Friday, November 09, 2018

How to Vote Better

I am listening to podcast 356. America’s Hidden Duopoly on Give it a listen.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Monday, March 05, 2018

District 3

Democrats have a strong candidate running for US Congress in Washington State district 3.

Her name is Carolyn Long.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Rhamnus purshiana

It's a scrappy little tree
Remembered for the wrong traits
Regarded as a weed by most
Consigned to humble fates

When in fact it offers much
Which humans find endearing
When it flowers bees invade and buzz
To put all else beyond your hearing

And who would not admit it
Upon consideration
A tree surviving summer's drought
Without the soothing ministration

Of rain that is depended on by
Alder, Fir and Cedar
Who do their growing when
The soil is moist and sweeter

And which of these provides the bees
And birds with such a harvest?
From dry savanna this clever tree
Brings a bounty from it's breast

For when the pollinators
Perform their proscribed duties
Cascara returns the favor by
Producing little black beauties

Then Cedar Waxings come along
Flocking just to gobble
And Band Tailed Pigeons alight
So fat they make the branches wobble

And if you give a goat a chance
To nibble on its leaves,
That goat will clean it out as though
It were a band of thieves

Reasons to admire
This species are thus ample
So when you think you found
A weed please think of this example

It may take time to learn
All the gifts a weed can offer
But let them live and you
May find great value in your coffer

A Mabel At Eleven

She charmed me with enthusiasm
She charmed me with her grace
She charmed me with her doll collection
And dramatic moods swept through her face

She listened to my Neil Young
Enraptured by the Harvest Moon
And when I had to go away
I felt the day was done too soon

This morning on my calendar
Reviewing all the seasons
Wondering at the timings of Camellia
Flowering and the reasons

I noticed that the next time
Cascara leaves unfurl
Ms. Mabel will be twelve
Slightly more or less a girl

Despite the plain reminder
That will stare me in the face
I may continue to be myself
And thoughts and poems can't replace

A birthday present or a wish
At the time when it is due
Each year when the Cascara buds
I'm certain I will fondly think of you

Friday, October 06, 2017

Sugar Maple Burning

The smaller of two sugar maples
Must be jealous of his larger brother
Whose soil stays moist longer
For when I got home
The dramatic yellow and orange
On top of just that one
Made me think
"Self immolation!"

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Cover Crop

This year I was convinced to try growing a cover crop. The key benefits being improvement of the soil microbiome and by extension improvement in next year's crops.
Saturday I tilled under the corn and squash then broadcast rye and fava Sunday. During tilling the soil roiled like storms on Jupiter from being absolutely powder dry. Four days later I logged 2.3 inches of rain in my rain gauge. Today I observed the rye seeds sprouting.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Green Corn, take 3

It is year three in my odyssey to grow enough green corn for eating.

2015: Year one, I planted all the seeds from a single packet, but I planted too late, June or something, and so only a few ears developed

2016: Year two I planted late again, albeit with more seeds than were in the packet. Halfway through the season I learned that urea and water in a 1:4 mixture gives these guys a turbo-boost of growth and lends their leaves a healthy deep green hue. But we had an early and persistent fall, with rain unrelenting (28 days of rain in October!). I panicked and picked too quick, so that the early ears were but half done. Then again I picked some later ears that wheezed a few kernels past the finish line.

2017: Now year three. I planted right on time, mid-May, after soaking the seeds which my wife told me saves 3-5 days in germination. A cool week later there was no sign, but on the 8th day they poked through. This morning (day 15) I got this picture:
These two were accidentally planted too near each other, but that and the coincidence of their leaf arrangement made them appear to be twins.

I spent far too much time babying these guys, but I want this to be the year I get all the green corn I can use. This will be the year of never letting them dry out and never letting them go without nitrogen.
We'll see how it goes!


Like a lollipop
On two sticks
The boy stood waiting,
Patient by his mother,
While some electronic
Attached at the ear
And the back of the skull
Blinked green.
His parents betrayed
But little tension
As they waited.
Tiny daughter
A pearl, protected
Between them.
Bionic lollipop boy
Plays with trains
Until the nurse calls them

Sunday, January 29, 2017

New York Times

Our illustrious leader warned us that the New York Times is failing this morning. Fearing the worst I subscribed immediately.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Fight Diabetes - Part I

Recently I read that diabetes is now the costliest component of the US healthcare system.

At work, one of my functions is to identify queries that cost the most and find ways to reduce that cost. This is orders of magnitude more complex, but nevertheless, as a concerned citizen I thought I’d try to find some information on how to combat this epidemic. And, full disclosure, having seen Robert Lustig and Fed Up already, I was looking for evidence that sugar consumption is implicated. I wasn’t disappointed.

Considering that we as a nation struggle so mightily to solve the problem of health care costs, it seems the kind of topic that we all should take an interest in. Here are some things I found:

How costly is it in the US?
·         Diabetes and prediabetes cost America $322 billion per year
·         $1 in $3 Medicare dollars is spent caring for people with diabetes

What causes Type-2 diabetes?
·         weight loss was the main predictor of reduced risk for developing diabetes
·         diabetes risk reduction efforts should focus on weight loss

So, obesity is the most important factor for Type-2 diabetes. What then causes obesity?
I’m aware that sedentary lifestyle and low quality foods are risk factors, but I believe the big elephant in this room is sugar. Plenty of reputable sources highlight the correlation between sugary drinks and obesity. Here are a couple examples:
·         link between weight gain and drinking sweetened beverages.
The CDC draws attention to sugary drinks in particular:
Eat fewer foods that are high in sugar, such as: 
·         Fruit-flavored drinks.
·         Sodas.
·         Tea or coffee sweetened with sugar.

Progress is Underway
Having connected dots from problem to proximate cause, I wondered what can one do to help in the fight against diabetes/obesity.

As it happens, action has been taken. Many of the public are aware of the problem. In fact Soda consumption has dropped for more than a decade. Big soda has been losing 1 percent of its market share per year in that time and the gallons of soda consumed per capita has dropped by over 10 gallons per year in that time.

Nevertheless, I personally feel that for a problem so costly to our health and wealth, we should accelerate that trend if we are able. A little outrage is I think appropriate here. After all the as it is well stated in the blurb for the book Soda Politics by Dr. Marion Nestle:
how did products containing absurdly inexpensive ingredients become multibillion dollar industries and international brand icons, while also having a devastating impact on public health?

Thinking of it this way causes some anger and outrage to stir within my breast.

Those feelings, if I can articulate them well, will feature in a subsequent post.

In the meantime, if you want more information, or if you want to learn how to take some action to reduce the harm that sugary beverages are wreaking on our society, consider these links:
·         Super Size Me

·         Fed Up

I may decide to buy and read Soda Politics.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Muling it Over

My wife and I had been discussing how exactly to schedule our holiday events. We both offered sensible options. Finally she said "Well, those are two good options to mule over"

"Mull",  said I.

"What?", said she.

"Mull, not mule. You mull over your options, not mule over them."

"But I don't feel like changing my mind."

Sunday, June 12, 2016

First Garlic

The heat, then prolonged moisture seemed to put some of the smaller French Rose garlic in danger of molding. So we picked it quickly. The larger ones have more green leaves and may benefit from the continued moisture.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sourdough Bread

Hey, check this an effort to eat delicious bread and save money I have been practicing bread-baking on the weekends. Here's a picture of some nice-looking loaves I made a month ago.

I've recently realized that sourdough bread is easier than I previously thougt. It's definitely cheaper and arguably better tasting than bread made with active dry yeast.

Sourdough Possibly healthier for humans

Egalitarian: the leavening is free
My favorite how-to video for making sourdough starter. It is SOOO easy!

Sullivan Street simple method

The simple Sullivan Street method is very compatible with sourdough because it is a slow rise bread.The only downside to sourdough is that it can take longer. I could debate if that is actually a downside, but I'll spare you.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015


Alternative to the theme of yesterday: music generation. Try it out at jukedeck.
Adele is in no danger of losing her job to this robot; the two tracks I generated were as soulless as you might expect. At the same time there's clearly something sophisticated at work here.