Monday, August 29, 2011

Another Humboldt

It's always fun to read accounts of Humboldt County from the outside. In this case, published in yesterday's Santa Rosa Press- Democrat, the writer spent the first 11 years of her life in Southern Humboldt and takes a look at the Richardson Grove realignment project.

I started it expecting to find at least some airhead journalistic conjecture.
I wasn't disappointed, although she waited until the end to suggest Richardson Grove might end up as "...just a memory".

Saturday, August 27, 2011

End Of Summer Garden Update

Seems like it went by so quick- garden season, that is. Then again, we started late, at least by my standards.

Here's the fava beans I started a few months ago. You can't tell by the picture but those fava beans are probably 5 feet tall. No beans on them yet but they have flowers.
Down below them on the right are the the broccoli plants that were given to Connie. I planted them more at her request as I thought it was too late in the summer to get decent heads from them.

I was wrong. They did pretty well and we still have some side shoots, as you can see, although some are starting to flower.
My past experience, and the reason I was leery of planing broccoli in August, was they seemed to go to seed as soon as the heads developed. Maybe it was cooler this year? I'll have to try a later crop again next year.

Back behind the favas and broccoli was where I had 3 tomato plants. One was given to me and two (Early Girl) I bought from Rite- Aid. I just wanted green ones to make pickled green tomatoes.

As soon as I thought there were enough to make a quart, I went out to pick them and noticed blight all over the plants. I'd been looking for that but not close enough. It was all over the inside of the plants so I picked about a quart of tomatoes that didn't look infected and pulled the plants up.
Don't know if the tomatoes will taste bitter from the blight if they don't have visible signs on them. I know they taste bad if they do.

This 6x6 bed is what I'd referred to earlier as my "deadbed" as I'd planted some stuff in it randomly earlier on but gave up on it and just let the plants fend for themselves. I dug it up yesterday hoping it was really a 4x6 bed. I thought stepping stones might be buried under the dirt on the left side as it wasn't supposed to be any wider than the bed just past it.

Nope. No stepping stones. Connie says she thinks we pulled the stones up to place them elsewhere. That must be what happened but I don't recall doing it.

On the far side of the bed I pulled up a couple stepping stones to remove the morning glory runners beneath them. They go under the stones then pop up in the bed and spread. I think I got all the runners but I'm going to have to pull all the stones up, eventually, as they all have either morning glory or blackberry roots running beneath them. Not something I look forward to.

On the left of the above picture you can see part of the bed we planted beans in. The ones in the back look worse than the picture shows. They're turning yellow, coming to the end of their life. We picked a fair amount of beans from them. The row in the front that I planted later is just getting ready for picking.

Here's the five new beds I cleared over the last few weeks. The wood borders around the front one are almost functional. The borders around the other ones are either rotten or close to it.

I'm thinking of just leaving them as they are over the winter and early spring to see if any morning glory or berries pop up. I've already had to go back and dig up numerous suckers I missed in the original clearing.

The bed on the right, though, I decided to plant some more fava beans in. You can see the dark lines where I watered the rows. They just started popping through the soil a couple days ago.

Here's our zucchini plant on its way out. Seemed to me it started looking fallish a bit earlier than I remember my zucchini of past years. We haven't gotten too much in the way of fruit from it but we started late and the plant wasn't of the best quality.

Still I pulled 3 medium sized ones from it yesterday and there's some smaller ones just forming. From the looks of the plant I'd be surprised if it bears fruit more than a week or two longer.

You can see all the morning glory and other weeds underneath it. There's actually some berry bush sprouts inside it, too, that can make for painful picking of the fruit. Quite a mess, but the plant still did ok. It'll take some work digging that bed up when it's done.

Lastly, there's the so- called hedge along the back fence that I had to cut about 5 feet back. I mentioned earlier the Strubs stopped speaking to us after that as they enjoyed the privacy it provided. Once they noticed it was growing back, they at least least grudgingly wave every now and then should they see us.

That banksea rose that makes up most of the hedge can be a pain in the neck. Already it's growing back over our garden space. It will have to be cut back often to make sure it stays back where it won't shade the vegetable beds but we'll let the top grow up high if only so we don't have to look out at the Strubs, or they at us, every time we step out our back door.

The only other planting plans I have right now is to maybe plant some brussel sprouts in the newly cleared beds. If I can't find some plants somewhere soon I may give up on that and just let the garden sit until next spring. Come December I'll have to start planning what I'll plant, and where, next year.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Redwood Times Still With Topix

I probably shouldn't bring this up, but I just noticed the Redwood Times is still using the old Topix comments. Good for them. I like it, despite how low the quality of comments often ended up using that format. No pay to view deal yet, either.

Now watch: Since it's owned by the same company as the Times- Standard, they'll probably switch to pay- to- view and Facebook comments and you'll have me to blame.

Addendum: I just noticed the Humboldt Beacon is using Topix, too.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dehumidifier vs Humidifier

Anybody ever seen on of these? I'm surprised you don't hear about them more often up here. Maybe things have changed as this is the second or third dehumidifier I've seen on Craigslist over the last couple months.

Back in the late 70s I bought one. I was living at a small place out on Beechwood Drive in Cutten. It only had a small electric wall heater and was very cold in the winter. I felt it had to do with how damp the house was. I'd heard about dehumidifiers somewhere and decided to try one.

I drove down to Sears but couldn't find one in their appliances section. I asked the sales guy where they might be found. He kept replying as if I wanted a humidifier. He apparently had never heard of a DEhumidifier. Why anyone would want a humidifier up here, unless they had a house with wood heat, was beyond me. It's damp enough around here as it is.

So we went back and forth: "We have plenty of humidifiers." . I'd reply, "I don't want a humidifier. I want a DEhumidifier. It takes the moisture out of the air, not into it.". He didn't seem to get it but we finally ended up looking in the Sears mail order catalog and found one. Seems to me they were fairly expensive for the time at around $150.00, but I ordered one.

It finally arrived. I set it in the living room, turned it on and watched it go to work.

They work like a small refrigerator. They have coiled copper(?) tubes that get real cold. The moisture in the air condenses on them and drops into a storage container sitting below the coils. I'd guess the container held about 3 gallons.

For the next 3 days I was dumping it out every few hours. It was amazing how much water that thing pulled out of the air. You'd think that moisture from the outside would replace the water that was going into the container but that didn't seem to be the case as after the 3 days water collection really slowed down and I could get by dumping it out once a day.

And the house felt a lot warmer. It really did work in making the house more comfortable. I'm surprised more people don't use dehumidifiers up here as cold and damp as it can be.

Do we use one now? No, but this house doesn't seem that damp. Besides, I don't want to use any more electricity than I have to. When I've seen them being given away on Craigslist for free, though, I've been tempted to snag one. Maybe one of these days I will and see if it makes this house seem any warmer.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Casey Anthony Story Pulled?

I was reading a story early this morning on the CNN web site. It featured comments by one of the jurors in the Casey Anthony case. He (at least I think it was a guy) said they didn't feel they had enough evidence to convict her for the death at the time they made their verdict. Now, however, after having read all he has about the case, he said they would have likely convicted her.

He went on to say that the jury wasn't privy to much of the information everybody else had as they were often removed from the courtroom when certain evidence was presented. That goes along with one of the legal talking heads I was listening to after the verdict who said the jury didn't really see the same trial everyone else did. I agreed, but I still think there was more than enough evidence to convict on a lesser charge such as Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child.

I went to look for that story within an hour after I first read it and couldn't find it. I still can't find it after doing countless Google searches. I'm wondering if Anthony's lawyer got wind of it and threatened to sue CNN unless they took the story down, or maybe some judge said it should be removed?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Don't Worry. They'll Stop

I often say that in jest to people I see waiting to cross the street: "Don't worry. Go ahead and cross. They'll stop.", referring to the cars driving by. I guess I shouldn't joke about that as so many people do it anyway.

The Santa Rosa Press- Democrat reports a four your old boy was hit in a crosswalk in Santa Rosa while in crossing the street with his mother. At least one car stopped. I guess that made them feel all was well and they could cross the street without further worrying about traffic. Except a guy in one lane didn't stop and hit the kid. He died from his injuries.

That sounds pretty much like the one- armed man who got killed crossing in the crosswalk on 4th Street in Eureka a few years ago. The traffic in all lanes but one stopped. He starts crossing, figures everything is ok, and doesn't keep his eye on the incoming traffic. One car doesn't stop and hits him. He's dead.

I see this time and time again in Eureka: People take a look. It looks ok, so they cross. While they're crossing the street they just look straight ahead or down at the ground. I see it ALL THE TIME!

We can blame who or whatever we want for these tragic accidents but, bottom line is, they all could have prevented if the person crossing the street keeps his eye out for oncoming traffic all the time, not just when he first steps into the street.

Textbooks Offer Both Sides!!!

Maybe that would have made both a good headline and story, contrary to my earlier comment on this Sacramento Bee article. Some are unhappy that some plastic bag industry input was accepted as part of the issue of plastic bag pollution in state school textbooks.

One guy commented he couldn't understand what in the article gave me the impression the writer was upset the textbooks would at least give some print to the other side of the issue. I gave a rather convoluted rebuttal, made worse by the formatting not working right when I posted it and it ended up in one large paragraph.

After making my rebuttal I realized my answer could have been much shorter: If school textbooks routinely show both sides of an issue, the fact that they included the other side in this instance -after plastic industry input- wouldn't be worthy of the news coverage it got.

The comments to the San Francisco Chronicle's version of the story, which is pretty much verbatim, makes my case. Most of the comments I've read there seem to be from people who are livid that the folks who put together the textbooks "caved" to industry pressure and allowed some of their view to be included in the book. A typical comment:

"Under pressure- whether you like the bags or not the "California school officials" are spine-less worms."

Enough said.


August 20: Lemonade Freedom Day

Tomorrow is Lemonade Freedom Day. Set up your own stand in support of all the kids' stands who have been shut down by local governments. An Authoritarian from the Washington Post explains why such restrictions are good for us.

"Necessity is the plea made for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants. It is the plea of slaves."- William Pitt


Blue Republicans Needed

Some guy I've never heard of before makes a good case for Democrats to support Ron Paul.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Forgetting (Ignoring) Ron Paul

Fun clip from Jon Stewart's Monday show where he takes on the media for ignoring Ron Paul, despite Paul's second place showing in the Iowa caucus.

Fun as that is, I'm fit to be tied when I see the media and political parties ignore candidates that call it the way they see it, instead of trying to bullshit everyone as the establishment candidates often do.

Being a
Gary Johnson supporter is much worse. They wouldn't even let him participate in the debates.
Addendum: Salon magazine has a nice commentary related to this. They even go so far as to mention former Governor Gary Johnson. Mention of Ron Paul and Gary Johnson starts with paragraph 6 and closes with this one:

The steadfast ignoring of Ron Paul -- and the truly bizarre un-personhood of Gary Johnson -- has ensured that, yet again, those views will be excluded and the blurring of partisan lines among ordinary citizens on crucial issues will be papered over. That's precisely the opposite effect that a healthy democratic election would produce.

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Dumb Idea: DMV TV

I find a lot of the other reality shows on TV entertaining, but the idea of a show focusing on California Department of Motor Vehicle Offices seems dumb to me. As the Sacramento Bee reports, they're planning just such a show.

If nothing else, I haven't had a problem with the DMV in as long as I can remember. I've only had to go into their office maybe once or twice since they started online services. I can't remember why I had to go in there but I don't think I was there more than 20 minutes either time. That's quite an improvement over the long waits of decades ago.

I probably won't bother even watching the premier episodes of this one. Then again, you never know. I thought the spin off to The First 48, First 48: Missing Persons, sounded like a dumb idea. After all, no way a missing person case could be as interesting as a murder case. I actually found the missing persons version of the show to be quite good and watch it whenever I can.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Strubs Have A New Tub

I was walking down the sidewalk spraying weeds yesterday and noticed one of the neighbors, Julie, doing yard work out in front of her house. She was dumping the waste into one of the green waste bins City Garbage rents out. How exciting!

There's Julie standing proudly next to her new bin. Congrats to Laurie and Julie for their bouncing baby green waste bin. May you have many happy fill- ups together.

The best part of this is now we can sneak over there and dump the overflow from our bin into theirs when they aren't looking!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Belle Starr

Over at Humboldt Herald a few folks brought up the local women's clothing store, Belle Starr, in a rant about big box businesses.

The hottie to the left is the real Belle Starr. I wonder if they would have named their business after her if they knew what she really looked like?

In fairness to both Belle and the business, I'm sure this photo was taken in her older years so maybe she'd seen better days? Then again, she was shotgunned to death just two days before her 41st birthday so she wasn't all that old.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

That Debt Ceiling Thing

Those of you on The Left who might be upset that federal spending is being cut can relax. As the Cato Institute explains, it doesn't seem like there are any spending cuts in the recent debt ceiling agreement. It looks like it's just another case of spending not increasing as much as some would like.

Oh, and it seems Obama was against raising the debt ceiling before he was for it.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Mid- Summer Garden Update

Since our next door neighbors recently did their mid- summer garden update, I thought I should do one. You'll remember (my May 8 post) that our garden area used to be quite lush years ago but was left to fend for itself getting overgrown with grass, morning glory and berry bushes over my 10 year hiatus with gardening. It's been a struggle to regain that ground, but I am getting it back.

Here's what it looks like now as you head out back. Remember that this entire area you're looking at was 6' high in bushes a year or so ago.

The bed to the left has three tomato plants. The little plants sticking up on the bottom left are some tomatillos that were given to Connie. She just jammed them in there to see how they'd do. As of now there's some small green tomatoes on all of the plants, none of them bigger than a half inch.

The bed on the bottom right has a row of fava beans that are a couple feet tall now. To the right of them are some broccoli plants that, again, were given to Connie. I thought it was a bit late for broccoli but Connie planted them anyway since the space was empty. They're doing ok for this late in the summer, but I suspect we won't get much from them.

Here's a closer up look at the fava beans and broccoli with the tomatoes pretty much unrecognizable behind them. The white flowers at the top of the picture are from morning glory vines. They're all over the place but don't show well up in the vegetable beds. There's at least a few of them in all the beds. They are very difficult to eradicate.

Here's two rows of Kentucky Wonder bush beans. They only grow about 18" high. I think it's the first time I've grown a short variety. I wanted to keep things as simple as possible and didn't want to hassle with trellises for the high beans.

You can't tell the rows apart in the photo but the row in back was planted back in early July(?) and is putting out beans now. We actually took our first harvest a few days ago. I was surprised at how many beans we got. A lot of the beans were hidden in the foliage. The row in the front was planted a month or so ago so no beans yet.

What you can't see in the picture are some blackberry vines popping up through the beans, along with morning glory. I tried to clear the area but they popped up after planting. I can't do much more about the berries until the beans are done and I can dig up the bed. Doesn't really seem like the berry vines hurt the beans, though.

There's a zucchini plant behind the bean bed but you can't really make it out in the photo. It's actually pretty large right now and is putting out a fair amount of zucchini.
This bed would be behind me as I took the picture above and on the far side of the broccoli in the first picture. I call it the "dead bed" if only because it's mostly just sitting there right now.

I planted some fava beans and beets in it earlier on but had too hard a time watering them so gave up on it. Since then, some of the beets survived, along with the fava beans. Connie even planted a couple broccoli plants in there. You can see them on the right.

Also on the right you can see one of my old raised beds from years ago Connie uses for flowers. On the far side is where I'm still trying to clear out the old beds.

Now we're getting back towards the current wilderness area. You can still see remnants of the old raised beds on the right and left. The bed the bucket is sitting on is one I've been working on the last few days, digging deep and trying to find all the morning glory and berry roots. You can see stepping stones standing upright behind the bucket. I've had to pull them up to get at the morning glory roots that tunneled beneath them. That bed seems pretty clear now except for morning glory beneath the bed frames. I'll probably have to pull up the wood to get at them.

I haven't really started clearing the bed on the right yet, except for the overgrown stuff that covered it as you still see in the background. That bed actually goes back eight feet as it's a 4x8 foot bed. There's even another 4x8 bed you'd be hard pressed to see behind the bed with the bucket on it. It runs parallel to the "hedge" along the back fence and was covered by that hedge until a month or so ago when I started cutting the brush back. I'd forgotten that bed was even there.

Here's looking north past the bed I'm working on now with the bucket in it. You can see the 4x8 bed on the right that I'd forgotten was there and, towards the back, an area overgrown with berries and morning glory I'm fighting my way through. One of my old compost piles still sits under all that greenery. I don't know if I'll ever get it back.

On the right, you can see the last section of the "hedge" I need to cut back. The Strubs are livid over me cutting it. They didn't care much, at first. Problem was, the foliage that grew up and gave them a fence of sorts started growing further back into our yard and that was the stuff I needed to clear out. When I cut the bushes over my raised beds, it killed much of the shrubbery that gave them their fence. It will probably take some time for it to grow back. In the meantime, they're not even speaking to us. Oh, well.

(Oops. Almost forgot to add this close up of the overgrown corner with the compost bins underneath it.)

I'm hoping to clear that bed with the bucket on it and the one behind it within the next month. Then I might try starting some late crops there. Maybe brussell sprouts? That's yet to be determined and depends a lot on how the clearing work goes.

Still much work to do and I'll admit I don't enjoy doing this sort of stuff as much as I used to. It's more like doing the dishes: Not something I enjoy but it looks good, or at least better, after I'm done. And I'll have to say I feel a lot better looking out in the back yard the way it is now than the way it was.