Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Who Should Apologize to the Taxpayer?

Here's who deserves the apology: a 75-year-old retired CNA who's trying to pay a $700 monthly mortgage out of a $850 Social Security pension plus odd jobs, only several little bones in her arm have been broken and she may be in a cast for a year, so she's not doing odd jobs. And her Medicare benefits are endangered by a "Chicago Politics" scheme to force everybody to buy into the insurance racket.

Which Representative should apologize first? Wouldn't it be refreshing if they tried to outdo each other in displays of super-politeness, like old-model politicians, instead of bickering like kids on a rainy afternoon?

Flower Pictures from Florida

Now some pleasant news from Florida...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Monday, July 25, 2011

Something for Computer Users to Think About

Owning a computer is not Green. I have old computers (without modems) in my home because that was where others recycled these pieces of future toxic waste as gifts to me; for the Internet, I use only public-access computers. However, the more we depend on computers, the more toxic waste will have to be reprocessed somewhere on this round world.

Why I Don't Weigh Myself Every Day

It's so easy to become obsessive about one pound up or down, when the fact is that you can get readouts that differ by 5 or 10 pounds just by changing the position of a bathroom scale on the floor.

In fact, a friend who got the same bathroom scale reading every day for about a year turned out to have a scale that was badly stuck. I weighed myself at his house. Did I really weigh as much as he did? Possible, but not likely. Did I weigh the same whether or not I was carrying a 25-pound tote bag? I checked, and according to that scale I did. Was it possible that his weight had fluctuated during the past year, too? Almost certainly it had! Although his body shape hadn't changed, adult human bodies gain and lose a few pounds of fluid and digested food during the course of the day.
If your clothes feel too tight or your body shape changes, you have a problem. If your weight on a scale that balances your body against a solid weight changes, you have a problem. If your bathroom scale reading changes, the easiest way to lose five pounds of useless weight, fast, is to discard the bathroom scale.

Yet Another Flaw in Obamacare

My Congressman (at the time) opposed Obamacare because it actually cuts benefits that have already been allocated to people with confirmed disabilities.

I opposed it because I don't gamble, don't buy into insurance schemes, and don't want to be fined for practicing my religion (which frowns on gambling).
Now, because of my opposition to Obamacare, I'm getting e-mail from these people: They say that, hidden in the mess of jargon in Obamacare, there's also a concession to Big Unions that would force people who care for their disabled relatives to become "employees" of organizations that would gouge union dues out of these people.

Clearly, there are lots of reasons to repeal Obamacare...and consider forced limitations on the size and complexity of any new legislation, so that abominations like Obamacare can't slip through Congress again.

Dream Ticket

According to, I'm one of only eight people who thought that Ron Paul and Condoleezza Rice would be a viable Republican ticket. (Sorry, you're limited to picking a "dream ticket" of people who might conceivably run as Republicans.)

I'm not aware that Rice is willing to run in Election 2012, but this combination of age and experience works for me...even though it's similar to McCain/Palin, which obviously didn't work in 2008...but I think in 2008 the real issue was "end the war" rather than "young president, old vice-president."
What about Michele Bachmann? Seriously, she's in the campaign, and she's one of the other Republicans in Congress who've stood by any of their campaign rhetoric. I like her. I'm just not sure the mainstream Republican party would support her and Paul on the same ticket...although as an independent/crossover voter I would vote for them on the same ticket.

Humor About Being Humorless

We all have gifts and disabilities...but this allegedly humor-challenged writer is particularly funny about it.

Internet Service Providers Barking Up the Wrong Tree

They want to know my zip code so they can clutter my e-mail screen with local ads. But I see the local ads that interest me, which are specific sales ads, in the local newspaper. I don't buy local stuff online! The purpose of the Internet should be to tell me what's going on in a place where I don't actually live...such as the street address I use for e-mail accounts, which is where I used to live, still know people, am likely to revisit, and would like to be alerted to ongoing sales if I were planning a trip.

The ads for Internet dating services are especially clueless. They're keyed to the public access computers I use rather than my e-mail, so they're telling me who's trying to use Internet dating services in my home town. More than half of the 2500 people in this town are related to me. If I were looking for a new Significant Other, which I'm not, I would not want to be introduced to a bunch of distant cousins...and I'm sure that these guys aren't paying to be introduced to me. Duh!

Be Kind: Don't Chat with Cashiers in Checkout Lines

One of my pet peeves as a shopper, revisited from the cashier's point of view:

(And here I thought I only hated stores that teach cashiers to attempt eye contact and chat with customers because I used to catch chatty cashiers in mistakes...which were always in the store's favor, at one particular store.)

Salute to a Great Dog

Some will want to debate about the closing line of this article, but if dogs go to the same Heaven humans do, can there be any doubt that this one will?

Frugal Tips, Recommended

That web page title doesn't tell you much. It's "We're Saving Almost $250 a Month on Family Time," and based on observation of my nephews I can believe that Jimmy Collins' children love this plan. Personally I like for my Significant Other to save money on dates with me, too, but I'm weird that way.

Florida's Unofficial State Bird
Palmetto bugs come as far north as Virginia in summertime. Everybody in Kingsport, Tennessee, sees a few invade their home in summer. The biting behavior doesn't seem especially dangerous--they nip, like beetles--but they're definitely a gross-out.

Darling Starling Link with Picture

This pretty little bird probably helps zookeepers destroy palmetto bugs...

Baby Eagle Pictures

Click on this link (and click through the whole article) to see three pictures of baby eagles.

Can Teachers and Students Be Friends?

I don't think this is about protecting children from the bad social influence of teachers--that's too absurd. I think it's about protecting teachers and their students from accusations of favoritism.

Even at the university level, where students in graduate courses may easily be older and have more advanced degrees than their teacher, it's just not appropriate for the teacher to hang out with one of his or her present-time students more than the teacher hangs out with other students in the same class. Rightly or wrongly, a teacher who spends more time around one student than others creates a perception that that student is getting some sort of special coaching, preference, or other privileges.

Teachers and students should be friends...after the student has finished the course and has no intentions of taking any further classes taught by that individual teacher.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Robert O. Adair Chuckles at the Evolutionist Religion

First, to fend off e-mails from the clueless: there's microevolution--a fact, which you can easily replicate with garden plants or small short-lived animals--and there's macroevolution, a religious belief for which the "factual" support happens to have been constructed to support the theory. Carbon dating works if you accept the arrangement of the "fossil record" that was constructed to promote the theory of macroevolution, which works if you accept carbon dating.

I think, from a scientific point of view, macroevolution has exactly as much to recommend it as the alternative intelligent-design theory. Which is to say: I don't think either can be studied or discussed scientifically. Believe whichever one fits into your world view, teach it to your children, but please don't call it science. Science is the study of facts that can be observed and replicated. Nobody has yet found a way to replicate either macroevolution or intelligent design.

Robert O. Adair has specialized in satires that ridicule evolution, and although I think he's done better ones than the one I found in the e-mail today, I want to share this chuckle with everyone:

Shut Down Government? Promise? Please?

Another chuckle, only in view of recent political news it has serious implications...

Lawsuits That Are Sillier in Legends Than They Are in Real Life

Here's the e-mail I received:

Good for a laugh as it is, but check out this blog's various discussions of the way legitimate lawsuits get spun into legends of stupidity by "tort reformers" whose real agenda is to protect corporations from being sued for doing things that are known to be harmful to humans...

This site contains other long discussions of this topic, with additional informative links.

Thought for the Day

Why do people choose to be starving writers rather than yuppies?

Phenology: Emerald Ash Borer

The Emerald Ash Borer has also been found in parts of Tennessee. Beware of moving firewood!

"Liberals" on the Left: So Tactful, Caring, Enlightened...

Tips for Thinking About Climate Change

Consider who's talking about it, and why.

Local climate change is real all right. When I was growing up here, people could wash laundry in the morning, hang it out to dry in the afternoon, and have clean-smelling dry laundry to put away after supper. After twenty years of too many cars on the roads and too many trees in what used to be crop and pasture land, I'm wondering if I'll ever live to see weather like that again, in the same place. Part of this blog's purpose is to document climate change.

But who's talking about it, how accurately, and to what purpose?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

How Can Another Pet Take the Place Of...

After losing Magic, I had that familiar emotional reaction that goes "How could I even think of some other, inferior animal in the place where my precious, irreplaceable, once-in-a-lifetime pet used to be."

It helped me that Magic had been such a friendly, generous fur-person. Possibly she knew that no other animal could take her place in my emotional heart...she adopted kittens and tamed possums, and never minded sharing her place on my knee.

Nevertheless, I still had to bite my tongue and tell myself, "They don't need to be friends and partners like Magic. I need a cat for humane and efficient pest control. Cats need homes. There WILL be at least two cats here at all times...even if they're only dumb animals who don't remind me of Magic in any way."

With this mind-set I've managed to bond with several other cats. The combination of survival intelligence, listening to humans, nurturing kittens, and sociability that made Magic special may not recur within my lifetime...but I'm surprised by the number of cats who have at least one of these traits to some extent.

By now, if nothing else had happened to her, Magic would have died of old age. I would have had to bond with other cats anyway. And I'm glad I did it right away.

Phenology: 7/14/11

Weather: not really hot, yet, but humid. Can't step outside without perspiring. (It gets worse though. I was able to breathe through my nose while walking to the computer center.)

Birds: Most seem to have retired from flying and singing, except for crows, of course, and a flock of grackles I heard grating on the way to the computer center today. I last saw one of the robins on Sunday. It was flying; I didn't see whether it was the male or the female.

Insects: All summer I've noticed how few moths there are and how far off schedule the ones I've seen have been. There were hardly any tiger moths in June (most years a few species are very numerous at the Cat Sanctuary). This morning I saw a tiger moth caterpillar crossing a road. It was one of several that can be called "brown bears" because they're similar in size and hair texture to woolly bears, but all brown; this one could even be called tan.

Flowers: Vetch is still blooming as I've never seen it bloom before here--crown vetch in all shades of pink, and native vetch in bright buttercup yellow, still making swatches of color. Clover. Thistles. Trumpetvines have started opening a few of their orange-red "trumpets."

We Don't Burn Widows, But...

Instead, "we" (the English-speaking countries) try to arrange for widows to die quietly after a few years of being told that their skills and talents are no longer marketable, that if they're not over age 85 and visibly disabled other women don't trust them, that if they're not rich other men don't want to marry them, etc., etc., etc., every time they leave the house or pick up the telephone. "We" do not treat young widows, in any noticeable way, differently than we treat women who were divorced for good and sufficient reasons. "We" say we want to prevent suicide, but what do we do to make it possible for widows to want to go on breathing?

For example: we (the humans at the Cat Sanctuary) are widows, which means that I (Priscilla King) am also fatherless. So how many books have you bought from the Online Bookstore lately?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Raccoons as Pets

Here's Juniper Russo's advice:

Here's my take on this subject: Raccoons are wild animals who belong outdoors.

You can make friends with raccoons (if none of your neighbors is trying to raise more useful animals that raccoons may injure or kill, or crops that raccoons may destroy). They'll learn to come when called. Eventually they may even caress you with their cute little "hands" and let you stroke their fur. In many ways they're like cats, only bigger and more resourceful.

Nevertheless, they're not cats. When the authors of Rascal and Frosty wrote vague euphemistic endings about how "the time came to return my pet to the wild," what they meant was that a full-grown raccoon is unlikely to settle for living as a house pet under humans' rules. If raised as a house pet, he's more likely to challenge the humans for control of the house...not just shredding their belongings out of playfulness and curiosity, but attacking their belongings and them in a serious effort to run them off what he's decided is his territory.
If you love your raccoons, talk to your vet about giving them rabies vaccine in the form of food treats, and leave them free to prowl outdoors.

(Although it's conveniently close to town and although the road going to the Cat Sanctuary looks a bit like "the wild," I try to discourage raccoons near the Cat Sanctuary. If you can responsibly keep raccoons outdoors, at least a mile away from me, and would like to adopt one from me, please send a message.)

Phenology 7/13/11: Welcome to The South

Between mid-June and mid-August, even the high Blue Ridge Mountains start to feel like "The South." It's not the 90-degree heat that can kill you (actually, most days it's only 80-degree heat); it's the 90% humidity. Breathing becomes difficult, and the sight of reforested hills covered in trees, each of which is literally steaming 30 gallons of water or more into the air every day, makes you think wistfully about clear-cutting and forest fires.

Caylee's Law Is a Waste of Time

Not the only e-mail to this effect in my e-mailbox today, but probably the best written one. "Caylee's Law" isn't going to help anything. People who are willing to commit murder don't care about laws requiring them to register anything, report anything, or otherwise expand bureaucracy. People who don't report missing children probably have good reasons for not wanting government to be involved, as in "I'm pretty sure Chris has gone to Grandpa's house again and that school that's giving Chris all this stress doesn't need to hear about it." And people who merely observe these things (and pay taxes) think we need to cut the existing functions of government by at least half, before the whole country goes bankrupt...not add the weight or breadth of one single hair to what Big Government's already bungling.

Landover Baptist Church Is Meant to Be a Parody

There's at least one town (in Maryland) called Landover. There may actually be a Landover Baptist Church. This site is not a parody of one church more than another; it's a parody of the most stupid and off-putting things churchgoers do.

But I don't see anything there about picketing funerals. Tacky. Tacky. Tacky!

Empathy Hugs, Now Please Try to Get Over It

Do, please, read it; the author is one of AC's few remaining foreign correspondents who are paid only for page views (bless her poor dear heart).

Don't, please, share her reaction at the end...that "I can't stand it when bad things happen to animals, so I won't adopt any more animals" routine. We need animals, as much as they need us.

In the next mini-post I'll share a bit of Cat Sanctuary history that may be helpful...

How the Cat Sanctuary Was Founded

Black Magic, the first cat I legally "owned," was murdered. Shot in broad daylight, while my back was turned, by a scumbag who might sincerely have mistaken her for a stray who'd become a nuisance lately, but there was no excuse for his trying to blame a neighbor whom some people resent because his disabilities are no longer obvious.

She was following me past scumbag's house. She had always stopped following me, and waited at a spot closer to home, when I told her to wait, in the past. She'd disobeyed because she knew scumbag was dangerous and was trying to warn or protect me.

Although spayed (which I've always regretted), Magic was the most motherly cat I've ever met. She found kittens to adopt.

So, when I was venting to one of the lawyers in the family and he said, "Don't spend the money on a civil suit; buy a nice memorial for that cat," the idea of a memorial to Magic gave me (and another neighbor) ideas. What better memorial to Magic could there be than a Cat Sanctuary! (The other neighbor declared her home a Dog Sanctuary. I heard that scumbag went into a nursing home later in the year.)

Phenology Link from New York State

Acid rain is not news, but this documentation of its effects may be news.

Antichristian Activity Update

Any group of Christians who practice baptism (by immersion, as distinct from rhantism) can call themselves Baptists; there are hundreds of sub-groups of Baptists. These people, however, seem determined to publicize a hate-based stereotype of Baptists.

"Brave people criticize those in power; cowards criticize those who have lost power; and mean people criticize the dead."

Real Health Care Reform

What he said...

Real health care reform would not mean forcing everyone to buy into the insurance racket. It would mean getting the insurance racket out of health care. Altogether. And forever.

Owe No Man Any Thing

One of the real "hot potato" Bible texts many preachers are afraid to touch is "Owe no man any thing, but to love one another."

Does this mean that we shouldn't take out mortgages? Use credit cards? Or raise the national debt ceiling?

Yes, that's the only reading that makes sense to me. And unless you can think of an alternative reading, you may want to click on this offsite link:

[Note: This post was transferred from the Weebly to the Blogspot in November. At the time of transfer, the congressional vote had already taken place. I'm leaving the post up for historical reasons.]

Missing the Point: Associated Content Changed

Lyn Lomasi is one of Associated Content's superstar writers...a position she's earned by writing well on many topics, entirely unrelated to her political alignment (which just happened to coincide with what my Yahoo wallpaper suggests must be Yahoo's). Nevertheless, this article completely misses the point:

When AC was an independent start-up publisher, this advice was relevant. Decent payments were offered for marketable content.

When Yahoo bought out AC, nothing happened for several months...until Google unveiled the "Panda" software that was intended to bump AC articles down the list of search results. Immediately several AC writers began to wail that their page views were down by as much as 60%. I wrote some articles on obscure topics of high local interest, and my page views remained constant, averaging 400 and spiking up to 900 views per day. Nevertheless, my AC page-view payments were capped. The computer would show that I'd earned, e.g., $19.92, and I'd receive $15.00...three months in a row.

Also, I received requests to write specific articles...sometimes related to articles I'd written for AC years ago that were still being read...for specific payment amounts. Somehow about a half-dozen of these business contracts got lost in AC's software. And another article that had been specifically requested was stalled, sent back with bizarre and irrelevant machine-generated messages, and finally posted without the promised payment of $12.50.

AC was an excellent e-publisher, but as of today I believe it's a scam.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Paulownia Trees Are Good After All

The beautiful paulownia tree has been classified as an invasive weed in some states. Fortunately for those who love these trees, Juniper Russo reports that they can be considered crops...

Click here for a picture of a paulownia tree in bloom:

And here's a picture of paulownia wood, used in place of harder-to-grow hardwoods on a wall:

The trees really are amazing. Once, about thirty years ago, I saw one growing in the floor of an old barn. A seed had blown in and taken root in the dirt floor. The tree trunk grew about three feet up from the ground, then turned at almost a ninety-degree angle and grew fifteen feet parallel to the ground, then kinked again and grew straight up over the barn!
Nobody in my family had ever seen anything like that tree...thirty years ago. During that time they've been introduced into Scott County, Virginia, and now compete for attention with native dogwoods, redbuds, lilacs, catalpas, and flowering fruit trees along Route 23 in spring.
Paulownia seeds are not edible nuts, but they look like nuts, and hang on the tree even after the flower blooms appear in spring...creating a whole new image for that old ditty about "gathering nuts in May." (It was originally "nuts and may," which doesn't make much sense either.)

Green Choice Attracts Persecution

A front yard that faces a city street is not actually an ideal spot for a vegetable garden; the vegetables will absorb lead and other pollutants from motor vehicle emissions. It's a good idea to eat only plants that have grown 30 feet or more away from a road where motor vehicles go.

However, I wish Julie Bass all success in planting something more useful than that boring-boring-boring invasive weed, bermudagrass, in her front yard. (I'm not aware of any adverse health effects associated with planting flowers or non-food crops close to a road.)