The Bear’s back, big time

It’s a bear. One of the neighbors spotted it last night, standing up knocking over her garbage can. It’s got a regular route and moves from house to house knocking over the cans and rummaging through the contents. According to Norah, it’s really large and “scary”. I’ve thought about moving the can into the shed but do I want it looking around for it or are we better off letting it do it’s thing a hundred feet or so away from the house. I did notice that the Mexican’s house up on the corner was left alone. Not sure if that means theirs is not on the route or if the bear doesn’t like Mexican food. There’s no sense at all calling Animal Control – they do absolutely nothing. Maybe he’ll wander over to the folks on the other side of the lake – the gator shooters – and they’ll solve the problem the old fashion way. My pellet gun might just piss him off. The other possibility is to just burn the trash and forget about the can entirely. In the mean time, the plan is to move the can farther away from the house and closer to the Mexican place. Plan B, eat more Mexican food.

Bear update – in addition to the sighting by Norah, it came up on George’s back deck. Barbara heard something and turned on the deck light and there it was. Now that’s close. It got into two of their bird feeders. Get a mental picture of a bird feeder 6′ up on 2” galvanized pipe and visualize that pipe bent double. Or better yet, check out the pic. Hard to believe but that’s exactly what it did. Bears must like bird seed. George also has Koi ponds up against the house so if it ever figures that out………………….

Back to being a bachelor. Nancy and a friend are hitting the quilting circuit in Georgia for a few days. I’m going to paint an interior wall (or two) that I’ve been thinking about for quite a while. With Nancy not around, I can do it the way I want, at my own pace, and without worrying about the cleanup until it’s really time to clean up. I just crank up the XM tuned to either The Coffee House or The Loft and let the paint fly. Since the last time I did any painting and this time, either a new product has arrived or it was there all the time and I’ve just found out about it. I always used masking tape to protect those areas not to be painted, ceilings, molding etc. I saw an ad on TV a while back for a blue tape designed specifically for this job and was sold on trying it. I can tell you now, from personal experience, that it really made the taping job easier to apply and easier/cleaner to remove. It’s certainly not cheap but I’m ok with that and rank this innovation right up there with iphones. In fact I like it better than iphones.

Last shot at Acorn Squash

I guess we’re back in the mode of listening to all the sportscasters say that soccer is going big in the US. It happens for a month or two after the US does ok in the World Cup or some other major world competition. Then the sport goes dormant again for all but those actually playing the game or closely associated. Face the facts folks – it’s not an American sport and we simply don’t like it. The kids who play are those who can’t play football, baseball, or basketball for whatever reason. It could be that in fifty years after all the immigrants from soccer places have become a majority the status of the game will change insofar as spectators are concerned. But I think it’s more likely their kids will migrate to the regular people sports. The big sports simply cover all the available time slots and people can only watch so much sports before it becomes an overload. Aside from being a slow, boring game with an occasional highlight, it lacks generating a big base of tracking statistics. No batting averages, run after catch, three pointers etc etc etc. I guess it competes most directly with ice hockey except no mayhem and what would hockey be without the mayhem?

Sure wish everything grew as well as eggplants. I actually yanked out a couple of renegades and one I actually planted to cut down on the crop. I still have five plants and am thinking about reducing that to four. Each plant just produces, produces, produces and it’s one of those vegetables that you aren’t interested in eating too often and one of those that all the neighbors and friends are not fully on board with. I kind of knew that from last season but I’m still a bit gun shy from the early days when I was lucky to have one survive out of six planted.

Had a big dilemma to work through yesterday. I have sufficient room and time in the garden to put in two more squash plants for a late October harvest. I’ve had phenomenal success with a variety of green summer squash but zero with acorn squash. So which variety should I plant? I never tried the acorn this spring so I can’t say if all my problems are in the past and perhaps they’d do fine now with the enriched soil. The advantage to acorn squash is that it keeps for months so we’d have good vittles all winter to supplement the winter green stuff. I rolled the dice in favor of one more attempt at Acorns. I planted two different varieties and gave it the full, deep planting treatment which starts with a planting hole 18” deep and across then filling it with compost sprinkled with a handful of super fertilizer and a handful of epson salts. This really is it for the acorn – if they don’t produce this time the seeds hit the trash bin.
If they do make it, I’ll resurrect several old varieties that I’ve given up on hoping that all the amendments I’ve made to the soil will make the difference.

Butternut takeover

I may have stumbled onto something accidently. In April I planted a corn patch and underplanted it with butternut squash. Both did ok and we ended up picking a couple dozen butternuts. I cut off the corn stalks but didn’t bother pulling out the squash vines. They looked like they were dying off on their own and I decided to just let nature takes it’s course. I loaded that whole area with new compost which covered over most of the squash vine but still left old, dying leaves exposed. The plan was to let the plot sit dormant for a month or two then till it all and replant corn and butternuts for a fall crop. Turns out that covering the old vines with compost encouraged the vines to put out new roots all along the vine and basically start a whole new growth cycle. So the area is now green and growing with plenty of brand new baby squash forming. That has interfered with my plan to replant the corn patch since the clear area I had expected is now a lush plot of butternuts but I went ahead and put in corn seed anyway to see what happens. I think that may work out ok with the squash shading the young corn shoots for the first few weeks.

I’ve mentioned in the past a secondary garden that was a firepit in a former life. I thought I had built up the soil in the pit enough to keep up with the main garden but I was dead wrong. Everything planted there was a duplicate of something in the main garden but the growth and output was less than half. I had mentally chalked it up to nematodes but on pulling out the plants, found the roots clean and sound so the probably has to be a general lack of nutrients. The new plan is to let it rest until next spring but in the meantime keep loading it with dead leaves and other brush. I already have about 10” of leaf matter on top and will just keep adding more for the next 9 months with maybe tilling it occasionally. I even raked out some lake bottom material and loaded that in the mix – six 5 gallon bucket loads to be exact. It’s only an 8‘x10′ area, almost inconsequential in the big scheme of things, the fact that it’s isolated makes it a perfect place to experiment with new things. I’ve decided to make that area the show piece next season.

Sweet potatoes etc

So it turns out that the 84 chloroform searches was really one search. A program bug. I thought that was probably the case when I first heard the prosecution’s allegation. What really bothers me is that the prosecutors were informed of the bug before the trial was over and did nothing about it. Seems to me that the prosecutors should be put on trial for that – trying to convict a person to a death sentence when they knew that a significant piece of the evidence against the defendant was out and out wrong. I wonder if the judge was aware of this? I guess it’s against the law for a person to lie to the police but not against the law for the prosecutors to withhold exculpatory information from the jury.
I’ve mentioned the sweet potato patch several times so I took a pic to let you see exactly how well it’s thriving. One pic also shows the ghost peppers in the foreground. If you need a sun loving ground cover, this has to be a serious candidate.

Not such good news regarding the tomato plants I transplanted a week ago. They survived a couple of days but just couldn’t deal with the heat. I’m starting a few more from seeds on the porch and will try again mid August. So far I’m pleasantly surprised that the new cucumbers and summer squash seem to be holding their own nicely. Way too soon to claim success but so far so good. What’s becoming clear is that there are a fair number of veggies that can handle the summer heat -you just have to be selective in what you grow. The eggplant and okra never show the slightest sign of stress; same for the cherry tomatoes – albeit no sign of tomatoes yet; sweet potatoes and so far, the Cavili squash, Sweet Success cucumber, and the Metro butternut. The Harvest green beans look fairly well hammered by about 2PM so I’m not sure they will end up making the grade. I have another variety that is supposed to deal well with hot weather in the wings. Plan is to plant them when I pull out the Sweets next month. My objective is to have lots of (summer) stuff available to eat right up until Thanksgiving and to be transitioning over to traditional winter stuff seamlessly at that time.

Had a bad day

Familiar with the song “You’ve had a bad day”. I could have written it yesterday. I had to have another internal exam following last week’s colonoscopy. It was an x-ray procedure with some barium injected in the nether region. The prep for the colonoscopy is far worse than the procedure itself but in this procedure, the discomfort is about split evenly. It was two days of a liquid diet with the normal clean out process on the second day. I survived that reasonably well, notwithstanding losing a few hours sleep. The procedure itself was not without discomfort but not a killer either although the after affects linger for hours after the procedure. When we got home we stopped at the paper box to get our paper and I learned that a wasp had taken up residence inside the box. I learned by virtue of inserting my hand in the box and getting clobbered by the resident. The finger swelled up in a matter of minutes, then my entire hand started itching like crazy, and finally all the other fingers and hand swelled. Looked like I had a baseball mitt permanently affixed. Luckily it stopped at the wrist. I popped a Benadryl immediately then hit the bed about noon and slept like a log until Nancy woke me at 5PM. That’s totally bizarre for me – no nap no matter how tired I am.

If I ever have to go through this again, I’m going to ask the doc to level with me as to whether or not beer can be the liquid of choice for the liquid diet. I can’t help but think that 8oz of Yuengling hourly would make the whole thing just a bit more palatable.

Nancy got a new toy. She has this thing about floors and really takes the old saw about floors being clean enough to eat from seriously. She’s been agonizing over finding the right kind of steam cleaner for the tile floors – one that gets the job done but isn’t too heavy or cumbersome to deal with. Somebody clued her in on this neat little steamer and she found it on Amazon for a reasonable price – her assessment. The first one had an out of box failure in that it leaked profusely. I talked to the manufacturer and he assured us that something was wrong but that we had to go to Amazon to get anything done about it. That sounded ominous but it turned out to be quite simple and we literally had a replacement unit in just a few days. Nancy is a happy camper and I’m ok with it because it has no motor, no moving parts, and is totally silent except for an occasional steam sound. I thought she might not think it was getting the job done with no thrashing noise but not so. Even I can tell the difference in the floors when walking on bare feet.

Garden misc

A year or so ago one of Nancy’s quilt buddies gave her some seed packs that she was unable to use. One was a pack of bush beans that had been opened and didn’t fit my planting plans at the time. I happened across them last week and decided to give them a try in an open area in the garden with no scheduled use until fall. It’s really hit and miss with older seed that hasn’t been stored in a particularly good environment and it’s hit and miss planting anything at all in July. I was genuinely surprised this morning to find that 5 days after planting, it looked like at least a 90% germination rate. I know nothing about this particular variety but so far so good.

Haven’t mentioned the super hot ghost peppers in a while. These are the peppers that are supposedly 1000 times hotter than jalapenos. For 3 months not much happened after I set them out in the garden back in April. They stayed green and looked fine but just didn’t grow. All of a sudden in the past few weeks they have taken off and more than quadrupled in size. Very healthy looking but still no blossoms. It’s very easy to spot them because, like no pepper I’ve ever grown, the leaves are ruffled. I’m thinking it was the return of the rain that caused the growth spurt but maybe that’s just the way they grow. I have a waiting list of people who want a few peppers and I’ve noticed that there are ghost pepper sauces starting to show up on the market. I’ve read so much about them that I wouldn’t even pick one without wearing gloves.

Got an experiment going on with the sweet potatoes. I mentioned that they were growing vigorously – so much so that I’ve had to trim them back to keep the vines contained in the garden boundary. I stuck a few cuttings into a cup of water and within a week, an incredible nest of roots had developed – more than you ever could have expected. I had tried to start some a couple months back and the vines seemed too flimsy and never developed a decent root system. Maybe the base plants have to be much more mature or something. I pulled 3 plants out of the cup and stuck them in another garden area to see if they can survive the water to soil transition. I’ll have an answer on that in a couple of weeks. If these take, should have all the sweets we need for Thanksgiving.

Thanks Netflix

Everybody is bummed that Netflix raised their prices. Not us. Turns out the new pricing drops us $5/month. Nancy got an email from Netflix that showed our price dropping (she thought) but the TV headlines were that the prices were going up 60%. I checked it myself and sure enough the price was jumping up. On closer examination, the plan we had included unlimited streaming – something we never do. By dropping the streaming feature and keeping our 3 DVD plan, the price dropped $5. Thanks Netflix.

I’ve designated today as a “need to do it” day, AKA “a round twoit day. When I’m walking around the grounds doing those things that absolutely have to do done now, I see things that I need to do if I ever get around to it. Then on a day that I wake up and find my “to do” list empty, I designate that day to clean up all those little items that never make it to the list. One of the rules for that day is not to skip over anything, however menial, and just get it done so more often than not, the single designated day ends up extending to two days. The thing that triggered today, aside from the empty “to do” list, was finding that the bear had visited my trash can again last night.

I was a little surprised when Mobama came out and said that if there wasn’t a budget deal Social Security checks wouldn’t be going out. That suggests that there’s a protocol in place that establishes payment priorities and that SS payouts are first in line to chop. I’m ok with that if the list of those who don’t collect also includes all gov’t retirees and all the top dogs in the gov’t who bear some responsibility for the fiscal problems. I would think the first group to miss a paycheck would be all of those associated with the legislative branch and the Executive branch down to but not including the working folks in the Agencies. What would we feel if they just shut down the EPA, Dept of Energy, or Dept of Education. Hows about HHS, Anybody miss that one? Does DOT do anything we’d miss for a few months? Amtrak? What if we just shut down all external aid programs; pulled out of the UN? Do you think Obama and his financial team have really put together a list of payment priorities or was that just a comment designed to shake up the troops? After hearing that, I’m really hoping they don’t reach an agreement because of the excitement that will add to the 2012 elections. If Obama thinks we will all jump on John Boehner, he’s delusional – only those in Ohio get to do that. The only office that has to face the whole nation at the ballot box is his – which is exactly why it won’t happen and why that was such a stupid thing to say. I think he laid out a bluff that’s pretty easy to call.

Feels like home

Hard to imagine that the space shuttle program ended without a follow on craft ready to fly. It would be like Boeing saying the 737 program was over with no new plane ready to take it’s place. Great opportunity to shut NASA down. You have to know that if a private company had been running the program they would have had a follow on in design 10 years ago and a robust flight test program just ending with this last flight.

This place finally feels like home. Something has always been missing but that’s been corrected. Some time when I was a kid my parents bought a picture that hung forever in our living room. I’m sure it came from an exclusive gallery such as the Sears – Home decorating section. I came in possession of it when we moved here but my bride relegated it to standby status so I put it in my shed where I could see it on those occasions that I visited the shed. A few back Joey bought me a Christmas gift with a rubber band firmly attached – the picture would revert to him in the end. Well the end came quicker than I had envisioned when he and Mark got another house and decided to move back on land. At that point he laid claim to the picture. (Doesn’t it seem he should provide a replacement gift?). Anyway that left a perfectly good hanger on the wall and I stealthily slipped out to the shed and retrieved Snowy Egrets in a Swamp. Nancy relented after a brief skirmish and actually agreed if she could clean it. Now whenever I walk back to the bedroom, I get that homey feeling again.

More Trial observations

I never ceased to be amazed at how many people get so emotionally involved in something that has absolutely nothing to do with them. I’m referring to all the protesters or demonstrators picketing the court house and/or the Anthony residence. Media interviews show how emotional these folks are. My only guess is that they have nothing going on in their own life.

I was kind of surprised to learn that lying to the police is a crime or misdemeanor. It’s ok for the police to lie to a person but not ok for that person to lie to the police. That doesn’t seem right. They charged her with 4 lies and she got a 4 year sentence for that. Wonder if that will cause the state to reconsider a strategy of just charging people with lying since that’s much easier to prove. They could have charged her with a couple hundred lies and got the life sentence with way less cost and effort.

I remember a proposal seminar I attended about 40 years ago that gave me a totally different view on the definition of a lie. According to the presenter “ A lie is not a lie when the truth is not expected”. Surely the cops don’t expect a felon to tell them the truth, do they? A corollary to that – “the truth will never be believed when a lie is expected”. So if they expect you to be lying, they won’t believe it when you tell the truth, so why bother. With Casey, she’ll be able to write several books with totally different story lines since nobody will ever believe anything she says anyway. If you’re wondering why a proposal seminar would engage the subject of lying, the message was that in writing gov’t proposals, the customer expects that you’re stretching the truth so it’s ok to do just that.

One last word – read an editorial written by someone I really disagree with 99% of the time, Alan Dershowitz. His take was that the verdict was exactly correct for a myriad of reasons. He enlightened me with one factoid – had this trial been in Scotland, the verdict would have been “not proved”. They don’t use the term “not guilty” and emphasize that it’s the prosecutors responsibility to prove guilt. I kind of like that.

About the trial

How could the jury have reached a not guilty decision. Easy.

1. They were not exposed to the highly biased media barrage we saw.
2. They were not exposed to the courtroom antics that went on when they were excused
3. There was zero testimony that showed her being a bad or unloving mother, only the opposite
4.There was zero testimony that tied her to the crime scene
There was only speculation as to how she actually died

5. There was zero proof that Caylee was murdered; where she died; when she died; how she died. Not a shred of hard evidence of prior child abuse or mistreatment.

About the only thing the prosecution proved was that she was:
1. a liar or extraordinary ability
2. a party girl
3. stone hard cold

My own opinion – the kid probably did drown or was overdosed on chloroform and the boyfriend disposed of the body. The baby could open the door to the back yard, could climb the ladder to the pool, and loved to swim. The cops that blew off the meter reader when he first reported the body killed any chance of getting the evidence that could have proved what really happened. I also think the whole thing would have been thrown out on appeal based on the animated video showing the duct tape being applied to Caylee so the state saves a bundle of money doing a re trial.

It was very satisfying seeing Nancy Grace go down in flames and Geraldo emerge victorious – he was the only talking head that predicted exactly what happened.

I was personally in exactly the same position in my one and only experience as a jury member about 40 years ago. There was no doubt whatsoever that the guy on trial was guilty. There was also no doubt that the State did not come close to proving it and had charged the wrong crime. A better way to say it is that the state charged one crime which they didn’t prove but did prove a crime they hadn’t charged. I had decided that I was going to have to vote to acquit but was saved at the bell when the prosecutor made some technical error on closing and the judge declared a mistrial. It was funny too because the defense tried to get the judge to back off the mistrial because they knew the State had blown the case.