Cash for Clunkers

So, I just heard that the Gov’t is shutting down the cash for clunkers program because it went through the allocated funds so quickly. Hmmm, think maybe they got the clunker program and the Stimulus program ass backwards. Given the administrations stated objectives of boosting employment and cutting gas consumption, seems to me that if they had reversed the allocations – put $1B to fixing pot holes, and $800B into the clunker program, they might have actually accomplished something. Wonder if anybody there will be smart enough to reallocate some of that unspent stimulus money to extending the clunker program. Nah. Chances are they’ll add more to both. Cutting the clunker program is going to upset lots of people but my guess is that most of these people are not big supporters of the admin to start with. Most people driving around in old pick up trucks have to be Republicans. They’re ok with a 10-15 year old, barely broken in,150K mile, F-150. But to get a new truck with a $4500 kick in, just might do the trick and get them to spend some of that mattress money. I went through the exercise of speculating what it would take for me to trade in my clunker and drew a total blank. I guess if I could move into a new truck for a couple thousand, I’d give it consideration. But to actually pull the plug on my truck ………… that would be tough. Libs have already moved to Prius anyway.

I have an image of the big time libs, the high profiles guys like say Larry David or Barney Frank, buying a Prius to park in his driveway. He’d hire a double to drive it around – wearing a sports driving cap and dark glasses. You’d know it was him because his vanity plates would say Larry David’s Prius. But you can see Bush or Cheney driving around on their ranches in old pick ups- plates all but rusted away and covered with mud.

And while thinking about vehicles – just saw where some study found that people who are texting while driving are 4x as likely to be in an accident. Actually worse than drunk driving. Just using a cell phone, either hands on or hands free, doubles the likelihood of accidents – about the same as drunk driving. Probably lots worse in the aggregate since I would have to guess there are more texters on the road than drunks at any given time. The other surprising statistic is that truckers who use cell phones are 20x more likely to have an accident when using a phone. Wow! Wonder if MATD will form up and be as big a pain as MADD. These statistics have been proven over and over with both simulations and real world data. What is most interesting about this new information is that it was presented to the feds a couple of years back but shelved; that is not released to the public. The way it surfaced was by a Freedom of Information request for the report. Assuming the numbers are accurate or close to accurate, why has it been suppressed? My guess is because all those involved use cell phones or text from their cars.

So I’ve come up with new products to suit the times. Think of a handheld radar that the police use to check for speeders. My product will tell police if a cell phone is in use and it if it texting or voicing. This should be a big revenue collector and cut health care and insurance costs so what’s not to love about it. So you’re saying what if it’s not the driver who’s using the phone. So what. I think you’re not allowed to be quaffing a brewski in the car even if you’re a passenger. Same logic should apply, shouldn’t it? Or how about a device that parallels those engine starting devices requiring an alcohol offender to blow into a tube before the car will start. I have another product which jams cell phone usage in the car whenever the engine is running. Easy technology. I just want the same sort of justice brought to bear on cell phone users as drinkers.

okra and great nephew

Congrat’s to my great nephew Sean. Just finished 7th grade with top grades and an incredible SAT score. It was so good that he was awarded a recognition medal from Duke University. Very impressive Sean. I knew Sean was exceptionally bright when he was really young and could pronounce the names of dinosaurs that most of us just knew as big ole nasty lizards and was reading Harry Potter when he was 5 or something like that. Maybe 7 but really young. I didn’t truly believe it when he was telling me but when I quizzed him, sure enough he knew all the right answers.

Things are popping in Pierson. We now have 2 Dollar stores, a Chinese restaurant and a Pizza place. Let me clarify; there’s a place you can get something resembling Chinese food and a place that serves something approximating pizza. There was a soul food place and a family style restaurant but both of those cratered after a year or so.

If you like a vinaigrette type salad dressing, I’ve found the dressing to beat all dressings. We had dinner the other night at a friend’s house and she had this particular dressing. One taste and I was totally hooked. I can honestly say I’ve never had a better salad dressing or one that appeals to my tastes like this one. The only place that carries it around here is Fresh Market which luckily was only a mile or so away from where we were visiting. We stopped on the way home and picked up a couple of bottles. Five days later we were opening the second bottle and I realized that living 60 miles from the source was a problem. So I went on line, got a phone number, and 5 minutes later had a case of 12 bottles heading here. The brand is “Garlic Expressions”. The web site is The big difference I notice, aside from the great flavor, is that it’s not as oily or thick and gooey as most brands.

One of the crops out of the garden that I grow only to fill out space is okra. It seems to be able to deal with our heat when most other stuff is wilting away. Other than jambalya or deep frying what do you do with okra? oh, yeah, mix with tomatoes and serve over rice. That’s ok. But it doesn’t fit in the diet plans like beans or corn. Still, I wanted to try to do something with it. So I decided to grill it or roast it in a hot oven the same way we’ve done with asparagus and broccoli. I coat them with olive oil, salt and pepper and then grill/roast for 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Got the grill hot and then walked over to the garden to pick a handful of okra. First surprise is that ants like okra too. Not sure if they were fire ants but they were tiny and bit like fire. Get gloves, come back and continue picking. I washed off the ants, prepared as described, and popped them in the Holland grill along with the pork loin that was nearing completion. Took everything off the grill in 20 minutes and dug in. Turns out that cooking the okra was a bit different than the other veggies. Those that were under 3” were great. I mean really good. The bigger ones were like eating branches. I tried it again and increased the cooking time from 15 minutes to 25. Same result – small ones are great, big ones totally inedible. So one more try. This time I picked 3 sizes; small, medium and large. I boiled the medium ones for 5 minutes; the large ones for 10 and then put them all on the grill/oven for 20 minutes. Results – basically no change. The small ones are good but anything over 3” in not edible. Nancy thinks if maybe I roast them for an hour or so. I think I understand about Jambalaya now.


One thing all this rain has done is bring out the weeds. They love it. That would bother many gardeners who look at the weeds as enemies. Personally, I’ve come to terms with them. The deal is they can do whatever they want in what was once a lawn so long as they behave in the vegetable garden. My big adjustment was when I realized that the weeds make great compost. That allowed me to look at them as another crop just like the veggies – to be managed and harvested at just the right time. Anybody’s who’s checked out compost at the garden store knows how expensive it is. So if weeds make good compost, they become a cash crop of sorts and one to be taken with respect instead of as a waste of time. There’s an optimum time to harvest weeds. You want them when there is substantial green material but no seeds. That means you don’t get all twitchy when you see a couple of small weeds pop up. You just be patient and wait until there’s a good crop worthy of pulling. You have to pull them out with the roots so that there’s a bit of soil clinging to add to the compost pile bacteria. Another negative I’ve turned into a positive is that because they grow low to the ground, you have to bend over to pull them. Great exercise for the back and stomach muscles. In the heat and humidity of central Florida, I work up a sweat pulling weeds in just a few minutes and if I’m working a good crop, become a dripping mess in no time at all. That allows me to justify a piece of carrot cake or some other delight that would otherwise carry a big guilt burden. Now if I could only come up with some rationalization for the rabbits.

With all the coverage of the moon walk anniversary, I’ve been giving it some thought and come to the conclusion that it’s really an embarrassment that all this happened 40 years ago and not one more trip attempted. And further, that we’re close to the end of the shuttle program with no real follow-on and a period of time when the only way to get to space will be via the Russians. And the current administration seems to be taking a path that will slow us down even further – not that the previous administration(s) did anything spectacular. I have a theory about why NASA dropped out of the moon business. The very first attempt was a success and they were afraid they couldn’t duplicate it. They realized just how lucky it was that everything worked so well and that a failure could devastate them as an agency. In hindsight, the right thing to have done was turn the space program over to the military and fund it as a national security issue. That allows for some cover in the event of failures and a rationale for proceeding even with risks involved. I suspect the fact that no other nation has even tried a manned shot to the moon is also because of the success of the first mission. All subsequent attempts will be measured against the American success and nobody wants to look bad. I also found it odd when I heard that they were still analyzing moon rock from the first trip. How the hell can you still be studying something from 40 years back unless it has extremely low priority? Give the rocks to the new kid who just graduated.

The passing of Walter Cronkite brought back lots of memories. My dad was a big fan – called him Cronky. Personally I preferred Chet Huntly, but when he died, I too switched to Cronkite. It was a ritual around our household when growing up – you ate dinner within a couple of minutes of dad coming home from work then sat around the tube to watch the Evening News. And it wasn’t just that way at our house – it was the way everybody I knew grew up. I think it elevated the intellectual level of the household conversations and gave us all a common base for discussions. When my aunts, uncles, and grandparents joined the fray, there were some great firework displays around the table or in the living room. It turned out later that we had an even closer connection to Walt. Nancy’s Uncle Vinny was a cameraman at CBS and often did the evening news. He knew Walter personally. So when they visited us or we visited them, he would give us the inside scoop on how these guys really were to work with. He was ok with Cronkite, hated Rather. Maybe that’s how come I have the same feelings.

wetter and wetter

We continue the wet weather pattern that started mid May. Almost every day we pick up between a quarter and a half inch with an occasional larger storm. The lake level has crept up a bit but not scary high. And the rain keeps the water temp very pleasant in the upper 80’s. Sure has played hell with the bass fishing though. You know when I’m not catching them, they are not catchable!!! One problem I have is that the driveway is growing. We have a gravel driveway that’s roughly 500′ long x 10′ wide and although it’s gravel, weeds grow up through the gravel and it requires an occasional shot of roundup to keep it under control. All this rain presents two problems – it grows faster and the roundup gets washed away before it can do it’s thing. I need one good dry day before it really gets out of hand.

The area north and east of us, Flagler County for those who know Fl geography, has probably gotten double our amounts. A bridge playing friend of Nancy has a very nice home in Palm Coast, inside Flagler County and has had a particularly interesting happening. Seems that the ground water level rose so dramatically after big rain in May, that her swimming pool “floated” out of the ground and is totally ruined. It rose 4′ wiping out the screened patio as well as the pool itself. She learned that her home owners insurance doesn’t cover her pool and neither does flood insurance since the water didn’t actually flow to the surface. She has cost estimates of $20,000 to get rid of the old pool – not install a new one, just clean up the mess. I have heard of empty pools floating and septic tanks floating but this was a new one on me.

And still no mosquitoes down by the dock where I sprayed the cutter potion. It said it lasted 8 weeks and I think we’re at least half way through that. In general the mosquito problem has abated but I still experience an occasional bite if I’m standing in an area that hasn’t been Cutterized.

Getting a little tired of this Supreme Court nominee’s hearings before the Senate judicial committee. For as long as I can remember or paid attention, the Senators vote strictly along party lines so whichever party has the most people on the committee carries the day. I think it was a smart move on the Dem’s to appoint a Saturday Night Live comic to the committee to balance out Orrin Hatch. The only time it really gets interesting is when the President and the majority in the Senate are from different parties. I’ll have to admit I was disappointed that they didn’t search just a little harder for a nominee. Somewhere out there is a gay, disabled, female Latina vegan with solar panels and windmills on the roof and a Prius in the garage. Personally I’d dump her for one and only one reason – 8 out of 10 of her circuit court rulings that went on to the Supreme court were reversed. What else do you need to know. And her decision against the New Haven Fire Fighters who passed the Captain’s test but were passed over because they were white, tells you all you need to know about where her head is on racial issues. But, fact is she’s going to be a member of the Supreme Court so they should just get on with it. She’ll be as good as Souter was for sure.

Iron Man

I went in for my annual physical and learned that my blood count was low. Not a big surprise for me and something I’ve dealt with on and off. I think I probably have a small gasket leaking somewhere. The doc said to take 300 mg of ferrous sulfate (iron) twice a day and then come back in 6 weeks for a check. That was the same prescription a year or two ago and it worked. Nancy said we still had some left from last time but we were in Publix and checked anyway. All the ferrous sulfate I picked up had numbers like 25-65 mg, nothing as big as 300 and I was fairly sure I remembered only taking one pill at a time before. So we didn’t pick any up and relied on being able to find some at home. Sure enough she found it but it too was only 65 mg of iron. So I took 5. But it was nagging on my mind that I didn’t remember taking 5 pills at a time, ever. So I picked up the bottle and read all the fine print About midway through, in parentheses, it says (equivalent to 325 mg of ferrous sulfate). So I had overdosed by 5x. I’ve never heard of anyone dying from an iron overdose except in a car crash or maybe the tin man in the Wizard of Oz. so I guessed that the worst that could happen was I would get rusty and have to start taking WD40 as an antidote. 24 hours later, I haven’t changed colors, don’t squeak when I walk and haven’t had to use the WD 40 anywhere. It also makes sense to me to back off the iron for a few days. Somebody said that it caused constipation – if so, this might be a 5 stick of dynamite clean out job ahead of me. Other than that, I passed the physical with flying colors.

And while I’m discussing personal health issues, I’ve always had high blood pressure. Not killer dog high, but a bit above normal. Typical for me is 135 over 85. I’ve seen it may 10% higher but not too often. Two years ago the doctor gave me a very mild med to bring it down a tad. It didn’t change at all and I found one blood pressure machine in Publix that lowered it about 10 points so I fixed the problem by just checking it there. Also I have a digestive track issue that needs a daily hit of Prilosec. Lots of old guys have this same problem. But I also had a pain/burning right in the chest which over the past year had gotten more persistent. Nothing I could really call painful but just something right there in the heart area. So it was a bother. In the middle of May I remember that a friend had told me that he had solved his gastro problem by taking a couple tablespoons of natural apple cider vinegar. Natural means unpasturized and with the “mother” bacteria still included. I found it in the foods section in Publix. I took a swig and within 2 seconds the chest pain was gone. So I just added a swig as part of my daily routine and in 2 months have never had the problem again – and it was a multi, daily occurrence before that. Now here’s the interesting part – a few days after taking the vinegar, I checked my blood pressure – just a routine check, no special reason. It was 115 over 75. Fairly low for me and I took it as an anomaly and also since it was during Nancy’s trip to Utah, I assumed I was just more relaxed. Since then, it has almost always been in the low teens for the front reading and low 70’s for the back reading. At the doc’s office it was 110 over 60. So it had nothing to do with Nancy’s absence and the only thing that has changed in my routine is taking that swig of vinegar. I’m thinking about staying on with what I’m doing through the summer and if it’s still low, dropping the blood pressure med for a while. I haven’t read anywhere that the vinegar should drop my blood pressure so my theory is that whatever the vinegar is fixing, was perhaps the cause of the high blood pressure in the first place. That’s the kind of stuff that makes sense to an engineer. Nancy’s logic is to not change anything at all – don’t mess with success. That’s probably why women live longer than engineers.
The Obama admin is working out ok for me. I was unhappy with Bush and his spending habits. The Republicans needed a wake up call that they are supposed to be conservative and not big gov’t spenders. Obama and the Dem’s in Congress are pushing the spending to unbelievable levels and starting to get the tax machine in full gear. That, coupled with the Kumbayah foreign policy, should make the Dem dominance a short lived situation.
And I was sure glad to hear the G8 conference was such a success. I guess the big accomplishments were that they jointly released a statement that Iran and NK are bad guys for pursuing nukes. But even more importantly they agreed to drop the global temperature by 2-3 degrees by 2050. Aside from all the evidence that says the globe is cooling, the nice thing about the agreement is that it is politically perfect. First all the signatories will be dead by 2050 or too decrepit to care. But even nicer, none of the big, growing economies such as China or India are involved. So if in fact the temps are down a couple of degrees, it was because these visionaries took action; if the goals are not met, it was because the Chinese and Indians wouldn’t sign up. Wonder how many $$ were spent cumulatively on the G8 conference.

I guess this group is better than the UN since nobody there ever agrees on anything controversial or requiring action but it just doesn’t seem like the right group for the US to be hanging with. Historically speaking, the US is a teenager meeting with a bunch of geriatric countries. I’m thinking we should be hooking up with countries more our own age – such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. That would be an action based group compared to the old fogies who like to sit around, smoke big cigars, sip cognac and talk about the good old days – back a thousand years or so. To qualify for our group, you couldn’t have existed as a country for more than say 300 years, you have to be a democracy so that everybody can make lots of noise and your population has to be at least 90% nonnative. That means that the basic gene pool is quite diverse and founded on people who were adventurous enough and tough enough to try something new. The group would be totally unhooked to battles or insults that occurred thousands of years ago. That’s why I like countries with big immigration policies. They’re loading up with people that have the gumption to get away from the old fogy places where they are too far down the totem pole to ever break through. I’d just like to see the population growth balanced by sending those Americans who think things are so much better in Europe, back to Europe. Like, send Kerry to France.

Current Events

Current events
Ok, I’ve had enough Michael Jackson retrospectives. He was big in the generation after me so I never really connected. But then I’m not sure he ever connected either and struck me as a really confused guy. He seemed to be the ultimate mental if not physical mix. If you looked at him you weren’t sure if he was black or white; not sure if he was male or female; not sure if he was 15 or 50. And there really was only one way he was going to pass – a drug overdose. Going to be interesting to see how the kids are handled. I have doubts as to whether he’s the biological father but even so, not sure they can just be passed on as property with a biological mother in the background.

I was certainly surprised by Sarah Palin’s resignation. I didn’t think she’d have a chance at election outside of Alaska but figured she’d stay in politics there with an occasional appearance at conventions and big Republican party functions. She is simply too good looking to ever capture a significant share of the female vote. Women will only vote for a hatchet face like Margaret Thatcher, Betty Friedan, Nancy Pelosi and the like. – I guess it’s a threat kind of thing. Alaska has a higher population of males and we look at it differently. We think all politicians are the same so why not have eye candy. My guess is that she’ll become a conservative media person – probably a talk show hostess in the image of Rush or Sean Hannity. That will give her a big stage and a big payday and let her stay in Alaska with her family. What I can’t figure is why anyone that likes to hunt moose and catch salmon would ever want to live in DC. I think she came to her senses.

And the Mark Sanford thing is a hoot. Everybody is saying his wife should dump him. Wrong – she should just make sure he has plenty of life insurance. This guy has a terminal case of the dumb ass or a terminal case of the hoof in mouth disease. Her best play is to get him to keep spilling his guts, take copious notes, and write a book after he chokes to death on his hoof.
A couple of new birds on the scene. They must be buddies – Jim and Bob. I know that because one calls Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy and the other calls Bob White. I guess it could be Bob calling Jinny and not Jimmy and there’s something romantic going on but I’m sticking with the good buddy thoughts. Had a woodpecker banging on our metal roof today. How dumb is that? It really rocked the house. The other bird thing today was that right after a hard shower today, there was a puddle in the driveway – not a big puddle, perhaps a foot across. A Cardinal landed in it and took about a 5 minute bath. I thought about getting him a bar of soap but Nancy thought a towel was a better choice. He flew off just before we got our act together. It could be my imagination but I do believe that there are quite a few more birds here this summer than I ever remember. At almost any given time I can sit at the computer looking out the window toward the lake and see dozens of birds of 4-6 different varieties. Right now I’m spotting woodpeckers, doves, cardinals,bluebirds and a couple unknowns.