Thursday, March 31, 2011

National Book Week Game

Jim DeRosa reminds us that it is National Book Week. Here is a game he got from Poisoned Pen Bookstore.

Grab the nearest book and go to page 56 and post the 5th sentence there to your blog or Facebook. Don't post the title.

Here is mine:

"The result was a small warlike population with simple technology and weapons, and without strong leadership or organization."

What's yours?

Monday, March 28, 2011

RIP Joe Bageant

Updated below.

The world has lost a great one. One of the great writers and a damn fine socialist to boot. After reading his first book Deer Hunting with Jesus I knew I had found a kindred spirit. It didn't hurt that he hailed from the same neck of hillbilly hills that I did. Bye Joe and if you run into Molly Ivins wherever you are give her a big hug.

After a vibrant life, Joe Bageant died yesterday following a four-month struggle with cancer. He was 64. Joe is survived by his wife, Barbara, his three children, Timothy, Patrick and Elizabeth, and thousands of friends and admirers. He is also survived by his work and ideas.

According to Joe's wishes, he will be cremated. His family will hold a private memorial service.

I just got home from the part time/full time job and decided that I needed to have a stiff drink and toast Joe. When I read Deer Hunting With Jesus" I identified intellectually with a lot he had to say but at the time I was still doing the 6 figure gig and the resonance was truly intellectual. Now that I have been to the punching the clock thing for barely over minimum wage lot more of Joe's thinking is a bit more emotionally resonant. So, here's to you Joe and thanks for the kick in the head.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Port and Starboard

The shift schedule for the last few days is very much like the old maximum alert days in the Navy(12 hours on 12 hours off or what is known as "port and starboard"). The planned part time job has turned into effectively full time with more or less 12 hours between shifts. I worked 10a to 7p today and tomorrow brings a store meeting which starts at 6am and I then work until 3pm. No time for anything but a minimum of sleep and some half assed food. Tonight I suffered through a Stouffer's lasagna off all things and yes my ovens are still not fixed. Could be worse as it appears to made with real food...mostly. Off to bed with a 330am wakeup and it is pretty much the same until Thursday. What I do for medical benefits and with this schedule I'll need them. Not much time for anything but some sleep and "les toilet" or as we used to say in the Navy "shit, shower and shave".
I am off to bed and the future holds a brutally strong cup of coffee and another day of selling Chinese made stuff to the proles. Ain't we got fun! The only high point is that the weather is lousy with thunderstorms and rain so I might as well be working.
And another thing....I am all the time preaching about organic and natural but I am spending 8 plus hours a day selling Roundup, pesticides. pre-emergents, weed killers and Goddess knows what else to nice people. I think, that if there is one, I shall spend eternity visiting all my friends in hell.

Did I mention that most people are nice enough when you are nice to them but there is a small  percentage that are real pieces of work. I got chewed out today big time by a customer because he was upset that his store furnished electric cart/wheel chair quit before he'd finished shopping and he had to wait for us to bring him another. He actually left all his merchandise in the cart and left the store. The real kicker is that he wasn't even disabled as he had no problem walking out of the store in a huff under his own power. It really pissed me off as you can tell.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tilling Day

Finally! A day off, good weather, and a dry  garden. I can till up the garden and get all the leaves and compost turned over in preparation for planing. All the plants are ready in the greenhouse with the exception of the eggplant and okra but I should be planting tomatoes and peppers within the next few weeks. I got all of my small beds done yesterday and the big garden is today.
I still have cabbage, turnips and leeks which wintered over. I guess I'll just pick it all and haul it into work tomorrow and see if anyone wants it. I gave Madam's physical therapist who has been coming by since her surgery some leeks and cabbage and she rewarded me with homemade dolmades and spanokopita. Needless to say she is Greek and the Greeks know what to do with fresh veges.
Anyway I am off to get petrol for the tiller and get to work.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Power Hours

Now that we are officially into spring, which is the most powerful of times, we should remember at all times the words of the Goddess:

"And you who seek to know Me, know that the seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery: for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without. For behold, I have been with you from the beginning, and I am That which is attained at the end of desire."

This is the time of  rebirth and renewal. This is the time when we can be closest to the power of the Goddess. Stop the frantic day to day dashing hither and yon and witness the magic going on around you as the world becomes, once again, fresh and new. There is much power to be gained in this time so take advantage of the gifts of the Goddess.

Thanks for the reminder Hecate

Monday, March 21, 2011

It's Not About the People

Once again we are being fed the lie that our intervention in Libya is about the poor "freedom fighters" if it really was about the people then we would  intervene in places like Bahrain and Cote D'Ivoire where there has been violence at least or maybe worse than that in Libya. Never, ever forget that Libya has oil and that is what this is really about.
Oil reserves in Libya are the largest in Africa and the ninth largest in the world with 41.5 billion barrels (6.60×10^9 m3) as of 2007. Oil production was 1.8 million barrels per day (290×10^3 m3/d) as of 2006, giving Libya 63 years of reserves at current production rates if no new reserves were to be found. Libya is considered a highly attractive oil area due to its low cost of oil production (as low as $1 per barrel at some fields), and proximity to European markets. Libya would like to increase production from 1.8 Mbbl/d (290×10^3 m3/d) in 2006 to 3 Mbbl/d (480×10^3 m3/d) by 2010–13 but with existing oil fields undergoing a 7–8% decline rate, Libya's challenge is maintaining production at mature fields, while finding and developing new oil fields. Most of Libya remains unexplored as a result of past sanctions and disagreements with foreign oil companies.
We are once again going to war based on bullshit and we doing it because some of our masters (Exxon and BP for starters) want the oil. This exercise has nothing to do with humanitarianism and people need to disabuse themselves of this crap.

Let's hope that Qaddafi is sufficiently cowed and that he backs down quickly. If he doesn't then we middle class and poor are going to have to come up with a little more of that good old fashioned "sacrifice" that we have been so good at providing.  Maybe we don't really need public education after all and all those people getting Medicare will just end up dying in the end anyway.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Relief for Japan

I am a little surprised  that the amount of relief donations is relatively small so far. Also, rumor has it that AT&T and Verizon are holding onto the money donated via text for at least a month, which really sucks( I am checking but have not been able to confirm this rumor). If you can find it possible to donate something please donate directly to relief agencies, because the money will get there a lot more quickly. (The Red Cross site allows you to use Amazon Payments, which is painless.) Obviously, people need help now:

Toler Clan of West Virginia circa 1933

My late mother's sister and the only surviving sibling sent me some pictures that she had. There is no date but from the apparent age of my mom(on the right) I would guess it is about 1933 or so as she looks to be 4 or 5 years old. At the top is Morris who as killed in WWII (shot down over Germany), on the left Doris(the only one still living) and at the bottom the oldest Joe. The picture was taken in the coal fields of West Virginia, probably in Mingo County and like I said circa 1933. These are the four children of Andrew Morris Toler and Ella Virgilee Steele. I just thought it would be nice to put this out on the net so it wouldn't be lost.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Super Moon

I haven't seen much in the discussions about the Japanese quake(s) and the fact that the moon is nearing perigee which will be at maximum on March 19th. There is speculation that there is an increase in tidal and tectonic forces when the moon is at perigee or super moon. The huge 8.9 Indonesian quake of 2005 also occurred at or near a super moon. While the moon's orbit is almost circular, the average distance between the the Earth and the Moon is about 238,000 miles (382,900 km) and this current perigee will bring it around 17,000 miles (about 10,500 km) closer. Just wondering and it should be noted that the moon will also be full on the 19th as well.

Pancetta Success

With everything else going on I did manage to find time to finish up the pancetta I started a while ago. After its week long cure I washed and dried it and then gave the meat side a healthy dose of coarsely ground black pepper. I then rolled it and tied it tightly and hung it in the basement for a couple of weeks to dry a bit. Today I sliced it into quarter pound pieces and wrapped it in parchment for freezing in plastic zip bags. I must say it turned out just beautifully. As you can see from the picture it is a nice deep red and just right as far as dryness goes. I will make a nice pasta sauce(Carbonara with Carmen and Kelly's fresh eggs) with some tonight. Another step in the quest to master charcuterie. Thank you Mark Ruhlman for the book and guidance. BTW the bacon turned out brilliant as well but I am especially proud of the pancetta. I now have to decide what curing adventure to tackle next. I'm leaning toward a traditional pepperoni but I am not terribly impressed with the stuffing capability of the KitchenAid sausage attachment as it took much time and effort to stuff the 5 pounds of Italian sausage we made the other week. We actually haven't eaten any of it yet since Madam didn't think a spicy Italian sausage meal the night before surgery was the best of ideas.

Monday, March 14, 2011

MIA

Yes I know I am MIA. Worked the weekend...closed Saturday night and then opened Sunday morning and closed again tonight. Tonight was the first night of our 'spring/summer' hours and we open at 6am and close at 10p instead of the regular 7a to 9p. I had two customers between 9 and 10. Don't forget that I am also helping Madam return to normal after her knee replacement last Monday. She is making good progress but I still have to pull her load for a while which means laundry, dishes, making beds, cooking, shopping and all the rest.
I have been trying to keep up with the news out of Japan. I have quite a few friends there and I have no word from them. Worry!
Did find time to go out this morning and get a new phone. I had a Samsung Impression which I hated. Horrible funtionality and the touch screen was a mess. No subtlety, no resolution ...nothing. The final straw was over the weekend when we "sprang forward" the damn thing  "sprang forward" all my calendar entries by an hour. IF I relied on the phone alone for getting me to work on time  I would have been screwed.
My new phone is the HTC Inspire 4G with the Android 2.2 opsys. It has so much functionality that I will be months learning it all.
That's all for tonight and I am off tomorrow...Hooray. Sleepy time.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Earthquakes and Tsunami

Serious goings on in Japan. Evidently this is one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded and it has done some massive damage. Positive energy to all involved. Tsunami's have struck the Hawaiian Islands but no major damage is reported and the West Coast is bracing for the same. If you haven't experienced Japan it is hard to visualize the density in which people live and work and such disasters are really amplified by the number of people affected. I can imagine the confusion.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Candle...both Ends

Madam's surgery went OK on Monday and as of this afternoon she seems to be doing as well as can be expected with her new right knee. I spent the morning at the hospital and then the afternoon and evening at work. Minimonk took over at the hospital. Madam comes home tomorrow and Minimonk will do the honors there as well since I, once again, have to work(and yes I feel guilty about shoving this off on Minimonk but if I don't work I don't get paid and I am too new to have any sick or vacation time accrued). I'll be off the rest of the week and can do the nursing, at least until Saturday afternoon and then we'll have to figure it out.
Anyhow, working late and getting up early to get to the hospital and then working has me a little tired and a glass or two of wine will have me bedded down in short order and since Madam returns tomorrow I will have to spend extra time tomorrow morning before going to the hospital and then to work to get the bed made and everything titivated so she won't return to a messy house. Madam is a meticulous housekeeper and expects it to be properly maintained in her absence. I, on the other hand, am my mother's son and while I don't leave dirty clothes laying about and hang up my towels and do my dishes, I don't mind a little clutter which is not acceptable.
To top all this off...I didn't have the time to make me a (lunch/dinner) for work and I went and had a Wendy's burger for dinner(Wendy's shares the parking lot of my employer). Yes, it is bad food but as far as I can tell it is better than the other options immediately available which are the ubiquitous MickeyD's and Taco Bell. I said a little prayer to the Goddess for the suffering of the steer in the CAFO and pretended the the lettuce, onion and tomato were organic. There was no irrational option for the bun as the Goddess laughed and scrunched her nose and there was no way anyone could be convinced that the bun had any redeeming value whatsoever. Hey, the fries had the skin on and were seasoned with what was professed to be sea salt. I forbade my brain to acknowledge the fact that non organic potatoes are in the top ten for pesticide residues.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Tax Breaks For The Wealthy Versus the Poor and Middle Class

Donna Cooper has an interesting post over at American Progress that compares the tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations to the proposed GOP cuts to the "safety net" non security programs in its budget. The oligarchy has made putting their special tax breaks such as deducting interest paid on vacation homes, estate taxes and the like off limits when it comes to dealing with some of our deficit spending. All these tax breaks should be on the table since tax breaks take a huge chunk out of Federal tax revenue. There are two sides to balancing a budget, revenue and spending.

Nearing A Breaking Point

The following is not from some liberal or progressive rag but from, Marketwatch, and you should really read the whole thing. Just remember to keep reminding yourself that this is not from the Socialist Workers Daily.Remember also that in addition to these issues we have the reality of high unemployment, rising food insecurity, rising housing insecurity, worsening health care availability, continuing attacks on virtually all the safety nets a socialized society needs and less and less optimism for a chance at even a reasonable middle class life.
Yes, the rich live in a different world. And no, information won’t change them. But a revolution will. Revolutions build slowly over a long time. Then, suddenly, a critical mass, a flash point, something totally unexpected ignites the ticking bomb.
It happened recently in a remote Tunisian village. Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old college graduate, unable to pay bribes, set himself on fire to protest police confiscation of his unlicensed vegetable cart. That triggered a revolution. And his death rapidly led to the collapse of a 24-year dictatorship.
Today we have four hot time bombs, tick-ticking, soon to make history; any one can easily accelerate the revolution that’s already killing Wall Street from within.

1. Wealth gap: Super-Rich vs class wars, death of democracy

The gap: In one generation, America’s wealthiest 1% has exploded from 9% to 23% of America’s income, while middle-class income has stagnated. Even Buffett admits: “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and winning.”
But my rich friend tells the real story, of their social disconnect. The rich just don’t care. They live in a different world, live by a self-centered code lacking a moral compass. The public welfare is honored only if supported by tax benefits.
The wealth gap is widening and soon something unpredictable will ignite a Wall Street revolution.

2. Wall Street’s doomsday capitalism vs rule by anarchy

A key Supreme Court decision accelerated and codified Wall Street’s ability to use billions stolen from taxpayers to lobby Washington and solidify its power, all for its own self-interest, through campaign payola, senators’ votes, presidential access, manipulation of regulators, grabbing tax benefits, etc. And it’s every man and woman for themselves.
Don’t believe it? Know this, democracy is dead and you’re in denial. Wall Street CEOs and Forbes 400 billionaires are either engaged in a secret conspiracy, or a classic anarchy picking apart America, oblivious of the fact they are setting up the next big revolution.

3. Pentagon’s perpetual war machine vs America’s budget time bomb

The mathematics of our $75 trillion Social Security and Medicare deficits often seem insurmountable, but can be recalibrated. However, the war-loving mindset of America’s neocons — fueled by China’s military actions, the insatiable expansion of our military spending and a Pentagon prediction that global population growth — is putting more and more pressure on the world’s scarce resources, and will, in turn, increase global wars and the demand for more war spending, increasing the risk of sudden revolutions everywhere.

4. Global population explosion vs resources, jobs, better lifestyles

As the world population explodes from 7 billion to 10 billion in the next generation, the demand for more jobs and the pressure on scarce resources will increase, while expectations will fall as the ratio of haves to have-nots increases, making the world all around Wall Street a burning powder keg setting up a revolution.
Bottom line: Forget jailing Wall Street’s dictators. It’s na├»ve and too late. We missed that opportunity. But a revolution will do the trick, give us a second chance to jail the crooks.
Until then, remember, these four factors are building to a head, merging into a critical mass that will accelerate into a revolution and destroy Wall Street from within: The widening wealth gap, capitalism’s new rule-by-anarchy, the high cost of feeding the Pentagon’s costly war machine, and the huge global population explosion.
H/T Susie

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Thwarted - Partially

Today my first attempt at homemade bacon and pancetta is supposed to come to fruition. The pork bellies have cured in the their respective cures for a week. The bacon needs to be smoked but it is raining so I am just going to have to wash off the cure and keep it chilled until the first clear day I'm not working. The pancetta however will be hung to dry for a couple of weeks today. It will be washed of cure, peppered and tightly rolled and tied and hung in the basement to dry a bit. I will try some "undried" today however just to understand and know what it tastes like right out of the cure. Just a simple dish of pasta with bacon, garlic and onion. I'll take a couple of pictures a bit later after I get it all done.

As a side note I am also off to find a meat grinding attachment for my big Kitchen Aid today. I'll try Bad Breath and Beyond first before I travel all the way to Cook's Warehouse and let's hope I don't wind up having to buy it at Williams-Sonoma. I need a meat grinder for my attempt at pepperoni and dry salami but I don't want to spend a fortune. Ideally I would like a grinder and a separate sausage stuffer but I think budget constraints will limit me to a combo deal.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Wear Nice Underwear

You need to start paying more attention to your underwear
Giving Transportation Security Administration agents a peek under your clothes may soon be a practice that goes well beyond airport checkpoints. Newly uncovered documents show that as early as 2006, the Department of Homeland Security has been planning pilot programs to deploy mobile scanning units that can be set up at public events and in train stations, along with mobile x-ray vans capable of scanning pedestrians on city streets.

The non-profit Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) on Wednesday published documents it obtained from the Department of Homeland Security showing that from 2006 to 2008 the agency planned a study of of new anti-terrorism technologies that EPIC believes raise serious privacy concerns. The projects range from what the DHS describes as “a walk through x-ray screening system that could be deployed at entrances to special events or other points of interest” to “covert inspection of moving subjects” employing the same backscatter imaging technology currently used in American airports.

Working, Working

I know I have been scarce around these parts but I've worked 7 days straight. I thought I had off until Sunday but they just called me to work tomorrow for 6 hours. I guess I should be glad for the hours but I am losing ground on my home stuff.
Madam decided to clean the oven a couple of days ago with the self clean feature...it's clean but it won't unlock. Been through all the possible fixes like turning off the breaker for 15 minutes and allowing it to reset but all it continues to say is "Unlocking the door" She only cleaned the top oven but since both ovens share the same controls it means the bottom oven is kaput as well. No baking around here until next week at best which is the first available time for a repair guy. I'm going to have to buy 'store bread'.
All the tomatoes have sprouted in the greenhouse so we are on a way to spring. Peppers are not showing yet but they are always slow to get going. I used last years seeds for the cabbage and broccoli and got almost no germination and I am still waiting for more seeds from Parks.
Madam goes for her knee replacement surgery on Monday so I will be sharing the nursing chores with Minimonk next week. Just a partial replacement but the recovery is supposed to be tough.
Lots of catching up to do with everything. I try and get a glance at the paper and hit the high spots on the web but it really takes a few hours a day to get a good handle on everything. I'm resting today mostly so I may have more to say on things in a bit.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

It's A Small Effort But Really Stupid

What's new for the GOP? Since Nancy Pelosi was the prime mover behind an effort to make the Capitol a little greener, John Boehner has decided the place must go back to styrofoam cups and containers. No, it's true and while it is obviously a cheap shot at Nancy Pelosi's efforts to make the House greener I'll guarantee it is also a payoff to one of his big contributors. To hell with the environment, what's the problem with chemicals leaching into people's coffee? John Boehner has an important donor to pay back and he gets to snub Pelosi in the bargain. Gotta love it.