Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dunkin' Donuts...folding!

Check Countdown, check Dan Abrams on MSNBC, check USAToday: Dunkin' Donuts removed an ad featuring Rachael Ray because the Fright Wing blogosphere got its tits in a knot over the SCARF she was wearing. Seriously. I am not making this up. They got all upset that the scarf she was wearing in the ad looked like some sort of Arab scarf and threatened a boycott unless they removed the ad. And DD, being the corporate weasels they are, caved rather than face the loss of one donut sale.

America: Hell. Via handbasket. Here ya go.


I'd like you to take a look at the new Yahoo group I just created: Victory Gardens It's a simple idea: putting together gardeners with time, resources, and ability with the poor, the infirm, the elderly, and so on to help bring a little joy of gardening into everyone's lives. My idea is that someone out there who can't garden because of arthritis, or who can't even afford a single tomato plant, or just can't get around well, can have even a small plot with a tomato plant because there's a gardener nearby with extra starts, or a supply of compost or topsoil, or a day a week to help.

It's not going to be perfect. The group isn't for the perfectly capable to get free help, or those without time to get someone to do their gardens for them, or for the greedy to get more than their share. It's also not for the greedy to prey upon the poor and charge them for services or goods, and it's not for businesses to network. It's for the fortunate to help the less fortunate. That's it. Weeding through the dross to get to the good is going to be a pain, and I know it. But I believe that at least some people will do the right thing when they have the chance, and hopefully this group will get them together.

Let's work together!

A break from silliness for ridiculousness

Okay. I haven't read the new book, "What Happened," by Pinata Scottie McClellan yet, so admittedly I am talking out of my ass. I have, however, listened to many talking heads on the television and on teh intarweb commenting about it, about how shocking it is, how he threw Bush under the bus, and how he's revealing all manner of things we'd suspected ("Bush eats his own boogers") but never known for fact. Scottie's position, in effect, is that everybody lied to him so that he would pass on propaganda to the American people, and this disillusioned him, and now he is telling the truth. So let me get this straight:

1. Everybody gave Pinata Scottie false information.
2. We should believe him now because he was an insider.

Am I the only one who has a problem with this logic?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

An uncle's lament

Last week, a "for rent" sign popped up on the lawn of the house next door.

This didn't really surprise me, but it disappointed me. The family that had been living there was not friendly: they had moved into the house, it seemed, on the strength of one month's rent plus one month's deposit, and left as soon as that was used up. That possibility was something I just didn't take into consideration, though, and I tried to be friendly to them. Waved, said "hello," and so on. I didn't get much response. But after a bit, the one boy who lived there responded to me. He told me his given name, which I forget, and some other name, which I also forget, but he told me that everyone called him "Pank." When I mispronounced it "Pink," he corrected me. It was "Pank."

There started a two-week friendship that had potential to be much more. He was a good kid. Talked about his little brother (three or so years younger) a lot, talked about the things happening with his mom and her boyfriend, talked about his grandma, but mostly he talked about the things he found fun. For instance, his bicycle--a small child's plastic toy. He asked me if I could fix its broken wheel, and I did. Same for his little brother's bike. He asked me what I was doing in the yard, and I told him in ways he could understand. We marveled together at the carpenter bees swarming around my redbud tree. He asked me how to move the sticks in the yard. He showed me how fast he could navigate his bike around them. And as he warmed up, he began to show the pure joy of having someone older to talk to, of having an uncle who would listen to him. He wanted to borrow the wagon (previously used by my nephew and niece, Jeffy and Rachel) sitting in my yard, and I gave him the plastic dinosaur toys inside. This thrilled him, and for the next few days he was going up and down th sidewalk in the wagon, playing with his little friend DJ, taking his brother for rides.

Then, one morning, the wagon was sitting in the front yard abandoned, a skateboard (whose?) in it. The house next door was quiet. As I went outside for the mail, I looked anxiously over. I listened for the sound of young voices. I waited for running feet on the sidewalk. Then, the sign appeared. "For Rent," followed by a phone number. They had gone.

Ahead, it seems, of any obligations, of any entanglements that might involve getting credit reports attached to their names. They lived in one house as long as they could and moved on. No wonder they had no intention of knowing their neighbors. But there was a good boy there, and his nickname was "Pank." He had a good heart, he was fun, and he was eager to meet people friendly to him. For a very short time, I was there as I was for my sisters' children, an uncle who saw a child with needs and stepped in to fill a gap. I hope he remembers me when he grows up. Failing that, I hope that the kindness I showed him gives him a little softness, a little compassion, in the edge his life will have. I hope that couple of weeks made a difference.

Me, I'm sad. So much potential, gone like a flame in the wind. But I hope that for a breath of his life, I made a difference. Sometimes, I think that's all we've got.

A great day slipped in amongst a chilly day

Ahhh, just a short note. There are no significant advances in the garden, no ribs planned, nothing like that. But it's unexpectedly chilly today--it's just 52 where the high was supposed to be 62, still low for this time of year--and I am out in my yard. Now, I am siting in full sun wearing a dark blue hoodie, and this matters...because I am all toasty-warm while breathing in clear, chill air and soaking in the green of leaves all around me. It's almost a dream, really, because this is exactly what I love...well, just below a flourishing garden full of tomatoes and peppers, of course.

The school year is winding down. Finals are tomorrow and Friday, then comes a pointless last-day on Tuesday. I have no idea if there'll even be work the next three school days. But for now, everything is fine.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


...that I can only plant so much. :)

Today I finished up my planting, pretty much. There are two or three
more spots where I can put starts, since the ones I put out there
failed, but otherwise all my tomatoes and peppers are out. I have a
bean tower up and a ring of Blue Lake green beans planted, as well as
five hills of cukes and a couple more hills of patty-pan squash. Also,
one more hill of Amish muskmelon, though it may be too shaded to
produce. Put out some basil in the row-ends that I had available,
using leftover seeds from last year (still on the stalk). Also planted
my small patch of Fernleaf Fiddleneck, a bee-attracting annual.

Dangit! To ($*(*#*!!! with fibro! I want to get out and plant more,
but I only have so much property! I want to plant brassicas, and
jalapenos, and pumpkins, and watermelons, and Hutterite soup beans,
and lima beans, and paste tomatoes, and...and...and... But I only have
a small part of a quarter-acre!

If anyone can ever bottle the joy of gardening, I'll invest. :)

An Obama Landslide?

Here's one of the indications why:

Daily Kos

Essentially, when the REPUBLICANS think John McCain is a few Legos short of a "Space Shuttle Set," and when they think Barack Obama is "brilliant," you know you've got a winner.

I love being in a good mood

Here's why, in short:

* Barbecued ribs yesterday. The leftovers are still excellent. I am close to developing a style and flavor I consider my own.

* Gardened all weekend. Everything is planted. Actually, someone on one of my Yahoo gardening groups is promising me her leftover starts, and I have room for maybe, uh, two or three of them. But there's tomatoes, peppers, patty-pan squash, green beans, cucumbers, radishes, potatoes, and some herbs. I overcame fibromyalgia to put in raised beds...YES!!! Now comes the fun part: watching them grow, and doing the little bitty things to help them. Tinker, tinker, tinker.

* The Sox beat San Francisco two games in a row, and right now are ahead 4-2 in the top of the 6th. And Mark Buehrle hit a fabulous single yesterday--I mean, a really great single that came close to being a double. Reminded me of the day I saw Milt Pappas hit a home run about thirty-five years ago.

* Am reliving my "If I Ran the Zoo" fantasies...regarding my own retail store. More as it becomes more possible. (Someone want to lend me a few thousand bux?)

* Obama is succeeding despite the Fright Wing Noise Machine's efforts to turn him into some sort of 1968 Black Panther Muslim America-hating hysterical radical.

* The MSM (main stream media) may actually be paying some sort of cursory attention to John McCain's flip-flops, lies, diversions, attacks, and unsavory connections. (Pastor Hagee, anyone?)

* My cat did not take the momentary opportunity to escape the house and get out into the Big Wide World.

* I've allowed myself a little beer. A little. For today.

*Hockey playoffs are over. I think. Are they? Did they start?

Things are just generally going well. How's that for a post?

UPDATE: Sox 13, Giants 8. Three-game sweep on the West Coast. I want a double-header! LET'S PLAY TWO!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Garden stuff

The respite from fibromyalgia goes on! After work, I felt good enough to finally do some of my planting. I know some of you plant by the cycles of the moon, but I plant by the cycles of my job, if it's not raining, and when I feel good. As They Might Be Giants sang in their song "Triangle Man," "When they meet it's a happy land!"

So the front is planted. Thanks to the seed savers for borage, cilantro, basil, rosemary, thyme, and marjoram! Mixed some Starbuck's grounds in with the soil, raked it out, sowed, and watered. Even felt good enough to do the part way in the back close to my fence, where I put in a butterfly mix, dill, and summer savory. (The dill will be interesting. I had some dill seed I got from an organic spice dealer MANY years ago...I'm talking, well before there was an Internet! I never used it, but I had so much that if one seed out of a hundred germinated, I'll have a decent patch. I also put in some seed from 1999 and fresh from this year. It'll be fun to see what I get.)

Also the Yukon Gold taters are FINALLY coming up in my tire gardens...the peas, radishes, and spinach seem to have stalled (too much mulch, not enough compost is my thought)...and the store-bought taters are continuing to work their way upward. I stopped adding dirt to the ones in the trash bin, but I'll still add some to the ones in the one tire patch. Oh yeah--and took the pop-bottle cloches off tonight, since the tomatoes inside were cramped and threatening to grow out of the spout. Oops. :)

It's still a little chaotic, but it's looking good. Crossing my fingers, tomorrow will see me put up the raised beds, my bean tower, and plant my cukes and patty-pan squash. And more basil. :) Oh yeah--and BBQ ribs tomorrow, too. Damn, I have got to get me some beer!


Thursday, May 15, 2008

I actually wanted...

I was going to ramble about a few things, but I am too tired to think. Would've covered: Bush as a douche for his "appeaser" comments, McCain doubly so for repeating it AND naming Neville Chamberlain, gardening a little because the fibromyalgia subsided for a couple of days, the Democratic victory in Mississippi against a GOPer using Obama as a weapon (Daily Kos) presaging an Obama win in November, John Edwards being a stand-up guy and having the prettiest hair I've ever seen on a man, Bush as a douche for lying about quitting golf (after saying he gave it up as his big sacrifice for the war), maybe some thoughts on the revelation that Einstein called religion a "childish superstition," and kudos to Chris "Tweety" Matthews for ripping apart that know-nothing right-wing radio talk show host on his show, but I'm pretty beat.

Days like this, frozen pizza rocks.

Ramblin' guy

This week's comic:

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Political OCD

One of the indicators of the obsessive-compulsive personality is all-or-nothing fixations. This is something I was told years ago, and I know this well because I am obsessive/compulsive in a lot of things: food and beer for instance. We become either all for something or all against it; we love something or hate it irrationally; we either do the whole job or nothing at all. As a for-instance, some years ago I was athletic, rode my bike almost 20 miles a day, and obsessively trained to become the best cyclist in the world. Of course, my knowledge was well short of my vision, and one day it became clear just how wide the gulf was between my daydreams and my capabilities. From that day on, cycling was ruined for me. If I couldn't eventually become the best in the world, I wouldn't do it at all.

As we head into the 2008 elections, I see a lot of this happening on both the Democratic and Republican sides, more so with the Dems. On the GOP side, they already seem to be getting over it. There was the initial surge of "If it's McCain, we won't vote at all" or "If it's McCain, we're voting Hillary." But as expected, the reality of the political landscape is hitting the GOP voters and the likelihood of a Democratic presidency is corralling them into lockstep again. Make no mistake, by November every GOP voter will be voting McCain. 

But on the Dem side, I don't know what we'll get. There's a particularly rabid support for Hillary that I find disturbing. Here's a link to an article about whether Obama will choose Hillary for his VP: New York Observer More than the article, read the comments. Are some of them astroturfers or Flush Rimjob's "Operation Chaos" flunkies? I don't know, but if they are genuine, the vitriol coming from some Hillary supporters is really frightening. If Obama doesn't choose Hillary, they'll vote for McCain? Are they insane? Everything that Hillary supposedly stands for--such as universal health care and abortion rights--are things McCain is resolutely opposed to. But they've taken the position that if they don't get their way, they'll sabotage the election.

In what way is that a rational response? It reminds me more than a little of the Apple fanbois who post MacDailyNews, among other sites. No one can say anything negative about the object of their obsession lest they be condemned. And frighteningly enough, it reminds me of the rabid Bushies who cannot tolerate even the slightest criticism of the right wing. Now, since I've admitted to being OCD myself, I will admit: if she somehow becomes the nominee, I won't vote for Hillary. This is because I simply cannot believe she would make a good president. I don't think she would. She is too divisive, too self-interested, and contradictorily too dependent on public opinion to truly lead. But does that mean I would vote for McCain? Not on your life. I couldn't imagine a realistic scenario where McCain would get my vote. I'll vote Green, or some other third party, but I can't vote for Hillary or McCain. I can't vote for another unitary executive.

But that doesn't mean I want to punish the Democratic Party for not nominating Obama to the point of voting for the enemy. That's irrational. The hatred from some Clintonistas toward Obama is almost savage, and it's rooted in the Clinton arrogance that they were owed this election, that Obama has taken away their divine right. It's a righteous rage of the sort we saw from the GOP when Bill Clinton was elected. They were enraged, offended, indignant that anyone would take away their God-given right to run the country as they saw fit, voters be damned, and the Clintonistas are too. They're cloaking it in feminist terms--a vote against Hillary is a vote for misogyny--but for those rabid supporters, there's something deeper. It's as if it's a blow against their identity. By removing the object of their affection, the voters are hurting them personally.

This political OCD-ness has been ruling the political land for the last 16 years and we need to get away from it. My support for my candidate does not mean America should be punished if he does not get elected. My patriotism is not wrapped up in one person. If the person I dislike most gets elected, I will still support my country and hope for the best. I want America to do well. When Obama gets the nomination--which is about as certain as such a thing can be now--I hope Hillary's supporters can abandon their irrational hatred of the man and vote for the best course for this country, not for a scorched earth.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

First in an unevenly contributed series!

First Blog Entry...just rambles

I hate introductory posts. They always sound too much like a sales pitch. I'll just start and, if you read enough of these, you'll learn what you need to.


A weirdness in the Hoosier State: Ron Paul signs. I have NO idea why the Paulies are still promoting this guy. By that I mean that they were, as of Tuesday at least, *still* putting up new signs for this guy. I don't know if he was even on the ballot in yesterday's primary, but I saw a great big Paul sign on the way to Chicago yesterday. (It covered up the "US out of the UN" sign that's normally there.) My nephew told me he saw one on his way to work last night that wasn't there the day before. What is it about Paulies? Don't they have a clue that his horse was dead before the Republican race even started?

Ron Paul. Because 519 crazy Libertarian types can't be wrong.


I'm really psyched about how well Barack Obama did in yesterday's primary here in the Hoosier State. He lost? Au frere, mai contraire! Indiana is probably the hickest state north of the Mason-Dixon line and east of the Pecos. Up here, our people ain't too fond of the coloreds. And still they came out in the hundreds of thousands to support the first African-American man running for President! Indiana might, just MIGHT, even go blue in November. Think about THAT. The last Dem this state went for was Lyndon Johnson, and he was a Texan, after all. 

It says great big long Chris Matthews-sized rants about how much a uniter Obama is. If he can pull together enough voters in Indiana to essentially break even in the primary, he's got the Big Mo. I've wanted him to be President ever since I cast a vote for him back when I lived in the North Suburbs, and he's fulfilling everyones dreams about him.

Plus he stopped smoking. Now he is...COMPLETE.


It hasn't been a good week for the garden. Let me tell you: fibromyalgia SUCKS. I don't care how many doctors doubt its existence, I have one who confirmed that I have it and I can tell you that it sucks mightily. I've been fending off attacks the last week that have virtually incapacitated me. Saturday and Sunday were going to be my days to till the garden, but I could hardly lift my arms without shaking. Same with Monday. Then last night I got walloped with the worst one yet. They come out of nowhere, start with a little pain and weakness in the lower back of my shoulders, then spread out to where I am shaking, sweating, and hardly able to move. Totally unpredictable. It's as if I am running a marathon and hit "the wall" by just picking up the garden hose or walking outside. 

It's always worse in summer, too. Whee!


You know, that's enough for a first blog. Maybe in the future they'll be more focused. I kind of doubt it. We'll see.