email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The HD TV

It went full circle tonight.  Years ago, when I first shopped for an HD TV, one on the showroom HD TVs showed a dinosaur stampede among humans.  I was stunned both by the action and by the realism!  I asked "What is THAT and the salesman said it was the new King Kong movie.

I bought a 60" plasma tv that day, but not so I could watch the movie.  I prefer nature/science/biology DVDs.  But every time the newer King Kong movie was on, I checked it for the dinosaur stampede.  Never caught it...  Too early, too late, whatever.

But I caught it tonight.  Saw the listing and just as I turned it on, the dinosaur stampede started.  Watched that whole part.  Finally!!!  And then I turned it off.  The movie itself is both too depressing and too weirdly violent.  Movies where too many people are just obliterated are Not My Thing...


More Bulb Planting Fun

The Project That Never Ends continues...  WHAT was I thinking when I ordered 350 tulips/hyacinths/daffodils to plant?  Well, I suppose because I had new space and I decided in September to landscape rather than just plant grass.  And its not the bulbs, its the making of and the digging for all the wire cages to protect them from the Evil Squirrels and Nasty Voles.

Just planted in the ground, the squirrels dig them up from above and the voles eat them from below.  I'm hoping the wire cages keep them safe and blooming for years.  But I never expected it would be so much work!

I've bored you with the process before, so I won't do that again.  But even to do a few cages takes time.  It's the weather...

In one sense, I have been very lucky with the weather.  The ground is usually frozen hard by mid November and it has stayed oddly warm this year.  So I have had more time to plant them.  On the other hand, it has rained some  almost every day for 6 weeks.  Not that we are flooded; the rain is a soft drizzle.  But that's enough to make the soil slippery and muddy.  And you don't want to dig in wet soil because it packs down.  And at the end of a day working in wet soil, I would look like The Swamp Thing!

So I have a large 36'x30' sheet of plastic I cover the area with every day.  OK, the bottom 4' are not covered, but that section was the first I planted so I don't have to step in it.

So every day when it is not raining, I take all the stones off some of the edges of the plastic, peel it back for where I want to plant, and get 3 more bulb cages (holding 9 bulbs each) set in.  3 cages take about 90 minutes and after that I'm tired.  Well, each hole has to be 14"x16" and 12" deep.  And the dug up soil has to go somewhere other than on top of the previous plantings (I have styrofoam plates marking the planted spots and I can't cover THEM).

So putting the dug-up soil gets trickier the more cages I plant.  I have all the tulips planted (20 cages) and I am on the hyacinths at the outer edge on one side.  That side (of the 30' edged circle) is the easier to dig in (sandier soil vs clayier soil), so I favor that area for digging.

The other side of the circle will be for daffodils, more about those when I plant them, but they are FAR easier to plant...

So I wanted to start on the hyacinths yesserday.  The forecast looked good.  The Weather Channel website for my town said no rain until 6 pm.  Hurray!  I got started at 2:30.  It took 15 minutes to get the ools and bulbs outside and peel the plastic sheeting off.  So I started to dig the first hole.

And then it started to rain!  Misty at first but then more steadily...  Dammit!  I waited a few minutes as the rain got heavier.  But I gave up and re-covered the planting site with the plastic and put all the tools away. 

Fortunately, I also needed to go grocery-shopping, so off I went with rain falling on the windshield.  For 2 minutes...

Then it stopped completely.  For the rest of daylight.  ARGHHH!

Well, at least I got the grocery-shopping done...


Saturday, December 26, 2015

What Are My Politics?

I've never figured that out really.  I usually end up voting for Democrats, but that's not much about party.  I just like ideas that are fact-based and seem like they will work.  Too often, we assign our political views to party ideology.

For example, I think (Conservative) it is worthwhile to protect our borders.  I don't want mass immigrations of one group of people coming in.  But I do want immigration (Liberal).  From all around the world.  Equally.  That is neither Republican nor Democrat; Conservative or Liberal.

We need people to come and help harvest the crops from our farms.  It is seasonal work.  So let'slet it be "guest-worker" status that helps all of us.  They get wages to help their families back home, we get the massive crops to fill our stores and to export to other countries not so farmland-rich.  It helps all.

But why should we need to allow foreign workers to harvest our crops?  That bothers me when we have unemployed citizens.   Why can't they do the same work (Conservative)?

Well, in one sense, they don't have the experience to do it.  If you are a city person, you don't have the experience.  You can't be expected to do what you are not experienced to do (Liberal).  But if you need a job, you should be able to learn basic work skills (Conservative).  But how do you get the skills to harvest farmcrops if the only vegetable you ever see is in a school lunch (Liberal).

See how confusing it can get?

We need The New Deal brought back again.  You can also call it "Workfare"(Conservative).  Why not create new Government Programs to employ the unemployed at working on infrastructure and farms.  Call it on-the-job training where they learn employable skills (Liberal).

We need a lot of building work done here.  We have unemployed people on welfare.  Why not combine the two (Conservative).  Yeah, and give them a livable wage (Liberal). 

Give a family a house for free and they will trash it (Conservative), but help them to afford to buy one and they will cherish it (Liberal).

Get the idea? 

My view is that there are too many superrich people and too many seriously poor ones.  This country had it's best days when there was a large middle class.  A large middle class means both stability and class mobilty.

The possibilty of class mobility is probably the best thing we ever had/have.  The local rich guy's kids should be ABLE to fail.  The poorest kids should be ABLE to succeed.  And Middle class kids Should go in either direction as their skills allow.

The current rules are set up legally and financially to prevent that (Liberal).  And the bias toward massive inherited wealth is getting stronger (Conservative).

I don't want specifically Democrat or Republican, Conservative or Liberal.  I want the recreation of a strong majority Middle Class through some Centrist bi-partisan politics.  Because a majority Middle Class is what makes a democracy work best.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tulip Planting Concerns

I have realized that all my tulip bulb planting efforts MIGHT be a waste of time.  Spring-Flowering bulbs like tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils (et al) need "chill time".  In other words, they have to get cold enough for long enough to flower properly. 

Tulips require temperatures below 50F to begin to chill.  The colder they are, the less time they need.   This has been an unusually warm December here.  We have set a couple of record high temps, but that wouldn't be too much of a problem if it also got cold sometimes.

We have only had 3 nights below 32F here this month and are not forecast to have another until JANUARY.  This is almost beyond bizarre!  The average frist hard freeze here is usually in late October and the ground usually freezes a foot down for the Winter by early December.

I sure appreciate the warmish weather for the ability to keep working outside, but what is likely to happen next Spring is that I will have tulip plants, but no flowers.  After all this work, that would be a hard blow.  At least (as I read on most sites), that won't harm the plants permanently, just prevent blooms next year.

At minimum, tulips need 8-10 weeks of freezing ground.  And since that isn't likely to happen until early January, I am going to need a late Winter keeping the ground really cold into mid-March.  And THAT isn't the usual pattern here.

And I still have 8 cages of tulips and 8 cages of hyacinths to plant!  And 150 daffodils, but they don't need cages (being toxic to voles and squirrels) so I can just use my drill auger to plant them individually.  And from past experience, I know I CAN plant 150 daffodils that way in 2 days easily.

I think I will take the hyacinths and plant them in some large plastic tubs I have.  The voles can't get into the tubs and I'll cover the tops with wire mesh to keep the squirrels out.  I can harvest the bulbs in May to plant them properly

These are probably the last tulips and hyacinths I will plant.  The Winters are getting too short for them to survive.  I shouldn't have planted these, but I got all excited when I had an excavator remove the 6' high ridge in the backyard and thought of things I could plant there instead of grass to mow.  I love to see almost anything more than grass...

And I still have 200 crocus bulbs to plant!  I kind of got in over my head this year.  But better to try to much and stay busy, then to try too little and look back with regret at wasted time now, next year.

But I also have to say...  I've lived in this spot for 30 years.  I've seen the changes in the seasons as only a gardener/landscaper can.  The ground used to be frozen solid by the start of December.  Now it happens at the start of January (this isn't the first year of warmish weather at Solstice around here).

Anyone who thinks the climate isn't generally warming isn't a gardener! 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Winter Solstice

I celebrate this day!  No I'm not a modern day Druid or anything, but this day means something to me.  I am just very practical about the day.  It is the shortest day of the year.  Tommorrow, the days will start getting longer.

The longer days will lead to gardening season.

The gardening season leads to fresh tomatoes, fresh bicolor corn, small seedless cucumbers, flat italian beans,  celery leaves and spicy greens to add to salads, fresh ripe melons, zucchini, and all the minor crops.

It leads to spring bulbs that I love walking among and admiring in my backyard.

It leads to some time standing out on the deck looking at the backyard and thinking what I will do to reclaim the far parts from brambles that have gotten a bit out-of-control the past 2 years since I had a few trees removed.

It leads to the cats enjoying the outside again and running around all crazy for the shear joy of running.

It leads to thoughts of projects that will be harder than I expect but worth it after all the effort.

AND (many of you will have to just tolerate me on this), it IS the ORIGINAL "Reason for the Season".  I don't say hat lightly.  Just that most ancient religious beliefs have oriented around the Winter Solstice.  It makes sense that "Hope Springs" when the days start to get longer and promise a new beginning.   

May There Be Peace on Earth, and Good Will to All.  :)

Mark


Sunday, December 20, 2015

More Tulip Planting

Why do I keep getting involved in these projects that are nearly beyond my ability?  It is easy to plan things, I suppose, underestimating the physical work required.  Back in September, I ordered enough tulip bulps to fit 9 each into 27 cages.  Seemed like there was plenty of time...

(Some of this may have been previously mentioned)...

But then I learned that the bulbs wouldn't be shipped until early November.  So no point in doing anything before then.  (coff, coff)  Well, yeah, I SHOULD have made all the cages before then, but I thought that would only take a day.  I mean, I have good metal snips and a couple of metal blades for my jigsaw.  It should be like cutting cardboard.

WRONG!  The first cut into the wire mesh bends the cut wire and those grab the snips.  And the wire mesh is so flexible, it just vibrates along with the jigsaw blade to no effect.  So each wire in the grid along the cutting path has to be individually snipped from straight down.  I counted once and each cage required 277 snips!  After 4 of those cage cutouts (and forming the cutout into a cage) my hands started cramping.  It took a week to make 20 cages, and at that point I decided I better plant some and see how well they worked.

Well, digging the holes for the cages couldn't be all that hard, right?  12'x14'x10' deep.  I knew I was in trouble at the first stomp on the spade.  Now, this is a 100% metal spade with a newly sharpened flat blade.  Roots, rocks, clay.  I had to pound in an outline of the cage, use my leverage fork to break up the inside portion of the hole-to-be, pry out rocks, axe roots, and shovel out the soil one level at a time.  The clay stuck to the shovel and had to be knocked off.  For every shovelful I scooped out, I had to do several different things!  Each cage planting took 30 minutes of hard work.

Best I could manage was 3 holes a day before I was exhausted.  I can still do that kind of work at 65, but I don't think I would have done much better at 35.  Back was sore, legs were sore, hips were sore.

But just digging the hole is only half the work.  The soil below the hole had to be loosened so hole wasn't just a smooth clay bathtub and so the bulb roots could penetrate.  Tnen I had to sprinkle in some organic bulb fertilers and mix in in the loosened bottom.  Then I had to add some 1/2 compost 1/2 topsoil blend I bought a trailerload of at a landscaping place and mix in more fertilizer.  Then place the cage on the bottom and add more of the compost blend (you don't want the bulbs ON the wire mesh).

Then set the bulbs in the cage in a way that looks "natural" (If there is anything less "natural" than this whole process, I can't imagine it), then fill up he cage with for blend (for good drainage).  Then add another couple inches of blend over the top and rub it around to make sure there was no air space in the cage.  Then shovel some of the removed soil back on top slightly higher than soil level to allow for settling.

As a final gesture of organization, I bought a package of styrofoam plates to use as placers, wrote the name of the bulb (I have 4 varieties of tulips) on the plate with a marker, and stuck the plate over the spot with a 10" metal tent peg.

That's ONE cage of 9 bulbs...

Then because it has suddenly become randomly rainy lately, I had to cover the entire area with a large sheet of plastic (which I have) so the entire area wouldn't become a sea of mud.  Naturally, with the rain comes wind, so I had to surround the perimeter with rocks.  Which weren't enough, since the plastic was blown loose each of the first couple tries.  I finally had to resort to using 12' sq paver stones and REALLY large rocks and old pipes etc to hold it down.

And since the plastic cover got blown loose the first couple of times and I had to let the soil dry some (and some days when the plastic STAYED on after that, it rained all day so I couldn't really do any work there anyway).

So here I am in late December, having planted only 12 of the 20 cages.  And everytime I do, I have hand-cramps a couple hours later (naturally, just the time I am trying to prepare dinner).  Muscle rub creme helps, as does an aspirin, but only about 30 minutes after they start.   Meanwhile, I'll be cutting up veggies and meat,  and my fingers just lock into place around the knife handle or cooking pot handle and I actually have to pull them off.

ARGGHHH!  I would worry more, but that only happens after a day of hard tool use.  But it still is really annoying.

I've gotten better at the process.  Between the spade, the shovel, the leverage fork, and the post hole digger, I can get the hole dug out a bit easier and faster.  The spade defines the outline, the leverage fork breaks up the soil inside the outline, the shovel scoops out the loosened soil, and the post hole digger takes up the lower level of soil better.  But, mainly, switching tools uses different muscles so I don't get sore so fast.  I have it down to 20 minutes per planting a cage start to finish.

Fortunately, we don't have freezing temperatures forecast again until January.  But therein lays a problem.  More about that in 2 days!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Really Stupid

You ever done something dumb?  I don't mean robbing a bank or driving your car into a tree.  I mean small stupid.  I decided my old Rival crockpot which worked fine for 30 years was too annoying to clean.  So I wanted a better one.  One that had a removable stoneware insert that was easier to wash.  And products get better, right?

So I ended up ordering a 5 qt stoneware removable inset crockpot.  They day I received it, I tossed my old Rival in the trash.  Its gone.  And then I realized that the new one wasn't right for me at all.   Too big and clumsy.  So I returned it.

And was crockpotless...  So I went searching for a smaller one everywhere.

I don't know about you, but I pay a lot of attention to negative comments about products.  The new ones my 2.5 to 3 qt size were all "too hot", "burned food", "couldn't be left unattended for more than 30 minutes" etc.

Oh damn!

And I hate the way they look.  White, polka dotted, metal "burns you" "burns food but all the new ones do". 

I decided cleaning the old one wasn't all THAT bad.  Sometimes you have to return to what you know works.  I went to Ebay.  I bought the same Rival crockpot I had before.  At twice the price and almost the same amount for shipping.  It grates on my nerves to do that, but I'll be happier.

One thing I've learned is that sometimes paying for a mistake is sometimes better than hoping for a better outcome in the face of contrary information.  I want my old crockpot back, and I have to pay to get it.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Hey, Republican and Democratic Candidates

1.  I want the infrastructure rebuilt.

2.  I'm tired of stupid wars from Korea to the present.

3.  Let's stop subsidizing agri-businesses that are making fortunes.

4.  Let's remake Unions to counterbalance CEOs.

5.  Let's let the minor drug prisoners go home to their families.

6.  Let's stop the police from shooting every black male who "looks threatening".

7.  Let's stop insane people from buying guns.

8.  Let's stop letting people from buying assault rifles.  Period.

9.  Let's fix our schools.  We can't survive raising uneducated children.

10.  Let's raise the social security retirement age.  70 is what 65 used to be.

11.  Why do rich people get to avoid social security taxes above a certain amount?  Flat that tax!

12.  Raise the minimum wage.  I'm tired of supporting the low Walmart wages with tax subsidies to keep those workers fed and sheltered beyond what Walmart and McDonalds pays.  Let THEM pay for their workers' needs.

13.  End restaurant tipping.  Pay waiters, etc, regular wages!

14.  Let the Middle East fight their own wars.  It's a religious battle and I don't really care who wins.

15.  Stop subsidizing fossil fuels.  Let us grow into renewable energy sources.

16.  Stop illegal immigration.  Really.  Mexico could do it from their side.  And we give them money.

16A.  Encourage talented and educated immigrants to come here from EVERYWHERE!  We thrive on diversity.

17.  End billionaire control over elections.  Its one person, one vote; not one dollar, one vote.

18.  Start "if you are too big to fail, you are too big to exist" trustbusting.

19.  Begin aggressive anti-foreign hacking attacks.  Consider blowing up a Chinese ship in exchange for a hack-attack by the Chinese govt.  Focus their attention on consequences.

20.  Support our friends who fight our battles.  Kurds.  Syrian rebels.

When the US attacked Iraq in 2003, I and my friends ASSUMED that we would have political experts following closely behind to support local communities in constructing democracy.  We were shocked when we did not but not surprised at the insanity that followed.   If ever there was a lost opportunity, that was it.  The Bush/Cheney Administration failed at so many levels there.  And too many Republicans want to repeat those errors.

Let's not let that happen again.  Let's stop being all "Dick Cheney" about international events.  Let's start being smarter.







Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good:  I had planned to go to the post office to mail the Cat's cards and my own on Wednesday.  But I got up too late.  Don't laugh, I keep REALLY weird hours sometimes.  But then I realized it was going to rain all day Thursday and I figured that would keep the customer line short in the morning.  I was right, "maybe".

I walked in and there was NO line.  But before I got my turn at the counter, there there 10 people behind me!  So it was just REALLY lucky timing.  It took me less time to BUY the 52 domestic mail stamps and arrange for the 9 international envelopes than it took to APPLY the 52 stamps to the domestic mail envelopes than it did to arrange for the 9 international.

But thank you USPS for inventing peel&stick stamps!

More Good:  With the time I saved not standing in line at the Post Office, I was able to get to the meat&liquor store (a really neat place) before the lunch crowd rolled in to crowd up the deli counter.  I was in and out in 15 minutes.  If I get there with the lunch crowd or when the high school next door lets out at 2:30 it can take an hour!

The Bad:  I've been going a little nuts trying to mow the lawn.  Yeah, so that doesn't seem a big deal...  But I haven't since early September when I had the soil level raised and sowed new grass there.  The grass was too new and the soil was too soft until November.  I wanted the new grass to develop deep roots and deep roots come from high grass (they each power the other).  And then it has rained just some every few days since.  You don't want to cut wet grass (fungal diseases).  So I finally got 3 dry days and went to mow.

More Bad:  Dead riding mower battery since it hadn't been used for 3 full months!  Even the boat battery I keep in the toolshed was dead.  Fortunately, I had just bought and charged a portable power pack and jump-started it.  Started right up, so it wasn't old gas, fouled spark plugs etc.  Mowed the lawn and mowed it double.  Thats because I don't rake leaves, I shred them in place.  It's good for the grass and the trees to keep the nutrients in place.  The leave shreds disappear into the ground after enough cuts.  But the next day, the mower battery was just as dead as before.

I have to keep the power pack on the mower between my legs as I mow now.  &*@#  Everytime I stop the mower, I have to jump-start it again.  When batteries get too low, the charger won't detect the "too low" battery.   A glimmer of hope though:  I've just read that if you put a charger on a good battery and connect THAT one to a "too low" battery, the charger detects the good battery and the good battery transfers the charge to the Too Low battery.  I haven't tried that yet.

The Ugly:  The planting of tulip and hyacinth bulbs in vole&squirrel proof cages is WAY behind schedule.  The soil is what was below the ridge I had removed in September, and it is a lot harder to dig in than I expected.  My cages are 12'x14'x4".  They have to be buried  at least 8" deep.  It is taking 30 minutes per hole.  I acted like a crazed lunatic on one just to see how fast I could possible dig one.  and plant the cages with the bulbs and compost/topsoil mix and 2-6-3 fertilizer AND put a labeled styrofoam plate pinned with a metal tent peg.

20 minutes, and I was exhausted...  Best I could do all out fanatic crazy was 3 cages in 75 minutes!

Its the stones, tree roots, and clay.  And all the other details (sprinkling fertilizer, scooping the compost/topsoil mix into a bucket to pour over it all, and then covering it with existing soil takes a lot more time than I realized.  10 days of that (in non-rain days) and I have 11 of 20 cages planted.  And I have 150 daffodils to plant (which at least don't need cages, being toxic to mammals, and I can use an small auger for those.

But the worrisome thing is that tulips, etc, need chilling time, and the ground here is usually frozen by December 1st.  So it is possible that none of all these bulbs I am killing myself planting will bloom at all next year (they would grow foliage and bloom next year if there is enough chill-time), but climate-warming may make all my work futile!

More Ugly:  Winter is coming, and even though my 11 year Toyota Highlander is kept in a built-in garage, the battery routinely dies.  The experts say I just don't drive enough.  So I might be looking at 3 months of having to jump-start the car in the garage everytime I want to go anywhere (everything I need is within a mile usually and once every couple weeks I drive 10 miles to the meat/wine store).  I have to keep a fully charged boat battery in the car for jump starts.  It isn't the battery, new ones die too.

Hey, some people love to drive, I don't.

It begins with the first hard freeze and ends with the last hard freeze.  Yet the garage temperature never falls below 45F.  Drives me nuts.  I KNOW there has to be some car component that is drawing on the battery in cold weather, but I can't image what.  One of the many things Dad didn't teach me about was cars.  The experts at dealership and online just say drive it 30 minutes every few days.  ARGH! 


Monday, December 14, 2015

Politics 3

About Ted Cruz:

Slick,  Might be the smartest guy in the Republican list but that's not saying much.

But crazy...

Sen Cruz's statements are in Blue here.  Fact-Checkers statements are in black...

"Here’s the simple and undeniable fact: The overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats."  

False. The statement cherry-picks one partisan academic study.

"Under Barack Obama and the big government economy, the median wage for women has dropped $733." 

 The wages for women actually rose.


False, the percentage of Democrats relative to Republicans is higher than in 2008 and 2012.



False, there will be 150 international inspectors.



False, inspections will make it harder for Iran to produce nuclear weapons.   Iran can't hide residual radioactivity.


Supreme Court rulings are binding on all States.


No evidence for this claim.


14 of 44 have been neither.   For a serious US politician not to know such a basic fact suggests a lack of knowledge or deliberate lying.


The Constitution disagrees.  There is no religious test in the Constitution, nor is there anything about sexual preferences.
 

Small businesses routinely fail.  But they are not failing in record numbers. 


The election results and exit polling results said otherwise.


The nominee had an MD from Yale.


No evidence found.


"Most" people have not.  



 2 Democratic votes out of 190 isn't "bi-partisan".



Never happened. 


Never happened.


Statistics find the statement false.  



Frequently false.

9% isn't double.

 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Politics 2

About Ben Carson:  It is obvious that talent at surgery has no connection to political or even general sense.  Carson said that the Egyptian pryramids were used to store grain.

The Egyptian pyramids are almost entirely solid except for tiny channels leading to small burial chambers.

You have to be abominably stupid, moronic, idiotic, ignorant, foolish, dull, slow-witted, vacuous, imbecilic and doltish to even CONSIDER the idea that the pyramids could have been used to store anything.

But that's Carson.  In MY opinion...

And there are Republicans who SUPPORT him to be our President?

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Politics

You just have to be fascinated by someone like Donald Trump.  Successful, ambitious, and a total demagogue.  More dangerous than Sen McCarthy, of Communist-Baiting infamy in the 1950s.

Italics, mine...

Who else could say or believe these things and not utterly humiliated and attacked?

1. Trump accused the Mexican government of sending its criminals and rapists across the border.

No evidence exists that illegal immigrants are more criminal in other ways than average.  In fact, the history of immigrants to the US has been those of the bravest, most ambitious, and willing to learn a new way of life. 

2.  Trump knocked Sen John McCain of doing too little to help veterans, knocked the senator in July, first disputing that he was a hero, then declaring: "He's a war hero 'cause he was captured. I like people that weren't captured, OK?"

This is utterly disgusting.   Senator McCain is a hero by means of his general military service and by fighting his captivity.  The idea that one is a failure by being captured in warfare is depraved and UnAmerican.  Some of the bravest fighters have been captured sometimes.  When you push the envelope, you accept greater risk.  Trump disses all captured soldiers.

3.  Trump repeatedly has questioned Kelly's professionalism and went as far as to tell CNN that she had "blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever".

For Trump to "blame" women for "bleeding uncleanliness" is harking back to primitive superstitions and general non-understanding of routine human bodily processes.

4.  Flip-flopping is trouble for most politicians, but Trump has done it merrily and with apparent impunity. He has shrugged off his old support for abortion rights and a single-payer health care system, and his former identification with the Democratic Party, with that-was-then-this-is-now nonchalance.

Trump has his wet finger in the wind of change.  He criticizes others for changing their minds when new facts are learned, but never admits to his frequent changes in views himself.

5.  To Donald Trump, there are two kinds of people in the world: good negotiators and bad negotiators. Basically everyone except Donald Trump and his "guys" fall into the latter category.

Trumps has often failed at businesses at public and investor expense.  But unlike the Wizard Of Oz, he has kept the curtain shut.   Trump know fakes.  It takes one to know one.

6.  He'll build a wall between the U.S.-Mexico border to keep undocumented immigrants out — and make Mexico pay for it (somehow).

Trump is proposing that Mexico build a wall to keep it's people in.   Something that the USA would never tolerate itself.  A rule of civilized nations is that anyone has the right to leave.

7.  About China:  "Listen, you mother(bleep), we're going to tax you 25 percent."

Demagoguery, pure and simple...  Bad economics...  18th century mercantilism...  Not how a serious leader deals with international economics.

8.  Denigrates the USA at every chance:  "I have great respect for Mexico — their leaders are too smart — they’re killing us at the border and they’re killing us with trade. You know, Mexico in a certain way, is the new China.  "When did we beat Japan at anything?"

Mexico is a 2nd tier economy and tstruggling and their politics are generally barely moderately democratic at best (but improving) .  Japan's economy has been stagnant for 20 years.  Trump apparently does not know this.  He is thinking 30 years ago.  That kind of out-of-date thinking is not what the US needs in a President.

9.   "Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest — and you all know it! Please don't feel so stupid or insecure, it's not your fault."

This is how Trump talks to people who really are stupider than he is.   He is smart in a limited way.  He has really learned how to browbeat less talented people in commercial negotiations.  But that doesn't mean he has any specific intelligence.  What he HAS is a talent, and there is a difference.  But  his general IQ doesn't seem higher than average.  As a typical real estate shuskster, he makes claims he can't prove.

10.  "Hillary Clinton is the "worst secretary of state in the history of our country."

Ranker listed the best-to-worst Secretaries Of State. Hilary Clinton is ranked 17th best of 66.

11.  "I will build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me."

Never mind that the Great Wall of the Chinese (to which he alludes) failed completely most times...  Walls to keep people out or keep people in are both bad failures.  But, claiming to have built walls, what walls has he actually built either way anywhere?

12.   "I build great buildings all over the world. I would have Mexico pay for it. Believe me, they will pay for it."

Specify your plan.  Mexico doesn't seem to be impressed.
 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Another Moderately Busy Day

I'm not busy every day.  Some days I just get up late (a privilege of singlehood and retirement) make lunch, putter, make dinner, and watch a few science/nature DVDs.  But I usually TRY to do something useful each day.  Some days just don't work!

I had yesterday (Thursday) all planned out.  I would get up early (for me) at 10 am, use the riding lawn mower to tow the 5'x8' hauling trailer to the street, hook it up to the car, drive the car to the UPS center to drop off 2 boxes, drive the car (filled with empty boxes) to the recycling center, stop at the nursery on the way back to get 2 bucket-loader loads on 1/2 soil 1/2 compost (premixed is great there), stop by the grocery store where the double rows of parking spaces allow for a car and trailer, and get home in time to let the cats out.

Hah!  I stayed up til dawn, slept til 1 pm, and ate a fast lunch lunch.  Then the riding lawn mower wouldn't start.  I hadn't used it since late September.  The marine battery I keep in the shed was dead too.  So I went back to the house for the Jump-N-Carry JNC660 Jump Starter I bought a couple months ago to help with the car.  That worked!  

So I drove the riding mower (hereafter just "mower") around front to hook up to the trailer to move it.  Oops, forgot the key ring.  Back inside to get that.  Unlocked the trailer lock, hooked up the mower.  It some time to get the mower trailer ball directly under the trailer hitch.  The trailer was on a slope and held in place by wheel chocks so I couldn't move the trailer up or down hill.  And trying to use the brake lock thge the mower is in position is tricky.  It wants to settle back a few inches...

But I got the trailer and mower connected and brought the trailer to the street so I could get the SUV attached.  Hmm, I need a rake to spread the soil/compost mix level...  Another 200' trip back to the shed and 200' back to the trailer.  Oh, and I need a tarp to cover the load so it doesn't all blow away.  I thought I had the in the car, but it was a small one that wouldn't cover the entire trailer.  Off in search of a larger tarp I go!  

Didn't find the one I wanted (later discovered the one I wanted was covering plywood on the deck) but found one "almost" large enough.  Put that in the car.  Checked to make sure I had the bungee cord tie-downs in the car.  Nope!  Searched for the bungee cords.  In garage, in shed, in workshop...  No luck.  Re-checked each area.  Nope!

I wasn't at the point of checking the refrigerator, but close.  I use them for a lot of purposes, so I sat down and pictured them.  Couple of minutes later, I said "AHA!" and walked right to them.  I had a small basket of odds and ends left over from another project, and there they were!  OK, into the car they went!

Darn, I don't have my grocery list!  I made a list of all my usual items on a spreadsheet by category and with some blank lines after each for unusual items (and printed off a few hundred copies a few years ago).  I don't really need it for most things.  I know what fresh vegetables and meats I need, but its the odd items like ketchup or Crisco or minced horseradish I'll forget without the list.  Plus, going by memory means I end up with 3 jars of fancy hot gardeniera veggies in the pantry...

So I got the list.  Went to the SUV.  Noticed the sun was setting.  That means it is rush hour traffic, plus I don't want to do all these errands in the dark!

ARGGGHHH!  

So I set my attention to dinner and today (Friday).  I got up at 9 am, showerd etc, made a quick cheese/bacon omelet and toast, ate fast, and got going.  Hurray, I was on the road  at 11...

The UPS drop-off was easy, though it is annoying to stand in the place typing information into the computer to create a shipping label.  I have my computer mouse buttons reversed for comfort, so using the regular arrangement is awkward.  And their mouse pads are sticky so (between the two) it is hard to get the cursor on the spots they want.  And they are Windows while I am Mac, so some routine shortcuts don't work.  

But the label was made and printed eventually.  I brought my 2 boxes to the UPS clerk.  One box was a return of a crockpot.  My 35 year old one finally died, so I ordered a replacement.  I THOUGHT I was ordering the same size but with a removeable inset.  OOPS! It was huge (for me).  5 quarts is a LOT bigger than I thought.  Well, I have 5 gallon buckets I use frequently, and 1/4 that size seemed right.  Nope!  Apparently, I had a 2 quart crockpot before.  So I had a return from that with a prepaid pre-printed label.

It was the kitchen knife return that took all the work.  I bought a set of really great Wusthof-Trident kitchen knives from a Going-Out-Of Business store 10 years ago.  But I added a few individually.  One had a piece of the handle just fall off while I was cutting lettuce.  Wusthof said to return it to then VERY securely packaged.  

I can understand THAT!  Knives defy most packaging.  So I found a flat box 4" longer than the knife.  I cut pieces from another box to hold the knife.  The handle has two narrow spots, so I punched holes in one cardboard piece to match those and used twist ties to hold the handle in place leaving 2" all around the knife.  Then I placed the 2nd cardboard piece on top of the 1st and used duct tape all around it.  That knife AIN'T moving.

Then I put the broken handle piece in a sandwich bag (with a separate label inside the bag explaining what it was) and tucked it in between the cardboards and taped THAT in place.  Then I wrapped the whole thing in small bubble-wrap.  I added a copy of all the emails between Wusthof and I (with pictures) into the box after writing my name, phone number, email address on the copy.

When I was done, was was still some movement of the cardboard knife-holder in the box so I packed the edges equally around with styrofoam peanuts.  When I was done, an earthquake could not have made the contents shift around in the box.  I am nothing if not thorough!

So I got away from UPS in only 20 minutes.  On my way to get rid of the recyclable cardboard boxes...  

Naturally, there was a person ahead of me.  She didn't seem to have the slightest idea how recycling worked.  She had her trunk open and the workers were picking through the contents.  She had electronics, boxes, garbage, metal, and some non-recyclable junk in there.  Hey, if it is her first time trying to recycle, I'm patient.

So I decided to just carry my boxes from a car-length further away.  But one of the guys there took my boxes as I approached the cardboard compactor and said "She comes here every week with weird stuff and makes us take some stuff we really shouldn't accept for free" (actual garbage costs money to dispose of), "but if we complain we get in trouble".

I thanked the guy who helped me empty the boxes from the SUV, and commiserated with him about some of the strange "customers" they get.  Apparently some people try really hard to get their actual garbage "recycled" for free when there is a dumspter right there saying  "$1 per bag of garbage".  And they show up in luxury cars!

People are weird!

If you have read THIS far, you get an A+.

So from the recycling center, I went to the landscaping/nursery at the end of the same street.  I needed a lot of good soil to fill the cages of the Tulip and Hyacinth bulbs I am planting in an edged circle in the newly-leveled back yard.  I asked the "Loading Manager" if they still had the 1/2 topsoil 1/2 compost mix.  I told him I wanted 2 bucketloads and set my covering tarp so that the dumped mix would hold the front of the tarp in place, then went to the office to pay for it.

I went back out with the receipt and waved it to the bucket-loader guy.  He dumped one, then the 2nd.  I was spreading the load out evenly when I noticed he was waving at me.  Apparwntly, He felt the 2nd load had been a bit light.  He brought a 3rd!  Cool!

He didn't hang around like he was wanting a tip, so I gave him a big smile and a slight salute!  And he parked his machine and left.  

So I went to use the bungee cords to hold down the tarp over the soil in the trailer.  Imagine my surprise when I realized I had set the tarp sideways.  So I pulled it out from under the soil/compost mix and set it the right direction.  I tucked the front edge under the soil as best I could, and used the bungee cords to lock down the sides and back.

I hadn't driven 1/2 miles when the front came loose. so I pulled over to the side of the road to redo the front.  I'm glad I had an extra container of bungee cords in the car.  It seemed (and was) secure. But I saw some birdfeathers on the road (some unfortunate crow), and put several in the exposed (uncovered) back of the trailer where the "wrong" tarp didn't reach.  A little experiment on how much of the purschased soil/compost mix I might lose driving home.

The feathers were still there when I got home, so I guess I didn't lose any soil mix on the way home.  Aerodynamics are weird!

So I stopped at the Safeway grocery store.  They have double row parking spaces that can fit a car and trailer.  Did my shopping; won't bore you with that.  But I needed stamps and they sell them at no markup.  I had written on my shopping list "Don't Forget Stamps".  I forgot the stamps.  

So I got home, unhooked the trailer, covered the exposed part of the soil/compost mix with another tarp. Got inside at 1PM, opened the deck door and a few windows (it was 70F) and let the cats out.  They LOVED it.

Next time, the first planting of new Tulips and Hyacinths using the new-built cages and 1/2 soil 1/2 compost mix...

And if you have read THIS farther, you get an A++

Mark

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Moderately Busy Day

Sometimes I slack off a couple of days even when I have work to do.  Yeah, busy as I seem to be, I can ebnd up just cooking and watching science/nature DVDs...

But I got back to work today.  The tulip/hyacinth cages have a time deadline for planting the bulbs before the ground freezes, so I started with those.  I made 6 more before my hand started cramping up.  I need 27 cages and I have 20 built now.  Tomorrow should finish the remaining 7.

So after that, I started making spaghetti sauce.  Nothing too fancy.  I use 2 cans of 28 oz crushed tomato, a 1/2 minced green bell pepper, 1 minced jalapeno pepper, 1/2 minced onion, 1/4 of red wine, a tsp of sugar, a tbls of dried italian seasoning, a handful of sliced button mushrooms, and a doz pre-cooked meatballs I get frozen from the meat store.  I just let it simmer slowly for an hour, scraping the bottom with a spatula every 5 minutes.  It's good enough for me; not like I have an Italian grandmother to answer to...  LOL!  I have Tupperware containers just the right size for one meal, and spoon the mixture evenly for freezing.  But I like a LOT of tomato sauce on my pasta, so my Tupperware size might not be yours...  BTW, I spoon the 1" meatballs out first and cut them in half.  I like a bit with most forkfuls rather than large meatballs at once.  Sometimes I use 3 hot italian sausages, cooked separately, then added to the sauce.

While that was going on (and with the repeating timer set to 5 minutes to remind me to stir the sauce), I took care of some internet order problems. 

First, I had ordered a replacement cat tree sisal post for the one that Ayla finally broke using it as a launch pad to the top of the tall bookcases.  I thought all those posts were the same, but this one had a 3' bolt that stuck down into the hut below, and surely some cat would have been injured.  Since it was advertised as "sort-bolt", I asked them to send me a free return shipping label.

Second, I had ordered a new crock pot with a removable stoneware insert for easy cleaning.  I thought I was ordering the same size as my 40 year old 1-piece Rival crockpot.  But as soon as I opened the box I was shocked at how large it was.  I contacted Amazon.com about a return, and the response was to over me $28.11 for the $49.99 item (as it was a 3rd party sale). 

Well, I checked the 3rd party seller's return policy and it stated it followed Amazon.con return policies.  Which were (for unused, withing 30 days, and in entirely original packing) 100% refund.  After a 2nd email to Amazon.com, I received a statement of not only 100% refund, but a free return shipping label.  Bless their hearts...

So while the spaghetti sauce was simmering between stirrings, I reboxed the crockpot in the original retail box in the original shipping box. 

Third, I had bought a set of Wusthof-Trident kitchen knives a few years ago from a place going out of business.  While using a knife I seldom use, a piece of the handle just fell right off!  It was like a piece of knapped flint struck off from a core.  I emailed them about it and they replied saying to pack up the knife and broken piece and send it to them packed very carefully.

I did that today, and oh boy did I "package" it carefully!  I found a thin box large enough, cut cardboard pieces from other boxes to fit, got my roll of duct tape, and raided my stash of bubble wrap.  I wrapped the blade in bubble wrap.  I set the knife on one piece of cardboard 3" larger than the knife and poked holes in the cardboard at the narrow parts of the knife handle and ran twist-ties through the holes the attach it to the cardboard.  Then I wrapped a larger piece of cardboard around the 1st piece and duct-taped it in all directions.  I put the broken-off piece in a plastic sandwich bag (labeled, of course) and duct-taped IT to the cardboard.  Then I wrapped the whole thing in more bubble wrap.  Then I slipped a copy of their email to me authorizing a return (with my name, address, phone number, and email address) into the box and stuffed what little space was left with packing (leftover from packing the crockpot).

The outside of the box is thoroughly "shipping-taped".  If that isn't well-packed, then "well-packed" isn't possible.  It may take them 15 minutes of work just to get at the knife inside.  No one will ever accuse ME of shipping a dangerous product.  :)

I sure wish I had thought to take pictures!!!

And THEN, I had received an order of 8 trays of (24 5.5oz cans per tray) Wellness canned cat food from Chewy.com a couple days ago ago and was unpacking it.  I discovered I was one tray missing!  So I called them  The person I talked to (Patrick) didn't hesitate to immediately order a replacement.  But he asked about my cats, then mentioned his, and we talked for 45 minutes.  They are either not busy and "Customer Service" or they are extremely friendly.

He has 4 male cats (all former strays who get along great) and he names them after minor mythology gods in various languages (1 each Persian, Briton, Greek, and Egyptian).  He said he uses minor mythology names "because there are too many Zeuses and Thors".  I was impressed!  And he asked for my blog URL, so I might have a new reader.

But the timing was ironic.  I had to tell him that I had just posted (in complete error) about receiving a goodie box from Chewy.com and it turning out to be a different company (Purr8Packs).  He laughed and said things like that happen but I should correct the past posts to give credit to the Purr*Packs company (which was next on my To Do List), but it sure made me think higher of Chewy.com for not hoping for undo credit.

He said he would make sure to look at older posts to get a good idea of what my blog was like.  Is that understanding, or what?

Loaded up the SUV with accumulated cardboard boxes for the recycling center.  Too many for my small recycling barrel that only gets picked up every 2 weeks.  The free space in the basement is nice.

The spaghetti dinner was great.   And now I have 5 more containers of sauce freezing for future use.  I don't like to bother making sauce one meal at a time. 

So tomorrow, I go off with the car packed with 2 boxes for UPS, the back full of empty boxes for recycling,  4 bags of plastic shopping bags to be stuffed into the shopping bag recycle box there (my county recycling center does not accept "film plastic" (shopping bags).  On the way home, I'll do my bi-weekly grocery shopping at Safeway (for the good produce) and the local meat market.

But today was a pretty productive day.

Hope you had a good day too!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Guns

There are guns.  16 gauges to shoot squirrels, 12 gauges for hunting deer.  In some places rifles are appropriate for longer shots at bigger prey.

But that's it!

There is no reason anyone needs any bigger gun than those.

Hunting deer and squirrels is fine.  You want to hunt wild sheep from 500 yards, learn to get closer.  You say it is a sport?  Good, get better at it.  But no one needs an AK 47 to hunt.

I've hunted.  Had a wonderful time, and it was exciting.  I did well sneaking through the woods after deer.  Field-dressed a few myself.  And there are too many deer in the East.  I don't object to killing deer.  But if you need an Ak 47 to kill a deer, then you aren't "hunting"; you are just blasting away like some random Elmer Fudd.

Who wants to be an Elmer Fudd?

So I want to keep my 12 gauge.  And my crossbow.

Its the crazies who want to prevent ANY sensible gun laws to prevent the nuts from "carrying"that are going to ruin MY moderate gun usage.  And it's the NRA driving the "win everything or lose it all" that is the problem.

I want the leadership of the NRA to be removed.  Not the NRA itself.  And membership agrees...

1.  83 percent of all gun owners and 72 percent of the NRA members surveyed voiced support for universal background checks.

2.  56 percent of the Republican gun owners polled said they would be more likely to support a candidate who favors universal background checks.

3.  Only 29 percent of the respondents said they believe the NRA represents their views on the issue on the NRA platform.

I want some sensible laws about responsible gun ownership.   Some sensible laws, like...

A. If you are the 'No Fly List", you shouldn't be able to buy a gun.
B. If you have a mental problem, you shouldn't be able to buy a gun.
C. If you are a felon, you shouldn't be able to buy a gun.
D. If you are are under a court order about being away from someone, you shouldn't be able to buy a gun under any circumstance.

And I'll take it another step further.  If we can't eliminate guns, lets eliminate ammunition.  No bullets, and and the crazies can have all the guns they want. 

Sure, some people can make ammunition.  But less than Walmart sells.

 


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Tulip and Hyacinth Bulb Cages

One of the biggest problems for Tulip and Hyacinth bulbs around here are the voles.  They are evil!  I planted 5 circles of 8 Tulip bulbs some years ago and in Spring, I discovered holes dug out from the surface and sides to every single bulb.  There were bulb fragments left.

Daffodils are no problem; they seem toxic to voles.

But I love Tulips and Hyacinths. 

So I am making wire cages to keep the little voles bastards out. 

I designed an efficient form to use 36" wide hardware mesh wire.  The dark line in the middle shows where 2 shapes are cut.
I cut many to size. ..
I figured out how to fold them into cages...
They are easily opened for adding bulbs when buried in the ground.
I still have time to plant the bulbs.  The ground won't freeze until January here.  Building the cages is labor-intensive.  I have 14 cages constructed and want 14 more for the 25' diameter edged circle I set in.

But I don't have much time left.  I'm sure gonna be busy next week, LOL!