Friday, October 31, 2008

Another Notch in My Carbon Footprint

The guys are here this morning pumping another 6-8 inches of fiberglass into the attic. It is the next to the last bit in my effort to cut my energy bills in half. The only thing left is the bay window in the living room. It's only single pane so it needs to go. After this install I will be at r-59, or better, and should never have to use any energy at all in heating the house just body heat...well maybe just a little bit.

Update: Actually it turned out to be 12 inches plus and they put in a big styrofoam box over the attic stairs for no additional charge. Looks like a big snowfall in the attic now. Seriously, this should save me some significant dollars on my heating and cooling bills. Here in Atlanta I would imagine savings on air conditioning will be the biggest savings as electricity to run the A/C is a bigger expense here in the South than the gas bills for winter heat.

It was a really good experience with this company. In and out in a couple of hours. No mess and what little insulation got loose they cleaned up. If you are in the Atlanta area and need some insulation I would recommend WilServ in Buford. Not often you get a good experience with a contractor nowadays.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tell Me it Isn't So

According to Josh Marshall, 23% of Texans believe Barack Obama is a Muslim. Now I am married to a Texan and I know they are not stupid. Is this just a fluke of information gathering or are the Texans polled just lying because they think that is what the pollsters want to hear? Will we ever know and what are they going to do if a "Muslim" is their President? This is why I worry.

Update: I just don't judge Texans by Madam and I do know quite a few of them so my sample size is greater than one.

Two Disappointments

Life bites some days. I was all excited about making pumpkin soup over the weekend so at Whole Foods today I picked up a small sugar pumpkin. The price wasn't marked but I figured it couldn't be much since they are selling three pumpkins, any size, for 13 bucks out in front. When I got to the checkout and the lady rank it up at $8.43 I called a halt and had them take it off. I will have to use canned pumpkin if I want pumpkin soup. Rats, a fresh pumpkin is just a bit better than canned but that is just too much for a small pumpkin that might barely make a full batch of soup. I guess I know one thing that will have a spot in the garden in the spring.

I got home and the yard guys were just finishing. (Yes, I have a guy mow for me. Since I travel so much and Madam is not up to mowing a half acre yard it is a requirement. They mow, blow and trim and can get it done in a half hour while it takes me half a day to get it all done.) Anyway, one of my coddled rabbit-eye blueberry bushes was chopped off at the root. He promised to replace it but they are hard to come by so we'll see. My bushes have only been in a year or so and we just got a handful of berries last year. This was the year we were going to get some serious blueberries and so now it is up to the remaining 3 bushes to carry the load.

Today is at least the day we get the CSA box and we will get to be surprised by what shows up. I still have the Austrian Kale from last week's box that I haven't done anything with so maybe a good minestrone is in order instead of pumpkin soup. Deal with it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Left or Right, Authoritarian or Libertararian

Thanks to Tata at Poor Impulse Control and the link to the Political Compass test we can have some fun looking at how our political beliefs sit with others. You'll notice the test doesn't simply divide opinions into Left and Right. It also tests for libertarian or authoritarian tendencies. If you don't know by now I am pretty anti-authoritarian about people but on the other hand I feel pretty strongly about rigorous corporate regulation. I like it that I sit in the same quadrant with Ghandi and the Dalai Lama.

The bottom chart is my plot from the test.

You too can find out where your beliefs sit on the Political Compass Test. So where do you sit?

From the Political Compass website.. the top chart shows the positions of some international world leaders. As you can see I'm in pretty good company.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

It's almost Halloween and it is also pumpkin time. If your area is anything like mine then many
churches have big piles of pumpkins for sale. Whole Foods even has them for 3 for 12 bucks.
Unfortunately, the great majority of these pumpkins and their nutrition will be wasted. They'll
be carved into a jack 'o lantern and the seeds will be thrown in the trash. What a waste!
Pumpkins make a wonderful soup that is just the ticket on these cool fall days and even if you
don't want soup you can roast the flesh and save it for pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. The seeds
too make a nice treat and they are actually good for you. Be penurious this year with your
pumpkin and don't waste all the goodness it has spent all year storing up for you. After it has
done its job scaring the trick or treaters it can meet a higher purpose and go to its reward
truly fulfilled.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

4 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (You need to adjust for your desired level of hotness. A
full 1/4 tsp makes a pretty spicy soup)
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Pinch ground cayenne pepper (optional but this will add another dimension of hot)
6 cups of chopped roasted pumpkin (see below on how to roast fresh pumpkin) or if you don't
happen to want to go the trouble of roasting a real pumpkin use 3 (15 oz) cans 100 percent
pumpkin (don't use pumpkin pie mix!)

5 cups of chicken broth (I really like the Swanson Organic Chicken Broth or use vegetable broth

but most commercial vegetable broths are pretty bad.)
2 cups of milk

1/2 cup brown sugar(optional but use it in combination with the heavy cream if you like a sweeter richer soup plus it will tone down the heat some but it does add calories and fat)
1/2 cup heavy cream(optional with brown sugar)

Making it.
Melt the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook,
stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add spices and stir for a minute more to release
their fragrance. Add pumpkin and 5 cups of chicken broth; blend well. Bring to a boil then reduce
heat and simmer for 10 or 15 minutes. Using a hand blender blend until smooth or transfer soup,
in batches, into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Return soup to saucepan.
With the soup on low heat, add brown sugar(if using) and mix. Slowly add milk while stirring to
incorporate. Add cream(if using). If it's a too spicy you can add more cream to cool it down.
Depending on the broth you use you might want to add a teaspoon of salt.
Serve in individual bowls. Sprinkle the top of each with toasted pumpkin seeds(recipe below).
This recipe makes enough soup for 8.

How to make pumpkin puréé: cut a sugar pumpkin(the best for this but regular jack'o lantern
pumpkin will do) in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff and set aside, lie face down on a
aluminum foil lined baking pan. Bake at 350°F until soft, about 45 min to an hour. Cool, scoop
out the flesh. Freeze whatever you don't use for future use(maybe pumpkin ravioli?)

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

You'll need the seeds from a medium sized pumpkin, hopefully the one you made the soup from.
Frugal, frugal!
Salt and Olive oil

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Cut open the pumpkin and scoop out the insides. Separate the seeds from the stringy stuff. Rinse the seeds.(The stringy stuff goes to the compost pile)
In a small saucepan, add the seeds to water, about 2 cups of water to every half cup of seeds.
Add a tablespoon of salt for every cup of water. Bring to a boil. Let simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and drain.
Spread about a tablespoon of olive oil over the bottom of a roasting pan. Spread the drained
seeds in the roasting pan in one layer. Depending on your 'salt tolerance' you might want to
sprinkle them lightly with a little more salt. Bake on the top rack for 20 minutes or until the
seeds begin to brown. When they are brown enough for you, remove from the oven and let the pan cool on a rack. Let the seeds cool before eating or using to garnish the soup. Either crack to
remove the inner seed (a lot of work and in my opinion, unnecessary) or eat whole.

Just one warning. Eating a lot of pumpkin seeds in one sitting can have an effect on ones
digestion. You've been warned.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Junior Johnson is Behind Obama

You can read the whole thing here, but in a nutshell, one of the Gods of NASCAR Junior Johnson has announced his support for Barack Obama. If you are not a NASCAR person or from the South then you probably don't even know who Junior Johnson is. Well, Junior Johnson is one of the founding fathers of NASCAR. Tom Wolfe's story, Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamlined Baby was about Junior Johnson. He discovered 'drafting' and he was one of the most agressive drivers in all of NASCAR history. When he later became an owner some of his drivers were guys like Bill Elliot and Darrel Waltrip. He has some serious NASCAR creds.

Anyhow, as weird as it may seem this endorsement by Junior could be a game changer in North Carolina and to some extent across the South. Nothing leans Republican like NASCAR and NASCAR fans respect Junior Johnson.

Thanks to the Sailor for pointing me to this diary.

Let America Be America Again

I posted the poem by Langston Hughes "Let American Be America Again" back in June and was ready to post it again next Wednesday but MandT at Adgitadiaries have done the deed already.

As we prepare for what may be the most important election of our lives it is worth reading once or even twice more. This election represents, most probably, the last chance we have as a country to return to the progressive and positive course that represents the true intent of our founding fathers. The Republicans can rant all they want about socialism and 'spreading the wealth' and all the other phrases they hope will rekindle the fear that re-elected George Bush in 2004 but the real America is that represented in the poem...

O, let America be America again-- The land that never has been yet-- And yet must be--the land where every man is free. The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME-- Who made America, Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain, Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain, Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose-- The steel of freedom does not stain. From those who live like leeches on the people's lives, We must take back our land again, America!

O, yes, I say it plain, America never was America to me, And yet I swear this oath-- America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death, The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies, We, the people, must redeem The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers. The mountains and the endless plain-- All, all the stretch of these great green states-- And make America again!

All Georgians Get to Vote

Great news in Georgia:

(CNN) -- Georgia must allow thousands of people whose citizenship was questioned by the state's new voter verification system to vote in the upcoming election, a panel of federal judges ruled Monday.

The court ruling means 4,500 people in Georgia will be able to vote November 4 despite being flagged.

The court ruling will affect about 4,500 people in Georgia who had been "flagged" by the new voter verification system and faced being denied a chance to vote November 4.

It could also affect more than 50,000 other registered Georgia voters also flagged by the new system because of mismatches in their personal identification information, such as discrepancies in addresses.

The three-judge panel also ordered Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel to inform all the flagged voters that they can vote.

In spite of the law which says that you cannot purge votes within 90 days of an electionour Republican SecSta felt in necessary to do so anyway. A lawsuit was filed and the courts decided on the Constitution instead of the Republican effort to steal the vote in Georgia.

Virginia Vote Warning

The GOP nasties are screwing around with the vote in parts of Virginia. There is a phony flier going around the Hampton Roads area telling Democrats that to relieve congestion at the polls Dems are supposed to vote on November 5th.

A phony State Board of Elections flier advising Republicans to vote on Nov. 4 and Democrats on Nov. 5 is being circulated in several Hampton Roads localities, according to state elections officials.

In fact, Election Day, for voters of all political stripes, remains Nov. 4.

The somewhat official-looking flier - it features the state board logo and the state seal - is dated Oct. 24 and indicates that "an emergency session of the General Assembly has adopted the follwing (sic) emergency regulations to ease the load on local electorial (sic) precincts and ensure a fair electorial process."

The four-paragraph flier concludes with: "We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause but felt this was the only way to ensure fairness to the complete electorial process."

No emergency action has been taken by the General Assembly. It is not in session and lacks the authority to change the date of a federal election.

Assholes! If you have friends or family in Virginia please let them know that Election Day is the 4th regardless of your party affiliation.

Needless Tragedy

This piece on CNN just astounded me. Since when does it make sense to give an 8 year old a damn loaded Uzi to shoot? Everybody involved, the 'certified' instructor, parent(s), gun club owner, whoever, needs some serious punishment. The heights to which human stupidity rise is just amazing. Anyone with any experience with automatic weapons should be aware of the tendency for the weapon to run up and even a big guy like me, knowing what to expect, was surprised at the force the weapons exerts when I qualified with one in the Navy. Stupid, stupid.

WESTFIELD, Massachusetts (AP) — An 8-year-old boy died after accidentally shooting himself in the head while firing an Uzi submachine gun under adult supervision at a gun fair.
An 8-year-old shot and killed himself with an Uzi submachine gun like the weapon shown here.

The boy lost control of the weapon while firing it Sunday at the Machine Gun Shoot and Firearms Expo at the Westfield Sportsman’s Club, Police Lt. Lawrence Valliere said.

The boy was with a certified instructor and “was shooting the weapon down range when the force of the weapon made it travel up and back toward his head, where he suffered the injury,” a police statement said. Police called it a “self-inflicted accidental shooting.”

The victim was taken to Baystate Medical Center where he died. His name was not released.

Although the death appears to be an accident, police and the Hampden district attorney’s office were investigating, officials said.

The club said on its Web site that the event, run in conjunction with C.O.P. Firearms and Training, is “all legal and fun.” People will be allowed to fire weapons at vehicles, pumpkins and other targets, it said.

Naked and Barefoot

We just received the new L.L.Bean Christmas catalog and as I was thumbing through it I noticed that almost everything in it said it was imported. Piqued, I ran through the entire catalog and found only 4 or 5 items out of the hundreds there that were not imported. LL Bean wool socks, dog bed, 1 pair of hiking boots, and some jams, and maple syrup were not imported. That's really sad. If the other nations ever cut us off we are going to be running around 'nekkid' and barefoot.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Eight Days a Week

8 Days
8 days.

This is going to be a crazy week. It will be crazy at the Presidential level we know, but there is also lots going on up and down the ballot. At the top of the ballot we know this will be the week where we find out just how low McCain and the GOP will sink. How much nastier and uglier can the attacks get from the Republicans? The other big question is just how 'rogue' Caribou Barbie will get? It's sure looking like she's dumped McCain and has started her 2012 campaign for president to me. Finally, this week we should see the in-fighting and back-stabbing reach a frenzy within the ranks of the GOP. It should be a lot of fun to watch.

There are just 8 days until the game changes and we have and opportunity to begin to change the world. This will probably be the most important election of my lifetime with respect to its impact on life in the U.S. and around the world. Seriously, this election has the capacity to change the world if we all unite behind out leader and make some of the hard choices that are going to be required if we are to steer this country in a new direction. It's been eight hard and brutal long years and this is the tipping point. We need a new direction on the economy, healthcare, foreign relations, Iraq, Afghanistan, energy and so much more. It is still not too late to screw it up so we all need to do everything we can do between now and November 4th to make sure it happens. If you haven't voted yet then please get out and do so. Ignore the polls and believe that your vote is the one that will make the difference because it is. Every vote is going to be important. Barack Obama doesn't need 'just' a win but a landslide that will show the country and the world that we are going to shed the misdirected and incompetent leadership of the Republican party in this country and return America to its rightful place as a leader in how an effective democracy can be.

8 days.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Stand By Me

MandT have a YouTube up from the Playing for Change project organization also known as Peace Through Music. From what I have been able to gather it was a multi year project to document music around the world as a vehicle for peace and harmony. One of the results of the effort is the song "Stand By Me" performed simultaneously by musicians from around the world and captured in the video. It is tremendous and I must admit it choked me up a little. If you aren't familiar with it go over and have a listen.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Brits Join the Recession Club

We aren't the only ones having a go at a recession. Europe has always seen the UK economy as something to envy but appears that may not be the case too much longer. You need to remember that about 30-35% of the British economy is directly related to banking/finance so all the problems in that sector are telling their tale. On top of that and as unbelievable as it sounds the Brits have racked up even more personal debt than we Yanks have. (I was shocked when I read that.) The combination of the two spells serious trouble down the road. This news is part of the reason the European markets are tanking today in the early trading.
The British economy shrank more than expected and for the first time in 16 years in the third quarter of 2008, as fears grow the country could be in for a painful and prolonged recession.

The Office for National Statistics said on Friday gross domestic product fell 0.5 percent in the three months to September, the biggest drop since Q4 1990 and the first contraction since Q2 1992.

Analysts had forecast a fall of 0.2 percent.

On the year, GDP was 0.3 percent higher, the weakest rate of growth since Q2 1992.

h/t Americablog

Bad Friday

Cold and rainy here in Atlanta and the early warnings from the international markets are indicating that it will be a baaaad day on Wall Street as well. The economic crisis is not going to go away and we still haven't seen the bottom of the markets.
Stock index futures tumbled so sharply on Friday they had to be frozen at several points as global markets tumbled on signs the global economy is in the throes of recession.

Stock markets were in freefall around the world as panicked investors moved to liquidate risky positions. Japan's Nikkei index ended down 9.6 percent and European shares lost 8 percent.

By 7:00 a.m. in New York December Dow Jones futures were down 6.3 percent, Standard & Poor's 500 futures were off 6.6 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures were down 6.8 percent.

All three contracts lost the maximum amount permissible before the start of futures trading in the United States.

Both the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq said trading would open as normal at 9:30 a.m EDT.
With all the futures contracts up against a hard stop it doesn't bode well for investors. You want fries with that?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Scrapple is Good Eats

In the comments to my post about the food industry below MandT mentioned that their Grandma made scrapple. Well so did mine. Considering that we are most likely going to be in for some tough times and we all need to know how to do some 'cheap eats', I thought I would give you folks the recipe for a West Virginia style scrapple. This is 'stick to your ribs' food and it makes a great breakfast with eggs. It sounds kind of funny but it really is good. Really!


1 cup white or yellow cornmeal
1 cup milk (if you are really being cheap you can replace the milk with an equal amount of water)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2-3/4 cups boiling water
8 ounces bulk pork sausage, cooked, drained and crumbled
2 tablespoons butter

In a saucepan, combine the cornmeal, milk, sugar and salt and gradually stir in the boiling water. Cook over low medium heat, stirring frequently until thickened and bubbly. Turn the heat to low and cook, covered, about 10 minutes longer or until it is very thick, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in sausage. Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap to facilitate removal and pour in the mixture. A 7-1/2-in. x 3-1/2-in. x 2-in. loaf pan will be completely filled but if you have a larger loaf(bread) pan that's fine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. Grandma and Mom used to make it the night before for the next morning's breakfast.
When you are ready to serve, unmold and cut into 1/3-in. slices just like you were slicing bread. Dredge both sides in flour. In a big frying pan, melt butter over medium heat and brown the scrapple on both sides.

In the South we serve it with sorghum or molasses but up North they like maple syrup. I also like to reserve the drippings from cooking the sausage and make a milk gravy with lots of black pepper instead of the sweet syrup.

This will make enough for 6 hungry people.

For you culinary 'buffs' here is a little more on scrapple. It is also called "head cheese" in some parts of the country and in Pennsylvania Dutch country it is known as ponhaws or pawnhaus. This comes from fact that in older times it was made from hog scraps and especially the bits of meat from the jowls and head that were left from slaughtering. It often also included offal such as the heart, liver and other bits.

10 Things About Food

Those of you interested in the food industry should take a look at the expose in U.S. News and World Report taking on the industry. The article, 10 Things the Food Industry Doesn't Want You to Know does a pretty good job of hitting the main points.

Then again if you have been reading here for any time you know the rules I have adopted for my food. They are, of course, from Michael Pollan.

Don't buy anything with a health claim.
If it has a health claim, it has a label.
If it has a label, it's in a package.
If it's in a package, it's probably not good for you.


If your great grand mother wouldn't recognize it as food then it probably isn't.


If it is in a package and the label has more than a few ingredients and there are any you can't pronounce then it isn't food.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

With Love from Osama

While the McSame campaign needed to counter the rather damaging endorsement of Colin Powell of Barack Obama maybe the endorsement of this group might not be the way to go. The way I see it is has two major problems. First, very few of their members are eligible to vote unless ACORN has been busier than has been reported and second, they really don't have much credibility with the wingnut base. Then again, I could be wrong because since at least they are not socialists and only a few of them are gay.

I couldn't pass this up.

Food Equals Predators

As evidenced by the previous chipmunk picture there is plenty of food for such as the young Cooper's Hawk I snapped early this morning at the bird bath. It was pretty early and it wasn't very bright out yet and therefore the picture is not as sharp as it should be. It is also quite obvious that I need to clean and fill the bird bath this morning.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sitting on Buddha

This little guy uses the Buddha in my garden to announce his presence in the world on a regular basis. He sits and barks at the world for long stretches. Today I was ready with the camera and he stayed there long enough for me to get him from both sides. Thanks little buddy.

The Hate and Division After

I am kind of keeping a low profile election wise right now. I have decided that any contribution I have to make has been made and I am afraid of contributing to more of the divisiveness that is already rampant. Most of it is coming from the right and the McSame camp but still I think there is enough crap floating around without me adding to it.

In just a couple of weeks(and the election can't come soon enough for me) we will most likely have a new and Democratic President. I really don't see how the momentum can be reversed at this point without some extraordinary event changing the game completely. I do wonder, however, what is going to happen to the blizzard of racist, alarmist, xenophobic, innuendo-laden accusations being splattered at Obama who it appears will be the next President. All this pent up anger and hate is not just going to vanish the day after the election. All of the effort by the GOP to follow the traditional Rovian script of fear-based and smear-based politics and divide this country into two camps at each others throats is fortuneately not doing an effective job of changing the dynamics of the election but they are generating much hate and discontent that will continue to fester long after the election is history.

There is going to be plenty for a new President Obama to do without having to overcome the additional burden of a divided country who feels that he is a closet Muslim terrorist and Goddess who knows what else. It is just a real shame that the political dialogue has devolved in the country into the state it has and with McSame sliding in the polls, you can expect his campaign to get even uglier.

So anyway, if you are looking for politics here then you are probably going to be disappointed. I have cast my vote and I urge you to do the same. That I think Barack Obama is the choice we need to make goes without saying. And yes, I will probably still blog something about the campaign before it is all over but it will be an accident. Really.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Voting Early

I just came back from taking a soil sample to the county extension office for analysis and it is in the same building as the early voting for North Fulton County. People are taking this early voting very seriously. There were lines outside and along the street. When Madam and I went last week there was a line but it started inside. I would say there are at least twice as many people waiting as there were last week. Looked like there were a lot of Obama voters if you can judge from race and age and yes there seemed to be some McSame types in the line too. The burbs here North of Atlanta are lousy with Republicans.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Another One

This morning Atlanta Journal-Constitution endorsed Barack Obama for President. Just thought you would like to know.

Another glorious fall weekend though a little cooler here in Georgia. It dropped into the mid forties for the first time. Lots of stuff to do around the old homestead again today and perfect weather for outdoor work.

Madam Monk's birthday yesterday and we fixed her requested lamb chops. Rolled out the Hibachi and got blistering hot fire. Excellent. These particular lamb chops came from Iceland of all places and I think that is the first time I have ever had any food from Iceland. For dessert we also had the requested creme caramel which were also superb. Creme caramel and lamb chops are remnants from Madam's childhood when she and here parents were in Greece. When they first arrived and before they found a house to rent they stayed in the Pentelican Hotel and the only thing on the hotel restaurant menu that suited her were the lamb chops and the flan(creme caramel). She had them for dinner every night they were there.

Here is my recipe for creme caramel or flan or pots du creme...whatever.

You will need 8 4 oz ramekins or 4 6 ounce.
put a kettle of water on to boil
prepare a shallow baking pan for the bain-marie by lining with a tea towel ( this will be for the water bath to cook the custards. Turn your oven on to 300 degrees F.

For the caramel

1 cup of granulated sugar and 1/4 cup of water in a small sauce pan.
Heat this mixture over fairly high heat until it just starts to brown. You will know when it almost ready as the foaming will stop. Careful as there is just a small difference between caramel and burnt sugar so you have to watch it carefully. Just as it darkens remove it from the heat and carefully pour about two teaspoons into the bottom of each ramekin. Swirl the ramekin a bit to spread the caramel around the bottom. Be careful with this blazing hot sugar as it will cause awful burns.

While the caramel cools in the ramekins make the custard.
1 pint or 2 cups of half and half
1/3 cup of granulated sugar
pinch of salt
dash of vanilla extract (optional but I like a wee bit)
pinch of nutmeg
2 whole large eggs and 2 large egg yolks

beat the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg and vanilla with a whisk until it is light and bright yellow(2 - 3 minutes). add the half and half and whisk until well mixed. Strain this mixture through a wire sieve into a large cup measure or pitcher to make sure there are no lumps of egg and then fill your caramel prepared ramekins. Place the filled ramekins in the prepared shallow pan and fill with the heated water until it comes up about 1/2 way the sides of the ramekins. Bake in the center of a 300 degree oven in the bain-marie for about 40 minutes or until they are almost firm. The center should just still wiggle a bit. Take them out and let them cool for a half hour. You can serve them warm, room temperature or chilled.
To serve them dip the bottom of the ramekins in warm water for a minute then slide a thin knife around the edges of the custard. Invert the ramekins onto a small plate. The caramel will have formed a light sweet syrup and there will be a spot of it on top of the inverted custard while the rest will run down the sides and pool in the dish. A simple but very sophisticated dessert.

You can use whole cream, plain whole milk or even reduced fat milk for these but I think the half and half is a nice compromise. If you use milk they will require a little longer cooking and if you use cream then somewhat less.

Friday, October 17, 2008

It Took 161 Years

This is pretty significant. One of the most conservative newspapers in the U.S., the Chicago Tribune, has endorsed Barack Obama. The paper was founded in 1847 and this is the first Democratic presidential candidate they have ever endorsed in the paper's entire 161 year history.
This endorsement makes some history for the Chicago Tribune. This is the first time the newspaper has endorsed the Democratic Party's nominee for president....

The Republican Party, the party of limited government, has lost its way. The government ran a $237 billion surplus in 2000, the year before Bush took office -- and recorded a $455 billion deficit in 2008. The Republicans lost control of the U.S. House and Senate in 2006 because, as we said at the time, they gave the nation rampant spending and Capitol Hill corruption. They abandoned their principles. They paid the price.

We might have counted on John McCain to correct his party's course. We like McCain. We endorsed him in the Republican primary in Illinois. In part because of his persuasion and resolve, the U.S. stands to win an unconditional victory in Iraq.

It is, though, hard to figure John McCain these days. He argued that President Bush's tax cuts were fiscally irresponsible, but he now supports them. He promises a balanced budget by the end of his first term, but his tax cut plan would add an estimated $4.2 trillion in debt over 10 years. He has responded to the economic crisis with an angry, populist message and a misguided, $300 billion proposal to buy up bad mortgages.

McCain failed in his most important executive decision. Give him credit for choosing a female running mate--but he passed up any number of supremely qualified Republican women who could have served. Having called Obama not ready to lead, McCain chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. His campaign has tried to stage-manage Palin's exposure to the public. But it's clear she is not prepared to step in at a moment's notice and serve as president. McCain put his campaign before his country....

Obama is deeply grounded in the best aspirations of this country, and we need to return to those aspirations. He has had the character and the will to achieve great things despite the obstacles that he faced as an unprivileged black man in the U.S.

He has risen with his honor, grace and civility intact. He has the intelligence to understand the grave economic and national security risks that face us, to listen to good advice and make careful decisions.

When Obama said at the 2004 Democratic Convention that we weren't a nation of red states and blue states, he spoke of union the way Abraham Lincoln did.

It may have seemed audacious for Obama to start his campaign in Springfield, invoking Lincoln. We think, given the opportunity to hold this nation's most powerful office, he will prove it wasn't so audacious after all. We are proud to add Barack Obama's name to Lincoln's in the list of people the Tribune has endorsed for president of the United States.

You should read the entire endorsement as it is full of historical parallels to Lincoln and the recognition that this is a critical and pivotal election for the future of America. This comes on top of the endorsement of the Washington Post.

Rain Today

Hooray, we should get a bit of rain today. I am up really early so I can be in the garden at first light to get my cover crop in before it does rain. I got one last pass with the tiller in last evening and I should do another but I need to take advantage of the rain so that is all the tilling until spring. So I am off to plant the cereal rye, clover, vetch and Austrian peas for which all the rabbits will be mighty glad. It will be quite the feast when it is all up.

You folks play nice until later.

Update: All done though it required working in a light rain. Ran out of seed before I got completely covered but I will order more in a moment and have it rushed. I can get it done next week. It was just barely light out and two owls serenaded me while I worked. Maybe they are envisioning all the field mice that will find food and harbor in the garden when all the grain comes up and they were hooting me on?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Food Means Security

I was very happy to see the New York Times publish Michael Pollan's "Farmer in Chief," a lengthy essay on rethinking food as a national security issue--and reviving the Victory Garden. I know its long but it's a good read. I know I'm committed to returning to growing as much of my own food as possible and that also means doing some canning and other preservation. It is a very satisfying thing.

The Old Wu Wei Trick

Barbara at Mahablog has an interesting insight into the debate last night. She notes that Obama was more like a kung fu master and he just let McCain beat himself up. The principle of the 'uncarved stone' or 'the action of non-action' or more properly 'wu wei' is very applicable to what we saw last night on the part of Obama.

What I watched was more like kung fu. In the martial arts, aggression for the sake of aggression is more likely to work against you than with you. The master knows how to use his opponent’s energy against him. He lets the more unskilled fighter beat himself.

Martial arts masters employ the principle of wu wei — the action of non-action. This sounds like passivity — it often looks like passivity — but it is the art of channeling the flow of energy around you to accomplish a task or defeat an opponent. Put another way, it is the art of letting action act itself, or letting movement move itself, while you go with the flow.

It’s also the art of knowing when not to act. If your opponent is beating himself up, don’t get in his way.

It always makes me wonder when I hear people say, "go with the flow, if they actually know where it comes from.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Obama could have phoned this one in. McCain was still his cranky old self and the split screen did him no favors at all. I got the feeling during the whole debate that McCain knew he was sitting next to the next President of the U.S. and really resented it. McCain actually started somewhat strongly but his inner wingnut took over and that was the end.
McCain needed a revolutionary debate and this wasn't it.

Cleared and Tilled

I haven't only been busy with the canning but in preparing the garden for next spring. You can't quite see it all in this pic (I should have used my big camera and a wide angle) but you can see I will have ample space for a nice garden once again. It was covered in weeds and brush, some of it over my head, just a few weeks ago...

Putting Away

Just so you won't think I was joshing you about canning apples and pears. Here is a picture of the results of much hard work by Madam and myself. Apple butter, apple sauce, sliced apples, apple chutney, pear halves and pear preserves all ready to enjoy over the winter. Yes, it was a little work and I did have to buy jars and lids but the jars will be reused over and over. The reward will be when you can open a jar of your own stuff knowing exactly what went into it even to the point of picking the fruit. Did I mention that the fruit was free for the picking?


The Times online is calling it 'his finest hour'. The world certainly has taken his lead but Churchillian? I am sure Mr. Duff will pitch in on this since he is closer to the action and if I remember correctly, not without an opinion of his PM.

With the bulk of British banking now perched uneasily on his shoulders, the Prime Minister is in Churchillian mode, calling for a new Bretton Woods agreement, harking back to the 1944 conference between the allied powers that led to the creation of the IMF, the World Bank and the guts of the global financial system.

Today, ominously, we have massive public intervention in the market, governments on the rampage against profiteering capitalism and the banishment of shareholder interest.

It sure looks as if Brown's decisive leadership led the way in attack on the financial crisis. Maybe we should give old Gordon the benefit of the doubt.

Two More for Obama

Madam and I have just returned from voting. We had gone out to pick up the CSA box and just decided to give it a try. It took about an hour and a half. Good crowd there voting and I would say the majority were African-American. I, of course, also voted for Jim Martin the Dem running against Saxby Chambliss. The race is close or at least within the margin of error and it would give me great pleasure to see Saxby sacked after the cheap stuff he did against Max Cleland. Anyhow that's done. It was also a pleasure to vote against Dr. Tom Price. Nice enough guy but a real Bush yes man and a Republican. What's not to like?

Quiet, Too Quiet

Sorry its been a little quiet around these parts for the last couple of days. The actual job sometimes gets in the way of the more important blogging.

Actually, there is not much noteworthy, or at least comment worthy happening. McSame is still floundering, Caribou Barbie is still a walking train wreck but it appears that the GOP is keeping her on the Limbaugh like circuit.

Shrub got out early yesterday morning and did his little Ra-Rah speech which immediately sent the markets down.

Still no obvious fix to the financial crisis in place but there does seem to be some kind of positive energy out there.

Obama has his new tax-cut calculator out so you can see what is in store. It is a good idea.

Oh and Christopher Buckley immediately lost his job at the National Review for endorsing Obama. Not having a Buckley hat the NR is going to be odd but really it has ventured so far into wingnut world it is strange that a true conservative hung around as long as he did.

Tonight is debate night and I haven't decided if I am going to watch or not.

My Sugar Snap and Snow Peas are blooming and I am getting a few radishes. It has been warmer than normal so the radishes are a little hot and that means they are my responsibility to eat since Madam is not into spicy at all. The back 40 (big garden) is all cleared and tilled and ready for its cover crop as soon as the seed gets here. I ordered a blend of
  • 50% Fall Cereal Ryegrain
  • 30% Austrian Winter Peas
  • 10% Common Vetch
  • 5% Crimson Clover
  • 5% Annual Ryegrass
to add a little nitrogen and some mass to till in come spring. Now I am going to try and find a computer program (hopefully very cheap or even free to help me with the planning).

If you know of anything interesting to talk about jump in.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Right Direction

The market is going in the correct direction this morning now that world leaders have decided to take direct approach. It's up about 400 points as I write this. Let's just hope that it can manage to recover some of the 10 years worth of losses it suffered last week and make the saving I've done during that period a non negative. That would be a good thing.

It's not over yet and we are still going to see a recession. I am still going to plant a big garden this spring and we are still canning fruit like mad. We have finished the apples and now are going after the pears. I have had to buy jars but they are reusable and the fruit was free for the picking. I think I am ahead. All the apple and pear scraps that have gone into my kitchen scrap compost can is making the back yard smell like a winery. You can smell the heavy scent of fermentation just as soon as you get close to that corner of the yard. This will go into the compost tumbler next weekend with grass clippings and get a proper composting but right new it is pretty heady.

Hope and Possibility

Most of you know me as a big fan of Michael Pollan. I nearly missed it, but it seems Michael Pollan wrote an open letter to the next president in the New York Times last week. While it is likely Barack Obama will be the new resident of the White House , Pollan wants him to pay attention to some of the realities of our 21st century food system. Here's a bit of the letter that I particulartly liked:
After cars, the food system uses more fossil fuel than any other sector of the economy - 19 percent. And while the experts disagree about the exact amount, the way we feed ourselves contributes more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than anything else we do - as much as 37 percent, according to one study. Whenever farmers clear land for crops and till the soil, large quantities of carbon are released into the air. But the 20th-century industrialization of agriculture has increased the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the food system by an order of magnitude; chemical fertilizers (made from natural gas), pesticides (made from petroleum), farm machinery, modern food processing and packaging and transportation have together transformed a system that in 1940 produced 2.3 calories of food energy for every calorie of fossil-fuel energy it used into one that now takes 10 calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce a single calorie of modern supermarket food. Put another way, when we eat from the industrial-food system, we are eating oil and spewing greenhouse gases. This state of affairs appears all the more absurd when you recall that every calorie we eat is ultimately the product of photosynthesis - a process based on making food energy from sunshine. There is hope and possibility in that simple fact.

More than just a few people will read this and maybe it will get them thinking and we can hope that Obama is one of them.

Paul Krugman Wins Nobel Prize

Very cool indeed. The just-announced story:

The American economist Paul Krugman won the 2008 Nobel prize for economics for bringing together analysis of trade patterns and where economic activity takes place, the prize committee said on Monday.

You can read more Krugman here.

First it was Al Gore? Now Paul Krugman? Is this a sign that sanity is rearing it's head once again?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Pizza Cheats

It is really hard for me to resist a good pizza and that is why I usually make my own at home from crust to sauce. The only trouble with pizza is that for some reason my body doesn't respond well to it and my blood sugar goes whacko. You wouldn't think that the carbs in a thin crust pizza made with whole wheat flour wouldn't be a big problem and I usually only have a slice or two. Oh well.

I have found a way to satisfy the pizza flavor need (all except for the crust which is my favorite).

Take nice large Roma tomatoes and cut them in half lengthwise. Hollow out the middle with a melon baller or spoon so that you are just left with the outside hull. Place them open side up on a flat pan (I use a pizza pan) and drizzle with a little olive oil, a little kosher salt and a grind of black pepper. Cut some chunks of mozzarella (I like the fresh) that will fit in the hollow of the tomato. On top of the chunk of cheese in each tomato half sprinkle some chopped fresh basil and then top with some fresh grated Parmesan cheese and drizzle with just a little more olive oil. Roast in a 350 degree oven until the tops begin to brown and the tomatoes are cooked, maybe twenty minutes. This makes a nice side dish or a warm snack and you get all the flavors (except the glorious bread) and greatly reduce the carbs.

You can, of course, use dried herbs, or different herbs and they will be nice as well. The combination of chedar and thyme would be nice or Feta and oregano would be very Greek and tasty maybe with the addition of some Kalamata olive bits to liven things up.

Waiting Didn't Make Sense

Finally, some sense coming out of Washington. Waiting until the end of October made absolutely no sense. This is not the time to dilly-dally do it now and stop the bleeding. There was nothing to be gained by delay and everything by quick action. Buy preferred positions in the banks so that when the economy settles and turns around(fingers crossed), we taxpayers will have something to show for our money and risk. It's OK to follow the British in this.
In remarks to the media just concluded, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson said the federal government will use the authority it has been granted by the $700 billion Wall Street bailout/rescue law to buy actual stakes in U.S. banks, in addition to merely buying troubled assets off their books.

The move is notable because it will give the federal government and, by extension, U.S. taxpayers, an actual ownership position in banks, effectively nationalizing them to a degree.

Under the original bailout/rescue plan, taxpayers would be only temporary owners of the troubled assets, which will be sold back into the private sector. And, indeed, the newly announced ownership stake may be temporary, as well.

"We can use taxpayer money more effectively, more efficiently, it will go farther, they will get more for their dollars and more protection if we develop a standardized program" for buying equity stakes, Paulson said.

Paulson was asked if Treasury will spend more money buying the troubled assets or buying equity stakes.

"I'm not willing to say anything today relative to the size of the two efforts," he said.

Now let's see the checkbook out and some serious investment in America's future.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sorry, Dad

Christopher Buckley has volunteered that he will vote for Barack Obama. As he said at the beginning of his post...
The son of William F. Buckley has decided—shock!—to vote for a Democrat.

Let me be the latest conservative/libertarian/whatever to leap onto the Barack Obama bandwagon. It’s a good thing my dear old mum and pup are no longer alive. They’d cut off my allowance.

Or would they? But let’s get that part out of the way. The only reason my vote would be of any interest to anyone is that my last name happens to be Buckley—a name I inherited. So in the event anyone notices or cares, the headline will be: “William F. Buckley’s Son Says He Is Pro-Obama.” I know, I know: It lacks the throw-weight of “Ron Reagan Jr. to Address Democratic Convention,” but it’ll have to do.

While I am sure this will be truly shocking to the conservative ranks and many or most will just assume he's gone insane, he does present his argument clearly and concisely. He explains his disillusionment with McCain and presents his argument for Obama.

But having a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect, President Obama will (I pray, secularly) surely understand that traditional left-politics aren’t going to get us out of this pit we’ve dug for ourselves. If he raises taxes and throws up tariff walls and opens the coffers of the DNC to bribe-money from the special interest groups against whom he has (somewhat disingenuously) railed during the campaign trail, then he will almost certainly reap a whirlwind that will make Katrina look like a balmy summer zephyr.

Obama has in him—I think, despite his sometimes airy-fairy “We are the people we have been waiting for” silly rhetoric—the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for.

So, I wish him all the best. We are all in this together. Necessity is the mother of bipartisanship. And so, for the first time in my life, I’ll be pulling the Democratic lever in November. As the saying goes, God save the United States of America.

Wounded Animals

Remember the 'angry left' that the wingnuts on the right have railed against since Saint Reagan or before? From what I am seeing in the news and around some of the lefty blogs the right is trying to raise the ante. McGrumpy and Caribou Barbie are increasingly feeding angrier and angrier crowds that shouting 'terrorist' and even 'kill him' with no response from either candidate. They are feeding it and taking energy from it. It's like the seen in Star Wars where Luke is finally facing the Emperor and Darth Vader in person and the Emperor encourages the anger and hate. I can't remember the exact dialogue but it is something like "yes young Skywalker let the hate grow--your transition to the dark side is almost complete". It's the first thing that came to my mind when I read the stories of the angry crowds surrounding.

I don't remember this much outright hate and vitriol in previous campaigns. What is different this time? Could it be that in the previous campaigns they were the assured winners and that this time it is almost assured that they are the losers? Does it go beyond the election itself and actually touch on who they are and the knowledge that they are about to lose control?

The reality is that in the last 8 years they have had power. They have had their boy George in the White House with Darth Cheney in the background pulling the strings. Bush and Cheney were their justification for their extremist views. Bush and Cheney in power validated their hate, war mongering, gay baiting, and yes, racist views. Think back over how often the rallying point for the conservative right has been their derision and resentment of liberals, intellectuals, Europeans or anything else that threatened their carefully constructed alternate and self-serving reality. What is happening now is that it is starting to sink in that they are losing and losing in a big way. The failure of Iraq, Afghanistan, free market capitalism and all the rest is shredding their belief structure. Cap all of the sense of loss with the unthinkable - a black man as President of the U.S. and you have a sense of how dangerous this is really is. If you think cornered and wounded animal then you may get the sense of where we are.

Anybody what to take odds on how soon the "N" word pops up at one of these hate fests?

crossposted at SteveAudio

Time to Get Off the Pot

Krugman, as usual, has a clear and completely understandable discussion of where we are and why something needs to be done this weekend or we could find ourselves in even deeper guacamole.

What should be done? The United States and Europe should just say “Yes, prime minister.” The British plan isn’t perfect, but there’s widespread agreement among economists that it offers by far the best available template for a broader rescue effort.

And the time to act is now. You may think that things can’t get any worse — but they can, and if nothing is done in the next few days, they will.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Palin PBS Poll Alert

PBS has an online poll posted asking if Sarah Palin is qualified. Apparently the right wing knew about this in advance and are flooding the voting with YES votes. We really don't want this poll freeped.

The poll will be reported on PBS and picked up by mainstream media. It may influence undecided voters in swing states.

If you have a few minutes and even if you don't, please do two things.

1) Click on link and vote yourself.
Here's the link:

2) Then send this to every single Obama-Biden voter you know, and urge them to vote and pass it on.

The last thing we need is PBS saying their viewers think Sarah Palin is qualified.

Yom Kippur

Today is the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur. It is the most important day of the Jewish calendar. Yom Kippur is also called the Day of Atonement in English. It is a time to amend behavior and seek forgiveness. This is the last of the high holy days of the Jewish calender.

Even if you are not Jewish sometimes it is a good idea to sit back and do a little reflection on who you are and what you are doing. Sometimes it is a good idea to ask yourself some tough questions about the way you are living your life. Are you happy? Why not? What would make you happier? Are you a positive influence in the world and in the lives of others, especially those closest to you?

Even if you are not a 'green', are you doing what you can to minimize your impact on our planet? If not, then why not? Are you making conscious decisions everyday to align your life more sympathetically with the Earth and your environment?

Are you at peace with yourself? Do you like yourself? Could you do better? Are you living from the heart or from the head? There are hundreds of questions and none of us that answer them truthfully won't see room for improvement.

Take some time today to reflect on your life and the world around you. Take some time today to reflect on your place in the world and remember to keep in mind the Eightfold Path -- Correct View, Intention, Speech, Action, Livelihood, Effort, Mindfulness, and Concentration.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

First CSA Box

I joined the just started CSA program (Community Supported Agriculture) here in Roswell and today was the first box of stuff. Veges and fruit, mostly local and all organic. There were a couple of items such as cauliflower and acorn squash from California but the rest is from the surrounding area. Tomatoes, basil, apples(yes more apples), grapes, pomegranate and plums along with zucchini and lettuce. Cool.
I signed for a month to start to see how it works and the first week is good.

Pretty Sad Showing

Did you watch the Presidential debate last night? Pretty sad wasn't it? Obama once again cleaned McCain's clock. McCain really showed his age last night and just doddered around the stage. His body language telegraphed his dislike of Obama as did the tone in his voice. It seems to me that he and his handlers learned nothing from the first debate. A lot of the negatives from that debate were about McCain's obvious distaste for Obama and the anger broadcast by his attitude. McCain did not seem to make any attempt to feign civility or respect for his opponent. It was a sad show.
All of the spot polls and a majority of the pundits are calling it a clear win for Obama...even some of the wingnut pundits.
I got the impression from McCain last night that he is just going through the motions now. He knows he has lost and he just wants this to be over so he can rest.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Still Going South

I took a break from (you know what) and checked the world. Looks like the Dow and other market indicators haven't found their bottom yet. The reality is that no one actually knows where that is. While the much heralded 'bailout' didn't seem to make a dent in the overall trend it is really not hard to understand when you look at the big picture and the big picture is very scary indeed.

The last financial report from Uncle Sam in September last year showed that the nation's real debt is actually about $53 trillion as of the end of the last fiscal year. Yesiree Bob that $700 billion is chump change compared to what we really owe. That figure BTW is the sum of our public debt which includes accrued civilian and military retirement benefits; unfunded, promised Social Security and Medicare benefits; and other financial obligations. Don't forget that we have been putting $10 billion on the Visa every month since then and continuing to issue T-Bills and borrow from the Social Security Trust. The U.S. is not alone as a bunch of other countries are in similar shape. A whole lot of us have been living a little "high on the hog" for way too many years.

Something has to give and this might be the turning point but no one really knows. All I can say is that I am going back to putting up apples and thinking about getting back out in the back 40 and getting the garden ready. Not a thing I can do about it right now. My retirement is committed to mutual funds both domestic and foreign and it is too late for me to fret about that. We need to figure out how our grandparents made it through the depression that is for sure.

Still Apples

Still busy with processing apples. More apple butter, and 12 pints of applesauce yesterday. It was good I wasn't paying attention during the wild market ride yesterday, as it was I was just filling jars and boiling them and peeling more apples. Two more bushels to go.
The campaigning is getting uglier as the McSame and Caribou Barbie are desperate and it shows. Even the crowds at campaign events are sensing the fear and reacting like animals. Doesn't really inspire one does it?
Town Hall style debate tonight with McBush buddy Brokaw in charge. McFuzzy has promised that tonight the "gloves are coming off" which I guess means he is going to call Obama a terrorist right to his face. Ought to be fun.
Off to put up another 6 pints of apple butter. Sure smells good in here.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Apple Picking Time

Updated below:
You know you are in the orchard and the apples are ripe when you can smell the vinegar in the air.The fallen apples have squashed and along with swarms of bees stealing bits of juice they have begun to ferment and the sweet/sour smell is almost overpowering. Everywhere you step you contribute to the riot of smells by mashing another apple or two under your feet. The bees fly up but immediately resettle on the newly mashed apples. There are plenty of apples still on the trees though and you drag your ladder around and around, spying a likely branch still loaded with ripe fruit. The bags fill up rapidly and before you know it three large grocery sacks are filled to overflowing with sweet smelling apples. Not sure of the variety but the tree is old and therefore it is not a new fangled apple but a Winesap, or Rome or some other old timer. Never mind it's name. It is sweet inside and even though it doesn't look like the grocery store apple, all polished and clean, its dull, blackspotted skin protects the juicy crunch inside and it will make fine apple butter or even applesauce.

Madam and I have been down the road apple picking apples this afternoon. A friend owns a large chunk of property including what remains of her family's farm (probably the first farm in this part of Georgia that wasn't a Cherokee farm). There are still old, old apple, pear, peach and persimmon trees scattered about the property and she invited us down to help ourselves as there we more than she and her partner could handle. The first batch of apple butter is in the crockpot and there are apples for at least two more.

Update: The first batch of apple butter is done. A large crockpot full of pared, cored and slice apples cooked down to 4 and a half pints of rich dark apple butter. All out of the water bath and cooling on the counter. Next batch is just starting to cook down. We haven't even started on the apples picked yesterday up the road. All of the apples processed so far came from those Madam picked on the Hewell Farm Saturday at the Turning and Burning. Still have three bushels or there abouts from yesterday's efforts. Looks like a couple of batches of applesauce are in order.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Fall Weekend

Updated below:

It's officially fall here in Georgia since this is the weekend of the 'Turnin' and Burnin' at the Hewell Family Pottery in Gillsville. This is the 19th year I think and for what started as a little family and neighbor thing it has really grown. Last year there were 30,000 people there. This is will be the first year I have not gone but Madam is there with the daughter who is selling her metal art. The report this morning is that things are selling and the crowd at 0830 in the morning is already large. I am going to miss the pinto beans and cornbread from the church tent though.

Madam is already dithering over some sweetgrass baskets for sale. There are two ladies from Mt. Pleasant(near Charleston) selling their handmade baskets which are evidently beautiful. We already have a few that we got during our trips to the coast.

Madam has already found me a split oak gathering basket from a man there and I am sure we will own another sweetgrass basket as well. The only thing is they are so beautiful and finely made that you are afraid to use them.

I am off to the back 40 with my bush cutter to finish clearing my garden spot. I have let it go fallow for several years and the wees have enjoyed the fertile garden soil. This will be the 3rd weekend of clearing but I should see the end today. I dragged out the chipper/shredder and the Troy-Bilt tiller last weekend and made sure they were all ready. I plan to have all the cleared brush shredded into mulch by the end of the day tomorrow and maybe even get a pass or two with the tiller in. BTW my Troy-Bilt is nearly 35 years old and still runs like a champ...they don't make them like that anymore.

Like I said I really haven't done any big gardening for years and I am excited about getting it going again. Yes, there are only two of us and why in the world would I work so hard tilling and tending a 10,000 sq ft. vegetable garden? Because it makes me happy and because the pleasure of planting seeds and watching them sprout and grow are immensely rewarding. I recommend it highly as therapy for the challenging world we live in. Don't even get me started about the delight in harvesting and eating your own vegetables.
Everybody have a great fall weekend. It is an absolutely fabulous fall day here in North Georgia and in spite of the drought we are going to play in the dirt.

Update: Added the picture of the two sweetgrass basket makers and some of their wares. We now own two more. OH, and on the left is Sharon Perkins on the right Doris and you can find them on the web at Sharon's Sweetgrass Baskets.

Friday, October 03, 2008

It's Toast

Well they passed the bailout or at least the Dems did and the Rethugs still stayed away in majority. Let us pray that this is just a temporary thing until the new administration is in place an Obama takes of his Reagan mask and actually begins to govern like a progressive.
This bill stinks to high heaven but as I have said I think it was a political necessity to get us by the election and into new water. Left as it is there is very little expectation that any of this vast amount of money will ever reach main street and what we will see is a repeat on a much larger scale is something similar to what Japan experienced and is still experiencing from their financial disaster in the '80s. We will enter a recession that will last for years and years and probably won't actually disappear until the financial system is truly fixed.
I am not sure but the time it took Bush to sign this sucker may have set a record...from Congress to White House to law in hours.
A few hours ago I though I was having cramps but is was just my wallet writhing in pain.

I'm Rich!

I've gotten this email 3 times today so it must be true. I don't remember Harry very well but I must have made a big impression on him. It would have been a little better if they had gotten the address of Monomark House correct, it is actually at 27 Old Gloucester St. and it also happens to be the address of any number of odd organizations mostly related to psychics and the such.



We act as solicitors and our services have been retained by Henry Toppin now late here in after referred to as our client. On behalf of late Henry Toppin , I write to notify you that my late client made you a beneficiary to the bequest sum of One Million, Seven Hundred Thousand British Pounds in the codicil to his will and last testament. Henry died on 8th day February 2004 after a brief illness at the age of 65. Until his death he was consultant to several oil and gas industries. He had a sojourn in the United States and so many other countries before he came to Cairn Energy PLC, United Kingdom. He was a knight in the Church and belonged to several non-governmental and scientific organizations. He was also great philanthropist and Fellow of the Rotary Club International. This bequest is to support your activities, humanitarian services and help to the less-privileged. In accordance with our inheritance laws you are required to forward the following details of yours; identification, full names, address, occupation, age, phone and fax numbers for verification and re-confirmation. Please acknowledge the receipt of this letter immediately.

Yours faithfully,
Raymond Greenfield Esq.

Going Up? Way Up?

I probably won't live long enough to see it come to fruition but just imagining it is a thrill. Back in 1979, Arthur C. Clarke's novel "The Fountains of Paradise" first brought the idea of a space elevator to us science fiction lovers. Like many of Clarke's visions this one is gaining speed and technology is rapidly making it more than a dream but a reality.

The concept involves hooking a very strong cable to the earth and extending it some 30,000 km out into space and attaching a counterweight. The laws of inertia say that such a construction would remain stable and in a geosynchronous orbit and allow people and material to be moved into space and back with little expenditure of energy.

The problems are getting something strong enough to withstand the tremendous force exerted on it by the counterweights tendency to fly off into space. Now with the development of carbon nanotubes a material of such strength is only years away.

The target is the 2030's so I just might get a chance to see it as I would only be in my late 70's or 80's. Mega cool!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

That Was Interesting

I watched the whole thing and it was painful. How can someone stand onstage for 90 minutes and not answer one question put to her. There were plenty of little winks and Jeebus I don't want to hear the maverick for weeks. Anyhow, Palin managed to get through it without a major embarrassment(except getting the General's name wrong) but it was very wind up Barbie and not really a good look at how she thinks on her feet. If she was'nt ready for a question it just disappeared and she rattled off some of the talking points she had rehearsed.
Biden, on the other hand, demonstrated great restraint and superior knowledge of the issues and actually answered the questions posed.
She won on the expectaions game because she really didn't screw it up but Joe Biden won the debate on substance. From a political perspective I don't think it really changed the dynamic of the campaign.

Going to Be Very Interesting

I will try and watch the debate tonight. It is not that I am expecting anything great to come out of it but I just want to be able to make an independent judgment on what happens. There is going to be one hell of a lot of spin from both sides. If 'Princess Caribou" manages to actually answer some of the questions with actual facts instead of broad generalities and puked up talking points she is going to granted winner status regardless. Both we on the left and the right have now set such low expectations she will have to be speechless, literally, to no exceed them.

Joe Bageant has some thoughts that shouldn't be ignored.

Sarah Palin's real coup is that she brings out the snobbery of the left in their dismissal of her as an ignorant hick typical of small town red state America. They vastly underestimate her. Just like they have underestimated George Bush for the past eight years. While they laughed, George Bush managed to get everything he wanted and assist the looting of America in his spare time. No matter that he is vastly unpopular now even among Republicans. He has fulfilled his purpose to the powerful corporations and financial institutions that animate American politics. You do not have to be smart to be president, just malleable to the greater forces at work.

Yet Palin is not stupid. She may be religious and a right winger, but that doesn't mean she is stupid and incompetent (neither of which ever prevented an astute American politician from success, by the way.) She may be the last person any thinking leftist would want to see as vice president, but so far Sarah Palin has been a very successful politician. She has a high domestic approval rating and has soared to the top in record time. And each time Democrats and liberals take a shot at her religious beliefs and moral choices, which just happen to be those of tens of millions of heartland voting Americans, she gains political ground, or at a minimum, holds some for herself and McCain.

There is, of course, more and we on the left have had our fun with Madam Palin but the 'he who laughs last' comes to mind. I have come to the belief that to underestimate the complete irrationality of the vast majority of my fellow Americans is folly of the highest order.

Political Necessity

I don't like it but the Senate, after loading the bailout with all kinds of crap passed the bailout with a solid majority. I think this is just an example of political necessity and after the new administration takes over we will see some proper legislation enacted. Obama surely knows that this bill will hamstring his ability to get anything progressive done and therefore means he is buying in to a one term presidency. He is smarter than that. The fear of what might happen in the capital markets in the near term drove this ugly piece of legislation over the finish line but everyone that is voting for it has decided that under the present political situation it is the best that can be done. I'm with Krugman on this...
"I think that Congressional leaders know that it’s a bad bill, but feel compelled to defend it, because they’re (rightly) scared of the financial consequences of a second rejection. And to some extent economists like myself are in the same position; I think I called it the “hold your nose caucus.”
We need to hold out noses for a few months until we get some semblance of 'real' government in position to do something right.