Friday, June 15, 2018

Accidental garden

No idea what this is, pretty sure it's a flower.
From experience, these are probably
sunflowers spilled from feeders.
For lack of a better excuse as I considered not planting a garden this year, I convinced myself I needed to let the
Does clover grow this tall?
Perennial lettuce.

raised boxes and other plots go fallow for a year to let them rejuvenate. I covered the soil in the four raised boxes after raking in a layer of compost, then garden cloth to prevent excessive weed growth.
Weeds or flowers?
For the largest plot, the 8x35 stretch along the front of the house I chose to leave it open and planned to go through it for weeds occasionally. Dealing with weeds around here is mindful of cartoon coyote mother trying to control five pups. When she has four pinned down a fifth one walks in. She lets go of one pup and two others escape while she grabs the fifth. As she goes along it looks like a four-footed version of wack-a-mole.
Some flower from last year.
They popped up everywhere and are now pretty much out of control out there mocking me every time I look out the window.
But among the weeds there have come up some surprises, plants that look like they belong in a garden and except for two I have no idea what they are. That's what the pictures are.
I did plant the long box out by the road with potatoes and the first ones popped up in the last day or so.
Potato finally poking through.
Meanwhile as I tackle weeds, now I have to be careful not to wack out a plant I want to see. Gardening in Alaska, what a trip. The people on the Mat-Su gardening facebook page I follow who take it all so seriously don't have nearly the fun I have. But then, they seem to have greater success in actually growing what they want to grow. They probably eat better, too.
I guess it all depends on what you consider success.

And of course there are the wild roses.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

When good people do nothing

In college my minor was political science. Despite what some folks may think of liberal
college education I came out of that with the idealized concept of Congress and especially the Senate as arbiters and leaders and, yes, statesmen at the national and international level. Imagine the shock of realization that they saw their jobs as selfishly channeling as much federal money as possible into their own districts.
Alaska's gang proved particularly adept at that. While they connived to extract every possible dollar out of the federal government into something for Alaska, they mostly voted along the lines of whatever party they thought they represented, statesmanship be damned, morality too.
But the evolution didn't stop there. In the years that followed that first lucid non-idealistic awareness, the representation changed to what exists now, where they represent not the people, barely their own districts anymore and now represent the monied interests of the country, legislating for huge corporations and ultra rich barons who in turn fund the campaigns that keep the people who represent them in power while they rake in huge profits and impoverish their own employees.
And the nation has blithely followed along. A noisy ignorant plurality of Americans vote against their own interests because of the manufactured fears along religious, racial and patriotic lines. Their rulers twist every negative issue to keep those fears alive. A football player kneels during the national anthem to bring attention to the racism in this country and is vilified for disrespect to the anthem and the flag and the autocrats silence the original message in a cacophony of patriotic shouting.
We even shrug off the massacre of our children by gun-toting maniacs, while those supposedly representing the masses, actually only represent a well funded- organization that represents gun manufacturers and uses their money to influence those public representatives.
We cruelly separate children from their parents in the fear of too many brown people coming into the country. Meanwhile crops die in the fields because no red-blooded American wants to pick them — that's menial labor always done by those same people we are now sending back to their own countries to be murdered while their children languish in fear behind the wires of what can only be called concentration camps.
And what does a large segment of that coalition of the rich whose whole existence is based on the moral of "love thy neighbor" do? Nothing. Nada. Oh yeah one of them pleaded with his followers to provide him with enough money to buy an $80 million private jet airplane. Maybe that would bring him closer to god, because nothing he does on terra firma is going to if the teachings are correct. The rest could care less as they worship in billion-dollar cathedrals, the kind Jesus and Sampson tried to tear down.
An for crying out loud we have to teach our children how to stay alive when someone starts shooting up their schools. Is there anything imaginably worse than that?
There are so many instances where the oligarchy has mistreated the people who support it with their labor and their acquiescence, they can't all be listed in a single polemic that anyone would read.
It has caused a national malaise, a sort of background depression that comes to the fore every so often when the #fakepresident that ignorant plurality elected does something so outrageous we almost can't believe it. Consider this as a prime example. That #fakepresident is about to attend a historic meeting with the dictator of North Korea. This has not been done since Korea was left divided by a hot war and then a cold war since the 1950s, with a history dating into the mid 1800s. What does this #fakepresident say and do with that for background? He says he doesn't need to and won't do any preparations for the meeting. He will "read" his counterpart and that is all he needs. What could go wrong with that? Yet we shrug our shoulders and pass it off as "well that's Trump." Then we wait anxiously to see how what outrage he commits this time.
The question is what is the next step in that progression of the evolution by government representation in this country? All of the options except one are almost unthinkable. Photographs of children behind chain link in America today raise too-vivid parallels to those photos we have seen in history books of children in their striped outfits staring out from behind barbed wire in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Are we going to keep shrugging our shoulders and letting it happen? That's what Germans did in the years leading to that great war
That one option is out there, but when 67 percent of those eligible fail to vote even in a presidential election, what hope is there? It can be changed but it is going to take an effort, even if it is only to take an hour out of our precious lives to vote in November, while we are still allowed to vote. The alternative is unthinkable. If we are going to act in fear let's make sure we fear the right thing. The longer we let it go on, the longer it's going to take to repair the damage.
Here's a start. This summer students who started the March for our Lives movement after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school in Parkland, Florida, are taking a bus tour to register young people to vote. They plan to visit 20 states with more than 50 stops and also every congressional district in Florida. The first stop is June 15 in Chicago. They are targeting the four million people who will turn 18 this year. Now there's a voting bloc.
And take heart, things like this worked once before:


Monday, June 4, 2018

Musings from the interweb

I haven't done this in a couple of years but today it looked like fun, so here goes, A roundup of interesting tidbits gleaned from social media along with some random comments of my own.
First of all that Meadow Lakes snake who got loose in Alaska a year ago, today tweeted a photo of a new part to be used in an emergency but doubtful you could find one in the winter when it would be needed. For those of you who don't recognize what's going on, that's a snake wrapped around the pulleys for the belt that powers a snowmachine.  Snakes on the tundra   @meadowlakesnake on Twitter.

 A kid in Kentucky giving his high school valedictory speech attributed this quote to Donald Trump: "Don't just get involved. Fight for your seat at the table. Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table." The crowd cheered. Then he said, "just kidding," and revealed it was a quote from Barack Obama. The crowd went silent and there were even a few boos. Racist much?
And while we're in Kentucky, one of the products targeted by Canada's retaliation for Trump's tariffs and aimed specifically at powerful supporters of Trump, was, well, Kentucky bourbon. Wonder who that's aimed at. They also went after cucumbers, a large crop in Paul Ryan's district in Wisconsin along with lawnmowers which sounds strange until you realize Toro industries, one of the world's largest manufacturers of such machines is headquartered in Wisconsin. Twofer: Ryan and that governor, Scott Walker.
NASA's planet-hunting TESS satellite sent back its first image, a swatch of the sky that includes more than 200,000 stars. NASA photo
It seems to me in order to be pardoned one first has to commit a crime, be tried and convicted and sentenced. Does that mean an assertion of the ability to pardon oneself is a declaration of guilt? Asking for a friend.
Amidst the low level of outrage over discovering almost 5,000 people died in THE US TERRITORY of Puerto Rico during the hurricane last fall, Elon Musk pointed out Tesla has "about 11,000 energy projects" going on there.
Firefighters are attacking a wildfire not too far from the East Pole today. It's 40 miles northeast of
Talkeetna. The cabin at the Pole is 12 miles due east of town. Keeping an eye on that one.  The fire had burned only about 3-5 acres when discovered but was threatening a hunting lodge and two cabins.
The Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles were uninvited by the White House for the usual presidential ceremony because "some members refused to attend." It was noted none of the Eagles ever took a knee for the national anthem last season.
It seems like everybody in Alaska except me has a picture like this one of what's going on in their yards. Taken by Carol Hushower in Palmer. (moose pic)

This is the kind of help-wanted ad you find in Alaska:
Dogsledding company in Kiruna – Sweden is looking for one more handler, saison 2018/2019. Starts October 2018 ends April 2019.

Becky Hammon reportedly is the first woman to interview for the head coaching job with a National Basketball Association team — San Antonio Spurs. For the record she played on two WBA teams and has been an assistant coach in San Antonio for the past four years.

Bill Gates says he should be taxed at a higher rate.

Gun violence is a women's issue, too. 

For the second month in a row, the state of Alaska collected a million dollars in marijuana sales taxes.

This was my favorite meme of the week. (so far :)

And this from Prince William Sound Science Center. Nice to see some happy kids."Our first camp of the summer was so much fun. Six adventure girls took on Cordova to learn about rainforests, glaciers, the ocean, wetlands, and how everything is connected, We learned a lot, played even more, and had the most incredible time. Did you know flubber is a great way to explore how glaciers move?

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Siri, we need to talk

A screen grab from the Ring camera. That's me in the center toward the top, I think trying to dig out my phone.
A bright sunny day today and time to get out in the yard and do something. I suited up including all the new supports I have to wear on my elbows and shoulder and headed out. Then I decided to try something new and I plugged my earbuds into the iPhone and started a playlist. Ever so cool, though if any neighbors were in earshot they probably wondered what fool was singing Lady Gaga songs out loud in the neighborhood.
     First I watered the one raised garden where I planted potatoes. I didn't feel much like gardening this year so I convinced myself it was good to leave all the other ones fallow for a year to regenerate. From way back in my teens I think I knew farmers did this as they rotated crops.
     That done I went about organizing the wood piles. With all the blowdowns, I have some newer wood on top of older and I started flipping them, taking out the old stuff, stacking the new and then stacking the old on top. That was fun for a while but there is more to do.
    All the while, every so often the music would drop to barely a whisper for a few seconds. I kept checking the connection and the screen and everything seemed all right, but a mystery. Then I realized every time I walked around and activated the motion detecting security light, which depends on WiFi to communicate, it dimmed the music as it sent its message. Ain't technology grand?
     Anyway when I gave up on the wood pile for a while, I thought it would be a good day to take the four-wheeler and the trailer down the street to a pile of compost/straw-manure my neighbors leave out for the taking. They raise chickens and alpacas so it's a good fertilizing mix. My thought was to spread it on those fallow raised beds and let it soak in for a year. Mind you it seems like I have shoveled my share of manure over the years from Western New York dairy farms to Alaska dog lots and I had to laugh, here I was at my advanced age doing it again. But this time I had music.
     A couple of times the phone fell out of my shirt pocket so I jammed it into a deep pants pocket. Another thing you have to love Carhartts for — deep pockets.
    A few minutes later the music stopped and I heard some sort of ringing from the phone. I was alone and anticipating how slow and difficult extracting the phone from that deep pocket I said "oh fuck."
     Then I heard a voice coming from may pocket say "you don't have to talk to me like that." I assumed I had opened the connection with whoever was calling me and swore again.
     But, when I finally dragged the phone out it was only a message from Siri which printed out on my screen read, "There is no reason for language like that." Good grief, after a lifetime of cursing, my phone tells me to stop?
     And that's why Siri and I need to have a good long talk if we are ever to get along. I can't just turn it off either because for some reason Siri needs to be activated for my phone to communicate with my truck. I think it is a safety measure making you speak your desires rather than get distracted pushing buttons. I want to tell them it's not that safe if you are screaming in blind anger at your vehicle, either. I hope Siri and I can work this out.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Isn't it ironic?

Being a copy editor can be even worse than a teacher when it comes to correcting other people's grammar and spelling. Having been one on and off for fifty years, the compulsion might be stronger in me than in most, but over the years I've learned even the best of friends  don't appreciate your efforts to improve their use of the language. After a while I've even been able to read facebook posts without editing, except once in a while being outraged at what someone says it's easy to flash on some flagrant misuse of the language just to add to the ridicule such people so richly deserve.
Along with spelling and grammar and just as important is the over use of words and phrases including clichés. Often such usage will insinuate its way into a whole  country of writers especially since the advent of the Internet. One day at a newspaper where I worked a reporter used the word "roughly" when referring to an inexact measure, as in "the car weighed roughly 1,200 pounds." Within weeks every reporter at the paper was using "roughly." A couple that are particularly bothersome are "meet up" and "back in," both of which add an unnecessary word, as in " they had planned to meet up back in 1998.  First of all the verb is "meet,” not "meet up." Secondly "back in" is superfluous and redundant: "in 1998" means the same thing without sounding like a hillbilly; But all that is background,
A week or so ago I went to a memorial for a friend of mine who also was a copy editor for most of his adult life. He had quite an effect on my life because he was the fellow who would hire me back at the newspaper when I came in off the water or out of the woods so broke I had no idea where I would live or how I would eat. He did that four times.
I hadn't intended to speak at the memorial; I had never done it before and I am quite uncomfortable talking with two people at once, let alone a roomful. But an idea had been floating around in my head and when the microphone was passed close to me I took a deep breath and grabbed it. I opened with something like this: "As I look around this room, I see several people Jim hired over the years. Well, I hold the record; he hired me four times." There is a fine line between lightening the atmosphere in a mostly serious situation  and bad taste but when people laughed comfortably, it felt like I was on solid ground. I went through a brief recollection of my interactions with him, emphasizing all that he had done for me over the years. Then I asked how many people in the room were writers; and how many were editors. A few hands raised to each. I pointed out that each of us had probably lost someone over the years and that memories of those people tended to pop into mind at odd times. 
Then I said something like this. I am going to give you something to remember Jim by. From now on, every time you go to write or encounter in something you are editing, the word "iconic," stop and reflect for a moment and ask yourself "what would Jim do?" Then leave it out.
Again it got a comfortable laugh and his wife even smiled at me, so I assumed I hadn't stepped over that line and sat down.
Since then two people who were there brought up "iconic" when we were talking, and I am guessing most of them will feel a twinge when they see the word and maybe in memorializing my friend I have managed in a small way to begin the process to take an overused and misused word out of the national syntax.
And, what's the irony? That  isn't a typo in the headline. Perhaps in making my friend a reminder to people every time they see the word "iconic," I may have established an iconic relationship between Jim and the word.

Interesting quotations

· " “Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” — Ernest Hemingway

When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth. Kurt Vonnegut

“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a cheque, if you cashed the cheque and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” Stephen King

The thing about ignornance is, you don't have to remain ignorant. — me again"

Never debate with someone who gets ink by the barrel" — George Hayes, former Alaska Attorney General who died recently

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeareon Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Sister hits moose on way to visit sister who hit moose.

Man loses his testicles after attempting to smoke weed through a SCUBA tank

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve