Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Winter Excitement

This time of year we gardeners start getting our seed catalogs for next year. All the 'varieties' and, for the last few years, rediscovered heirlooms. So far the Park's, Seed Savers, Seeds of Change, Jackson Perkins and The Cook's Garden have come. This is first year I have received the last one and I didn't ask for it but it looks like a good one. Lots of organic seeds and varieties you don't see in the regular catalogs.
The Seed Savers Exchange is brilliant again this year and you can't help but want some of everything. All heirloom and some very hard to find varieties. Gardner candy for sure. My lists will be made in the next few weeks and I will have the seeds on order soon after...I need a bigger garden.


The latest news that our elected representatives are richer and that we are poorer is one of those "duh" pieces of news. Why else do they vote to protect the 1% over the 99%? They are part of the 1%...duh!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas everyone!

Even though I have to work from 11a to 5p today I've already gotten a start on things. Up well before light and off to the market to beat the rush. I had settled on a nice brined pork loin but as luck would have it the market only had some prepared ones stuffed with various things like spinach and feta and apples and cranberries. As the Goddess would have it there were some excellent beef rib roasts and were on offer at $9.99 a pound. Picked out a nicely marbled specimen that came in at just under 7 pounds so it is back to my original thought of traditional British fare with roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. We'll also have some grilled asparagus(from Peru unfortunately), proper English style roasted potatoes(par boiled and then roast in oil in a very hot oven), green beans, and fresh bread. Oh! and real gravy for the Yorkshire pudding.
Dessert will offer pumpkin pie and/or pecan pie and any or all of the assorted cookies I just baked.
I picked a nice Claret for the dinner wine and we have Champagne or Prosecco with the dessert.
Everyone but me has decided to go see the new movie War Horse after dinner but I will stay home and baby sit the mini monk's dogs. We might even snack on a bit of left over roasted beast.

Everyone have a lovely holiday and be safe.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

It's The Season

I had to drive out to Tractor Supply this morning to get bird seed and it is out in the country a bit. On the way back it dawned on me why I was feeling a bit down over the upcoming holiday. I needed to make cookies! After a quick stop for some supplies I came home and went into cookie baking hyperdrive. Company's Coming Oatmeal cookies, pecan sandies, old fashioned molasses ginger cookies, pecan and cranberry biscotti and last but not least a big batch of Chex snack mix(my own kicked up recipe of course). Since the oven was still warm from the cookies I even made fresh buttermilk biscuits loaded with Honey Baked ham for dinner. A fine day of baking. I feel much better now. I'm scheduled to work tomorrow and Christmas eve but we are closing at 5pm Christmas eve so I will get to enjoy the holiday. Still haven't settled on the menu for Christmas Day but it is leaning British with a roast prime rib and Yorkshire pudding.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Winter Solstice

Tonight is the Winter Solstice so take advantage of the triumph by the Sun over darkness to cast your wishes for the coming year and beyond. I don't have to be at work until 3pm today so I managed to get a session in the gym in and I always feel good about that. It has been about three months or so since I started this workout business and I think I can detect some changes. If nothing else I am definitely stronger judging by the increasing weights I can push around.

Today is a "potluck" at the store and since I am coming in late and am sure most everything will be either gone or be well on its way to spoiled, I decided to take something sweet. We'll see how a big tray of  sliced panettone goes over with this crowd. Madam waits all year for the season and the panettone. We have gone through two already and there is one more in the queue. While they are sinfully good I need to limit myself to a small slice now and again but a small slice spread with a little marscapone is a very nice treat indeed. A double espresso is brilliant on the side but then so is a cool, bubbly glass of prosecco or champagne.

Enjoy the longest night of the year and now we can look forward to longer days and spring even though it is the first of winter.

Monday, December 19, 2011

What's Over?

How can the "war" in Iraq be over when we never declared "war" in the first place? Just asking.

Mail Merge Weirdness

I have been trying to do a mail merge in Word 2010 with my xmas addresses in an Excel 2010 spreadsheet. It refuses to do more than 105 addresses. I recreated the spreadsheet and even reduced it to only the necessary fields (took out phone numbers etc.). I finally had to create a second spreadsheet for the balance of the addresses before I could get all the labels printed. Very strange.
I should say that Word 2010 is pretty easy to use and has a lot more power than older versions. I created the entire newsletter in no time with pictures and everything. Almost like they rolled all the stuff that used to be in Publisher into Word.

Not So Exciting

When you sit down to do your Christmas newsletter and can't fill a page you know you need to rev it up a little. This was a very quiet year. Madam got a new knee. I worked. We gardened. Everybody is in pretty good shape for the shape they are in.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Not A Problem

You can read the details here at Digby's place but in a nutshell, the Russians studying the East Siberian Ice Shelf are reporting massive up-wellings of methane gas from underneath the ice shelf. In a sane world this news would shock and dismay most people but in the world we are living in such tragic news doesn't even hit the papers in the U.S. It should be a headline.
Why the concern? Methane, in the near term, is 72 times more effective at trapping heat that CO2  which means that we are all going to be closer to the beach in the very near future. Well, some of us might have to tread water for awhile but you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.
Besides our leaders have to resolve all the problems around gays in the military and how to keep us 99% a little more timid. Expect some really "good shit" in the tap water soon.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Newt and Palestine

As unusual as it is, Newt is partially correct in stating that Palestine is a "made up state" but also, as usual, he leaves out some facts that most Americans either don't know or choose not to remember. True...Palestine didn't exist before 1920 when it was created as a "pseudo state" by Britain in breaking up the Ottoman Empire. There is no distinct Palestinian language and history and effectively they are Arabs just like most of their neighbors. By the same token Israel is a "made up state" as well. It was created in 1947 when the UN decided to partition Palestine and create the state of Israel. You could say that the "Palestinian state" predates the state of Israel.
It should also never be forgotten that Israel would not exist today were it not for the billions and billions of dollars(in cold hard cash and military aid) pumped into it by the U.S. since its founding. Israel never has been able to stand on its own two feet and probably never will. The harsh reality is that Israel is somewhat of a rogue state and its actions with respect to the Palestinians are in violation of numerous UN sanctions and the Geneva Conventions.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Make It Stop

Hours are up at my "part time" job and in some ways that is good. I'm off again this morning but the real problem is the music. Hour after hour, day after day of the same loop of pablum Xmas music. The same songs over and over. The really horrible part is that you find yourself humming along and realize that your "soul" is gradually dissipating into a plastic tree forest with days more of the pain immediately ahead. It's going to be a long haul.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

All You Need to Know

All you really need to know about the Republican's amongst you is that they now consider Newt the best they have to offer for the presidency. It's very sad.

Need Fast Ship

It's very exciting to hear that scientists have found a new planet that appears to be very earth like and it is only 600 light years away.  We should be putting every spare penny into the FTL (faster than light) spaceship research because we are going to need to get the hell out of here real soon.

Global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel burning jumped by the largest amount on record last year, upending the notion that the brief decline during the recession might persist through the recovery.

Emissions rose 5.9 percent in 2010, according to an analysis released Sunday by the Global Carbon Project, an international collaboration of scientists tracking the numbers. Scientists with the group said the increase, a half-billion extra tons of carbon pumped into the air, was almost certainly the largest absolute jump in any year since the Industrial Revolution, and the largest percentage increase since 2003.

The increase solidified a trend of ever-rising emissions that scientists fear will make it difficult, if not impossible, to forestall severe climate change in coming decades.

Friday, December 02, 2011

What A Pain

Another 4 hour shift at you know where this evening (4:45-8:45)...what a pain and what a way to ruin what has been a pretty productive day. Good two hour workout, more computer recovery, etc. The silver lining, as it were, is that I am scheduled for the outside garden and not returns. Thank the Goddess!

You Want Rights? Show Me The Money

Governor Walker needs to be educated on exactly what the word 'abridged' means.

Gov. Scott Walker’s administration could hold demonstrators at the Capitol liable for the cost of extra police or cleanup and repairs after protests, under a new policy unveiled Thursday.
The rules, which several legal experts said raised serious free speech concerns, seemed likely to add to the controversy that has simmered all year over demonstrations in the state’s seat of government.
The policy, which also requires permits for events at the statehouse and other state buildings, took effect Thursday and will be phased in by Dec. 16. Walker administration officials contend the policy simply clarifies existing rules. State law already says public officials may issue permits for the use of state facilities, and applicants “shall be liable to the state . . . for any expense arising out of any such use and for such sum as the managing authority may charge for such use.”
But Edward Fallone, an associate professor at Marquette University Law School, said the possibility of charging demonstrators for police costs might be problematic because some groups might not be able to afford to pay. “I’m a little skeptical about charging people to express their First Amendment opinion,” he said. “You can’t really put a price tag on the First Amendment.”
My best guess is that this idea would not stand up to a court challenge but I'm no lawyer.

China Syndrome

Just how close did we come to a "china syndrome" at Japan's Fukushima plant?
With each report, it just gets worse. Early on they reported the possibility of some meltdown but now we find that we came damn close to a complete melt through. Or at least that is the story so far. I won't be surprised to learn that we did, in fact, melt down completely once more of the truth comes out. So far TEPCO has been rather timid about telling the whole truth about what they know.
Molten nuclear fuel at Japan's Fukushima plant might have eaten two thirds of the way through a concrete containment base, its operator said, citing a new simulation of the extent of the March disaster. Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) said their latest calculations showed the fuel inside the No. 1 reactor at the tsunami-hit plant could have melted entirely, dropping through its inner casing and eroding a concrete base. [...]
Until now, TEPCO had said some fuel melted through the inner pressure vessel and dropped to the containment vessel, without saying how much and what it did to the concrete, citing a lack of data.
"Almost no fuel remains at its original position," TEPCO said in the report.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Not Easy

Finally, a day off. This new computer scheduling is not so hot since it is scheduling me and others for four or five hour shifts which means these tiny shifts are ruining what would have been a whole day off. It is also a pain to have to get ready and drive to the store for just 4 hours. To add insult to injury I've been put on returns for the last 4 straight days which really sucks and especially so at the end of the month when contractors are cleaning out material they've over bought. You get boxes of pipe fittings and electrical stuff(with no receipts). A lot of the stuff no longer has readable UPC's so its a major headache. Thanks goodness I am scheduled for the outside garden for the rest of the week and I can just freeze to death instead.

Still on the marathon of restoring my new computer. Most everything is back....though I had a battle with Itunes. I had to go out and buy a utility (CopyTrans) to restore my music libraries back into a new install of Itunes from my Ipod Touch. The good news is that the CopyTrans program was a snap and did everything, music, playlists, stats with the click of a button. I love it when a program does what it is supposed to do with no hoohah. All the finance stuff is back into Quicken with the exception of my IRA, Roth stuff. I'll work on that today but it will be all manual since it is not available as a data file...Quicken or other. It is at least online.

I'm also trying to catch up on my reading(online) which is a challenge since Google Reader indicated I had a couple of thousand things to sort through. It is amazing how much stuff gets generated in just a few days. One thing is apparent though, and that is the Rethugs are getting dumber and more dangerous everyday.

Monday, November 28, 2011

They're Laughing At Us

Now that  Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News won their court case against the Fed and a group of the biggest U.S. banks called Clearing House Association LLC we now know just how much the our overlords got from the Fed while the rest of us saw our jobs and savings go away and the economy tanked..

Remember that Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke argued that revealing borrower details would create a stigma as investors and counter parties would avoid firms that used the central bank as lender of last resort.

The amount of money the central bank parceled was staggering.  Including  guarantees and lending limits the Fed committed $7.77 trillion as of March 2009 to rescuing the financial system. Do the math and you will see that that is more than half the value of everything produced in the U.S. that year. It dwarfs the Treasury Department’s better-known $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.

All the while these SOB's were taking the equivalent of half of the U.S. GDP the were loudly whining and screaming about socialism and government involvement in the markets.

This revelation should make the average Joe insanely mad and disgusted, especially if they also reveal that nothing has changed at the "too big to fail" banks. They are still sucking billions out of the economy with shady, high risk deals and exotic debt instruments and not adding any real value. What happens during the next crisis? You know there will be one since nothing has changed.

You can also bet that they are laughing at us rubes because they know that we are going to re-elect their enablers next year and the party will continue.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday - Oh Boy!

The holiday is over and I am getting ready to head out and face the crowds on Black Friday. I work from 9a to 6p and there are quite a lot of good offers in the brochure...especially tools and appliances. Hopefully it won't be too insane and I will emerge unscathed but I am not looking forward to the next 9 hours. I can hope that most of the crazy shoppers will have done their shopping before I go on at 9.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

A Happy Thanksgiving to all! Everyone have a safe wonderful day. Going to be low key here at Chez Monk since it will just be Madam and I. Since Madam has no love for turkey it will be a slow cooked Boston butt brined in Winter Spices (black pepper, allspice, bay, cardamom, coriander, juniper berries) along with sweet potatoes, cornbread dressing, butter peas, etc.. and, of course, pumpkin pie with whipped cream.
We've started out with buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup and bacon for breakfast so we are on the road for a feast day.
I hope your feast, whether traditional or not is full of fun. Since I have to work 9a to 6p tomorrow I also need to rest up for Black Friday which I am fearing will be a madhouse. Cheers to all!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dragon's Loss

Fantasy author Anne McCaffrey passed away yesterday.

She was the first woman to win a Hugo Award.

I was a huge fan of her work and cherish the time I spent with her wonderful fiction. I've read all the Pern books numerous times and most of her other works multiple times as well. I would be hard pressed not to call her my favorite.

May the Goddess watch over her and she find her way to the Summerlands.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


The whole police/thugs response to the various OWS demonstrations around the country have, for weeks, depressed and saddened me. The incident at UC Davis has moved me beyond sad and angry into heartbroken. I keep asking myself how my America got to where this could happen...on a college campus no less, and then I remember Kent State. The same shock and horror. The sad reality is that this whole incident  and to a large degree the whole OWS phenomenon reflects the deterioration of America.
I'm just waiting for assault charges to be brought against Officer Pike and his buddies.

It's going to be somewhat quiet around these parts as I am working everyday for a week. We are now being scheduled by a computer and the first two weeks suck big time. I have multiple days where I have only a four hour shift which really shoots a day without much reward. Maybe it will get better.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I awoke to the "blue screen of death" this morning. Everything was fine when I went to bed. I ran the diags and the HD just said "fail" number 7 and I couldn't get any further.
I got in the car and went to Fry's and now have a new Dell XPS 8300. I couldn't believe it but it comes standard with an I5 core processor, 6GB of memory and a 1Tbyte HD plus a 1GB video card. Way more PC than I need but it was still half the price of my old one.
Anyhow, long story last backup was corrupt...not good. So I am faced with starting over. I have taken the old HD over the "Geek stop" and they are going to try and transfer my data to my external drive but in the meantime I am going to try and do what I can to get somewhere normal.
What kind of irritated me was that even though the new box comes with Windows 7 it comes with a crippled copy of Word and Excel and no Outlook. I had to spend another 250 bucks to get MS Office Home and Business really just for Outlook. As much as I use Word I could probably get along but Outlook standalone was $149 all by itself so what the hell. Yeah, I know there are open products just as good but....

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lettuce Spray

I meant to give credit for the video in the previous post to Balloon Juice but I hit publish to quickly. Anyhow, I spent part of my day off yesterday building some planter boxes out of cedar (35"x20"x6") that will fit on my greenhouse tables. I have been growing lettuce, spinach, roquette, etc. in small seed starter trays and while it works the plants get root bound and too crowded very quickly. I am thinking these little planters will allow a better environment and I should get better production. I only made three(my calculations caused me to be short by one 8' board. These came out pretty well so I'll get two or three more 6 inch cedar boards while I am work today and whip out two more as I would like to grow some radishes, green onions and maybe even some beets as well. I finished up the boxes last night and filled them with soil and this morning I got the new crop planted. In a few weeks I'll know if this plan is workable but it looks nice in the greenhouse. The other thing the added mass of soil will help on is watering. With the small containers you had to stay on top of the watering just about every other day.

Something For A Rainy Morning

A little JS Bach in the woods. Very cool and very Japanese.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Asteroid Recall

Can we have that asteroid that passed by on Tuesday make another pass and this time not miss? I just read that Newt is now the front runner in the GOP clown car race. Maybe it's indigestion or just a bad dream.

Fair Warning

Do not try Trader Joe's Olive Oil Potato Chips. You will never look at any other potato chip the same way again. Seriously, dangerously good potato chip.

Day Off

I got a day off, two actually, but today's was consumed with leaves, lots of leaves. Got both the front and back done and all the leaves moved to the garden and spread about. An acre of trees makes a lot of leaves. The rest of the afternoon is chill....I just have to figure out if it will be a martini chill or a wine chill. Then again we can start with a martini and transition to wine. Madam has begun the decorating for Xmas at the historic homes so she will be scarce for the next week or two. I'll just have to entertain myself.

Friday, November 11, 2011

It All Ends

I purchased the final Harry Potter flick today which I haven't seen. Tonight I will and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed all the books and films. JK Rowling deserves what she has gotten for creating such epic and wondrous world. We can always use more magic in our lives.

Veteran's Day

Don't want to let the day pass without acknowledging the sacrifices made my fellow veterans both living and not. Some laid their lives down in their service and some lost limbs or suffered wounds that haunt them all the years of their lives. Some, like me, did their service and emerged unscathed. All of us, however, were changed and all of us are proud to have served.
Thanks to all the men and women who have served and all that are serving. It was an honor to serve with you.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Still Among The Living

Sorry it has been so quiet around these parts but life is crowding me lately. Still have the remnants of the cold from hell...nagging cough and some head congestion. I've done everything I can think of ....doubled up on "C" added zinc and all the rest but still not 100%. Like I mentioned I've been scheduled for the outside garden pretty much exclusively for the last week(and again today) and I imagine that hasn't helped. Still doing the 6 hour shifts for some reason which suck.

On another note I have been just amazed at the political theater going on. I guess last night's debate will see the beginning of the end for Mr. Perry. so that's going to leave the GOP with "look how many women haven't accused me of assault" pepperoni man and "Don't worry about what I stand for today as it will change tomorrow" Romney to fight it out. Neither has a chance to win the election over Obama so I guess we should just enjoy the show. It has been nice not to see "moosewoman's" name in the news lately so thank the Goddess for small favors.

The recent voting had some progressive goodness as well. Mississippi voters actually demonstrated some sanity and the voters in Arizona toasted their racist Senator big time.  Ohio voters shoved the overreaching governor's union busting zeal right where the sun never shines and that was a good thing.

I guess the next thing we have to look forward to is the epic failure of the "Super Committee" and then we get to watch the GOP try and undo all the forced cuts that result. McCain and Graham are already trying to make sure that war mongering is fully funded going forward.

We are supposed to get our first freeze tonight. We have had one light frost so far but we might see 30F tonight. There are still a bunch of peppers in the garden that should be picked today but I am out of time.

Off to work in a bit so you guys have fun out there. When things are quiet I can keep up my reading on the smart phone but posting is another issue. They were beginning to set up for the Xmas tree sales yesterday so that looks to be in my immediate future. I was there for it last year and it wasn't fun.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

No On the Do Not Call

I understand this was a false post so it has been removed....sorry for anyone's wasted time.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Well Enough

I think I am recovered enough to go to work this evening(430-1030) we'll see. Still a bit rough around the edges but walking upright. For some reason they have been giving me 6 hour shifts which means no lunch break and only two fifteen minute breaks. Makes for a long haul. I have drugs if required. Hopefully, I will be inside tonight but tomorrow I am scheduled for the outside garden center. Oh boy!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Seized With Disease

I went and got a flu shot on Wednesday afternoon. During the day at work yesterday I realized that I was, in fact, coming down with flu. Sore throat, sneezy, congestion and aches. It is now in full force and I am grateful that I had today off so that I can be miserable without any interruption. Hopefully, it is just a  reaction to the shot and I will bounce back with vigor tomorrow but today I feel like hell. Then again this may be completely unrelated to the flu shot and I just have a common cold. Whatever.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Running Scared

By all indications the 1% are beginning to be frightened by the Occupy Wall Street bunch and the associated demonstrations in other cities. Last night(actually early this morning) Oakland police overwhelmed the protesters in that city and arrested scores and wiped out the encampment. Arrests on trumped up charges are occurring everywhere. Here in Atlanta the mayor has reneged on his agreement to allow the protestors to stay until 11/7 and it is only a matter of a day or so before you see the demonstration broken up.
The media, for the large part, are ignoring the fact that these demonstrations are merely and legally excercising their rights under the First Amendment to peacefully gather and protest.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
It is that simple folks. The fact that the police in cities across the land are encroaching or outright preventing citizens from exercising their First Amendment rights means that the PTB's have realized that this is not going away and what's worse that these people have lost faith in government and corporations. The protestors have rightly come to the conclusion that the issues of joblessness, income equality/equity/disparity and all the rest of the woes facing we 99% are not going to be solved by either the government or the corporations that control the government. The curtain has been drawn back and revealed the truth. We are being governed by people who do not care whether we have jobs, food security, health, nor any other basic requirements for a healthy society as long as they continue to make more and more money. While the demonstrations are still, for the most part peaceful, it will not take long for the realization to sink in that the police, DHS and others at the bidding of the PTBs are breaking the law and will not allow for peaceful demonstrations and when peaceful demonstrations are not allowed that leaves the other side of the coin which is violence and increasing civil disobedience. It is going to get ugly.

More Crazy For You

Sorry to have been so MIA around here lately but life's little pressures are interfering. Anyhow, and true to form, the "clown car" of GOP presidential candidates have delivered us another crazy tax plan. This time it is Cowboy Perry and he has a flat tax for us.
  1. An optional flat tax of 20 percent. ( Do the math and you will see that this is actually only a tax cut for people making more than about 70K$ per year of regular income.)
  2. Reducing the corporate tax rate to 20 percent. (The real problem with the corporate tax code is that it is rife with loopholes that allow corporations to avoid paying any taxes. This does not even address it.)
  3. Completely eliminate taxes on long-term capital gains. (Let me see now...who makes most of their income off capital gains? Another giveaway to the wealthiest.)
  4. Cap federal spending at 18 percent of GDP.  (Federal spending hasn't been this low since 1966. Even under Saint Reagan it never fell below 21.3%.)
  5. Allow younger workers to opt-out of Social Security. (This fits nicely with the GOP plan of destroying Social Security. This will starve SS of revenue and kill it quickly.)
I guess we should be grateful that the idiots have finally quit trying to disguise their economic policies as "good for the average Joe" and are now just brazenly trying to destroy the middle class and enrich the rich further.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Focus, Focus

If you are a photographic geek like me you are familiar with the annoying problems of deciding where to focus and how much depth of field to work for. Too narrow an aperture and sloppy focusing has ruined hundreds of my photos or if not ruined then winding up with an image that is less that its potential. No more worries if you have a few hundred bucks.
Interested? If so, check out this gallery of pictures taken with the Lytro light field camera. Light field pictures allow you to choose the focus point of the image after the fact since the camera and its software capture the entire light field and all of the information in it, unlike a conventional camera. This allows you to basically ignore aperture and focus when taking the shot and then focus after the fact...way cool. Stanford researchers introduced the "light field" concept about 15 years ago but it took dozens of cameras and a supercomputer to actually process the picture. No more, Lytro introduced a new camera yesterday. It’s $400 and appears to be no more complicated than a point and shoot. This is going to very, very hard to resist.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Winter In The Air

Cold an raining here in Altanta and the forecast is for the lows to be in the mid thirties for the next few days. I guess it is the first threat of winter. Good day to work, which is where I am heading in about an hour. Scheduled to be in outside garden today so I will have to bundle up a bit. Should, however, be extremely slow since folks don't do the garden shopping and stuff on days like this. I might just have to take the Ipod to keep me entertained. A little Queen, ZZ Top, Springsteen and of course Little Feat and Clapton.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

More Trouble With Police and OWS

It looks like the police are getting serious with respect the Occupy protests here and about. It now appears that at least in NYC and Philly that they have deployed LRAD.
The Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) is a distance hailing device and non-lethal crowd control weapon developed by LRAD Corporation to send messages, warnings and harmful, pain inducing tones over longer distances than normal loudspeakers. ... LRAD systems are used by maritime, law enforcement, military and commercial security companies to send instructions and warnings over distances, and to force compliance.
This is serious. This is a military weapon and at ranges less than 100 meters can cause serious and permanent injury(according to the manufacturer). The police in many of the large cities are already outfitted as combat troops and using urban combat techniques against lawful protesters but it now seems they are going to take it one step further. These weapons are not meant to be used in such settings and people are going to get hurt. It is getting harder and harder to recognize the "shining beacon on the hill".

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Small Things

I have always been a fan of graham crackers but when everyone started making them with HFCS I gave them up. Finally, Nabisco has seen the light and introduced Graham Originals made with sugar and no HFCS. Tonight as my bedtime treat I had them with ice cold milk. There is a precise timing when "dunking" the sections into milk. Too long and they self destruct but just right they turn the cookie into a glorious little bite. Cold, almost crunchy, just a little sweet. If I had to pick a last meal, proper graham crackers and cold milk would be very close to the top of the list. I limit myself to two cookies(8 small sections) but I could easily eat the entire package and even want more.
Oh! And a note to Nabisco, if you are listening. I have never forgiven you for changing Nilla Wafers and adding artificial vanilla. They were glorious when they were made with real vanilla but are basically crap now. I haven't had a vanilla wafer since the change and my life is poorer for it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What The 1% Do with Their Pocket Change

Via Greg Sargent, Vanity Fair has a long, very positive piece on Elizabeth Warren, “The Woman Who Knew Too Much“:
... At a time of record corporate profits, a time when 14 million Americans are out of work, when millions have lost their homes and, according to the Census Bureau, the ranks of those living in poverty has grown to one in six—that Elizabeth Warren could be publicly kneecapped and an agency devoted to protecting American consumers could come under such intense attack is, ultimately, the story about who holds power in America today.

When the C.F.P.B. was first proposed to Congress, in early 2009, the Chamber of Commerce, the leading business lobbying group in the country, announced that it would “spend whatever it takes” to defeat the agency. According to the Center for Public Integrity, from 2009 through the beginning of 2010, it would be one of the biggest spenders among the more than 850 businesses and trade groups that together paid lobbyists $1.3 billion to fight financial reform…

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, in 2010 the financial industry flooded Congress with 2,565 lobbyists. They were financed by the likes of the Financial Services Roundtable, which, according to the Center, paid lobbyists $7.5 million, and is on its way to spending as much or more this year. The Chamber of Commerce spent $132 million on lobbying Washington in 2010. The American Bankers Association spent $7.8 million. As for individual banks: JPMorgan Chase, which received $25 billion in TARP funds from taxpayers, spent nearly $14 million on lobbying during the 2009–10 election cycle; Goldman Sachs, which received more than $10 billion from taxpayers, spent $7.4 million; Citigroup, which was teetering on the brink of insolvency and received a $45 billion infusion, has paid more than $14 million to lobbyists since 2009. And none of this money includes the direct campaign donations these organizations, and their surrogates, made to members of Congress.

The banks “do not like to lose,” says Ed Mierzwinski, of the National Association of State Public Interest Research Groups, which was part of the grossly outmatched consumer coalition that managed to scrape together a paltry $2 million to lobby in favor of reform…
You know they are spending a lot to keep their shell game going but when you see the hard numbers it kind of leaves you breathless. We are so owned by the oligarchy. Oh, and this is part of what Occupy Wall Street is about.

No Jobs For You Until That Black Muslim Socialist is Gone

Every single Republican voted against even discussing whether or not to pass the jobs bill.  Every freaking one of them( and two fucktard Dems). The media mostly described the vote in the Senate as a defeat for Obama's Jobs Bill and you have to wonder why they don't tell it like it really is. This was not a vote on the Jobs Bill. It didn't matter what was in the bill or even whether it was a good or bad bill. It didn't matter if some of it was good and some was bad. It was a vote to say we ain't even going to talk about it. No discussion. No compromise. Nothing. There is/was some possibility that it might actually, you know, create some jobs and the really, really scary thing was that it was Obama's idea and that he might get a win.

I'll say this one more time and I'll keep saying it every time this happens. There is no mystery as to why the GOP is doing this—the GOP loathes Obama. They hate that he is black(though according to Cain...not black enough). They hate it that he can actually speak whole sentences. They hate every thing about him. They hate him so much that they are willing to sacrifice the livelihoods of millions of Americans hoping that they can render him unemployed in thirteen months.

For the next thirteen months, the GOP will block everything that the president supports because they are spoiled children not to mention fucking assholes.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Violence Is Overdue

I haven't posted about the Occupy Wall Street thing as yet. I think it is a good thing and even though there is no specific demands or platform it shows that the 99% are not happy and it is putting pressure on the 1% to do something. As the protests spread (bubbled up in Atlanta yesterday) and more and more and more of the Plutarch realize that they don't have the traditional leverage over these crowds.(Many are jobless, foreclosed or mortgage less already) they will resort the desperate side. They will have to find a way to disperse these crowds and the quickest way will be to instigate violence. They will find willing plants from somewhere to instigate some kind of violence whether it be looting or whatever and this will cause the police response to escalate and some rookie or bought and paid for white shirt will take it the rest of the way.
We saw it during the civil rights marches and again during the anti Vietnam marches (Kent State anyone?). Unfortunately, I think it is only a matter of time. The march has gone from getting no media attention (NPR didn't cover it at all for the first 8 days) to global attention on all the media. This doesn't bode well for the plutocracy and they know it. The sociopath Koch brothers have shown what a lot of money can buy and there is a lot of money behind the 1%(half of American wealth). It will be a shame but it will happen. There is some good news though and that is that a lot of the people associated with the OWS know that this is what will happen and are prepared for it.

The Drones Have a Virus

Even if you are just a dilettante when it comes to computers and networks you should very concerned with the news that the computers running the U.S. fleet of Predator and Reaper drones has a virus. Wired reports that the U.S. fleet of Predator and Reaper drones have been infected with a virus that allows keylogging. No one appears to know if there has been any RED information transmitted across BLACK networks and no one seems to know if the virus has other aspects other than keylogging. These software systems are supposed to be isolated from the public networks but evidently they either aren't or someone has used hardware to bring the virus in. It is reported that the virus has been removed repeatedly but just reappears. This isn't good news.

I guess we should also wonder whether these virus infected control systems can cause extra-judicial executions all on their own. From a software point of view there isn't a lot of difference between surveillance and triggering a firing order. Jeebus, the difference could be just a bit or two.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Another Day Off

Yeah! another day off. I've done my two hours in the gym and now I am gathering my spit for an attack on the garden...what a mess though there are lots of all kinds of peppers ready for harvest. I took a huge sack of all kinds to work the other week and a friend of one of my associates took them for making jelly. I just got sample of each and all are very nice. The pineapple/habanero is kicking!
Whoops! I just fell asleep for a minute... I better get on my feet and outside before I miss the day sitting behind this stupid computer or should I say snoozing in my chair...whatever.
Later and have a nice Friday.

Thanks Steve

As usual I am a little late to the game but I just wanted to put in my two cents worth on the passing of Steven Jobs. I was reminded this morning at the gym as I threw my Android phone in the bag put the earphones on and fired up my IPod Touch just how much of an impact Mr. Jobs has had. If not for Jobs and his vision and dedication to getting it right would we even have the Android phone or even a Windows PC? I wonder if left to their own devices would Mr. Gates and the boys at IBM ever have moved us off DOS and would we still be typing cryptic shit on a keyboard? Who knows but Apple sure set the standards for UI on both the personal computer and then the IPod, IPhone and now the IPad.
Most people take all of the new stuff like touch screens, apps, and all that for granted but all of it we owe to Steve Jobs either directly or indirectly. Who can even imagine a PC without a mouse?
Happy Trails Steve.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

A Degree of Normal

Been really busy around here and the almost full time part time job has had me working into the evenings most everyday. Today is finally almost normal and a day off. This evening work has put a serious dent my kitchen endeavors and tonight will be the first actual meal I have been able to prepare in what seems like weeks. Madam scored some nice Long Island duck leg quarters(the local Whole Foods has stopped carrying them?) on the girls outing to the Dekalb Farmer's Market so we are having them slow braised with fresh greens from the greenhouse and brown rice. We have a nice baguette to soak up the braising juice(which will be reduced here shortly) and some nice German Riesling to top it all off.  I have to work again tomorrow but Friday is another off day so maybe we will actually get two proper meals in this week.
While it was a "quicky" meal last night Madam also bought some fresh bratwurst at the market yesterday and they were made with locally raised Berkshire pork which I simply roasted in the oven. Again fresh Mesclun greens from the greenhouse and homemade applesauce made a nice quick meal. the "brats" were very nice.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Treason Or Not

I've been so busy with stuff that I am a little behind the news cycle but there is something I just have to comment on (even though my car is full of stuff from the Flea Fling yesterday, the grill is still full of ashes, and on and on).

There is a reason there is only one crime actually spelled out in the Constitution of the United States....

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

While our founders were concerned about unfair taxes, their greatest concern was for the history of the crown declaring domestic enemies as treasonous and then using that as an excuse for executing them. The assassination of the cleric Al Alwaki by the United States was a terrible miscarriage of justice and it surely has the founding fathers and mothers turning in their graves. To prevent this type of lawless assassination was precisely why treason is defined so carefully. When the government can murder a citizen without due process and then suffer no consequence we are all in terrible trouble. Just because the assassination was carried out in another country is irrelevant. This is a precedent that we should all fear. Terrorism, GWOT, "Global Battlefield", Al Qaeda, etc. etc. are all just loaded words that are used to cloud the issue that it is now apparently all right to declare an American citizen treasonous and summarily execute same without due process. Not Good.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Candle-Both Ends

Working way too much and have managed to crowd my schedule to the point of insane. I have the day off but I had an appointment for a two hour workout first thing. Came home from that and started in on the bird houses I am donating to the Historical Society/Hembree Farm Flea Fling(yardsale). Got all six put  together and with Madam's help got three dressed up. Still a few more to decorate. Since this is a donation and all the funds go to the restoration of the farm I am suggesting they price these at $35. It's a lot of work...all rough cedar and the tin roofs are from "The Bricks" some of the first apartments in the country and they date from around 1900 (the tin shingles). The "fling" is this coming weekend and I need to get all finished but I am running out of time.  It's going to be a down to the wire thing.
Hey Duff: note the tea towel from the Five Sailed Windmill in Alford, Lincolnshire. I have some friends that have a B&B nearby and on our last visit got to tour the mill...Way cool! Speaking of Lincolnshire...I will pay for a proper sausage or meat pie from Lincolnshire. Probably the best butchers and sausage makers in England come from thereabouts.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Consider The Alternative

While I am not completely enthralled with the performance of President Obama I just have to keep reminding myself of the alternative. President McCain and VP Palin....enough said.

Let The Chickens Roost

More of the same:

House Republicans closed ranks just after midnight on Friday morning, and passed legislation to avert a government shutdown at the end of the month. The vote tally was 219-203.

But the bill received almost no Democratic support and faces an uncertain future in the U.S. Senate because Republicans have used the funding bill as a vehicle for disaster relief money, and insisted it be paid for by slashing funds for jobs programs Democrats support. Dems say the GOP legislation provides insufficient aid, and sets a dangerous precedent by requiring those funds to be offset with partisan budget cuts.

"The bill the House will vote on tonight is not an honest effort at compromise," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in a statement anticipating its passage. "It fails to provide the relief that our fellow Americans need as they struggle to rebuild their lives in the wake of floods, wildfires and hurricanes, and it will be rejected by the Senate."

A livid Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) told reporters Thursday night "We're fed up with this...we're sick of it, we're tired of it."
I think it would be only fair if the all the cuts in relief funds come from the districts of Representatives who voted for the legislation.

Fall In More Ways Than One

Not only is today the first day of fall 2011 (0904 UTC) it also turns out that a great big thing the size of a school bus is going to fall out of the sky:
On Friday (Sept. 23), a dead NASA satellite the size of a school bus is expected to enter the atmosphere, break into pieces and rain down upon Earth. Though space agency officials don’t yet know where the chunks (some weighing as much as 300 pounds) will hit and haven’t narrowed down exactly where, they say the chances of the falling space debris striking a person are extremely small.
According to the story  the chunks won’t be falling on North America so we North Americans probably don't need to carry an umbrella today.:
According to Mark Matney, a scientist in the Orbital Debris Program Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, the odds that any of the 7 billion people on Earth will be struck by a piece of the soon-to-fall satellite is 1 in 3,200. “The odds that you will be hit … are 1 in several trillion,” Matney said. “So, quite low for any particular person.”
While, in addition to the first day of fall and the sky falling  we are also getting a pretty good fall out of the stock market.

Classy Folks-Again

The Teabagger/GOP audience once again showed what a class act they are last night by booing an American serviceman on active duty in Iraq because he is gay. I'm sure the audience was caught on film by someone and every one of the folks that booed should be identified and issued a rifle and a ticket to Baghdad. Just saying.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Getting There

I must say I am encouraged by the latest tack taken by the White House. Is the hope for a happy honeymoon with the insane GOP over finally? All indications are that the President has finally realized that no matter how much he bends it won't be enough for the Republicans whose only goal in life is to insure he is a one term president. Of course, regardless of how defiant the President is and how firm he is on standing his ground with respect to progressive issues the GOP ain't going to budge.

You do have to love the President's line from yesterday..."It's not class warfare. It's math."

Saturday, September 17, 2011

No Fun

In case you are up the garden at the end of summer is not nearly as much fun as planting it in the spring. I will admit, however, that the smell of rotting tomatoes brings back happy memories of helping my Dad and Granddad clean up the garden in the fall. There is no smell quite like it and no matter how diligent you are some tomatoes are going to go to the bad and fall or rot on the vine.
I've finished the tomatoes and all the wire cages are neatly stacked for next spring. The next task is to till where there are not remaining veges(really only peppers) and get ready to put most of the garden to bed for the winter. I did discover two more butternut squash today which means that we got over 3 bushels of squash from 5 plants. Been a really good year for butternut squash.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

GOP Fantasy

This is not a surprise. If you can add 2+2 and come up with 4 this is not magic.  Lo and behold austerity, it turns out, is contractionary. What the Hell!

In a new paper for the International Monetary Fund, Laurence Ball, Daniel Leigh and Prakash Loungani look at 173 episodes of fiscal austerity over the past 30 years—with the average deficit cut amounting to 1 percent of GDP. Their verdict? Austerity “lowers incomes in the short term, with wage-earners taking more of a hit than others; it also raises unemployment, particularly long-term unemployment.”

More specifically, an austerity program that curbs the deficit by 1 percent of GDP reduces real incomes by about 0.6 percent and raises unemployment by almost 0.5 percentage points. What’s more, the IMF notes, the losses are twice as big when the central bank can’t cut rates (a good description of the present.) Typically, income and employment don’t fully recover even five years after the austerity program is put in place.

There’s also a class dimension here: A deficit cut of that size tends to cause real wage income, where lower-income folks get their money, to shrink by 0.9 percent, whereas rents and profits, which higher-income folks depend on, decline by just 0.3 percent. And, as the chart on the right shows, profits tend to bounce back faster than wages.

Some austerity programs can be harsher than others. The IMF study notes that plans to reduce the deficit can be particularly brutal if central banks “do not or cannot blunt some of the pain through a monetary policy stimulus.” (In 1992, Italy and Finland took steps to rein in their deficits but mitigated the discomfort by depreciating their currencies and boosting exports.) Meanwhile, if multiple countries are all carrying out austerity at the same time, the overall pain is likely to be greater. This sums up the current debt crisis in the euro zone: Individual euro member states can’t depreciate their own currencies because they’re all on the euro; the European Central Bank isn’t providing much monetary stimulus; and the economically ailing countries are all dragging one another other down.
As Krugman says:
In the first half of last year a strange delusion swept much of the policy elite on both sides of the Atlantic — the belief that cutting spending in the face of high unemployment would actually create jobs. I went after this stuff early and hard (I suspect that the confidence fairy will be one of my lasting contributions to economic discourse); still, it’s good to have a steadily mounting weight of evidence about just how wrong that view was.The latest entry is a comprehensive review of past episodes of austerity by economists at the IMF, from which the figure above is taken. Yes, contractionary policy is contractionary. And as the authors point out, it’s probably even more contractionary than usual under current conditions...Unfortunately, austerity programs are now the rule everywhere; even if the new Obama plan became law, which it won’t, it would only slow the pace of fiscal consolidation in America, and there’s nothing like it even on the table elsewhere.
I actually don't know why I am posting this since pretty much everyone who stops by here has a brain but I thought it important.

Just Die

Former Florida Congressman Alan Grayson got heaps and heaps of grief when he stated that the GOP health care plan was to die quickly. Based on what was displayed at last night's CNN/Teaparty debate that is exactly what the plan is. They audience cheering when Blitzer said that if a young man needs extensive care and he had no insurance he should just die in response to Ryan's answer about health insurance. These are some sick and scary people.

Monday, September 12, 2011


I just realized, while I was standing in the garden center checking out bag after bottle of chemical fertilizer, poison, and herbicide, that I an a total hypocrite. Here I am an ardent organic gardener that successfully grows abundant gardens of vegetables and fruit without pesticide or chemical fertilizer and I daily sell the poisons to my 'neighbors'. Maybe I should consider joining the GOP?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

We Have Dogs

Minimonk dropped off her three dogs this morning whilst she and SIL observe their 20th wedding anniversary in Savannah... so we are with dogs. We've had treats and taken a tour of the manor and had a walk around the neighborhood. I've now Megan and Rudy begging for attention at my knee while Stewart is busy stalking the wildlife in the backyard. Megan is constantly looking for a pat or rub and she will walk up and insert her nose under your hand over and over until you have to tell here to go away. She would stand and be petted 24x7 if she could find someone to do it. I have to go to work at 1pm and Madam should be back from her travels by then so they can spend the afternoon watching TCM or something as the walk is out of the way. I am sure I will find at least one or two or even all three of them piled in the bed with Madam when I get home tonight at 11pm.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Happy Birthday to

Cookie Jill,
Star Trek (debuted in 1966 on NBC)
Bernie Sanders and a whole bunch of other people.

Amplified Failure

The thing that is really somewhat tragic about President Obama's performance so far is that we are at a time where greatness was needed. We are faced with an insane group of people that want to take the country back into the 19th century. Obama promised us greatness and change. He promised to end the Bush tax cuts, stop the free trade agreements, and take away all the tax breaks for companies that moved our jobs overseas. Nothing has happened and we should have seen the clues that nothing was going to happen early on when it was apparent that he was going to surround himself with Wall Street folks and not folks that represented the middle class or labor.
We're were/are at a cusp that will determine the future of this country and to a large degree the world. We are looking at the huge impact of climate change, and unprecedented challenge for most of the world's economies and finally a disparity in wealth in this country that is nearly at the revolutionary point. This is the time we need greatness and fearlessness and thus Obama's failure to rise to the times is thus greater in comparison to the need and the opportunity in less challenging times. Now that the 2012 campaign season is officially underway the President and his handlers are going to try and make us forget our disappointment and renew our faith that Obama is the instrument we need. The tragedy is that, looking at the GOP challengers to date, Obama, despite his faults and failings, is still the best we have been offered.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Day of Reckoning

Since I am taking my Labor Day morning off to catch up on my reading I though I would share another worthwhile article. This one from John Lanchester in the London Review of Books discussing the current state of the Euro and the the global economy. It isn't pretty.

Meeting the Crazy

An excellent article by a disillusioned career GOP staffer that is worth the read. It is a clear and concise explanation of where we are at politically in this country. The sooner we all admit that practically all of our political and economic problems are caused by the fact that one party has gone completely insane the sooner we may be able to recover. Honestly, I don’t see how it’s going to be possible to have an intelligent discussion of American politics without accepting disturbing reality.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup

Decided I had better use some of the mountain of butternut squash in the basement. I had a bumper crop of extremely large squash and despite the dry weather there are more to come. Cut up the squash into chunks and roasted it for an hour a 350F and then separated it from the skin. I did season the squash with salt and pepper plus a teaspoon or so of ground cumin. An onion and a bit of garlic sauteed in olive oil and butter plus a box of chicken stock, a little thyme and a couple of bay leaves and simmered for a bit and we have soup. I ran the hand blender through it and added a cup of Greek yogurt....very nice. Toasted ciabatta with olive oil and we had a nice dinner.

Last Weekend of Summer

How's the last weekend of summer going for ya? We're are supposed to be getting rain from Lee for the next couple of days and that should  put a kink the number of tube steaks consumed. Me...I gotta work tomorrow(but it is time and a half). Got in a workout this morning and then some more garden cleanup. I used 6 foot metal fence stakes to hold up the trellis for the cukes and today was the effort to get them out of the ground. They are meant to stay in. Brute force didn't work even with a 8 foot lever so I had to soak the ground with a hose before I could lever them out. A couple of times the 2x4 lever threatened to break even with the soaking and it did fail on the last stake. Next will be the 70 or so tomato cages....big job.

Nothing much else here at FM manor...I don't have to work until 1pm tomorrow so I will at least get a bit of holiday and it really shouldn't be too busy. I guess now I have to go figure out what to fix for dinner. Night before last was just about the last of the fresh tomatoes as a pizza.and last night was German with brats, homegrown potatoes boiled and served with lots of Irish butter and home canned apple sauce. I'm kinda in the mood for pasta and that may make the last of the tomatoes go away. There are actually a few tomatoes still on the vines but the drought and heat have not done them any favors however they won't go to waste.

I hope everyone is having a good time on the official last days of summer.

Friday, September 02, 2011

The GOP Is Winning

In their never ending campaign to make the American economy as miserable as possible before the 2012 election, which will give them a shot at the presidency, the GOP won another battle today. This lousy jobs report is going to hurt and the markets have already responded with the DOW down a couple of hundred points at the bell. Bummer! While their efforts are as transparent as glass the electorate will wind up blaming Obama for the lousy economy and while we teeter on the brink of another recession I'm sure the PTB within the GOP are figuring out the best way to push us over the edge.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

I'm Moving

...To another star system where there are more than 24 hours in a day. I can't get everything done in a mere 24 hours especially since I have added two hours of gym time to any day off or any day where I work the evenings. Did manage to get some garden clean up done today but it was not much. By the time I got back from the gym and had a bite of lunch the temperature was pushing 90F with the humidity right up there so I fragged after a couple of hours in the garden. The older I get the more I need a full 8 hours of sleep so I definitely need to find somewhere that allows another 6 or so hours per day.

I think I have solved one problem though. I was having problems making it from breakfast to lunch without my blood sugar crashing down to dangerous levels. If you are not familiar with hypoglycemia it usually manifests with the shakes, dizziness and excess sweating and no matter what I had for breakfast the blood sugar would crash to 50 or so sometime around ten. This was especially bad if I did a morning workout that included any cardio. It wasn't only after the workout and it happened several times at work so I decided to drop Actos from the meds(this is the $260 a month one) and I haven't had the problem of extremely low sugar since. I'll keep monitoring closely but I think the added exercise has made this one drug unnecessary which is good news.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fall Garden Time

I finally got around to getting my seeds started for the fall/winter garden. Broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, spinach, mesclun, romaine, salad mix. I would have gotten the arugula and spring onions and a couple of more things started but I ran out of potting soil and I don't feel like going to get any more. I'll pick up a couple of bags tomorrow at work if my pea brain can remember. The big chore still lies ahead though and that is cleaning up the summer garden and that's at least three days or more of hard work. Until I clean up the remains of summer I won't have space for the fall/winter root crops which don't transplant well. Beets, turnips, rutabaga, parsnips, etc.  I successfully grew lettuce and spinach in the greenhouse last year but I left them in their little starter cells and they were a bit stunted. I think this year I will build some cedar boxes for them and see if that improves things. They have some growing boxes at the Depot but they are plastic and pretty expensive but they have a good name "City Pickers". They would be perfect for growing some stuff on a balcony or roof. Since I have a pretty complete wood shop I think I can build something a little cheaper but just as good and as a bonus they will be of wood.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Damn Near Magic

I got my new Ipod Touch today and have it all set up and while I haven't figured out all the bell and whistles yet I am impressed as hell. I thought my Android phone (HTC Inspire) was sharp but the Ipod 4G has it beat. This tiny little thing is very close to being plain old magic and not just high tech. It is going to take me a while to figure it out. There is even a website that can tell you where your Ipod is if you happen to misplace it.

Going To Get Hungrier Out

  If you are not paying attention to the current trends in such things as food prices and are not actively planning to insulate yourself as best you can from the coming problems then you should. This is only the tip of the iceberg and this year's heat, flooding and drought are just a symptom of the changes our global climate will experience in the coming years. We're going to have snow and cold but the trend to warmer and drier will continue into the future and things are only going to get worse. We aren't quite at the point yet for this to cause civil unrest but that is not far in the future either. You need to start thinking in disaster terms when it comes to the things you need to survive and yes that means stockpiling some things that will come into short supply.  You may be able to afford to put food "on your family" today but at some point money does not answer the questions of short supplies or unavailable at any price. Just remember that this year's high prices and short supply are not a "one off" but a trend and it will continue to get worse.

Consumers can expect to see a jump in prices for pasta, meat, vegetable oil and many other grocery items in the coming months as a pair of new government reports forecast on [Aug. 11] that a brutal mixture of heat, drought or flooding has taken a toll on the corn, soybeans and wheat grown on American farms.

Futures prices for those important crops jumped on [Aug. 11], and commodities experts said that would lead to higher prices for manufacturers and consumers.

“The message, based on today’s report, is these higher costs should not be expected to abate any time soon,” said Bill G. Lapp, president of Advanced Economic Solutions, a commodity consulting firm that works with restaurant companies and food manufacturers. “It implies higher cost forthcoming and subsequent margin pressure, and at some point the need to increase prices at the retail level or on the menus.” ...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Me that is. I am only scheduled for 16 hours for the whole week. The first is 5 hours tonight from 5pm to 10pm which means only one break and no lunch so I gotta go have a peanut butter sandwich or something before I head out in a few minutes. Oh, and I got an award at the store meeting Sunday night...a patch signifying that I have checked out over 100K$ worth of merchandise since the first of the year and no I don't get any of the money.

Ipod Fails Me

My trusty IPOD classic that I have had for years and years(it is first generation 40GB) has failed. Actually, it still works only the left and right buttons on the click wheel won't answer the helm so you can't select what you want to hear. The timing is atrocious since I am trying to hit the gym daily and music is a requirement for me to exercise. The fitness center does have head banging music blaring all the time but it is not my music and there is only the occasional song or artist I recognize. I did try to use my Android smart phone (Inspire) on the FM radio app but the reception in the gym was hit and miss. I checked with the Geek place up the road and they can't get the parts to repair mine as it is so old. Bye Old Friend.

Not to worry though I have just ordered a new IPOD Touch (32GB) from Amazon and it will be here tomorrow. I didn't read the specs to closely but I gather it will do more than play music.

East Coast Shakes

Seems there was a small (5.9) earthquake centered in Virgina somewhere between Richmond and DC. It is reported that the GOP has called an emergency meeting to figure out how to blame this on Obama. Being a Virginian by birth I can tell you that earthquakes aren't too common in the area. I'll have to do a little research and find out when the last one was.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Green Tomatoes


I've got green tomatoes to use and I have about tired of frying them, though they are very good. Tonight I am going to try and create something new with them.
I've a little fresh pork shoulder as well as peppers and the tomatoes so I am going to try and make a stew. Tomatillo's are very much like green tomatoes(same genus though a different family and more closely related to the gooseberry actually) and you can make a green pork chili/stew with them so why not green tomatoes? Green and tart being the prime criteria here.
I'll brown the pork in smallish bits with a little cumin and garlic and add some chopped onion. I'll braise this for an hour or two in chicken broth until the pork is quite tender and then add the chopped green tomato and chopped red pepper with a jalapeno or two for a zap. Forty five minutes or so later I should have a passable meal along with some flour tortillas and maybe a little sour cream. I will report.

Excellent results with the addition of a bit of agave syrup and some oregano. We actually had a couple of friends share it with us and Kelly and Carmen pronounced it good. No left overs so that's some testimony.

Pump Me Up

You are probably not going to believe this but I have joined a fitness center. The new Atlanta Fitness just down the road offered a special for 28 bucks to join and 28 bucks a month and I did.
I don't know if I have mentioned it here but my job, which requires standing on concrete for 8 plus hours a shift, is causing me some considerable pain....ankles, knees, and especially the lower back. I get exercise in the garden but it is really mostly upper arm and walking type stuff and I need something to combat the pain caused by work. That means strengthening the lower back and the muscles in the legs and hips that provide support. I don't have the equipment at home so the only option is a gym and this seemed like a good deal. The place is state of the art with everything exercise related... all the machines, free weights and whatever. I've even contracted with a personal trainer to get me started on the program I need. It won't hurt to lose a little weight either, even though I am slowly shedding pounds due to the job. Even though I am a little over 6'2", I am carrying slightly over 260 pounds and trust me when I tell you that that 260 is only about 175 pounds of actual muscle mass. We'll see how it goes. I had my first workout yesterday and the second today and I just hope the saying "no pain-no gain" is true because I can sure feel muscles I didn't know I had. Let's hope the fact that I am actually spending money on this will be enough additional incentive to keep it going.

I also went out yesterday and bought some new shoes from New Balance that should help with my tendency to shift my feet to inside when I stand and walk (over pronate) along with some orthotics to help with the same problem. I'll give them the test tomorrow when I have a full shift starting at 645a. I'll know by the end of the day whether the investment of $150 on these shoes was worthwhile. BTW they are the New Balance 1123 and are very highly rated, especially for big guys with stability problems and over pronation issues.My experience with the New Balance hiking boots I have and wear occasionally to work bodes well as the boots have some of the same features as the shoe for increased stability.

Zombie USSR

I am feeling more and more like I've slipped into some alternate universe. Could you have imagined just 10 years ago that someone the caliber of Michele Bachmann would be considered for the highest office and would win a straw poll? Her latest is warning that the people of the U.S. are concerned about the rising threat from the Soviet Union. Seriously!

To top off all of the insanity, Rick Perry arrives on the scene and is also to be considered a serious contender for the presidency if you believe the media. I only have one thing to say and I am going to let someone else say it....

"Next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president of the United States, please pay attention."-- Molly Ivins

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Elvis is Still Dead But I'm Not

Just working too hard and often. I work, sleep and work for the last few days...two days off coming tomorrow so I'll be back. Off to work now for the 230p to 1030p gig. The good news is that I am only scheduled for 16 hours next week. Later.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Great Dogs of Fire

Since Madam is out having lunch with a friend for the friend's birthday I thought I would take advantage of the opportunity and indulge myself in a hot dog (which Madam does not like at all). Barker's Red Hots just opened a shop in town and its just around the corner. Damn fine "tube steak" and surely the best available in Atlanta. They are charcoal grilled to order and they use only the famous Sahlen's dogs. Being a good Southern boy mine were with mustard, onion, chili and slaw. I held back and only had two. The fresh made onion rings were very nice as well. I can highly recommend same for those of you in the Atlanta area. They also have a location on Windy Hill.
They started as the first street cart in Atlanta some 29 years ago and now have the two brick and mortar places as well. I don't have them very often but a good hot dog is one of my great weaknesses and this is a good dog.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

See Saw

Off to work in a few minutes for a 430p to 1030p gig. Had the morning and early afternoon off and I basically did nothing. Read a bit and just generally vegetated and I have tomorrow off as well.

Can't say the stock markets are not exciting. As I am writing this the Dow is up nearly 540 points. I'm watching it but not getting emotional. It will be what it will be. I guess that's true of all the weirdness right now and you just have to keep your own counsel and do what is right for you and your environment. Try and insulate yourself as much from the strangeness and prepare yourself for the further strange to come. I for one don't understand it all on a gut level, only intellectually. You really can't get a grip on insanity unless you are will to be insane yourself cause it won't make any sense any other way.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Cream Crackered

I'm "cream crackered"  as my English friends would say. Just coming off an 8 hour close the store shift at 1030p last night and then opening again this morning at 745a. Subtract the travel time, shit, shower and shave time and you wind up with about 5 hours of sleep. Not good for this old man so I will be hitting the sack in short order tonight.
Not a bad morning this morning temperature wise with a few sprinkles. By mid afternoon the "few sprinkles" translated into brutal humidity and the temperature was pushing 100F. Getting into my car at 5 caused me to flash back to somewhere around 1958 and the annual family trip from North Carolina to Key West, Fl in August to visit Uncle Jack and his wife du jour. Mom and Dad in our 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 station wagon (two tone, white over green) with no air. This was before the days of  I95 so we followed US1/301 all the way. The famous 4x60 a/c(60 mph and all four windows down) and all of us sweating and sticking to the vinyl seats. Us two boys in the back seat and my younger brother Andy complaining regularly to Mom that I was breathing all his air. August through South Georgia in a station wagon with no A/C and vinyl seats...defines miserable.

Friday, August 05, 2011

There Went Any Progress in 2011

The dramatic fall in the market yesterday wiped out all of the gains in recent history. Investors fled to treasuries and gold. Treasuries are in effect a negative investment when you consider inflation but they are a safe haven. It's not like we haven't been here before. Way back in 1936 FDR tried to attack the deficits created by his New Deal and we promptly fell back into recession. We know what works and what doesn't work but that doesn't seem to come into play when you are dealing with the Jesus and  the Triceratops Tea baggers. Never let it be said that facts and experience get in the way of insane beliefs. The market may be over reacting but the investors know that we are teetering on the brink of falling back into a recession and they are bailing.

I think is safe to say that we haven't seen the end of all this. Yeah, they are saying that today's job report is better than expected but adding 117,000 jobs doesn't even keep up with the new folks coming into the labor pool.

One good point is the latest polling shows that the American people are properly blaming the GOP and tea baggers for the sorry state of affairs.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Heat, Heat, Heat

Got a couple of days off but it is too damn hot to do anything outside. Fortunately there is inside work to do and by that I mean can tomatoes and while there are piles and piles picked there are more to be picked. So that's what will going on around here for the afternoon and probably the morrow as well.

I haven't discussed the debt ceiling vote thingy as there are plenty of other folks out there that can do it better. I am just so frustrated with the fact that a relatively small group of insane people have managed to control the entire U.S. and twisted the priorities of government 180 degrees out of whack. How they managed to turn the focus from a real and painful employment crisis to the imaginary debt crisis is pretty amazing. You have to surmise that the result we got was actually what Obama wanted because Clinton proved that you can successfully tell the whack jobs (Boehner was one of those as well in 1995) to 'piss off' and they did.

Anyhoo...I can't say I didn't expect this and I can also say, once again, to gird yourself for the double dip recession that is on our doorsteps. All the indicators are there. Expect lots of cities to go bankrupt and maybe even a state or two and don't expect any improvement in the employment rate for at least a couple of years. We need to stimulate the economy and there isn't anyone with any money to do it. Let's just hope we can avoid a deflationary spiral. It isn't looking too great out there.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Picked a Peck of Peppers

As I mentioned in the earlier post I missed a couple of days of harvesting and today managed to catch up. I might have planted too many pepper plants! In the back are jalapeno and in the middle are Mariachi (about half the heat of a jalapeno but a nice thick walled pepper). Front left are pasilla (var. Holy Mole) also called chile negro and of course the orange devils in the front are the deadly habanero. Now the trick is to get them put by somehow. I've still got plenty of jalapenos pickled from last year so I am leaning toward making hot sauce... maybe with a compination of habanero and jalapeno. I have never made a mole sauce which is where you are supposed to use the pasilla pepper. The other option is to dry them for use in making something over the winter. The big red peppers on the right are a variety called Carmen and are nice and sweet like my friend of the same name. Madam gave her a quart of dill pickles a couple of days ago and she promptly ate the whole thing. I upped the ante with a gallon but this time I got eggs from her chickens in return and yes they were very nice for breakfast this morning over good old Heinz Vegetarian beans and toasted ciabatta. It doesn't hurt, of course, that I fried them in Kerry Gold Irish butter. Yes, I know Kerry Gold is too good/expensive to cook with but what a luxury!
Since I have two straight days off it also means bread baking and I have a refreshed sourdough starter that is ready to become whole wheat bread. I'll make the dough tonight and let it rest in the fridge overnight and then form loaves and bake it tomorrow. If you bake bread at home and haven't tried letting it ferment overnight in the fridge instead of quickly on the counter then you should try it. Makes a world of difference in the flavor and texture. The cold doesn't stop the yeast but slows it down and allows for a full development of taste. Worth the extra 12 or 14 hours in every way. I also use the same overnight rest for my pizza dough and I'll put my pizza dough up against anyone's.

Out Of Control

This butternut squash got a little carried away and it is not even the largest we've picked. They don't usually get such long necks but I thought it was interesting. It is at least a pot of soup!

Don't Miss A Couple of Days

Madam and I missed a couple of days of harvesting which we got to this morning. As you can see we spent several hours just picking. Two bushels of tomatoes and other stuff. I spent the afternoon making Roma tomato filets which are now in jars but still a full day of work tomorrow putting the rest by. what you see is today's harvest and doesn't include an equal about of tomatoes that are loading down the dining room table.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Really Hot

Really hot here in Georgia and I am taking the full force of it at work. The corporate policy of relieving cashiers outside every hour when the heat is at dangerously high levels has been ignored for the last two days while I, of course, have been the outside garden center cashier. Two full days in the high humidity and upper 90's with no respite. No explanation from the PTB, naturally. I have the evening shift today (4 -1030) so it might be a little better but it will still be 97 or 98 at 4pm when I clock in but the good thing is that I have two days off tomorrow and Friday. Hooray! as I need a rest.

Not A Flower

Hummingbird in my face.
No, red shirt.
Never mind!

Not Rational

I don't why I keep expecting something rational to happen with respect to the debt ceiling deal. Rational things happen when rational people come together and hammer out reasonable compromise. In the debt ceiling talks we don't have this. What we do have is a politically centrist White House trying to reach a rational compromise with irrational people(meaning the ultra conservative/teahadist bunch). This is no different than the discussions over climate change. One side, the rational one, has the backing of the facts and consensus of  an overwhelming majority of scientists. There is no question that human activity is having a negative effect on global climate and that it is getting more serious. That's the real world. On the other hand you have the climate change deniers who, in spite of all evidence otherwise, are insisting that just the opposite is true. They have a separate reality that is not based on fact and observable phenomena and to try to reach some rational agreement is impossible...they are not in the same universe. The same applies to the debt ceiling talks. The radical right doesn't agree with a majority of the world's economists and insist that the debt ceiling is no big deal...they are living in a separate reality untouched by facts and figures and therefore can't be reasoned with. We should expect the worse but I will say that were I Mr. Obama I would just rule the debt ceiling doesn't exist by virtue of the "full and credit" language in the Constitution and dare anyone to challenge me. The majority of the American people believe this and would back the President.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Speaking of Crunch

Well, another week ends with no real movement on raising the debt ceiling. It sure would be nice to be like the GOP and decide that in spite of running up huge debts on your credit cards you can just decide to not pay them. People just don't seem to be talking about the fact that we are not talking about NEW spending just about paying for spending already committed to by Congress. Two wars, a huge tax cut and a Medicare drug bill all on the old plastic.
It is not looking like there will be any resolution either and if there is I am not taking bets on who will blink but as batshit crazy as the GOP is I doubt it will be them. It is going to get ugly.

Maters and More Maters

Got a day off but it will be spent in the kitchen dealing with a gazillion tomatoes. I estimate a couple of gallons of tomato sauce will be the end result. I also have to do another batch of some kind of pickle...probably bread and butter or I will lose a bunch of cukes. I have a years worth of dills made so far so any more of those are definitely out of the question. There are also many, many peppers of several varieties that need attention. Last summer I didn't have a job so I had the time but this year it is a crunch.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Back To Work

Well, my little three day holiday is over but I got a lot done. Nice batch of sourdough bread, garden and yard work and even chipped away at a bit of the "honey-do". Our Greek friend came by yesterday to collect some tomatoes, eggplant and other garden goodies and seeing her inspired me to go Greek for dinner last night and I went with papoutsakia or "little slippers" since I am overrun with eggplant. I am not a huge fan of aubergine but this is a really nice dish and it works well with the Japanese type eggplant I have. Eggplant halves stuffed with a melange of lamb and veal, tomatoes, onion, garlic and just a hint of cloves and cinnamon all covered with a thick bechamel and baked. Very nice! Thanks for the inspiration Anastasia!
Since we are also overrun with tomatoes we are going for a Insalata Caprese tonight and the leftover papoutsakia.
Anyhow, back to work tomorrow and Thursday and off again Friday.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


I actually have three straight days off! Early work in the garden after I got a batch of sourdough bread going and another gallon and a half of pickles. Goddess knows what I am going to do with all these pickles!  The weather has turned a bit cooler for the weekend so it is quite nice out. I even managed lunch right in the garden. Cherry tomatoes, an ear of corn right from the stalk, a small green pepper and a bit of melon...lovely.
Going to spend the rest of the afternoon reading. I go in spurts of reading like this. I just finished the complete Pern series by Anne McCaffrey, some of which I have on the Kindle but not all are available, and the rest in dead tree form. Since I am into Anne right now I have picked up the Talent series, and I am on the second book of that "The Rowan" after whipping through Pegasus in Flight yesterday. Next Damia, Damia's Children and finally Lyon's Pride. I've read all these before but every once in a while I feel the need to revisit them. I'll do the same with Asimov in the near future and read the entire extended Foundation series again. Then it will probably be either Heinlen and the future history stories or E.E. "Doc" Smith and the Lensmen series. Going to have to see what's available for the Kindle or I will have to resort to the old paperbacks which are pretty well used and I am not sure they will take another reading without falling apart.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Snow Today

Wishful thinking! After five straight days of work...Monday and Tuesday were all day in the outside garden center with record high temperatures...I'm not looking forward to a day in my own garden with continuing high temps but a lot of work needs doing and I must water at minimum since everything is showing the strain of the murderous heat. It should be noted that after I did my full two days outside at a register the company decided on Wednesday that staff needs to rotated indoors every hour when we are under a heat advisory. My timing is impeccable.
If you are in one of the areas under the heat gun please be careful and watch for signs of heat stress. I know I will probably not last outside past about 1 or 2 pm today but I will have plenty of water and a hat.
We'll chat later.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Blueberry Jam Today

Had a wad of blueberries to process and we wound up with 30 half pints of jam. It turned out very nice and I used a low sugar recipe which gives the jam a real berry kick. Took the better part of an afternoon since you can only make jams and jellies in small batches successfully. It took three batches of 3 and half pounds of berries each to wind up with the 30 half pints. For each 10 cups of berries(3.5 pounds) I used 4.5 cups of sugar, 1/4 cups of lemon juice and 1/2 cup of water and followed the instructions in the box of no sugar Sure-Jell. Bring the berries, pectin, lemon juice and water to a rolling boil add the sugar and bring back to a rolling boil and boil for a minute. Pack in sterile 1/2 pint jars and seal with new lids. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes. Actually a very easy recipe and it turns out delicious jam.

Madam has already had a PBJ with the tiny amount of jam left in the pot and pronounced in luscious.

This was the first of many preserving runs this summer and we've barely dented the stuff from last year.

No Jobs

Really lousy jobs report this morning...only 18K jobs added last month and now the unemployment rate is at 9.2%. I don't expect to anything improve until we get all the people in Washington sedated with a little electroshock therapy thrown in for good measure. The GOP says the new job numbers mean absolutely no new taxes which will allow them to drag out the debt ceiling disaster until even more of the last minute. All these bad numbers which scream for investment and spending and nothing is coming out of DC except deficit insanity.

I sure as hell never thought I would be around to see the country in such a mess but when Bush was selected in 2000 I felt a definite disturbance in the force and should have seen the writing on the wall.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Remembering the Fourth

Happy Fourth of July. I hope everyone has a great holiday. Play safe and travel safe. Please remember that the "official" food for Independence Day is the hot dog. You must have at least one dog today even if you also have a burger or something else. Please also note that a proper "tube steak" requires mustard, onion, chili and cole slaw and absolutely no ketchup. I will allow mustard and sauerkraut as a substitute for those that insist. However, it must be good brown mustard and fresh kraut not canned. Also, the dog must be grilled over and open fire and should be slightly toasted. For those not having access to an open fire I will allow it to be plugged into a 115vac wall outlet for a minute or so but be careful.

This time of year always brings back memories of the 4th of July summers of my younger days. Andy (my younger brother) and I were always sent to Narrows, Va to spend a few weeks or a month with our paternal grand parents. Ruby and Burt.  The Fourth was celebrated in a big way and it was required that the extended family all got together in the Narrows Town Park known as "The Boom" (loggers used to float big logs down Wolf Creek and they would collect in the deep water of the mill pond. When the big logs would crash into logs already there there would be a big "boom' hence the name.) There was usually around twenty of the family gathering with all the traditional picnic dishes. Burgers and dogs on the grill but also always fried chicken, potato salad, cole slaw, pickles and such. Always one or two of Grandmother's famous cakes like Lane or Lady Baltimore. Oh and for sure a fresh blackberry cobbler and homemade ice cream...most likely peach. Lots of fun and a swim in "The Boom", at least until you were forced out because your lips were blue from the cold mountain water. Not sure such times exist anymore except maybe in a few small towns. Pleasant memories.

You guessed it....I have to work today from 1130a to least it is time and a half. No picnic for me and no swim in "The Boom". 

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Cold Water Dill Pickles

The pickling cucumbers had a sudden flush and we wound up with a couple of gallons of perfectly sized cukes for pickles this morning. I have an old family recipe for cold water dill pickles that is really easy and it makes very nice pickles.

All it takes per gallon of pickles is:
8 cups of cold water
2 cups of cider vinegar
3/4 cups kosher or pickling salt
1 tsp alum
1tsp cream of tartar
4 large sprigs of dill heads(flowers)

This will make enough brine for a gallon jar of pickles. As you can see I had two nice 1 gallon pickle jars rescued from somewhere so I had to make two batches of brine. Make up the brine using the water, salt and vinegar making sure all the salt is dissolved. Wash, but don't soak the cukes and pack in the jars with two heads of dill on the bottom and two heads on top. Put the dill and alum in the jars and fill the jars to cover the cukes. Cover loosely and leave at room temperature for 6 or 7 days. You can then refrigerate and keep them for several months or longer. The pickles work in the jar and there is no rinsing or anything else required. Feel free to add garlic or hot peppers or any other herbs or seasoning you like. Just don't alter the vinegar, salt, water mixture and don't leave out the alum and cream of tartar. This is an old fashioned way of pickling. If you don't have gallon jars you can use any 1gallon non reactive container. That means no aluminum. I could have just as easily used a pickle crock. If your cukes are small enough you can easily do this in quart jars as well. You also don't have to put them in the fridge but they will continue to ferment and won't last as long.
Even if you don't have a garden, this time of year pickling cucumbers should be in the farmer's markets as is fresh dill so you can still give making good old fashioned pickles a try.

You should also remember that pickling was just another method our ancestors had of making the garden last beyond the summer season. Cucumbers seem to come all at once in the garden and they would go to waste without a good way of preserving them. It doesn't hurt that they taste pretty good as well. Now I just have to wait a week.