaiser has another good post this morning. The politics of identity have been pushed to absurdity. But is there such a thing as an "American?" Like Kaiser I don't really have a tribe to return to or relate to. The only identity I have is American and I have the increasingly uneasy sense that somehow someone somewhere is trying to write me out of it. My American tribe isn't well represented by Donald Trump--or by Hillary Clinton--or by most other so-called leaders. The image in the mirror is more and more distorted as time goes on. The fun house is becoming the mad house.


The temperature reached 93 again yesterday. Today though is starting very cool and won't (they say) get above the mid 70s. I picked up a few fill in plants and will plant them today. I think the rain bypassed us if it developed at all.

Homestead Dreamer has a good article on The Epidemic of American Food Ignorance. I agree with everything she said.

The fact I find interesting about this situation isn't that the SNAP benefits card system has been restored. Rather it is that this is the first mainstream media story I have seen on the outage. All of the info on the outage itself while the system was down for several days came from alternative news sources. The failure hit 17 states including Illinois and California and yet the news media ignored it--until it was over. Almost every morning for some while now I will remark that "we should turn on the TV and see what news they aren't telling us."

Most of us have heard by now of the horrendous massacre of 50 (at last count) people at a gay nightclub with more than fifty wounded. Infidel753 has a couple of remarks on the story which I think hit same nails on the head. First, the assassin had no criminal record, was a security guard and had a license for firearms. He asked what kind of "common sense" restrictions on gun ownership would have made any kind of difference in this case--unless you define "common sense" as out right confiscation of firearms from everyone. My biggest disagreement with the anti-gun activists (which by no means indicates I support the NRA) is their tendency to blame the tool not the asshole who misuses it. Second, there is a tinge of hypocrisy (maybe more than a tinge) in the Repthuglicans who are "praying" for the victims when they are ardent gay-bashers. Their prayers mean less than shit.

Friday, June 10, 2016


A minor bit of clean up today and rearranging. I moved the small planter tower upstairs under the lights (after getting the area cleaned up a bit), mixed up another batch of slightly acidified water for the blueberry and watered everything. The sky keeps threatening us with rain and then the clouds clear off. Don't know if we will get anything at all.

Didn't see anything I wanted to comment on. Maybe tomorrow.


Thunderstorms rolled through last night along with heavy rain. They say that one sure way to make it rain is to wash your car. Well, watering a garden does just as well. With full light everything looks good outside. No damaged plants.

This is a fascinating and disturbing (though not totally unexpected) development. It certainly gives the lie to the notion of "free speech." Oh, I guess that is only for corporate people these days.

I can relate to this article. We have become transients and few of us really know our neighbors. We have lived in our apartment for more than a decade. During that time we have had at least five neighbors in the unit on the east side of us, nearly as many on the west side and only two in the unit one door down in our four unite building. We never knew much about most of them. Our neighborhood consists of about twenty similar buildings and a line of similar (though slightly larger duplex houses) across the street. People move in; people move out--frequently. What is a good metaphor for something that interacts less often than "ships in the night?"

David Kaiser has some good comments on the coming election.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


I always look forward to two bloggers' posts each week. One is John Michael Greer's Archdruid Report which appears on Thursdays and the other is James Kunstler's Clusterfuck Nation which should have appeared today. When I didn't find it in my e-mail I went to the site to find out what had happened. It seems his site has been under DoS attack for the last two weeks with particularly sustained attack for the last two days. However, Patreon has it crossposted on their site. It is classic Kunstler which skewers everything about the leading presidential contenders and their failure to address the most urgent problems this country faces. Is that why his site is under attack?


We went to the farm market yesterday. It was only the second day and the first weekday so we are trying to get a feel for which venders are there on what days. I got the strawberries to finish out one of the tower pots and a couple more lisianthus to keep the first one company. We also found our locally produced honey, maple syrup, asparagus and spinach and some nice tomatoes from a woman who brings early produce in from the south. We are so glad when ever the market opens for the season. This last winter has been a particularly bad one for veggies of any kind from the supermarket. The quality has been markedly poor whether it was fresh or frozen. We don't buy much in the canned veggies any more but those had disgusted us some time ago.

It will be cool today but sunny for the early part of the day. Should be able to do a few things in the gardens.

When I read the title of this my first reaction was "Bhopal." It seems to be one of those gifts that keep on giving.

Business Insider had this item today which has me shaking my head. High tech is so damned sexy--especially high tech genetic engineering. There are several problems with the proposal. First, it is a long term proposal that might (probably) won't ever yield truly useful results. For comparison take a look at all the promises of a "cure" for cancer. There are so many possible, and some proven, causes that a cure is impossible. Scientists have discovered several genes that predispose people to cancer and each acts differently and responds to treatments differently. The scientist presenting the proposal to identify the genes in mice that prevent some individuals from transmitting Lyme disease to ticks (and hence its ultimate transmission to people) describes a similarly complex situation. Furthermore, no one knows how many different functions each of those genes actually perform within the cell. Any one of those genes might accomplish the purpose of preventing transmission of the Lyme bacterium but have another action we might like even less. Maybe the money could be better spent on other less high tech projects.

The comment on the link at Naked Capitalism sums up the story quite well: "third world stuff." We wondered why it took so long for the news media to call the California primary. This explains it. And, yes, it is definitely third world stuff.

Monday, June 6, 2016


Ah, nice and sunny so far. I have a bunch of chores I want to get done in the gardens and in the grow light section upstairs today. I planted a dahlia, a French thyme, and a lisianthus I picked up at the opening of the farm market last Saturday. I was glad to see that the numbers of vendors have increased. The weekday market is usually even better.

I found this amusing piece almost first off and everyone should have a good laugh to start the morning. Being well over 30 myself it resonates with me. I usually wear scarves, caps or bandanas and I have had three people ask me over the last couple of years if I had cancer or some such and had lost my hair. I wonder how many people assume that and don't ask. My hair isn't my crowning glory and I hate bad hair days. I remember some years ago when the phrase (from a poem I once looked up) "when I am an old woman I will wear purple." I think it also said something about a red hat. I said screw waiting till I am old. I will wear what I damn well please now.

Tom Englehardt has another of his yearly "commencement addresses," the kind that should be given but which won't be.

Saturday, June 4, 2016


I wasn't going to post at all this weekend but I simply couldn't pass up this item. The title (Superbugs Have Reached the U.S. for the First Time--Again) alone was enough to make me laugh and click on the link. When we combine a 24/7 news media looking for sensational stories to hype and a complex and potentially serious phenomenon we get a situation tailor made for hysteria.

This is an interesting N.Y. Times article on how the military is refocusing its training. As I read the piece with its reminder of the "conditions" on many of our bases in Afghanistan (and Iraq) I realized that the number of contractors the army depended on was not the only reaction to political necessity. The contractors allowed both the Bush and Obama administrations to keep the numbers of "troops" at a level acceptable to the public but also kept the soldiers relatively comfortable so they would put up with being deployed (and redeployed and redeployed, ad infinitum) to the "front lines" of the War on Terror.

I don't know what part of this I like more: that a Chinese company has made toilet paper with Donald Trump's and Hillary Clinton's faces on it or that The Donald's rolls are selling more than the Hillary rolls by 6-1. Beats the Halloween masks all to hell especially in a year where our choice will probably be between turds. How do you make that choice--which smells the least or which was easier to pass?

The Organic Prepper starts off her post today with the information that the General Mills flour recall, which encompasses 10 million pounds of flour, may be much worse that the original news made out and may grow. The flour was also shipped to restaurants and food processors so it might include pie crust dough, bread dough and cookie dough. I wouldn't doubt that cake and muffin mixes might be next. Her prescription is one we went to some time ago: buy local and cook from scratch.

Friday, June 3, 2016


Starting out to be a very nice day with the sun out and no rain threatening. I have a few minor chores but nothing major planned.

Who'd have thunk it--zombie wildfires. And they have had 16 of them so far this year including one that has been smoldering for two years. I hope that isn't a foreshadowing of the coming year.

I wasn't going comment on this but the more I thought about it the more it rankled me. I mentioned the patronizing tone of the medical article yesterday and this one is more of the same only worse. Somehow the "Trump voter" (of which I am not one) is to blame for the dismal job numbers. They are the 400+k who "dropped out of the labor force" last month either because the "didn't want to work" or because they "didn't think there were any jobs" out there. So they are either lazy or delusional. As someone who not too many years ago spent two-and-a-half years unemployed without unemployment insurance and who sent out dozens of resumes each week all of which netted one sort of interview that last about 5 minutes before the interviewer decided I was "overqualified" before I was able to qualify for social security, my sympathies are with the "Trump voters." And far from being "uneducated" I have four university degrees. I do resent patronizing assholes.

I love Yves Smith's Naked Capitalism and her Political article is right on target. We have discussed the likely candidates for the presidency. If Bernie Sanders by some strike of lightening luck becomes the Democratic nominee we will vote for him. If the contest is, as is looking very likely, gives us a choice between Clinton and Trump, I am considering voting Libertarian. I consider it my equivalent of chewing my leg off to get out of the trap of having to support two parties whose policies have consistently betrayed their core voters.

Thursday, June 2, 2016


Supposed to be warm and sunny today. I saw some plants that need tending--mostly tomatoes I should prune and tie up. I found one that has sunscald, I think. I will take a closer look. We had a good rain yesterday so I don't think I have to water anything.

Now for the mystery of the day which may have finally been solved: what happened to tens of thousands of racing pigeons which disappeared during a cross channel race between France and England in 1997.

This story doesn't surprise me although the tone does. The author's tone is more than a bit patronizing. The fuzzy oldsters simply don't understand the difference between a 50% chance that a 50 year old woman will have a hip fracture over her remaining life time versus the between 10 and 40 out of 100k patients taking an osteoporosis drug breaking a thigh bone versus the fewer than  in 100k suffering a rotting jawbone. I am not fuzzy, though at 67 I am somewhat of an oldster, and I have two science degrees (BA and MS in Biology and Zoology) and frankly I don't know what to make of the stats except to question them. What does a 50% chance of a hip fracture over a "remaining life time" really mean? And group statistics don't really mean that much applied to individual people. A couple of years ago Mom (86 this year) and I both had a bone scan which indicated that her bones were thin while mine were still robust. What does that 50% really mean for us individually? Mom's doctor insisted that she go on one of the popular drugs which she did for several years until the reports came out about the atypical fractures. Key point here isn't her concerns about those reports but the fact that during all the time she took that drug her bone density did not improve at all. If her bone density did not improve then how could the drug improve her chances of escaping a hip fracture? I think a large dose of skepticism is in order here. We don't need patronizing dismissal. We need answers.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Welcome to June

I just had to clear my in-box of more than 70 advertising e-mails. I am totally irritated. I have to wonder how often I have to designate some of that trash as spam before my filters catch up. Let's see if I can get a pleasant mood back.

One nice thing to contemplate: we saw our first hummingbird yesterday. I had a suspicion that they were back because the level of the food in their feeders was lower by a bit but we hadn't seen them yet. The one we spied also checked out the calibrachocha. Those also attract bees and butterflies. I have put that plant on my seed order list for next season.

Damn!!! Lost another of my favorite bloggers. Gene Logsdon, the Contrary Farmer, died yesterday. He had a quirky sense of humor and covered a number of odd topics on farming and the relationship of farming to our society. I thoroughly enjoyed his account of his battle with cancer (Gene Everlasting). I am sorry to read that he ultimately lost that fight.