Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Food Safety Bill - Finally

While the House easily passed this important overhaul of the nation's food safety regulations well over a year ago the Senate finally beat down the ass holes that were holding it up and passed their version today. Even though it had bipartisan sponsorship -- three Democrats and three Republicans it still took over a year to bring it to a vote even in a year that saw  at least 1,300 salmonella-related illnesses spanning 22 states over the summer. The only issue will be how it can be reconciled with the different House bill in the short time remaining before the end of the year adjournment. One possibility is the House holding their noses and just passing the Senate version which could then go to the President.

While it is not a done deal at least there is something positive for a change.
The Senate on Tuesday passed a sweeping overhaul of the nation's food-safety system, after recalls of tainted eggs, peanut butter and spinach sickened thousands and led major food makers to join consumer advocates in demanding stronger government oversight.
The legislation, which passed by a vote of 73 to 25, would greatly strengthen the Food and Drug Administration, an agency that in recent decades focused more on policing medical products than ensuring the safety of foods. The bill is intended to get the government to crack down on unsafe foods before they harm people rather than after outbreaks occur.
While the bill is far from perfect it's a big step in the right direction.
Part of the problem is the growing industrialization and globalization of the nation's food supply. Nearly a fifth of the nation's food supply and as much as three-quarters of its seafood are imported, but the F.D.A. inspects less than one pound in a million of such imported foods. The bill gives the F.D.A. more control over food imports, including increased inspection of foreign processing plants and the ability to set standards for how fruits and vegetables are grown abroad.
And as food suppliers grow in size, problems at one facility can sicken thousands all over the country. The Peanut Corporation of America's contaminated paste was included in scores of cookies and snacks made by big and small companies. The legislation would raise standards at such plants by demanding that food companies write plans to manufacture foods safely and conduct routine tests to ensure that the plans are adequate.
The bill would give the F.D.A. the power to demand food recalls.... The legislation greatly increases the number of inspections the F.D.A. must conduct of food processing plants, with an emphasis on foods that are considered most high risk -- although figuring out which ones are riskiest is an uncertain science.

Broccoli In The Garden

One of the nice things about living in Georgia is that you can grow a fall garden that can even survive and prosper into winter if the weather cooperates. Left Leaning Lady asked me this morning what her broccoli should look like so here is a picture from in between the rain showers this afternoon. Looks good enough to eat!

Down We Go

Thanks to Cookie Jill over at Skippy's place here is a link to a must read over at the Great Orange Satan. It's basically a compilation of articles from the European press about where the U.S. sits in relation to other 'civilized' nations when it comes to health care, and other safety net issues. It will piss you off.

Here is just a sample:

(Daily Mail.co.uk) - America starves as executive pay rockets:
50MILLION people go hungry while Wall Street fatcats take home millions

By Daniel Bates
16th November 2010
A record one in six American families went hungry last year because they did not have enough food, a shock survey has revealed.
Some 17.4million U.S. households - 50 million people - were classified as ‘food insecure’ which meant they regularly skipped meals even if they wanted to eat. Others went for entire days without eating and handed round smaller portion sizes to make their meagre offerings suffice.
The news comes as it is revealed that top U.S. executives saw their pay and bonuses shoot up last year in the face of the worst recession for 80 years.
Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fresh Air Poisoning

I spent all afternoon gathering leaves for the garden and I moved a lot leaves. As a result I spent all afternoon out in the cool fresh air  and I it having its effect. It is only just before nine and I am rapidly falling into a coma. Gotta work tomorrow 9-6 so I have to be hitting the sack pretty quick. I should mention that my broccoli is looking great...picture perfect. I have finally bowed to the other gardeners that insist that you can't grow decent broccoli or cabbage down here in the South unless you grow it in the fall and winter. The broccoli this fall is twice the size of my spring crop and looks gorgeous. You get the added advantage with fall and winter gardening of no pests to speak of.

Leek and Potato Soup Kicked Up

I decided it was 'wintry' enough today to harvest some leeks from the garden and make a pot of leek and potato soup....real simple... roughly an equal amount of diced leeks and potatoes with enough chicken broth to cover. Simmer until the potatoes are done and then hit it with the immersion blender to your desired consistency. Tonight I kicked it up with a bit of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. It makes a different soup and it is very nice. I should add that I put dried thyme, a bay leaf and about a teaspoon of fresh garlic in the soup as well...just in case somebody jumps on this as some kind of recipe. I also sweat the leeks down before adding the broth and potatoes. Salt and pepper of course and you can make the soup richer by adding a bit of sour cream or yogurt as well. Minimonk doesn't eat vegetables but she eats this soup.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Into the Fray

I'm off for a 10 to 7 shift this morning. We'll see what Black Friday has to offer in my new environment. Forecast to be a rainy day so it is a good day to work. Still on the warm side at 54F this morning but it is supposed to drop over the weekend to more normal temperatures for this time of year. Just packed my regulation turkey sandwich and yes it has Miracle Whip on it and it is made with homemade sourdough whole wheat. Luckily I checked the turkey an hour and a half before I calculated it would be done and lo and behold it was done. Could have wound up with the classic Thanksgiving turkey served in most households if I hadn't been so anal.

Everyone enjoy their leftovers and for Goddess's sake try and refrain from making turkey noodle casserole or turkey divan. Surely there most be an intervention hot line somewhere that you can call when you find yourself reaching for the can of Cream of Mushroom soup. I mean really, there is turkey chili, turkey enchiladas, hot turkey sandwiches, cold turkey sandwiches, soup, turkey and dumplings, and on and on.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Reflections

I'll steal with thanks from Barbara at Mahablog.

There’s a bit of Zen liturgy called the “Five Reflections” or “Five Remembrances” that is chanted before meals; it’s sort of the Zen version of saying grace. There are a number of translations of the reflections floating around, but they all boil down to this:

First, reflect on all the work that went into putting the meal on the table. This goes beyond just the cooking. There are grocers and truckers and farmers and suppliers of farmers. And all of those people are sustained by food provided by other cooks and grocers and truckers and farmers and suppliers. And don’t forget the non-human creatures represented on the table, from the turkey to the dairy cows and even the bees who make pollination possible. If you think about it, you realize the food in front of you represents a huge web of relationships that spreads across the globe.

Second, reflect on whether you are contributing to the greater good with your own life, and if the work you do is sustaining other people as much as their work sustains you.

Third, reflect on not being greedy.

Fourth, reflect on what food is really about — keeping us alive and healthy.

Fifth, reflect on “attaining the Way,” or realizing enlightenment.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Well it is the day before and since Minimonk gave us a turkey which required a variance in the rules from Madam it looks like I will cook a bird tomorrow. It also means I have to do some of the traditional things like pumpkin pie and pecan pie(have you seen the price of pecans lately?). I am about to go get started on the early prep like baking cornbread for the dressing and cubing up some sourdough to dry out. I may bake pies tonight as well it... just depends on my mood. I worked Monday and Tuesday but don't have to go back until 10a on Friday. The job pretty much entails standing on your feet for 8 hours and it is going to take some getting used to. I appreciate the two days rest but I am going to blow some of it cooking.

UPS just arrived with my new Kindle. Just like Christmas early!

Everybody have a great holiday. If your are traveling, be safe. Give everyone in your family a big hug. Don't eat all the turkey in a single sitting because the whole reason to cook a turkey is for turkey sandwiches don't you know.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Just another example of the treasonous behavior of the GOP.  Here is Paul Krugman writing today about Alan Simpson's eagerness for a "bloodbath" when Republicans try to shut down the government next year:
How does this end? Mr. Obama is still talking about bipartisan outreach, and maybe if he caves in sufficiently he can avoid a federal shutdown this spring. But any respite would be only temporary; again, the G.O.P. is just not interested in helping a Democrat govern.
My sense is that most Americans still don’t understand this reality. They still imagine that when push comes to shove, our politicians will come together to do what’s necessary. But that was another country.
It’s hard to see how this situation is resolved without a major crisis of some kind. Mr. Simpson may or may not get the blood bath he craves this April, but there will be blood sooner or later. And we can only hope that the nation that emerges from that blood bath is still one we recognize.

Good Bye Avalon

Forty-seven years ago today I was in biology class when the announcement came over the loudspeaker from a stunned and almost speechless principal... American president John F. Kennedy was assassinated while riding in his motorcade in downtown Dallas, Texas.

He was the youngest man elected U.S. president and was killed by gunshots on November 22, 1963 as he rode in an open-top car.  He was 46 years old.

I always get a lump in my throat when I think about that day and the succeeding days watching the funeral.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

100 Books to Read

The BBC has a list of the top 100 must read books. Have you read more than six of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here. Like everyone else in the universe I have some issues with the list as I think Asimov's Foundation series belongs on the list as does the Future History series by Heinlein . I have a few other additions as well and a few deletions(The Bible?) but whatever. I have only read 45 of the list so I guess I should get busy. I mean seriously, how could they put Dune on the list and leave off Heinlein and Asimov?

Updated to add the missing #23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6 The Bible

7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis

34 Emma -Jane Austen

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel

52 Dune - Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding

69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

72 Dracula - Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses - James Joyce

76 The Inferno - Dante

77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal - Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession - AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Necessary Reading

Barbara at Mahablog has rounded up some necessary reading for us all that fleshes out her post on the doings of the GOP. The thrust of it all is that it has become obvious to most everybody that if you set out to purposely destroy the U.S. you couldn't do much better than what the GOP is doing now and planning to do in the near future. They want the President to fail so badly that they are willing to bring the nation down to accomplish their goals. It is the elephant in the room and I don't know whether it is going to get the treatment it deserves in the MSM.

This is important, and it relates to the recent post “Failure Is the GOP’s Only Option.” Please read:

Steve Benen, “None Dare Call It Sabotage.”
Kevn Drum, “The Liberal Noise Machine.”
Brad DeLong, “Paul Krugman on the Axis of Depression.”
BooMan, “Cynical or Crazy?

Blue Moon

Today is the third full moon in the last quarter which means it is officially a Blue Moon according to the Farmer's Almanac. I'm off today but there is bread to bake, leaves to round up and put in the garden and all kinds of little chores to be done. Working the afternoon/evening shift tomorrow so I have to get all the chores done today. Still haven't set a plan for Thanksgiving. Minimonk is going to drop off a large frozen turkey that was a gift and she doesn't want it. Madam is relenting and allowing it in the house. I guess I will be doing a turkey and there is a good possibility I will smoke it as a plain roasted turkey leaves me kind of cold. However, I do truly love a cornbread dressing which if nothing else will be on the menu for Thursday along with pumpkin pie. I have a nice ten pound pumpkin grown by my friends Carmen and Kelly down the street  that will make a couple of pies with room to spare. Can't let Thanksgiving pass without those two things.

We shall see if the weather cooperates for the turkey smoking. Right now there is a 20% chance of rain Tues, Wed and Thurs which is all the more reason I need to get out and get some leaves rounded up. If I have time I will also hook up the trailer and cruise the neighborhoods for other peoples leaves that they have bagged up and left on the street. I managed about 60 big bags for the garden last year which really helps the soil. Off to the leaves and don't forget to go out and relish the full 'blue' moon tonight.

Oh, and if you are traveling by air over the next few days...enjoy! I just had a friend return from Australia through LAX and his Facebook post wasn't very complimentary of the process. To make matters worse he is a Brit and none to pleased with Yankee sexual assault.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Small Thing

With all the kerfuffle about porno scans and sexual assault in the airports I am really, really glad I am not traveling on a weekly basis anymore. I am not sure I could keep my cool. I am pretty much convinced it is over the top and unnecessary. If you think about it...we were doing the shoes off and pat downs and scanners before 9/11 and it was pretty effective. Granted the system failed on 9/11 but ask yourself out of how many aircraft boardings in the U.S. on a yearly basis and you see that it was a rare occurrence. Note also that the security failure on 9/11 really belongs at the feet of Shrub. He and his crew ignoring the warnings about Al Qaeda and not upping the level of security played a huge part in allowing the event to come down.

My personal take on all this is that it is just another way for the fat cats to make money off the 9/11 tragedy at the expense of us regular Joes. If they can keep us off balance and willing to continue to give up our rights without a fuss they will soon have us where they want us and own us completely. We will be begging them for jobs, no matter how menial and we might even have to beg them for food and shelter before it is all over. If we keep giving up our rights and they continue to take more and more of the economic pie we won't be that far from good old feudalism.

Win One, Lose One

The House did something good today and something bad today. The good thing was killing the GOP effort to remove funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and unfortunately the bad thing was not extending the unemployment benefits authorization. Those people that have not used all their 99 weeks of benefits  as of December aren't going to be able to it appears. Just hide and watch... now that that they have told the unemployed to fuck off and die they will debate the pros and cons of giving the wealthiest 2% of the country a continued tax break on all their income over $250,000.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dark Ages...Woot!

Paul Krugman again. No since in me trying to paraphrase it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Two 8 hour days of web/computer based training and I am officially zoned. My eyes look like two pee holes in a snow bank. Anyway that part is over and now I am actually in front of customers. People may smirk and call me a wimp but standing on your feet all day is hard. My back is killing me. Two extra strength Advil chased with a couple of glasses of "three buck chuck" is what I self prescribed. I'm now off for two days so I will recover by Friday.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Still Here

I'm still here just busy with the new gig. I'll be back to my regular routine in a couple of days.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Another Glorious Fall Day

I took advantage of another beautiful day and got a lot of clean up done in the garden. All the peppers are out as are the okra trees(seriously). Believe it or not I still found a peck of peppers as I pulled up the plants even after the huge harvest a couple of days ago. Big pile of stuff to compost but I'll wait to drag out the chipper until I am done making piles.

Tomorrow is my first actual day in the new part time gig. We'll see how that goes. Only orientation and training but it is actually going to be on the clock. The last time I earned this low a wage was when I first went in the Navy back in the mid sixties as a seaman apprentice but I am actually looking forward to getting out and about. It is not in a cubicle nor does it require travel and weeks away from home which is a good thing. Now that winter is just about here and all the gardening chores are not part of the daily routine I need something to keep my brain working. As I said, Madam was beginning to accuse me of getting "hermity". What is sort of funny is that my new employer actually paid me(my company) about 30 times more an hour just three years ago for my expertise. It is to laugh.

I did go out and get a flu shot today in preparation for interacting with the public on a daily basis...better safe than sorry.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

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

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

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

This poem "In Flanders Field" is a poem written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae in a cemetery in the Flanders region of Belgium on May 3, 1915, the day after the death of his young friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer.

This is probably the most famous poem written during World War I and the poppies they immortalize, have come to symbolize the fallen soldiers of WWI.

I salute you comrades. To all of us that have worn the uniform or still wear the uniform and especially those who have laid their lives upon the alter of war, my most humble thank you.

The painting of Flanders Field is by Willy Werner

Not Serious

Here is all you need to know about the report yesterday from the Deficit Commission. It is best thing I've read so far on the Bowles-Simpson trial balloon.

This covers all you need to know. These people aren't really serious about deficit reduction because all our problems are with health care costs and they aren't really being addressed. As I have said before, any deficit discussion you hear from someone that mentions Social Security with respect to the deficit you can immediately ignore because they are ignorant and/or just bullshitting you.

It is really galling to read article after article in the media that don't make the point that Social Security is not part of our deficit problem. A tiny tweak to the amount of income subject to SS taxes would make it solvent forever.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Attack On Social Security Begins In Earnest

via TPM

Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, the chairs of the catfood commission, have issued their draft recommendations, and they are pretty much a whack at the middle and lower classes, as you would expect.
The plan would reduce Social Security benefits to most future retirees — low-income people would get a higher benefit — and it would subject higher levels of income to payroll taxes to ensure Social Security’s solvency for at least the next 75 years.
But the plan would not count any savings from Social Security toward meeting the overall deficit-reduction goal set by Mr. Obama, reflecting the chairmen’s sensitivity to liberal critics who have complained that Social Security should be fixed only for its own sake, not to balance the nation’s books.
The proposed simplification of the tax code would repeal or modify a number of popular tax breaks — including the deductibility of mortgage interest payments — so that income tax rates could be reduced across the board. Under the plan, individual income tax rates would decline to as low as 8 percent on the lowest income bracket (now 10 percent) and to 23 percent on the highest bracket (now 35 percent). The corporate tax rate, now 35 percent, would also be reduced, to as low as 26 percent.
Surpise, surprise, the wealthy get lower taxes, we lose our mortgage interest deduction,  and not only that but we get a cut in Social Security and a raise in the retirement age to boot. These people are still rolling Medicare and Social Security into the government deficits...which they are not. They are separately funded and their cost does not come out of the general fund. Note also that the commission was created to address the deficit and not entitlements.

Among other recommendations:
  • Index the retirement age to longevity -- i.e., increase the retirement age to qualify for Social Security -- to age 69 by 2075.
  • Index Social Security yearly increases to inflation rather than wages.
  • Freeze federal worker wage increases through 2014; eliminate 200,000 federal jobs by 2020; and eliminate 250,000 federal non-defense contractor jobs by 2015
  • Establish co-pays in the VA medical system and change the co-pays and deductibles for military retirees that remain in that system.
  • Eliminate NASA funding for commercial space flight.
  • Require the Smithsonian museums to start charging entrance fees and raise fees at the national parks.
  • Eliminate funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting -- which many conservatives suggested in the wake of the firing of former NPR contributor Juan Williams.
  • Reduce farm subsidies by $3 billion per year.
Mind you, this is not the actual full recommendation of the commission, which requires 14 of the 18 members to sign off. Supposedly its a starting point to get the ball rolling on getting the full commissions approval.  Couple this with Pete Peterson's new attacks on Social Security and I think we are beginning to see an all out effort to finalize the plutocracy. Without Social Security, viable health care and the rest of the social support network we will be at the mercy of the plutocrats. They will, in short order, and thanks to the GOP be completely free of any government oversight and they will have us at their mercy. We will survive or die at their whim and we will survive only if it profits them.

You can read the draft plan here.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Campfire Marshmallows

For some reason these things crossed my mind today and I have been thinking about them ever since. Do you remember when marshmallows came packaged this way? These were the days when they were molded in a corn starch lined mold and not extruded as they are today. The ones in the box were perfect little dusty gems of chewy goodness and were perfect roasted over an open fire. Just another example of "modern" production methods taking away something special.

photo credit: Don Johnson

Lame Duck = Action Time

Go for broke is what I say.

People, especially the GOP, seem to be overlooking the fact that the Democrats are still in the majority in both houses and have the Presidency. Cantor and the rest are already giving orders and ultimatums but the fat lady ain't sung yet.

The Democrats don't have much to lose if they take some serious action in the lame duck session. They have the power to get rid of the filibuster rule and they should. It is the primary cause for most of our trouble right now with respect to the economy. If we hadn't had to appease the conservatives we might have actually gotten some real stimulus. The Democrats should forget bipartisan anything and just ramrod through what they want. Tax cuts the way they want them, DADT, the energy bill the house already passed, more stimulus, extend unemployment benefits, hell, even create a single payer health care or extend Medicare to all, whatever. While they are at it they should raise the debt ceiling as well to take that stick out of the GOP's hands in the new congress.

Kill the filibuster and get some stuff done now because it sure won't get done in the next congress. What's the downside? The Republicans will howl and sling socialist and Hitler around but what's new? Maybe it will push Limbaugh and Beck over the edge and we'll get a twofer.

I know, I know wishful thinking but it is fun to imagine the ruckus it would create.

Fried Green Tomatoes the First Frost Treat

One of the things about having your first frost of the season is that it forces you do pick all of the green tomatoes still hanging around. Once the vine has been frosted and is dying the tomatoes won't grow any more and a hard freeze will ruin them as well. The highlight is that you are forced to do something with them and around chez Monk the answer is Fried Green Tomatoes which both Madam and I love. You can follow the link to my recipe but there are hundreds available around the tubes. For all you non southerners and Europeans that stop in here I would encourage you to give them a try if you have never had them. When properly prepared they are crunchy on the outside and tart and juicy in the center and a great side dish and for the daring they make a great addition to a burger or a roasted red pepper sandwich. We had a dinner from the garden last night with fried green tomatoes, freshly picked spinach and a radish, cucumber and red onion salad. There was a roasted  balsamic pork tenderloin but that didn't come from the garden.

I've got quite a few green Roma tomatoes that are begging to be green tomato relish or green tomato chutney but I am having trouble working up the spit to do it. It would be a shame to let them go to waste. Yeah, they will ripen but letting them ripen off the vine produces a rather bland tomato just like you get from the grocery.

Breakfast Deer

Our family of deer decided to visit during breakfast this morning. A little snack of liriope and a bit of hydrangea with a little sip from the birdbath. Just barely light enough to get a picture. The smallest one in the middle is my friend from yesterday's adventure in the garden. Mama is the one in the back.

Monday, November 08, 2010

What's Up Deer?

I've just come in from the garden and had a interesting experience. I was busily weeding a bit around the cabbage when I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye. I slowly turned and there was a young deer, probably this spring's crop, standing not ten feet from me giving me the eye. I slowly straightened and it just stood there for 3 or 4 minutes and then turned and walked away to the other side of the garden and proceeded to graze along the fence. I went back to work and maybe 20 minutes later it was there again just staring at me with the occasion flick of the ears. Again, after a few minutes it wandered off, jumped the fence, and disappeared in the woods. This time of year the bucks can get aggressive during the rut and occasionally challenge you but this one was just curious I guess. It was a feel good experience and I did say hello but since I didn't know its true name it felt justified in ignoring me.

It is also rather puzzling why a lot of the things we grow for food such as cabbage, broccoli, turnips, etc. don't seem to interest the deer at all but they seem to relish the parts of other crops but mostly only the parts we don't eat like sweet potato vines and okra leaves. They do, however, have a taste for chard, spinach and beet tops.  I guess I should be glad they don't like it all.

First Frost

We had our first frost over the weekend as the temp on Saturday night fell to 29F. Needless to say the non frost hardy stuff took it hard. The last struggling tomatoes are now burned and gone. There weren't many and there are a few green tomatoes (all Roma) to pick and the plants to get composted. The frost hardy stuff is doing fine and cabbages are starting to head and broccoli starting to form crowns. A little warmer this week so no more danger of additional damage for a while.

I did finally dig up what few sweet potatoes survived the deer depredation and it was pitiful. Maybe 20 proper tubers and there rest just enlarged roots. A lot of work for such a small reward. I can feel the 100 feet of digging this morning in my back and shoulders. I had planted the sweet potatoes on the eastern end of the garden which is where the best soil is but the area gets morning shade and I think the lack of morning sun and the deer in combination did the trick. I'll move them back to the western end next year and while the soil is not as good it seems a full day of sun is more important to sweet potatoes than good soil. Lesson learned.

I am off to do a little more garden clean up since it is a shame to waste another glorious fall day.

Supposed to start my new part time job on Thursday as it seems I passed all the checks and they evidently didn't test for Cabernet. Not that I expect more than a few hours a week but I had better get as much work done around here before that begins.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Made In the U.S.A.

I meant to mention this the other day. I went out to get some shoes last weekend and since I was very happy with the New Balance 992's I got last year and very, very happy that they were made in the U.S.A., I went to the New Balance store again. The 992's have been replaced by the 993 but are basically the same only they now come in black, navy and the original gray. They are still made in the U.S.A. and New Balance has several other lines of shoes that are made in the U.S.A. I like that. So, if you are looking for running shoes, walking shoes or other athletic shoe and have access to a New Balance outlet. Check them out as they are the only company still making some of their athletic shoes here at home. The New Balance shoes you will find in stores like Kohl's, Dillard's or Target will most likely be foreign made. You'll probably have to either go to a New Balance shop or order them online to find American made ones.

Peppers, Peppers

Since we are supposed to get a frost tomorrow night it was time to pick any straggler peppers in the garden. I took the green garden basket. I had to make three trips back to the house to get another container. Somehow, in the last couple of weeks, since I did what I thought was the last big pepper picking things grew. As you can see the community charity food pantry will get lots of peppers in the morning.

Ancient Baking

I finally found a source for emmer wheat(Triticum dicoccum) known as farro in Italy. It is an ancient variety of wheat with fewer chromosomes in its DNA than modern wheat. So I ordered a 4.5 pound bag of emmer wheat flour from Bluebird Grain Farms and it got here the other day. Since it is raining and cold I do what I always do and bake. I've got a batch of emmer sourdough proofing and we'll see what this ancient grain is all about. Since it is probably one of the first grains domesticated by man I thought is would be fun to try. Emmer has all but disappeared from cultivation except in Italy where they grow it mostly for cereal. In the Middle East it was supplanted by barley as the main grain since barley is more tolerant of salty soil caused by irrigation.

Since the DNA is different in emmer(28 chromosomes versus 42 for modern wheat) and it is lower in gluten(and the gluten is different) there is some information that says people with gluten issues can tolerate this flour. I don't have any problems with gluten so I am just trying it for the flavor and experience of baking with such an ancient grain. The bread I have proofing right now is only 50% emmer wheat and the rest is bread flour and it is my standard bread for everyday baking. I just substituted the emmer wheat for the whole wheat I normally use. If this makes a nice loaf at 50% I'll up the percentage 10 % and try again until the lower gluten in the emmer causes the bread to fail. By fail I mean the bread won't be able to support itself and rise. We will just have to see if this ancient flour is worth its high price since it is about 30% more expensive than other organic whole grain flours.

Shot in Foot...Must Reload

Thanks to Mustang Bobby at BBWW for pointing this out. As usual Mark cuts to the chase and says it pretty much as it is. Yes, the performance of the Obama administration and the Dems was disappointing but at least they were trying to govern and battling a giant NO every where they looked. Maybe the incumbent Dems needed to have a knot jerked into their string but now that the GOP is back in power, which is all they care about...power, not governing, we'll see a terrific mess. I can't wait for the tea party yahoos to realize that the GOP is going to do the will of their corporate and wealthy owners and not kowtow to the wishes of the peon tea baggers.

Mark Moford at SF Gate sends a letter to a whiny young Democrat.
Oh, now you've done it.

See? You see what happens when you young liberal voters get so disgruntled and disillusioned that you drop all your party's newborn, hard-won ideas about Hope™ and Change™, without any patience, without really giving them sufficient time to mature, without understanding that hugely foreign, anti-American concept known as "the long view"?

See what happens when you wallow in hollow disappointment, trudging all over your liberal arts campus and refusing to vote in a rather important mid-term election, all because your pet issues and nubile ego weren't immediately serviced by a mesmerizing guy named Barack Obama just after he sucked you into his web of fuzzyhappy promises a mere two years ago, back when you were knee-high to a shiny liberal ideology?

Well, now you know. This is what happens: The U.S. House of Representatives, the most insufferable gaggle of political mongrels this side of, well, the rest of Congress, reverts to GOP control like a brain tumor reverts to a more aggressive form of cancer, and everything gets bleaker and sadder and, frankly, a whole lot nastier.

What happens is: Many kinds of fragmented, muddled, but still constructive Democratic progress might get stopped quite nearly dead, and even a few pieces of legislation we actually did gain get slapped around, threatened, stomped on the head like a scientist at a Rand Paul rally. Happy now?


So here's what you need to know, right now: Barack Obama is, and will continue to be, a bit of goddamn miracle. He's simply as good as we're going get for an articulate, thoughtful, integrity-rich Democratic prez in your lifetime. Period. To hamstring his administration out of spite and laziness is childish and sad. Check the accomplishments. Understand the process. Deal with the messiness.

It will never be perfect. It will never be giddy liberal nirvana, because it doesn't work that way. Politics is corrosive and infuriating, de facto and by definition, even with someone as thoughtful as Obama in the Big Chair. Understand it. Deal with it. Get back in the game. If you don't, we all lose.

Your choice, kiddo.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Missed Opportunity

What Athenae Said.

So there's going to be a lot of ink expended over the next couple of weeks trying to figure out how this happened, as if it's a goddamn mystery. This economy blows goats, and instead of being out there every day yelling HEY WE TRIED TO FIX IT THOSE FUCKERS WOULDN'T LET US ALSO BUSH BAILED OUT THE BANKS NOT US, Democrats pretty much figured the midterms were gonna be a bloodbath and hunkered down and hoped it wouldn't hit them too hard. Because that works. That always works.

Here's the problem, you gutless fucks. You had majorities. And I KNOW, okay, but all America sees is that you had majorities and you wasted them. Because that's what the GOP told them, and you said, "buh buh buh" and couldn't point to anything you did right, not even with the unwashed hippies holding your arm up for you. You had majorities, and you had Harry Reid, refusing to be mean to Republicans by shoving stuff through. You had majorities, and you had Barack Obama acting like he was already an ex-president and could be gracious and social with these pricks. You had majorities, used them to do some stuff, and then sat back and acted like we should be grateful when we can fucking count.

We can fucking count, out here. We know what 51 means. We know what 257 means. We're not morons. And all the procedural whatsit you argue today, about ConservaDems and Blue Dogs, doesn't mean shit. You had it, and we worked hard to give it to you, and we see you calling things impossible which are just very hard, and we get fucking annoyed, because we don't get to get away with that shit. Not at our jobs and not in our lives.

Now, I'm not excusing the Party of I Hate You or these teabagging excuses for human beings who think education is vaguely homosexual in some sinister way, but I am saying that the lesson we're all going to take away from this is that America just isn't a Democratic nation and we should all tack to the right and us hippies should just die in a fire already, which is bullshit. The lesson we should take away from this is that America doesn't like [wimps], doesn't like whiners and it sure as fuck doesn't like parties that pretend to be able to do less than they can do just because they don't want to work that hard or have Chris Matthews call them mean.

You had majorities. You had power and you told us you were powerless. Why would anyone reward that with more power? Why would anyone think that's a good idea?

Go leave her some love.

That Was Ugly

Wow! That was one ugly election for the Democrats. Now we get to see how badly the GOP screws things up. It is going to be ugly. Here in Georgia the GOP took every race. Ouch!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Lots of Voters

I just came back from voting and was surprised by the number of people. I was expecting to zip through. The lines weren't as large as the 2008 elections but were respectable. Anyhow, maybe that portends well for Dems as the spread between registered voters and likely voters has never been so large.

I was also reminded by the ballot that U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga) was unopposed which just pisses me off no end. To be honest this is such a hard GOP district that I don't believe a Democrat has ever been elected and it has now been gerrymandered so hard to the right that it will probably never happen.

One More Time

If you’re really, really still planning to shirk your civic duty by not voting today, watch this video and remind yourself of exactly what has been accomplished so far by President Obama and the Democrats in spite of the monstrous stonewalling by the GOP...check out what the fuck Obama has done so far, and then do what is right and go vote.

Oh, and if you don't know where to vote then find your polling place here.

And if you would like some help on deciding who/what to vote for...Find a Local Progressive Voter Guide

Monday, November 01, 2010

Last Chance

Tomorrow is going to be your last chance to do a prevent on the upcoming Congressional disaster. If you are keen on two or more years of gridlock and insanity running your government then stay at home and don't go out and vote for a Democrat. This is a big deal and by not voting you are handing the reins to the GOP and I hope you enjoy the result. The polls are showing that if more registered voters went to the polls the outcome would be for Dems but the enthusiasm gap is causing many Democratic and Independent voters to stay at home. It's a damn shame and it is going to make me really irritated when we see the carnage tomorrow night.