political update

It struck me that this coming election is the perfect caricature of our two parties. The Democrat candidates are black and feminine and include an ambulance chasing lawyer – how perfect is that; the Republicans are fielding a business tycoon, a Bible thumper, a prisoner of war hero, and a top cop tough guy – all white males. Each of these represents exactly the face of one of their respective constituent groups. We are missing a Jew. There’s a Catholic, a Mormon, a Baptist, and a hint of Muslim. Perhaps one of the VP’s will fill the obvious hole.- Lieberman? Or will somebody do a deep genealogical search on Bill or Hillary and find an old Jewish grandmother way, way back there?

I’m actually starting to enjoy the process because this year it’s turning out to be so blatently hypocritical. The Kennedy’s can come out with their dislike of the Clinton’s and no longer have to pretend that the NE liberals really do like the old south rednecks. And you get to see the Sharpton’s and Jackson’s squirm around trying to make Bill happy even though they dislike Hillary. McCain who fought all the Bush tax cuts is all of a sudden a big tax cutter; Romney who won MA by being a pro abortion, gun control guy is all of a sudden seen the light and gone pro life and is joining the NRA. Huckabee is a standard old fashion Southern Democrat. He’s the way they all were back in the 50’s and 60’s but was forced to the other side when all the liberal Supreme court decisions went against the south in the 60’s – that would be Roe V Wade; Miranda; prayer in the classroom. He’s the guy most of my Southern Democrat friends would like to vote for if only he were a Democrat.

So on the Democrat side it’s easy to figure out who votes for whom because they all have exactly the same policy positions – none, vote for me because it will be a change and I’m a __________ (fill in the blank). It’s also easy to figure out the numbers. I think blacks represent about 12% of the voters; women 52%. So even pulling off the black females, it says that in the end behind the curtain, Hillary gets about 40%. The redneck democrat vote goes to Edwards; Barack pulls off maybe 30%.

The Republican numbers are harder to come by and splits more along geographical lines. Guiliani will do well in the NE if he can survive Florida; McCain will do fine in the south where there’s a large military presence; Huckabee does best in the south and farm areas; Romney dominates the mountain regions. In the end I’m sticking with my earlier prognostication, McCain. Too many people will not vote for a Mormon; will not vote for a New Yorker; will not vote for a Catholic; will not vote for a Baptist preacher. That leaves McCain – the only group that won’t vote for him are the conservative Republicans (like me).

In the ensuing general election, McCain wins because there are so many people who won’t vote for a Clinton and so many Democrats who like McCain because he votes with them so often. So my democrat friends and family should be happy campers – either way a democrat wins. I’m going to vote a straight “none of the above” ticket. The good news for the Democrats is that O’Bama has 4 years to get out there with actual positions and collect some money. Even if McCain wins, at 72 not likely he’ll be an 8 year president and he’ll be in excellent shape to try again.

Garden news – Planting the last batch of winter crops and starting summer seedlings. Lots of new stuff including celery and Asian vege’s which I’ve never grown before. Vege’s with names like suhoi, tatsoi, komatsuna, haruki, and Michili – you know, all the old standbyes. I started the celery seeds a couple of weeks ago and was surprised to see how incredibly tiny the seedlings are. Wispy, fine plants that look too delicate to ever turn into anything. I’ve never grown celery before but expected something quite a bit bigger at the start.
The transition from winter crops to summer crops is soft so there’s really never a time when the garden is not fully planted and one item or another is either being harvested or planted. The trick is understanding the timing of each type of vegetable so you know when to start seedlings so that they are ready to transplant coincident with harvesting something. I’m getting the hang of that but still mess up more often that I like to admit. I attribute some of my mistakes to the variability in growth rates caused by weather changes. A crutch.

I’ll finish the soil building program in the next few weeks attacking the last couple of areas which have not been fortified. It’s interesting that when you view the garden you can visually pick out those areas instantly because the plants there are just not as robust and healthy looking. The plants never get as big and they are much later to actually produce a crop. I’ve split some crops with some plants from the same starter set in one area and the rest in another so that I could quantify exactly what the difference is and whether or not it’s worth all the extra effort. It is.

catch up

Catch up. Lot’s of stuff since the last update.

We had an interesting day last Monday. About noon Joey called and asked if we’d like to go out on the boat a few hours later. Seems that he’d been contacted by a local TV channel to do a piece on Indian River Cruises. On the local cable network there’s an all local news channel. One feature segment is called Flordia on a Tankfull and it describes different places one can visit in Central Florida within a tank of gas. The feature writer had been developing a story which for some reason cratered and he needed a replacement story which he could complete from start to finish in a couple of days. He had in mind to do a story on the boat and cruises some time in the future but needed to move it to the front burner. He wanted to film with a representative set of customers on board and who could be more representative than us. So we hopped in the car and were ready for a 3:00PM departure. It was a bit cooler and a bit windier than we would normally consider great sailing weather but we still loved it and were able to participate – even being interviewed. The reporter was a young guy who did it all – video camera, still camera, interviews – including taping himself sitting on the deck as if there was a camera crew focusing on him. As I said it was cool, as in jacket weather, but the reporter had an image to maintain so when he was doing the segment where he was the focus, he was seated on a deck chair wearing a short sleeve shirt and looking for all the world like it was a mid summer day. He said it was the same shirt he wore on each segment – his signature costume.

He goes back to the studio and edits all his footage down to a 5 minute piece that airs over the weekend once an hour on the 55 minute mark. Since we don’t have cable we won’t get to see it and to see if I’m edited out or have some role. I didn’t think twice about the writers strike and just went ahead with my performance.

On Wednesday we headed to California for a mini vacation with Fred and Martha. The main event for Nancy was a major quilt show in which her friend Barbara Jones was showing off her wares. Also on the agenda was a visit with Uncle Vinny, now 88.

The trip started auspiciously with the landing in Atlanta and the sight of snow falling. Atlanta is not the city you want to be stuck in when it’s snowing. The temperature hovered at 32 which required all zillion planes to be de-iced before takeoff. Atlanta has one de-icing station so I’ll leave the math to you. We boarded the flight to CA about an hour late; sat at the gate for an hour or so before they deplaned us and told us to hang around. A couple hours later the crew ran out of time – a union thing – so our flight and about 100 others were cancelled. All along planes were not able to land since there were no open gates and were diverted to alternate airports. Zoo. Luckily we belong to the Crown Room and they kept those open along with keeping the bar open so it was only so bad. We got out of Atlanta about 9 AM. The rest of the trip was flawless.

On the first full day, Nancy and Martha went off to the show; Fred and I hit the Apple store and Whole Foods. I had some questions for the Apple folks regarding an upgrade and also wanted to see the new Air in person. The Air has not yet arrived at stores so that part of the visit was for naught. But I did get my technical questions answered regarding an upgrade to the latest software and got to play around with the 24” Imac. I see one of those in my future – definitely easier on old eyes. The new Pasadena Whole Foods is incredible. Can’t begin to describe the prepared food options but for sure it’s the best I’ve ever seen. The only one even close to us is a mess so visiting this one really hurts.

On Saturday morning we did breakfast at a Chinese restaurant – a Dim Sum feast. There is simply no place on earth Nancy would rather eat than a Dim Sum place. The highlight for me was having Chinese Brocolli. It was the best green dish I’ve ever had. As soon as we got home last night I hit the seed catalogs and found it. It’s called Suiho and is actually Chinese Kale. Those seeds will be on order before the days over. Saturday afternoon we visited Uncle Vinny and Gerry. He had prepared a very nice meal, baked Cornish game hens basted in wine over a bed of pasta with his special spaghetti sauce. It couldn’t have been nicer and we had a great afternoon just catching up. Other than the fact that he’s 88 and moving more slowly, he’s still the Uncle Vinny we all know and love. All you have to do is mention Hillary or Barack to get him cranked up. I just didn’t have the heart to try to convince him how great it would be if either of them were elected. I wimped out!!! Twenty years ago I would have lit that fuse and ducked for cover.

Sunday was the quilt show for Nancy and Martha; playoff football for Fred and I. A nice dinner at a sports bar so we could see the end of the game and then a perfect, on time flight home. I had a smallish brain fart at the Daytona Airport finding the car but the place is small enough to do a simple search mission so that set us back maybe 10 minutes in time and about 30 minutes of grousing from Nancy.

post freeze report

Well the freeze last week was not as hard as forecast but did inflict some damage – hammered the tomatoes and a bit of leaf damage on baby cauliflower plants. By and large everything else seemed to fare well. I’m going to do an experiment with the tomatoes and simply cut away the dead foliage. The fruit seems hard 5 days after the event and I’m thinking it would be a bit mushy and turning black if it had been killed. The question will be whether the plant can still mature the fruit with so much foliage damage. I’ve watered well and gone to a full chemical attack with regular fertilizer – don’t think this is any time for a wimpy organic. I’ll give it a week to show some improvement or just yank out the old and plant something new. Time is running out for winter crops but about 3 months away from planting summer stuff so I can’t dilly dally on making the decision one way or the other. Sure glad it’s back in the mid 70’s. Two days of winter is just a little much!

I don’t know what all of you do with your kohlrabi but we have a new favorite. Cut shoe string pieces and mix with cabbage to make an incredibly crunchy cole slaw. I used half a head of cabbage and one kohlrabi and a few tablespoons of Marie’s cole slaw dressing. Um, um good. We brought some to Tommy’s for New years day dinner and nobody complained so that was a good sign. Gave a couple to Wilma, Nancy’s bridge partner and she shredded them up with carrots. Unfortunately I only planted a couple dozen and they’re winding down. Have to get some more on the front burner for Fred’s visit although I have a few rows of Japanese Turnips that should fill the void.

Nature at this place never ceases to amaze me. Aside from the mouse in the trunk, George has a baby squirrel in a nest way up under the cover of his dock. But I think I beat all of these today. I started a project to put a set of motion lights on the driveway about halfway between the carport and the house. It’s really dark when walking from the car to the house and Nancy is a little reluctant to park up there after dark. The project is technically easy; pick up a hot line already in the carport and run a new circuit down to the tree where the motion light will be mounted. I already have a junction box mounted to a post at the carport so I figured the easiest way to deal with that end was to open the junction box and figure out which set of wires to splice onto. Imagine my surprise when I took the lid off the junction box and 6 or 8 tiny eggs rolled out along with some broken egg shells. The junction box has a cover and gasket so the only opening is a micro slot where the wires enter the box but something somehow got into that and laid a clutch of eggs. The eggs were white, round with a diameter of about 1/4”. Very tiny, very delicate. I had to dissect one to see what was inside and found a tiny lizard in some stage of development. You could make out the head and eyes and the general shape so I’m fairly certain that’s what it was. As I said there were several broken eggs so clearly something hatched and left the box. I’m guessing that the rest of these may hatch as well so I have them in a good spot in my shed.

political prognostication

I usually don’t write back to back blog entries, but it’s too cold to go out.

I want to make my political forecast before the Iowa caucuses so that I’m not biased by those results – which I think are meaningless this year. As a broad overview, there has never been a more motley crew running for as long as I’ve been politically aware. It makes me sad that between the two parties, there’s not one person I could really get behind. Of course It’s not likely I’d ever vote for a Democrat as they define themselves these days – in the 50’s, when the Democrats were far more conservative – think Southern Dem’s, Scoop Jackson – sure. But when the Democrats moved their base of operation to San Francisco, Boston, and New York, and drummed Joe Lieberman out of the party for being too conservative, they lost me along with most of the south.

That said, how in the world can the Republicans field a group with guys like an ex governor from Massachusetts, a thrice married, pro abortion, pro gun control New Yorker, and a guitar playing, aw shucks, Baptist minister from Hope Arkansas as their leading choices. You don’t win elections in Massachusetts or New York by being conservative. At least Rudy doesn’t back away and deny his past; Romney is a plastic guy and will say whatever it takes. He even looks like a Ken doll. I don’t count Fred Thompson as a real candidate and hope he can get his day job back. I do enjoy watching Ron Paul win the hearts and $$ of the non-voting crowd.

When all the dust settles, no doubt the dem’s will pick Hillary. The press will do their best to make it sound like there are other candidates, but trust me, it just ain’t so. The Clintons have money, organization, are ruthless and know where all the bodies are buried. End of story. I’m certainly happy about that and truly believe she’s the most beatable candidate they could field. I would be far more concerned about Obama and his ability to provide all the guilt ridden Dem’s a chance to wipe the slate clean on their racial past. One scenario I think about is Edwards dropping out and throwing his support to Obama. Reasonably sure that still wouldn’t do it but that would make the Clinton’s (and me) groan a bit. I can’t imagine anyone cares who Biden or Dodd would support. My guess is the reason they are in it at all is to collect money and maybe a shot at the VP slot regardless of who gets the eventual nomination. Biden could help Obama and I suspect that’s who he’ll throw the 3 voters he accumulates toward. Don’t think he’d be too interested in a slot behind Bill.

For the Republicans, as much as I don’t like him, McCain will be the winner. Given the choices, he wins by default. He benefits by any nasty world events that are sure to happen over the next year and is scruffy enough looking to win the trustworthy, honest guy vote. Prisoner of war, married 100 years to the same woman, Arizona home, maybe Episcopal or Methodist – nothing too out there, nothing too negative for most people. And I think he gets the dropout support. Fred Thompson will be the first to hang it up and will support McCain. Huckabee goes next and goes to McCain – no way he can support Romney. Game over. I guess the good news about that is he can for sure beat Hillary. He’ll be able to swing plenty of Democrats because many of his past positions were so Democrat – think McCain Feingold (supposed) campaign finance reform; an easy path for illegals to gain citizenship; and sufficient Bush bashing along the way. He’ll be a hold your nose pick of most Republicans – given the choice between him and Billary. I’m not going to predict a running mate, since he is so unpredictable, but if he proves weak in the South, Huckabee could make sense – kind of an Al Gore sort of choice. Good at Funerals and on the entertainment committee. It really doesn’t matter who Hillary chooses because we get Bill and he’d be a de facto VP. Probably a good chance to name an ethnic – how about the rev’s Jackson or Big Al Sharpton.

The one scenario that makes me nervous is Bloomberg getting into the race as a third party candidate. Perot gave us Clinton 1; Bloomberg could give us Clinton 2. That’s the one exception to my ABC theory – Anybody Beats Clinton.

Just my opinion.

And another “suspicions confirmed”. Dr. Frank, the big guru from the National Hurricane Center, just said that 6 of the 15 named storms this past season shouldn’t have been classified as tropical storms – too weak. He also said that for the last decade the NWS has been routinely categorizing storms as Tropical Storms which would not have qualified in prior years. And he also reiterated his position that the storms have nothing to do with any global warming and that the practice of naming smaller storms is done to support theories that the number of storms is hooked to global warming. I think most of us old guys in Fla have known that this storm categorizing thing has been over inflated so it’s nice to hear it from the expert.

winter’s here

We’re about to get winter just when I was gearing up for global warming. The forecast was for 30 degrees last night and 26 tonight. It was actually only 40 here so maybe it will only get to the mid 30’s tonight. I don’t necessarily think the forecast was wrong but rather believe we have a bit of a micro climate here due to the lake. It’s been warm all fall so the lake water temp is still in the 60’s and the ground is still quite warm. Also it was windy all night which tends to keep things warmer and more moist – picks up warm moisture from the lake surface. If we make it through this cool down, the next one could be the more damaging with cooler lake water and cooler ground temps. Just to be safe I picked a few heads of broccoli, cabbages, and enough lettuce to last a week. I covered up all the veggies which I think are vulnerable, picked all the grapefruit and will just hope for the best.

Another first for the garden – cauliflower. I have never grown cauliflower and it seemed to me that maybe they wouldn’t do well here since no heads had appeared 90 days after planting. Then early last week the mini head formed. Within 3 days there were heads forming on all and the first one had more than tripled in size. So I now know that once they start coming on, they make up for lost time. Lots of little snow peas now so those will be hitting the frying pan in a few days.

We had a nice New Years holiday and for the first time in years, actually made it past midnight. We usually celebrate when they do in Europe and are tucked away in bed by 10 PM. This year we had an early dinner at a very nice restaurant with a good friend and then drove down to Tom’s house to attend his New Year’s Eve gala. It was a nice group of people and we had a fun time. My favorite was watching Tina’s chocolate fountain and a little fella who was mesmerized by it. I think he was 5 or 6 and started slowly by picking up a pretzel and correctly holding it under the fountain. That worked so well he picked up a cookie and repeated the procedure. After a while he was dunking stuff – cookies, veggies, fruit, whatever was handy – with both hands and his face was getting more and more smeared and covered with chocolate. Finally he couldn’t stand it and stuck both hands – no fruit, no pretzels, no cookies, just the hands – and started sucking on his fingers. All the adults – except for me – were engaged in some kind of party game so I was able to witness this guy getting away with something that would have horrified his parents. What he didn’t realize was the evidence all over his face.

Gator game – what Gator game???? Sure glad I switched to the Missouri Tigers.