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Showing posts from March, 2013

Living in the Old Farmer's Almanac in April 2013

Farmer's Calendar
If you were asked to name the most important appliance in your home, what would your answer The television? The computer? The microwave? With as many household conveniences as we have, it might take a bit of thought. But, if the same question were posed to someone a couple of centuries ago, the answer would have undoubtedly been the woodstove.
Before woodstoves became mass-produced in the mid-1700s, the fireplace was the center of the home. It provided warmth, a place to cook, and an area for family and friends to socialize. In early America, your house was often referred to as the "hearthside".
Woodstoves proved a huge advantage over the fireplace. They used less wood and didn't blacken walls, and their flat top provided a convenient cooking surface. Because they projected out into the room, they provided much more even, radiant heat.
Over the years, wood fuel gave way to other sources of home heat, such as oil, natural gas, and electricity, but th…

A Day Full of Music, Posting and a Clean (Again) House

Don't get me wrong, for me, this is not the best of days. But hopefully it will improve. The music, posting and Randy working on the house - that's all good. The weekend in the hospital, well, there is no way to make that good. Is there? (I'll save you the trouble of telling you no. There was little good service to be found from the doctors. The floor nurses were just delightful, as always.)
You must be wondering how a doctor can fuck up, yes? Me, too. The last three visits were more positive. Of course, the first was indeed the best. They took a huge interest in trying to find the issue and put me through a battery of tests. The tests - all of them - found nothing wrong, which on the one hand, was a relief - no cancer, no ulcers, etc.. On the other hand, it was disappointing; how does one fix what isn't broken? So nothing was fixed and I was sent home.
This visit began on Saturday night, at about 21:44, when I arrived at the hospital. They got me in the system and I.…

A Little Pre-Programming, Anyone?

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Why do parents pre-program their kids in certain departments?
I don't mean training them to have good manners, behave in the store and restaurants, actually sit and watch a movie or teaching them to read. Those are all good ways to program your kids and they'll be more appreciated by strangers like me who get frustrated by the howling, whining monsters of the world - and tell me these little winners aren't at least 2/3s the population of kids under 15?!
No, that is definitely not the kind of pre-programming I have in mind.
Religion is the biggest beef. I do - before you say it - know quite well that I am in the minority and when it comes specifically to Catholicism and (to a degree) general Christianity, quite closed off to them. I find almost any other religion to be forgivable. At least if you are Christian or Catholic and you accept that I have my unorthodox - see Celtic Wiccan - you fall into the smaller category of those Christians/Catholics who truly understand the …

When the Sun Takes a Vacation

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Thursday, 28 March 2013 When the Sun Takes a Vacation According to astronomers, the year 2013 may be an unlucky one, featuring solar flares that blast Earth with hot, ionized gas. Solar Cycle 24 is reaching its maximum, and our satellites and electrical grids are at risk! In the words of Sir John Beddington, the United Kingdom's chief scientific advisor, during a February 2011 meeting of the American Association for the  Advancement of Science, a sever storm could cause a "global Katrina" that would cost the word's economies as much as 52 trillion.



Sound scary?
The only thing scarier than the Sun reaching the high peak of a cycle is when the Sun has a quiet cycle with almost no peak at all.



According to some solar scientists, when the Sun last had a very quiet cycle, Earth experiences the "Little Ice Age" (A.D. 1550-1850). Some of these same scientists are warning that the current cycle's "peak" of activity is the weakest in 80 years. Even more a…

ARTICLE: Who Should Vote on Gay Marriage in New Jersey

That's right. I'm back in the hospital. How can you tell? When I'm reading the newspaper. It's the only time I ever see one. The volleys (volunteers) go around distributing them to patients if they'd like one. It's the local paper, the Daily Record, which covers Morris County (that's fine, it's the county I live in as well as get well in), and sometimes it is good to see local news.
And sometimes not...
When I saw the title of the article, "Who Should Vote on Gay Marriage in New Jersey", my first and immediate thought was only those who support it should vote on it so that it will sail right through! Wouldn't that be awesome ("awesome" being defined as "something that leaves you in awe and wonder")?! Ha to the hard-asses who don't support gay marriage! Supporting doesn't mean you have to do it, it just means you leave others alone who do wish to do so.
Why does anyone need to vote on how people love? It never c…

Living in the Old Farmer's Almanac in March 2013

Farmer's Calendar
The appearance of sap buckets hanging on maple trees is as sure a sign of Spring as spotting the first robin. Tapping season usually begins in late February and lasts well into March, ending as the leaf buds begin to enlarge. But weather dictates when the sap will actually start to snow. It runs best when nighttime temperatures fall into the 20s and daytime highs are well above 32ºF.As a boy, I often helped my neighbor, John, tap the old maple trees that lined our road. First, he would drill a 1/16-inch hole into a tree trunk 3 feet above the ground. Next, he would use a hammer to drive an iron tap (a hollow tube, also called a spile) into the hole, after which I would hang a bucket on it. I still remember the "ping, ping, ping" as the first drops of sap hit the bottom of the metal pail.
We poured the sap that we collected into a large, shallow pan and heated it over a roaring wood fire in John's sugarhouse. A pleasant maple aroma filled the air as …

Living in Snowland

It has snowed on and off this winter, a half inch here, an inch there; maybe even two inches in one fall. About ten days ago, the weather began showing a chance of snow for Monday, 2/11 into Tuesday, just a 20% chance and no accumulation amount given (I must say that up until just a few years ago, the various weather services would give guesstimates as to how much (if any) snow would fall, but eventually smartened up enough to cease making even the tiniest guess until just two days from the snow date).
For the first six days of this bit of snow headed our way, it remained as a 20% chance of snow, no accumulations given, nothing of any import attached to it. I remember on Tuesday commenting to Ray, then later, Luis (I was back in St Clare's at that time with another flare up that made the previous ones feel like a pleasure cruise) that I had a bad feeling that before this winter was out, we would get hit with "a whammy" - some kind of super-snowstorm that would really br…

Living in Season 11, Episode One of Hell's Kitchen

I'd like to say, "WooHoo, it is the start of the new Hell's Kitchen season," but after so many season of manic contestants, fighting interns and fifteen-bleeps-a-sentence conversations, I don't if I really feel all that excited and celebratory about it. And Ray told me this morning that the Greg-Chef, as I call him, is not on this show this season. He made the show for me to a large degree, for he looked a lot like my friend Greg, also a chef.
But we do watch it and I guess I will get into it (I hope so, but pessimistically, I'm not terribly confident; after so many seasons, many shows begin to molder and this will not be any different. It will have different challenges and such, but the [often bad] behaviour of the contestants vying for the position of head chef somewhere in Ramsey's vast empire and all the infighting and constant cursing gets old. It just does. Maybe if they left the cursing in it wouldn't be so bad, but all the high pitched beepin…

Living in Television Hell

Luis is watching a sitcom - the bastion of the lowest common denominator - you know, the stupid people with which the world is overrun. Yes, I'm extremely harsh when it comes to telly viewing and how it equates to intelligence. Sitcoms are extremely idiotic, sexually loaded to the point of hearing "penis" on an 20:00 show (I missed when that became okay! This doesn't bother me, although there are references that do), come with laugh tracks, and just have sunk to a level that is unreal. These are designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator.
He is watching something called "Happy Endings" and it is beyond awful. Some people played a practical joke on a friend (which would make me rethink the friend immediately, as practical jokes are just cruel) and he reacted predictably when he found out he did not win the lottery. Now there is a rash of truly horrible practical jokes being done to everyone else as revenge. Curiously, while Luis told me I have no s…