email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

President Trump

I won't hide the fact that I don't like President Trump.  I don't say that (or anything to follow) to mean that others can't like him or that he has nothing to offer.  Just that *I* can't stand him and will say so for as long as he is in office.  And keep in mind that it is my OPINION, not some absolute fact of his incompetence. 

This past week has proven my fears about him to be correct.  I live in a world of evidence, proof, and fact.  To me, it seems his supporters live in a world of unsupported hopes and promises, decieved by a demagogue.  My apologies to those who like him.  You have the right.

Since President Trump was inaugurated, he has signed many Executive Orders intended to implement policies he promised while campaigning.  I never thought he would actually do that.

They are, so far, both poorly-written and unnecessary. 

The Order to the military to develop a plan within 30 days to defeat ISIS was laughable.  What does he THINK they do all day?  Plan how to stop another attack on Pearl Harbor? 

Proclamation 9570National Day of Patriotic Devotion - Does the term "Fatherland ring a bell?

Executive Order 13765: Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal - A first step toward eliminating health insurance to millions of needy Americans.

Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies: Regulatory Freeze Pending Review - To stop all Federal Agencies from issuing new regulations.  Never mind emergencies and any good rules to protect the public.  All must stop.


Presidential Memorandum: Withdrawal of the United States From the Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations and Agreement - Oh good, our year's-long effort to create an economic alliance of Asian nations to restrain Chinese expansion shot to Hell!  The Philippines have just given up on us and surrended to China.  Others will soon follow.  The Donald wants to re-negotiate trade agreements with Asian nations one-on-one.  Loser move!

Presidential Memorandum: Mexico City Policy - The US will withhold funds to any nation or organization that assists in abortion services for any reason.  Any reason...

Presidential Memorandum: Hiring Freeze - Both Federal Civil Service and contracting hires are stopped.  This might be OK, contractors have long been used to make up for Federal hiring freezes.  But contractors have historically over-billed the government for services and been free of oversight and produced less than contractually-required.  In my government career, contractors have been scan-artists stealing billions of public dollars.  But freezing both will mean less government services and the public will learn that the "gummint" actually does good things that they will miss.  I always laugh when thinking about some conservative protesters who demanded that the Government "keep your hands off my Medicare".  Who do they think was providing it?

Presidential Memorandum: Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline - Oil from Canada transported to New Orleans to be shipped overseas.  We don't get that oil (we have our own).  But we will get the environmentally bad oil spills (estimated at one per 5 years by the oil companies).  We don't need that. 

Presidential Memorandum: Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline - See above.

Presidential Memorandum: Construction of American Pipelines - All pipes used in the US will be made in the US.  OK.  But "America First" was a rule when I was starting in Government in the 70s and it caused all KINDS of bad problems.  It is one of those things that sound sensible but don't work.

Executive Order 13766: Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High Priority Infrastructure Projects - Every President tries this.  It never seems to have any practical effect.



Presidential Memorandum: Streamlining Permitting and Reducing Regulatory Burdens for Domestic Manufacturing - An attempt to allow businesses to do anything they want.  Who cares about the public, anyway?

Proclamation 9571: National School Choice Week, 2017 - A strictly ceremonial proclamation, but it represents anti-public-school thinking. 

Executive Order 13767: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements - BUILd THE WALL.  Only the US will actually pay for it.  It can't really be built, and it won't stop anyone from getting past it.  Ask the Chinese about their Great Wall.  It didn't work.  BTW, if you like investments, consider Mexican ladder and tunneling equipment companies.  There might be a boom in sales.

Executive Order 13768: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States - This is an attempt to force local police departments to enforce Federal laws at their own expense.  That isn't their job, and they don't have the resources to do it anyway.  The idea seems to be that harassing illegal immigrants will cause them to leave.  That doesn't work.

Executive Order: Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States - This is the cause of recent and ongoing protests in the US and internationally.  The Order was so BADLY written that even naturalized citizens and Green-Carders from the 7 designated nations could not return from US military duty or legitimate business abroad.  IDIOTS!  And the Trump administration is backing off (screaming and kicking) about it.  They are still trying to hold on to the basic idea of keeping all Moslems out of the US though.

National Security Presidential Memorandum 1: Rebuilding the U.S. Armed Forces​ - Some plan to "bolster the military" but I can't figure out what the purpose is yet.  Something about the Office of Management and Budget helping to restructure military pay?

Executive Order: Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Employees - A lifetime ban on lobbyists joining the Trump Administration and then becoming lobbyists again.  Only it applies to those who weren't lobbyists before.  So it seems this is some restriction on media, military, and scientists from ever becoming lobbyists later.  The purpose seems to be to prevent non-politicians from lobbying for general causes (like say science or environmental funding) efforts later in life.  Might even apply to protest organizers or people like Al Gore.  Not sure.

National Security Presidential Memorandum 2: Organization of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council - Trump has kicked several Security officials off the National Security Council and added a political ideological representative (Steve Bannon) to it.  Obvious watchdog/approval move.  This is unprecedented.  Does the phrase "Politburo" ring a bell?

National Security Presidential Memorandum 3: Plan to Defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria - A repeat of a previous Order, but with some recommended changes to any United States rules of engagement" additions.  Meaning water-boarding and other internationally-forbidden forms of torture.  Yes, Trump has approved torture as a means of collecting information.

Executive Order:  Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs - Agencies would have to eliminate 2 regulations for each new one.  This could be silly or it could be horrible.  The main problem is that most regulations exist for a reason.  Business routinely cheat for profit and regulations exist to eliminate or at least reduce that.  If you want your chicken to be 100% contaminated with bacteria or your car tires to "only" blow out 10% of the time, you will love this one.

And that's just the first 10 days!  Get ready for illegal abortions, illegal protests, guns in every school and bar, and a super-conservative Supreme Court. 











Monday, January 30, 2017

Sorry For Being Away

I haven't posted for 3 weeks.  Not that I had nothing to say, but being on the computer, typing, thinking, typing, thinking is hard without cigarettes.  It's like writer's block.  I've been smoking for 47 years.  And when I smoke, I stay up late.  When I smoke and stay up late, I keep sipping at the wine glass.  That doesn't usually lead to brilliant posts, but I have become skilled at correcting for that.  Delayed postings and some editing the next day...

The annoying thing is that I don't seem to be chemically addicted to the cigarettes.  I didn't have a cigarette since Jan 3rd and physically, it didn't bother me a bit.  I'm habituated to the process of smoking.  Without a cigarette, I sit at the keyboard and want to do almost anything else.  THAT is annoying.  So I haven't been posting here much.  I've done fine on the cat blog though.  Writing about the cats isn't writing about me, and I can do THAT.

So yeah, I have a cigarette in hand...  And wine...  I just HAD to post again here and that was the only way.

I don't need advice or suggestions.  After 47 years, I'm pretty sure I've thought of or read about all the ideas.

I'll stop again.  I'm just mentioning all this to explain why I haven't posted.

More normal posts to follow...




Saturday, January 7, 2017

Flowerbeds

I have tried perennial beds of flowers in small groups, perennial beds of flowers in larger groups, and annuals grown from seeds under lights.  I'm trying something new.

I have 6 flower beds.  The oldest one had perennials that have mostly died out.  The 2nd was for annuals.  The 3rd was perennials that have never grown well.  The 4th, 5th, and 6th are newly edged areas where there used to be a ridge.

The soil in the last 3 is dismal.  Rocky, gravelly, clay, 1/2 sunny.  One got Spring bulbs and daylilies and annuals throughout this first year for them.  One got scatterred seeds of wildflowers and nothing much bloomed.  One was left unplanted because I intended to transplant an invasive purple lychimastia there and never got around to it.

That's one reason I bought a trailerload of compost 2 days ago.  The worms will bring the compost down into the soil, and nutrients will leach down from above.  I am spreading compost around o the new and old beds whenever it isn't too cold out.

So I ordered a packet 500 sq ft of perennial and annual wildflower seedss for the large bed that do well in poor soil.  I have some existing plants the same as in that mix to transplant.  The compost will help.

The second smallest bed gets no help.  If the Lychimatia doesn't survive transplanting there, good riddance and I will try something else (I already thought I had killed them once).  I'm giving them a last chance where I can mow around to control invasive spreading.

The 3rd bed is the Spring bulb and daylilly bed.  It is about 400 sq ft and I will cover that in 2" of compost and then 2" of shredded woodchips leftover from a tree I had removed.  THe bulbs will appreciate the nutrients from the compost as it leaches down to the roots over Winter, and the woodchips will supress weeds and won't bother the Spring bulbs.

That leaves the older 3 beds.

There isn't much left of the oldest 75'x8' perennial bed I planted and added to over the past 20 years.  It needs a whole new start.  I'm going for a cottage garden!  That is one that has a LOT of various self-sowing annuals and some long-lived perennials.  From organized patches of matching flowers, I am going to randomness.  Sometimes you just need to change things.

The 2nd oldest flower bed is becoming a tomato bed next year.  Tomato soil diseases accumulate and fresh soil is good every few years.  I dumped 16 buckets of compost there 2 days ago.  Over Winter, worms and rain will leach and move the compost into the existing soil.

The 3rd oldest flower bed needs the most care.  The original perennials never grew well and grass took over several years ago.  I'm covering it with 2" of compost and a layer of that brown paper that is used to pack stuff from Amazon.  I plan to make that an astilbe bed.  There are a few astilbe flowers there and the like the conditions.  I found a reputable seller that offerred bright red astilbes in bulk at a good price.  Something like 45 seedlings to full the 60 sq ft space (18" spacing).  I love Astilbes!

Come Spring, I'll cut X's in the paper cover to plant the Astilbes.  The paper should decompose in Summer.

Lastly, I took advantage of the 55 degree weather to pull up all my soaker hose.  They were slowly getting buried by pant debris.  They broke in pieces.  Well, it was cheap stuff.  Next year, I will buy better.  Drip irrigation really DOES water the yard better.  I just need to get better quality drip hoses.

Always looking forward to Spring for new and better flowers and supports.




Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Yardwork

I'm still doing some yardwork.  I wanted a trailerful (about 2 cubic yards) of compost, but getting replacement tires for the trailer in December really set me off schedule.  But it was scheduled to reach 55 degrees today, so I decided it is never too late to put compost around..

The trip was a comedy of errors!

First, I carefully placed the trailer hitch on the back of the car.  I put the tarp to cover the trailer in the back, a rake to level out the dumped compost in the trailer, and lots of bungee cords to hold the tarp down.  Off I went.  Do you notice something I missed? I had to return for something I forgot. 

The trailer...  Yes, I actually forgot the trailer.  Backed the car out of the driveway and drove away... 

Back home, attached the trailer, got to the nursery.  Set my tarp to be held down in the front of the trailer by weight of the compost and ready to fold over the top  to keep stuff from blowing out.

Went inside and placed my request for 2 cubic yards of compost.  Gave the clerk the coupon I had for $15 off a $75 dollar order.  Now, I knew the 2 cubic yards only cost $35.99 each, so I needed to spend $3 and change to use the coupon.  But there is always something cheap to buy.  Spend $3, get $15 off...

I should have known, when the clerk walked off with the coupon, with a puzzled look, something was wrong.  Something was.  They claimed it wasn't their coupon.

I am sure it WAS.  I clipped it out of the gardening section of the newspaper, and (moreover) I wouldn't have if it wasn't that one nursery I go to.  Anyone else, I wouldn't have bothered!   But I clipped the coupons out so carefully, there is no mention of the company offerring the discount.  

I was annoyed enough to want to check.  But NATURALLY, all the old newspapers  (where the ad the coupons were clipped from) were in the recycling box picked up yesterday!

But, on the other hand, I wanted the compost, would have bought it without any coupon, so I just made a slight joke about uncertainties of ads and paid for the 2 cubic yards of compost.  Then went out back to the trailer.

Where I suddenly realized the the covering tarp was set up sideways!  And the guy was there with a cubic yard to dump.  I had to wave him off for a moment, while I adjusted the tarp to fit the right direction.

So he dumped the first cubic yard.  1/3 of it stuck in the bucket-loader.  It had been raining the day before and everything was wet.  He shook the bucket, but stuff was still sticking.  So I showed him my rake and started loosening wahat was left.  I got most of it.

The next bucket was way overfilled.  He was trying to make up for the sticky compost I didn't get in the 1st.  Nice person.  I think I ended up with 2 cubic yards.

So I started to drive home.  After I reached 50 MPH, I realized the trailer was swaying back and forth.  I pulled over immediately.  Such swaying usually occurs when the trailer tires are mismatched in air pressure or the load in unevenly spread in the traile.

But I had specifically checked the air pressure in the car tires and the trailer tires.  And I had spread the compost evenly inside the trailer.  Since the trailer tires were new, I was worried that one wasn't holding air, or I had failed to tighten some lug nuts.

I checked and everything seemed right.  So I put the hazard lights on and set the cruise control to 35 mph while I drove home.  Moat of the time I could drive on the shoulder of the road.  (And rehearsed what I would say to a policeman if I was pulled over...)

Fortunately, it was all back roads the last 2/3s of the drive and I got home safely.  So then I had to disconnect the trailer from the car so I could put the car in the garage.

BTW, the car is a 2005 Toyota Highlander, 26,000 miles and garage-kept).  I obviously don't drive for the thrill of it, LOL!

But after unlocking and unlatching the trailer, it wouldn't release from the car's trailer ball.  That's happened before.  I just have to kick it a couple of times.  But when I did, it WASN'T usual.  The front of the trailer went right up in the air (and of course the back down to the ground.

Oops, I seem to have spread more weight of compost toward the back of the trailer...  The comedy of errors was continuing.   With less than my full weight on the front of the trailer, I could push the front down.  I'm guessing it took about 125 of my 170 pounds to do that.  BUT doing that, I couldn't also put anything under the back end to hold the trailer more level.  I tried adding a few cinder blocks on the front, but I sure wasn't going to get to 125 pounds.  And I couldn't lift the back of the trailer at all! 

I could have asked a neighbor, but that's not me.  The one I would have asked was gone (no car in the driveway).  Besides, I love a challenge...

The first challenge was to loosen the tarp folded under the back of the trailer (pinned down by the weight of the trailer).  My shovel was enough of a lever, so while I stood on the shovel handle, I removed the bungee cords back there and pulled the tarp edge out. 

That allowed me to fold up the tarp to expose the back.  I use my riding lawn mower to haul a 3'x4' yard cart.  I used to shovel material from the trailer to the yard cart and then haul the yard cart to the back yard and shovel it back out again where I wanted stuff.  I learned it was easier to use the yard cart to hold buckets that I filled up from the trailer and then manually dump them where desired. 

So I shoveled out the back foot of compost into the buckets, set the buckets into the yard cart, and drove them to the back yard where I dumped them to where I expect to plant tomatoes in a new place next year. 

And as I shoveled out the back 1 foot part of the compost, the trailer gently settled forward onto the front support.  That was a relief!  But it also meant that the amount of compost I shoveled out filling the 8 buckets in my yard cart weighed about 125 pounds.  Since the trailer is 8' long the compost weighed 8x125 pounds or 1200 pounds!  I did NOT realize how heavy the compost was. 

With the back foot of compost removed, I was able to remove the back of the trailer for easier shoveling.  It was late in the day, so I only got to fill up the yard cart buckets 2x before sunset. 

I secured the tarp over the compost so that rain wouldn't wash any away and went inside to clean up.  Wile  was dogn that, I considered why the trailer had started swaying while I drove home.  

There are 2 possibilities (at least).  One is that the trailer tires say to be inflted to 45 PSI and the car tires are inflated to 32 PSI.  I don't think that matters so long as they are the same on both sides.  Uneven pressure on one side would make a swaying, but that wasn't the case.

The likliest thing is that I pushed the compost around in the trailer wrong.  The trailer tires are in the middle of the trailer.  I'm thinking that if too much weight of the compost was behind the tires, it may have caused the problem.  In past loads, the trailer has never tipped up at the front before.  So if the weight is behind the trailer tires, that may have caused the rather scary swaying. 

In the future, I will make sure to keep most of the weight in front of the trailer tires.  I was good at geometry in school.  I can picture the trailer as a triangle of 2 middle tires and a front trailer hitch.  That seems more stable than having the weight behind the tires.

I've always said I try to learn something new every day.  This wasn't exactly one of the things I wanted to learn, but sometimes negative things are educational too. 

Now I just have to empty the other 90% of the compost, LOL!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Assorted Things


1.  Got the trailer tires replaced.  It was hard work.  The tires were never removed since the trailer was bought in 1992.  One tire failed at the sidewall from simple age.  So I decided to replace both tires.  Removing the lug nuts was really hard.  And (naturally) the last one was nearly impossible.  I had used Liquid Wrench rust loosener all over the bolts several times. 

The manual car lug nut wrench was short and not much use.  I have an air-powered impact wrench, but it couldn't move the nuts at all (baffled why it didn't work).  I had to position the manual lug nut sideways and stand on it to move the nut 1/4 turn, and repeat it dozens of times on each nut.

I finally got them all off and the old rims removed.  I had special-ordered wheel on rim replacememts for 3 day delivery.  It took 3 weeks.  But I got them*.  Putting the new ones on with cleaned nuts was easier (soaking the nuts in vinegar loosens rust and an old toothbrush got into the inside threads of the nuts). 

* If I had ordered them through the local tire store, they would have done the whole replacement themselves for the cost of the tires.  But they said it would be a week.  Given that the trailer store took 3 weeks and I had to do the work myself, that was a bad decision.  On the other hand, *I* did the work and I have the pride of doing it...

2.  The 2017 gardening catalogs have arrived.  I looked up the companies at Garden Watchdog, a site that evaluates garden catalog companies.  They have a Top 30 list, and I love those, but most don't sell veggie seeds. But they also keep ratings on the catalogs that DON'T make the Top 30 list.  So I looked up some of those.

Some negative ratings don't apply to what I buy.  If negative ratings apply to purchased plants and not seed packets, that doesn't bother me.  So I took the catalogs of Territorial Seed Company, Johnny's Selected Seeds, and Burpee.

Burpee seems to be declining in quality lately and the seed prices are rising.  So * made a list of desired seeds from Territorial and Johnny's.  I did the Territorial catalog first and got an almost complete list.  Then I started a list for Johnny's.  After 6 equivalent (or identical) seed varieties, it was clear that Territorial (with a better review rating) had lower prices, more seeds, and similar shipping costs.  So I am ordering from Territorial this year.

And it is a big year for ordering.  I have lots of veggie and flower seeds that last more than just a few years (kept in vials in the basement refrigerator) and I keep a list of them including the year of purchase.  Many seeds were just too old this year (even refrigerated) and needed to be replaced.

I'm ordering 2 dozen seed packets this year.  Many more than usual (last year was only 5 packets for seeds I had run out of). 

I'll place the order tomorrow (2017).

3.  I have terrible static electricity in bed.  I have a central air duct humidifier.  It helps "some".  I bought a room humidifier for the bedroom 2 years ago.  It also helps "some".  And this year it has become annoyingly loud.

Well, one solution is to get rid of synthetic sheets and blankets.  I discovered that all my shhets and blankets were 50% polyester.  I changed everything.  I now have all cotton.  From the waterbed up, I have a cotton blanket, a cotton sheet, a cotton blanket, a cotton sheet, a cotton blanket, and a cotton sheet.  Just FYI, you NEED layers between a waterbed and you.  Water steals warmth.

And I have a cotton sheet and a cotton blanket above me.

It took some effort.  Originally last week, I was sleeping between two 750 count Egyptian cotton sateen sheets.  I hated them.  Heavy, rough, and frictional.  Trying to drag one sheet over the other as I tossed and turned at night was like dragging sandpaper over sandpaper.

I like "percale".  It is smooth and slidey.  But what I read about percale said it was 50% cotton and 50% ployester.  And I didn't want polysester because of the static.

So imagine my surprise when I was in Bed Bath & Beyond and saw 100% cotton 350 thread count percale sheets!  Hurray!  And in bright red (everything I found earlier was dull earthtone).

The percale sheets were still a bit stiff, but the adverts said after washing, they soften.  Well, my 30 yer old percale was sure soft.  So I've washed the new percale sheets 20 times.  Just kept the washer setting on "superwash" and kept resetting it to there before the rinse cycle. 

The sheets are softer, but need more washing to soften them further.  2017 project, but they are sure less staticy than the old polyester sheets or the newer sateen cotton ones! 

4.  HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!