Saturday, May 31, 2008

I love C-SPAN!

No jangling graphics. No yelling pundits. No crass commercials. Just unadulterated uninterrupted government.

I've been watching the Democratic National Committee's Rules & Bylaws Committee deliberations on what to do with the delegates in Florida and Michigan. Those two states jumped the line and held primaries in their states early, in direct violation of the DNC Rules and were warned that any delegates arising from those primaries would not be seated.

On a day that has outside temps at 87 degrees right now, I am cool and comfy in my air conditioned apartment watching democracy go thorugh the saugage grinder. Yay!

Who said it? A Quiz

Because our individual salvation depends on collective salvation. Because thinking only about yourself, fulfilling your immediate wants and needs, betrays a poverty of ambition.
--Che Guevara
--Karl Marx
--Franklin Delano Roosevelt
--Barack Obama

"Socialists are very concerned about the injustice and social ills in the world today—hunger, poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, disease, war, the exploitation of workers, the oppression of nations, races, women, and gays, the destruction of the environment, and the threat of nuclear annihilation. Socialists obviously don't have a monopoly on compassion, however. What distinguishes socialists from other socially concerned people is that socialists do not view these problems as normal, natural, eternal, or an inherent feature of the human condition. They believe that these problems are historically and socially created and that they can be solved by human beings through conscious, organized political struggle and change."

Another quiz: What is The Global Poverty Act? And who is promoting it?

"Socialist Action argues that the problems of exploitation and oppression in the world today can ultimately be solved by first replacing the capitalist system with a socialist system. The chief means of production should be socialized, that is, taken out of the private hands of the capitalists and put under public ownership, that is, government ownership."

"The Global Poverty Act" would require the U.S. to initially direct .7 percent of the GNP of the United States into the United Nations coffers for distribution as they see fit, for food to third world nations. Under earlier agreements this would evolve into a national tax on the U.S. with the UN attempting to levy this on all first world nations. The U.N. would have the power to increase this rate of taxation. The U.S. would be required to surrender some of its sovereignty over foreign aid by putting it under UN control. The bill would force the U.S. to sign onto the U.N.’s Millennium Declaration, which would commit us not only to "banning small arms and light weapons" but many other collective acts. In other words, the very act of voluntary charity would then be under the control of government ownership.

Whenever I hear words like "collective" and "global" I think 'socialism.' And do you know from when I hear these ideas the most lately? From the answer to our quiz: Barack Obama. If you want a Socialist in the office of President of the United States, then vote for Barack.

PS: And one clarification: individual salvation does not depend on collective socialism. It depends on Jesus Christ. Using messianic words to further personal political ambitions betrays a poverty of the soul.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Out of oil. What next?

I read an interesting take on the oil situation. We all feel the pressure. We all see the heights that the price per barrel are attaining. But where is the break point? I asked that question of myself and mentioned it to friends just the other day. In January I had bought a bike, and I mapped out distances and routes to the two small towns I live between. But as gas hits $3.89/gal, I'm still driving, though a lot less. But at what price do I abandon my car for the bike? $4 per gallon? $5?

This guy asked the same question: "How big is the problem? Multiplying production (barrels per year) times the oil price (dollars per barrel) gives a total cost in dollars per year. It's an enormous number; tens of trillions of dollars per year. To put a scale on it, the three thin curves on the graph show the oil cost in contrast to the total world domestic product; the annual value the goods and services added up for all the world's countries. The three curves show the oil cost at one percent, two and a half percent, and five percent of the total world economic output. At $130 this morning, we are at six and a half percent."

"Oil production obviously cannot consume 100 percent of the world's income. My intuitive, uninformed guess is that it cannot go above 15 percent. If we see oil at $300 per barrel, we will be looking out over the smoldering ruins of the world's economy."

That's an interesting take. Comparing the total amount of money available in the world economy to the price of the commodity. At some point we run out of money before we run out of need. What happens then? I dunno. I've never seen a smoldering economy but I think I will. And soon.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Big word of the day


"(of a sensory nerve) That detects the presence of a stimulus without determining its location."

This word has personal meaning for me.

Nobody here but us chickens!

Scene at the 4-way stop in Comer on Memorial day weekend. Ahhh, The Quiet Life

Are you a tinfoil hat person? Or just crazy like a fox?

According to Wikipedia, "A tin foil hat is a piece of headgear made from one or more sheets of tin foil, aluminium foil or similar material. In theory, people wear the hats in the belief that they act to shield the brain from such influences as electromagnetic fields, or against alien interference, mind control and mind reading. The idea of wearing a tin foil hat for protection from such threats has become a popular stereotype and term of derision."

Ohhh, so that's what it means. I had heard the term bandied about for years but was never sure. The world is increasingly unstable, with natural disasters such as the midwest tornadoes and the China earthquake; man-made disasters such as the Florida fires started by an arsonist and the California fires difficult to put out; the dollar's decline and US likely economic collapse; food price increases; and stocking up (or 'hoarding' if you are a tin hatter). If all that's not enough to make you think the world is coming to an end, I don't know what will.

Some tin hatters go deeper. There's the 9/11 Truthers, the "New World Order/Illuminati" conspiracy theorists, the "Whole World is Turning Into a Police State" conspiracy, or "Obama is a Secret Muslim ," and "Reptilians Run the World" conspiracies. These are real conspiracies that people believe.

But...when mainstream newspapers publish articles about grandmotherly women selling everything and living in survivalist mode, and actually include the phrase: "maurading hordes" then it's time to rethink things, I think! What do you believe the world is coming to?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Terra cotta

I have real terracotta pots on my deck that hold my plants. My landlord lent them to me, she was not using them. I love terracotta. Ever since I went to Italy the first time and stayed in a real castle! I fell in love with this type of material for roofing. This Old House guys says of ceramic roofing:

"Ceramic tile roofs are found throughout the Mediterranean and Levant — and of course in the Mediterranean-Revival-influenced architecture of Florida and California. Barrel tiles, the most common type of ceramic tile, resemble half cylinders about 16 inches long. In the old days they were individually made by hand, their tapered shape achieved by forming the clay over the top of the thigh."

"Tile roofs are quite heavy, so the roof framing must be stout enough to support the load. Waterproofing is achieved via a waterproof membrane laid directly on the roof sheathing. Then the clay tiles are laid one by one in a pad of mortar. Tiles turned upside down form a trough, which is then covered by tiles laid right side up. The whole process is quite labor intensive, which makes an authentic tile roof quite expensive -- about $1,000 per 10x10-foot square, or about three times the cost of a standard three-tab shingle job."

"In addition to barrel tiles there are a number of variations of clay roof tiles. Some are shaped like thick shingles, some like slates. A high-quality tile will be hard-fired and will not absorb moisture that could fracture the tile when frozen. Thus such tiles are suitable for northern climates. All high-quality tile roofs are expensive, both in terms of the material and the installation, and so clay tile roofs are fairly rare."

"Yet in the long run the most expensive might be the most cost effective, since you can expect to get 60 to 80 years or even more out of a well installed tile roof."

Below, Spannochia, the castle I stayed in while on an Earthwatch archaeological dig. I had never seen terracotta tiles before.

Though my wide-ranging travels are over, I still think about Italy a lot. Looking at these terracotta pots on my deck remind me just a little of the gentle Tuscan hills dotted with farmhouses and castles built in another time.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial day: thank you

This scene is of Comer Georgia. It seems to be the quintessential American scene, birdhouse, white picket fence, US flag. Is this what Memorial Day is all about?

Or this, the New England cape, the northern states where the Revolution happened? The long history and the quaint decorated homes lining the street where the parade will come?

Or this, families at the park, grilling and playing?

Naw. It's about the soldiers who sacrificed for us. The ones who died in battle, or afterward from disease or injuries. It's about the brave protecting the weak. The strong who stood ready but whom have finished their race. To these I say, thank you!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Jesus Christ Superstar

When I was 11 my parents took me to New York City. I remember little about that trip in 1971, except two things, and they made an indelible impression.

We went to the 86th floor of the Empire State Building Observation Deck. Though I was familiar with elevators in smaller buildings, the ride up 86 floors was exciting. Once up there, I looked down and was both exhilarated and a queasy to see the people on the ground looked like ants. Since then, I've never gotten tired of looking at the earth from heights, even maps. Now here is a weird fact I just learned about the suicides who've jumped from the building: In 1979, Elvita Adams jumped from the 86th floor, only to be blown back onto the 85th floor and left with only a broken hip. God's hand at work, for sure!

I remember that my mother and I were going to see two shows on Broadway, she got to pick one and I picked one. She wanted to see "Follies," a musical. I don't like musicals at all. I chose "Jesus Christ Superstar."

But that's a musical, you protest! I know. Now, I know. I focused on the 'rock' part and not the 'opera' part. I remember being irritated throughout the show because of all the singing. I wondered when they were going to start talking. It wasn't until Herod's song that I realized the whole show was singing (opera, duh). If you know the account of Jesus, by the time he gets to Herod the story is pretty much over. Amazingly, though, I ended up liking the musical and I bought the double album, listening to it for many years. I've recently bought it on CD. I still listen to it a lot.

That was almost the only time I heard the gospel, the story of Jesus's ministry on earth and his death on the cross and resurrection and the players in the story like Pilate and Mary. But a seed was planted that afternoon in New York City in a young girl's heart. A seed planted by the Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit, on receptive ground, never fails.

Matthew 13:3-8:
Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: "Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 "And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. 5 "Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6 "But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. 7 "And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. 8 "But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty."

My heart was good ground, and not hardened to Him. The seed stayed alive, nurtured by a questioning soul and eyes that could see His word in the world. I'd look around and See God. In the sunsets, in the Andes, in the ocean, in a tiny shell, in people. Romans 1:19-20 -- "because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse."

The preaching of the gospel is God's power, his drawing power, to save (I Corinthians 1:18-21). Therefore, all people, when they hear the gospel, at any moment, have the ability to respond to God's gospel call. I did not respond, but neither did I refuse. It wasn't until 35 years later that I accepted Jesus as my Savior. Last March I was baptized.

John 6:44--No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

I'm looking forward to it!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008

A kitty play in three acts

Bert LOVES his milk ring.

Luke loves anything Bert loves. For about a second.

Abby could care less about milk rings or Bert or Luke.
Or about most anything, actually.

Them tornadoes

Tornado trends WAY up. Great. The year I move down here tornadoes pick up. I hate tornados. Why'd it have to be tornadoes?

Colossal political blunder

"Clinton Campaign in Talks With Obama About VP Slot, CNN Says"
By Chris Dolmetsch
"May 23 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Senator Hilary Clinton's presidential campaign is in formal talks with Senator Barack Obama's campaign about becoming his vice presidential running mate, CNN reported, without citing anyone specific."

"The two Democratic campaigns are talking about ways for Clinton, from New York, to drop her bid for president that may include joining the Illinois senator's ticket, CNN reported. Talks are in a "very preliminary'' stage and are described as "difficult,'' the network said."
Whatta disaster that would be!

"Inconceivable!" I don't think that means what you think it means

Truer than fiction! When the weather disaster movie "The Day After Tomorrow" came out it garnered a lot of attention. It wasn't only because of the special effects, which were impressive, but also for the seemingly improbable scenarios contained in the film.

New York flooded by a massive wave? "Inconceivable!" yelled reviewers. Really? The British Broadcasting Corporation documentary "End Day" posed exactly that scenario, based on a science release in 2001 indicating that if the volcano Cumbre Vieja erupted strongly enough that a future failure of the western flank of the Cumbre Vieja would cause a "mega-tsunami." The already tenuous landsliding mountain face will catastrophically fail in a massive gravitational landslide and enter the Atlantic Ocean a so called "mega-tsunami." A similar tsunami occurred in Lituya Bay Alaska back in the early 1960s, caused by the same kind of massive landslide. Damage can be seen to this day. So these kinds of tsnunamis are conceivable, and with Cumbre Viejo, only a matter of time.

Though the mega-tsunami depicted in the movie has not occurred yet, in another movie scene, snow falls in New Delhi. "Inconceivable!" the cry is heard again. But in January 2008, Snow blankets Jerusalem. And also in January 2008 "Snow Disrupts Life in India," with Babloo, a New Delhi Bus Driver quoted as saying:"I have come from Delhi. I am trapped here for the last two days and the snow is still falling.” Those were real happenings, their occurrences inconceivable, as it were.

Also in the movie, tornadoes are engulfing L.A.'s Capitol Records building. A movie reviewer says, "Tornadoes in Los Angeles? Only in "Tomorrow." Below, one photo is from the movie...the other is from last night's weather in southern California. "The Day After Tomorrow" inconceivable? As the inimitable Inigo Montoya said to Vizzini: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Prognosticating recap

The news the past couple of days has included a few articles about some farmers in Tennessee who have switched to mule-power for their farming needs. A Google news search for '+farmer +mules' yields 49 news results. I wonder how many news results there will be for those search terms in two months, after oil hits $200/barrel.

Farmer Trades Tractor For Mule Power
"McMinnville, Tenn. - A Middle Tennessee farmer is trading his tractor for another form of horsepower. Warren County farmer Danny Raymond recently bought two mules, Molly and Dolly. The mules will help rake hay, mow, and cultivate corn. Raymond said high fuel prices forced him to make the switch. "Oh it's been really tough. I mean you got your gas prices," he said. "Then gas prices cause the price of fertilizer to go up. It just makes more sense," he said about switching to mule power."

Searching for '+farmer +horses +plow' yields 12 news results. Here is one:

Horses help local farmers cut costs

"Jeff Johns had the horses. He had land that needed to be plowed. And he had worries that rising fuel costs would eat into his already thin profit margin. So he's doing what farmers did long before the tractor came along -- he's using his two draft horses to power a plow. And he's loving every minute of it."
Exactly two months ago I posted a blog entry that noted indicators of an imminent unraveling of the normal cycle of things. The bank insolvency issue (not a problem that has gone away just because it's sunk off the news cycles), higher fuel costs, increasingly staggered food and commodity deliveries...will all accelerate in the coming months. Eventually, there will be a break point, I'd written, when those who failed to spot the inevitable and did not turn to simpler ways will be down on their luck, while the Amish will be in ascendancy. Why? Because we do not know how to generate our own power, live without electricity, farm using simple methods (successful farming means not going hungry), make soap, dip candles, kill a hog, or perform a myriad of other hand tasks. But the Amish do. They always have. For the Amish, no-technology and fuel free farming has been the only way. Who ya gonna call...when the grocery store is empty and we can't get a 1400 mile salad any more? The Amish/Mennonite community farmer's market, and other Christian-community living farms, that's who.

I wrote:
March 22, 2008:
"The US is now the world's largest debtor nation, and for a country with the world's largest economy, if (when) we default, the world economy comes with it. The cycle of things will stop. I don't know how to build a home, make a tool, grow some food, coordinate with my neighbors, create fire, or use a horse for transportation. But the Amish do."

Listen to the Watchman:

Ezekiel 33:3-6
If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people;
Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.

Jeremiah 51
12Set up the standard upon the walls of Babylon, make the watch strong, set up the watchmen, prepare the ambushes:

The day of the Lord will soon come. Selah

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

lost parrot tells address to vet

TOKYO — When Yosuke the parrot flew out of his cage and got lost, he did exactly what he had been taught — recite his name and address to a stranger willing to help.

Police rescued the African grey parrot two weeks ago from a neighbor's roof in the city of Nagareyama, near Tokyo. After spending a night at the station, he was transferred to a nearby veterinary hospital while police searched for clues, local policeman Shinjiro Uemura said. He kept mum with the cops, but began chatting after a few days with the vet.

"I'm Mr. Yosuke Nakamura," the bird told the veterinarian, according to Uemura. The parrot also provided his full home address, down to the street number, and even entertained the hospital staff by singing songs.

"We checked the address, and what do you know, a Nakamura family really lived there. So we told them we've found Yosuke," Uemura said.

The Nakamura family told police they had been teaching the bird its name and address for about two years. But Yosuke apparently wasn't keen on opening up to police officials.

"I tried to be friendly and talked to him, but he completely ignored me," Uemura said.

Now, that's no birdbrain!

Good among the not so good

Ted Kennedy has an inoperable, malignant brain tumor. That's awful. God bless you and I hope you get well real soon.

I heard somewhere (I think David Letterman) that Hillary Clinton's campaign at this point is like the world's most expensive fantasy camp. To the left is a summary of a Hillary surrogate's explanation of how Hillary can become President with the amount of races and delegates remaining. Actually, the picture is from a page explaining how the electors work.

As of April 21 2008 the presidential campaign's total receipts, including donations and loans from the three remaining major candidates were:

Obama: 240M
Clinton: 195M
McCain: 80M

It is extremely expensive to run for President. I don't think this is what the framers had in mind when they designed the Republic. Think of how all that money could help Americans in need, pay down our debt, or just plain put into non-borrowed reserves. George Ure, an economist at wrote this today: "the amount of money the banks have in reserve that is non-borrowed is at a fifty year low? In fact in 4 months since it entered negative territory (for the only time in the 50 years on record) it has exceeded 50 years of positive values by 50% on the negative side? Does this not mean that the banks are not only insolvent but underwater more than they were ever positive?"

The question mark punctuation does not indicate that his questions are rhetorical, they are there to infer incredulity on the part of the writer. The word aghast comes to mind. Also the comparison of the economy to the Hindenburg...thanks George, for being Debbie Downer today. Though facts is facts and it's good to know them and I appreciate the work on that website.

I am off to a luncheon with the team members with whom I worked in the Good News Club at Comer Elementary School. We're to eat at Dos Palmas in Athens on a gloriously humid-free, breeezy day! Good folks, good eats, good scenery, life is good!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I miss the beach!

I miss the beach! Lubec, Maine, the prettiest place in New England. I love the beautiful sunsets, and charming waves, and the soaring gulls, as much as anyone. But I also love the kelp and the low tide mud, and the rocks, and the bleached out shells.

This dawg won't hunt

Battle of the southern sayings...

"At an evening rally in Lexington, Clinton's husband portrayed her as the underdog who keeps coming back from the brink of defeat. "They've declared her dead more times than a cat's got lives," the former president told a raucous crowd of about 2,500 supporters."

He's from the South: Arkansas, and they've got their hillbilly sayings there, like the nine lives cats thing. Around here, in the deep south, we have our sayings too.

So when we read the following..."Clinton trails Obama in the delegate count by such a margin that it is mathematically unlikely for her to overtake him in the remaining primaries," ... down he-ah we say, "that dog don't hunt."

that dog don't hunt: An obviously faulty endeavor; also as ~ /won't hunt/, predictive of failure.

In the face of the Obama Mass, a gathering of over 75,000 swooning Oregonians listening to Obama speak at his latest rally, and in the face of Clinton's paltry rally of 2,500, we would have to say that for the Democrats at least, "it's a one dog town."

Whether things will end up Obama Messiah or Obamanation, time will tell.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Midday update

So before it got too hot today I cooked. What did I make, you ask? Some weird items, that is for sure! Not everyone has taste like mine but I'm happy with it.

Tofu pudding
Silken tofu, chocolate chips melted slowly in a pan, add a dash of vanilla and chill.

Green bean pate
Boiled green beans and tofu, blended in food processor or blender, add chopped boiled eggs and walnuts. Blend again, season to taste. I put it on hot toasted homemade white bread as a spread. Yum!

Mixed veggie hash
cabbage, onions, celery, mushrooms, sauteed. Add cooked rice and a can of peeled chopped tomatoes. Mix. Sturdy, instant meal when hungry NOW and prone to order a pizza instead.

Those cutie-pie baby turnips I'd bought at the Farmer's Market Saturday? I boiled 'em up and mashed them with a bit of butter and salt and pepper.

Now I'm working on a collage, waiting for the pieces to dry before I add the next layer. So I had a few minutes to kill and thought I'd put up a mundane post, the past ones have been fiery and future ones will be just plain weird. So this is a respite for the 100 or so faithful readers who take the time to come here. Thank you, by the way. :) I am attending a wake tonight and tomorrow I'm making 30 pimento cheese sandwiches for the funeral luncheon. I am real proud the Ladies asked me to make something.

Anybody else vaguely disquieted by the Obama Mass? 65,000 in attendance and another 15,000 outside? Yikes. That's either a bit too much adulation or the best speaker since, well, ever. Hmmm.

victory garden vs. 1400 mile salad

"Food miles"

The majority of Americans participate in a complex national and global food system. Most of their food production and processing occurs far away from where they live and buy their groceries. It was not always this way; prior to World War II most of the agricultural production and marketing systems in the United States had a strong local or regional base, and farms supplied that base with a wide variety of crop and livestock products. Changes occurred rapidly after World War II as agriculture became increasingly specialized.

The introduction of new technologies allowed many states to focus their agricultural production on just a few crop and livestock enterprises in order to have an economic competitive advantage. As late as the 1950s there were 25 to 30 different crop and livestock commodities produced on at least one percent of the farms in the Midwest; by the end of the 1990s there were only 15 or fewer commodities produced on at least one percent of the farms in the Midwest. Today, most of the food for sale in grocery stores comes from farms in states or countries through a system that is, for the most part, invisible to the consumer.

I remember teaching first grade in an inner city in the 80s. I'd ask the kids where milk comes from. "The store!" they would invariably answer. Our field trip to the apple orchard was a revelation to them. They literally did not make the connection of food and the land until that moment when they saw the apple hanging from the tree. All they ever saw was cellophane wrapped items in a mini mart. The food production chain was invisible to them until the last stop.

Using fresh produce as an example, carrots grown in the San Joaquin Valley in California and transported to supermarkets in Des Moines, Iowa will travel approximately 1,400 miles. Chilean grapes transported by ship and truck to Des Moines, Iowa markets travel 7,270 miles. That's too many miles! We don't have the oil anymore to indulge in such extravagances as off season carambola fruit!

We need to grow our own food again. 'But I don't have acres of land!' you protest.

Almost half of all vegetables grown in the United States in 1943 came from victory gardens. A poster campaign ("Plant more in '44!") encouraged the planting of Victory Gardens by nearly 20 million Americans. Victory gardens were planted in backyards and on apartment-building rooftops, with the occasional vacant lot "commandeered for the war effort!" and put to use as a cornfield or a squash patch. After WWII though we reverted to trucked-in agricultural products until by the 1970s we relied on exotic foodstuffs as a measure of our wealth and position in the world.

And then there's this guy, sustaining himself and his family with food grown on his California suburban housing lot no bigger than one tenth of an acre... It CAN be done. And it should be. Soon will will have to. Get ready now, you will be happy you did.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Lystra Cemetery photos

Spooky spooky ancient cemetery. Home of vandals, a burned out church, and alleged hauntings. More photos at my flickr pages.