December 14, 2007 archive

One household at a time

The coming water shortage will call for conservation and low tech methods of collection.  I have learned a lot about how to do pretty well without “city” or well water.  We have relied on rain water collection for over twenty years.

Here are a few suggestions:

Gutter buildings to collect in a cistern.  Cisterns are sold at irrigation supplies and Tractor Supply Company.  We use the 1600 gallon by the house. City and home owner association regulations may have to be challenged to allow for this and other changes like rooftop wind chargers.

Cistern water should be filtered for drinking and cooking.

It is great garden water.  As food becomes more expensive and then less available, gardening, always a pleasant hobby, will be a valuable skill. Still playing in the dirt.

Always use a watering can.  It is too easy to lay down a hose and walk off. i speak from experience. A watering can is good for your muscles and gives you an accurate measure of how much water each plant requires to thrive and produce. This will be our first year to try the Chapin Bucket irrigation method, designed for use in third world countries, it will probably work well here in dry west Texas. Look for drought tolerant varities and explore which natives are edible for growing or collection.

Growing in the furrow will save more water than the raised bed method, but I’ve had good luck with winter greens in a bed.

Don’t use chemical fertilizers as they deplete the soil.  Compost everything from the kitchen.  I give the meat scraps to the chickens and the cat.

Where you can, chickens will give you eggs, meat, and manure to grow vegetables. They eat grasshoppers and some other vegie eating bugs. Not much eats a squash bug, just have to plant early and beat them to the draw.

Use dishpans and wash your dishes with one pan of wash water and one pan of rinse water. Do not rinse under the faucet.  Use a tablespoon of chlorine bleach in the rinse water.  Throw the used water on the garden or a favored outside plant. Spread it around to avoid a build up of phosphates.  I use leftover rinse water to rinse the food from pans and dishes from the next meal and throw it on the compost.  The wash water stays bubbly longer without all the trash in it.  My husband put a switch on the water heater. We turn it on an hour before we will need it.  I find it quicker and more efficient to heat the water on the stove for dishes.  

I would like to write a book about all the ways we can help ourselves that I have learned.I welcome any suggestions if this information seems valuable to any of you.    

Four at Four

  1. The earth is close if not past a tipping point on climate change, and what does the negotiators eco-saboteurs of the Bush administration do, why undermine any real commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, of course! And while The Guardian reports the World is poised to sign climate deal. It’s a watered down climate deal, Bush made sure of that. “Europe was reported tonight to have dropped its demands for a 25%-40% cut on 1990 levels by 2020, a proposal that was bitterly opposed by the US.” According to the AP, “Environmentalists accused the U.S. of trying to wreck future talks… The Europeans and others showed little enthusiasm for this ‘voluntary’ approach, and environmentalists denounced it as an effort to subvert the U.N. climate treaty process.” Europe makes threats, but isn’t prepared to carry through with any of them.

  2. Thank you corporate America and your Republican puppets for being so thoroughly short-sighted, contemptible, and detestable. The New York Times reports Industry flexes muscle, weakens energy bill. “Pared-down energy legislation cleared the Senate on Thursday by a wide margin after the oil industry and utilities succeeded in stripping out… a $13 billion tax increase on oil companies and a requirement that utilities nationwide produce 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources”. Oh and “separately, Congress reached a tentative agreement on a major energy package that it plans to enact outside the energy bill… the agreement would guarantee loans of up to $25 billion for new nuclear plants and $2 billion for a uranium enrichment plant… It would also provide guarantees of… $10 billion for plants to turn coal into liquid vehicle fuel and $2 billion to turn coal into natural gas.” Liquefied coal – the fuel that powered Apartheid and higher greenhouse gas emissions – is an idiotic, expensive, and short-sighted choice.

    Meanwhile our country’s other idiotic ‘energy policy’, Mongabay reports U.S. corn subsidies drive Amazon destruction.

    U.S. corn subsidies for ethanol production are contributing to deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, reports a tropical forest scientist writing in this week’s issue of the journal Science.

    Dr. William Laurance, of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, says that a recent spike in Amazonian forest fires may be linked to U.S. subsidies that promote American corn production for ethanol over soy production. The shift from soy to corn has led to a near doubling in soy prices during the past 14 months. High prices are, in turn, driving conversion of rainforest and savanna in Brazil for soy expansion.

    “American taxpayers are spending $11 billion a year to subsidize corn producers-and this is having some surprising global consequences,” said Laurance.

  3. Our planet’s oceans are doing stunningly bad. According to Nature News, Lice threaten Canada’s salmon. “Lice harboured by farmed fish are killing wild salmon on Canada’s west coast, new work has confirmed. The study shows serious declines in fish populations, which could lead to the total collapse of runs in those rivers in less than a decade… At the current rate of decline, the runs in these rivers will drop to less than 1% of their natural levels in four generations, or eight years, [Fisheries ecologist Martin KrkoŇ°ek at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and his colleagues] reports in Science.

    The Guardian adds that Acidic seas may kill 98% of world’s reefs by 2050. “The majority of the world’s coral reefs are in danger of being killed off by rising levels of greenhouse gases, scientists warned yesterday. Researchers from Britain, the US and Australia, working with teams from the UN and the World Bank, voiced their concerns after a study revealed 98% of the world’s reef habitats are likely to become too acidic for corals to grow by 2050… Among the first victims of acidifying oceans will be Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest organic structure. The oceans absorb around a third of the 20bn tonnes of carbon dioxide produced each year by human activity. While the process helps to slow global warming by keeping the gas from the atmosphere, in sea water it dissolves to form carbonic acid – rising levels of which cause carbonates to dissolve.”

  4. Once again a headline states Ice-free Arctic in summer seen in 7 years. This time it’s the Chicago Tribune reporting that “the pace of melting of sea ice has been ‘dramatic,’ said Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the UN agency, noting that the extent of Arctic summer sea ice has fallen 23 percent in just two years… Preliminary agency data for 2007 suggest this year will be the second hottest year on record, behind 2005, and that the most recent decade will be the hottest in recorded history, he said.” And Reuters basically lays its on the line when it reports, U.S. scientists state Carbon cuts a must to halt warming. “There is already enough carbon in Earth’s atmosphere to ensure that sea levels will rise several feet (meters) in coming decades and summertime ice will vanish from the North Pole, scientists warned on Thursday. To mitigate global warming’s worst effects, including severe drought and flooding, people must not only cut current carbon emissions but also remove some carbon that has collected in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution, they said.”

    “We’re a lot closer to climate tipping points than we thought we were,” said James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. “If we are to have any chance in avoiding the points of no return, we’re going to have to make some changes.” …

    The concentration of carbon in the atmosphere is now about 380 parts per million and increasing by 2 parts per million each year. To stabilize Earth’s climate, the concentration needs to fall to at least 350 parts per million, Hansen said.

Why is Reid not skeptical of Bush’s demand for telecom immunity?

I’ll start right at the outset of this by pointing out that when Tom Daschle lost his election, Chris Dodd lost to Harry Reid by one vote to become the Senate Minority Leader. Both drational and booman have excellent posts up about Reid screwing over Dodd and the rest of the country on the FISA bill with respect to telecom immunity. With this, instead of asking what could have been if Dodd had one more vote, let’s use this to push for what will be (if Dodd doesn’t win the Presidency, of course).

While their diaries are excellent, I want to take a different angle here, and I have action items directly from Dodd himself at the bottom of this post. What I want to know is, if Bush is pushing so hard for retroactive immunity for the telecom companies in their illegal acts, then why is Reid (and Sen. Jay Rockefeller) so hell bent on going against his own party, including many of the Presidential candidates in order to accommodate this?


it’s the complicity, stupid (& a xmas wish list)

my interpretation of a mandate:

November 2006: the electorate votes in Democrats as its way of saying NO to George W. Bush.

… we Democrats celebrate.

Post November 2006, poll after poll expresses the tangible, palpable anger citizens harbor towards George W. Bush’s policies and administration. Poll after poll says NO to Bush.

Citizens giving Congress its lowest approval in history for its refusal to say no to Bush says NO to Bush.

High ranking military retire in order to come out, in public, to say NO to Bush.

perhaps it’s the speaking in ancient Sumerian that’s confused Congress. now. let’s try it in English:


Republicans: The War and Torture Party

Small Government?

Fiscally Conservative?


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No, the Republicans are none of these things…not anymore.

With 189 Republicans yesterday voting in the House in FAVOR OF TORTURE, the Republicans have now crossed the line. They can only be known as the War and Torture Party now. The party that kills and tortures innocent people as part of its policy.

The bill to ban waterboarding by the CIA passed in the House….even with 10 Democrats crossing the aisle, crossing the line…and voting to allow torture, it passed.

….even though waterboarding is already illegal, I guess we need to keep passing laws against it….and keep not enforcing them.  

More about RUSSIA. #3. More photos of Russia on this one.

Welcome to the third in the series about my trips to Russia.

If you did not read the prior essays, please do so before reading this essay. I urge you to read the priors in this series.


Here is the link to number one, so you can start at the beginning. Numbe one is a little long but I have been told it is worth it. If nothing else you can read the beginning with the setup and checkout the photos. 2-4 are all shorter than number one.…

Each of the diaries ends with a link to the next diary in the series.

Let’s start with some photos. My “quarters” in Saint Petersburg. One looking up at fiance on balcony of apartment I had in Saint Petersbug. Two from balcony. One inside apt. Amazing location. Right on main street and all lively 24/7. Beautiful hardwood floors. All new inside. Great place. I think it was $700 for two weeks. Imagine in a tourist city of 5 million in US for an apartment like this in this kind of location. As usual though, washer but no dryer. No thermostat for heat. No A/C. Nasty ally around the back of the building for entry. Dirt ally so when it rained it was all mud.…………

Sorry, gotta tell a story here. One night I was on the balcony about three am and saw a drunken man crossing the street not more than 75 ft from my balcony. A normal crazy Russian driver came around the corner and hit him. He flew about 50ft in the air and landed in a heap in the middle of the road almost directly under my balcony. It looked like both arms and both legs were twisted around his torso so badly that they must be broken. I thought he might be dead. About the time the driver got out, the man setup, I couldn’t believe it. He quickly fell back over and sat back up and fell over and set back up. Then he tried to stand and it was from then on that it became comical. He stumbled, he mumbled, he fell, he got up, he walked (staggered) a few feet to fall again. He finally got to the curb and sat on the curb just looking like a drunk. The driver decided he was ok and left. The man laid down in the gutter. About the time I was going to wake up my girlfriend to call someone an ambulance arrived. The scene was nothing like I have ever seen for triage of a victim of such an event. They prodded him. Helped him get up. Nobody used a pen light on his eyes. Nobody looked at his skull for fractures. He didn’t want to get in the ambulance. They finally got him to go and they were off. Unbelievable. Only in Russia!

– The distribution/transportation of goods is terrible in Russia. This just happens to be the industry I spent 20 years in management. America is awesome at moving products around our country.

– Almost nobody wears a seatbelt in Russia. If a Russian wore a seatbelt when with friends they would probably be ridiculed by them.

– There is a Russian saying that I heard frequently. This is said jokingly. When someone states some facts or information a Russian will say “you know too much, it is time to kill you”. It is interesting that I heard this most often when I was talking about things I had learned about Russia or Russians. Maybe this comes from the infamous KGB.

– Teenagers can’t buy cigarettes but can get served alcohol almost anywhere.

– Many Russians lack hope of anything changing. In many ways they lack hope of almost any kind. They might have gotten a little with perestroika but now after 16 years after it and many of their lives are worse, so they have returned to hopelessness. They truly believe democracy and capitalism does not help the average person.

-Some of our ingrained beliefs can not be grasped. Live free or die. If something is not right/good/best then take action to correct it. I disagree with you but will defend your right to have your opinion. If you are not happy with a service or product you paid for then speak up. These and more are concepts that are contrary to keeping ones sanity in Russia. They call these “luxuries” Americanski princeeepaal. I don’t think that is  Russian, that is how they refered to it when I did something like speak up about poor service or something I paid for not being right.

– There are stray dogs everywhere in Russia. It is pitiful. No one pets them or even speaks to them. I do, my wife scolds me.

– Nobody spays or neuters. Most cant afford it and many think it is cruel.

– If you tell them you had your cat de-clawed you will have to explain to most what it is as they don’t even know about it. You will be considered a mean, mean person for this.

– There are few veterinarians as few have money for such luxuries.

– Almost nobody feeds pet’s actual pet food but rather table scraps.

– Many Russians have cats. They are indulged with fresh fish regularly


PHOTO BREAK. All 4 are in Saint Pertersbug.……

Guy in next one didn’t even flinch when I goosed him.…

Flying Lions…

– The mental health system is like “One flew over the cuckoos nest”.

– Most Russians don’t know anyone who has been to a therapist.

– Anti depressants and the like are almost unheard of.

– It seems like there is a drug store every hundred yards.

– Many things we must have a prescription for can be gotten over the counter. I mean many things. Some type of narcotic type meds., syringes, the morning after pill and much more. They don’t seem to have anything like our FDA.

– Many Russians put great stock in herbal remedies and many as preventative. These can vary from region to region. Usefulness of some are supported by western studies.

– It is dwindling but there are still Russians that believe their soup called borsch must be eaten everyday to maintain health. Great stock is put in the health benefits of garlic by some. Particularly in the SE where the caucus mountains. There are more “old Russia” cities is this area. It is horrendous when you get in a bus or train that is packed and you are face to face with someone who has an amazing garlic smell.

– Russians believe an even number of flowers as a gift is bad luck. They always give 11 instead of a dozen.

– The medical system in Russia is a socialist type setup. It costs very little by our standards for most things except voluntary procedures. Their waiting time at a hospital makes ours look short.

– Surprisingly to me the dental work in Russia is reasonably good but proportional in cost it is even higher than ours considering incomes.

– Before 1995 abortion was definitely the number one form of birth control in Russia. Most women under forty had an abortion. Most had several. The clinics are brutal, cruel, unfeeling and assembly lines with doctors performing five or six procedures at one time. There is dispute about the numbers of abortions now. Because of some forms not being reported as abortion. The is an increase in birth control but it is expensive by their standards. The USSR never kept records until 1988 and breaking into 15 nations makes it difficult to know if the number is really dropping or not.

– Aids is rampant in Russia.

PHOTO BREAK. All 4 are in Saint Petersburg…

Normal Lion…

Don’t ask me who any of the guys are in these statues, maybe Pico knows.……

– In general Russian men feel it is a woman’s problem to avoid pregnancy.

– Traditions and holidays are very important to Russians. Drinking seems to be the central focus of all holiday celebrtions.

– Disposable diapers, tampons and pads (they actually used rags) have only been common since the early 1990’s (paper again).

– Although their need is as great or greater in Russia as any country in the world, there are as many meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous in an American city of 50,000 as there are in ALL of Russia.

– Alcohol and drug treatment programs are virtually nonexistent. The opinion of many scholarly people is that alcohol is undoubtedly the single biggest problem of any kind in Russia. Alcoholism rates are unbelievable. The effects on every area of Russian life are clear to outsiders. Even the average Russian woman you meet will probably never have been out socially for any reason without drinking. In Russia this does not mean she has a problem. The problem is nothing amongst the women compared to the men. Alcohol is a big part of everything in Russian life.

-The average Russian mans life span is about thirteen years less than an American man. This is mostly because of early deaths from alcohol abuse.

– The average lifespan for Russian women is the same as American women.

– Primary school is 11 grades and in most cases followed by an institute (college) or technical training.

– Russian primary schools are far more strict than American schools. Many go Monday to Saturday. In some schools, when it is time for a holiday, the children are tasked with cleaning the school. Yes, I mean mopping, washing and general cleaning up.

– It is possible for a child to be made to stand in the doorway for forty five minutes because they arrived to school late.  

Pony Party, Phone it in Friday

im showing my age…..

Docudharma Times Friday Dec. 14

This is an Open Thread: Always Free Unless There is a Service Charge

Headlines For Friday December 14: House Passes Bill to Ban CIA’s Use of Harsh Interrogation Tactics: Arizona Is Split Over Hard Line on Immigrants: Writers file labor charges against studios:


House Passes Bill to Ban CIA’s Use of Harsh Interrogation Tactics

Friday, December 14, 2007; Page A07

The House approved legislation yesterday that would bar the CIA from using waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics, drawing an immediate veto threat from the White House and setting up another political showdown over what constitutes torture.

The measure, approved by a largely party-line vote of 222 to 199, would require U.S. intelligence agencies to follow Army rules adopted last year that explicitly forbid waterboarding. It also would require interrogators to adhere to a strict interpretation of the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war. The rules, required by Congress for all Defense Department personnel, also ban sexual humiliation, “mock” executions and the use of attack dogs, and prohibit the withholding of food and medical care.

What are you reading? Favorites

As the year winds down, I’m thinking of special diaries.  Last week it was books to give and get.  This week: Favorites.  Next week (or the week after) the year in review (might be in two parts)

If you like to trade books, try BookMooch.

What are you reading? is crossposted to daily Kos

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

The muses are ancient.  The inspirations for our stories were said to be born from them.  Muses of song and dance, or poetry and prose, of comedy and tragedy, of the inward and the outward.  In one version they are Calliope, Euterpe and Terpsichore, Erato and Clio, Thalia and Melpomene, Polyhymnia and Urania.

It has also been traditional to name a tenth muse.  Plato declared Sappho to be the tenth muse, the muse of women poets.  Others have been suggested throughout the centuries.  I don’t have a name for one, but I do think there should be a muse for the graphical arts.  And maybe there should be many more.

Please join us inside to celebrate our various muses…

The Avalanche Had Begun

as the stars turn pink

frozen pines lift skyward

and all you have is your breath

between laughs and smiles

with snow crystals melting

off lashes like tears washed Jesus’ feet

jump in the bank

to make snow angels

no snow kokopellis

proud and indented

his friends became mine

for a very short time

on the ride down his mountain

it wasn’t long enough

the mountain ended deep

in wooded valley

with steep sides

and frozen mind

in that time

after his time

had passed

the unforgiving plows toppled sign after sign

i thought that was funny

why put up a sign just to have a snowplow push it over?

the two sat like divas

awaiting a caravan of treasure

“here we are…grab your own bags”

and the slow tumbling could be heard

a rumble in my gut

a year before he fell

the avalanche had begun

The Stars Hollow Gazette

Well we got our first real snow out of that last batch.  Even if I hadn’t seen it I could have told you from the roar of the snow blowers and the scrape of the plow.

While I was growing up we had a very difficult driveway to shovel.  It was made of gravel stuck together with asphalt and the gravel made it impossible slide your shovel along so it was always a pain in the ass.

Still I considered it a good snowfall if the twin piles at the end of the driveway were high enough to make good forts out of.

We’d do the whole snowman thing too, but it wasn’t like we ever had the kind of winters that you could put it up in November and say goodbye in March.

Usually you don’t get really permanent cover until mid January and by the end of February it was warming up again, at least to the extent you’d get a couple of good rains that would turn everything kind of crusty and grey as all those asphalt covered pieces of gravel that you’d scraped out of the driveway and thrown in the snow piles peeked out again.

Used to love the first mow in the spring too.  Don’t stand in front of the grass exhaust unless you want to get stung with chunks of gravel.

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