Archive for July, 2011

Catching up on old business

July 27, 2011

A couple of past blog posts have spoken of things I wished I could have given images of.

Well, in both cases, I had an image to go with the post, I just didn’t have it in my possession. You see, I don’t have a digital camera, which makes importing images to this blog a major problem. What I do have is a sister with a ‘smart’ phone, and in both cases, she took pictures for me of the subject in question. The things she did not do until just the other day was forward me the images! Well, now I’d love to pass along her work and a few of my words.

In “Evolution is beautiful”, I spoke of the white violets in a nearby yard. Here’s an example of one I brought home with me.

Beauty in the hands of a beast.

The other post was “An embarrassment of riches”, in which I spoke of my recent black raspberry harvest. Here’s an image of one day’s pickings, about 3/4 of a gallon freezer bag full.

This is one day's worth of berries!

 

So that’s that. The berries are gone now, with neighbors and friends supplied for another year. The birds (again, as usual!) repaid me for leaving some for them by dive-bombing my car with their rather-distinctly-colored poo!

Hopefully I will someday be able to afford a digital camera, though when that event will occur I have no idea. Until then, I hope I can bring a few more images to this blog in (hopefully!) a more timely manner.

Posturing for the “Home Crowd”, or Republicans Fiddles while America Burns

July 15, 2011

There are times when it seems the only thing some politicians can do in the face of a crisis is find something else to think about. This was brought home very strongly to me recently by the actions of the House of Representatives.

The House is the source of much of the sound (and more than a little fury) over our budget deficit. Republicans there have all but demanded that Something Be Done, and soon! Their “something” has revolved exclusively around cutting spending on “wasteful” programs (read any program they don’t like), and, to an extent, the White House has agreed with them. Multiple meetings have been held, without any positive developments, but this isn’t what drew my attention. No, what caught my eye was how, while they cry out about how the ‘national edifice’ is in danger, they’ve been occupying their time with…….amending HR-6, the Energy Independence and Security Act.

HR-6 was originally passed in 2007. When it was originally voted out of the House and passed onto the Senate for their consideration, it garnered 264 votes in favor and 163 votes against, with 8 members not voting. 36 Republicans voted with 228 Democrats to pass the bill, and when the Senate had made it’s changes and sent the bill back to the House for final approval, 95 Republicans were part of the 314 members who voted for passage. Then-President George W. Bush signed the bill into law, and it was heralded as a major step on the road to making America more energy independent.

Like every bill these days, HR-6 had many provisions in it. One of these was a requirement that all light bulbs be at least 30% efficient, that is, that they waste no more than 70% of the power the consume in the form of heat. Given the amount of power that’s used in America to simply light things up, that makes a ton of sense. It also means the death of the “traditional” incandescent light bulb.

When he invented it, Thomas Edison was breaking new ground with his light bulb. Before then, if you wanted light, you either worked outside in sunlight, or you burned something, be it oil, kerosene, tallow, beeswax, or whatever; and used the light given off by that burning to light your work. Edison came up with the simple but brilliant idea that, if he could put a metal filament into a clear glass bulb, then suck the air out of it and apply an electrical current to it, the filament would reach a white-hot state. In that “incandescent” state, it would give off a bright white light that could be used for illumination. The problem was, what it was really doing was generating a lot of heat in order to produce a little light, with the most efficient incandescent bulbs never getting above 10% efficiency. So, if you want to cut the amount of electricity used to light things up, one of the simplest ways to do it would be to replace incandescent lights with newer, more efficient lighting technology. Simple, right?

Well, it’s simple if you’re not engaged in a bit of political posturing.

You see, in their ‘anti-Washington’ fervour, the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party decided that trying to cut the amount of energy wasted on lighting things up amounted to “government interference” in Our Daily Lives. So they decided, with the government on the brink of defaulting, that the best use of the House’s time would be to debate a repeal of the provision of HR-6 setting a minimum efficiency standard for light bulbs. The provision failed to pass, but there is already talk of trying to amend a bill currently making it’s way through the House to include much the same language.

No one engaged in this asinine effort is claiming that there is no need to cut our energy consumption. Nor, for that matter, is there anyone claiming that America shouldn’t be doing everything it can to make itself more energy independent. And no one is claiming that incandescent light bulbs are somehow vital to American ‘national interests’. No, we get the same tired ‘keep government out of our private decisions’ talk we hear from the same folks who want to ban abortions, outlaw same-sex marriages, and tell us all to believe America is a “Christian nation”.

So, here’s what I wish I could say (preferably in a loud voice, from about half-an-inch from their noses) is this:

There are more important things to worry about! So get your head out of your butts and get to them!”

What do you do with an ’embarrassment of riches’?

July 2, 2011

I’ve written several times about my adventures in black raspberry growing. This last year, I gave away some of my harvest, but kept a fair amount for myself, planning (or I guess I should say hoping) to put it to use. Well, so far, it’s still were I put it at in my freezer. Which brings me to this year.

It’s been warm here where I live for several weeks now. Temperature wise, we jumped over Spring and went straight into Summer. Ninety degrees was passed early last month, which isn’t quite a record, but close enough. One sure thing about warmer weather: it gets raspberries to ripening quickly. Right about now would be what I’d consider the “normal” start to my harvest, usually a small bowl-full of berries from the ‘early’ plants. This year, that first bowl of berries came off the canes over a week ago, which means that right now is well into the peak of the harvest. Which comes back to that freezer full of frozen raspberries……

So what do you do when you’ve got berries coming off the canes, no space to store them for yourself, and you know that you never, ever want to eat too many berries at one time? You start scrounging around for folks to give them to, that’s what!

The neighbors (outside of a couple that are on vacation) have already had me at their door, bowl in hand, offering them a portion of my current bounty. The extended family is slowly but surely being worked through. After them, though, I think I might be in trouble. There are a few friends I have who live near enough to me to make the trip to give berries away not too big a drain on my gas tank, but a lot more of them live long distances from me. I’d love to see these berries enjoyed by someone, but I don’t have the money to spend to drive out as far as some of these folks live and give them away. As many of them are in a similar boat as far as I am on spending money, it’s not likely they’ll be driving here to get some free raspberries, no matter how good they are.

So, what do I do?

I’ll have to figure that one out, but sometimes, an embarrassment of riches is a hell of a thing to have!