Saturday, August 30, 2008
Heat can be a real killer. The sun is one of those double-edged swords, "careful what you ask for" things. You have to have SOME of it, but too much of it and you're toast.
This summer, we had a long string of dry, 95+ degree days. It was murder, especially on our rooftop garden, and especially on the vegetables. The plants (flowers and herbs) at street level seemed to survive OK, but the poor vegetables on the 4th floor, all in containers without the accumulated moisture of ground soil, didn't fare well at all.
We also had a few invasions of different kinds of bugs, even using hybrid (bug resistant) varieties. One day very recently, the young cucumber plant looked very promising, with three nice cukes growing on three healthy plants inside one container. The following morning, one of the plants had wilted, and the morning after that, the other two plants had likewise shriveled. It happened so fast, it had to be a bug infestation. The poor cukes couldn't survive....
Practically the same thing happened with the yellow longneck squash. We had four healthy plants in one container, but suddenly, within the span of a week, all four began to die off, shrivel, and just look horrid. Rustling the leaves produces a flurry of tiny white flying bugs, the likes of which I simply cannot find anywhere on the internet.
We had a really strong storm a few days ago which blew over the sole remaining tomato plant and its concrete anchors (we had pulled up the two Big Boys about a week earlier). Several limbs broke in the ordeal, and we may just pull it up soon.
The elderly eggplant is actually flowering and making fruit again. Very strange. It really does love the heat. We're having a hard time killing it. Eggplant has never been one of our favorites, though, and wouldn't you know, we have no trouble growing this one. The best way to eat it is the wifes eggplant parmigiana, by far....
We do seem to be at the end of the season. Time (or past time) to consider what to plant for the fall. We're having a hard time keeping up with all the feed requirements and soil needs of all the various plants. I'm trying to keep a notebook with records of everything we're doing, but the sheer spectrum of plants and their varying needs is rather daunting.
We seem to have better luck with cooler-season plants. Last fall we enjoyed several kinds of lettuce and bok choi, and we'll no doubt try that again soon.
One of the few plants still doing well is the sweet peppers, but we haven't harvested any yet, so anything could still happen!
...and the lime tree is growing very well (but no limes yet).
All in all, not a very successful garden in the sky, but we're still relative novices at it, so we're not going to give up. Yet. I've been in touch with one of the gardening experts at the Houston Chronicle, and she says she has yet to see a really successful high-rise garden. Usually it's the heat and the wind that is the problem, she says. If we can really pull it together, she'll do a story on us. But we are indeed having difficulty. The high winds, the extreme heat, the (current) lack of a drip irrigation system (I'm working on that), and now this insect festival have taken their toll.
We're considering adding a small greenhouse up there...could work.
We have no problem with flowers, however. The plumeria is still going wild...
and the red hibiscus is blooming again...
Hey, we're not ready for the breakdown of civilization yet! We need more practice!!
Friday, August 29, 2008
After eight years of Bush, this is an extremely important election. Bush stole the vote in 2000. Then they stole it again, in 2004, this time from Kerry with all the shenanigans in Ohio and Alabama.
They have bankrupted this nation, financially and morally. Pre-emptive, unprovoked war is illegal under the Geneva Conventions. Technically, Bush and Cheney are war criminals. Technically, they should have been impeached, if not for collaborating obstructionists like Pelosi and Reid.
Hey, wait a minute, this post is about Obama's excellent acceptance speech in Denver. The speech was missing some of the lofty rhetoric we have become accustomed to with Obama. But, hey, it's time to drop the schtick and schtick it to McCain and the Republicans, and Obama showed some flashes of doing just that in this speech.
If the vote goes honestly, with no tampering of voting machines, Obama/Biden will win it in a landslide. I think, I hope, the public is finally catching on to the fact that Republicans just cannot govern anything worth a damn, and Democrats get better results in just about every sector measureable.
Since the Republicans cannot win on the facts, they'll make up stupid shit and see what sticks in the minds of the voters. They are truly a disgrace to their party.
One can only wonder at how different things would be now if Al Gore had served as President instead of Bush. They would have probably prevented 9/11, preventing the whole Afghanistan to Iraq misadventure, no torture, no Abu Ghraib, no violation of the Geneva Convention, no Gitmo, no huge tax cuts for the wealthy, more investment in renewable energy, and on and on....
I think one reason the Republicans despise Gore so much is their own lack of anyone with any intellectual heft. And they spit on what they cannot have for themselves.
Gore laid out a damning case against Bush and McCain, but he talked too fast during his speech. Probably trying to adhere to a time limit.
The transcript of Al's speech is here.
I'd bet that Joe Biden brings a lot more to the table for Obama than Sarah Palin brings for McCain. I think McCain just can't stay away from the prettiest women he can find. Cindy must be thrilled. (Don't forget who writes the checks, John!)
And Palin is proud of going after the "good 'ol boys network?" Uh, psst, Sarah! That's McCain's gang! Cool it!
Thursday, August 28, 2008
In this speech, Bill makes it clear that Obama is "ready" to lead. So, I guess now the rightwingnuts will have to come up with some other bullshit. Sometimes politics really sucks, especially when you're up against liars and thieves.
While the Democratic Convention has been pretty good so far, I have to agree with several others who are saying that the Dems are NOT BEING TOUGH ENOUGH ON MCCAIN, BUSH AND THE REPUBLICANS.
We all know that the Republicans fight very dirty and have no qualms about getting down in the mud. When are Democrats going to shed the "nice-guy" image and fight back with the big guns? Goodness knows there is plenty of ammunition.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I was going to make a post about her, but the Rude Pundit beat me to it, here.
Ok, here's a snip:
But let's be clear here: the purpose of the speech was to say, "Don't fear the black people." And it was directed at Idiot America, that demographic comprised of rednecks, racists, and/or retards who still think that blacks want to rape their white women while shooting them or stabbing them or beating them to death with a comically large bone, all the while receiving welfare checks and getting hired ahead of them.
OK, here's the video:
Sunday, August 24, 2008
In that vein, sorta, check out one of the latest Obama stickers/shirts out there:
Here's a link to a whole page of the slogan on different types of clothing or stickers.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
She got to watch it with several other family members when we were visiting up in Arkansas recently. I didn't get to see it then.
They took a bunch of Beatles tunes and wove a story around them, with the actors actually singing the songs. Vietnam. The '60's. MLK. Good treatment of some classic Beatles songs, with some pretty trippy shit thrown in. Highly recommended.
We were able to borrow the DVD from the Houston Public Library. There was a second DVD in the box, full of special features and about 10 of the songs from the film.
I laughed. I cried. I could not help but notice the difference in how America reacted to Vietnam, with protests blazing, and how America is reacting to our presence in Iraq today.
What's that? Are we still "at war" in Iraq? Says who? Really?
Thanks David and Claire for introducing us to it. I don't think I was even aware that such a movie had been made. Oohh...I feel old. The official site is here.
She's so heavy. Bringin' Lady Liberty to foreign lands is a heavy job, but somebody has to do it.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Just in time for the closing rush of the presidential election, MSNBC is shaking up its prime-time programming lineup, removing the long-time host -- and one-time general manager of the network -- Dan Abrams from his 9 p.m. program and replacing him with Rachel Maddow, who has emerged as a favored political commentator for the all-news cable channel.
The correspondent Martin Savidge is leaving NBC News for public television, where he is to become the anchor of a new weeknight broadcast that will focus on international news. WLIW in New York, which is developing the program, is expected to announce his appointment on Wednesday.
"Worldfocus," with a start-up budget that station employees said is about $8 million, will attempt to fill what Mr. Savidge called a void in television news.
"When CNN was born as a concept, we all said: 'The 24-hour era of news has arrived; think of the topics we can cover,' " he said in a telephone interview late Monday. But, he said, 24 hours now "boils down to about six headlines repeated over and over and over," adding, "It seems that opportunity was squandered."
In recent days, he said, the conflict between Georgia and Russia was heavily covered by television news media in the United States, but not the economic downturn in Europe, Iraq's nearly unspent budget surplus from oil sales or the assassination of one of Syria's top generals. "There were other events happening in the world that most Americans heard nothing about," Mr. Savidge said.
by: Jack Cafferty, CNN
New York - Russia invades Georgia and President Bush goes on vacation. Our president has spent one-third of his entire two terms in office either at Camp David, Maryland, or at Crawford, Texas, on vacation.
His time away from the Oval Office included the month leading up to 9/11, when there were signs Osama bin Laden was planning to attack America, and the time Hurricane Katrina destroyed the city of New Orleans.
Sen. John McCain takes weekends off and limits his campaign events to one a day. He made an exception for the religious forum on Saturday at Saddleback Church in Southern California.
I think he made a big mistake. When he was invited last spring to attend a discussion of the role of faith in his life with Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, McCain didn't bother to show up. Now I know why.
It occurs to me that John McCain is as intellectually shallow as our current president. When asked what his Christian faith means to him, his answer was a one-liner. "It means I'm saved and forgiven." Great scholars have wrestled with the meaning of faith for centuries. McCain then retold a story we've all heard a hundred times about a guard in Vietnam drawing a cross in the sand.
Asked about his greatest moral failure, he cited his first marriage, which ended in divorce. While saying it was his greatest moral failing, he offered nothing in the way of explanation. Why not?
Throughout the evening, McCain chose to recite portions of his stump speech as answers to the questions he was being asked. Why? He has lived 71 years. Surely he has some thoughts on what it all means that go beyond canned answers culled from the same speech he delivers every day.
He was asked "if evil exists." His response was to repeat for the umpteenth time that Osama bin Laden is a bad man and he will pursue him to "the gates of hell." That was it.
He was asked to define rich. After trying to dodge the question -- his wife is worth a reported $100 million -- he finally said he thought an income of $5 million was rich.
One after another, McCain's answers were shallow, simplistic, and trite. He showed the same intellectual curiosity that George Bush has -- virtually none.
Where are John McCain's writings exploring the vexing moral issues of our time? Where are his position papers setting forth his careful consideration of foreign policy, the welfare state, education, America's moral responsibility in the world, etc., etc., etc.?
John McCain graduated 894th in a class of 899 at the Naval Academy at Annapolis. His father and grandfather were four star admirals in the Navy. Some have suggested that might have played a role in McCain being admitted. His academic record was awful. And it shows over and over again whenever McCain is called upon to think on his feet.
He no longer allows reporters unfettered access to him aboard the "Straight Talk Express" for a reason. He simply makes too many mistakes. Unless he's reciting talking points or reading from notes or a TelePrompTer, John McCain is lost. He can drop bon mots at a bowling alley or diner -- short glib responses that get a chuckle, but beyond that McCain gets in over his head very quickly.
I am sick and tired of the president of the United States embarrassing me. The world we live in is too complex to entrust it to someone else whose idea of intellectual curiosity and grasp of foreign policy issues is to tell us he can look into Vladimir Putin's eyes and see into his soul.
George Bush's record as a student, military man, businessman and leader of the free world is one of constant failure. And the part that troubles me most is he seems content with himself.
He will leave office with the country $10 trillion in debt, fighting two wars, our international reputation in shambles, our government cloaked in secrecy and suspicion that his entire presidency has been a litany of broken laws and promises, our citizens' faith in our own country ripped to shreds. Yet Bush goes bumbling along, grinning and spewing moronic one-liners, as though nobody understands what a colossal failure he has been.
I fear to the depth of my being that John McCain is just like him.
But that's one of the nice things about blogs. Or at least MY blog. I keep the expectations low. I'll post when I get the schneid to do it. And there's no point in fretting. I'm not getting paid for this.
I'm taking it all in. Often with much exasperation.
Good luck, America. We're going to need it.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
In that rather hectic, anxious spirit, my current book-reading list is below. I wish I could say that I read every single word of every book listed, but I can't, because I don't. Most of most of them. All of some of them. Some of all of them.
Even more important, I wish I could say that I reMEMber everything I've read and could incorporate it into my being, but that's doubtful. Scientists might say that you actually DO retain everything that you read and hear; that it all becomes a part of you, and it can be recalled; it's just the actual ACT of recalling all that info that gets problematic. OTOH, total recall would be a little scary.
1) Confucius in 90 Minutes, by Paul Strathern. This guy Strathern has made a whole genre out of this idea: "(blank) in 90 Minutes," including Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Machiavelli, Marx, Bertrand Russell, etc etc. Worth checking out. They're perfect for our attention-deficit culture.
2) American Fascists: The Christian Right And The War On America, by Chris Hedges. Dominionists as fascists. Indeed. This country is in trouble, Praise Jesus!
3) Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy, by Michael T. Klare. Right up my alley. Don't you dare question those 12-year-old Chinese gymnasts!
4) Chicken Soup For The Soul: Celebrating People Who Make A Difference, by Jack Canfield. One can only take so much doom and gloom.
5) The Big Squeeze: Tough Times For The American Worker, by Steven Greenhouse. More doom and gloom, but Greenhouse also writes about some companies who treat their employees very well, which is refreshing and gives hope.
6) The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place In Nature, by David Suzuki. An updated version of the decade-old "classic." Ah, mystery of life, from an environmentalist viewpoint.
7) Tender At The Bone: Growing Up At The Table, by Ruth Reichl. A very pleasureable, much-needed respite from politics.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Finally back home, on the internets I noticed a news item with a headline, "Nominee cut alfalfa during last Denver convention." OK, I'm hooked. Some interesting bits about life 100 years ago, such as
- By 1908, the United States had been occupying the Phillipines for 10 years (Iraq, anyone?)
- The Democratic Convention of 1908 was held in Denver, Colorado (check)
- the city's elite drove
- only three states allowed women to vote (and all now regret it)
- the all-but-certain nominee, William Jennings Bryan, stayed home on his Nebraska farm cutting alfalfa (not buckwheat?)
- the 1908 election came a year after a financial panic and a record 1.3 million immigrants had entered the United States (always taking our jobs!)
- there were 89 documented lynchings that year
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Knowing that you can never predict how strong these storms will get, we took the precaution of moving most of our plants from the deck to inside the house. It was a good test. We got practically everything that was small enough to get in the house to fit inside the room on the 4th floor. It was quite a jungle. And we still had some room left over. Here's a pic...
We probably got about three or four inches of rain at the house. The most rain I saw in the area was 6.5 inches. That's a lot, but it was stretched over several hours, so it wasn't fast enough to cause much flooding. Fortunately, the storm passed a bit to the east of Houston, lessening the impact on the city.
Here's a shot of what was left on the deck, through the rain. The concrete planters didn't budge an inch in the winds, although their poles were waving to and fro. I wonder how they'd hold up in a Cat 1 or 2 storm. Don't really want to know....
By late afternoon, the rains had stopped and we moved everything back out onto the deck. While the plants were inside, a plumeria and hibiscus flower opened up. I think they liked being inside the house. I know I do.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
No. Maybe. No.
Background: We just switched to DISH network, from Comcast Cable. When we had Comcast, we had the signal in every room of the house, and my "office" has two plugs: one for TV and one for the internet. A total of seven outlets.
Now that we are on DISH, I can get the satellite signals on five of those seven plugs. The 6th plug retains Comcast for the internet.
That leaves one plug with no signal at all: the room on the 4th floor.
I think it has been a fortuitous thing. Some might even say that "God" was looking out for me. Amazing, huh?
Last week, after a (very) modest amount of research on the net, I sent the wife out to purchase an indoor, over-the-air, UHF/VHF/FM/HDTV antenna for that plug on the 4th floor (which just so happens to have an HDTV in it, dormant). On RadioShack's website (yeah, I know, but they're close) I found one that the reviewers claimed worked fine. Ok, some said it sucked, but practically every antenna had the same differing opinions. What'cha gone do?
Got it home. Set it up. The reception was just on THIS side of NO DIFFERENCE whatsoever. Total POS.
So, I took it back for a refund/return, and the salesguy points me towards a smaller antenna that he says works FAR better, AND, it only costs $16. The first one we bought was $49.
Got it home. Set it up. AWESOME. The HDTV channels are crystal-clear (maybe because it's on the 4th floor), and it's just ... perfect. So now, we're ready for when a hurricane comes and knocks out the satellite dish. We'll still have a great over-the-air signal, if they're broadcasting, that is. And we'll be on the ... uh ... 4th floor. Have to try it in Harry Potter's Closet, if you know what I mean.
So, you go from a $49 POS to a $16 JEWEL. Both RadioShack products. Less is more. Sometimes.
The sucky, relatively expensive antenna is here.
The better, much cheaper antenna is here.
I've heard it said that, if you want to purchase something and you have a budget, DOUBLE YOUR BUDGET and you won't be disappointed. People say the wierdest shit.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Yep, remember when some of us on the left, Al Gore, Bill Clinton and John Kerry included, I believe, said that "terrorism" should be attacked using law enforcement and local intelligence activities? And the Bush admin and all those lying macho thugs ridiculed the idea? Ha! Fighting terrorism a 'police action'? How pansy!
Bush and the neo-thugs were blinded by revenge after 9/11 and could only see a military response. Or...they had other goals in mind, and using the military would be a way to achieve those (still hidden to us) goals.
It did seem proper to go into Afghanistan, at least to root out the Taliban, and there was near-unanimity on that score, but we should have been able to go further into Pakistan, where practically everyone acknowledges the Taliban, and bin Laden, took refuge. If Pakistan were truly an ally of ours, they should have allowed us to cross into their territory. Ultimately, we should have been working with Pakistan on local intelligence gathering to infiltrate and disrupt the terror cells.
Well, the RAND Corporation, no left-wing think tank, has published a recent study to say that, uh, we were right and Bush was wrong, wrong, wrong. Will they ever admit it? Do they EVER admit they are wrong about ANYthing?
Here's a snip from AmericaBlog:
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
RAND STUDY: War on Terrorism fundamentally flawed and doomed to fail
Robert Arena · 7/30/2008 05:37:00 PM ET
Today's Washington Post covers what amounts to a near complete repudiation of the Bush administration "terrorism" policy since 9/11. The fact that the study is coming from the RAND Corporation (SourceWatch profile) is huge. RAND, while technically non-partisan, has a long history shaping a hawkish US strategic policy. (To get a flavor of just what type of organization RAND is, Donald Rumsfeld has sat on their Board of Trustees.)
Note that last item about the U.S. military taking little to no role on the ground in Muslim countries. This is exactly what opponents to the Iraq war tried to say ahead of the invasion.
You might remember that back in 2000, the Republicans and George Bush criticized the Clinton administration for treating terrorism as a law enforcement problem instead of a military problem. RAND confirms the Clinton strategy as more effective.
The Bush administration's terrorism-fighting strategy has not significantly undermined al-Qaeda's capabilities, according to a major new study that argues the struggle against terrorism is better waged by law enforcement agencies than by armies.
The study by the nonpartisan Rand Corp. also contends that the administration committed a fundamental error in portraying the conflict with al-Qaeda as a "war on terrorism." The phrase falsely suggests that there can be a battlefield solution to terrorism, and symbolically conveys warrior status on terrorists, it said.
"Terrorists should be perceived and described as criminals, not holy warriors," authors Seth Jones and Martin Libicki write in "How Terrorist Groups End: Lessons for Countering al-Qaeda," a 200-page volume released yesterday.
But the authors contend that al-Qaeda has sabotaged itself by creating ever greater numbers of enemies while not broadening its base of support. "Al-Qaeda's probability of success in actually overthrowing any government is close to zero," the report states.
The authors call for a strategy that includes a greater reliance on law enforcement and intelligence agencies in disrupting the group's networks and in arresting its leaders. They say that when military forces are needed, the emphasis should be on local troops, which understand the terrain and culture and tend to have greater legitimacy. In Muslim countries in particular, there should be a "light U.S. military footprint or none at all," the report contends.
"The U.S. military can play a critical role in building indigenous capacity," it said, "but should generally resist being drawn into combat operations in Muslim societies, since its presence is likely to increase terrorist recruitment."
Bottom line, the war on terror is the real fight - on the war in Iraq Barack Obama was right and John McCain was wrong. McCain's willingness to stay in Iraq "maybe one hundred" years shows his complete lack of understanding of the root cause of terrorism.
Link to the full WaPo story here.
It's too late for the over 4,000 dead Americans, but maybe, just maybe, we'll be a little slower to pull the military trigger in the future. Maybe. Not sure, though. We are such a militaristic nation these days. Anything and everything seems to be for the military.
Friday, August 1, 2008
Once I figured out how fast, or slow, the transfers were going, I decided to quit and go ahead and purchase a FireWire cable. Which I will do tomorrow.
My hope is that I can remember all the steps it takes to transfer files from one computer to another over the Apple wireless network, in case I ever need to again.
For my own memory, here are the steps.
Let's say I'm transferring music files from the iMac to the MacBook. (All these steps are predicated on the fact that you have already set up Sharing and Network sections correctly, along with particular Users on each computer in System Preferences, which I have done, and which should stay in place). If I get lost, look up "Transferring files between two computers using FireWire" in MacHelp.
1) Click and drag the music file(s) from the iMac iTunes Music folder to the Shared MacBook's Admin's Public Folder, then into the Drop Box. Drop them there.
2) On the MacBook, in Finder, click on the hard drive.
3) MacBook: Click Users->(my name)->Public->Drop Box, and there the music files are.
4) MacBook: Click and drag the music files from that location in Step 3 to the MacBook Music folder->iTunes->iTunes Music and drop them there.
5) MacBook: Go to iTunes, select File->Add to Library.
6) MacBook: Navigate to where the music files were dropped in Step 4.
7) MacBook: Click the music files, then click Open, and the music is added to iTunes.
8) MacBook: Navigate back to the Drop Box from Step 3 and delete the files that are still there.
It should be much simpler when I get the FireWire cable (hopefully), using Target Disc Mode. Shoot, even USB would be a lot faster than using the wireless network. But it's good to know it works.
When on the road, and I want to transfer files quickly from one computer to another, I will use the FireWire cable and Target Disk Mode, because there's no guaranteeing that you'll be able to tweak their wireless network properly to allow wireless transfers.
The plumbago below is really amazing. No smell, but it blooms all over the leggy bush, then they all go dark and fall off, and then it blooms again. And again. And again.
Maybe I'm just getting old and senile, but each Mac has the same type of IEEE plug, which APPEARS to be 4-pin but in fact I THINK is a 6-pin. The Mac Users Guides simply say FireWire 400 and 800. They don't say how many fucking pins each plug has, or needs. I FINALLY found a document in MacHelp about how to connect two Macs via FireWire using "Target Disk Mode." They sure bury the info deeply. But still no mention of a 4-pin or 6-pin.
The same kind of difficulty and confusion applies to USB, fer chrissakes. I think I'm going mad. Each Mac has a USB 2.0 port. A few of them, in fact. And each has the flatter "A" type plug, as opposed to the more-square-type "B" plug. (It took quite awhile to find a document on the internet that accurately differentiated between A and B types.) But it's hard as hell finding a USB cable that has two A plugs! Argh!
I would have sworn that I, at one time, hooked both computers up via USB cables and transferred some files between them. But now I cannot find any such necessary USB A-to-A cable! Argh!!
I have an external hard drive, and I have moved files from the MacBook to the external, from the external to the iMac before, but I should be able to easily move files from the MacBook to the iMac, and my Apple network is not making it easy for me to share the computers, for some reason. Triple ARGH!!!
Here's one document I found on the net, which closely mimics what I found in MacHelp.
How to Connect Two Macs Using Firewire
I sometimes find myself needing to transfer files from one Mac to another. The simplest way I've found uses something you probably already have lying around - a single Firewire cable!
View more »
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