Archive for May, 2017

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 29, 2017

Garden Report for 170529

Warm, followed by hot. Highs in the mid-80s. Rain will bring us down into the mid 70s.

Not much garden action this week. Just for the heck of it I planted a pumpkin and a watermelon seedling. Bought a flat of mixed chard and lettuce and installed those. Green pepper in the container out front.

Cabbage hasn’t bolted yet. Mosquitoes are doing well. Another couple of weeks and we’ll be in the dry and they won’t be a problem.

Plan to plant some Delicata squash seeds and some carrots this week, if I can get my school work done.

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Amazake Oats

May 25, 2017

Amazake (甘酒 , あまざけ) or “sweet sake” is a non-alcoholic drink made from the lees left over from production of sake. An instant variety (available from Amazon) has a small white slab, about the size of the miniature candy bars given out at Halloween, and which looks and feels like a chunk of styrofoam (it even floats). You dissolve this in a mere 100ml of hot water, less than half a cup. The resulting drink looks a little bit like overly scalded milk: a thin white fluid with a little foam and a few floating fragments. The taste is very sweet, at the Irish Cream level. Just the thing for a cold New Year’s morning. MJ says the flavor is a little like cream of wheat. I think it has a faint tinge of orange. I wonder what it tastes like in oatmeal?

Setup: 1/2 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of broth, one slab of amazake, salt. Dissolve the amazake in the broth before you add the oatmeal. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.

Results: Very good. Very…Japanese. The amazake flavor comes through clearly, while the sweetness is just the thing for those who don’t like savoury oatmeal. Maybe a quarter teaspoon of maple syrup.

Rating: ****

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 22, 2017

Garden Report for 170522

Cool and rainy during the week, warming to 75F over the weekend, with a couple days of 80’s in the forecast. Should have a good crop of mosquitos.

Planted some more stuff over the weekend. Two Juliet tomatoes on the deck, Lemon Boy and Siletz tomatoes in Section 1. Section 4 got two Acorn and three Zucchini squash, and one each of Yellowneck, and Butternut. The east side of the house got two cucumbers a Pink Brandywine and a Siberian tomato.

Having done all that, I moved the Sub-Arctic Plenty and Patio tomatoes from the deck to the south side of the house, next to the hops, and added a yellow cherry tomato to the deck.

Section 2 is reserved for greens and my ever-hopeful cabbage. Right now the weeds are doing well where the lettuces ought to be, and the cabbage will probably bolt by next weekend.

The local stores didn’t have anything in the way of peas or beans, so I’m going to have to plant them by seed, in Section 3.

Granola Dregs

May 19, 2017

MJ had a bag of Nature Valley Granola Crunch — animal cracker-sized granola tidbits. Thing about granola bars is, they crumble, and the tidbitty things crumble faster. So when she was done with the 21 bars equivalent, she still had a good cup of granola…dregs…in the bag. Of course, granola is mostly oats, the bits that aren’t soy or honey, so it should work well with oats.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of beef broth, quarter cup of granola dregs, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the granola towards the end — early enough to heat, late enough that it doesn’t mush.

Results: Yay! New breakfast treat. Nutty-oaty flavor. Maybe I’ll go buy a whole bag, and a hammer.

Rating: ****

Be careful what you wish for

May 18, 2017

I’m not the first person to point this out (today!), and I suspect there will be a lot more in days to come, but impeaching Trump might not be the panacea the Democrats seem to think it is.

From the standpoint of lessening the threat to the planet, it’s probably a good idea, because, you know, football.

From the standpoint of protecting the hard-fought gains of previous Democratic administrations, maybe not so much.

The thing is, Trump takes a bull-in-the-china-shop approach to politics — thrashing around and disturbing the normal processes, and making it difficult to get things done. One reason that nothing significant has happened in the first 100 days is that the Rebpublicans are in just as much disarray as the Democrats when it comes to passing legeslation. There’s no ability of the White House to press its agenda, because the President doesn’t know how, and isn’t interested in learning.

So what happens if he gets impeached? Well, then we have President Pence, and do we really want one of those?

Pence is a born again Evangelical who dispises everyone who isn’t a white Christian, and dismisses those white Christians who aren’t male, and rich. He’s so doctrinaire that the first thing his (Republican) successors did was to start quite deliberately the process of unravelling his legacy.

Here’s a Rolling Stone article from earlier this year. I take issue with their poking fun at him for calling his wife “Mother”. That’s a Mid-West practice that merely identifies him as someone from a certain place and age group. My in-laws did the same thing. Having said that, the rest of the article is damning.

The other half of the problem is, unlike Trump, Pence is a politician who (sort of) knows how to get things done. Odious things. Things even Republicans want to walk back, but still. If Pence had been elected, we’d most likely have AHCA as the law of the land today, and Muslims and other foreigners would be blocked from entry.

There’s an old Aesop’s Fable about a pond that had a log for a king, and and the pond dwellers were upset the king never did anything. So they prayed for a new king, and the Gods sent them King Stork, who immediately started eating all the denizens of the pond. In our case, the choice isn’t between King Log and King Stork. It’s more between Mr. Toad and King Stork, and I’d rather see the Republicans thrashing around for the next four years.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 15, 2017

Garden Report for 170515

Cool, blustery, and showery. Highs in the upper 50’s, lows in the lower 30’s. Forecast is for, well, cool, blustery, and showery, with highs in the 60’s and lows in the 40’s.

Slowly getting things started. Planted some deck tomatoes: Sub-Arctic Plenty and Patio. Started on the house planters: one Burpee’s Big Boy and one Beefmaster. Also put one of each of those in Section one. The south end is essentially full now.

Our local hardware store has the same limited selection of tomatoes and other plants as always. I need to find another source of seedlings, but there’s nothing close by, and with all of I-90 through Spokane being dug up, it’s a pain. I didn’t get a chance to plant seeds this year, so it’s just what the locals have.

Comeygate isn’t going anywhere

May 14, 2017

Despite the current uproar over the timing and manner of the firing of the FBI director, I don’t think anything will come of it, directly or soon. It’s been compared to the Saturday Night Massacre of the Watergate Scandal, but I don’t think it will have the same impact. Here’s why:

First of all, there’s the popular reasons, the ones bandied about in recent days. Both houses of Congress are in GOP hands, unlike during Watergate. Both sides are strongly polarized and antagonistic, unlike the more bipartisan days of the Cold War. And in 1973 the GOP had leaders who were willing to put country before party. Our illusions about that possibility died the death during the AHCA voting.

Yet another reason, not yet mentioned (as far as I know), is that it’s too soon. The Watergate break-in happened in June of 1972, and the scandal had 16 months to fester before that infamous Saturday night earned Robert Bork the nickname “Cox-sacker”.  That was seen as the tipping point by all but the most rabid Nixon supporters. Today, we are still in the “oh, it’s just partisan infighting” stage. Trump’s base is still supportive, and there’s not yet a smoking gun to convince them there’s something there.

For that matter, I’m not yet convinced that this scandal has a truly treasonous core.  A lot of inappropriate things have been done, many of them likely illegal, in a real estate developer petty graft sort of way. Impeachable? Yes, if you use getting a blowjob in a White House coat closet as your baseline, but not yet “high crimes and misdemeanors”. Not yet.

Not yet.

L’Affaire de Comey

May 11, 2017

I’ve been following some discussions on why the Democrats are riled up now about Comey being fired, when they were all for him being fired back in November. There’s a number of intertwined issues here, and we need to be sure our conclusions on one don’t color our approach to a different one.

1. The Clinton emails investigation and the associated announcement. Comey mishandled the whole thing, whether or not you believe Clinton did something actionable. He violated FBI guidelines — the decision, and the announcement, should have been left up to the DoJ.

2. The second email announcement. What had Democrats in a twist was the second announcement, a week before the election, that the FBI was investigating a second set of emails. This was not only a violation of guidelines, it was in direct contravention to advice given by DoJ.

According to Nate Silver at 538.com, this influenced the outcome. As far as I can tell, Silver is pretty much a ‘by the numbers’ statistician, who analyzes polling statistics. He is a liberal, but doesn’t let that influence his analysis.

By the time Comey came out (48hrs before the election) with a third announcement, that said ‘my bad, nothing new’, the damage had been done.

From that standpoint, what Comey should have been fired for was having the FBI take a political action that influenced an American election.

3. The Russia connection. I’m not sure there’s anything there, other than normal graft, but I am not at all sure. To a certain extent, it’s a stick the Democrats can use to beat the GOP. Just like Whitewater and Benghazi and the emails. The biggest pointer to malfeasance in office is the attempt at a coverup via the Comey firing.

4. The firing. If Trump didn’t like Comey’s actions over the emails, he should have fired him in January. Instead, he waited until the Russia investigation was well advanced, and Comey was asking for more money for it. The story the White House is supporting won’t stand up to scrutiny.

So what Comey shouldn’t have been fired for is continuing an investigation on external influence on an American election. And the Democrats are right to be upset about it.

BTW, here’s one line of thought on Trump’s mindset. It’s extracts from a 40 section tweet-storm (and example of a misuse of Twitter. You don’t pump out a thousand word essay 140 characters at a time).

Universal Basic Income: Gilbreth and Socrates and the philosophy of work

May 9, 2017

I had forgotten about this, until it crossed my mind while I was thinking about the earlier article. Cheaper By the Dozen (1948), by Frank Gilbreth, Jr., and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, was one of the books of my childhood. Gilbreth, Senior, was a time and motion specialist, always seeking a better way, one that would save time. Here’s how the book ends:

Someone once asked Dad: “But what do you want to save time for? What are you going to do with it?”
“For work, if you love that best,” said Dad. “For education, for beauty, for art, for pleasure.” He looked over the top of his pince-nez. “For mumblety-peg, if that’s where your heart lies.”

There are those who would look askance at such a life, but they are wrong. When Socrates said “The unexamined life is not worth living“, he should have gone on to say that this attitude was a social construct, designed to make the elite sons of the aristoi feel good about attending his classes, something unavailable to the bulk of the peasantry. Throughout history there have been untold millions of people who led happy, fulfilled lives despite the fact that none of their achievements ever had the word great attached to them.

In Life you set your own victory conditions, and a perfectly valid life can be had seeking to improve your skills at mumblety-peg, if that’s where your heart lies.

 

月の花見

May 8, 2017

Tsuki no hanami — moon flower viewing

Moon not quite full

Sakura past their peak

Overwhelming city lights

My bed calls

 

Green Thumb Up My Nose — The 2017 season really begins

May 8, 2017

To make sure we knew that winter was over, on Thursday we had a blast of moist 84F Hawaiian air. We were back to a more sane 60F on Saturday, and the soil temperature had climbed to 55F, with no indication of frost through mid-May. I made my first pass through the hardware store, and bought two each First Lady, Champion, and Arkansas Traveler — yes, only one ‘l’.  Plus a couple of basil seedlings. These all went into the South end of Section 1, digging up some of the greens (in two weeks they’d barely sprouted). Whitehouse o’ertop of them, soaker hose for half an hour, and we’ll see.

Still have greens and cabbage seeds in Section 2, without much action. Dug up Section 3 on the weekend. Plan to plant stuff there midweek.

Meanwhile, a couple of last year’s onions had stuck up stalks again, so I harvested them for use in my oatmeal. A nice Asia-poi touch.