Monthly Archives: July 2008

Monday Links

Chronicling Obama’s march to the right. I’ve been noticing that he gets progressively more centric and closer to the right every week. I wonder if he thinks no one will notice? Maybe no one will notice? So many people are in love with him that I don’t think many will notice. I liked the guy while he was campaigning for the Democratic ticket, but now that he’s starting to change and wear the same spots as all other politicians I might be through with him.

IndyMac bank blows up. 2nd biggest failure ever. Not counting Bear Sterns, etc of course.

The Greatest Transfer of Wealth in History.  (Scroll down until you see this title in a post title)

The story of the Nigerian Delta, and it’s oil riches.

Interesting story of a soldier becoming a farmer.

Cactus Planters

My mom sent this to me. It’s a pretty bad one, I warn you.

An elementary school class started a class project to make planters to take home to their parents.

They wanted to have a plant in it that was easy to take care of, so they decided to use cactus plants.

The students were given green-ware pottery planters in the shape of clowns which they painted with glaze.

The clown planters were professionally fired at a class outing so they could see the process.

It was great fun!
They planted cactus seeds in the finished planters and they grew nicely, but unfortunately, the children were not allowed to take them home.

The cactus plants were removed and small ivy r eplaced them and the children were then allowed to take them home instead.

The teacher said cactus seemed like a good idea at the time!

Chickens, the new suburban pet

He now, we need some privacy

Hey now, we need some privacy

This creeping charlie is damn tasty

This creeping charlie is damn tasty

I know you're excited we're here Matt, but we're still kind of skittish.

I know you're excited we're here Matt, but we're still kind of skittish.

Um, the chicken are here.


Friday Links

I’ll tell you, I’ve seen a ton of great stories lately, which is why I’m sharing them with you. Most come from a Daily News e-mail I get. Let me know if you want info to sign up for it.

A NYTimes story about a potential intervention of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Interesting discussion about how Washington and Wall Street set up this financial crash.

Vanity Fair article about the crash of Bear Stearns.

Story about demand for wood stoves, and the upcoming high cost of winter heating.

Story about suburbs feeling the pinch of high gas prices. If you haven’t see the movie “End of Suburbia”, this is sort of a written account of the death of suburbs, like the movie.

Story about CSAs.

Thursday’s Links

How to get cheaper oil.

Similarities between 1929 and 2008.

Animals back in vogue now on farms.

If you want to avoid foreclosure, just ask them to bring the true note to court. A lot of lenders can’t do that.

Something does smell bad about a hunger summit featuring meals like this.

Biking Today

I rode my bike to work today towing a 4 yr old on a tag along bike trailer. It’s the first time we’ve gone to that great a distance hooked up like this. I was a little concerned that getting up at 5:45 would be hard on him, but he handled that OK. In fact, if he got up that easily every day I could let him sleep until 6 if we rode our bikes, or 6:30 if we drove. We’ll see if the excitement stays.

It was an interesting experience. We’ve used the tag along thing on short rides to the park but this was a 4.5 mile ride along two roads and one section of bike trail. He handled it fine. There isn’t a lot of traffic at that time, which is nice. I thought we were almost doomed before we started as he dragged out his helmet, but it was disassembled, with no straps. Apparently they were playing with it as it was under his bed (???) and looked like they had used it to protect their heads when they were doing something I don’t really want to think about right now.

I quickly put the straps on hoping I did them right and we rolled off, feeling like an overburdened semi truck. I was riding my mountain bike with road tires (it’s not light), all 260 pounds of me (Ok, Ok, really 258 as of this morning), a messenger bag loaded and strapped over my shoulder with my lunch bag attached and hanging further down. Then there was the all steel trail a bike with a strapping 45 pound 4 year old, who only occasionally likes to pedal and likes to talk while he coasts and Dad struggles up the hills. I wasn’t so sure it would work out well.

So we’re running late from dealing with the helmet and I am pumping hard to make up time, assuming I could actually get the bike above you know, 5 miles an hour. After the first hill I was remembering that the way TO work is mostly uphill (actually up and down 4 hills and then one final mile long uphill to work) while the way home was mostly downhill. (Now I’m really rethinking this idea.) We finally got to a fairly flat area on the bike trail next to a creek (or ‘crick’ as they say in Missouri (or Missourah if you are my mother in law)) and one of his pedals falls off. (Obviously the Chinaman who put this bike together for Target was not well paid.) I was able to get the pedal back on to finger tightness and we were off again. (Are you sick of my parenthesis yet? I don’t think I’ll have a book deal anytime soon.)

We got to work 10 minutes later than I expected but I was able to get upstairs to work only 1 minute late. I’m really lucky that my workplace has gyms with showers. I really needed one this morning, even though it was quite cool.

The ride home was less exciting. Even though I hate these people, I rode on the sidewalk a little because the traffic was heavier, but eventually decided it was stupid and moved over to the street. The cars will just have to deal with me. If someone runs us over and we both die hopefully they will get some serious treatment since they killed a kid. I know no one cares about a biker who gets hit by a car, but maybe the kid aspect will help.

After all this is said and done I’m trying to decide if I want to do it more. For the summer I drop off one child at Summer Care (which is on the road we ride up in the morning) and the other is at preschool at my work. In theory I can ride with both, although the little one would be demoted to the trailer, but getting them both up that early, when they are up late with the late sunsets, and having them in the care of others for between 9 & 10 hours is tough to stomach, even if it is only 30 minutes more than usual. I get off early on Fridays, so I have the option of doing it that day and we could possibly achieve all these things. Less guilt for me as Fridays would be less time in care (although I usually pick the little one up during nap which would be strange for a bike ride when he usually is mostly asleep in the car), more time afterwards that we could go explore if we want, and we would still be able to ride one day a week. When school starts up this Fall I think I’ll be able to ride fairly regularly with the little one as my work schedule will be 30 minutes less each day and it will just be the two of us. Tough to know what to do. Even though the ride to work is short saving money on gas is something to think about. The way oil is going it may make the decision for us.

Two Cedar Rapids Flood Stories

This story is a great story about the effort that went into saving the one remaining water well for the entire city so that the whole city wouldn’t be without water. I didn’t realize how bad it was if the water system got flooded, other than not having water.

They had a concert here this 4th of July weekend. It was called Floodstock. Anyway, it was intended to raise money for a local foundation for flood relief. My wife and I went on Sat night. It was a good time. I did my best to raise money for the foundation by drinking a large quantity of beer.

I don’t know how much money they raised, but they raised $10K by auctioning off a Neil Young autographed guitar when the winner won for $3100, told the crowd if they coughed up $3100 he would give it to the runner up and let them “win” the guitar. The crowd came up with $3100, the original owner coughed up $3100 and then the runner up gave their $3000 bid. $9200 just like that. $10 entry fee on a couple thousand people and it starts adding up. It won’t go far, but it will definitely help.

I was standing behind the camera person when they were shooting some of this footage. :-)

Floodstock 2008 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa from Jason Kristufek on Vimeo.

Tuesday Links

Funny how I’m reading so much great stuff about peak oil and Americans’ changing their driving and spending habits from papers on the other side of the world. Is it not news here too?

Ideas on harvesting rainwater for use around your house. This guy does it in AZ, where it’s vitally important and it pays of for him with increased comfort and food production.

If you need some tactics on dealing with debt collectors check out this article from CNN.

Group in SF wants to rename their sewage disposal plant for George W Bush. I find this humorous, although the difference between the two is that a sewage plants takes in shit and puts out (relatively) clean water. Bush takes in good stuff in puts out shit. He’s like a bizarro sewage plant. That being said, he’s not the only one. We could have one named for Cheney, Rummy and a few others. (HT:Mish)

Expat Chef’s revolutionary health care plan. I like. I’ve heard it from other places too. Tax the things that are bad for us. The only way you can change behavior is to hit people in their pocket books. Tax fast food, and junk food, and sodas. Tax alcohol, and if you want people to drive less tax the hell out of gas. While we’re at it, let’s legalize some drugs, and tax the hell out of them too. Obviously the billions we’re spending aren’t making a dent so why not make them legal, track who buys them and tax their use?

Independence Days Update

Plant something: Beans, beans and more beans. As peas and greens get pulled from their spots beans go into their location (I know I’m following a legume with a legume but after the beans that spot will be done until next year). I’m really digging this garden size. It allows me to have quite a bit of stuff going. However, I would like more potatoes and sweet potatoes. I’m also running out of things to plant that are short growing but still productive so I can rotate back in the fall to cool weather crops. All I can come up with for the most part is beans. I’ve got more squash than I need in the ground already (which reminds me that I planted three more patty pans squashes), and same goes for cucumbers. So I’m left with beans as my short growing crop? I figure if they are overplanted I can yank up what I need in the fall and put in the fall crops. Also planted some sprouting potatoes into an old onion spot.

Planted this week: beans (green, lima and dried), squashes, potatoes.

Harvested: peas, greens (lettuce, kale, swiss chard), onions (the onions were messing up my weed patch so I had to pull them…), 2 sungold tomatoes (which went to my visiting mother) and broccoli.

Preserve something: Froze peas, spinach and broccoli.

Prep something: Hmm, I staked up the rest of the tomato plants I’m going to make sure deliver the goods. The rest I’ll be happy to pick but don’t care to a great extent if they produce or not. I’m up to 26 tomato plants now that are staked. Last week I mentioned the animal traps, which are not working. The chipmunks are getting the food and not getting caught. The rabbits just don’t care. I’m ready to introduce a pellet gun. I also got some potent urine. We’ll see.

Cook something new: I tried a cooked swiss chard recipe. Blech. Bad stuff. We like it raw in salads but not as a cooked side dish. That’s fine. It’s still healthy that way. We had kale tonight (recipe here). It was kind of a “stoup”, which is strange when it’s so hot, but that seems to be the most common way people eat kale, and I have enough to do that I liked letting this cook away while I was working on other things. The recipe was very good, although I thought it needed a little more spice. (you can seem my comment as Fat Guy in the Kitchen)

I’ve been enjoying baby new potatoes boiled and then rolled in butter, salt and parsley. Very good. I also made strawberry ice cream for the first time. It was very good as well, though I liked the vanilla better.

Manage your reserves: I haven’t done anything here but start to stock back up and rotate things around. I do need to call the chicken people though and get an order placed. Need to look for their card…

Local food system: Nothing. I can tell you though, the flood has really devastated the local food system here that was growing massively. Look for more on this in the future.

Reduce waste: Nothing new.

Learn a new skill: Hmm, I’m learning to trap but you can see how well that’s going. This is strange, but I’m learning how to move water around the yard to water the garden from the rain barrels in buckets. In the past I used a hose hooked to the house with a sprinkler. But now I’m carrying buckets around to pour water on the base of the plants. This won’t work so well in August when the whole thing has to be watered, but it’s OK for now. The barrels are on the front of the house and the garden is in the back. Hoses to reach that far are in short supply. Plus I don’t think there is enough pressure to push it that far. So carry the water I do.

I also learned how to make ice cream with the ice cream maker I got at a flea market. I’m very happy to learn this skill. Now I can pick the ingrediants and it takes soo darn good.

Videos about Tent Cities In California

These two videos show the tent cities showing up in CA after people have lost their houses, or they are just plain priced out of the housing market. Included with the story I had the other day about people sleeping in their cars I would think there is a problem in CA related to finding affordable housing for people who aren’t able or willing to borrower ridiculous amounts of money to buy a house.

If you want to see other videos follow the links out to You Tube and see other videos in Seattle as well as other videos or even more tent cities.