Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Acceptance? Not so much

This whole Trayvon Martin case has gotten a huge amount of attention in the community in my area.  If you are not familiar with this case, a young African-American male, 17 years old, was shot and killed after a small scuffle by a self appointed Town Watch person in Florida.  The young man was wearing a hoodie, unarmed and carrying only a cell phone, an iced tea, and a package of Skittles.  The Town Watch person probably assumed he was up to no good simply based on his appearance, his clothing, and the fact he was a black youth in an upper class white area.
Social Media played a big part in spreading the news of this case.  There was so much about the case through the people who are connected to me on Facebook that I thought this was a local person until I read about it through the links I found on Google.  The amount of hits on Google are so many that it is hard to locate the first newspaper article that just gave the facts about what had happened.  In many cases the impact of the social media has become an important voice in determining what issues become important.  The social commentary that one hears from this communication tool is important because it points to how people are responding to an event, and it demonstrates the fact that even 100 plus years after the Civil War, race relations in this country have not progressed that far.  There is still a huge divide between the blacks and the whites and now the whites and the browns. 
Many branches of Christianity, often spoken of by the Religious Right, tout acceptance.   But their version of acceptance is usually lip service to actual reality.  If there really was acceptance in this country, there would be no situations where people shoot and ask questions later. I blame that on the spread of fear largely pointed at the African-American and Hispanic community by the Fox News followers.  Their terror mongering rants are what have perpetuated situations like this because they simply cannot accept someone dressed like Trayvon in a location where people supposedly do not dress like that; they cannot accept someone different from themselves.   

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Birds and the Bees

The past weekend I attended a beekeeping seminar where they also showed birds of prey.  A friend of mine graduated with an Agriculture degree and learned about bees long ago in college.  He recently has become more interested in them especially when it comes to urban beekeeping, so when he found this seminar, he asked if I would join him because I had expressed interest in the past.  It was held in a place called Franklintown, Pennsylvania which was about 2 hours away.  So early Saturday morning, he and his partner picked me up at my house and we left for the drive.
I must say that the whole thing was quite fascinating.  I was never really exposed to hives and honey making but was always curious and found that there are two major ways people can keep bees.  The hive type that everyone knows about is the most popular, but there are also solitary bees that do not create honey that people can keep.  The later type is much less work and the main reason one would keep those kinds of bees is to increase pollination in your fruits and vegetables.  Since I am beginning to start getting into growing more fruits, and because I don’t really have the time to devote to this hobby, I may do the solitary beekeeping. 
Bees play an extremely important part in our lives whether we know it or not.  The increase of the usage of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, petroleum based fertilizers, and even the use of GMO seeds has severely hurt the bee population which can dramatically affect our food growth.  If the bee population is good on or near a farm, the bees can help improve the yields of the food the people are growing and that can lead to better quality foods and lower prices.  We watched a documentary called Queen of the Sun that is all about the current crisis with a situation called Colony Collapse Syndrome.  This condition seems to have a direct correlation to what we are doing which is hurting the bee population and ultimately hurting ourselves.  There is a very close relationship in nature where things are done for a particular reason and we are causing quite an upset in that relationship.  When the world collapses it will ultimately be our fault so I believe it is our responsiblity to repair this damage.  I only hope we can accomplish this before it goes too far.

Friday, March 23, 2012


One of the bad side effects if you will of gardening is dirt under your fingernails.  No matter the fact I wear gardening gloves, wash my hands frequently, and take a shower after coming in from gardening, I frequently look at my hands the next day and am aghast that I have a little dirt under one or two of them.  It is kind of embarrassing, but I suppose it is a hazard of playing in the dirt. 
But you know what?  I don’t care.  It’s a small price to pay, I think, for the overall improved health that I can realize by growing and eating fresh food. Furthermore the gratification I get from seeing my garden take shape and grow, not to mention the stress relieving aspects which will help my overall well being, are much more rewarding than the small amount of embarrassment I get from having a little dirt under my fingernails.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Fast Food

Several years ago I took my son to McDonald’s for a fast snack.  He ordered the standard hamburger, coke, and fries order.  After we had pulled out of the drive through and down the street, he found that the burger was missing the burger.  All he had was bun.  We were in a rush and really couldn’t take the time to go back so we went on and fortunately he thought it was very funny so didn’t raise too much of a fuss.  My point in relaying this story is that sometime my life reminds me of that order – something key is missing.
I had been going along recently doing what I have always done and feeling as if there is something wrong.  Sure my job could be much more interesting, my home life a little more exciting, and my son a whole lot more better behaved.  This is nothing special and most of us feel this way. What I am talking about is my overall health and well being especially when it comes to my eating.
As you may know I have been working on “eating clean” and I am slowly finding out that this is the thing that has been missing.  The PATH program focuses on loving your food and eating in control.  One learns through the program that there are many factors that cause us to overeat, and more importantly, overeat food that wreaks havoc on your body.  The control aspect has always been a huge problem for me and I have eaten more in response to stress and general malaise than I have because I am hungry.  Identifying when I am hungry and when I am full is key in control.  Identifying why I am eating is even a bigger factor to me being in control.  Furthermore knowing that I am human and mistakes will happen but I have it within me to be able to break the chain of overeating is the icing on the cake, if you will.  All of these things have been missing in my 58 years of existence and I have finally realized that now have the burger.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I asked for Spring, not Summer.  Really, this heat is crazy!  All of my flowers are blooming too early.  Most of them were supposed to be up in Easter and they are coming up now.  Not that I really mind because I am loving the color and fragrance, but if it is this hot now, what’s July going to be like?  You cannot tell me there is not something going on here.   Global warming, or maybe a warm cycle or something, but something is up and it’s not just the temperature.
There are many that argue that there is no such thing as global warming and that Al Gore was totally wrong.  They argue that the Earth goes through cycles before and even before the Industrial Revolution when they have taken core samples they have found that there are bands of times when the Earth’s mean temperatures were warmer.  There are scientists that say that the areas that should be tested for temperature, the lower troposphere, show no difference in the last 23 years.  Whatever.  You can’t tell me that all this stuff belching into the air from factories over the decades is good for us.  This wouldn’t be the first time that what “they” tell us has been found out to be wrong.
One of the most devastating effects of Global Warming is the thawing of the polar ice caps and the rise of the sea water levels which is associated with extreme weather and massive flooding.  We are already seeing horrible weather.  If this did happen before, as the opponents to Global Warming say, maybe that was the great flood talked about in the bible.  All I know is that right now my flowers are out and looking spectacular.  It’s hard to think about this stuff when you see all that.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What is That?

This weekend my husband and I were finally able to get out and ride.  His pulled groin muscle is feeling a lot better and the weather was great, so we went out on Saturday for about a 20 mile ride.  It really felt good to be back in the saddle.  While we were out there, I noticed a small yellow flower popping up in various spots along the side of the trail.  I did pick a small flower to tuck in my bag so that I could look it up on the web and this morning went to Google and typed in “small yellow flower spring bloom”.  It came up with the name Leonardo’s Balm, or Doronicum Leonardo.  This small flower looks like a daisy and has a rather shiny leaf.  I also looked it up on a site called Dave’s Garden.  They have a plant database with thousands of plants in it that can help you identify many plants and point you to vendors who will sell them.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Immediate Failure

I planted a number of things the other day, one of which was three cucumber plants.  Not only did two of them get eaten by something, probably a groundhog, but it was way too early.  So I went online and found that I can start the seeds right in the garden once the soil is warm and after the danger of frost has passed.  I made the mistake of thinking they are cool weather plants like the beans I put out.  Oh well, I am still learning.  There is a lot to remember in gardening.  You have to remember most importantly to read the seed package and I would have done that except I was rushing about grabbing things and grabbed the cucumber plant mistaking it for a plant that can go out now. 
The cool weather things that I can plant now are beans, peas, lettuce, broccoli, radishes, beets, and onions.  There is a whole list of other things too, and you have to make sure that when you look online that you refine your search to your hardiness zone.  I found a great site which has a whole list of the seeds you can plant for your zone.  This helps a lot.  This site also has a spreadsheet showing when to plant fall crops.  Of course, since they are an online business you can order seeds from them too, but for now I am going to depend on their charts.
Of course even if I plant them on time at the right time, I still have the birds, squirrels, and groundhogs who are going to try and get to them first.  That is yet another battle.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Trending is the new way to determine if you are popular, so I understand.  The other night there was an episode of CSI which featured something like Twitter.  In the show, a fraternity at The University of Las Vegas had a party at which everyone tweeted things like “insane party”, “having a wonderful time”, and then of course since it was CSI, a murder.  One of the actors who played the son of the head of the CSI team was shown explaining trending to his Dad.  Incidentally, I looked online and actually found a site called WhatTheTrend.com which shows what is currently trending on Twitter. 
As with many words, trending is not an actual word but has evolved to be used to describe an online activity or event.  It is so well used that spell checker in Word does not display it as incorrect.  I looked it up in my American Heritage Dictionary from 1981 and the word does not exist.  But that’s how things are today.  Words are being created every day.  There are several sites online which describe and define new words in the English language and it is interesting because many of them I have never heard before.  Trending however, was not on several of the sites I looked at.  If you Google “trending” (Google being another made up word) there is a Wikipedia entry for Twitter in which the word appears.  According to that, the word appeared on Twitter in 2009 when Twitter created a column to show what topics were most popular.
I love learning the origin of words and in these days when words are being made up all the time it is a constant source of amazement when I see a new one.  The question is that as more words become part of our language, are the old words going to go away?  Interesting concept.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


So now I really know that I am going a little crazy with this gardening thing.  Yesterday when I got home, I had received a package which contained yet another raspberry plant.  I had totally forgotten that I had ordered one already from a different place.  I had received that one over the weekend.  Fortunately I had not planted that one yet and was trying to remember where I was going to plant the first one so I ended up getting a large pot and planting both in it for the patio.  I had read that the soil requirements call for a more acid soil than other plants, and they like full sun.  So the patio in a container is better anyway, because I don’t have to muck around with the pH in the raised beds in the vegetable patch.  It will work out better this way, at least that’s my theory and I am sticking to it.
I also receive the blueberry bush I ordered.  There again, the soil requirements for that bush is more acidic that my vegetables so a container is going to be used for that too.  The plant received was tiny – much smaller than I had anticipated.  I don’t think any blueberries are going to be on this plant this summer but you never know.  The description in the catalog indicated that it was going to be in a container which it could stay in but I didn’t know the container would be a 5 inch nursery pot.  Oh well, it was not that expensive so I think I will be okay.  I do need to put it in another pot and there is one on my porch that has nothing in it, so rather than buying another one, I am going to use that one.
So my patio is filling up, which is a good thing.  Planted and out there now is a pot of mint, the strawberry planter, the raspberry canes, the lemon tree, and the blueberry bush (if you can call it a bush now).  The patio is nice and sunny and I think they will like it there and these guys with the exception of the lemon tree can stay out there all year.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Right to Die

There is a case in the UK right now about the case for the Right to Die which caught my attention.  I like reading the comments associated with the story, and this story has generated almost 400 comments.  I only read a few, but most are talking about the sanctity of life and that if someone helps this person, suffering with Locked-In Syndrome, it will be murder.  The poor man is paralyzed and only has movement in his eyes.  He communicates with an electronic board, and cannot speak, move, or take care of himself.  He is asking to have someone help him when the time comes and he is unable to take it any longer.
I recognize that life is a gift from God and that ending someone’s life is murder, but I think there are extenuating circumstances.  We murder criminals who have committed murder, and that practice is accepted in many cultures.  However, if someone wants to die because they have some horrible disease and are either suffering terribly or are going to suffer a ghastly death, we make them continue to life their life that way because the argument is made that life is precious.  Forcing someone to experience that kind of torment is a crime, in my eyes.
I remember when my mother-in-law was in a nursing home.  We had a DNR order on her and when she went into respiratory distress at the end, they pushed us to take her to a hospital to be placed on a ventilator.  She had suffered a stroke, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  She was aphasic, incontinent, had to be fed mush, and was practically a vegetable.  Yet still they determined that her life should go on.  We were made to feel so guilty for “allowing her to die” and upholding the terms of the DNR.   How can that kind of life be precious?  To me the release to heaven from suffering is a blessing, and yet we give this to someone who has committee horrible crimes against humanity and let good people endure a life wrought with pain.  It doesn’t make any sense to me. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lemon Tree

As you may remember, I got a lemon tree in the mail a few weeks back.  It is beautiful and arrived in great condition.  This past Sunday we put it out on the patio to be in the sun for a little.  It has many blossoms on it and some of them are opening.  Only four blossoms were open before we took it out and then after bringing it back in for the night we noticed that now there are more than twenty buds popping.  The fragrance is incredible.  You don’t have to be right on the flower you can just walk by the tree and smell it.  I can just imagine that when all the buds open the house will have a heavenly smell .

Monday, March 12, 2012


I am impatient when it comes to impatiens and some other things.  This weekend, the weather was sunny, albeit a little cool, but I planted things in my garden that I was going to plant next week.  I was looking at the average frost dates and it said that in area the average frost date is April 6th.    Looking at the packages I see that some of the things I was going to plant say to put them in the ground 2-3 weeks before the average frost date.  So that means this coming weekend.  Another calendar I looked at said the average frost date is March 30th so that’s why I didn’t see a problem with this weekend.  Things have been warmer so I think I am okay.  I hope so because on Sunday I planted lettuce, snow peas, radishes, and spinach. 
It was so beautiful and warm.  My husband and I went for a ride on both days.  Saturday was a little cold and we hadn’t been out for several months, so we only went 10 miles.  We headed out on Sunday and within 2 miles, my husband got a flat tire, so we only did 5 miles.  But it was fun and it was a reminder that Spring is definitely here and the biking and gardening seasons have started.
My impatiens seeds finally germinated.  Well not all of them, but some.  I had planted them to start in the seedling pot but nothing came up so I did some research and found that it should be put on a heating mat.  I did that with some new seeds and lo and behold that’s when I saw they had germinated.  I then read today that you need to put 100 degree water in right away and put them on the seed mat.  In addition, they suggested that you put plastic wrap over the top to keep them moist until they sprout.  I think I may try that this weekend.  None of this was on the seed packet, mind you. 
I am learning that one has to be patient when it comes to gardening and that things will come up when it’s time for them to come up not necessarily when you want them to come up.  It is a good lesson in life.

Friday, March 9, 2012


I have been getting more used to using my Bluetooth for my phone while driving recently.  I find it so much easier to manage and keep both hands on the wheel.  The Bluetooth device I have is an older model that doesn’t exhibit the battery strength so that I have to manually remember when I charged it last.  I have found that when the power is very low that people can’t hear me over the device.  I may want to get a newer model eventually but for now the device suits my needs.
Bluetooth technology has become the de facto standard for exchanging data over short distances.  It was created by Ericsson in 1994 and since that time has taken off and used as a way to connect practically anything.  I wondered how the name became to be used for this technology and turned to Wikipedia for that answer:
The word "Bluetooth" is an anglicized version of the Scandinavian Blåtand/Blåtann, the epithet of the tenth-century king Harald I of Denmark and parts of Norway who united dissonant Danish tribes into a single kingdom. The implication is that Bluetooth does the same with communications protocols, uniting them into one universal standard.
I don’t use it for voice activated text messages, although I can.  But now that the texting law has finally passed in Pennsylvania that could be something I try soon.  I don’t text that much, but it might be a cool thing to try. 
I expect this technology to become more and more ubiquitous.  One really interesting application I found on Wikipedia is as a personal security application for mobile phones. The protected item uses the Bluetooth unit to establish a constant communication with the phone. If the connection is broken then it raises an alarm.   As with anything, the more people use it, the more people are going to find it useful and incorporate it.  I just hope that the battery strength indicator will show.  At my age, remembering things is not my strong suit.  Now where did I put my Bluetooth?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Spring Fever

I can feel it in the air.  I can hear it in the morning with the birds singing when I get to work.  Spring has finally come – well meteorology speaking anyway.   I don’t care, as I feel an incredible sense of excitement.  What is also coming is Spring Fever and I know I am coming down with a case that is next to none.  I just want to be out in the garden at all times with dirt on my hands and my nose running to beat the band.
I have to reign myself in from planting everything in sight, though.  Yesterday we went over to Home Depot to get a new pitch fork.  For some reason we are missing the one we thought we had.  While we were there I talked my husband into going into the plant section and they had plants!  They had tomatoes, broccoli, strawberries, herbs, and others.  I just had to get some broccoli as it is a cold weather vegetable and I really should have started the seeds earlier as my seedlings are way tiny.  These were great sized seedlings and they need to go in to the garden now to ensure a crop before the hot summer weather hits.  I also got another strawberry plant and some rosemary.  This weekend is supposed to be cold but next weekend is the time to get these things planted, such as the strawberry planter that we built last weekend and finished yesterday.
We also have the time change this weekend so it will be lighter longer and warmer weather coming up.  I just can’t contain myself!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Early Riser

I didn’t used to be a morning person growing up.  I was always the type to stay in bed as long as I had to and stumble around like a drunken sailor until I had my coffee.  However, in the last 20 years since my son was born I developed an early morning habit and have stayed with it.  I arrive at work around 5:30am, give or take primarily so I can leave early and still have light.  It used to be in order to be home for my son when he got home from school, but he is out of the house now so that reason doesn’t apply.  Now it is because the light is still around for biking or gardening. 
I like coming into work at that time.  Very few people are here and it is so quiet you can really hear yourself think.  I feel I get more done in the first few hours than I do throughout the day.  But it’s not easy necessarily to get up that early.  I don’t sleep very well until around 10 or 11 and that means on the nights that I do get a good quality sleep, I don’t get many hours of sleep.  They say that you need a good sleep in order to lose weight, so that is another point in my long battle against the pounds.  So I average around 6 hours a night except on the weekends when it is more like 8 or 9. 
Sleep has really become a problem for many people and now they are finding that children who snore are not getting a quality sleep and as a result may be having behavioral problems.  I am not sure if that was my son’s problem because I don’t remember if he snored, but I know my husband says I do.  But I think it’s the quality of sleep over the amount of sleep as long as you are able to get into the heavy REM for several cycles then maybe you are okay.  But no matter, I still like the stillness of the dawn.  It sets the tone for the day.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Twenty First Century

aSo yesterday, sort of as an impulse I entered the future.  I bought a tablet.  It is my birthday in a few days after all.  I didn't intended to get one but I guess all the stars were in alignment.  I went in to hggregg and the it was, one of the last two in the store and it was on sale.  I bought the Samsung Galaxy Tab and I am typing this blog entry on it.  Word processing is not really its strong suite and I am also getting used to it, but it does a very passable job.  It has several methods of keyboards, all of which have their own advantages burt I like it and think I can get used to it fairly quickly.

The salesman who helped me was good and patiently answered my questions and he was doing his job by trying to get me to get the extended warranty and the setup package.  He told me it was complicated to set up but I had confidence that it would not be that hard.  It was not.  I had it up and running in no time.  It operates on the Android playform and as I have an Android phone most of my applications were there as soon as I logged in.  It was slightly annoying that I had to log into all if my accounts again but it was pretty seemless.  I am sure he was only doing his job saying that.

So now I am the owner of a tablet.  I know my laptop will not be jealous as there is not enough storage on tbis to take its place.  I can connect with the laptop and move things to that as I need to.  I really and am glad I got it.  Happy birthday to me.