Monday, August 29, 2016


Hasn't been much to comment on as far as news goes since we are in the middle of Survivor: Donald and Hillary Season. That is what our politics has descended into--a "reality" show. No rain yesterday though we had clouds moving in and out that looked threatening throughout the day. I got out a bit to look at things in the gardens, pulled a couple of plants that were well past their prime. And I moved an rearranged s few of the pots. Today I need to harvest some of the spearmint and peppermint. The Peppers and Tomatoes need some attention as well.


I won't be doing much outside today. We have thunder and lightening already with a lot of rain on the weather radar scans. So I will work on a couple of needlework projects that have languished for a while.


We expect more rain early and more sporadically over the day. Looks like another day of needlework and reading. Update: turned out sunny, so far, but warm and humid.


We did get thunderstorms late yesterday so the weather people's models didn't lie. Our online weather says more of the same today.

Contrary Perspective has a nice essay on Holocaust Forever? As I recall the NAZI death machine murdered more than 12 million people of whom 6 million were Jews. We don't often hear about the others who haven't attained eternal victim status.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Cool weekend temperature wise with heavy rain on Saturday. Usually by this time the moisture has been wrung out of the atmosphere here but not this year. I didn't get much done over the last three days. I spent most of Friday and Saturday resting up from a nasty fall on Friday which could have been much worse. The door mat had become slippery with wear and all the rain. I stepped out the door, slipped and fell hard. Thankfully no damage a couple of days not moving much didn't cure. The mat (and its counterpart at the front door) has been replaced. I cut down two spend tomato plants and the Blauhilde bean tower with its supporting sunflowers. I didn't realize how busy the birds had been at them until I looked at the largest flower head and found almost no seeds. I plant those largely for the birds and to provide support for bean plants. They fulfill both purposes very nicely.


I may not get much done today. We have errands. I did take down the last bean tower and the last sunflowers. I will look for some fall flowers to provide color--mums, maybe.

I have seen another spate of stories on the unconscionable increases in drug prices. Here is another which should piss everyone off.

This is hardly a surprise: the Louisiana floods due only in part to climate change. The rest was poor infrastructure and lousy government planning. I can guess that after the 1983 floods politicians responded to voters demands for action. They made plans and actually began some projects. Then after the furor settled down everything went back to what it had been before--except that the population more than doubled. I suspect a similar pattern will prevail this time around. Voters will demand something be done and politicians will scramble to make it appear that they are doing something. Think Katrina.

Thursday, August 18, 2016


Bread baking day and I hope it stays dry long enough for me to get a good look at the gardens. The weather people have predicted hit-and-miss showers with more overnight. I hope their predictions for early next week come true: dry and cooler.

Echidne of the Snakes has a good discussion on the Republican notion that increasing consumer choice would result in lower health care costs. It won't work for the costs that are really driving the increase. She didn't mention another reason their strategy won't work: the cost structures are too opaque and getting accurate information is very difficult. The Republican strategy isn't so much designed to empower consumers as it is to enrich the pharma/medical industry. But that isn't new. After all, the bastardized system we now have simply created a captive population who had to buy insurance (or pay a fine for the privilege of not buying) and then guaranteed the profits of the insurance companies on top of that. Are we, as a society, so sick that providing adequate health care will bust individual and national budgets? Or have we been convinced by the health care industry (or, as some bloggers call it, the sick care industry, that we need more of their services than we really do? Or has that industry followed the same pattern that education has and raised their costs into the stratosphere because they know the ultimate consumer has no way to realistically judge the cost/benefit values of their product and a third party pays anyway. Hummm--maybe a combination of all three.


Oh, well. My plans to do some gardening have run head long into another bout of rain which is coming in earlier than predicted. Update: My plans have been reworked by Mother Nature a bit more. The rain came with very nasty high winds which have battered my bean towers. One is listing at about 30* so I think it prudent to take it down along with sunflowers that are part of the support system. Mom suggested keeping the seed heads and attaching them to some of the stakes for the goldfinches. Sounds like a good idea. Won't happen today and maybe not tomorrow since this same weather is supposed to last through Saturday.

Another good entry in the "how women are erased from history" file.

We laughed all the way through this article but there is nasty flavor underneath. We have noted for some time that Trump is hardly unique in this crazy world of ours. He isn't even unique in American history. But I think the unstated truth is in the title: The Globalization of Trump. What we are seeing is a reaction from those millions who have been left behind and worse off by globalization.

Oh, yes, the costs to the community of having Walmart as a neighbor. This is a cost not mentioned in Cheap: the High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell and Lorna Raver.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


We are taking it easy today. I have four quart jars of tomato chunks that I need to reprocess but everything else sealed nicely including the three pints from the day before. Now that that burst of activity is over we will be taking it easy. Shortly after writing that line I found Nimue Brown's latest post on Druid Life which makes pretty much the same point. Mom just found an article which proclaims today "Leisure Day." Nice timing!!


One of my quart jars didn't seal so it is in the freezer. Not bad for a novice canner. We have had heavy rain since yesterday with more expected through tonight. I looked up the precipitation stats which say we normally get about 4.5 inches in August. We have had 3.8 over the last week. Almost a month's worth in one week. Since it is too wet to work in the gardens I am getting some of the straightening and cleaning done in my plant starting/craft/storage room. I can almost see the top of the table. Ah, progress.

I do love Margaret and Helen. Helen posted this on what we have found out about Donald Trump in the year since he entered the political fray.

I have become very skeptical of studies like this one featured in Bloomberg. Do retirees really need $130k just to cover medical costs? That amounts to $6500 per year for 20 years assuming they retire at 65 and kick off this mortal coil at 85. Ok, lets think a bit. Right now I have $110 taken out of my Social Security for Pt. B Medicare. That comes to about $1400 per year. I don't have drug coverage. I don't need any prescription meds. Over the last 15 years I have spent (maybe) $200 on such drugs. I have no debilitating conditions that require treatment or monitoring so I have seen a doctor twice (for total of $150) and a dentist once (for about $3000 to cover a couple of crowns, a couple of fillings, and a tooth extraction). That amounts to $3150 over the last 15 years and all before I went on Medicare. Now my mother does have prescription meds she has to take daily and a couple of conditions that do require careful monitoring. Her needs are very different and her costs are much higher. Thankfully, she does have good insurance in addition to medicare and which, again thankfully covered her dental treatments a few years ago. She might come close to the $6500 a year in medical expenses. It is nice that the study authors note that they are citing averages and costs/needs vary widely. But on the whole I think the whole article is designed to get people into investment/insurance schemes they won't necessarily need. That only lines the pockets of the insurance/investment companies.

Rudi Giuliani has has become a caricature of himself--or he is suffering from early Alzheimers. The Repthuglican strategy seems to be "throw the shit and see if it can stick."

Sunday, August 14, 2016


Busy day yesterday. I got bread started while Mom started on the half-bushel of Roma tomatoes. While the loaf was rising I joined her working the tomatoes. Those are now cooked and ready to blend down into sauce. We will can the sauce today. Tomorrow we work on getting the half-bushel of canning tomatoes done up. Not bad for a weekend's work.

Wonderful how our news media manages to erase the accomplishments of women.


Finished canning the tomato sauce yesterday. Final count: 24 pints. Three didn't seal so I will redo them today with the canning tomatoes we will can whole or in chunks.

Interesting that this notion is featured in a Time magazine op-ed. I do have a few quibbles. First, who says that sufficient jobs will exist for all of the future teachers, law enforcement officers, or whatever. How many of those jobs evaporated during the last "recession" which hasn't truly ended yet. Second, forgive the past loans but end the program entirely and put all of the money that would have gone to a new student loan programs into grants and scholarships which don't have to be paid back. Third, if we want to encourage students to opt for public service jobs, target some of those grants and scholarships to those careers. Do not guarantee any loans and make all dischargeable in bankruptcy.

Actually, this article doesn't go far enough in describing the disconnect between the elites and the "great unwashed." Our big financial institutions are global. Our major manufacturing companies are global. Many of our largest commercial companies are global. They are no longer rooted in the communities that gave rise to them. They no longer have to consider the needs of the lower classes.

Update: the last of the quarts of tomatoes are in the canner and should be ready to take out in another 45 minutes or so. I am waiting till the water boils again to start the timing. Just figured out the cost of this batch of canning: a whopping 67 cents. I am not counting the cost of the jars because almost all of the ones I used came from items previously--mainly honey. We made sure that all of those jars are Ball, Mason, or Kerr. I did use several new lids and rings but the added cost is negligible.

I have only flown twice in my life and I sincerely hope to never do so again. Not because of any phobia but because of the hassles involved and this simply adds to the aura of "Gods, I never want to do that again." In an economy where we feel more and more "nickled and dimed" to death this is just another gouge.

Friday, August 12, 2016


First article I saw this morning explains a lot of the disgust I have seen on the internet over the coverage of the Olympics. I haven't had much interest in the Olympics for many years. The events I would have liked to see were rarely shown even when a U.S. athlete won a medal. I always thought the commentary, especially of women athletes, bordered on the condescendingly inane. It hasn't changed but at least people are pushing back on it.

David Kaiser has an interesting post on where we are headed no matter who wins this surreal presidential election. It doesn't bode well.

Thursday, August 11, 2016


I did get some of my garden work done yesterday before it got too hot. Took out two tomatoes that were pretty well spent--one of which had been giving me problems because the winds were pushing it off kilter and making it lean dangerously askew.

We got all of our errands done and got home just as the heat and humidity ramped up. The new hose will wait until tomorrow to get broken in. We wound up getting half a bushel each of canning tomatoes and Romas from a large farm market which would get a lot more business from us if we lived closer to it. That should give us all the sauce and canned, quartered tomatoes we need for the winter. We start on those tomorrow. Sometime in between I should harvest some of the peppermint and check over the peppers and tomatoes really well. It should (I hope) be cooler for the next several days.

The Globe and Mail published this opinion piece which says much of what I have been thinking for sometime: we need to stop thinking about efficiency as a supreme good. In the drive for industrial efficiency our system has created a lot of goods at the cost of resource depletion, increased pollution and the increasing inability of "consumers" to buy the goods because the process has driven down labor costs by eliminating a lot of jobs which once paid for the goods.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


More neglected garden work planned today. I harvested a lot of tomatoes that are waiting for our next session of sauce making. We plan to take a trip up to a farm market that has advertised canning tomatoes for sale in bushel and part-bushel lots. That should take care of most of our need for whole canned tomatoes.


Supposed to be hot today--back in the 90s. The gardening will have to be done early but all I really have to do is water things well and trim some. I harvested maybe four pints of Blauhilde beans, some peppers and a couple of tomatoes yesterday. I also ground the peppermint, spearmint and egg shells I had dried. The first two go into tea and the last I add to the gardens. I am waiting for a "canning element" for the stove. It is a bit larger to fit the canners better and it sits a bit higher than the usual element. It is supposed to help heat the vessels more evenly and improve the air flow to maintain the temperatures more consistently. We'll see.

Tom Englehardt presents another good piece on the new "Greatest Show On Earth," the Election 2016. We are ignoring as much of the blather as possible and hoping Trump goes down if flames so we won't have to see his smug mug so much polluting our TV screen.

Well, the watering is done but not without drama and massive irritation. We have had four of the X-Hose and its ilk over the last four years. Everyone has burst as some point. One didn't even finish out the gardening season. The last one, which burst today, lasted almost two. Not worth the money. We picked up one of the tight-coil, spring style hoses. The most useless piece of crap ever. It is unwieldy and does not reach the full 25 feet advertised. I finished the watering with my 2-gal watering can--one full can for each of the large containers and half of one for each of the 5-gal buckets and small pots. As you can guess we have added a stop at the local garden store for a new hose and something that will--easily--keep it confined when not in use.

I remember reading earlier this year that the shellfish season on the west coast was cancelled because of a toxic algae bloom that released toxins the oysters and clams absorbed which can do nasty things to people eating the affected shellfish. Well, we may have bigger problems with warming sea waters off the coasts according to this Huffington Post article. I saw another article this morning which focused on the potential for cholera from vibrio contaminated sea water and shellfish. I had to look up the other vibrio species mentioned. They wouldn't be any fun either.

The crux of the argument in this piece (which is better? paper or plastic) involves exactly which problem you want to address. Do you want to eliminate petroleum-based plastic refuse which as become a major environmental problem? Do you want to reduce the use of petroleum over all? Do you want to reduce the energy needed to create the bags and get them to the end user? I have heavy canvas bags I bought twenty and more years ago and still use. They were fairly cheap then and have more than repaid the cost. All of the other bags I have accumulated were freebees given out by someone somewhere. Those bags have done exactly what we wanted them to do--reduce the number of plastic bags we gather. We haven't totally eliminated the plastics but we have made progress. As far as the energy and resources issue goes, I have to think that a canvas bag that last more than 20 years  is far more easy on the environment than a plastic bag that gets maybe three or four. Note: We take plastic bags with us to the farm market for our veggies which we then put into a canvas bags. We usually have several such bags by the end of a stint at the market so the canvas bag makes it easier to carry everything while the plastic keeps things separate, clean and dry.

Monday, August 8, 2016


I did can tomato sauce, beans and pickles Saturday using the pressure canner.  And then had to redo the tomato sauce yesterday. None of the tomato jars sealed and I lost about a quarter of a pint of volume in the process. I am reading the trouble shooting sections of blogs and my canning books, including the instructions that came with the canner, to figure out what happened. I used the hot water bath canner for the second round and it worked fine. Pressure canning is a new technique for me so it will take a bit to figure things out. The poor garden has been neglected because of the kitchen difficulties so I need to get out there and give it some love. Our gold finches have returned and are enjoying the bounty our sunflowers provide.

John Mauldin presents a guest writer who has an interesting take on globalization. He notes the accelerated pace of globalization from the 1960s on and notes that the process had already been going on for the hundred years or so before that. I would argue that the process began with the Crusades when Europeans, especially in the north and west, rediscovered the joys of sugar, spices, and silks. The drive after that was to cut the Muslim middlemen out of the trade equation by finding ocean trade routes that bypassed them. The discussion of the technological advances that fueled globalization (or at least the form it has taken) and which will likely change the direction of it are interesting. I have often said I am not a great fan of globalization but it isn't globalization as an abstract concept I don't like much. What I don't like are the costs, human and environmental, which I think far outstrip the benefits--especially when the benefits are so disproportionately confined to a narrow segment of the population.

This is a question that has bugged us for the last couple of years: why do we find black spots in potatoes that don't show up before we peel them? Here is an answer. We have just cut off the bad spots and used the rest but it pisses us off that we pay for the damned unusable portion along with the rest. And the problem seems to be increasing over the last couple of years.

Friday, August 5, 2016


Canning day--have tomato sauce, beans and pickles to do up. I need to water all the gardens after yesterday's heat. That should moderate over the next few days. A couple of days should be in the 70s and that would be a good time to get some areas cleaned up out there. And to finish cleaning up in the outside shed.

The Archdruidess has this cute anecdote the punchline of which I did not see coming at all. Thank you for the first good laugh of the day.

Andrew Bacevich has an excellent political dissection of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Pay special attention to the reference to Daniel Boorstein's The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America. I have read parts of The Image over the last 40 or so years and someday intend to read it all. It is a most discomforting and unnerving to think of how far the process Boorstein identified in 1962 has gone.

For an interesting take on perceptions and media look at this article on Hillary Clinton. How much of our perceptions are manufactured? How much have we absorbed from a media driven to find conflict and drama where ever it can and to create when it isn't there to find? In the world of Pokemon Go what is real?

Thursday, August 4, 2016


Light day yesterday. We did our shopping early and it was already too warm to do much outside. I have to water everything really well today because of the heat yesterday and the higher temps expected today. I also need to harvest the beans, tomatoes and cucumbers. I will be cooking up the tomato sauce to can tomorrow along with the beans and pickles. We made a quick run to the supermarket today to get some lemon juice. I need it to can put up the tomatoes tomorrow. Mom used most of what we had for the pasta salad we have for supper.

Of course, The Donald's campaign staff deny the incident (the candidate asking a foreign relations expert why, since we have them, we can't use nuclear weapons) but it is is so in character with our modern version of Peter Pan (the boy--or spoiled toddler--who never grew up) is seems totally credible. But this article takes the (perhaps apocryphal incident) and broadens the focus from the very flawed candidate to a very flawed social/political system. We have spent insane amounts of resources and money building weapons systems, maintaining them, occasionally "modernizing" them, and now scaling them down so they might be useful in a limited area or battlefield knowing that using them would be catastrophic.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


Anyone who thinks that government should be run like a business and that Trump the Businessman should be president should check out this Newsweek article.

And here is another piece of received medical wisdom (or, rather, dental wisdom) that may not be as wise as we thought. Do we really need to floss? Well, the jury is still out and the studies that "supported" the practice are not at all conclusive and often funded by the floss manufacturers. The latest federal government dietary guidelines dropped the recommendation because of lack of evidence.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


Oh, yeah!!! Charles Hugh Smith makes hash out of the official inflation statistics and tells us pretty much what our experience has already confirmed: the official inflation calculations are bullshit. His "burrito index" seems to be very accurate. The second part of his treatise on inflation (Inflation Hidden In Plain Sight) also includes phenomena we have noticed: getting lower quantity, quality and durability for the same or only slightly higher prices. Government statistics have become a scam just like so much else in our public and commercial lives.

Here is an interesting take on the "minimalist" movement--if you want to call it that. I used to read several blogs by self-described minimalists and have stopped reading most of them. Their brand of minimalism just doesn't resonate with me. It took me a bit to realize why. We have pared down a lot over the last almost 20 years. Some of that was out of necessity. Cramming two of us into a two bedroom apartment when each of us had our individual homes before crammed with stuff meant clearing out a lot. Since then we have gone through a number of purges of things that no longer fit our lives (or didn't fit at that time) while actually adding some things that do fit (like canning jars, hot water bath canner, and pressure canner.) We are minimalists but in the sense of looking at what we need and not accumulating what we don't. I don't think there is any true spiritual quality to minimalism any more than there is any spiritual quality to poverty.

Monday, August 1, 2016


Welcome to August. I have said it before but might as well say it again: the time has just flown by. It seems like only a day or so ago that I was ordering seeds and planning what to plant where and now I am harvesting beans, herbs, tomatoes and cucumbers. I spent the weekend doing that and a couple of housekeeping chores. We plan to can tomato sauce later this week and do more pickles. It looks like my first efforts at pressure canning have worked--the seals are holding so far. I have only had one seal fail in the water bath canner. That one is now ripening as refrigerator pickles. I have more harvesting and more housekeeping chores planned today.

I ignored most of the news as much as possible over the weekend. I never watched more than one or two episodes of any soap opera and that more than 20 years ago. I have been annoyed over the latest trend in the TV series I had liked to emulate the soap operas but I never expected our politics to descend to that level. Most of the coverage has been of The Donald doing as The Donald always does--acting badly and saying stupid shit. If the news broadcasts were really about news this story would have died four days ago. The other major news stories were the flooding in the east and the balloon crash in Texas and, of course, they have been played for all the drama that can be squeezed out of them.

Found this in my Mail box from Teagan's Political Wire. About sums up my feelings.
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John Beckett has an excellent post on the election and he is absolutely on target. No candidate is a savior in a year when too many of us are looking for a savior. No candidate can fix anything--especially when it is all too likely that they won't have congressional or senatorial help.