Saturday, September 30, 2006

I and the Bird

I'm very excited. I've agreed to host I and the Bird #37 on November 30. I'm a bit intimidated. I've contributed a couple of times to IATB. But generally it seems the participants are better or more serious birders and bloggers than I have been lately.

Mike's first tip for hosts is "Sign up." Done. His second tip is "Tidy the place up!" Okay. I really need to do that.

And the third tip is "Recruit." I admit when I considered doing this I thought the entries would just come. And they probably will. But in addition, I want to encourage birder friends to plan to send entries directly to me in time for my deadline - probably 11/28. Of course, the earlier you send them, the easier it will be for me.

In the meantime, take a look at the current I and the Bird at Don't Mess With Taxes. [Check the I and the Bird page for an index to earlier issues.] And don't miss I and the Bird #34 October 12 with Pam at Tortoise Trail; I and the Bird #35 October 23 with Dan at Migrations; and I and the Bird #36 November 9 with Roger at Words & Pictures.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Friday *** Blogging

Much as I love the concept of Friday Cat Blogging, I also really look forward to Science Friday every week. Here's just one random thought about how people perceive science.

The writer of a letter to the editor in Mother Earth News this month wrote:
I am not going to support major policy initiatives that involve huge expenditures of funds and resources on a problem based on a scare, when the science is still suspect at the very best. Most, if not all, that is being observed can be attributed to the natural warming and cooling cycles of the planet.
So, with consensus reached only weeks ago that, in fact, warming is occurring, we're moving on to whether or not human activity is affecting it. I'm here to say, maybe it doesn't matter so much.

While some of us focus on reducing carbon dioxide emissions, the unbelievers can focus on know problems arising from warming. Whether you believe that human activity is insignificant in causing global warming or you believe that we're past the point where we can correct the effect human actively has had on global warming, we should be looking closely on the effect global warming will have on coastal population, agriculture, extreme weather, fresh water supply and more.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Field Trip

Yesterday was a gorgeous day for a field trip. I spend most of the day with the Town of Dryden Highway Superintendant visiting the new town hall construction site, the Virgil Creek Stabilization project and the Virgil Creek flood control dam. Complete story at Dryden Democrats.

One fun unexpected detail was the discovery of this Volvo collection on the long neglected property adjacent to the new town hall site. The town purchased this property to facilitate design of access to the new town hall.

I counted seven cars, tho' I think at least one of them was not a Volvo. We're applying for a grant to restore the house and return it to residential use. Sadly, the Volvos will probably be sold for salvage.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Homemade Mayonnaise

It's been a long time since I made mayonnaise at home. But now that I have fresh eggs, I'm happy to do it again. With the "stick" blender, it's easier than ever. It starts with an egg, an ounce of vinegar, a pinch of salt and ground mustard.

A few minutes of blending while drizzling in a cup and a third of vegetable oil and voila - mayonnaise.

The mayonnaise can be varied by using different oils and vinegars and one begins to understand how, in earlier times, some cooks came to be known for their skill. Homegrown eggs might be of different quality. Homegrown mustard might have a different flavor. And homemade vinegar - the possibilities are delightful.

I like the flavor of my mayonnaise. And I like that when it's gone I'll make more and refill the jar rather than throwing away (recycling) a mayonnaise jar. I don't know the environmental impact of a single mayonnaise jar but what if ten people made mayonnaise at home? Before you know it, it would be an honest to goodness Alice's Restaurant movement.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

These Things Are Clues

The sun is rising a bit south of due east and setting slightly to the south of due west. More and more deer are showing up close to the house. Jars of tomato sauce and jelly are piling up on my kitchen counters. Black walnuts are crashing down all around. And the sidewalk is covered with hickory nut husks. Think it's the end of summer?

I'm kind of in denial 'cause there's so much to do. Clean the chicken coop and add straw. Turn compost and add horse manure. Raise the beehive up off the ground and replace the rotting bottom board. See if they have enough honey for the winter and offer them a shallow super to fill with goldenrod honey for me. Find a way to stop the roof leak over the tool room. Spread the woodchips around the fruit trees and on the woodland garden path. Dig the Gladiolus bulbs. Put fencing around the shrubs that deer are likely to eat. Move the firewood into the shed. Tractor engine maintenance and replacing the mower deck with the snowblower. Oh,dear. I just can't think that far ahead. I know it's going to be a long, lovely autumn.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Obama and the Media

I wish news coverage of Barack Obama's speech in Iowa focused on what he said and not on speculation about his 2008 candidacy. And I wish that more reporters had actually heard the speech. The speech was televised. You can see it here. (Fast forward to about 23 minutes to hear the section quoted below.) How hard would it be to write an original article about it? Yet dozens of newspapers and TV and radio stations carried the AP story with the headline "Dems Need Tough Security Stance" and the quote "What Democrats have to do is to close the deal." And dozens more carried the Chicago Tribune article with the headline, "Obama greeted like a rock star in Iowa" ('though the Tribune's headline was "Iowa Democrats see contender in Obama.")

The New York Times at least picked up the line that caught my attention. Obama says, "I don’t think that George Bush is a bad man.” He goes on to say that Bush and Republicans "believe in different things” and to underscore the party’s agenda by explaining the variety of ways Americans have “had enough” of Republican and Bush administration policies.

(cross posted at Dryden Democrats)

Had Enough?

In case you don't have time to listen to Barack Obama, here's part of the speech:
I don’t think George Bush is a bad man. I don’t. I think George Bush wants to do right by America. I think he’s a patriotic person. I don’t think the people who work for him are stupid people. I think a lot of them are smart - in their own way. I think the problem is that they’ve got a different idea of America than we’ve got. They believe in different things.

They have a sense that, in fact, Government is the problem, not the solution. And that if we just dismantle government piece by piece, if we break it up in tax cuts to the wealthy and if we make sure we privatize social security and we get rid of public schools and we make sure that we don’t have police on the streets, we have private security guards and we don’t have public parks, we’ve got private parks, if we just break everything up that, in fact, everybody’s going to be better off. That we don’t have obligations to each other, that we’re not in it together but, instead, you’re on your own. That’s the basic concept behind the ownership society. That’s what George Bush and this Republican Congress have been arguing for, for the last six years. And it’s a tempting idea. Because it doesn’t require anything from each of us. It’s very easy for us to say that I’m going to think selfishly only about myself.

That I don’t have to worry about the fact that 46 million people don’t have health insurance. I don’t have to make any effort to deal with the fact that our children don’t have opportunity to go to college because student loans have been cut. I don’t have to worry about the guy just who lost his job after working 30 years in a plant because his plant’s moved to Mexico or out to China, despite the fact that he has been producing profits on behalf of that company this whole time and he’s lost his health care and he’s lost his pension as a consequence. I don’t have to worry about those things.

But here’s the problem. The problem is that that idea won’t work. Because despite the much vaunted individual initiative and self reliance that has been at the essence of the American Dream the fact of the matter is that there’s always been this other idea of America. This idea that says we have a stake in each other. That I am my brother’s keeper. That I am my sister’s keeper. That I’ve got an obligation. Not just for my self, not just for my family, but also for you. That every child is my child and every senior citizen deserves

That simple notion is one that we understand in our churches, in our synagogues, in our mosques. It’s an idea we understand in our own families, in our own blocks, in our workplaces. But it also has to reflect itself in our government.

You know, nobody here expects government to solve all our problems for us. We don’t want government to solve our problems. What we do expect is that government can help. The government can make a
difference in all of our lives. And that is essentially the battle that we’re going to be fighting in this election. It is a battle about education, it is a battle about health care. It is a battle about energy. But it is also a battle about what America is going to be about, America’s future, about how we relate to each other and how we understand our place in this world.

Now the fact is, if you look at the record of the last six years, we shouldn’t have a problem in this election. I know, Tom, you wouldn’t normally hear this quoted at one of your steak fries. But, you know, the other day I heard Newt Gingrich speak. I don’t normally quote Newt Gingrich – at least at Democratic events. But I’ve gotta say Newt caught my attention. ‘cause folks were asking him, you know, given all the problems Republicans have had managing the country, managing the economy, managing the war in Iraq, what do you thinks going to happen in this election? And Newt Gingrich said to the commenter, “If I was advising the Democrats, I gotta admit I would just use two words to campaign.” And the reporter said “What are the two words?” and he said “Had enough.”

Had enough! And I don’t know about you. But I think old Newt’s on to something. Because I’ve had enough…

Of Drug companies writing the prescription plan….
Of Oil companies writing the energy bill…
Of A Bill like no child left behind that left the money behind…
Of a do nothing, not even trying, effort to deal with the health care crisis that every single American is affected by…

And let me tell you something else I’ve had enough of. I’ve had enough of using terrorism as a wedge issue in our politics. I’ve had enough of that.

Cross posted at Dryden Democrats

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Constitution Day

It's Constitution Day again. Thanks to Senator Byrd's 2004 amendment to a spending bill, Constitution Day is an educational event. So, some celebration events will be held on Monday - including the reading of the Preamble by Colin Powell - at 2:00 PM EDT.
We The People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

I don't really understand the pledge of allegiance. But I do understand the preamble (with the possible exception of the word "ordain") and I wish this was the thing we say in public to declare our loyalty. For one think, it starts with "We" instead of "I." Can't you just imagine standing up at a football game and saying "We the people..." Wouldn't you like to hear the US House of Representatives start each day's business with "We the people.." Wouldn't it be good in both these situations to emphasize that we're all in this together - we're all trying to solve the same problems?

Last year I wrote about C-SPAN coverage of the Constitution. Whatever criticism I may have of cable/satellite TV, I thank the industry for creating and funding C-SPAN. I wish there were more commercial-free channels carrying similar quality educational programming in other topics. There's PBS. And The History Channel and The Discovery Channel with commercials. Why no special channel for literature? Think of the possibilities.

But I, for one, would like to see a channel about logic, ethics and semantics. This would add up to an exercise in clear thinking. I'd be the first to admit I could use some practice. And I think there are lots of people who need it more than I do. And I think that, on the imaginary level playing field, people with knowledge and skills in logic, ethics and semantics have a huge advantage. On the other hand, it would take me a long time to prove that.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging

For years, the cats have feigned disinterest in the goldfish. They drink from the goldfish tub apparently unaware of the fish. The fish, on the other hand have been openly curious about the cats, particularly their tongues. But lately Magda's adopted this Snoopy vulture pose. She sometimes makes a swipe at the water resulting in a wet paw and sometimes motivating that quick fishy maneuver that splashes a half a cup of water on the innocent bystander - usually me, not Magda.

Every other day or so one of the eggs is a regular large size rather than the mini pullet size. I thought it was just that one of the hens was bigger. But it turns out that the larger ones are double yolk. Two of the three eggs I broke this morning were twins.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Apples and Clouds

If you're thinking of adding a crabapple to your landscape, look for a Dolgo crabapple. The apples are an inch or more in diameter and intensely flavored. We picked a couple of bushels yesterday. I'm going to use some for applesauce. Bill's making jelly. But the bulk of them are going to Greg for cider!

These are the kind of clouds you usually only see from the window of an airplane. But yesterday they were rushing by to the north accompanied by some pretty serious thunder.
We never got more than a few big drops of rain, but the clouds were great to watch.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Weekend Events

This just in from my sister: WNGD. Saturday is World Naked Gardening Day. I've always been glad I live where I can make clothing optional in my yard. It's going to be harder for my sister in suburban New Jersey, but her garden has some secluded areas, too.

Here in Tompkins County, Saturday is the day for the Freeville Harvest Festival and the Ellis Hollow Fair. The Freeville Harvest Festival, 9:00 - 4:00 will have lots of activities for kids. The Ellis Hollow Fair, noon 'til 4:00, is well-known for its pies. I like it for the used book sale and flea market.

[Ed 9/7/06. Thanks for the reminder,Dave. The 16th Annual Etna Commuinity Yard Sale will be going on Saturday from 9:00 'til noon at Houtz Hall.

Note that breakfast sausage and eggs will be available all day at the Freeville Festival in addition to chicken Barbecue after 11:00AM. An Auction is scheduled for 11:30 as well as White Elephant Sale, Farmer's Market and Bake Sale.

Also consider taking a look at the renovations to the Dryden, Freeville and Cassavant Elementary schools with the Community Walk-Through at all three schools Tuesday, September 12 4:00 - 8:00PM.]

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Book TV

CSPAN's Book TV was a goldmine last night. Ron Suskind is an incredible speaker as well as an outstanding writer. New York Times Book Review says Suskind's book, The One Percent Doctrine "...sheds new light on the Bush White House's strategic thinking and its doctrine of pre-emptive action." Talking about the book, Suskind describes both chilling terrorist scenarios and the bizarre responses to them from the White House. I'm rushing right out to buy the book, not only for the topic, but because I remember the excellent writing in his last book The Price of Loyalty.

Next was First Sergeant Daniel Hendrex's book, A Soldier's Promise. Hendrex describes the events surrounding the appearance of an Iraqi boy at Dragon Troop's headquarters on the Syrian border. The boy was asking to be arrested and claimed to have information about insurgents, including his father. At first, officers doubted they could use the boy's information. But his information proved true and extraordinarily helpful in targeting insurgents. Americans questioned the boy's motivation 'til he told them about the day his father laughingly showed him a picture of a badly beaten man, a local shopkeeper. His father said "This is what happens to people who help Americans." The boy questioned why his father had told him that Americans were bad because they hurt and kill Muslims and couldn't reconcile why his father was laughing and proud of having beaten this Muslim man. You have to wonder where a child got moral logic like that.

I watched Michelle Malkin for a while just because it's so astonishing to see how nasty she is while whining that people who don't like her are racist.

Vali Nasr, talked about his book, The Shia Revival, and about Iran's role in the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah.

And Stephen Kinzer in his book, Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq acknowledges that regime change is sometimes necessary and describes how badly it turns out for both the country where regime change takes place and for the United States manipulating the regime change.

Incidentally, Book TV page has a link to President Bush's Summer Reading List, Provided by the White House Press Office. No kidding. Take a look.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Bill in India

This is my friend, Bill Dilger, in India during World War II. Last year I posted a picture of a Myna bird Bill painted while he was in India. Maybe he wasn't the only person who carried watercolors in his knapsack throughout the war, but I'll bet there weren't many. Charles Lowe, who left a comment yesterday, served with Bill in India. Charles, I know Bill would love to hear from you. He doesn't have email - doesn't even have a computer. But please email me (FiveWells at aol dot com) and I'll put you in touch.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

New in the Garden

The tomato plant labels have long since been obscured by the tomato plants themselves. So I was surprised by these pale tomatoes at the end of the row. They're Snow White cherry tomatoes. I remember getting the seed as a bonus sample with something I ordered last year. I'm glad I had room to try them this year. They're very juicy, kind of sweet and, face it, the color looks nice in a mix. The orange tomatoes on the left in this picture are Sun Gold, our standby cherry tomato. And the darker red ones on the right are Sweet Millions.

I'm often surprised by plants Bill gave me years ago. He brings me treasures when I'm too busy to think about them and I stick them in the garden wherever I can. Labels get lost. Growth happens. Years later, voila, I'm asking, "Bill, what is this?" This is Scilla chinensis. I have no recollection of planting it. Actually I only vaguely remember ever seeing it before. But it's a nice touch at this time of year.

Kathy Purdy, at Cold Climate Gardening, has been summarizing responses to a series of questions she asked to celebrate the fourth year anniversary of her blog. What do you think has caused the proliferation of garden blogs in the last year? I know that for years I wondered why there were so few gardening blogs. Anyway, I'm glad there are lots now. And thanks to Kathy for keeping up a Garden Blog Directory.