Thursday, October 19, 2017

The temperatures and other weather conditions finally feel somewhat normal for the season. For most of this strange year that has not been the case. Heatwaves in February that made it feel like late June or early July. Dry conditions when rain should have been plentiful and wet when things should have dried out. Fifteen named storms in the Atlantic ten of which became hurricanes, five of which hit the U.S. mainland with three of those doing an astonishing amount of damage. The "Lucifer" heatwave in Europe and hurricane Ophelia giving Ireland the strongest storm in 50 years. An astonishing fire season which seems to be an annual thing now. And all of that is on top of politics and economics so far out of anything we can call normal that it is nearly incomprehensible.

Here are some things I am reading today:

John Mauldin's Outside the Box features a piece by the Reformed Broker on automation. I don't know how many times I have looked at the stock market figures (out of curiosity since I don't have anything to invest) and asked "WTF???" Josh Brown might have an answer: terrified life-raft grabbing investors who are afraid they have no future. It seems uncannily like the situation Frederick Lewis Allen describes in Since Yesterday recounting the history investing euphoria jut before the 1929 crash.

Karina Black Heart posted this at Gods and Radicals that parallels the situation Josh Brown sketched. Brown's subjects are those who have done fairly well but are looking at a future that has no place for them. Heart's essay describes her own realization that the system is and always has been rigged and success, as defined by the rest of society,  has always been out of her reach. So she has decided to retrench and redefine success for herself.

For the most part I agree with this post at Strategic Living. I haven't seen the video the author links to but her "5 Things To Set Aside" are good ones. I would amend the first to "don't bother trying impress anyone." They will be impressed or not as they choose. I wouldn't hang my self-esteem on their decision. I long ago gave up being envious of other people's success. Such envy means you have compared yourself to others by standards you may not have even realize you have absorbed. Set your own standards for your success and celebrate all successes--your own especially. A long time ago I started paring down the mementos and such. For the most part they didn't really bring back memories, good or bad. The few things I have kept are associated with certain specific achievements. I revel in every gray hair, every wrinkle. I have earned every one of them. I will let others pretend sixty is the new forty or whatever suits their fantasy. I haven't yet mastered the art of letting confrontation go but I'm getting there. And actually I would amend that one as well: learn what it is worth spending your energy confronting and let the rest go.

OUCH!! I wonder how much of that moisture will go how far inland.

I am constantly amazed by the mind-boggling waste in industrial food processing. This is another such mind-boggling story. The recall goes from 2,000 pounds of meat (of all kinds) to 450,000 pounds or three days of production to almost a whole year. The problem seems to be the company's water supply.

I am a sucker for those odd quizzes on Facebook, especially those that ask how many of the 50 or 100 or whatever number of "classic" books or "must read" books, etc. Every time I get hooked by one (which is getting less frequent lately) several thoughts hit me. First, by what criterion are some of the listed books "classics" or "must" reads? Some are indeed classics but others I wouldn't call classics by any stretch of the imagination. Second, although I may have read other books by a given author I probably didn't read the one they list--and I don't intend to. Third, does starting and never finishing count? Nothing is a "must" read for me nowadays. I have gotten to the point where if the book doesn't interest me I don't slog through it as I once did. Fourth, I often can't remember if I read the book or saw the movie--or both. Fifth, I am amazed by how many of the books I remember reading, can tell you for which class or approximately when, but can't for the life of me remember much about the damned book.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Cool again today--starting in the mid 40s and going up to, maybe, 70F. But sunny and dry. The only task on the schedule is biscuit baking along with some half formed ideas. We'll see what besides the biscuits gets done.

Biscuits done. Bird feeder filled with a small dish for the ground squirrel.

Put some future containers away in the plant/sewing/whatnot room. "Future containers"? you ask. Those are large yogurt or cottage cheese cartons I plan to use next season. Also turned the compost in the large bin outside a bit. And put another row on a crochet table scarf.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Sunny day yesterday but quite cool. We got errands done but not much else. The temperature at the moment is 45F and supposed to rise to about 70. We should have a stretch of three sunny days so garden clean up is on my agenda. I have some bubble wrap I intend to use on the clematis to provide some winter protection.

Busy day just cleaning up outside after the hard rains of the last few days. The bird feeder was a grungy mess. I washed it thoroughly, including taking it apart, and put it out in the shed to dry till tomorrow. Cleaned out the dish on the bird bath so they also have clean water. Also swept most of the patio, moved three of the 5-gal containers into their position for next year--I hope. I might change my mind but for now the matter is settled. I also transferred the remaining salt from the bulk container to a gallon juice container I cleaned out for that purpose. The old container was tossed in the trash. I considered keeping it but I don't have a use for it--now or in the near future. We won't be getting salt in the quantity that would fill the big container. We just finished the 50# of salt we got in the fall of 2012--after that monstrous snow storm of January. Needless to say--that was a bit excessive.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

We had quite a light and drum show last night--lightening and thunder with really heavy rain. I can't remember another autumn with such hard rains. There seems to be a lot more moisture in the air which makes me wonder about what the winter will bring. The weather people predict more of the same today. Much too wet to do anything outside so I will do some stitching. I found two stamped embroidery pieces that aren't cross stitch. One was a pattern I completed on another piece some time ago so I decided to start the other one. Mom and I like many of the same things and we found duplicates when we combined our households. We gave most of the cookware and appliance duplicates (which often involved the same brands) to relatives. However, few of our relatives do much needlework.

I like this piece from Mock Paper Scissors--a lot.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

I cleared out the chocolate mint yesterday and the mosquito plant. That latter I won't plant again. I did this year just to see what it would do. We have never had many mosquitos and fewer bugs I didn't want around than in previous years. I am watching the temperatures so that I can make sure the clematis is protected before any hard freeze hits (I hope). I won't be doing anything outside today (I think) because we had heavy rain just before dawn and the beds are soaked. We are supposed to have thunderstorms today but for the moment the sun is coming up. How long before more clouds come in I can't even begin to say. So far the plants I have brought inside are doing well--especially the lemon verbena and the hibiscus. The hibiscus stopped blooming but I expected that with the much lower light level. The light we have is still enough to keep it green and putting out new leaves.

Right now we have a monsoonal style deluge outside. The weather people said we would have thunderstorms and, for once, they were right. Though I wondered because we had several nice sunny interludes.

Friday, October 13, 2017

It looks like the for profit prison industry isn't the only ones wanting to keep their cells filled. This (expletive) sheriff in Louisiana is pissed because reforms in the state's criminal justice system will release the "good" prisoners he uses in his modern iteration of a chain gang. I linked to Raw Story but my Google search showed a variety of mainstream sources for the same thing: Some of the headlines drew the obvious parallel to "slavery."

The California wild fires have now become the deadliest in the state's history. This has been an almost unimaginable year for disaster starting with #45's inauguration. Then along came Harvey, Irma, and Marie followed by the fires. One of the headlines was, I think unintentionally, ironic. It noted that the blistering hot summer following a very wet winter has fueled the fires. I remember when everyone was celebrating the heavy, larger than normal snow pack and the the wet spring because the drought receded from extreme to merely moderate or abnormally dry.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

We had intermittent rain yesterday and cool temps so I watered the plants downstairs and did a bit more cross-stitching and crochet. It is cool again today and cloudy. So far today Mom has put together one of our "kitchen sink" pasta salads which will cool in the fridge till tomorrow. Today is left overs from yesterday: pork chops, acorn squash and corn on the cob. I am about take out a loaf of yogurt/molasses/rye quick bread. I did ours with cherries and walnuts.

While the bread baked I watered the upstairs plants and fertilized them, tidied up one of my junk shelves. I have gotten better about such spaces--there are fewer and fewer of them. Part of that is that we have fewer and fewer things that seem to wander from their usual places and we are better about putting those back where they belong. I also got the bird feeder and its surrounding area on the table/potting bench cleaned up and the feeder refilled. They are happy. About six or so have already visited.

I may do some more stitching but I have had a bit of an itch to do something other than cross stitch. I don't know if I have anything other than cross stitch in my stash. I have to check that out.

Of course, I am still reading interesting items like this one. "Kakistocracy" sounds about right.

When we bought new phones and switched to a much lower cost carrier, we told the salesperson we preferred "dumb" phones. As it is our phones are a bit smarter than we wanted but they are much closer to the original phones that functioned as a verbal communication device not a miniature computer that can surf the internet, text, and play media etc. The salesman simply laughed. We don't tweet, go on pinterest, or most other social media sites. Our TV is usually only half an hour a day though Mom uses Netflix daily. It seems we aren't the only ones who control and limit exposure to social media. When software engineers do it, you have to look at the situation more carefully.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

We had rain most of the night, often hard enough to rouse me a bit. The wind also was high and I could hear the wind chimes tinkling through closed the closed window. I think it will be too wet to work in the dirt today and, maybe, tomorrow. I am not in much of a hurry to get the rest of the beds clear. I can chip away at that project until the ground freezes.

As I go along I am making up my seed/plant orders. I want to get a couple of them in by December because the last couple of years some of the seeds I wanted were already out of stock by the time I ordered in late January. Mom has made a request that I plant more strawberries because we bought frozen last grocery run and the price was somewhat shocking. The bare root strawberries we got from Burpee did surprisingly well and had a really good flavor. Surprising because I wondered if they would produce at all and then, as summer gave way to fall, many of the plants suddenly bloomed and produced large, succulent berries. Not enough to take all of our needs but, if I can encourage more plants to gives berries in the same number, enough to put a dent in our purchases. I have a few ideas that might make for an interesting season next year.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

It is cool right now with some overcast. The weather report said we should get rain this afternoon--a 40% chance they say so maybe, maybe not. We'll see. I just finished grinding a nice supply of egg shells. I add them to the gardens--especially the peppers, tomatoes and eggplant. A blogger (sorry, I forgot which one and it was some time ago) calls eggshells "slow release calcium." I am for anything that uses something we would normally throw away to grow something we can eat.

Yesterday was another foray into the "adventures of shopping." I don't call it "consumerism" since we aren't the mindless consumers who open their wallets and reach for the cards at the drop of a suggestion the commercial powers that be would like us to be. We generally know what we want and, usually, know where to find it. Over the last year or so that has become somewhat of a problem. Part of that situation is simply we have gone retro in so many ways. I think I have already described our shift back to cast iron cookware because we became utterly disgusted with the performance of the so-called non-stick cookware we had been using for the last fifteen or so years. After we started trying to find the skillets and such we suddenly found the local Target began carrying a line of Lodge cast iron. We had already bought from Lodge direct on-line. At the same time we have gone from the usual shower jells and shampoos to Dove bar soap and a couple of lines of "natural" shampoos till, just recently, to old fashioned castile soap. That last has been the best so far for our skins and hair.

Well, the bankruptcy of our main grocery outlets (owned by the same company despite the different names) has sent us off searching for the products and/or brands we use. Though the stores never closed, unlike another nearby store, we suddenly couldn't find lard, Fage yogurt, and a few other mainstays. I will admit that we can be very picky. If we can't get the Fage in the full 4% fat variety or the 2% (if absolutely necessary), we will do without. Yesterday we did our usual grocery shopping and found that the store here still didn't have the yogurt, the lard and a few other items we wanted. So we decided go a bit further afield and check out a store we had talked about but hadn't been in since the (local) chain opened a new store in a closer neighboring town. Surprise--we found everything there. And at comparable or cheaper prices.

Result--we are changing our shopping patterns. We buy multiples of our most frequently used items. The number of multiples depends on how much we use them. Whole wheat and all-purpose flour--we keep two five pound bags in addition to what is in our canister and get a new one when we empty a reserve bag into the canister. Corn meal and rye flour--one reserve. With that system we can easily keep a list and shop maybe twice a month. Milk and orange juice we can buy between regular shopping.

Once upon a time the big box stores promised us "one stop shopping. Only for those who aren't at all picky about what they are getting.

Monday, October 9, 2017

An excellent piece by Andrew Bacevich at Tomdispatch. More than a decade ago I basically disavowed many of the actions of the Federal government in the only ways I could and can--by voting and proclaiming as loudly as I can that what is being done is not in my name or with my consent. My participation in voting does not automatically mean I agree with what is done by those who win the election merely that I have to live with whatever atrocity they perpetrate and more frequently of late the result has been atrocity not benefit. I have long wondered whether voting is worth the bother. I don't vicariously participate in the winning or the losing. The results don't stroke my ego or shatter my soul. I wonder if Bacevich shouldn't have included another point although he bounced off of it earlier in the piece. McNamara's thought may indeed have become reality and the powers that be no longer need to focus public anger to prosecute a war. Instead it is more useful to focus public anger on internal "enemies" like blacks, women, gays, Muslims, illegal immigrants. Afghanistan is so far away and how many Afghans have you met lately? How do we get out of perpetual war when public awareness of it is so faint and we don't even recognize its impacts on us? By the way, notice Englehardt's discussion of the linguistics that mask the reality of war. Words do matter and all the words used by our leaders and our media mask that reality.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Came across this and it started some wheels turning in my mind. The answer the senator gave to the question in the clip echoes a sentiment expressed by the CEO of Nestle sometime in the last year when his company was engaged in a battle with local people over the local water supply. He claimed that water was simply another commodity which should be for sale to the highest bidder--in other words, no one has a "right" to water unless one can pay for it. The senator claimed that we do have rights--to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and, of course, to freedom. To which I would ask: if we have a right to life (the first right on the list), how could we not have a right to those things that are absolutely necessary to the continuation of life? There is a rule among the survival/prepper groups--the "rule of three." You can live three minutes without air, three hours in a hostile environment without adequate shelter (I would add clothing to that), three days without water, and three weeks without food. What good is your right to life if you don't also have a right to those things that are absolutely necessary to maintain life? As for "freedom"--well Janis Joplin sang "freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose." The question that prompted the senator's asinine answer had to to with a "right to medical care." The question should be: what level of health care? To say "none at all" is to basically tell most people that they simply don't matter and we don't care whether they live or die. If we go along with that notion then we aren't a society but a gaggle of beasts engaged in what Thomas Hobbs called a "war of all against all" in which there are no true winners.

I am so glad #45 approved an emergency declaration for Mississippi--before Hurricane Nate even made landfall. Considering how slow he and his administration were on Puerto Rico, I guess this is an improvement. But it smacks to me of someone who desperately wants approval for himself.

Spearmint is ground and in the appropriate jar on the shelf. Chocolate mint--the last for the season--and some lavender (collected so I could fill the dehydrator) are drying now. I hadn't any real plan for the day but managed to do the herbs and to put a few stitches in a cross-stitch piece I have been working, on and off--mostly off, for a very, very long time. Oh, well. As the seasons change the itch to do needlework gets stronger.

Friday, October 6, 2017

As the mornings seem to come later and later I have gotten started later and later. In high summer we usually start our coffee about 4:30 or 5 am. Today we didn't get our first cup until almost 6. I can understand why a blogger I read last year looked forward to the time change when light would come earlier in the morning even though darkness would also come earlier in the evening. Her kids had to wait for a school bus near a busy road at a bit of a distance from her house. Not a safe proposition for a number of reasons. It rained well last night and we expect more all day today and tomorrow. No gardening till Sunday when we should have sun and dry conditions again. Well I have things to straighten out in the planting/craft/storage room.


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Every now and then Fr. Dwight Longenecker has an interesting column. This one precipitated quite a discussion here at our house. He brings in the statistics on the rising suicide rate among white, middle aged or elderly men and tries to connect it to the Las Vegas mass murder. I could also bring in the rising drug overdose rate and opioid addiction rates that show an overlap in the category of white, middle aged or elderly men. A basic question: if this reaction is from a creeping and growing despair, what is driving the despair and is that a problem we have the resources and will to solve? And then I wonder why aren't more white, middle aged or elderly men succumbing to opiates, or to suicide or committing mass murder in this, admittedly, depressing society?

Time Magazine has a slightly different take which is also interesting and not necessarily at odds with the Longenecker piece.

Did get some gardening done. Basically cleaning out a couple of my 5-gal. buckets. I harvested spearmint before clearing those buckets. That is now drying. Got one of the peppermint buckets cleaned out also. Those three containers wore me out so I will wait until tomorrow when, I hope, I will harvest the last of the chocolate mint and clean it up as well--along with the other peppermint and the lemon balm. I will leave the lavender to last because the bees are having a grand time buzzing around that pot.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

So Black Friday is becoming a ghost of its former self. Good thing I would say. I never participated in the commercial/consumerist frenzy but I do have relatives who used to plan their Black Fridays as though they were generals going to war. Now if we could only see a similar decline in other commercial "holidays."

I have a lot of reservations (if not downright antipathy) about industrial food production. Just this morning I read of a large recall of ground turkey products because of possible contamination with metal fragments. Sorry I didn't note the site. It is sad in a way that, to me anyway, that I now think of a recall of 300,000+ pounds of ground meat as simply "large" and not huge. This little piece from the Guardian is titled "Goodbye--and Good Riddance--to Livestock Farming". I don't think any more of this author's stance than I do industrial farming or food production. The industrial system reduces all "inputs," whether animate or inanimate, to mere numbers on a balance sheet. The abuse he mentions is embedded in the system. My grandparents had a small, mixed crop farm for most of my childhood and adolescence. I can assure you that their animals were well cared for with numbers limited to what well rotated pastures would support. I once owned horses and, with others, had the great misfortune of renting land from an absentee farmer who over grazed the land horribly. He made it difficult for us to maintain our horses in healthy condition but we did manage it. I read blogs written by small farmers and homesteaders who write about their animals and all of them pay close attention to maintaining a number of animals their land can support and making sure the pastures are not overgrazed. The pollution problems he mentions come from overgrazing and/or from feedlot operations both of which are encouraged by the industrial agriculture system. And switching to faux meat soy products won't solve problems. Soy is grown in monocultures with generous applications of chemical fertilizers and pesticides (which adds to pollution) and which require plowing and cultivation which result in the loss of a lot of topsoil each year. And since he notes that he can't tell the difference between "quorn" based minced or faux chicken, I will note that I really don't want to eat a macerated vegetable product treated with chemicals to create the texture of meat and flavored with what ever chemicals will simulate the taste. I don't know if I would be able to tell the difference but--and this is key--I don't care if I couldn't tell the difference. I don't want the chemically adulterated imitation "foods" the industry produces and am busily getting rid of them in my life.

I thought it was interesting that #45 said, while in Puerto Rico, that the Puerto Rican debt would have to be cancelled but I take everything interesting or sensible he says with a big dose of salt--enough to endanger my blood pressure. All too often those sensible mumblings are refuted soon after and that appears to be the case here.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Politico has a good summary of the U.S. response to hurricane damaged destroyed Puerto Rico. I think the story confirms my own summation. We responded differently to Puerto Rico because it was "too poor and too dark (as in brown)." Our government responded more effectively to Texas and Florida because the residents were wealthier and more white. And five years from now both areas will be whiter and the wealthier areas will be largely rebuilt while the darker areas languish. Look at post-Katrina New Orleans.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Woke this morning to the news from Las Vegas. I won't link because it is all over both broadcast and internet news sites. We turned on the TV to get what was known (not much yet) and then fairly quickly turned it off again when the anchors and "experts" started speculating on motive. Religion came up fairly quickly followed by Islam and ISIS. No facts support the speculation (as if conjecture requires fact) but I find it revealing and disgusting that, in this context, religion, Islam, and IS (or sometimes Al Qaeda) are linked as tightly as the Father-Son-Holy Ghost triad. But, of course, there is no mention of the possibility that religious motives might involve so-called Christians. I was surprised by how unsurprised I was.

Nor am I surprised that the strident voices for more gun control have already erupted. One title asked if we were "for" the NRA or the USA. I won't link because you can find the article yourself easily. The article progressed in the usual pattern: focus on the carnage, on the tragic deaths and woundings, then move onto the screed about the NRA and couch the argument in terms where one's loyalties should lie. My loyalties do not lie with the NRA but with the Constitution of the USA. You can argue on what the Second Amendment means and we have argued in court case after court case for years. However, until our legislators and president decide to approve a Constitutional amendment that either rescinds the Second Amendment entirely or changes it significantly it is still the law of the land, of the USA.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Here we are at the last day of September. Only three more months left in this strange, strange year. The temperature was at 50F a bit ago so it will probably dip down into the 40s before the sun comes up. I didn't get any work done outside. We decided, on the spur of the moment, to do our grocery shopping yesterday instead of today. During the summer we generally do that on the days the farm market is open but as the season winds down we don't have as much to buy there because we have already put up as much as we can in the space we have. By the time we came home and put things away the wind was kicking up so I decided not to fight it and left the gardens and outside clean up for today--I hope. Baker Creek sent out their e-mail announcing their 2018 catalogs so I ordered it. I already have a list of seeds started for next year.

So Price has resigned as HHS secretary. I wonder which parasite the Parasite-In-Chief will nominate to replacement. I doubt very much that the money angle bothered #45 much. I suspect it was the embarrassment and the fact that Price was supposed to smooth the way for the ACA repeal but failed to get that job done. The real lessons: don't embarrass the boss and give him enough progress toward what he wants to allow him to claim a biggly victory.

Garden Myths has a good review of a product I once used when I first began trying to start plants from seed--the Jiffy pellets. Actually I should say "peat pellets" because I used other brands as well. I stopped using them for reasons mentioned: they aren't big enough for the larger plants and the mesh that holds the peat together to form the "pot" isn't biodegradable. I dug the mesh out of my beds for several years and threw them away--after emptying the peat into the soil. Last year I started using toilet paper core tubes as my starter pots and will expand my use of them next spring. They soften when wet, help the soil retain moisture, and they are biodegradable. I was parsimonious and cut the tubes in half to make two pots. I won't do that this year because the half size is too small. And I found the roots do make their was out of the pot.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The temperatures are supposed to be a bit cooler today. Right now it is a bit overcast but the chances for rain are low. My brother brought the mini-greenhouse he picked up for me his church's rummage sale so I need to clean up the shed to make room for the old one. I will do that until (if?) it gets too warm to work outside. I got my hens 'n' chicks re-potted. I wanted to separate them but a couple of clusters were so tight I was afraid I would irreparably damage them so I left them as a clump.

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I didn't work outside at all. The clouds didn't clear off till around noon and I didn't want to fight the wind.

I found this early this morning--another WTF moment from our dysfunctional political administration. Or, rather, from the idiot at the top. The real difference between the responses to the hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico is how dark and how poor the populations are. And I would bet, if I were a betting person, that the richer and whiter sections of Texas and Florida will get rebuilt sooner and more completely than the poorer and darker sections. The pattern was set by Katrina (and maybe long before.) Update: I guess the criticism got to #45. He suspended the Jones Act for Puerto Rico so they can get more fuel and supplies in sooner. It is a sad when it takes public shaming on the internet and other outlets to get him to do what is right.

Well, we have had a busy morning. First, I had to do some cleaning and rearranging in the shed to make room for the old mini-greenhouse which was going to be retired to simply storage shelves for pots. But when we tried to put it in place we found it simply wouldn't go there--the shelves were too deep and I would have no room to move or reach the stuff stored further back. Soooo--we rearranged things a bit outside and it will work there for the same purpose. The new mini-greenhouse is a smaller model which fits in the space the old one used to occupy and leaves more room to get around. I hope it won't get direct sun as the other one did which might prolong the live of the cover. I actually had to cut the plastic on the old one and rip it off the support bars. My next project (tomorrow) is to get into the shed and start getting it sorted out and rearranged. It is amazing what one accumulates. Some we got because we had an idea and we found a cheap way to try it out. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. I found a couple of items from the failed experiments. They will go out in next week's trash.


Monday, September 25, 2017

Mom's eye doctor's appointment today so nothing much else done. Her insurance gave us a surprise we are still trying to figure out.

However, that doesn't mean I am not reading blogs and such. Case in point: Margaret and Helen. Amen, Helen. I couldn't say it better. We have been wondering if this is another diversion from what the administration and the congress critters are trying to do to us.

George Friedman has an interesting post today also. Although he does make a good point when he says we should expect the computer industry to take more responsibility for safety as we operate our vehicles (personal computers) on the appropriate road (the internet), we should also remember that we expect the drivers (of cars and computers) to exercise due care. We do expect that the manufacturers of cars build them to function safely though our expectations have been tempered by over 100 years and legal developments--which the computer industry hasn't had. And even then we should remember the air bag failures and break failures and the gaming of the emissions tests all of which made news over the last decade. Nor are we surprised much when some criminal hijacks/steals a car to commit another crime. Or when some idiot gets drunk and wrecks havoc with his vehicle.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

We expect another hot day today so I will water what needs watering outside and do nothing else. I will wait until Wednesday when it should be a few degrees cooler. The geraniums are reviving nicely now that they have more shade. I will definitely have to change how I use them next year--keep them in pots I can move in and out of the gardens as the light changes.

Found this piece that I thought hit an intellectual bullseye. We had become very disgruntled with the offerings on our cable service for more than a decade. Our favorite channels were Scifi and the History Channel. However, gradually, from about 2007 we simply stopped watching them--and most other channels available to us. I got over the fascination over the notion of "ancient aliens" back when von Daniken wrote Chariots of the Gods. It didn't take me long to notice he had no evidence. He did have some interesting phenomena but just because you can't explain how the ancients did it doesn't mean the didn't or couldn't. We have almost given up watching TV.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

This has become a frequent story with #45's administration. Number 45 himself has run the Secret Service out of money with his frequent travel to his Florida and New Jersey golf clubs and his extended family's security needs. Frugality is something for others who don't have access to the public purse not for him or his appointees. How much longer can we afford these parasites?

Friday, September 22, 2017

Well, the autumnal equinox has arrived; welcome to fall. Our weather right now is more like August than the end of September. The last two days saw records set with temps of 92 and 94 in Chicago. We are expecting 90+ again today and for the next two days. The trees are developing their fall colors about a month early so it does look like fall. One blogger noted a day or two ago she was behind putting in her fall garden--as always because it is too hot in July and she is busy harvesting and preserving in August which is when the experts say to plant for the fall. The weather nowadays is so unpredictable your fall plants might bake or freeze before yielding anything.

According to Ronni Bennett at Time Goes By today is also Falls Prevention Day. She has some good points to make and some useful links. I have been really lucky in that regard. I have fallen twice here at home and once at work long before I retired. Though I no longer have cats which caused my first fall I am careful on the stairs where that fall took place. (In case you wondered, the cats lived out their very long cat lives still loved and cared for here. I just became more watchful of where they were and where my feet were.) We replaced the old door mat which caused my second fall after the rain made it really, really slick. The new one provides much surer footing and, again, I have become more careful about stepping out the door. In the last case I was in a rush, stubbed my foot on a curb and fell hard face first onto the sidewalk. The key there, which didn't come until after I retired, was to not rush and to not let others rush you. Any one of those could have done me serious injury and, worse, I didn't have any health insurance that would have covered those expenses. I simply couldn't afford it and none of my jobs offered it. Lesson from all that: be aware of where you are and of who and what is around you. That would have prevented all three falls.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

I wasn't going to post anything today because I have an eye doctor's appointment in a little bit. However Infidel has a good one I can't resist linking because it hits what has become a blood-pressure raising, profanity-inducing explosion of anger here: intrusive internet ads.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

I've been busy cleaning up our sewing/plant starting/storage room so haven't paid much attention to blogging or news.

I have been reading stuff but nothing to comment on. Politics is as usual--totally insane. It is hard to comment on something when, in five minutes, the situation changes. Some unnamed "high official" says the administration has agreed to some action (or whatever) that appears to change their policy/position/etc. Then some other unnamed official or, sometimes, #42 himself comes back (or tweets) that "no, no--they didn't say/mean/imply that." The fog of innuendo and uncertainty is so thick we can't see the abyss at our collective feet.

At least, by ignoring (or not wasting electronic blips) on the mess I do manage to get other things done.

Just finished reading John Michael Greer's Retro Future along with a couple of fiction re-reads simply because I get to the point where I am too tired to think and re-reading is easier than reading the first time. I am working on Ugo Bardi's Seneca Effect which fleshes out a theme he has been chewing on in his blog, Cassandra's Legacy for sometime--how complex systems (empires, societies, economies) collapse. Also, pecking at Frederick Lewis Allen's Since Yesterday having finished Only Yesterday couple of weeks ago. I had read most of both years ago for college history courses but now I can savor them. I also have two more of his books in the queue for later.

I haven't done much about the garden except think. Though the heliotrope is pretty and has a nice, though faint scent I won't repeat it next year. It is a very toxic plant and I would rather not have it in the gardens. Nor will I repeat the mosquito plant. I plan to put in lemon grass and continue planting lemon thyme and lemon balm which mosquitos and other such insects don't like much either. I was thinking about repotting the geraniums to bring inside but I consolidated the plant space upstairs under the lights so don't have the room. I will put in new ones next year. Those double yellows are really making a show now as are the petunias. The hot weather really knocked them down for a bit.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

We went out to a "World Cultures" festival in town. It was nice enough but warm enough to be exhausting. There was a time when the 85degree temperature which is near normal for mid September wouldn't have bothered me. I can't believe I just wrote "mid September." Already. The weather reports have changed--again. It says we have a good chance for rain today through Tuesday. Actually, I hope it comes because the grass looks awful. The drought monitor indicates we are in abnormally dry conditions now. Considering the weather report I think I will concentrate on watering and fertilizing my inside plants and reading.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Yesterday's fog cleared up about mid-day and we had a lovely sunny, warm afternoon. The cookies turned out very well but today, since it is supposed to be clear and warm, I should get back out into the gardens.

This is an interesting development. For decades we have shipped our waste to China where it is supposedly recycled. How much is actually recycled and how much is added to their landfills or incinerators is unknown but some reports I have read over the last few years indicate it may be much more than we would like to think. When we think about it at all since once it is out of our vicinity we tend to forget it ever existed. The Chinese government claims the ban is for environmental reasons, which it might be; although our first thought was a tit-for-tat after #45's threat to impose higher import duties on Chinese steel. Both may be true.

I have a corner of the gardens pretty well cleared. And in the process thinking about next year. The begonias are coming back strong with the yellows continuing to bloom and the pinks budding. They are happier now that the areas are under more shade. I am debating digging out the plants, potting them and putting them inside for the winter. But my space inside is even more limited than that outside so that might not be a good use of what I have. I might just pull them later and put in new plants next year but in pots I can sink into the beds so I can take them out during the months I don't have shady areas for them and put them elsewhere. I think the shepherd's hooks will be hosting vining flowers next year with only one having a hanging decoration--the wind chimes.

In another "sign of the times" the Yellow Pages won't be published after January of 2019. The Naked Capitalism article segues into a discussion of classificatory systems, their uses and limitations and how they shape our thinking. However this article in the Guardian covers the history a bit more. I am not surprised by the development. I wonder how many businesses no longer bother with ads in the Yellow Pages which, if I remember correctly, they have to pay for. Moving to the internet listings may be more economical and productive. Over the years I notice that we don't consult the print books that often any more. Often the books are left on the stoop or the mailbox rack for months until someone finally thinks to throw them in the trash. I remember feeling frustrated by the computerized card catalogs when libraries started making the switch. I always found interesting material on adjacent cards that I might miss in the computer catalog. But then I had to use not only the title card file but the author and subject files as well. I can flip from one to the other to the third without changing my location now. In every technological change something is gained while something else is lost and sometimes we don't realize how valuable the something lost is until it is lost.

Back to the future?? Sounds like a good option given that a college degree now cost more than it is really worth and will put the graduate in debt for life.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Very foggy morning. I don't know when it will burn off so I don't know how much gardening I will do. What ever I do will be after I bake some oatmeal-raisin cookies. I feel the need of some comfort treats. We stopped eating cookies several years ago because we were consistently disappointed by the store bought versions--even those supposedly made by the in-store bakeries. As the packages got smaller and smaller the taste became less and less satisfying and, more often than not, they resembled highly sugared rocks. They didn't even soften up dunked in milk.

John Feffer posted this on Foreign Policy In Focus. Pretty much a spot-on analysis.

I read some time ago and followed the link in one of the original to a government website which contained the original info concerning the declining nutrient values of our food crops for the last 70+ years. That article attributed the decline to selective breeding of crops for simultaneous ripening, durability for long distance shipping, and high yield while neglecting nutrient values and taste. Scientific American notes that decline in nutritive value (and links the problem to poor soil quality) in addition to selective breeding here.  This article another possible culprit: increased CO2 in the atmosphere. Though the results of several experiments are suggestive the author and the researchers interviewed stress the need for more study. Unfortunately, in our increasingly specialized world getting grants for studies which involve multiple disciplines--chemistry, nutrition, agriculture/crop science, and math in the current case--is difficult.

The cookies are done after a couple of delays. I looked for raisins and found none--so, quick trip to the store. Normally I have a couple of packs on the shelf. The recipe made 30 cookies so I froze 20 and kept 10 out for immediate (over the next three or four days) consumption. Of course, we already sampled a couple and they are nice, chewy and flavorful.

This sounds like a good idea but how it will be implemented (if it ever gets passed) may make it a not so good idea.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

No garden work planned right now. We have clouds with rain expected this morning. I brought in my three small pots of hens and chicks, watered them and found a place for them by the window. I plan to split and transplant them later. We had got our shopping and errands done yesterday so we didn't do much else.

William Astore's post on Tomdispatch this morning makes a lot of points we have been thinking over the last sixteen years (since 9/11). We spend more than the next ten top military spenders on our so-called defense and have gotten less for it. We do that because no one asks basic questions about what is going on. The military is our hammer and it is our only tool; therefore, we see only nails. Diplomacy at the point of a gun is not really diplomacy; it's bullying. And we have become the biggest bully on the block. Unfortunately, our powers that be don't know how to get off the treadmill we have been on since the Soviet Union imploded--and yes the roots go back that far and farther. There is an inertia in human affairs and we are seeing it in operation. Breaking that inertial pattern requires either small nudges in another direction that can move us with time into a different orbit. But do we have the time? Or it will take a force large enough to overcome the inertia which is likely to break a lot at the same time it changes our direction. And the things likely to break are things I would rather not be broken.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The fall wreath is reconstructed and hanging in the door. I am taking a break.

Break over. Emptied the second three-tier planter and all of the plants in the pockets of the soft show rack. That made a nice place for small plants--mostly strawberries this year. Next year I will start all of those pockets and the tiered planters with fresh soil and vermiculite.

The hurricanes have dominated the news but I have only skimmed the stories on line. I don't need all of the minute and grim details to know it is bad and won't get better very soon. For many it will be a long term disaster that will affect them for years. We did watch the national news last night but found it frustrating. The stories seemed so repetitive and when the segments got to be about 2 minutes long sandwiched between five minutes of repetitive commercials on each side we turned it off. The commemorations of 9/11 were also at the top of the news feed and that is another story I can do without. It has been 16 years; we need to let it go. However, it serves the aims of powers that be to keep it alive because it rekindles the fear they so need us to feel. Otherwise we might begin to question the need for this "national security state" we live in and whether we are any more "secure" than we were before 9/11.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Bread baking day but I might get some garden work done. We'll see.

I wonder how long before the so-called economists admit that this is a crock of excrement. The only reason rebuilding will give a "boost" to the economy is because the economists never incorporates the losses into the GDP calculations. If you lose 3% of GDP to such disasters and the rebuilding gains you 3%, it is a wash. U.S. News gives a better idea of the economic impact. And as one blogger I read yesterday (sorry, can't remember who) noted the money that is spent on repairing the damage from Harvey and Irma won't be available to address other urgent repair needs. Just think about the reports concerning our deteriorating dams, airports, bridges, roads, water and sewage systems. Number 45 wanted an infrastructure bill and I guess he got one--but it will all go to rebuilding after the storms.

Bread on its first rising. Nothing to do for the next hour or so.

Is this terribly surprising? I have read for some time that plastic "micro fibers" have been found in the flesh of food fish. As the saying goes: what goes around comes around; and there is no "away" to which trash can be thrown.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Sunny today though cool. Time to get out in the gardens again.

Found this at Mendocino Humanist. Too often, in my view, requests for prayer are too much like telling military people "Thank you for your service." Unless you do something at the same time you are praying or expressing your gratitude, it is meaningless. Gratitude and prayer are often worth their weight in gold.

Ronni Bennett at Time Goes By had a post on the advantages of growing old. I found myself nodding my head both throughout her post and through the comments. Many struck a chord. My own--somewhat abbreviated--list: simplified wardrobe (no dresses, suits, or skirts--hope never to wear any of that again--and NO pantyhose); simplified "personal" care (no haircuts/perms/curlers--no makeup); I read what I want to read/watch as long as I want to read/watch it (I no longer feel the need to finish a book/movie that fails to interest me); no alarm clock and no fixed schedule but plenty of time for what I want to do. Oh, yes--there are plenty of advantages to growing older.

I cleared the first of my two plant towers. Took cuttings of lemon mint, orange mint, thai basil to (hopefully) root over winter. If they don't make it I will try to find more plants next spring. I transplanted the Greek oregano and the "hot & spicy"oregano and put the pots upstairs under the lights. The rest I dumped and stacked the tiers with their drain pan for nest spring. That was a bit of work so I quit for the day after getting the two rosemaries well watered and drained.

Friday, September 8, 2017

I don't know if or how much I will get done in the gardens. Right now the skies are overcast.  The weather report says just cloudy--no rain. I started four more cuttings from the English lavender before harvesting the large plant. I got four trays of lavender and put in two of spearmint. I saw some nice sprigs of lemon mint I want to put in vermiculite to root (I hope). The hibiscus seems to be adjusting well to being inside. I don't know if it will continue blooming after the buds it already has are spent. That area gets bright during the winter being on the south side of the house. Whether it is bright enough I don't know--yet. The lemon verbena looks good also after I transplanted and trimmed it. Hope it stays that way.

Oh, well! the clouds have simply made this such a gloomy day all my ambitions for gardening have evaporated. We are supposed to have sun tomorrow so I think that sounds like a better day to get outside.

Kunstler has a take on the impending arrival of Irma in Florida scheduled for sometime Sunday. I had been thinking much the same things after Harvey. Considering how much of New Orleans still hasn't been rebuilt I expect a similar patten in Texas and in Florida. The insurance companies will do what every shenanigans they feel they can get away with to mitigate their losses. The personal losses are going to be even worse because so may individuals were not insured. Kunstler wondered how many people returning to a complete wipe out will drift somewhere else. Again New Orleans after Katrina is instructive. The city stands at three-quarters of the population it had before Katrina. Houston's just over 2million might be reduced by 600k.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Cool so far today with sun--mostly. We had intermittent rain yesterday that gave us a couple of very nice showers. Needless to say--no garden work done. I have been making up for it today though. I ground the rosemary and lemon verbena that was already dry and filled the dehydrator with lavender from one of the small(ish) pots on the garden bench/table on the patio and some cuttings of spearmint. I also took out the eggplant. Found three small fruits in the process but didn't keep them. We already have a winter's worth in the freezer and when I say small I mean very small. I took some more cuttings of the lavender to try to root for next year. So far only one of my earlier cuttings failed.

Monday, September 4, 2017

I don't intend to do much today except, perhaps, finishing the fall wreath I am rebuilding. Maybe I will decide, on the spur of the moment, to do something else. We did laundry yesterday and will wash the bedspreads today. Each of the two will be a load by itself. The bread came out nicely yesterday and tasted wonderful. The smell of baking bread is one of the most pleasurable smells in existence.

I found this article earlier. It is intriguing though it doesn't directly affect us since we have no dietary restrictions, religious or otherwise. I am sure Unilever never thought about the source of its gelatin nor much about its market, especially the religious dietary restrictions. They relied on the USDA's judgement which indicated that since the product was so refined it was no longer considered a "meat" product. It reinforced in my mind the fact that with global supply lines companies often (usually??) can't guarantee what is actually in the products they sell. Think of the stories over the last couple of years of fake honey, fake olive oil, cadmium contaminated children's jewelry, etc. And I am not assuming that our manufacturers are more honest or trustworthy that foreign ones. I know otherwise. Nor am I all that trusting of government agencies which have become increasingly captured by business interests. By the way, I wonder what Unilever's Muslim customers in India and elsewhere think. After all, the article says they can't guarantee that neither beef nor pork are the ultimate source of the gelatin.

Just a thought without links--#45 made a second trip to Houston and this time made sure the photo ops showed him being the "Consoler-in-Chief." That was nearly as unconvincing as the first trip. But--when did we decide that the President had to play that role? Obama visited several disaster sites and was a great "Consoler-in-Chief" though he faced a legislator that was less than consoling. George W. did the same but came off as somewhat stiff and uncomfortable except at 9/11 ground zero where he could combine the consoling role with Commander-in-Chief. But as Commander-in-Chief he was somewhat of a flop. He tried to make us believe "Brownie" did a terrific job as FEMA basically failed in its response. I saw a list of Clinton's visits but I really can't remember them. Question--did they ever do any good and were we ever "consoled?"

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Bread baking day. I have a whole-wheat, oatmeal, and honey loaf in its first rising. I don't have any gardening planned beyond watering a couple of indoor plants. We got a spate of very heavy rain last night so I don't think I need to water anything outside especially since it has been very cool lately.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Very cool last night--only 47F. I brought the hibiscus in and placed it in what I hop will be its winter home. I have to repot the lemon verbena and stake it. Some repair work our landlords did on the outside of the building rattled the wall and one of my framed diplomas fell on it. The glass didn't break (thank you, Gods) and I didn't see anything broken on the plant in the cursory look I gave it before going to bed. I harvested five lovely eggplants and will pull the plant either today or tomorrow. Mom put up six package in the freezer--three breaded and ready for frying, and three plain and ready for anything we want to do with them. I have had a good year for eggplant.

Lemon verbena transplanted, trimmed and staked. One of the sources I read says it doesn't like to have its roots disturbed and tends to drop its leaves when transplanted. I hope I didn't disturb it too much but if it does loose leaves I won't be as quick to think it dead as I had been. I also trimmed back my large rosemary to try to encourage it to grow up instead of out. I also tied it so that the stems are closer together. The trimmings are drying now. Can't waste something as good as home grown rosemary and lemon verbena.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Cronyism at its worst. Or the best politicians money can buy. Unfortunately, although the politicians came cheap, the results are going to be expensive for the taxpayers. Either they will pay to clean up the mess or, more likely, suffer the health consequences of the mess not being cleaned up. But, hey, that's Texas whose two senators voted against funding Hurricane Sandy relief claiming there was too much "pork" in the bill. That claim was refuted in a line item examination of the bill I read recently. Politifacts writes a good assessment of Ted Cruz's charge that two-thirds of the appropriations were unrelated to the hurricane and says they are mostly false.

Another craptastic decision by #45. As soon as I read this three thoughts went through my mind. First, he is moving money around to get two things: his idiotic wall and the military. That was confirmed by the statement that government employees outside the DC area will get a 0.5% raise while the military will get a 2.1% increase. Second, where is the "national emergency"? Please don't tell me that Hurricane Harvey is a NATIONAL emergency. Since when is Texas the whole of the nation? Third, what "serious economic conditions?" We have been told for the last ten years that the economy is recovering well and doing fine. Now, suddenly, #45 sees "serious economic conditions?"

Very interesting article about (some) of what brought #45 to the presidency. The description reminds me of some of what I have been reading on the 1920s. To quote from Battlestar Galactica "this has happened before; it will happen again."

This blogger has a story that parallels mine. Like her I resisted getting a cell phone but relented because I made trips home alone and didn't want to be stranded with no way to get help. So the cell phone entered my life. A couple of years ago we decided to go entirely cell and eliminated the home phone. I also resisted the e-reader for some time before breaking down and getting my first nook which took me about four years to out grown because my e-library had grown bigger than the memory capacity of the device. But I also put Kindle software on my laptop only to find that Barnes & Noble no longer offers nook software for laptops. But the nook was simply a tablet computer so I could put Kindle software on it. That strategy worked until the combined library exceeded the memory which led to the iPad on which I run both e-readers. Why not just move most of the content to the "cloud?" Well, I thought about what would happen if our internet service was interrupted just as I finished a book and wanted to download one from the cloud. I prefer my library accessible. I still love physical books but the iPad is lighter and more convenient. I can change the type size, adjust the brightness, highlight, put in lengthy notes on the text. I don't know if I am a "fan" but I am an enthusiastic user. The battery life hasn't been an issue. I can read for or five hours without a problem. However, I have thought about finding a solar charger--just in case.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Last day of August--oh my!! It seems like I just planted my gardens and already I have been  the tomatoes, peppers, sunflowers, beans, and cucumbers. I think I said on an earlier post that this weather feels more like the end of September than the end of August. Many of my herbs are flowering and the bees are enjoying that. The cuttings I took some while ago are doing well and several are showing roots. I put them in those little amber pill bottles filled with vermiculite a process I will continue since it has worked so nicely. I am slowly deciding which plants I want to take cuttings from to, hopefully, use in the gardens next year.

Found this on Crooks&Liars which sums up #45's visit to Texas. It was, purely and simply, a selling opportunity. And a failed chance for him to show he was something other than a self-centered psychopath/sociopath.

And right on Harvey's heels comes Irma. It became a tropical storm and earned its name earlier today and is expected to become a hurricane tomorrow. Irma is the 9th named storm of the season which is a milestone the meteorologists say isn't normally reached till the end of September.

This is supposed to be in a science text book???

Echidne of the Snakes has taken note of #45's cancelling of the Obama rule that firms with more than 100 employees have to keep records of pay by race, gender and ethnicity. They don't believe it proves or disproves discrimination but, as she noted, absent even that information such discrimination can't be proven at all. That is precisely the point: if you don't like believe what data might indicate, make sure the data isn't collected at all. And she is also right on concerning the Repthuglican definition of "burdensome." And how selectively it is applied.

Friends on Facebook linked to this statement from the American Historical Association concerning the debate over "Confederate" monuments. I put the word in quotes because I have often been unsure exactly what the monuments commemorated given they were erected well after the end of Reconstruction and even longer after the Civil War. The other side is often perplexing as well. Not too long ago a furor erupting on Princeton's campus with demonstrators demanding Woodrow Wilson's name be removed from one of the buildings because of his segregationist legacy. But he was a President of the United States, a governor of New Jersey, a president of Princeton University and a respected academic. Perhaps it would be far more instructive for the present if his segregationist legacy were as well known as the accomplishments we honor. Perhaps we should learn something of the times during which the contested monuments were erected, what the people at the time were actually honoring by honoring defeated rebels, and what people today are actually saying on each side of the argument.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Not much actually gardening going. We may get rain today and, if we do, it may not be enough to do the plants any good. I will check things again a bit later. My little blueberry gave up the ghost. I managed to keep it going for three years but it curled up and died almost as soon as I brought it inside.

I was wondering if I would find anything worth linking to or commenting on but Margaret and Helen provided this post. I wasn't screaming at the TV because I turned it off. I was miffed mightily pissed though. The network preempted the last fifteen minutes of Jeopardy because #45 had landed in Texas. For Gods' sake, they were fifteen minutes away from the regular news cast and they couldn't wait.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Bread baking day yesterday. It was nice to get back to that. I had so much trouble with my breads last spring I gave it a rest when the weather got hot. Just didn't want to heat up the kitchen and it gave me time to think and research a bit. We threw out our old metal, non-stick pans because the finish had deteriorated but we didn't replace them. I used our glass loaf pans instead but couldn't get the timing right. The loaves seemed to be done but not really. After reading a bit we decided to get a couple of new metal pans and that seems to have done the trick. The German dark rye I did up yesterday came out beautiful. We have missed the homemade bread tastes so much better than the store bought.

This story deserves some expletives!! Once Hurricane and now Tropical Storm Harvey is expected to back out of Texas and move over to re-enter Texas closer to or right on Houston. Mother Nature sure doesn't like that area much. James Kunstler has a post this morning which details some of the possible and probable repercussions of having the fourth largest city in the U.S. put out of commission. I read elsewhere that 15% of the U.S. gasoline comes from the refineries around Houston.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Nice day yesterday but a lazy one. The weather still feels more like late September than late August. A couple of days ago I harvested the first couple of the Mitoyo eggplants and Mom got them peeled, blanched and frozen. I have about four more ripening.

Matt Taibbi has a good piece in Rolling Stone. I was on my high school competitive speech team specializing on what they called "extemporaneous speaking." That meant we had half an hour to prepare a five minute speech on a question drawn from recent news headlines. I prepared by reading the major weekly news magazines (Time, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report) along with a host of other monthly magazines and six or eight daily newspapers taking clippings and notes on what I was reading. The difference I notice between then and now is the lack of explanation and specifics in today's media. Taibbi is right that the media has reduced our attention span. And the news is even more written (or spoken in the case of TV) to the outrageous and emotional. It is designed to push buttons and, by so doing, garner consumers. And what we have now is a man occupying high and responsible office whose attention span is less than that of a goldfish, who can't seem to stitch together a coherent sentence, and who specializes in pushing the emotional buttons of rage, far, xenophobia in its broadest sense of people as stunted as he is himself.

I do like this cartoon!!

I hadn't known that Britain had a competition to find means of "carbon capture and storage" to reduce their CO2 pollution. They are ending it after 10 years because it simply doesn't work. The power plants have to burn more fuel to make the CCS system work so the it becomes a trade-off: more declining fossil fuel or CCS. The most cost effective way to reduce carbon emissions is to simply use less fuel.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Lovely morning but I am not doing anything much except reading. Yesterday was a busy day cutting down the tomato vines and generally cleaning up some of the accumulated mess around the pots.

I looked at this story and blinked because the number of Americans living paycheck to paycheck was more than cited in the last such story I read. I was right. The article mentions that the number was "only" 75% last year not the 78% for this year. Some 56% have less than $100 in savings. Another factoid which says a lot people aren't doing well in this so-called economy.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Really nice day--not too hot and sunny. I took out all of the tomato vines. We are, honestly, sated on tomatoes so I only harvested enough for our salads today and maybe a side dish later in days to come. I am rethinking some of my notions for what plants I want and what I hope to achieve from them. I always preferred indeterminate varieties of tomatoes but I am checking out the determinate varieties. I hope they will be more controllable and produce as much as we need. Since I only have about 30 sq. ft. of garden space available, I have to admit I simply can't produce everything we would use. We have a good farm market nearby and we can get what I can't produce there. However, I just had the pleasure of harvesting two of the Mitoyo eggplants. Next year I won't put in any of the patio sized plants and just stick with one of the Mitoyo. I have generally been unhappy with patio sized veggies. They aren't worth the space they take up.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Cool this morning and not likely to warm up significantly. I'll see what I get done.

I read this kind of thing and I am, honestly, totally pissed off. I don't think we can really afford billionaire presidents (or their families).

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Our internet has been going in and out frequently. It has happened three times in the last hour and looks like it might decide to do so again soon. We'll see if it settles down. Update: it just did--go out that is.

It is wet outside with heavy thunderstorms forecast so no gardening today.

A second U.S. warship somehow collided with a civilian ship in two months. My question right off the bat: what the hell is going on with our military? This provides a tantalizing possibility--only a possibility for now. Navy spokespersons say they are considering all possibilities. Far fetched?? Maybe--maybe not. Last year some geeks showed how they could take control of one of the more common highly computerized car models while it was in operation controlling breaking, acceleration, and steering.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Well, the eclipse the media has been hyping for the last while is to occur today. No, I won't be watching it in person. We are in the 75% zone and I will see it better on the computer. Mom read a story about a lethal small plane crash at a town where people are gathering to view it. The town of Madras is stuffed with "eclipse tourists" arriving for the viewing.

I didn't see much worth commenting on over the weekend. The garden work is winding down so there isn't much to say there. I think it is time to take out the peppers and harvest the very few fruits the plants managed to produce. I haven't had any luck at all with peppers this year. The seeds I started failed and the transplants never did more than barely survive. I think that cardinal I saw has been eating some of my cherry tomatoes. That is OK so long as he leaves some for us--and he has. The gardening season may be winding down faster than I expected. It certainly feels as though the season is about three weeks later than the calendar says it is. While we did our errands on Saturday I noticed leaves already starting to turn.

Jerry Lewis has died at age 91. I remember many of his films fondly, though I wouldn't go out of my way to view them. Once upon a time I would have been sad at the passing of a popular performer from my youth. But somehow I don't feel the same impact. "To every thing there is a time and a season for everything under the sun."

Question: how long can we afford this parasitic situation? We have a parasitic elite in government and in the economy. The costs of maintaining them are out of control and most of them are demanding even more from those of us who can least afford it. Their tame media voices and lobbyists constantly point at the "entitlements" while not mentioning obscene salaries and outsized bonuses for running their companies into the ground, or demanding an increase in the budget for the increasingly inept military, or in the name of law and order sanction legalized looting of the assets of people who are never charged much less convicted of any crime (a.k.a., civil asset forfeiture). The bills for #45 simply are the tip of a very ugly iceberg. James Kunstler put a post up that ties in: Diminishing Returns. I think we have passed the point of diminishing returns (where each new round of investment yields less in returns than the previous round) to the point of negative returns (where each new round of investment actually creates a loss.)

Ronni Bennett's post at Time Goes By today struck a chord. Last year and the year before we went on several day trips but, though we enjoyed them, we did not follow up this year. Traveling, even for a day when someone else is driving, is a pain and we felt that too much of the time was devoted to shopping. Once upon a time I did indulge in the national sport, which is shopping not football or baseball or basketball. As I have gotten older the acquisitive urge has gone into reverse. Cleaning?? Well, when the spirit moves and, thankfully, it doesn't move nearly as often these days. We arrange things so that we aren't rushed any more and we try to get our shopping done early before the crowds come out. We have dumfounded some people when we reject so-called free items but too often we find "free" is too expensive. And we have paid little attention to the eclipse mania. I did start the live streaming and got bored half way through. We didn't even think of driving somewhere to see the totality. I spent a long time doing things I had to do because of a job, a course of study, or a relationship demanded it. Now I am retired. I do what is needful only as needed and so many things just aren't needful.

Friday, August 18, 2017

It did turn sunny yesterday but all I did was collect some tomatoes for our supper. I need to water early today as the rain seemed to help hardly at all. We saw a pair of goldfinches worrying at the sunflowers. I plant sunflowers for then and other birds who also like sunflower seeds. A few days ago I saw a cardinal briefly visit. The shadow of the house is almost at the bottom of the fence and by the time the equinox comes by it will be at the top. That puts the garden into shade; not a deep shade since it will still get a good bit of reflected light from the white fence at the corners where the sun will strike morning and evening. Another confirmation that the outdoor gardening season is winding down.

Tom Englehardt has a good post at Tomdispatch titled "Welcome to the Post-American World."

Thursday, August 17, 2017

I have always loved Margaret and Helen and today's post, the first in a long time, is right on the money.

We have light rain right now. No big gardening jobs today. I will go out between the raindrops to harvest some cherry tomatoes for our chef salad.

I always start really evaluating the gardens this time of year. The heavy work of clearing up for winter is ahead and planning for that actually began about a month ago. Which plants will I try to overwinter in the gardens and what protection do they need. Which plants will I bring in to try to overwinter inside. And always I have to think about my limited space. The little blueberry bush comes inside but the three pots of stevia will go back outside till the frost kills them. I am very disappointed with stevia. The first year I grew it it was wonderful and promised to be a good sweetener in place of sugar. The second year no one carried any transplants so no stevia in the gardens. I tried to start some from seeds but none came up and none came up this year either. The transplants have done well except they aren't as sweet. In fact, we didn't detect any sweetness when I brewed the dried leaves with our tea. We'll stick with honey from now on. I was going to bring in one pot of the lavender but I think I will take some more cuttings to raise grow over the winter. The first set are doing well. I will do the same with all my herbs.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

No major tasks planned for the gardens--just some rearranging and clean up. I think I will bring the blueberry inside. After I grind the basil in the dehydrator and check the peach peels for dryness I will cut small amounts of other herbs. I saw several I want to take cuttings for. The ones already started are still doing well. We should have warm temps and sun today but the weather report predicts some unseasonably cool days ahead and a few possible storms. That could, and probably will, change in the next five minutes but it has me wondering if we should expect an early fall and winter. I can see the first signs that leaves are beginning to turn.

Number 45 gave a press conference on infrastructure which quickly devolved into a donnybrook on Charlottesville. The idiot simply doesn't know when to stop talking. And the press, for the most part, doesn't know how to do anything except engineer "gotcha" moments. Which #45 is congenitally incapable of not providing. One thing that was lost in the fracas was this first item on Grist's summary of stories: his executive order, the touting of which was the stated purpose of the presser, which would streamline the process of rubber stamp the approval of infrastructure projects. Question: did he deliberately deflect attention away from his executive order and any discussion of its impact?

An historian (and I can't remember which one) who wrote that the North may have won the Civil War but lost the larger war for the American conscience. Over the next half century the Jim Crow social/political system (American Apartheid) and the share-cropping agricultural system combined with decisions like Plessy v Ferguson re-established a "slave" system without the name. I wonder if we aren't seeing a parallel development in the late 20th-early 21st century. The U.S. and its allies won WWII against the Axis powers including Nazi Germany. But now the grandchildren of that "greatest generation" are marching with swastika flags, chanting Nazi slogans, and demonizing Jews, blacks and others they don't see as part of the "volk." And the Germans aren't surprised.

Amen!! HecateDemeter puts things very nicely. Josh Marshall did also yesterday. Marshall makes a further point by asking just what we are honoring when we choose our heroes. Jefferson is the example he chose but any of the southern founding fathers could have been used. Jefferson, a slave holder, gave us the Declaration of Independence which asserts "all men are created equal." In other words, there is a ledger with a positive side and a negative side and, for most of us, Jefferson's positives outweigh the negatives. What about Robert E. Lee? What is there on the positive side to balance the fact that he was the commanding general of an army in rebellion? It is almost as if the winners allowed the losers to write the history.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

We got our grocery shopping done early because we had only one stop and not much to get. Had a nice surprise at the supermarket. I think I said that our usual store was part of the purchase by the family that had started the chain many, many years ago which gave me hope some things would change. We wanted lettuce and for the past several months we passed up lettuce there because it looked awful. Today it was beautiful. We told the produce manager that which made him happy. And yes we did get a head of red-leaf lettuce.

The four quarts of tomatoes that didn't seal are now down to two. Mom made juice out of two of them. We hadn't bought tomato juice for even longer than we skipped the lettuce, though that was not the store's fault. We simply didn't like how much salt was in the commercially produced juice. After drinking a small glass each of what she made up, we won't buy commercial again--ever. Ours was so much better though Mom says she forgot that we put some salt in the quarts when we canned those tomatoes and added a bit more. But that was still less than what is in the commercial juice.

We got some peaches at the same time we bought that last 25 lb. box of tomatoes last Saturday. Mom fixed up a pie yesterday and peeled the left over peaches to put in the fridge in a dilute lemon water. We can use them for our yogurt or what ever. The peels are drying now in the dehydrator along with five trays of basil. I will grind the peels up to put in the mixes for tea.

I cut down the cucumber and bean vines yesterday and got that area cleaned up. I have some other clean up to do but it is already getting a bit warm to do much. I will go out later and water everything but cutting the basil that is in the dehydrator was my limit.

Monday, August 14, 2017

A busy day yesterday. We processed another 25 lbs of tomatoes so we now have enough canned tomatoes to last till next summer. The 50 lbs we did up yielded 23 quarts which cost us little over $1 each. That is almost entirely the cost of the tomatoes because we already had the jars and the lids are a few pennies each. I have three jars to reprocess today. That is better than the five I had last week and I hope the second time is a charm. So far the failure rate for the new lids vs. the used ones is about the same. We'll see what happens for the second processing. I had three last week that wound up in the fridge because the second time didn't work either. In case you are wondering, I am a novice canner so maybe this isn't that unusual.

These first two stories I found yesterday and only had time to make the links.

Anti-tourism attacks in Spain. The dark side of all of the efforts various places are making to bring in outside money--and that is what it is all about. We don't watch much TV any more but the ads for tourist spots in a five state area (Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky) have been all over the commercial slots. But then we think about how little we really like visiting such spots. The crowds are too much and all of the "local" souvenirs are made in China.

So the Countering Violent Extremism initiative becomes Countering Radical Islamic Extremism initiative. I noticed this morning (Monday) that the White House Press people are insisting that #45 really did intend to condemn white supremacist violence but somehow his words were taken in a way they weren't meant. I'm sorry but condemning "both" sides when only one side is committing the violence is hard to take the wrong way. And to repeatedly fail to condemn attacks on ethnic or racial minorities by white extremists (or to even call them extremist or radical) indicates a mind that simply doesn't recognize that evil. I have thought for sometime we should do away with the notion of "hate" crime. Vandalism is vandalism no matter what site is vandalized and no matter the motivation. Defacing an office building, or a church, or a synagog, or a mosque (or any other site where people worship) is vandalism. Trashing a place and destroying what is inside (or stealing the contents) is a crime whether it is a school, a place of worship, or a business no matter what the motivation. Calling a person or a group of people vile names is boorish behavior and deserves verbal and public criticism but it isn't a crime unless that speech incites violence in which case the person uttering or writing the words should be prosecuted no matter the venue (street corner, pulpit, newspaper, blog) and no matter the motivation (religious belief, bigotry, whatever). Assault is assault and it matters not a bit if the motivation is religious, racial or pure cussedness. Punish it as such and don't accept any excuses.

Two of the three quarts of tomatoes sealed after a second round in the canner. I am in the process of removing the jungle of cucumber and bean vines. Both are looking more than a bit untidy and spent. I found a half dozen Dragon Egg and four Chicago pickling cucumbers. We have all of the pickles we can put in the fridge so I told Mom to find some new cucumber salad recipes. Over the winter I plan to research ways to prepare canned pickles that will keep them crispy as well as tasty. One of the Chicago cucumbers is very ripe so I will harvest the seeds for next year or the year after since I have some left from this year's seed order.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

It will be somewhat busy today so we'll see how much I write.

Mom found a headline that said the first snowfall this season in the U.S. was due this weekend. At first I was surprised. After all, this is only the second week of August which I will admit has been cooler than I expected. Then I asked "where?" In Alaska. I wouldn't have been surprised if the article had said the Rocky Mountain high country. It feels odd to think of snow now but I am already thinking about pulling the sad tomato and cucumber vines. It seems much too early for that. That triggered thoughts about next year's garden: only one plant each of the Ox Heart and Roselle tomatoes and two plants each of the Chicago pickling cucumbers and Dragon's Egg cucumbers.

Friday, August 11, 2017

I have chocolate mint and orange mint to grind and should get the lemon balm cut and drying. The lemon balm by itself should fill the dehydrator. I should pick a bunch of cherry tomatoes. We'll see if I get to it and I need to check some cucumbers. I have several mental notes for next year: no beans--I haven't found a variety yet Mom likes, not even the Blue Lake she suggested one year; tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers will be in their own five gallon buckets; all the mints will be in either the pockets of the soft shoe storage planter or in smaller pots on the wire shoe rack; the strawberries like that soft shoe rack so some will stay in there and in the top tiers of the tower planters.

There are stories which simply cry out for commentary and this is one. I think it proves that the Department of Homeland Security is simply a slush fund. Where is the capitalism the Repthuglicans treat as an 11th commandment? But then there are so many subsidies for the fossil fuel industry that a few billion to keep the moribund coal industry limping along isn't such a bad thing. It isn't like they have roads, bridges, sewer systems, polluted water that needs attention and money, is it?

Now this is a good idea. If companies want to put in robots to replace workers, they can do so but they should kick in to defray the expenses the state (which means the rest of us taxpayers) pony up to cover unemployment and other such costs.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Yesterday I cut back the spearmint and was surprised to find it filled my dehydrator so I put the chocolate mint off to today. We'll see how much I get before deciding what else might be harvested. I still have oregano, basil, orange mint, lemon balm to get to. The next cutting of most of the herbs after that will be for slips to root for next spring. So far the lemon mint, both varieties of lavender, and the lotus vine cuttings I started a while ago are alive and, I hope thriving.

Although I continually assess and think about how the gardens are doing this is the season when I really start contemplating how well the gardens have done, considering where I will put what plants next year, and what new plants I will try out.

And here is a disconcerting surprise: wildfire in Greenland. Small by our standards but, still, Greenland??!! where they say "micro-fires" are not uncommon.

Another interesting and disconcerting story: the average temperature in July for Death Valley was 107.4F which was the highest recorded average for the area, for the U.S. and for the world.

The spearmint I cut and dried yesterday is ground and in its jar. I have chocolate mint and orange mint drying now. I also took spearmint cuttings to root (hopefully).


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

We have had some nice weather lately which the weather people predict will continue for a while: cool mornings and warm (but not hot) days. Nice for tending the gardens and then doing things inside and cool enough we don't have to use the air conditioner.

I follow politics only in passing now that it has become an absurd "reality" show. We don't really follow the news any more. It seems rather removed for the most part. Because of our location we get Illinois/Chicago news though we live in Indiana. Most often we skim the headlines diving into a story only when something catches our attention. Since much is gossip or random violence we ignore most of it. I wonder how many people share our attitudes. It is hard to tell given the echo chamber that is the internet and the superficiality that is broadcast TV (news or otherwise.)

If I don't follow news or politics or economics (which has the same relationship to reality as politics nowadays) what do I read? I will take you an a bit of a tour through my usual reading list.

First up: Nimue Brown. Her piece on "dabbling" resonates with this confirmed dabbler. I also like learning new things often at the expense of finishing old projects. I have books detailing crafts I know I will never try--the books were cheap, the materials for the crafts are not. I have projects that have been off the stove completely for long periods of time for any number of reasons. Some of them will never be finished but I hope a fair number will be as I move them from shelf to back burner to high heat.

Then there is the intersection of technology and society/politics. Hardly a new phenomenon. North Korea has a system totally disconnected from the rest of the world and restricts access to that to only a few carefully chosen and trusted subjects. For years China has been tightening the controls on what their people can access and blocking those companies who don't comply with their demands. After the Arab Spring revolutions several countries in the Middle East demanded internet/telecom "kill" switches to help block the spread of future such movements. "Splinternets?" Yeah, I can see it developing. There are nasty tendencies in our "wild west" internet culture: bullying, hate, trolls, scams, frauds. But we had that without the internet. And I believe that information, like any technology, is a genie that doesn't go back into its bottle once released. It is always there somewhere in the wilderness.

Ronni Bennett is wonderful for discussions of what aging is like. This one is a fun piece that provides a lighter note. I agree with her totally on the sleeveless phenomenon. I don't think I have any sleeveless items left in my closet. I am at the point where if I can't wear blue jeans and a tee shirt or slacks and a pretty blouse with sleeves, I say forget it. My fondest desire is to never wear a dress or skirt again. As I read the last section on the loss of "You're welcome" I had a though Mom said: the full exchange used to be "Thank you for coming (or what ever)" followed by "You're welcome, and thank you for a wonderful dinner (or what ever)." Our interactions, especially verbal ones, seem to have been shortened, truncated. The "you're welcome" is left implied.