Monday, May 29, 2017

Monday--May 29

Goodness--only today and two more days and we will be through May into June. Where has the year gone.

Not much gardening to do except a pull a weed or two. Some of the replacement cucumbers and sunflowers are sprouting. I think I will simply start those in the gardens directly when the containers get warm enough. I have some little peppers forming on the pepper plants so we might have fresh peppers soon. We are going to visit a nearby farm market Wednesday afternoon. I think this might be only the third year it has been operating but it is billed as a "farm" market meaning that everything on sale is produced by local small farmers. The others, including our own town market, includes not only local farm grown vegetables or meat but local crafts and some commercially produced items. Saturday is opening day for the town market. We will visit it also.

Tom Englehardt has a very good post on what #45 reveals about our world and how we got here. Spoiler alert: it isn't a good picture.

It looks like Europe is in the same boat we are as far as penicillin is concerned. This is a basic problem with global capitalism that we should have seen coming. The way to beat the competition trap is to consolidate And, when three of the four companies in the world are in China and don't adhere to U.S. or European production standards, you have a choice: endure the shortages or buy from substandard producers. Once companies get a certain, large size and there are few of them the old notion that some upstart will come in and provide the competition that will either kill them or make them change their ways is nonsensical. The new company will be undercut or bought out and the situation will go back to status quo ante.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Saturday--May 27

We have cloudy skies right now but the weather forecast calls for sun. I don't have any major gardening on the schedule. I have, maybe, a dozen or so empty places for plants but no plants to put into them. Next week we plant on going to a local farm market we haven't visited yet and I will see if they have plants I might like to try out. We are still a week away from opening day of the city farm market. I still have a good bit of cleaning up and rearranging to do in the shed and the little greenhouse. We'll see if the spirit moves in that direction. So far the two aloe and the large rosemary are doing well after transplant.

Sunday--May 28

I feel lazy this nice sunny Sunday. I checked the gardens and all the plants except the anemone are doing well. I think our three-day heat wave of mid to high 80s damaged it. I moved the plant to a shadier micro-environment and it has been hanging on. One of the stevia looked a bit off but is rebounding. I will water this afternoon.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Thursday--May 25

After a cloudy but dry morning we now have sun. It is still quite cool. I raised the shade on the oxheart and Rosella tomatoes. They have come back nicely from our three 80+ and very sunny days a couple of weeks ago. No sign of the cucumber and sunflower seeds sprouting yet. I found a single blossom on one of the patio tomatoes which seem much happier outside. I had thought to do a winter crop inside but I don't think I will. I started these very, very early and they sort of struggled along. I thought I would be economical and cut the toilet paper rolls in half to make two starter pots instead of one. I won't do that any more. The plants I started in the full size roll grew much better and had more time to develop before their roots emerged from the pot. Also the larger ones didn't dry out as fast.

Friday--May 26

Just separated the aloe from its daughter plant and transplanted both. The mother went into a larger pot and the baby into the original small pot. That last is outside on our spiral hanging planter. I think I am going to have to clean out the shed. I know I have two more pots like that small one. We bought three at the same time because the spiral has places for three and those were all just the right size. I can't find the others at the moment. I also did my yearly reset of the large rosemary. I took it out of its pot and trimmed about half of the root ball and then replaced it in the same pot with new soil.

I haven't post much on politics because very little in political (or economic) news moves me to post. A while back a I normally read blogger related a story about Socrates and a young man who came rushing up insisting he heard something Socrates needed to hear. Socrates asked him to answer three questions before relating his news. First, is it good? The young man said no, in fact is was very bad. Second, is it true? The young man said he didn't know because he had only heard it and couldn't verify it. Third, did Socrates really need to know the information? After reflecting a moment the fellow conceded that Socrates didn't need to know that juicy bit at all. "So", Socrates summed up, "it isn't necessarily true, it isn't good and I really don't need to know it. Why tell it?" I try to follow a modified version of that in my reading and commenting. So much out there isn't necessarily true. Much is just juicy gossip I don't need to follow about people in whom I have no interest. And very little of it is good. Now, some of what floats around the aether is bad but I do need to know it (like what the assholes in Washington are planning for Social Security and Medicare) so I pay attention--and sometimes comment. Sometimes what I find is cute or good though nothing that is absolutely essential to know. Again I read it and sometimes comment. So much of it we have no clue as to its veracity even if we try to verify it. That gets filed in the back of my mind awaiting corroboration.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wednesday--May 24

Yesterday was cool and cloudy. We did get some scattered showers but nothing major. We expect for today. It was one of those days when my ambition and energy were missing in action so I didn't do much of anything. If we get a long enough time between showers I may try to get the last two plants (sweet basil and lime basil) into containers. "The last two plants" for now.  I still have spaces for other plants but I will wait for the farm market to open. That will come a week from this coming Saturday. I may start harvesting the spearmints soon. They are growing like the weeds they once were.

We actually got some sun this morning and, though the temps are still quite cool, I got the lime and sweet basil plants in their containers. What ever rain we got didn't do much for several plants so I also watered them. I still have space for two large plants (5 gal. buckets) and about a dozen small plants in scattered places. The tomatoes that weren't dealing well with that bright sun on our stretch of mid-to-high 80s are coming back very nicely.

Al Jazeera had this item today on a world wide penicillin shortage. I might feel more sympathy with drug manufacturers who complain about the lack of "profit" in producing penicillin since it is off patent if I hadn't read about the cost to patients of new drugs often in the high five figures for a 3-month course of treatment, or the daraprim nightmare where the only company making the drug was bought and the cost went from a bit over $13 to $750 overnight, or the epipen fiasco in which the cost quintupled in a very short time. I think they ought to ramp up production of penicillin as a public service.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Monday--May 22

The weather should be good for getting the rest of the plants situated and, maybe, some clean up and rearranging outside. It turned out warmer than predicted yesterday and, as I noted, the sun came out and the beds dried out enough to get some work done.

My jaw dropped when I read this. I found another site which attributed the shortage to the difficulty Pfizer has getting components for glass syringes. It still boggles the mind that a common and frequently used drug based on baking soda is in short supply.

We read about Ringling Brothers' Circus shutting with a bit of nostalgic sadness. The circus always had a week or ten day run at the local civic center each year and we went almost every year. We thoroughly enjoyed the shows. Times change and the differences are stark. I remember the news media each year covered the parade of the elephants from the train station to the arena which I haven't seen very much of in the last few years. I don't remember people picketing claiming animal abuse--a charge we were expected to accept without any proof. But how does an old fashioned entertainment compete with cgi-enhanced movies? I don't think it does--especially when the price they can charge for tickets no longer covers costs. This article, however, deals with another aspect of the closure: what happens to the entertainers? Somehow I don't think #45 will be very vigorous in efforts to preserve those jobs.

Imagine if you only had electricity intermittently--sometimes as little as one hour a day. And imagine the situation lasts day after day, week after week, year after year.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday--May 21

Thunderstorms are rumbling through with some heavy rain. No gardening today.

Well, it cleared off and the containers were dry enough that I did get some gardening done. I planted the hibiscus, Mitoyo eggplant, impatiens, 2 more lavender plants, a laggard bean sprout, several Chiante sunflowers (seeds this time) and another set of pickling cucumbers and Dragon's Egg cucumbers. I stopped at that point and will continue tomorrow. I still have two patio sized tomatoes, three marigolds, sweet basil, lemon balm, lime basil and 3 geraniums. We are thirteen days from the opening of this year's farm market. And, yeah, I am counting down the days.

I just found this news story which is dated yesterday (May 20, 2017) I was flabbergasted, first. by the size of the recall (47 million pounds of meat, vegetable and fruit products); second, by the fact that the recall was dated May of last year, as I discovered by following the trail of links, and we hadn't heard about it before now; third, by the astounding list of products and brands included. Our industrial food production system does produce an abundance of product but also an abundance of waste and the potential for wide spread food poisoning.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Saturday--May 20

Another wet day with thunderstorms predicted. I really can't complain about the rain. We needed it and I don't have to water anything. It just sets back my planting but the new plants are doing well in the little greenhouse until things dry out a bit.

We have most of the plants we wanted in the gardens or in the greenhouse ready to go in. I still have to plant some cucumbers directly in the beds because the plants I started from seeds simply didn't fare well. I also think I will plants some sunflowers directly just to see if they do better than the seeds I started inside. One observation from this year: the prices have gone up considerably. Over the season I plan to see how many of my plants I can propagate from cuttings. That will reduce my costs considerably. My guesstimate: prices have doubled at the low end over the last four or five years. I still have space available for a few more plants but I am going to wait till the farm market opens and see what they have. I have found interesting, new-to-me plants each year.

I have seen ads frequently during the limited time our tv is on for The whole notion doesn't appeal to me. This article reinforces that.

Bored Panda posted this item that had us laughing and wondering if Capt. Obvious wrote the signs.

Ah--someone else has had the same feelings about communicating with Repthuglican/Conservative friends/acquaintances/family that I have: we seem to be living two different realities. Or, maybe three. I remember thinking that the Clinton/Damnocrat version that "everything is fine and the system needs a few, little tweaks" reality was as much poppycock as the Trump/Repthuglican notion that everything was shit swirling down the toilet. Neither version corresponded to my reality. I think most voters were left with trying to decide which version most corresponded to the lives we live.

That's a rhododendron!! Wow!! Just Wow!!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday--May 19

I may not get any transplanting done today.  The afternoon thunderstorms may arrive much earlier than predicted. It is overcast right now. At least it is cooler. I made sure all the new plants were well watered before putting them in the little greenhouse so they should be good till tomorrow. Actually, I should say till Sunday because more storms are on the forecast for tomorrow. The weather is so changeable more so than when our favorite quip was "don't like the weather? wait five minutes." The wind has been absolutely brutal. I have a spot where the trash tote is hemmed in by five gallon buckets, the wall of the house and the air conditioner and the wind still blew it out to the center of the patio.

This does not sound at all good.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Wednesday--May 17

Yesterday we hit 88F. Supposed to do the same today and tomorrow. I don't have anything planned except checking on plants and watering.

Thursday--May 18

Today was shopping day and we had an expanded route. I needed some more potting mix and a list of plants I wanted to get if they were out still, or yet for the more tender plants. Picked up two more lavender, new sweet basil, lime basil, lemon balm, chives, a hibiscus, some pretty geraniums and the impatiens. I will be busy planting tomorrow. We also had groceries which required visits to three stores: supermarket, meat market and health foods store. We also had a coupon to redeem at Best Buy and knew of a movie we wanted.

The temperatures are predicted to drop into the high 60s and 70s for the next ten days which will be nice. Three days of unseasonal mid to high 80s is more than enough. We will get plenty more when summer comes.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tuesday--May 16

Supposed to be another warm day--should reach 80F. My spinach appears to be poised to bolt. I will pull it later this week. The beans and sunflowers will be ready to put in by early next week. The weather forecast predicts rain and high winds for somewhere around Thursday night or Friday. And highs back in the 60s.

Beans, sunflowers and stevia all transplanted. I was going to let the beans and sunflowers go for a week but the roots were already emerging from the tubes. I had three stevia in that one pot from the garden shop which are now in individual pots. In a little while I will get the cucumber seeds and plant them.

Perhaps the best succinct summation of #45's character. I find it sad to think that 1) the president is a 7-year-old boy in the body of a 70-year-old man; 2) that people actually believed his eruptions of oral diarrhea to vote for him; 3) that some still believe his oral diarrhea; 4) that the only way to get rid of him (short of voting him out in three years) is impeachment; and 5) that the spineless Repthuglicans who failed to effectively challenge him at any point in the primaries or after the nomination or after his election won't challenge him on anything--ever. Damn!!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Monday--May 15

Another nice sunny and warm day on tap. I just checked on all the plants in the gardens and they are doing well. In fact, one little strawberry surprised me with an open blossom. All of the sunflower seeds have sprouted upstairs and three of the beans. I hope I get around to planting some more cucumber seeds in the container itself.

We take so many things for granted--like going to the faucet and turning on flowing, (hopefully) clean water. How many of us think of how we would deal with not having that?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sunday--May 14

Happy Mothers' Day to all.

I found this delicious article this morning that had me in stitches. I am a comic book fan from way back and especially of the Marvel line. And, by the way, I just did put in "" in my browser and it went right to #45's web page. Who ever did this is f**king brilliant.

I saw this on MSN. At first the reactions of outrage didn't surprise me but I had second thoughts. First, let's consider the case of the community college president who capped off a 42 year career getting a nice pension and a $266k payout for 1260 sick days he never used. Those number of days amount to just under three years which amount to about $80k. He worked those days because he wasn't sick but at the time got no extra pay or other compensation for that work. You can look at the other examples the same way. Perhaps the compensation for such benefits not used should be paid yearly. Then they wouldn't have been so noticeable. The only reason people are outraged is because they see the size of what they think is an unearned windfall. Au contraire--those people earned it.

Large numbers are always mind blowing. The story from MSN took a minute or two to process and realize that the large number is simply a matter of small numbers accumulating over time--rather like the "miracle" of compound interest. This story concerns a similarly large number: 252K+ pounds of prepared chicken and beef burrito products recalled because of listeria contamination. On the one hand we aren't overly concerned for ourselves. We don't buy highly processed foods and if we want burritos we can make them ourselves. On the other hand, I find such waste offensive. But such stories coming out of our industrial food processing system are increasingly common place.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Saturday--May 13

Mid-May already!! I did some clean up among the plants and need to sit for a little while. The lemons and limes didn't make it. I may try again next year. The oranges are still hanging on and I hope they make it. The sweet basil and lime basil I had outside also didn't make it. The weather has been too much for them--the hot slewing to cold and the heavy rain. I will get more of those next weekend. I adjusted the planter in which I have lavender planted. One of the plants isn't looking happy. I placed the planter on wood slats to get it off the table surface and deep it out of water that pools there but I inadvertently covered the drain holes. I replaced the slats with two 2x4 pieces which elevates the pot and leaves the drains clear.

The second year we raised tomatoes we got very few. They were tasty but the cold spring didn't do them any good at all. I had thought of trying one of the very cold tolerant varieties Burpee carries but didn't. The next year it was hot and we had a bumper crop. That has been the pattern since. The rains we have had over the last few years have also been atypical. Usually we don't have as many monsoonal downpours as we have had. My Dragon's Egg cucumbers have all been pounded to death by the last couple of storms. I will start some more Monday.

On other topics--I found this New Yorker piece which is scarily right on the money. I wonder how much damage the Orange Horror, aided and abetted by a spineless and grasping legislature, will do to our Constitutional government by the time he is done. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. Years ago Robert Heinlein had his protagonist, Johann Sebastian Bach Smith in I Will Fear No Evil, remark that the government of the U.S. had gone from a representative democracy to a broad democracy, to an oligarchy and more without ever changing its basic Constitution. We have witnessed part of that in my lifetime.

I have heard this song before--several times. The government has promised before to stop seizing tax refunds to pay debts long dead family members are said to owe. Each time the seizures come again soon after.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Friday--May 12

It is clear this morning so we should get some sun. I should get some things put out in the gardens and, perhaps, clean up and rearrange some more. We'll see because today is also bread baking day and laundry day. The next several days, according to the latest weather forecast which may change five minutes from now, shows several warm and fairly sunny days ahead.

I think I am getting an attack of the "Lazies." I did get two dianthus, a marigold, and two patio eggplants in the gardens. But no bread baking today.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Thursday--May 11

We had good rains last night. Might be too wet to transplant anything. And we have a busy day of errands so that will take up most of our time. I did get the seeds for the sunflowers and beans started upstairs.

Just got a look at the gardens and we obviously had a very hard rain. The cucumber seedlings are beaten up. I don't know how many will survive, and I think I will make some more of my toilet paper tube starter cups and get some more started. The weather might be more settled by the time they sprout and grow large enough to transplant.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Wednesday--May 10

We have some weak sunshine today. If it stays dry I have four more transplants to put in place. The cucumbers are recovering nicely. I should move the Mitoyo eggplants and marigolds into the greenhouse. I may add the patio eggplants also to the outside mix. I have two Red Robin tomatoes that I think will do better outside. The sweet basil and lime basil are not doing well. I think it got too cold on a couple of nights. I relied too much on the fact that the garden shop had them on outside racks when I bought them. The pot of stevia is perking up nicely. I plan to separate out the four plants into separate pots and put three outside--later after it warms up a bit. I want to start my beans inside in toilet paper tube pots for transplanting in about two weeks--again when it should be warmer.

Found this on Tomdispatch today. I think the last sentence sums up the matter very nicely: It is a reasonable bet that never before in history has a society spent more on war and gotten less bang for its copious bucks.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Tuesday--May 9

We did get a bit of rain last night. I expect the plants did well though the cucumbers are a question mark right now. I put them out in their container yesterday. The overnight cold (near freeze) a couple of nights ago nearly zapped them. I hope they come back well. I still have two dianthus and two double geraniums that look like yellow roses to put out and I am considering planting the small patio eggplant that are well grown upstairs in the gardens. They would make a nice intermediate plant between the vines at the back and whatever short flowers I might put at the back. My standard eggplant are a bit small yet to put outside. The next ten days weather forecasts look pretty good temperature-wise--nothing below 45. Hope that will pan out.

McClatchy has a good article on the "internet-of-things." I do love the internet. I love going on and researching anything anytime. I love the email. But I don't want everything connected to everything else. I don't want my fridge telling me that I am low on milk and ordering it for me. I don't use my phone, which is low on the "smart" scale but smarter that I really wanted, to surf or google or anything like that. I don't mind technology. After all, humans have been technological animals from before we stood upright. But I want to decide what is useful to me and what is not.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Monday--May 8

It is very cold this morning. We had a freeze warning for last night but we barely missed that--I think. The temp may go lower before the sun comes up. I planted the new mints (peppermint and chocolate mint), three of the dwarf dianthus, and the tomatoes. I put my modified milk jug cloches over the tomatoes which, I hope, protected them.

I haven't said much about politics. There isn't much to say about that pathetic, vicious circus that hasn't been said--repeatedly. I also think most of the arguments dance around, or ignore entirely, the most basic problems. A case in point, the health care debate which isn't about health care itself but about access to a means to pay for health care which for most of us is insurance (or a damn good income with enough left after daily living expenses to pay out of pocket.) I have a lot of questions about the efficacy of modern medicine--questions that go beyond the autism/vaccination cage match seen in the mainstream media. In other words, we aren't even debating how effective our medical treatments actually are and, considering the staggering costs, we should be. And very few commentators (of whatever expertise) actually note that access to insurance is a slippery concept. Just because a company offers an insurance policy (providing "access") doesn't mean many people can afford it. And just because you have an insurance policy doesn't mean you have meaningful "access" to health care. I am among the "lucky" Americans who could handle a $500 emergency wincing all the while. That $500 represents 20% of a $2500 medical bill--you know, the part Medicare doesn't pay. I don't know what the average deductible is for individuals' health care policies but I have read of $2000 and up. That is $2000 the insured person ha to pay before the policy kicks in. That would be out of my reach.

There are times when Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel gets something unequivocally right and this is one of those times. The current administration doesn't like the conclusions nearly all climate scientists draw from the data so they erase the data. I would like to smack the Repthuglican morons in the face and tell them "Look, you assholes, we can and should argue about 1) what holes or gaps may be in the data, 2) how the data is collected, 3) what conclusions we can reasonably draw from the data given points 1 and 2, and 4) what we can and should do given those conclusions. But the data is the data and shouldn't be discarded or erased because you don't like the conclusions others have drawn."

Our political circus and the questions our news media chooses to ignore. I try to ignore most of what #45 does and says. I know it will be hyped way out of proportion and be either misleading or outright lies. As Andrew Bacevich notes there are questions which in the news media's current focus on #45 aren't being asked. We haven't had truly hard hitting, deep delving journalism for a very long time.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Wednesday--May 3

Quite chilly today. The weather forecasts last night predicted patches of frost. I haven't checked the outside plants yet because it is just beginning to be light enough to see something.

Here is another entry in the "Health Care as Scam" file. I would love to say something suitably scathing about this new outrage but I find I am all out of the vitriol required.

Thursday--May 4

Not as cold as yesterday but we should have rain again. The plants came through Tuesday night's colder temps in fine shape. I still need a couple of dry days so I can get those in the mini-greenhouse in the containers.

Friday--May 5

Another chilly and blustery day. The sun has been in and out all morning but hasn't done much to warm things up. I checked the plants and all are well watered with the rains we have been having. I have a couple of thoughts about raising some of the small pots so they drain and don't remain in standing water in the low spots. I saw a couple of strawberry plants that aren't doing too well but most of the remaining plants are fine. The plants in the greenhouse don't need watering and will wait until the weekend when the temps are supposed to be warmer. We plan on going to the garden shops tomorrow and see what is now available.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Monday--May 1

Welcome to May. Happy May Day, or Beltane or what every your choice is. We have sun today after a stormy night and steady rain all day yesterday. The plants in the garden are doing well though I was almost afraid to look after the deluge we heard last night. The weather forecasts have changed dramatically and we may wait a week to go back to the garden shops. Even if we had the plants on hand I am not sure I would have a dry enough stretch to put them in. I have some home started cucumbers and tomatoes I can put in later today--if it stays dry.

Tuesday--May 2

Woke to a power outage this morning. It lasted only about three hours.

John Beckett has some good comments on "Loyalty Day." I commented a couple of days ago that I thought it an asinine idea but had no notion it had a fairly long history. As Beckett says: a bad idea with a 60 year history is still a bad idea.