Monday, November 30, 2009

Playing The Blues

I may have mentioned before here... that last year I picked up the guitar again after many years and set myself to learning to play the blues. I must admit that I haven't been as diligent as I should have been but I am making progress.

I was thinking today as I was trying to understand some 'theory' about the early blues men that bubbled out of the Mississippi Delta. Did these guys worry or even know anything about musical theory? Did they think about flatted fifth pentatonic scales and 7th chords versus major or did they just play from the heart? Did it just happen by accident that blues relies on the flatted fifth scale and the 7th chord because those sound the 'bluest' or did someone do it all on purpose?

I'm not sure this is really important but maybe one of you musicians out there knows more about the history of the blues than I. How much musical 'theory' do you think Robert Johnson really understood?

Curry Something, In My Case Left Over Lamb

I have been thinking about what to do about the two lamb shanks I had left over from Thanksgiving and it suddenly hit me a few minutes ago...curry. Duh! Lamb is nice curried but it also registered in my dim consciousness that the curry sauce works equally well with other things such as seafood, chicken, turkey and even vegetables. I know this might be a little late but some of you might have a some turkey left over(still) and this might be a different way for you to use it up. Dark meat turkey is very nice in something like this. This is my recipe for left over lamb but you just need to substitute whatever you have for the lamb. If you are going to use shrimp or seafood it is probably best to leave it raw but other things like chicken or turkey would be best cooked and preferably left over.

This recipe serves 4 and should be served over rice or couscous. This is a pretty quick dish and works great for feeding a crowd in a hurry. The rice takes longer to cook. This can be doubled or tripled or more. I wouldn't let shrimp sit on a buffet very long or it will turn to rubber but you can boil the shrimp on the side (use the frozen precooked popcorn size for real easy...just thaw it) and let folks add the shrimp as they serve themselves the curry sauce. Other things like lamb and chicken will idle on a buffet in a crockpot or steam tray for an hour with no discernible loss. You might have to add a little additional chicken or vege stock if the sauce starts to 'set up'.

1 pound cooked lamb, fat-trimmed
1 teaspoon olive, peanut or safflower oil
1 cup of chopped apple (1 medium apple)peeled or not your choice
1 cup chopped onion (1 medium onion should do it)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons curry powder ( I use Penzey's spices almost exclusively )
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 3/4 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth ( I prefer the low sodium Swanson's)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Kosher salt to taste
ground cayenne pepper to taste

Optional toppings ( a choice of a few or all of these allows the diners to 'customize' the dish for themselves and adds a little fun)

ripe banana diced (should be a little firm)
plain nonfat yogurt
mango chutney
diced cucumber
diced bell pepper
chopped dried apricot
dried currants or raisins
salted peanuts or cashews
toasted shredded coconut

cut or shred the cooked lamb into bite size pieces.

In a 5 or 6 quart pan over medium heat, combine oil, onion, apple. Cook until onion begins to just brown and add the garlic and then cook for a couple of more minutes. The total cooking time should be about 8 minutes.

Add the curry powder and cumin and stir until spices are fragrant, about 30-45 more seconds.

Add the meat. Add 1 1/2 cups broth and bring to a simmer. Mix cornstarch and 1/4 cup broth. Stir this slurry into the pan and stir until it simmers again and it should almost instantly thicken from the corn starch. Add salt and cayenne to taste. Just a pinch of the cayenne will go a long way so it might be a good idea to 'sneak' up on it. Remove from heat and move into an appropriate serving bowl.

Put whatever condiments you've chosen into small bowls that can be passed.

You can either serve the rice or couscous in individual bowls and let everyone just add the curry and condiments at the table or serve it in a big bowl along with the bowl of curry and let each person serve themselves and add the condiments of choice. Of course, you can also do it buffet style.

As I said above the basic curry sauce can be used with any number of things besides lamb. Shrimp and chicken are especially suited for curry but so are things like zucchini or other squash, cauliflower and broccoli. I haven't tried it but I imagine firm tofu would work as well. Truth be told the sauce by itself over rice is not bad at all and is pretty cheap eats though a little light on protein. This very basic curry sauce is a good thing to have in your repertoire as you can use it to extend left overs very easily.

Note: for a change of pace you can substitute a cup or more of canned coconut milk for some of the stock and it will make a much richer dish.

Chicken Is Still Dangerous

Just in case you don't stop by Skippy's place or by Cookie Jill's place, Cookie Jill reminds us that, in spite of efforts to clean up the business, raw chicken is still a dangerous thing. A recent survey by Consumer Reports found that while the situation has improved very slightly, 66% of the chicken brought in grocery stores around the country harbor salmonella and/or campylobacter. The stats don't seem to be affected by the price of the bird either. High end/all natural products were as guilty as the cheap stuff.

This means that you can't relax on your kitchen hygiene when dealing with poultry. You must cook chicken/poultry to at least 165ยบ F internal temperature and prevent raw chicken or its juices from touching any other food. Use a separate cutting board for cutting poultry and it should be plastic so that you can run it through the dishwasher or wash it in very hot water with lots of soap. Use paper towels for your hands and not the dish towel and clean all surfaces with a sterilizing solution. (1 Tbsp chlorine bleach(sodium hypochlorite) with a quart of water).

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dinner Guests

I was going to post this picture the other day with the post Thanksgiving thing but Madam had it on her camera and her camera was with her on Friday. These are the daughter and her husband's three buddies. The one on the right is Rudy who just joined the pack about a month ago and was a rescue like the girl in the middle Megan. The little guy on the left is Stewart. Megan is the lover and will stand by you for as long as you want to pet her and you will get a cold nose when you stop asking for more.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Post Turkey Day

I hope everyone had a great holiday. My daughter pronounced the dinner the best ever. Not so sure that is accurate but it was a nice compliment. She is on duty today but took plenty of left over leek and potato soup and other goodies to get her through the shift. There will also be leftovers at the firehouse as a lot of people bring goodies for the firefighters on Thanksgiving. They brought their dogs yesterday and we got to meet the newest addition Rudy. He is about a year old and was a rescue. He looks like a mixture of terrier and springer spaniel with a little red fox thrown in. Cute and friendly and seems to fit in with the other two just fine. All three really enjoyed the lamb shank bones that was their holiday treat. It was funny to watch them each take a bone and then run to their own corner of the backyard to enjoy.

I'm just knocking around today. Putting away things I dragged out for the meal yesterday. I did get a batch of sourdough started for the weekly bread bake but other than that no cooking will be done today. I had toast and deviled eggs for breakfast and it will probably be left over dressing and gravy for lunch and maybe another piece of pumpkin pie. I baked two but Mini Monk took one with her as part of her booty.

In spite of my protests Madam has gone to the mall...insanity. She even tried to convince me to go since I was doing nothing important...not happening.

Anyhow, go have a turkey sandwich or whatever and enjoy the day off( if that applies). I think I hear the distant call of 'punkin' pie.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Make It Safe

I just came in from harvesting leeks for the soup. I'm busy prepping for the feasting tomorrow. Cutting up veges, making pie crust, making soup and all that. I try and get as much grunt work done the day ahead and then all I have to do is assemble things. Things like pies need to be done the same day but soup is just as good or better having rested overnight. The veges for the lamb can wait in a zip bag overnight as well.

It's not to late, if your able, to donate to your local food bank and every little bit helps.

If you are traveling for the holiday try and be safe and have a nice trip. You'll be glad to know that the Goddess has gotten together with the FSM and they have declared tomorrow a special 'half the calories' day. So tomorrow you can have that extra helping of mashed potatoes or that second piece of pumpkin pie without guilt.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Changeup

I think I have all the shopping done for the Thursday repast. I just can't seem to get excited about turkey even though I like turkey it just doesn't thrill me as a 'special' meal. I usually do something different for the feast and this year it will be braised lamb shanks. They are actually pretty easy and don't require a lot of tending and are not too expensive to boot. I do them the classic way with carrots, onion, garlic and celery, fresh rosemary and thyme. Brown them and then slow cook them in a Dutch oven with chicken stock and red wine until they are almost fall off the bone tender. I'll serve them over whole wheat couscous this year but only because my daughter doesn't like polenta. A nice Greek country salad with cukes, tomatoes, red onion, Kalamata olives and real Greek Feta and another side dish or two(haven't decided) will make for plenty to eat. I will make cranberry sauce and have fresh bread. The starter will be the leek and potato soup which was requested by my daughter. There will be pumpkin pie and a French Apple Tart to choose from for dessert. Should be nice.

Is everyone (except Steve and RT) doing the turkey thing or are you going do something different as well?

Oh, I will probably get a turkey after the holiday when they are dirt cheap...maybe I can afford one of the free range ones then but even a modest one was nearly a $100 last week. (and yes I went to Whole Foods as it is the only place that has good lamb anywhere nearby but I limited my purchase to the lamb and the West Va Mountaineer apples I mentioned the other day)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cannellini Bean Soup with Roasted Garlic and Rosemary

It's been a cool and rainy two days here in not sunny Atlanta and it just makes you want soup.
With national eating day coming in a couple of days its also good to lighten up a bit before the
gorging. Here is a recipe for a Cannellini Bean Soup with Roasted Garlic and Rosemary that is
hearty and full of flavor and just the answer for a cold fall day. It will also satisfy any
cravings you may have for Italian food. As a free bonus I am going to throw in homemade garlic
croutons which this soup just screams for.

First you need to roast two whole heads of garlic. One for the croutons and one for the soup.

Preheat your oven to 400°. Slice the tops off the garlic (the top is the pointy end) to expose
the cloves. Not too much but enough to expose the actual garlic in each clove. Drizzle each cut
head with a bit of olive oil and wrap them loosely in aluminum foil. I just fold up the edges of
the foil and make a little tent by squishing it together. Roast in the middle of the oven for 25
-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and open the foil and let the garlic cool for about ten minutes or until you can handle it. Like you would a toothpaste tube squeeze the roasted cloves from the heads into a small bowl and mash with a fork and set aside.

While the garlic is roasting you can cut up the bread for the croutons, and the onion, carrots
and celery for the soup. You can drain, rinse and drain the beans while you are at it.
For the croutons you'll need:

Half of the roasted garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
about 5 cups of good bread cut into 1-inch cubes. I like sourdough but a baguette or
ciabatta works great as well. You should need about a half a loaf of bread and this is a
great way to use up stale bread.

Once the garlic is cool enough to handle and you've squeezed and mashed it, mix half of it(the
other half is for the soup) with the 1/4 cup of oil and salt and pepper. In a large bowl toss the
oil and garlic mixture with the bread cubes until well coated and spread evenly on a baking sheet
and bake about 20 minutes. You should turn them once or twice during the cooking and they should come out golden brown. No nibbling!

While the croutons are toasting lets start the soup:

the other half of the roasted garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups of finely chopped onion (1 large onion)
2 carrots , peeled and cut into about 1/4-inch slices
2 stalks celery chopped into 1/4 inch dice
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) cannellini beans(if you can't find cannellini then white kidney or
even light red kidneys or garbanzos will work). You need to drain them, rinse them and drain
them again before they go into the soup.
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (If you only have dried rosemary then cut this
back to 1 tablespoon) and this soup is also good with fresh sage instead of rosemary.

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the
onion, carrots and celery and saute until tender, maybe 10 minutes. Add broth and garlic and
bring to a simmer. We are basically cooking the carrots and celery and letting the garlic infuse
the broth which should take about 20 minutes. Now add the drained beans and rosemary and bring back to a simmer cook 10 more minutes. Now depending on how you like your soup we are at decision time. You can serve the soup like it is with the croutons or go the traditional route and puree half the soup with an immersion blender or a food processor and recombine with un-pureed part and serve with the croutons. It really is best when you take the effort and cream up half the makes the soup much more luxurious. It is always a nice touch to drizzle a little more olive oil on top of the soup when served.


On the Horns of a Dilemma

Jim DeRosa has a post up this morning A Great Society or a Great War. You Can't Have Both.

I too, have been thinking a lot about the weight of the decision President Obama is having to make. While President Obama was left with hundreds of tough problems by the preceding administration none are more critical to the future of what America will become than the lingering disasters of these two wars. Millions upon millions of people both here and there will have to live with the consequences of our next steps.

The always eloquent Bill Moyers had this to say about where we are:
BILL MOYERS: Now in a different world, at a different time, and with a different president, we face the prospect of enlarging a different war. But once again we're fighting in remote provinces against an enemy who can bleed us slowly and wait us out, because he will still be there when we are gone.

Once again, we are caught between warring factions in a country where other foreign powers fail before us. Once again, every setback brings a call for more troops, although no one can say how long they will be there or what it means to win. Once again, the government we are trying to help is hopelessly corrupt and incompetent.

And once again, a President pushing for critical change at home is being pressured to stop dithering, be tough, show he's got the guts, by sending young people seven thousand miles from home to fight and die, while their own country is coming apart.

And once again, the loudest case for enlarging the war is being made by those who will not have to fight it, who will be safely in their beds while the war grinds on. And once again, a small circle of advisers debates the course of action, but one man will make the decision.

We will never know what would have happened if Lyndon Johnson had said no to more war. We know what happened because he said yes.
Aside from the fact that there are thousands, if not millions of lives at stake there is also a terrible political impact to the impending decision. There is a very strong likelihood that should President Obama choose to not escalate the conflict in Afghanistan and, in effect, walk away he will most likely be a one term president. If the President chooses, instead of war, the almost impossible domestic problems which he inherited, he will pay for it with his Presidency. The charges from the war mongers and wingnut right will be poisonous. He will be labeled as weak and unpatriotic. He will be accused of betraying our dead and casting aside all of the lives and treasure we have invested in these misguided wars and it will be relentless. Trust me, it won't matter one whit to the mouthbreathers if we move toward energy independence, reduce the deficit, enact health reform or any other of the myriad opportunities we have to improve life in America. The only thing that will matter is that Obama quit. It won't matter that it was fruitless to continue. It won't matter that we were crushing ourselves under mountains of debt for no reason. The only thing they will see is quitting which they will see a losing.

This is the choice President Obama faces and it is a mighty dilemma. Is there a way to end the quagmire that was deliberately left for him in Afghansitan and still serve two terms? I, for one, believe the choice should be to end our engagement in a conflict we cannot and never will win even it means a return to power of the right. As much as I hate the idea of a return to incompetence of the GOP I have come to the conclusion that we can't, as a nation, continue on our present course. Escalating the Afghanistan conflict will just amplify the disaster. Abandoning it will be the political ruin of Obama and the Democratic party. Withdrawing from Afghanistan will add high octane fuel to the efforts of the extreme right to tear this country apart. If you think the insanity displayed since the election has been spectacular just wait until they have this to batter the President with.

The sad thing is that President Obama will probably bow to the pressure and escalate in some fashion and, in effect, turn his back on the mountain of domestic problems we face. Thousands more American and Afghan lives will be sacrificed until someone comes along and makes the right decision. I just hope that if and when the escalation comes it is wrapped in clear and decisive terms with respect to goals and exit strategy. I think it is a mistake to kick the ball down the field one more time no matter how the process is defined but it will probably happen.

None of us should delude ourselves about the reasons either. Escalating the war in Afghanistan is strictly about politics and the President's desire to not be a one term President. It will be about not ceding political power to the extreme right in the next presidential election. We have been here before and to paraphrase Bill Moyers, it is "de ja vu all over again". President Obama is in the same position as President Johnson when it came to Vietnam. Johnson chose war out of political expediency even though he chose not to run for a second term. Would that President Obama take a lesson from that dilemma and the results of the wrong decision.

Those of you that have been coming around here for any length of time know how much I loathe the far right and what they have done and are doing to our country. As much as I hate to say it, I would rather see them return to power than see us spend any more lives and treasure in the pointless conflicts in the Middle East. It was a mistake in the beginning and it is even more of a mistake now. If ending this costs us a return to the fascism of the right then so be it.

Don't get me wrong. I do believe that we should be engaged in the world and especially the potential hell hole that could erupt in the Middle East. I just don't think we should be doing it with bombs and bullets. Pakistan is trouble squared and Iran could be as well. Palestine and Israel will ever be a sucking wound on the world until we settle the issue of the West Bank and settlements. Who knows what will become of Iraq and Afghanistan if we disengage militarily. We and many before us have proven conclusively that bombs and bullets don't work in Afghanistan and the same can be said for the rest. We can't ignore the hole but we should at least stop digging.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Apple Days

Fall tradition day! Got a good deal on a peck of West Virginia Mountaineer apples so today is apple butter day. MMM good!

This is the first time in a few years that I had to actually buy apples for apple butter as I can usually find some no one wants. The trees at Hembree farm didn't fruit this year which has been a good source.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Let's End the Secrecy of the Federal Reserve

Via Firedoglake:

Alan Grayson and Ron Paul have offered an amendment calling for a full audit of the Fed, and they have the support of nearly three-quarters of Congress. But in a last minute power play by the big banks, Rep. Mel Watt will dutifully offer an amendment to not only gut the audit, but make the Fed even more secretive.

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, Andy Stern, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and Leo Gerard, President of the Steelworkers Union, all signed a letter with economists, labor leaders, and bloggers blasting Rep. Mel Watt’s amendment to gut the audit of the Federal Reserve.

Trumka, Stern, and Gerard teamed up economists Bill Black and Jamie Galbraith and blogger Tyler Durden, among others, against Watt’s amendment and accused the Fed of “massive secret bailouts” and “cronyism and favoritism.” Their letter says:

The Federal Reserve balance sheet expanded to more than $2 trillion, along with implied and explicit backstops to Wall Street firms that could cost even more. Who received the money? Against what collateral? On what terms and conditions? The only way to find out is through a complete audit of the Federal Reserve. That’s why we support the Paul-Grayson amendment requiring a complete audit.

The Watt amendment does not repeal the existing provisions that prohibit a GAO audit of the Federal Reserve. In fact, it adds entirely new additional categories of restrictions. Instead of opening up the Fed’s secretive activities to public inspection, the Watt amendment cloaks it in further secrecy.

A vote for the Watt amendment is a vote for more secret bailouts. We urge you to support Paul-Grayson instead.

For labor leaders who don’t often see eye-to-eye this letter should tell you how important this is. This is a strong indictment of the Fed, the big banks, and their 'boys' in Congress.

You can add your name to their letter to call for a full audit of the Fed. Click here to add your name to our petition to reject more secret bailouts and Fed cronyism.

Senate Health Care Reform Proposal

Jane Hamsher at FDL speaks for me. The bill sucks. It delays the pre-existing condition change until 2014. It allows states to opt out immediately. It allows drug companies to prevent generics of of 'biologics'. It mandates coverage but doesn't guarantee you can actually get good insurance.

This bill just proves, once again, that the Senate is dysfunctional and undemocratic...the filibuster, allowing one Senator to prevent good legislation is insane.

Senator Reid should immediately move to the reconciliation process and get a bill that the majority will support and tell Nelson, Lieberman and Lincoln to pound sand.


One of the best lines I have read so far concerning Caribou Barbie's book release/tour is from Attaturk at FDL.

This “Palin-o-lithic” era is becoming a never ending elementary school production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle with only kazoo accompaniment.

That's a memorable line.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Frightening Statistic

From TPM.

The 140 Army suicides so far this year equal the total from all of 2008 -- and almost equal the 142 U.S. troops from all the services killed in Iraq so far this year.

There is something seriously wrong when our soldiers are killing themselves as fast as the enemy is killing them.

No On Oyster Safety

Just in case you are a raw oyster lover you might want to read Marion's entire post over at Food Politics:

On November 13, the FDA announced indefinite postponement of rules requiring raw oysters from the Gulf of Mexico to undergo postharvest processing to destroy their content of Vibrio vulnificus, a particularly nasty “flesh-eating” bacterium. According to accounts in the New York Times and in industry newsletters, the FDA caved under pressure from the oyster industry and members of Congress representing oyster-harvesting regions in the Gulf.
The thing is that you can eat raw oysters that come from cold waters pretty safely. You shouldn't eat oysters from warm waters like the Gulf of Mexico unless they have been treated postharvest. There are several methods that yield non toxic oysters available, it's just that the industry doesn't want to invest in them and would rather see the 15 or so people who die each year from Vibrio vulnificus to just keep on dying. Simple economics!

As a consumer you should know the risks and then make your own decisions about eating raw Gulf oysters. BTW it is a pretty nasty infection though the infection is considered 'low mortality'. There is also no known effective treatment.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Leonid Meteors Tonight

If you are a space geek then don't forget that tonight is the show. The Leonid meteor shower is due across the Americas in the wee dawn hours on Nov 17th. The best time should be between 3am and sunrise. We are fortunate that we have a new moon tonight so the sky will be extra dark.

Leek and Potato Soup

Now that we've talked about hunger in America(shameful) let's talk about food. Leek and Potato soup is one of the easiest soups there are to make and one of the most delicious and it is a perfect fall and winter meal. If you don't regularly cook with leeks(or never have) then this is a great way use them and be introduced as well. Leeks are in the same family as onions, shallots and garlic but are milder in flavor and once you have tried them you will be hooked as I am.

For 6 to 8 portions you'll need:
4 cups of thinly sliced leeks - this is usually about 3 good sized leeks
4 cups of diced potato ( I prefer Yukon Gold but Russet works too)
2 cloves of finely chopped garlic (optional)
6 to 7 cups of water or for a richer soup, low sodium chicken broth ( I like Swanson's Organic or better homemade)
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 c sour cream or creme fraiche (optional)

Only use the white and some of the light green part of the leeks. The dark green leaves are just too tough and fibrous to eat. Make sure you wash them carefully as they tend to have sand down in the leaves. The best way I've found is to leave the root attached and cut away all of the dark green leaves. Split the leeks lengthwise in half and then hold the leaves under running water spreading each leaf to get all of the sand out. This is important. You can also just chop them and put the chopped leeks in a colander and rinse them. Whatever. After they are clean discard the root and then finely slice them.

I usually saute the leeks and garlic in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil for about 5 minutes before I add the potatoes and water but you can just put all of the leeks, garlic, potatoes and water(or stock) into a heavy bottomed pot such as a dutch oven or stock pot and simmer them for about 30 minutes or until nice and tender. I think the brief saute adds some depth. Once eveything is cooked I normally run my immersion blender through it a few times to thicken it up but that's just personal taste. I'll also add the sour cream and blend it in at the end. You can, of course, serve it 'natural' and just put a dollop of sour cream on each serving. Some nice crusty bread and a salad and you are good for a nice warming meal on a cool night. With all the chopping and dicing this will probably take and hour from start to finish and is well worth the investment in time.

I should say here that the traditional soup, which is French, is made with just water, leeks and potatoes. I usually make mine with chicken stock and garlic but I am a garlic lover. The leeks are plenty flavorful in themselves without the garlic. Needless to say, I use water when I am cooking for vegetarians and the soup is very good even without the chicken stock.

I might also add that with a slight reduction in the starting liquid and an increase in the sour cream(2/3 cup) and a good puree and chill you have the famous Vichyssoise. I prefer this soup hot but if you want to try it cold, go for it.

Of course, you can make this soup with onions instead of leeks but you will miss the mild rich flavor of the leeks. If you do use onions go for a sweet onion like Vidalia, Walla Walla or a red onion.

One more thing, you can also make a very nice soup by adding a 28 oz can of plum tomatoes and reducing the water or stock appropriately. Made with onions instead of leeks, potatoes and tomatoes it sometimes called 'Hoover Soup' as it was a common soup found in the soup lines during the depression. There's your food trivia for the day.

More Hungry

According to this piece in The Washington Post:

The number of Americans who lack dependable access to adequate food shot up last year to 49 million, the largest number since the government has been keeping track, according to a government report released Monday that shows particularly steep increases in food scarcity among families with children.

In 2008, the report found, nearly 17 million children -- more than one in five across the United States -- were living in households in which food at times ran short, up from slightly more than 12 million children the year before. And the number of children who sometimes were outright hungry rose from nearly 700,000 to almost 1.1 million.

Among people of of all ages, nearly 15 percent last year did not consistently have adequate food, compared with about 11 percent in 2007, the greatest deterioration in access to food during a single year in the history of the report.

Absolutely shameful!

This country needs to seriously reconsider the amount of money we are investing in war in light of the growing number of hungry people. The proposed 2010 budget for the DOD is 664 billion dollars and represents a 7% increase(you do the math) over 2009. WTF?

Before my recent 'early retirement' I was trying to make monthly contributions to the Atlanta Community Food Bank but I had to stop for obvious reasons and while such contributions are good and help they are not the answer. I am probably not the only one that has had to trim my charitable contributions and regardless, community food banks are not the solution and only meager stopgap. This shouldn't be happening in the greatest economy in the world, deficits or not. Hungry adults are one thing but children going hungry or being undernourished is criminal. Children deprived of proper nutrition will impact the qualityof the next generation in many ways and while we may not be able to give every child everything they need to "be the best they can be" we can at least not challenge them with hunger on top of the other problems we are 'gifting' them with.

Two Faced

What a bastard. Sen. Tom Coburn, the ultra right GOP jerk from Oklahoma doesn't have any trouble at all throwing money at the sundry unnecessary wars and likewise doesn't appear to lose a wink of sleep whilst sending American soldiers to be killed or maimed in far away places for dubious reasons. He does have a problem when it comes to dealing with the results of his warmongering though.

Even though the bill to consolidate veterans benefits passed through committee unanimously Mr. Coburn singlehandedly is blocking allowing it to come to a vote. He thinks the 3.7 billion over 5 years should be offset by reducing other spending. All the money for war but nothing for its aftermath.

The Republican Senator from Oklahoma is one sick puppy.

h/t Steve

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hand Wringing Alert!

Lock up the women and children and round up all the livestock...break out the duct tape! Our dithering, socialist leader is going to bring Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the 9/11 mastermind, to New York City for trial in civilian court. In spite of all the dangers and warnings from the far right wingnuts he is going to do it anyway.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, and four other men accused in the plot will be prosecuted in federal court in New York City, a federal law enforcement official said early on Friday.

But the administration will prosecute Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri -- the detainee accused of planning the 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen -- and several other detainees before a military commission, the official said.

The decisions to give civilian prosecutors detainees accused of the 2001 terrorist attacks and keep the case of the Cole attack within the military system are expected to be announced at the Department of Justice later on Friday by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.

Get ready, because you are going to hear the screaming from wingnuttia, once again, about how our criminal justice system couldn't possibly hear a case against a terrorist suspect. Never mind all the U.S. criminal courts that have already successfully heard cases against terrorist suspects. What's even worse is that if KSM is convicted he will end up in an American super secure prison that can't possibly manage to hold terrorists. Never mind all the terrorists that are already safely locked away in American prisons.

There is going to be widespread panic on the right over this, despite all the evidence to the contrary. All of the usual suspects from mini Cheney to Rove are going to be howling for weeks over this monstrous development. You have to ask yourself why they are so afraid of KSM getting a fair trial.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Liberal Food vs. Conservative Food

Kay at the Internet Food Association website has found a survey by , a site that uses “collective knowledge” to answer questions, on “food-related preferences” by those on either side of the political spectrum. While there is probably more to it all than just political leaning, like urban or rural and educational level, it’s worth taking a look at because it seems to make sense. For instance, liberals prefer arugula and “bistro-style” fries while conservatives like iceberg lettuce and McDonald's fries. It's telling that conservatives classify Velveeta as “cheese” and accept Iceberg lettuce as an adequate means of eating plants. It is surely not scientific but I found it entertaining to read through. Do your food preferences echo your political philosophy? Mine pretty much do.

BTW both liberals and conservative seem to think bacon double cheeseburgers are delish.

Something Worth Reading

Josh Marshall points us to a powerful piece by a Daily News reporter on his meeting with President Obama at Arlington yesterday. Powerful piece . It's not long, but well worth a minute or two of your time.I am not ashamed to say that it left me a little misty.

Change in the Air?

There have been scores of anonymously-sourced reports alleging one thing or another about President Obama's next step with respect to the future of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. I may be completely wrong but it seems to me as if the President is finally beginning to realize that he is in a 'no win' situation and that the old axiom that says "Afghanistan is where empires go to die" is the hard truth and throwing more American blood and treasure onto the sands there is not the answer. Couple this with the latest 'leaked' cable from Ret. Lt. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, who has put in writing his "reservations about deploying additional troops to the country." Eikenberry is not just some diplomatic functionary, he was recently the top American military commander in the country and his concern lends credence to the this AP report suggesting that the president has been presented with a series of options, none of which he finds compelling.

President Barack Obama won't accept any of the Afghanistan war options before him without changes, a senior administration official said, as concerns soar over the ability of the Afghan government to secure its own country one day. [...]

He remains close to announcing his revamped war strategy -- troops are just one component -- and probably will do so shortly after he returns from a trip to Asia that ends Nov. 19.

Yet in Wednesday's pivotal war council meeting, Obama wasn't satisfied with any of the Afghanistan war options presented by his national security team, one official said.

The president instead pushed for revisions to clarify how and when U.S. troops would turn over responsibility to the Afghan government. In turn, that could change the dynamic of both how many additional troops are sent to Afghanistan and what the timeline would be for their presence in the war zone, according to the official.

The DoD is trying to push the president into escalating the U.S. presence with help from Clinton, Gates and others. President Obama seems to realize that he is being rushed and he is pushing back and that is a good thing. Somewhere I read that the President is seriously concerned with seeing results and getting out or put another way "wants to know where the off-ramps are."

The Pentagon and 'chickenhawks' aren't going to like this and you are going to see another round of complaints about 'dithering'. So be it. I am firmly convinced that Afghanistan is a lost cause and that we should be pulling out as fast as we can. Our efforts in the area should be at stabilizing Pakistan, a nuclear threat, and leaving Afghanistan to its own miserable devices. It's nice to be the 'Lone Ranger' to the world when there is hope of accomplishing something positive but a lost cause is a lost cause and the sooner you stop digging the better.

Like a Bad Penny

Now that CNN has solved their 'Dobbs' problem where do you think he will show up? Politics? Are we going to see a Palin/Dobbs or Pawlenty/Dobbs ticket from the GOP in 2012? My bet is FAUX News. Regardless, you can bet that 'like a bad penny' he'll be back.


You can well imagine that I really don't think much of Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina. He has been a leading GOP whack job for years and years, first in the Congress and now as a Senator. It appears, however, that he is not a total ass and that has caused him to find unanimous disfavor with the Republicans in his home state.
The Charleston Post and Courier reports that Charleston County Republican Party's executive committee has voted unanimously to censure South Carolina GOP Senator Lindsey Graham for continuing " to weaken the Republican brand and tarnish the ideals of freedom, rule of law, and fiscal conservatism."
What was this heinous crime? It seems that Mr. Graham has made the mistake of reaching across the aisle to Senator John Kerry and co-authoring an op-ed in the New York Times that laid out a framework for climate legislation and described a "blueprint for a clean-energy future that will revitalize our economy, protect current jobs and create new ones, safeguard our national security and reduce pollution."

The two treasonous Senators called for:

- Aggressive reductions in emissions.

  • Nuclear power as a core component of electricity generation.
  • Financial incentives for carbon capture and sequestration.
  • Additional domestic oil and gas production.
  • Ensuring that U.S. companies are not put at a competitive disadvantage.
  • Establishing a floor and a ceiling for the cost of emission allowances.

What's even worse, and this was probably the straw that sent the mouth breathers back home over the edge, was that they had the unmitigated gall to further align their argument with national security, of all things:

Both of us served in the military. We know that sending nearly $800 million a day to sometimes-hostile oil-producing countries threatens our security. In the same way, many scientists warn that failing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will lead to global instability and poverty that could put our nation at risk.
All snark aside. This action by the idiots in the state just North of me illustrates why moving the country forward in the current political situation is going to darn near impossible. That Senator Graham would be censured for such a reasonable act of bipartisanship speaks volumes to the intransigence of what seems to be left of the old Republican party. How are we going to move anything positive forward when what's left of the GOP see all attempts at finding a bi-partisan solution on any issue as something not far from treason?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Flooding Update

It finally quit raining and I ventured out to check on the garden. Mother Nature foiled me again. The nice ditch I dug to divert the runoff from the West got clogged with leaves and the rushing water charged right through the middle of the freshly tilled garden and made its own ditch. I am basically back to square one. Going to have to rethink the water control effort. Estimate is that we got about 5 inches during the last 24 hours and thank goodness it doesn't happen often, well except twice in the last two months.

Veteran's Day

To all my fellow veterans: Thank you for your service and sacrifice.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae(1872 - 1918)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

To the Life Boats!

Tropical Storm Ida is doing her thing. It has been raining at a pretty good clip since late last night and it still raining now at 10pm. I can't guess how much it has rained in the last 18 hours but its a bunch. We'll know tomorrow morning(if it stops raining) how bad the damage is. I tilled(3 times) and loaded up a mountain of leaves in the garden but I don't know if it can absorb this amount of water. Frustration, frustration. There is a ditch to divert the run off from the property to the West but we'll just have to wait and see.

In an attempt to temper the depression over all the rain I decided that something earthy, warm and nourishing had to be on the dinner menu tonight. I relented and bought 4 chicken thighs to braise. A simple mirepoix and Herbes de Provence along with a little white wine and chicken broth did the trick. Slow cooked for three hours and served over a blend of brown basmati and wild rice. It would have been better with a free range chicken but 'industrial' chicken thighs were $.99 a pound and I am on a lean budget. I shudder to think how you can raise a chicken to market weight and sell it at that price humanely but.....I rationalize the purchase of 'industrial' chicken by knowing that I raised the chicken thighs to their highest potential and thus honored the chicken's 'ultimate' sacrifice...I know it's weak... but a little slack.

Has anybody been watching TV and noticed that every car insurance company can save you money over your current plan if you switch? Someone needs to organize an auction or something so us rubes can figure out who has the cheapest insurance for real. They seem to be picking on's probably some suppressed gecko hate or something.

Newt Changing Stripes

Just what we need! It seems that after Newt polled in single digits at the last "Value Voters Summit" behind such luminaries as Huckabee, Pawlenty and Palin he decided he needed a little more Jesus in his act. Seems he is trying to paint himself as a 'religious conservative'. Please Newt just go away. You had your shot and screwed the pooch and in the process proved you were really a lightweight in a fat boy's suit.

Monday, November 09, 2009


I have spent the last few days repairing all of the damage from the 'epic' rains of September. It finally dried out enough for me to till it all yesterday and now we have a hurricane coming....figures.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

HRC Passes the House

So we got a health care bill through the house. This is the first time since Medicare that Congress has passed any major health care reform. Not a great bill but considering all of the special interests and lobbying by Big Pharma, insurance providers and others it is sufficient for the day. The pro-choice people sacrificed themselves for the greater good it seems, but there is still reconciliation to be done and who knows what will happen if and when the dysfunctional Senate passes their own version. I am a proponent of single payer but for the time being I can live with what is done so far.

Oh, and my Congressman Tom Price was a bigger dickhead than usual during the proceedings and I will tell him so the next time I see him or his wife(our new city council woman).

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Water Kites

Seriously cool development from the Swedish firm Minesto (part of Saab).

A completely new concept of underwater wave energy using a simple 7 ton kite turbine design has been developed by Minesto; which is a spinoff from the Swedish military and aircraft design firm Saab. The Deep Green underwater turbine captures the power of the ocean just like a kite in wind. The system could generate 18 terawatthours of energy annually, enough to provide nearly 4 million British households with reliably green electricity every year. UK households now use about a third of what average US households use in energy.
There is a video and picture at the link. This looks very promising.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Epic Floods

The USGS has released its analysis of the September flooding in Atlanta and it was defined as 'epic'. They usually class such events as either a 100 year event or a 500 year event but the rains in September exceeded the parameters for either. From 8pm September 20th until 8pm the next day some areas received more than 20 inches of rain. Our normal annual rainfall in the area is usually about 50 or so inches which means that we recieved nearly half of our annual rainfall in 24 hours. I can testify that my garden suffered 'epic' damage and it will take me years to recover fully.

Bad Numbers

The October jobs numbers are out and it is not good. "The United States economy shed 190,000 jobs in October, and the unemployment rate reached a 26-year high of 10.2 percent, up from 9.8 percent in September".

I think it is time to refocus our efforts on job creation.

Paul Krugman, Obama’s Faces His Anzio (and why we need more jobs/stimulus):

If the Democrats lose badly in the midterms, the talking heads will say that Mr. Obama tried to do too much, this is a center-right nation, and so on. But the truth is that Mr. Obama put his agenda at risk by doing too little. The fateful decision, early this year, to go for economic half-measures may haunt Democrats for years to come.

Obama was left with a lot on his plate by the last administration. And the efforts at health care reform, environmental policy change, financial reform, an education bill, immigration reform are all important but the jobs picture has become, I think, the number one priority.

The Republicans proved yesterday that they are not serious about moving the country forward. The Republican leadership embraced extremism at the Michele Bachmann 'tea party' event on the Capitol steps. It was an ugly spectacle. It just reinforced the notion that the GOP is not going to partner with this administration to address the problems that we face. Moreover, it proved that they are seriously pushing the fact that they are, if not completely insane, irresponsible and detached from the reality that is America today. We cannot count on them to be at our side as we try and move forward.

We need to re-prioritize and get something done that will add jobs and, in turn, build the economy.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Mixed Emotions

It seems scientist at Stanford have used stem cells to create human eggs and sperm. This development, besides taking sex out of the human reproduction equation, creates some big questions around the ability to engineer the human race. From a geeky, science fiction point of view this is all very cool but from a philosophical one its as scary as all get out.

to quote the article:
Now that we can genetically create children out of a lab with a few samples of skin cells, we can continue to refine the genetic make-up of our species and "refine" our genes, potentially putting evolution into our own hands.

We are obviously making some good progress in stem cell research.

Sick, Sick People

If you were wondering just how twisted the teabaggers are(ably assisted by such exemplary Republicans such as Minority Leader John Boehner (OH), Minority Whip Eric Cantor (VA), Roy Blunt (MO), Jeb Hensarling (TX), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA), Michele Bachmann (MN) -- who was a key organizer of the event -- Virginia Foxx (NC), Ginny Brown-Waite (FL), Jean Schmidt (OH), Sue Myrick (NC), and many more) then you should have to go no further than see the image of Holocaust victims from Dachau used on their posters today at their Washington rally.

h/t Matthew Yglesias at Think Progress

Boxer Serves Up a Wedgie

It's about time the Democrats fought back against the delaying tactics of the Republicans on every important issue facing us but this latest move by Barbara Boxer is going to get a lot of GOP skivvies in a knot:

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved climate change legislation Thursday with no Republicans voting for the bill or even participating in the process.

With Republican boycotting the proceedings, Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) relied on a little used interpretation of committee rules to move the legislation. Traditionally, two minority members are required to conduct committee business. [...]

“This is not a procedure we wanted; it’s a procedure that’s available to us,” said Boxer. “The majority has to be able to do its work…otherwise the whole Senate could come to a screeching halt.”

Republicans called Boxer's move the “nuclear option,” warning that it violated decades of committee precedent.

“I am here to appeal to you and the members of the committee,” Sen. Jim Inhofe, the top Republican on the committee, said in a brief statement. “In the history of this committee, we have not been able to find a time when the bill has been marked up without minority.”

In his typical fashion Inhofe is being an asshole and simply ignores the fact that he and the rest of the Republicans on the committee were being childish snots by not even having the common decency to show up for the hearings. Screw 'em!

The Committee sent the bill to the full Senate this morning after it was approved by a vote of 10-1. Baucus was the only dissenting vote.

Moved to the Front of the Line and Why?

WTF is this all about?.

As you can tell from my previous post I am rather disgruntled about the 'special deference' that seems to prevail toward the folks on Wall Street and especially those in firms like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Citigroup when it comes to the Obama administration. I understand the importance of the financial world and all that but it sure seems to me that we are being taken advantage of at every turn. This latest news about the distribution of the scarce H1N1 vaccine really frosts me. If you are wondering why no Democratic voters turned out in New Jersey or Virginia last Tuesday then this is a prime example. What we are seeing from the Obama team is the same old corporate patronage crap we had under the Bush administration. Give us a break and if this is the 'change' I voted for then you can keep the 'change'.

Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) asked Health and Human Service (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to investigate why the Center for Disease Control (CDC) approved the distribution of the H1NI vaccine to Wall Street firms at a time when the vaccine is unavailable to most Americans.

Recent news reports indicate 13 companies, including Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and Time Warner, have been cleared to receive the vaccine.

The CDC is distributing the much sought-after vaccine to Wall Street firms despite reports of vast shortages. In fact, just yesterday CDC Director Thomas Frieden informed Congress that only 32.3 million doses are available, far less than the 159 million needed to cover those at the highest risk. Given the scarce supply, the CDC has recommended the vaccine be directed only to those at highest risk: pregnant women, infants and children and those up to 24 years, those who care for infants, health and emergency services personnel, and adults with compromised immune systems or other chronic health problems.

Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW said today, “Although CREW has been unable to uncover the demographic makeup of Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and JP Morgan Chase, it seems safe to assume the vast majority of their employees are not pregnant women, infants and children, young adults up to 24 years old, and healthcare workers.”

Let the Good Times Roll

I just checked and my retirement savings is still about 30% of what it should be. Yes, it has improved in the last year but it still has a way to go. I doubt I am the only sucker out there in the same position but you can't say that about the poor, poor slobs on Wall Street who are expecting to see their income up by about 40% over last year. Yes, it's a big win for the boys on Wall Street after we taxpayers bailed them out of their self created mess to the tune of a trillion dollars or so.
Wall Street cash bonuses are set to increase by about 40 percent this year, the Wall Street Journal said citing a report by compensation consulting firm Johnson Associates.
In a report to be released later on Thursday, Johnson Associates projects that the biggest increases in year-end cash bonuses and equity awards will go to employees in rebounding businesses such as fixed income and equities, the paper said.

The well connected folks at Goldman Sachs are expected to see bonuses averaging of $526,814 this year. This really rubs me the wrong way and this kind of excess is not acceptable... at all. Yeah, I am concerned about health care reform, environmental legislation, military spending and the black money holes in Afghanistan and Iraq but this 'in your face' coddling of the financial sector is rapidly gaining a very high profile in my discontent. These numbers have been rubbing salt in the wounds for way too long and my sense is that the Democrats will see this anger show itself at the polls next year if they don't get off their dead asses and do something about it.


If you really, really want to know how much the Republicans care about the American people you don't have to go far beyond the CBO's preliminary estimate of the Republican amendment to the House health care bill. They could have at least made an effort to appear concerned about the health care crisis in America but no they just dropped their pants and mooned us.

Democrats – 36 million more covered by 2019,
96% of US covered;
Republicans – 3 million more covered by 2019,
83% of US covered

The much vaunted 'deficit hawks' or 'fiscal conservatives' not only managed to come up with a plan that would cover 33 million fewer Americans but they did it by managing to spend 36 billion dollars more over 10 years. Way to go boys! It must have taken them hours, maybe even a whole day to come up with this plan.

Democrats – $104 billion in deficit reduction by 2019
Republicans – $68 billion in deficit reduction by 2019

Since the CBO numbers don't fit their jive, expect the Republicans to discount the CBO estimates as inaccurate and just 'estimates'. Of course, we are supposed to ignore the fact that for the last 8 months or so the GOP has jumped on the very same CBO estimates as the gospel.

There is absolutely no way this crap of a amendment will gain any traction but it was good for a laugh anyway. Now we can just go back to the Republicans trying to delay, lie about and otherwise trash the Democratic plan.

Remember the Fifth

Today is Guy Fawkes Day and tonight is Bonfire Night for all our English friends who are celebrating the thwarting of the Gunpowder Plot .

Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.

Guy Fawkes, an explosive expert, along with other English Catholic protesters secreted 36 barrels of gunpowder in the basement of the Parliament building intending to assassinate King James the First and the members of Parliament on November 5, 1605. Fortunately the plot was discovered and Guy Fawkes was drawn and quartered for his trouble.

The madwoman from Minnesota is staging her own 'Gunpowder Plot' in the Capitol today threatening to storm the offices of Congress with outraged 'teabaggers' and other Libertarians in hopes of quashing health care reform. It should be interesting to see how many crazies show up and what kind of coverage the media gives them. I would hope that the Capitol police are putting on a few extra folks today as Ms. Bachmann has said she wants people "armed and dangerous" in their opposition to the reforms.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Leaves Are Calling

It is an absolutely glorious fall day and I have made my dutiful trip to Kroger(it's seniors day). I am all stocked for the next week with the exception of a Trader Joe's run for yogurt, nuts and 3 buck chuck. I am now going to go outside and take advantage of the weather and move leaves from the front and back yard to the garden. If the weather forecast holds true the garden should be dry enough to till in the leaves by the weekend and I can finally get the garlic in the ground. All of the peas I put in before the rains were washed away or just flat drowned and there are only a few peas vines to be seen. Rats! I will need to decide if it is too late to try another planting. We still haven't had a frost yet and if the ground stays warm enough(and dry enough) I might just get winter peas.

Go outside and enjoy the day too!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Garlic Is Good

Somehow I stumbled upon a cooking website called 101cookbooks and it is chock full of great recipes. I got there via this recipe for garlic soup and after wandering around a bit decided Heidi needed to be on my daily reader list. She evidently has tastes very similar to mine and she is as obsessed with cookbooks as I am. I am well over a hundred even after giving away more than a dozen to the Historical Society for their flea market.

Madam and I had leek and potato soup(home grown leeks no less) for dinner last night and we'll probably finish it up tonight but this garlic soup will be on the table soon. It's a style of soup that I really like. I am definitely going to be trying some of the other recipes as well.

That's a LOT of Bits

Evidently storing all the data from every telephone conversation and email that shoots around the country since 9/11 and who knows what else has caused a 'crunch' at the NSA. Looks like Ft. Meade is out of room.

The National Security Agency is building huge new storage facilities to store the unconstitutionally gained data on the American people's telephone calls and Internet traffic permanently, including new buildings in suburban Salt Lake City, Utah, and San Antonio, Texas.

The NSA has been keeping permanent records of all American's telephone call habits and Internet traffic since shortly after September 11, 2001, according to major news reports, without the constitutionally required warrants from a court.

No longer able to store all the intercepted phone calls and e-mail in its Ft. Meade, Maryland, headquarters, the NSA is engaging in its own housing boom. How much data will these giant, multibillion dollar new facilities hold? According to James Bamford of the New York Review of Books, the facility in Utah alone could hold data that will be measured in Yottabytes. Never heard of Yottabytes? You're not alone. Most computers sold at stores still measure their storage at gigabytes, or billions of bits of data. A few store a terrabyte of information, or one trillion bits of information. That's 1,000,000,000,000 pieces of information. Yottabytes is the highest number that has yet been named in computer information. The number is septillions of billions of bits of data, or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bits of data.

This begs the question...Just how many people are feeding at the public trough in order to actually do anything with all this data? Yes, there are programs running looking for key words and phrases and running some algorithms trying to link important stuff but it still takes a human to turn it into actionable intelligence. Been there, done that. Methinks this is just a big waste of time.

Election Day

Don' t forget to go out an vote today. I am faced with a dilemma in my voting today. Betty Price the wife of Rep. Tom Price a GOP troglodyte who happens to represent me in Congress (GA6) is running for one of the posts for Roswell's City Council. The problem is that her opponent is a jerk and she is probably this best candidate. Sometime voting is picking the least worst but it will hurt my feelings in selecting her.

Clouds with My Coffee

Thanks to Susie for pointing out some great cloud photos. Some are truly amazing and some are truly inspiring. You shouldn't miss them! I can't decide whether my favorite is the lenticular clouds of Mt. Rainier or the "Morning Glory" tube clouds from Queensland.

hint: you can click on any of the pictures for more info.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Another Ground Beef Recall

If you buy ground beef (even after all my preaching) then you should know that there is another recall underway. It includes products sold by Trader Joe's, Acme Markets, BJ's, Giant, Shaw's and others. A full list is below.

A recall of more than a half-million-pounds of ground beef was issued Friday by its producer, Fairbank Farms of Ashville, N.Y.

The packages were sold under a variety of brand names, ranging from Acme Markets' Lancaster Brand Ground Beef and Extra Lean Ground Beef to Giant Food Stores Meatloaf and Meatball Mix to Trader Joe's Butcher Shop Fine Quality Meats Ground Beef. (See full list below.)

Consumers are advised to look for packages with sell-by dates of Sept. 19 through Sept. 28. The number "EST. 492" would also be inside the USDA inspection mark or on the nutrition label.

"Consumers who identify these products should return them to the point of purchase for a full refund," said Ron Allen, Fairbank Farms CEO.

The concern is that the meat may have been tainted with a harmful strain of e. coli. Ground beef should always be cooked thoroughly - to an internal temperature of 160 degrees or more - to kill any bacteria mixed in by the grinding process.

Originally, the recall applied to eight states - Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, New York, Connecticut, Virginia, Massachusetts and North Carolina.

Because some of the food chains may have redistributed packages, Fairbank Farms has expanded the range to include all Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states.

Here's the list of recalled products, all packaged products with sell-by dates of 9-19-09 to 9-28-09 (unless specified):

Acme Markets. Lancaster Brand Ground Beef 90/10, 1-pound and 2-pound trays. Lancaster Brand Extra Lean Ground Beef 96/04, 1-pound tray. Wild Harvest Natural Angus Ground Beef 85/15, 1-pound tray.

BJ's Wholesale Club/Burris. Fresh Ground Beef Patties 85/15, 5-pound tray. Lean Ground Beef 93/07, 3-pound and 5-pound trays. Meatloaf and Meatball Mix, 2.5-pound tray.

Ford Brothers Fresh Ground Beef Patty 80/20, 3-pound tray.

Giant Food Stores. Giant Meatloaf & Meatball Mix, 1-pound tray. Giant Nature's Promise Ground Beef, 1-pound tray. Giant Nature's Promise Ground Beef Patties, 1-pound tray. Giant Extra Lean Ground Beef 96/04, 1-pound tray.

Price Chopper. Price Chopper Meatloaf & Meatball Mix, 1-pound and 2.5-pound trays. Price Chopper Extra Lean Ground Beef 96/4, 1-pound tray. Price Chopper Fresh Ground Beef Chuck for Chili 80/20, 1-pound tray.

Trader Joe's. Brick packs with sell-by dates of 10/06/09 or 10/07/09): Trader Joe's Butcher Shop Fine Quality Meats Ground Beef 85/15, 1-pound brick pack, and Trader Joe's Butcher Shop Fine Quality Meats Ground Beef 80/20, 1-pound brick pack. Packaged Products with sell-by dates of 9/19/09 to 09/28/09: Trader Joe's Butcher Shop Fine Quality Meats Beef Patty 85/15, 1-pound tray, and Trader Joe's Butcher Shop Fine Quality Meats Ground Beef 96/4 Extra Lean, 1-pound tray.

Shaw's Supermarkets. Shaw's Fresh Ground Beef 93/7, 1-pound and 2-pound trays. Shaw's Fresh Ground Beef 80/20, 1-pound, 2-pound, 3-pound trays. Shaw's Fresh Ground Beef 75/25, 1-pound and 3-pound trays. Shaw's Fresh Ground Sirloin Beef Patties 90/10, 1.3-pound tray. Shaw's Fresh Ground Round Beef Patties 85/15, 1.3-pound tray. Shaw's Fresh Ground Beef Patties 80/20, 1.3-pound tray. Shaw's Fresh Ground Beef Patties Family Pack 80/20, 3-pound tray. Shaw's Angus Ground Beef 85/15, 1-pound tray. Shaw's Fresh Ground Round Beef 85/15, 1-pound, 2-pound, 3-pound trays. Shaw's Natural Ground Beef 90/10, 1-pound tray. Shaw's Natural Ground Beef 85/15, 1-pound tray. Shaw's Fresh Ground Sirloin 90/10, 1-pound, 2-pound and 3-pound trays. Meatloaf & Meatball Mix, 1-pound tray.

Other products. Cases of 10-pound Fairbank Farms Fresh Ground Beef Chubs. "These products had a sell date of 10/3/09, 10/4/09 or 10/5/09, but will likely not bear those sell-by dates on their package labels," according to the processor. "These products were distributed to retail establishments in Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia for further processing."

For more information, call the USDA hotline at 1-888-674-6854, the Fairbank Farms consumer hotline at 1-877-546-0122, or go to

h/t Susie

Stupid in Action

It began with the "daughter of Darth" criticizing President Obama for honoring fallen troops at Dover Air Force Base and now, yesterday, it was Mr. Ego himself criticizing the president for being on hand as flag-draped coffins returned home. The interview on FAUX news even made the second page of the AJC this morning!

Mr. Limbaugh criticized Mr. Obama's trip as part of a broader attack on the president's handling of Afghanistan and his credentials.

"It was a photo op precisely because he's having big-time trouble on this whole Afghanistan dithering situation," Mr. Limbaugh said on "Fox News Sunday." ... "I think he's got an out-of-this-world ego. He's very narcissistic. And he's able to focus all attention on him all the time," he said.

President Obama paid his respects to fallen U.S. soldiers. So what? This isn't an especially controversial thing to do unless you consider that President Bush purposely didn't greet returning caskets even once during his two miserable terms in office and to top it off didn't even allow photographs of the hundreds and hundreds of caskets that came home to Dover on his watch. Gimme' a break!

Neither Liz Cheney or Gasbag noted that when 16 Americans were killed in an attack on the U. S. Embassy in Beirut, then-President Reagan appeared at Andrews Air Force Base greeting the flag-draped coffins with a full press contingent and the First Lady to boot. How convenient. How does that not qualify as a 'photo-op'? All I can say is that someone with "talent on loan from God" has a lot of nerve uttering statements so brazenly full of shit.

A couple of days ago digby, as usual, put her finger on core issue:

"Any discussion that there's something untoward in the President greeting dead soldiers is wingnut revisionist crap. Kings and leaders have been doing this since time began. It's a sign of respect for the fallen and they do it publicly as gesture on behalf of the people. That these so-called patriots think there's now something wrong with that tells you everything you need to know about their sincerity."