Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Eagles again.

I looked out at "My" Lake this morning to the sight of three Bald Eagles sitting out on the ice in the middle of The Lake. They didn't seem to be doing anything in particular, just standing there, fairly close together. They were not eating. Just standing. Presumably, I'm sure, the same three that we have observed a number of times recently. There are two adults and one immature.

The weather is much nicer today. The wind has gone, the sun is out and the temperature is already just above freezing. This is good as I have a few errands to run today, plus a work trip to Arlington Virginia.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Now folks, we have all heard of Lake Effect Snow, right? Well I have the miniature version of lake effect snow, here at The Lake. I'm looking out now at my own rendition of that phenomenon, and while I cannot comment on whether the snow is building up on one side of The Lake or the other - because I am NOT about to go out in this and measure it, there is a definite effect of some kind or another.

There is a strong wind blowing and the effect of this wind is to send the snow across The Lake in clouds. I'm sure if I were out in it I would see it as driving snow. But from inside I see the wind pushing the snow sideways. It looks like a giant cloud of snow being propelled sideways by some unseen, but not unheard, force. Yes the wind is rattling not just the windows but everything outside not tied down.

I am glad to be inside during this, almost, raging storm.

Well, I do have to go out in it - to close up those poor chickens.

I already went over the road to feed our neighbors cat, they are out in it. On the way to Pittsburgh, can you imagine anyone wanting to got to Pittsburgh anytime, let alone in this mess?

I'm going to close the chickens, load up the fire and settle down to some TV, or a good book. (I am recommending Ken Follet's "World Without End." right now.)

Good night, keep warm.


Sarah's Candy Wreath Business.

It occurs to me that although I did a little write up on my daughter's Massage Business, I should also mention that she is multi talented - I am sure you all understand that this is almost inevitable, as she is my daughter! Anyway, she also does Candy Wreaths. These can be viewed on her website at www.sarahsdecorativecandywreaths.shutterfly.com

Yes, it is a very long address, far too long in my humble opinion, giving way too many chances to make an error. But what do I know, I am only her father.

Anyway, it is well worth a visit, and you should visit, because it is yet another opportunity to obtain another unique gift for a loved one, or one of those many people in our well heeled society that "Has everything".

I can assure you even those elevated persons of the elite populous do not have one of Sarah's Wreaths. These are truly 'works of art'. Worthy of a place of honor in the home of the most discriminating among us.

Go view them at your very earliest opportunity and see if you don't agree with me.

Signed Sarah's father. (And no, I don't get a cut!)


Julia has chastised me for not mentioning the addition of between 700 and 1,000 to our "Family". She is most upset about my failure to bring them up in one of my Blogs. After all, she is out there bottle feeding them every day - not really!

We put a "Box" under our pier with between 700 and 1,000 young oysters (We didn't count them) in it. They will grow there for approximately a year, after which we are told they will be large enough to be transferred to a new, protected, home somewhere in The Bay where they will, hopefully, live out their lives Cleaning The Chesapeake Bay.

At one time there were twenty Billion oysters in The Bay carrying out this vital function every day of their lives. A function that they were perfectly designed to do. Unfortunately some (Very brave or very hungry!) person discovered that oysters were good to eat. At that point they were doomed! Like every other thing in nature that Man has had any kind of contact with, we seem to think our duty is to try to destroy it! There are now only maybe twenty million oysters left, for the mathematically challenged among you, that is one oyster for every 1,000 oysters that were there when we arrived in The Bay. At the height of their numbers oysters were able to filter all of the water in The Bay every few days! However at 1,000th of their previous numbers, it would take instead YEARS for them to filter it once!

Why is it that we can never learn from our mistakes? The Bay is dirty, it needs cleaning, oysters could clean it for us - for free! But still we cannot see that. If we took some of a resource and left the rest, we would have an everlasting resource. But we cannot do that.

As a simple explanation, I have some mint in my garden, I take some to make some mint sauce. next time I want mint sauce I get some more. There will always be more there, because I only take as much as I need. BUT, if I were an "Entrepreneur", or a "Manufacturer", Or a "Businessman" I would instead take ALL of the mint and make mint sauce to sell. I would then have none left! Duh. So, I would go looking for more mint else where, taking all that I can find everywhere I find it! Duh. Soon there is none to be found anywhere. Duh. If instead I had taken just enough that the mint could replenish itself - say half of the crop each year - I could continue to exploit it ad infinitum. Is that hard to understand? Not for me, but it is, apparently, for most people.

Applying this to the Oyster population of The Chesapeake Bay, we could take some, leaving the rest to reproduce. Or we could take from part of the Bay - say half of it - leaving the remaining areas to replenish the whole Bay. Or we could rotate - as a farmer does his fields - and harvest from designated areas of the Bay for a few years and then close that area off and allow harvesting in another area, while the first area replenishes. Pretty simple huh? But no, we have to take ALL. So what do we have left? Very little, except a lot to complain about which we do vociferously, often and long. Not introducing our own failings into the equation at all. Why can we not see that we do these things to ourselves?

And it is in our power to correct it.

Still in the Chesapeake Bay, we have also destroyed the shoals of Menhaden that used to be here. Menhaden, sometimes known as Alewives form the bottom of the food chain. They roamed The Chesapeake Bay by the Billions when we arrived here, filtering gallons of water, per minute - each fish! They filtered out the tiny flora that would otherwise have clouded up the water (As it does now - further hurting the ability of the Oysters to survive) and changing it into . . . fish! That fish was the food of the bigger fish that were here then. Six foot long Salmon - all gone now, schools of 140 pound Striped Bass and so many whales that they were a danger to shipping! All of those fish, and many birds, depended on the lowly Menhaden for their survival. The Menhaden may be the most important fish, period. It is no good to us for eating, being very bony and oily, but it is a perfect food for other fish.

A company called Omega Protein has almost singlehandedly eliminated the Menhaden. They find a school, put a net around them and scoop them all up. They are then made into fish meal, to feed to other fish, or for fertilizer, or pet, or poultry food. They are systematically eliminating one the most important fish in the seas today. Apart from being food for other fish, animals and birds they swim around 24 hours a day with their mouths wide open filtering 4 gallons of The Bay's waters EVERY MINUTE! And they do this for free. Can you imagine what it would cost us to do this? They then convert that gunk into fish, at the same time allowing sunlight to reach the oysters and the Bay's Grasses.

All this stuff about restoring The Bay, it would restore itself if we would only allow it. If the Menhaden were allowed to return they would clean the water, allowing the oysters to also return and clean the water, allowing the grasses to return and clean the water and shelter the young fish and crabs who would also clean the water.

But instead of sheltering oysters, menhaden, grasses and the myriad of life forms important to The Bay's survival (and our survival), we shelter companies like Omega Protein whose only function is to line their pockets by destroying The Bay. I am told there are a few remaining Menhaden schools. (When I came here just 40 years ago, I would go out onto The Bay fishing and see the water boiling with fish - huge schools of Menhaden, clouds of Gulls would be circling, picking up the bits of Menhaden floating after the attacks of the schools of Striped Bass and Bluefish circling under them.) Those magnificent fish have been decimated by overfishing too but also by the removal of their main food source - the Menhaden.

A fleet of spotter planes is maintained that circles The Bay looking for the few remaining Menhaden, when a small school is spotted (Because that is all that is left) they call in the ships to vacuum them up. With the demise of the Menhaden we may see the end of fish! Period!

And as I said, please don't forget. it is within our power to correct this carnage, this massacre of our beloved Chesapeake Bay.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Morning

It's Xmas Morning, cool, 34 degrees, and a little grey, but no snow - yet! We are expecting a White Xmas, but it's not here yet. Soooooo.....

Merry Christmas to everyone.

With Love from The Silver Fox


Thursday, December 23, 2010


The Eagle has landed, or in this case three Eagles! Just a quick update on The Lake. It is frozen, I wouldn't risk my neck on it, but it is frozen, although the temperature was up into the 40's for a while today and there are wet areas showing here and there. But the ice is still plenty thick enough to support a lot of birds, and there were a lot of birds out there today, including three Eagles. Yes, three Eagles. Two adult Bald Eagles and one immature Bald Eagle. We were unable to see what the attraction was, they were definitely eating something, but it was too far away to see just what, even with the binoculars. It was small, and that is all we could tell.
There were Seagulls too. Some of those Gulls are huge, almost as big as the Eagles and bigger than our chickens. I must study the bird book and see what kinds of Gull we have here. There were several types today, sizes varied from huge to big to medium.
Harry the Heron put in a showing, gliding across the frozen waste. What does he eat when The Lake is frozen?
Time to go, I said it was a quick update.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Don't forget, or if you didn't know, my daughter Sarah is a Massage Therapist. She is trained in Swedish Massage, Deep Tissue Massage and a bunch of others I'm sure. She has been doing it for years and has a regular following. She also keeps up with training in new techniques. Many Doctors and Physical Therapists recommend it.

There is nothing quite so relaxing as treating yourself, or a friend or loved one, to a professional massage.

Sarah has Gift Certificates for that special someone who 'has everything'. Here is the perfect gift for the person that is hard to buy for. It is a gift ideal for any occasion - or no occasion, and you can get it with just a phone call. No going out into the cold, driving through the snow, lining up with people who have the flu, or even struggling with ordering "on line". Just pick up the phone and Sarah can send you the certificate in the mail or even e-mail it to you.

Did you forget your loved ones Birthday? Anniversary? One phone call and you can have the perfect gift in your hand in a couple of minutes! They need never know that you forgot! Sarah will never tell them! (And what a great way to say 'Sorry', too!)

Call her at 410-693-0248 or e-mail her at sarahsouders@gmail.com. A one hour massage can cost as little as $55 (Less than a dozen roses because you forgot, plus the cost of the gift that you forgot to get, and you still have to get anyway!)

I guarantee that your friend, relative, business associate or loved one will be happier with this thoughtful gift than with almost any other. (Unless you were planning on giving them a new Lexus or World Cruise of course - were you?)

Lunar Eclipse

Monday night was cold but clear. The Eclipse was due to start at 1.30 am and sure enough there it was right on time! That is one thing about the Universe and the Stars and the Moon - they keep to their schedules, always on time. Not like wives - or husbands for that matter!

Anyway, I got up and went out onto the deck to observe. One of our cats managed to slip past me out into the cold and kept me company for a while. I took a few pictures and then went back inside again, turned on the computer, and checked out the Lunar Eclipse on line, live! I was able to watch it in the warmth of my own home! How cool is that? But not as cool, in more ways than one, as watching it outside of your own home. It is quite dark here where we live and the sky was completely clear so I had a good view. I did notice that a lot of the 59,000 people who were watching on line said that it was cloudy - in California it was raining heavily. I wonder how many people watched on line, the number that I mentioned was just the site that I was watching, there could have been dozens or even hundreds of sites! And then there were all the people that just got up to see it, live - or real! (So there, 'reality TV', beat that.) I went in and out a few times, took more pictures, let the cat in, she didn't seem to be impressed, and after watching the full Eclipse when the Moon went quite red, returned to bed. Two hours seemed to be enough, even for something that last happened 400 years ago (Yep, that was the last time we had a full Eclipse on the Winter Solstice - the shortest day of the year) The next time will be another 80 years, I'll probably miss that one! (You never know, it might be cloudy!)

So I got up early today, at about 4.30am and called my parents, it is 5 hours ahead of our time, there in England, they were surprised to hear me. But my father, never at a loss for words told me about how things were delivered by horse drawn carts when he was a boy! He is 91 years old. That story came about when I asked him if they had any more snow - they had another big fall a few days ago. Can you imagine, that is at least two big snowfalls already this year, big enough to close Heathrow Airport twice, and most of Europe too this time, and all before Christmas! I can't remember ever having a white Xmas there, although it does happen very rarely. But the first fall of this season on November 30th has to be some kind of a record, especially as far south as it was. We saw satellite pictures on TV here of the whole of Great Britain snow covered, with the exception of a small part of Southern Ireland.

This enquiry prompted Dad to tell me how he remembered, when he was a boy, they often had snow throughout the winter, sometimes as late as May. They did not have snowploughs - unless they were horse drawn he said! Then he went on to tell me about how the milk and the coal and several other things were delivered by horse drawn carts. How one pony had been scared once and was running down the street scattering bottles of milk everywhere, with the milkman chasing him. Before bottled milk he even remembered the milkman coming to the house with a big "barrel" of milk, called a milk churn, that he would dip the milk out of into pint cans and bring to the door. He also remembered that the horse would move on to the next house that got milk and wait for him there! The horse knew the route and which houses were his customers!

He said they rarely saw cars and he could remember looking down the roads in Wimbledon - a part of London - and seeing no cars. One day there was a car near their house, a Bugatti, that they all gathered around to look at. It belonged to someone in films, a Director? Or a film star? He didn't know, but someone, he thought, who probably made 5 or 10 pounds a week! The average person then made 1 or 2 pounds a week. In fact he said, if you made 2 pounds a week you were "Rolling in Money"!

Well it is time to move on, hope you enjoy my Blog, leave me a message. Bye.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Living on Less.

I went to give an estimate for chimney repairs recently. The customers said that they could not afford the repair because they were broke. A familiar story.

They did not use their chimney/fireplace, but it did need repair. They said that they would think about it and I left.

After I left their house I got to thinking about what I had seen there and decided to do a Blog on 'Living on Less.' Julia and I had been forced to do this when she had been very severely injured in an accident 35 years ago. We were both working at the time so were living quite well. In fact Julia was doing so well in her business that I was thinking of quitting mine and helping in hers.

After her accident we were forced to live a frugal life.

The first thing that I noticed in my customers home was that the heat was set at 75 degrees. It was uncomfortably warm for me because I was used to 68 degrees. They were dressed very lightly in thin t-shirts and shorts. In the driveway was a large SUV.

It occurred to me that many Americans have no idea when it comes to saving money or to frugal living - because they have never had to.

I read the Blog of a lady who espouses Frugal Living. She does a post every day. In case anyone would want to check it out you can take a look at it at www.thefrugalgirl.com

I also have a "Book" that I wrote called "Half". It tells how we lived on half of what our friends lived on. After the accident, that is what we had to do, without Julia's income, and with only me working and having to take care of Julia and our 4 year old daughter, who was also badly hurt in the accident, our income was more than halved. I can e-mail the 'book' to you, if you are interested.

No one has asked me, but in these hard economic times maybe some would be interested in how to save money - from someone who is an old hand at it! Our parents lived through the Second World War in England, where you were forced to live on practically nothing. A lot rubbed off on us and here are some ideas if you really do need to live on less in these hard times.

I should emphasize here that it does involve some sacrifice, you can't spend half of what you are used to spending and live exactly the same as you do now. However I think the sacrifices are minor compared to the savings. You can adjust to suit your circumstances, some may want/need to save only 10% or 20%, others may want or need to save more than 50%, both can be achieved, depending on your habits. I have seen the way some people live and we could live happily on a quarter or even a tenth of what they live on!

Starting with the couple with the chimney that needed work who 'were broke'. Their thermostat was set at 75 degrees. I am sure that was comfortable to them and what they and their two children were used to. They probably had no thought of turning it down, after all 'why should we, that is what we have always had it set at, and what we want it set at.' might have been their reply had I suggested it.

Well I am going to assume that you are different, if you have read this far maybe you are serious about cutting your expenses, unlike our chimney repair friends.

So here goes: - for every degree that you turn your thermostat down you cut your heating bill by 7% . Bet you didn't know that? So if they turn it down from 75 to 68 - still comfortable in my opinion- they will save 7 X 7 = 49% (7 degrees times 7%) In other words, they could cut their heating bill by almost half! We save even more than that, because we also turn it down a couple more degrees at night, and if we are going to be out most of the day. And no, it does NOT cost more to turn the temperature down and then turn it up again. That is a fact. Lets think about that, common sense (Which incidentally is not very common!) will tell you that if you set the thermostat at 60 degrees it will use less power than it will at 70 degrees. At 70 the whole house is warmer and the warmer any object is, the faster it will lose heat. To go to extremes if the outside temp is 30 and your house is 40 it will lose a lot less heat than if it were 90. At 90 the heat would be pouring out everywhere, at 40 it would barely change. In fact your body heat, plus the heat from cooking, lights and the TV might keep it at 40 indefinitely. I don't recommend it, but if needs must, you'd cut your heating bill to just about zero! As I said I don't recommend it.

Our philosophy about heating/cooling the house is - if it is winter, act like winter, wear more clothes. Wear a sweater and you will be comfortable in temperatures 5 or even 10 degrees lower than without one. And the sweater costs almost nothing, you probably have a drawer full of them. And as a bonus, not only are you just as comfortable as if the thermostat is set at 75 but your heating bill is cut in half! How great is that? Just by wearing a sweater. If you REALLY want to cut your costs wear a coat and set it even lower! We don't go that far, but you could if you really needed to. And why heat the whole house when you are in bed? Turn the heat down by a few degrees and throw another blanket onto the bed. If you are going to be out for a few hours cut the thermostat back. You can turn it back up when you return, if it is too cold just keep your coat on until it is comfortable again. More savings, more money in your pocket, instead of the power company's pocket.

In summer, I have been in houses with the A/C set so cold that you want to put on a sweater! (We have been to movie houses where I have gone home to get sweaters to wear while watching the movie. How stupid and wasteful is that?) In summer we wear light clothes and set the thermostat up. Hey it is summer, what is wrong with being warm? Instead of having the thermostat at 75 in winter and 65 in summer, be sensible and do what we do, if you want to cut costs, set it at 68 in the winter and 78 in the summer.

Here's another interesting fact - the average American throws away 25%, to as much as 30%, of the food that he buys! Right away you can see that you could cut your food bill by 25% if you didn't throw away any food! We don't throw away any food. (Don't forget to check out www.thefrugalgirl.com if you want to save on food.) I'm sure most people don't believe that, and don't think that they do. But they do. We accomplish not throwing away any food by the simple expediency of using everything that we buy. This means that we try to not buy more than we need. Julia plans the meals, if there is some left over she puts it in the refrigerator or the freezer for another day. We have food in the freezer and in cans so that if we should "run out" we have food. This saves a lot of money instead of overbuying. My story "Half" goes into more detail but one example is a chicken or a turkey. Many people throw away the carcass after a meal, with "We don't want to keep having the same thing for a week." Or "We don't want leftovers." This is fine, I guess, if you have unlimited money. Here is what happens in the Liddle household. After the initial meal, there is a lot of meat left on the chicken, this meat is taken off of the chicken and used for something different. It could be sliced for sandwiches or it could be cut up for a stew or a curry or ?. But even then it is not finished, the remainder is then cooked for soup or stock. This means the whole carcass, the bones, skin, remaining scraps of meat, everything, goes into a pot to be cooked and then used to make chicken soup or as a base for another soup or to cook rice or something else in. In this way our chicken makes at least three or four and maybe more meals instead of just the one that some people get out of it.

So there with just a couple of tips you have saved up to half off of your heating costs, 25% off of your food costs, and if you continue to apply these 'Cut your Costs' ideas to everything else in your lives you'll be able to save even more. Maybe you'll even be able to reach the goal of 'Half" as we did.

I have dozens or maybe even hundreds more ideas. Many are ways to save a few dollars or even cents, they may not seem worthwhile bothering with, but if you can save a dollar a hundred times! And there are ways that savings can be $10 or $50 each time, multiply that by 100 and see what you get!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Third snowfall of the season.

The first "Snowfall" was 14 flakes, approximately, the second as much as a half inch in a few places, but not here, but the third was a doozy. Not real big - just one to two inches - but the ground was very cold from being below freezing for several days, and every flake laid. Plus it is still freezing so what fell, froze as well. On top of that it is the first real fall of the year and we are not used to it. I picked up Bradley and his charming girlfriend Janie this morning from their school. As we left, two snowflakes fell onto the windshield. No more landed until we reached our house when a few more fell. After a while it started in earnest, not real heavy but steady, and by the time they left a few hours later - after completing their "work" of bringing in wood, putting up some decorations and having some lunch, it was about an inch deep. I took them back to Bradley's house and the usual, what I call the four wheel red neck drivers were out in force. As usual the "I have four wheel drive, so I can go fast in this stuff, get out of my way mentality hits them full force." As they tailgate me I am only hoping they are not going to hit us full force. The idea that they can do and go anywhere faster than anyone else can because they have four wheel drive is wrong. Unfortunately they don't know that. It should be written in large print on their windshields. Yes, you can get going better with 4 wheel drive, but you cannot stop any quicker. It is no help at all in steering or stopping. Your vehicle slides just as well in 4 wheel drive as it does in 2 wheel drive, there is no difference at all. Even though I know that, apparently they don't because they are all the time right up on my back bumper pulling out to pass and pulling back in again. My usual response to this idiocy under normal driving conditions is to pull off the road at a safe spot and let them go by before pulling back on and watching them go right up onto the tail of the next car in line, but you can't do that in the snow. So you are stuck with the idiot on your tail and just praying that you don't have to stop while he is changing channels, lighting a cigarette or smacking his girlfriend.
As you can tell, I am not a fan of red necks in big pick up trucks. Or of SUV drivers who think they are high class red necks in SUVs.
The snow continues to fall but we are not expecting any significant amount. Apparently we got lucky this time because it went to the south of us! We just got the northern tip, it seems that VA and N. Carolina got 6 to 8 inches.

Julian Asange and Wikileaks.

How controversial can you get?

At first I was mad as hell about him and his stupid sounding company name. The thought of him making money out of doing something that could harm our troops and the country really upset me.

But I have gradually come to realize that what he did was A LOT less bad than what the people that he exposed did. After my initial rage I started to gather facts and that changed my mind completely.

The leaks are a good thing for the American people and the rest of the world, because they can get a clearer picture of what goes on behind closed doors on this planet of ours. (The only one that we have incidentally, and which we seem determined to destroy faster and faster. But lets save that for another Blog!)

What these dopes are doing affects all of us in very dire ways. And, despite their attempts to cloak themselves in dignity, because of their titles, they are, in fact, responsible, all of them, for the desperate geopolitical mess the world has become.

Their strategies have been poorly conceived, selfish, deceitful, and based more in greed than in any semblance of what might be good for the world as a whole. They are fools and thugs and deserve, indeed need, to be exposed. We don't want their type of idiocy representing us to the world.

Despite what they are saying, the real reason the government, et al, is so incensed about Julian Asange is because he has exposed so many of their dirty little secrets. They say of course he has jeopardized our relations with other nations and put people in danger, because that makes them look less self-serving than they really are. It's pure bullshit. The politicians are mad at him for the same reason the bankers are going to be mad at him when their turn comes. (Please let it be soon.) Because he has exposed them, stripped naked, so everyone can see how foolish, incompetent, reckless and self serving they really are. I say to Julian, bravo. And, I say, it is about time we all came to terms with the huge failures of our government and their unholy alliance with the banks and the wall street thieves. If we don't realize what is happening, stand up to them, demand not only their exposure and removal from public office but their incarceration, it will continue to our further detriment, ad infinitum and ad nauseum.

The real power in this country lies, or should lie, with the people. Which is why the bankers and our government prefer to keep the people in the dark. Julian Asange is attempting to remedy that, more power to him, I say. And the powers that be, are pissed, and nervous, about it. As well they should be.

A few words about the danger to our troops from the leaks, after much study, I did not see anything said that damaged our troops or their safety. Fortunately it would appear that, for a change, the news media, with unusual restraint, did not release all of the papers, most importantly any that might have harmed our military men and women. Or perhaps there was something in there about them, the news media?

Don't you love how the same people who lie about the reasons to send our troops into wars around the globe and place them in untenable, unwinnable situations time and time again now claim to be upset about anything that might "Endanger our Troops." I mean could anything Julian Asange do possibly put our troops in any more danger than our government has already placed them in, on totally false premises?

If it were not for Wikileaks we might never have known just what a menace these maniacs are. What our leaders are saying about Wikileaks seems to be coming from a state of panic. Good. It is finally coming home to them just how dumb they were to criticize and poke fun at world leaders who have the power to withdraw their support of us in our wars and with their votes to help the US in its programs around the world.

I might return to 'fine tune' this later when I get the chance. With help from my friend and contributing editor Greg.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Party.

I hate to complain, but what is it about Christmas Parties and manners, or any other kind of party, that brings out the thoughtlessness in people? We invited 50 or 60 people to our annual Christmas party, the invitations went out in early December. The party is 4 days away and we have received 6 calls. What to do? Cater for 6? Or for 50? Or somewhere in between? Even people that have sent us Xmas cards did not say if they were coming or not! What is the etiquette here, on our side? Should we call or write again to ask if they will be coming or not? It is the same problem every year. We usually end up with about half the number come that we invited - but we never know who to expect! Oh, and we only get return invites from those 6 who have replied!
Xmas! Someone, I won't say who, said they are going to convert to Islam before next year. As he said, "Thirty days of not eating until after sunset has got to be better than 4 days of decorating the house." And sometimes I think of paraphrasing that thought on arranging a Christmas Party! But I won't, the end result is usually worth it. Every one has fun, and it is great to meet up with people that we only see a few times or even only once a year.

Alladin's Cave.

Or, as some people call it - Costco's. We visited there today to purchase goodies for our annual Christmas party. I hardly know where to start, as soon as I enter, my senses are beset on every side by electronic wonders, TVs of tremendous size and unimaginable clarity, making my paltry 26 inch box look like a child's toy. Telephones that do everything except inflate your tires and cook your dinner, although I'm not sure if even that is true any more. Last week it may not have been true - but next week? Who knows?
Recorders that may record my life for all I know. Maybe I don't need to do that any more. I'm sure there is a machine that can do it for me, maybe better than I can. Even 3 D maybe old hat soon. When will 4 D arrive? Or perhaps it already did?
Cameras that record stills, movies, sound, all in 2D, 3D, 4D and 10D and all at 50% off.
The clothing is in piles that rival even my wife's in height! And they have almost as many shoes as she does! Impossible you say? Not so, I saw it with my own eyes - today.
Books, cookies, chocolate, of every imaginable flavor, from every country in the world. Surely even Aladdin would reel in his curly tipped shoes if he could see them. I bet they even sell curly tipped Aladdin shoes there.
Don't start me on the food. The food section is the biggest of all, by far. One hundred years ago, no even fifty years ago people would not have believed it. Heck I can't believe it, now! It is impossible to see it all, it is impossible to see even one tenth of what they have there.
As a child, when I went to the store with my mother she would ask for sugar and the shop keeper would ask "How much?" He would then weigh it, make a bag for it and hand it to my her. In Costco you have 20 or 30 or more different kinds of sugar to choose from. The same with bread, milk, cookies, crackers, honey, canned goods, frozen goods, dried goods, bottled goods and even some fresh goods! Do you want regular or organic, fresh or frozen, cooked or uncooked, small, medium, large, extra large, super size, giant size or just big?
And don't forget the pets. There is more variety of pet food than there was people food when I was growing up. Old Mother Hubbard would have had a stroke if she looked in there! Cupboard bare? No bone?
We gave my daughter a vitamin pill occasionally, thought we'd be good parents in case she wasn't getting every vitamin that she should!. If there aren't 5,000 different bottles of pills in the pill section I'll eat my hat.
Want to be clean? How clean can you be? We had soap. Later we had shampoo. Now you couldn't count the number of cleaners there are if you were there all day. Are we dirtier now? As I said we had soap, that's what my mother cleaned most everything with, including my sister and I and the floor and the clothes and the pots and pans. Now there are different cleaners for every article of clothing, every type of floor, every part of your body and on and on.
Can you imagine the number of chemicals in your house? We had one - soap. I bet you could find 500 different chemicals in any house nowadays. There are thousands of new chemicals invented every year and the EPA and whatever other testing boards that there are test at least a dozen of them! Is it any wonder that kids are sick more often in a month than we were in our first 20 years? Asthma, allergies, infections, you name it they got it. And they got a drug for it too. We had Aspirin, oh yes and a band aid sometimes. There are so many drugs nowadays that no one can possibly know them all, including the Doctors. In fact more drugs and medicines are found to be dangerous or banned every month than I have used in my whole life!
When Julia was pregnant with Sarah, do you know how many drugs and medicines she took? None. Not one, not even an Aspirin. When Sarah was growing up we gave her an absolute minimum, maybe some cough medicine, if the doctor recommended it. But we preferred some warm milk or honey in hot water. The medicines that we did have dried up and rotted away mostly. I can remember throwing away the medicines that she had as a baby and as a child when she left home and went to live on her own!
Enough already, time to go to bed. Goodness knows what this Blog looks like. I couldn't sleep so I got up to write something. it is almost 2.30am now. I think I'll try to get to sleep again.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

a COLD Day in Paradise!

You will notice the 'play' on my last Blog - about the Gray Day in Paradise. I prefer the Gray day to this COLD Day.

As I sat drinking my first cup of coffee of the day, out of my TEXAS cup - see my Dec 9th Blog about our Texas, Thanksgiving Day 2010 trip - I watched The Lake looking as forbidding and fierce as I have ever seen it. In spite of a temperature of 21 degrees it was not frozen over. In fact it looked like a miniature version of The Tempest, with huge (for The Lake) waves sweeping across it's surface and breaking against the piers, bulkheads and Lake edges. The wind was howling, leaves were swirling and, surprise, surprise no birds were visible anywhere except for a few of the hardiest Gulls trying valiantly to fly in the 'maelstrom'.

Six hours have passed since I started to write this, The Lake is now frozen over completely, and has been for at least three hours. It is still windy, but only a gale now, well O.K. only a strong wind. The icy Lake surface has been swept clear of any sign of birds. In fact the only sign of any birds are a few hardy Crows poking around our garden and the Chickens who seem to be impervious to the cold. Question, where do they all go?

We have to venture out, to visit friends, not a pleasant prospect, except the end result of meeting with our dear friends Judy, Charlie and Jake. (Jake is their dog!) Judy and Charlie always welcome us like Royalty - it's nice to be recognised for what we are once in a while! Judy always lays out a grand meal and then we play cards. Sometimes they let me win, friendship can only go so far, they usually win. I call Judy "The fastest hand in the East", her mind is so quick that she has the card before I even see it! You can usually hear my plaintive cry of, "What was that card?", while she is busy assimilating it into her winning suit.

Well we have to get ready to go.


Monday, December 13, 2010

A Gray Day in Paradise.

Or is it Grey day? I say Gray, she says Grey, which is it? What do YOU think?

Well, never mind that now. The Lake is always beautiful, during all of it's seasons. The Winter Season is one of a stark beauty, sometimes just cold and gray - there's that word again - but often dazzling.

Today it is just cold, dull, dismal, dreary and very, very Gray.

But as always with The Lake there are bright spots. As so often happens, it is the birds that provide those welcome bright spots. The first birds that I saw this morning were the Crows, large black boisterous Crows. But they left almost immediately, I don't think it was because they saw me through the window - it takes a lot to get them to leave if they don't want to. No, they probably spotted a dead fish or some other delicious dead morsel. I scanned The Lake for more items of interest, and right on cue a line of six Canada Geese glided past the end of our pier in a perfect line. Talk about getting your ducks in a row! They had this down pat. The six were closely followed by a single goose, then another single and then a group of 20 - more or less in a line - followed finally by two Geese, again in a line. I wonder why they do that? Any ideas anyone? They have a reason for flying in a V formation, could the single file formation on the water be for the same reason? I think maybe it is. Don't you?

No time to ruminate for long on that Mystery of Nature, here comes my next bright spot of the day. Snow! Yes it is snowing, very lightly it is true, but just the second snowfall of the season. The last "Snowfall", on Friday December 10th consisted of approximately 14 snowflakes, it was over almost before I had a chance to report it. Although we only had the shortest flurry on record, some areas had as much as a half inch and one of those areas was of course the Ellicott City/ Woodstock area, where, wouldn't you know it, we were going for our first Christmas party of this Happy Season. But all was well, that time. I'm not so sure about this time as it is falling fast and furious, in the 5 minutes since I reported it to you the deck is almost covered. I'm glad that I have opened the chickens already. It is falling so heavily now that it is getting hard to see the other side of The Lake. I can still see our Pier clearly and two groups of Canada Geese have just met at it's end, two from one direction and six from the other. They swim up to each other face to face and stop. They seem to be waiting for something, and here it comes, another group of about 20 or so Canada Geese. They all gather together, this time seemingly in a haphazard group, although I am sure there is a reason behind their arrangement, and they set off, gliding magnificently to the East and neighbor Bill's Luscious Lawn where they doubtless plan on eating their breakfast of grass washed down today with a generous helping of snow. It takes more than a few snowflakes to change their plans.

Time for me to get my own breakfast, and a third cup of coffee!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Lake.

The Lake has been frozen over for more than a week now, so I was surprised this morning, when I went out to open the chickens, to find that it was "warm", 51 degrees! It has been barely above freezing and as low as the low 20's at night.
The warm temperature produced the unusual sight for winter, of a heavy mist, almost a fog rising from The Lake, extending for maybe 10 to 15 feet high.
I stood on the deck after letting the chickens out, and surveyed the beautiful view. As I watched the fog rising lazily I heard the familiar sound of wings. A flight of about 20 Canada Geese came in low above my pier, headed for my neighbors wide expanse of lawn. One of the birds dropped into The Lake right next to the pier, the others continued on towards their morning meal of grass on the neighbors lawn. I could not see why one of their number had landed apart from the others - a very unusual happening, they always stay close together. However I did not get the chance to see why, as he/she disappeared behind some bushes and as I was in slippers I was not about to cross the wet grass to find out.
The rain was light. A Great Blue Heron honked loudly as it skimmed slowly across the surface of The Lake with its huge wings almost touching the water. It also landed next to the pier but on the other side. It was then that I realised the ice had melted all along the side of The Lake. For days now I had watched the Geese, Herons and Seagulls standing on the ice, and wondered what they ate when the water was not accessible to them. Now the Herons were able to stand in the water again to fish. The Geese could eat their weed and the Seagulls could dive for their food. All was good again in the World of The Lake.

Who Won the War?

Go back in time to 1945. "We" won the war - against Germany and Japan. Who has the two strongest economies in the world now? Germany and Japan (Well OK maybe China too.)

Now fast forward to 2008. Who won the election? Well, I THOUGHT that it was the Democrats. But you could fool me now! Who is winning all the victories? The Republicans. Who is compromising, capitulating and failing to achieve what they promised to do in that election? The Democrats. Are the Republicans compromising, or indeed giving up any of their nefarious goals, no they are not. How are they winning these battles? The Democrats have a majority, but the Republicans are winning all the battles! Something is wrong, the Democrats are not fighting, and they are losing, the Republicans are fighting, and they are winning - even without a majority in either house! Unbelievable.

Look at the Bush tax cuts, which were going to expire on Jan 1st 2011 - thus cutting our horrendous deficit and debt and our loans from China. Then it was just the rich that were going to have the tax cut expire. Now the rich get the tax cuts too. "But we got the unemployment extended", say the wimps. The unemployment payments are extended for 13 months, the tax cuts to the rich are extended for 2 years. (After that the Republicans will obviously be back in power - no they are not in power now, even though it seems that they are.) And tax cuts for the rich will be extended indefinitely and probably cut even more!

The unemployment payments would have been extended anyway. He - Obama - could have called for that on it's own and it would have passed easily. No, we are giving the Republicans everything they want, and without even a fight.

To repeat some figures from an earlier Blog, in 1970 the richest 1% of Americans had 8% of the countries income, now the richest 1% of Americans have 26% of the countries income. Notice the trend here?

The richest 1% of Americans pay just 16% of their income in taxes! That's less than you and I pay! (40 years ago they paid 40% of their income in taxes.) They will not be satisfied until they have 99% of the countries income AND pay NO taxes. And it seems that we all want to help them achieve that!

The "Income Gap" in the United States now is the biggest that it has ever been, in our entire history. And we have the biggest income gap in this country than in any country in the world. And we want to make it even bigger! People, even 'poor' people like you and me are clamoring for taxes to be cut to the rich! If the tax cuts were allowed to expire, just on the rich - the 2% of Americans making over $250,000 a year - Social Security and Medicare that are in dire straights and close to running out of money would be saved for at least the next 75 years.

People seem to think that if the rich get a tax cut they are going to open up businesses, hire millions of the unemployed and spend huge amounts of money that will bring in taxes and all will be well again. Hello, - the rich have had this tax cut for the last ten years, do you see them spending us out of this mess? Do you see them opening businesses all over and hiring people by the millions? Then why would they do it if we extend their tax cut for another two years if they haven't done it in the last ten years?

A lot of people don't realize that the taxes that we pay are not on our entire income. It is amazing how I have spoken to people who will say "I have this friend with a small business who "makes" $250,000 a year, if this tax goes into effect he will have to close up." After a couple of questions it turns out that he doesn't "make" $250,000 a year - he grosses, or brings in, a total of $250,000 a year. He would not of course be taxed on that. He first gets to deduct his expenses - rent, heat, light, insurance, employment taxes on himself and any employees, health insurance, trucks, gas, materials and a myriad of other expenses that are not subject to tax. He is probably lucky if he clears $50,000 a year. That is what he pays tax on. And there are many people believe that he will have to pay tax on the whole $250,000. Why do they believe that? Because FOX "news" and their ilk have no compunction whatever of telling you that and a lot more lies. Bill O Lie ly and a host of other extremist Republicans will say almost anything that will smear Obama, and his followers will believe everything that they say.

One final figure, of every dollar that the US Government spends they borrow 40cents!!
That is the same as if YOU earned $60,000 a year and spent $100,000 a year - borrowing the other $40,000. How long do you suppose you could do that? Pretty soon you'd be spending ALL of your income on interest!

Saturday, December 11, 2010


In keeping with my fascination for figures, I have a few more for those sharing that interest.

Forty years ago the richest 1% of Americans made 8% of the nations income.
Now, in 2010 the richest 1% of Americans make 26% of the nations income!
Can you see a trend here?

Once upon a time CEO's made 40 to 50 times as much as the average worker in their companies - too much I agree. Now, they make 500 times as much - and more!

And these unbelievably rich people want even more money - and by God, we want to give it to them! Can you believe that? It seems that everyone is intent that the richest 2% of Americans should continue to get the tax cut that George W Bush gave them 10 years ago. Even G.W.Bush knew that we could not keep it up indefinitely, so he limited it to 10 years.

But we, in our superior knowledge, say no they are not rich enough yet, they deserve even more of our money, and we are prepared to borrow another almost one Trillion dollars from China to give it to them!

Help me out here, don't we have some problems here? A big debt, how will this be helped by adding another Trillion dollars to it to give to the already richest people on Earth? A big deficit, same question. By allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire - even just for the richest 2% of Americans - would solve the Social Security, and Medicare shortfall for at least the next 75 years. (And the "added" tax by allowing the tax cuts to expire would be only 4% extra tax) They have enjoyed these tax cuts for 10 years now. If allowing the Super Rich to escape paying their fair share of taxes were going to provide thousands of jobs and pull us out of this deficit and debt wouldn't that have happened by now? After 10 years of it! So how is letting them get away with not paying their fair share going to pull us out now? It didn't before! Why will it work now? Please tell me.

The richest 1% of Americans pay only 16% of their income in taxes! Less than you and I pay! Why should we pay more tax than people who make hundreds or even thousands of times as much money as you and I make?

There are many many people making a Million dollars a year, 10 Million dollars a year, 100 Million dollars a year and some even making a Billion dollars a year. And we want to give them a tax break! Give me a break! They have not produced the promised business start ups and jobs after having 10 years of tax breaks. They are not going to do it with another 2 years of tax breaks. I guarantee it. And if you believe that they will - well I have this bridge for sale.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Food Waste Friday.

Friday again already! Searching through my refrigerator today I found - some chocolate. Well I certainly was not going to waste that! So into my mouth it went. Nothing else much of note, except a lonely crust of bread, so I fried up one of my lovely eggs - collected this morning, how fresh is that! And put it on the crust, delicious, nothing quite so tasty as a freshly laid fried egg.
Food waste Friday is not really fair for me to report on, as we keep a few chickens, virtually nothing gets wasted. the only thing they turn their noses, well beaks, up at is oranges, lemons, or any kind of citrus. If we will eat it, they will eat it. They are not keen on raw potatoes, carrot and other hard fruits and veg, but if it is cooked they love it. So we don't even waste potato peelings.

Merry Christmas everyone - those chickens will eventually get the Turkey scraps - after we have removed every scrap of meat for sandwiches or stews and then cooked it all down for hours, on the wood stove, for soup. After all that they get the "mush" which they gulp down as if it were free caviar!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Texas Thanksgiving 2010.

In 1997 Julia and I revisited the Baltic Sea on a cruise that we had first taken in 1962, during which we first met. We also stayed in Copenhagen for a week, the city where I had proposed to her.

In Christmas 1967, after 3 years of marriage, we took a magical tour around Texas with our, then, new friends Tom & Martha Hardin. This year, 2010, 43 years later we were going to repeat at least some of that trip with our, now, old friends Tom & Martha and our number one Grandson, 17 year old Bradley.

At first I was just going to give a few highlights of this trip, but as always, whenever I visit Texas I get carried away. At first this Blog started off with , - "I am not going to go into a lot of detail about the trip." - Somehow that morphed into this detailed account of another 'Texas Odyssey'. Believe it or not I could have expanded it even more, such is my love of all things Texas! (Even now I am drinking my coffee out of a cup that announces quite simply "TEXAS", while laying on the floor nearby is a T-Shirt that says "Don't Mess With Texas". (I wouldn't dare - would you?)

The three of us flew to San Antonio and Tom picked us up at about 10 pm. We then spent two days at their lovely home. The first day we visited The Alamo, two Missions and Riverwalk - where we had a fine Mexican meal. The second day, Sunday, after attending a service at Tom & Martha's Church and meeting several of their friends, we set off for West Texas, arriving late in the evening at our historic hotel The Limpia. In Fort Davis we visited Tom's old stomping grounds, the homes of several of his relatives including Dudes ranch and various other places that Julia and I had been to before but which were new to Bradley.

In the evening we went to the Indian Lodge, a cool building built in the 1930's by the CCC where there is a nice restaurant - The Black Bear. It is located in the Davis Mountains State Park. After a good meal Bradley and I went outside to see the stars which were unbelievably bright, and numerous, in the dark Texas night. We had been warned to look out for a Mountain Lion that had been seen in the area. When Bradley said "What is that?" pointing into the darkness, I of course thought that he was trying to scare me. Not seeing anything, but with Bradley insisting that there was an animal "right there", I dropped to my knees to try to get a better view of it against the sky. Still no sign, just them Tom turned on the lights of the car and there right in the headlights was a deer walking away from us! Either Bradley has incredibly good vision or I have bad sight - or maybe a bit of each. we then visited The McDonald Observatory on Mt. Locke and after a tour of the facilities, used several of their telescopes to observe some of the wonders of our universe. It was cold up there at night. The only cold temperatures we had during our 8 days in Texas.

The next day, Tuesday, was an adventure day as we went on a trip to the Mexican border. Due to "The troubles" we were not going to enter Mexico this time. On all our previous visits to Texas we have made several forays into that exciting country. This time we went to the border town of Presidio where in an otherwise dreary town we made an exciting discovery in the form of a wonderful and authentic Mexican Restaurant. A good meal was enjoyed by all. After that we set off to discover some of the "Towns" that we had visited in 1967. In order to appreciate what we were looking for you need to read my story "Texas, Christmas 1967". If you e-mail or call me I will e-mail you the story - it is about 26 pages long and gives a detailed story of a trip taken by us, two newcomers not only to Texas, but to the USA after just a few months here. It is interesting, if only as a History lesson of the observations of those two immigrants made 43 years ago. Read the story and then compare Texas then to Texas now!

After the Mexican meal we set off to "Discover" the "Towns" of Ruidosa and Candelaria. I cannot describe them for you, I'm sorry, to understand why, you will need to visit them for yourselves! In my humble opinion they are worth the visit although some, indeed many, would doubtless disagree with me! Enough said.

To get back to civilization we took an unmade "Road" to Marfa (Of Marfa Lights fame). Just as in Texas a "River" does not necessarily have water, so a "Road" is not necessarily a road!

The "Road" was long and dusty. Although it was only about 25 miles long it seemed much longer. The stones were large, many larger than the road clearance of our Mercury, but the views were stupendous. The Chisos Mountain Range kept beckoning, but never got closer.

On our 1967 trip over this same road it had been getting dark at this point in the trip, we were late for a dinner date with Tom's Cousin Mary, we had no idea what lay in wait around the next corner and we were going way too fast, even for Tom's venerable Ford Fairlane, survivor of some 75 miles of this wildest "road" that any of us had ever traversed in our lives. Even Tom was out of his depth. At one point, and we were all looking out for that 'infamous' point now, we had been travelling - well slipping and sliding really - at about 60 miles per hour, which was at least 50 miles per hour faster than we should have been going, we went down a slope that suddenly changed from down to up. The Ford 'bottomed out' with a sickening crunch to not only the car but to our four already bruised bottoms, and continued on. We were sure that at the very least several springs had fractured. And maybe the engine casing, oil pan, shock absorbers and any other parts that were underneath the car. But we did not stop to check. One problem was that the trunk was loaded down with a weeks worth of luggage and supplies for four Texas travellers. Consequently the the car was riding very low, especially its back end. We made it back to civilization, and to Cousin Mary's for dinner, albeit two or three hours late. Which didn't seem to faze her at all. That was something that we learned about Texans on that trip, nothing seems to faze them.

Back to 2010. About halfway along the Chisos Ranch road we saw a pick up truck ahead of us. We were steadily gaining on it, until suddenly we saw it turn into an even smaller road - was that possible? We passed it and shortly after saw it again, this time behind us. It followed us closely, close enough that we were able to see that it was a Border Patrol vehicle! Oh, Oh, did they think we were "Illegal Immigrants". We continued, hoping to reach a town or something before it pulled us over and searched us. Eventually we reached a 'paved' road. By now the ladies had gone too long without a "Pit Stop", and the bouncing had not helped. We looked for a suitable 'private' place to stop. (It doesn't get any more 'private' than this area, many miles from the nearest house!) But even so apparently a suitable stand of trees or bushes was needed. Eventually such a place was found. We pulled over. The Border Patrol vehicle stopped too and we all walked back towards him, hoping that he did not have four pairs of handcuffs out and ready. He didn't. Instead he climbed out of his large Pick Up and in his Texas drawl asked if we were all OK. When we assured him that we were, he said that he was following us in case we were having a problem. He probably thought that we were travelling rather slowly, not knowing that Tom was treating his loaner car gently. (Tom's own car was in the shop and when they didn't have it ready as they promised on Friday they gave him the almost new Mercury to use for the week. Little did they know that it was going to be bouncing around a bunch of ranch roads on the Mexican border!) Anyhow, the Border Patrol man didn't seem suspicious of any us, not even of Bradley, even after Bradley asked if he could have his picture taken with him! The Border Patrol man went on ahead and we followed in his considerable dust cloud. The ladies found a suitable bush and all was well with the world again. We pressed on to Marfa and had a fine meal at the famous Paisano Hotel & Restaurant on Highland Ave, also known as the "Home of the Stars", because James Dean, Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor stayed there while filming the movie "Giant".(Dean stayed in Room 223, Hudson in 211 and Elizabeth Taylor - my favorite! - in Room 212), after which we went to the viewing area for the famous Marfa Lights and watched for a while - this time unsuccessfully. We had seen the mysterious lights on previous visits.

Then it was our last night at the Limpia Hotel. The next day we set off early for San Antonio. But it was to be a long day. There was much to see between the Fort Davis Mountains and the big city of San Antonio. Most of what we were to see Julia and I had seen before, but it would all be new to Bradley - which would make it new to us. Showing Bradley some of the highlights of my favorite State would be a new experience for me too.

We took Highway 90 and drove through Marfa. In Alpine we drove past the home of the famous Joaquin Jackson , author of "One Ranger" and " One Ranger Returns". The Gage Hotel in Marathon, a real Western hotel in a real Western Town was our next brief stop. The Gage was built by Trost and Trost - who were also the builders of the Paisano hotel in Marfa, that we had visited just a day earlier. Both hotels are full of history and deserved a longer stay. After a few pictures, one with Bradley poking his finger in the eye of a Mountain Lion (Stuffed), we pressed on. One day I would like to stay at one or both of these Hotels. Both are within easy driving of Big Bend National Park, an awesome Park well worth a visit - or two. Then it was on to the little town of Langtry and Judge Roy Bean's Home and Courthouse, "The Jersey Lilly", named after Lily Langtry the English Actress. It looks far different now than it did during our first visit in 1967 when there was no Visitors Center, no Cactus Garden and no anything except the Jersey Lilly Saloon that looked almost the same as it did now except that it was more dilapidated then. The famous "Hanging tree" was still there, also a little worse for wear. (Although it is thought that Judge Roy Bean, the Law West of the Pecos, had never actually hanged anyone there.) In 1967 there had been a lot of desert, tumbleweeds, sand and dust. And no visitors except us. Just across from the Jersey Lilly was Mr William Dodd's house which is literally falling down now, but had been intact in 1967, in fact we went inside then. Mr Dodd was the man that immigrated from England with Tom Hardin's grandfather John Henry Ashby. They formed a partnership with a Mr Cross, who was their Sunday School teacher in Birmingham, England. Mr Cross paid for them both to go tho Langtry Texas when they were 18. They were going to raise sheep and goats. When that didn't work (You will understand why if you ever go there - and I recommend that you do.) they tried cattle. That was also a failure. Mr Ashby married and moved to Uvalde where he opened the towns butcher shop. Dodd also married but stayed in Langtry where he owned the town's general store/post office and eventually took Bean's place as Justice of the Peace after he died. Dodd's relatives still live in Langtry and Tom keeps in touch with them. There are many stories that I could tell about Tom and Tom's family, and their adventures in Texas.

Our next stop was at Seminole Canyon State Park with an interesting Indian exhibit, including pictographs. And then it was through Del Rio and on to Tom's birthplace and hometown of Uvalde where we made a brief stop at a drug store that Tom has frequented for pretty much his whole life. We had ice cream floats, banana split, coffee etc. Tom saw people he has known for years. Then it was a quick drive through town, past his mothers old house and the Garner museum, which was closed for renovating, updating and adding on to. We almost met John Nance Garner in 1967. I was excited in my first year in the US to be meeting an ex Vice President of the US. His son Tully had been Tom's Uncle's partner in some business ventures, including the 10,000 acre ranch that they owned together. It was named Bitter Bottom and we had visited it several times over the years. However, Garner died just a few days before we were to meet him. Very inconsiderate of him we thought!

After Uvalde we went straight to San Antonio.

Tom, Bradley and I got up early the next day, which was Thursday and Thanksgiving Day, as Bradley had an early flight. Fortunately they live only ten minutes or so from the airport and we were there by around 6.00 am in time for his flight back to Baltimore and the new love of his life, Janie. Lucky Bradley. Oh, and of course his family. Bradley had elected to return to Baltimore to be with his family for Thanksgiving rather than spend an additional 4 days in Texas. Remarkable!

Thursday was a lazy day to recover from the trials of the trip. We went to an English Pub for Thanksgiving Dinner - how wild is that? The evening was spent looking at movies of two of Tom and Martha's trips - to Russia and China, and watching an old movie called Dial M for Murder.

Friday was time for a trip to Fredericksburg, a small town that we had visited before. On our previous trips there it had been a very quiet town, today it was different, as different as chalk and cheese! It was packed, we had trouble finding somewhere to park or to eat, and it was even hard to get into the stores to shop. This last tragedy did not seem to upset Tom at all! Fredericksburg is famous for being the home of the Chester Nimitz Museum of the Pacific War, which we visited, and enjoyed immensely. Indeed, although we spent two or three hours there we could easily have spent twice as long. It was one of the most interesting museums I have ever been in.

And then Saturday was an early start for our flight back home where our daughter Sarah met us. A perfect end to a lovely journey.

All was well at home, thanks to our friends Mike & Christine taking good care of the Chickens and Cats.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

John Lennon.

Yes it is the 30th anniversary of John Lennon's death. Hardly a cause for celebration.
But as many of you know, I am a sucker for figures, and some figures that spring to mind here are of gun deaths in the US. John Lennon's death by gun is just one of approximately 50,000 people per year in the US who die by guns! So, in the 30 years since his death one and a half million people have died by guns in the USA! (About the same number that die in traffic accidents every year in the USA.)
That includes deaths by Murder, Accident and Suicide.
Here is a breakdown: -
Number one is the USA at 14 per 100,000
Second place goes to Brazil, Mexico and Estonia at about 12
Then Argentina at 9
N. Ireland (a country at war!)and Finland 6
Switzerland, France, and Canada about 5
Norway, Austria, Portugal, Israel and Belgium about 3
Australia, Slovenia, Italy, New Zealand, Sweden, Denmark
and Kuwait about 2
Greece, Germany, Hungary, S. Ireland, about 1
Spain, Netherlands, Scotland, England & Wales, Mauritius Hong Kong and S Korea less than 1
Japan .05 !! (1/2 per million or one two hundred and eightieth of the US ! Or one gun death for every 280 in the US!)

Most people would not see anything wrong there, but I would say that we have a problem!

It seems to me that the reason for this is the easy access to guns in the USA and the USA's acceptance of violence as a way of life.

But think, one and a half million deaths by gun since 1980 in the USA against about 100 in Japan in the same time period! Something wrong somewhere - as far as death by guns is concerned - and it isn't in Japan.

The new recyclers.

You have heard of the Nouveau Riche no doubt? But have you heard of the Nouveau Recyclers? No? Well they may come by your house too, they come by my house most days of the week. It works like this - I go out my front door to get my newspaper and on the way I pick up, today it was - some scratch off lottery tickets, an empty cigarette packet, (Minus the cellophane wrapping which must have blown away), and a plastic soda cup complete with lid and straw. Later today I will go out to get the mail and there will be more donations from my Nouveau Recycler friends. Perhaps a beer bottle or two, sometimes I get the whole six pack, carton and all, but not usually neatly packed together. Of course there are often miscellaneous donations like sodas cans, beer cans, McDonald bags complete with wrappers, unused food and even the plastic toy if I am lucky. I have even had socks and other articles of clothing - don't they know they are not recyclable? Anyway it all gets sorted and put into the appropriate bin, to picked up on Tuesdays by the AA County Recycling truck.
Thank you recycler friends, even if it is an unusual way of recycling, whatever works, I guess it's the thought that counts?

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's like watching a nature show!

These were Julia's words this morning as we sat, enthralled, by our view of The Lake. It was very windy, as it has been for several days now.
The Lake was covered with whitecaps, the trees were bending and twisting, but what held our gaze most was the birds. Over the period of a few minutes we observed Turkey Vultures, Eagles, Canada Geese, many types of Seagull and several different varieties of Diving Ducks.
Even after 2 years of living in paradise we still cannot believe the sight that meets our eyes whenever we look out at The Lake. It doesn't seem to matter what time of the day or night, there is some new sight for us to marvel at.
If it isn't the birds - which are always there, but there are many more on The Lake whenever it is stormy on The Bay - then it is the Sunset, or the Sunrise. Or the Moon & the Stars so bright that they could blind you. Or a fox running across the lawn, a baby Raccoon, Skunk or Possum or some other unknown Mystery Creature. Only once have we seen a Deer, a Stag at that!
On the other side, where we have a view of The Bay we can see Cruise Ships and Tankers passing and big whitecaps when it is rough, while here on The Lake it is comparatively calm even in the roughest storms.
The variety of scenes is staggering, every day is different, the Sun or the Moon or the Rain, Snow, Mist, Fog, Heat, Cold, new buds of Spring, the colors of Fall, always a different sight to see. Even after two years, I still see something new, something that I have not seen here before, at least once a week and often every day. Fish spawning, water over the pier, logs floating, a snake swimming, water rats, seagulls eating clams on the pier - after dropping them onto the pier from up high, swans gracing our waterfront, a turtle on a floating log, a crab eating a dead fish, Kingfishers, Egrets, Cormorants, Loons, Hawks, Osprey, Doves, Grouse, Bitterns, Owls, Hummingbirds, Blue Jays, all the other LBJ birds (Little Brown Jobs) and a thousand other wonders.
Whenever we plan to leave here a few days or a week I always hesitate and have been known to tell Julia, "I don't want to leave, there are only 365 sunsets a year and I hate to miss one of them."
Got to go, there are great Blue Herons calling to me.

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Hyper inequality"

Huh? Hyper-inequality?

I am talking about inequality in incomes. Did you know that the top 1% of income "Earners" in the US take 23% of the all the income? If that is not inequality then I don't know what is. 10 years ago the top 1% took 8% of all the income. Doing well aren't they? In a few more years they will be up to 50% - well on the way to their desired goal of the top 1% getting 99% of the total income of the US -and paying NO taxes. How about that for a goal?
You may well laugh. The income tax paid by the top 1% of "earners" in 2007 was 16%. Before that it was 30% and before that 40%.
It is beyond belief to me that the Republicans want to REDUCE taxes on the rich even more!! How can this be? Their share of the total income is skyrocketing and their tax rate is dropping. And yet people are crying out for it to happen!!

We need to reduce our deficit. At present we are borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend. Is there ANYONE left who thinks this is sustainable?

By allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire the rich will pay 4% more tax! Yes that is all. This alone will keep Social Security and Medicare going indefinitely - for at least the next 75 years! BUT, the Republicans want instead to keep the tax cuts for the rich - which means we will have to borrow Billions to give to the rich. I could not be more disgusted. I cannot understand it, why are the Republicans so insistent? To the point that a majority of Americans agree with them! Their propaganda machine is awesome.

My answer to the problem would be to tax the rich much more heavily. By the time someone reaches an income of a million dollars a year they should be paying at least 90% of everything over 1 million. You can't make that much money honestly, in my opinion.

Everyone should pay their Social Security tax and Medicare on ALL of their income. It is after all a form of insurance, everyone pays in to the insurance and you only collect it if you need it. If you don't need it that is good, you should be happy about that, and you are helping the less fortunate. (The people that you collected all your money from anyway!)

Collect much more tax on alcohol too - this will bring in more money and at the same time keep people healthier, which will in turn reduce health costs. A triple whammy! Same for cigarettes, more taxes equal more money in the federal coffers and less sickness, less time off work, less health care expenses.
More tax on gasoline, same reasons, less gas use will keep the air and water cleaner leading to less illness and health care expenses. Also people will buy more efficient cars, which will reduce gas use even more, giving more of the benefits described. There would be a further BIG advantage - less money going out (We spend 1 Billion dollars a DAY on imported oil!) Cutting that back would help cut our deficit, cut the pollution of our air, water and land and cut off funds to the terrorists that hate us.

US Gas consumption

I went to do some errands today. As usual we try to combine several things into one trip. This trip included the Post Office, Bank, Supermarket and a couple more stops. At the Bank I went to the drive-thru and shut off my engine while I conducted the business - it usually takes about 5 minutes. My vehicle does about 26 miles per gallon which translates to about 4 ounces of gas per minute while idling. So I saved 4 oz times 5 minutes or 20 oz of gas. There are 3 lanes at my bank and the other two lanes had, you guessed it, two SUV's in them with the engines running. They use about 8 oz of gas per minute - so about 40 oz of gas each for the 5 minute wait. As there are undoubtedly millions of visits to banks per day, can you imagine the savings?
At the Supermarket a lady had driven her SUV to the front of the shop to load her groceries, and yes, you guessed it again, it sat there running while she loaded it. You are not supposed to leave a vehicle running when not in it, but why leave it running anyway? It just sends more dollars to our enemies in the Middle East. (None of the people so far looked even vaguely Middle Eastern).
Next stop the 7-11 to pick up a bag of ice, where of course, you guessed it, was a large Pick Up Truck, sitting there running, burning 8 Oz of gas per minute, while the owner picked up her cigarettes and coffee. (Again what is the point in leaving it running?) She was still in there talking, after I had conducted my business, paid and left.
On the way home I was behind a school bus. Mothers were waiting for their little ones with their cars, engines running, they were waiting outside of the cars (SUV's) as it was not cold. Several of them had driven up their driveways to get their kids!! None of those driveways were more than 100 yards long. So gas was wasted in driving up to the road, and in leaving them running while waiting for the bus. seems to me the walk would be good for the mother and the child.
The point here is that it would be no problem at all for the US to save 10% of the gas we use. And as we send one BILLION dollars per DAY abroad to pay for for our gas, much of it to terrorist countries that use it to attack us, we could help our balance of payments considerably. (That's more than a third of a TRILLION dollars a year!)

Just a thought.

The Deficit.

Forty cents of every Dollar that the US spends is borrowed!

Does that sound like a country that is overtaxed? I think the normal procedure is to spend a dollar for every dollar that you collect in taxes?

How long can we keep this up? To do this yourself for example - you earn $6 and then you borrow $4 and you then spend the $10. Or to put it another way, you earn $60,000 you then borrow $40,000 and spend the whole $100,000. Would you call this a responsible way to carry on? How long do you suppose you could keep this up?

And yet, the Republicans want to cut taxes to the RICH! This alone will cut tax revenue by $300 Billion a year (Or $1,000 for every man woman and child in the US!) We will have to borrow this money! In other words we will have to borrow $300 Billion dollars - from China? - TO GIVE TO THE RICH!! The rich are already rich beyond the wildest dreams of almost every American. The rich people are the 2% of Americans who make between $250,000 and $250,000,000 (And more!) So the 98% of Americans who make less than this will have to pay to borrow this money - that's 3 TRILLION dollars over the next ten years - to give to the rich, the already rich. Does this make sense to ANYONE? Even the rich? Even Warren Buffet the second richest man in the US says it is crazy!

Obama's Stimulus package already gave the biggest tax cut ever to the middle class tax payer (95% of Americans) Why don't the Democrats work with this? Tell us about their successes? The Republicans rant on about all the tax increases made by Obama - there have been none! And about taking away our guns - not one word has been said about that by the Democrats.

The Republicans are so much better at promoting themselves - with no worries at all about whether what they say is accurate or not, even outright lies are spouted repeatedly over and over until they take on a life of their own and are believed. Even obvious lies.

Obama's tax increases - wrong, he has CUT taxes to at least 95% of Americans since coming into office. Obama is going to take away our guns - wrong, not one word said about that. TARP was a waste of money - wrong, $700 billion loaned to banks, $660 billion paid back already. Obama should have let the car makers go under - wrong, GM is 60% owned by Americans now and made $2 Billion in profits in the last quarter! Chrysler is holding it's own and even making a slight profit, Ford never borrowed any money and made almost as much as GM last quarter.The bailout saved more than a million jobs. Obamacare will bankrupt us - wrong, it will extend Medicare for at least 12 years. And Illegal Aliens do not qualify for any benefits. (Other than treatment for life threatening injuries and illnesses at ER's, as anyone can, and should, get.)
Obama wants to set up Death Panels - wrong, more lies and scare tactics from Sarah Palin et al. And. if we allow the tax cut to the rich to expire in January, that alone will keep Medicare and Social Security solvent for at least another 75 years! Instead we (Republicans) want to borrow money to give to the 'already rich beyond our wildest dreams' Americans - and by doing so destroy Medicare and Social Security as well - all to give even more money to the ridiculously rich.

And the Wimpy Democrats say nothing about their accomplishments except "Sorry", keep quiet and hang their heads down. If the Republicans had accomplished half of what Obama has accomplished, they would be strutting around and hollering about it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Food Waste Friday - The Frugal Girl.

Kristen, I read your readers question about Cheerios that had gone off. My suggestion for that or almost any other thing that has gone off or is past it's best to a point that you don't even want to risk it on your husband or kids! Is to give it to the birds - they don't check the "best by" date, they just tuck in and if it doesn't suit them they don't eat it. Chances are it will get knocked to the ground where some other wild creature will find a use for it.

If people would put a bird table up and put most of their food waste on it, we might have a lot more songbirds to enjoy. Just be sure it is not easily accessible to the local cats. Birds will eat the half eaten sandwiches and hot dogs from your kids, leftover french fries, fried chicken, cat food, apple cores, almost anything. Even better, in my opinion, would be to give it all to a neighbor who, like me, keeps chickens.

More and more people are keeping a few chickens to supply themselves (and maybe even their friendly neighbors who give them scraps for the chickens!) with a few fresh eggs, while at the same time using up food scraps that would otherwise go to waste. Chickens will eat almost ANYTHING!! Including carrot tops, lettuce or cabbage leaves - they don't care if it is the poor leaves from around the outside - all food scraps (If you eat it, they will eat it) That should cover everything, but I still find people surprised to hear that they will eat the remains from a fried chicken feast or a chicken or turkey carcass, fish bones and skin, crab feast remains - they will get every tiny scrap of crasbmeat that you missed, and the guts, lungs and all - seeds of any kind like from a cantaloupe or watermelon, and any kind of fruit waste, peelings etc etc, I even give them leftover beer, tea and coffee. I think the only thing I have found they won't eat is citrus fruits.

If you don't want to feed the birds or a neighbors chickens for some reason, at least compost your waste (But not any kind of meat, fish, milk product etc) Then you can put it around your flowers, bushes or trees to feed them.

Go for it, another advantage is keeping stuff out of our landfills which makes them last longer - and thus keeps our taxes down! And it is less for the trash trucks to haul, more savings in gas etc.

Friday, November 5, 2010


This was not intended to be a Political Blog, but unfortunately I seem to have drifted into it. I promise to go back to my old posts that did not offend anyone, soon. I can only blame my change on the dreadful campaigns that we have lived through recently.
Meanwhile, for some reason I decided to check out John Boehner - who has never been one of my favorites - here are a few scary truths about John.
Maybe you like him? You certainly do if you are a Wall Street Banker, or a Tobacco Baron, or a Health Insurance Company, or a Coal Mining Company, or almost any other Fat-Cat-Big-Businessman.
Lets go back to 1955 when the House was all set to get rid of those ridiculous Tobacco subsidies. Makes sense right? Why subsidize a drug that causes cancer? Then, here comes John (Man of the people, helper of ordinary Americans) with lots of big checks from Tobacco Lobbyists which he handed out to his fellow Representatives who promptly changed their minds. The subsidy remained.
Am I wrong or is Lobbying way out of control? I suppose it's pretty much like all of America - if you have enough money you can buy anything (Or anyone!)
The Republicans are back and so is the "For Sale sign" on Congress.
John Boehner took money from the Health Ins Co's and then he voted to deny coverage to sick children, and to the people who rushed in to help on 9/11 exposing themselves to lots of nasty toxic stuff. He took money from defense contractors and voted for every war. He tirelessly helps the OVERDOGS, takes their money and flys to the Islands on their private jets. It's the 'American Way' folks, and John Boehner knows how to make it His Way, with Your Money.
He vows to stand up for "The Ordinary American" against the Rich and to Cut the Deficit. Guess what his first priority is to Help the Ordinary American it is to fight to keep the Bush Tax Cuts for the richest Americans (That's the richest 2% - does that include you? No, I didn't think so, me neither, but if we were, he'd be in there fighting for us!) That alone will cost us 2 to 3 Trillion Dollars over the next 10 years. What happened to serving the Ordinary Americans? What do The Ordinary Americans get from John Boehner? They get the bill for a 3 TRILLION dollar tax cut to the richest 2% of Americans - and of course along with that 3 Trillion more on the deficit, that he promised to cut! Could it be he is working for himself in some way do you think? Could he be collecting from the rich people he is serving? After all they pay his campaign expenses and send him on those expensive trips. Not you and me! Who would you expect him to help? Quick - you and me or the Fat-Cat-Big-Businessman with lots of cash that he wants to give him. That's what I think too. When it's campaign time he says one thing, but the day he get in its all different.
But it's not just John Boehner it is the Republicans, it is they who Pillage America and Redistribute it's wealth to - The Rich!
Of course The Democrats are not that much better - just slightly. They do at least try to help the poor and middle class while they rob us. The Republicans don't even do that.
When the Democrats make their feeble efforts to help us (The only country in the civilized world that doesn't have a health care system for all of its people)the Extreme right rush in with their stories of planned 'Death Panels' that will kill off the old, sick and disabled?
And so it goes, they, The Republicans, are much better organized when it comes to attacking and lying, so they make inroads where they really shouldn't. The Democrats stand around like a bunch of sheep while the wolves attack them.
Enough of John Boehner. I would really like to have a go at the Tea Parties Glen Beck. They, the Tea Partiers, must be even stupider than the Democrats. Glen Beck - I assume they have not checked back into his past. Ten years ago he was a DJ on morning radio, drunk most of the time and on drugs. One morning he called, on the radio, the wife of another radio show host - a competitor - who had just had a miscarriage, and taunted her, on the air. He has called for someone to shoot Michael Moore and poison Nancy Pelosi. He thinks anything that the Government does to help ordinary Americans is Socialism or Communism (I wonder if that includes free schooling) On his Fox "News" program he likes to tell us that Hyperinflation is coming and that we should buy gold. But it has to be gold coins, because "Obama is going to Nationalize gold bullion." Guess who sponsors his program? Goldline, a company that sells - you guessed it - gold coins! A quick story here about Goldline - they are being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, because they sold an old woman about a hundred thousand dollars worth of gold - for $230,000. He epitomises Republicans in my mind, pose as the champion of the Ordinary American, while ripping him off. If the Tea Party wants a man like that as their leader, well they are getting what they deserve.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Are you going to vote? I don't think that it really matters, if it did they wouldn't let us do it!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

White Heron.

I looked out at the pier the other morning and saw a beutiful White Heron standing there looking down into the water. I don't know if it is a Great Blue Heron that is white or some other kind of Heron. But it certainly was a pleasure to watch. We have seen him/her there before. The "Regular" Great Blue Herons still fly accross The Lake - an awesome sight and sound for sure. They make a loud 'squwaking' sound as they fly with their huge wings almost, or maybe actually, brushing the water. Another little message from "Our Little Bit of Heaven."

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Political ads.

Is it just me or is anyone else fed up with the political ads in the media nowadays?
They ALL make these outrageous statements, most of which have NO basis in fact! (In other words, they are quite simply - lies.)
The problem I think is that many people still think that if it is in print or on the TV or Radio, "It must be true." Yes, there are still people who think that, instead of knowing, "The New Truth." which is, in my experience, that if it is on the Internet, it is untrue - at least 90% of the time - and in many areas closer to 99% of the time!! Yep, untrue - otherwise known as lies - or VERY occasionally a mistake, but not often, almost always out and out lies.
If it is not a political ad, which I pretty much know is going to be lie so I ignore it, but is anything else on the TV or Radio or in the newspaper, I treat it with suspicion. These media outlets have lots of good reports. Unfortunately the level of ignorance out there nowadays is so widespread that you just have to take everything with a pinch of salt. Use your own common sense and if you are not sure check it out.
A couple of 'facts' that I have caught myself recently - just mistakes really, not anyone actually lying.
"The second earthquake was a 6.0, just slightly stronger than the first one which was a 5.0." Wrong, earthquakes are measured so that a 6 is 10 times stronger than a 5! So a 7 would be 100 times stronger than a 5 ! And an 8 would be 1,000 times stronger than 5. A simple mistake. But wrong nonetheless.
Others have been, "It only takes about ten minutes for a radio signal to reach the moon." (Actually it takes just over 1 second, that's less than 1 1/2 seconds.)
"It took 30 minutes to cut Ms X out of the car." The time - 30 minutes - was right. It was the person who was wrong. I happen to know the person and it was Ms Y, not Ms X.
The list goes on, and my only point here is that we need to guard against believing everything, or how about anything, that we read or hear. If it is a political ad it is almost certainly a lie. And if it on the Internet, it almost always wrong - usually an out and out lie. I check out every story that I get on the Internet and have found almost none to be true - maybe one or two or three out of every 100!!! There are stories attributed to Andy Rooney, all wrong or lies. To Bill Cosby - he denies saying any of them. And so it goes, someone wants their favorite quote to be read so they attribute it to someone famous.
Someone probably was fired from Starbucks, so they start a rumor that Starbucks would not send coffee to the American troops in Iraq. And it spreads like wildfire. Everyone believes it - "It MUST be true, it is on the Internet." In fact nothing could be further from the truth Starbucks did send coffee to the troops in Iraq. In fact they set up coffee houses there.
There are dozens and dozens, probably hundreds, even thousands more cases where some unknown person starts an untrue rumor about a business or a person, and before you know it millions if not hundreds of millions know about it and most probably believe it!!
So PLEASE, PLEASE, don't believe ANYTHING that you read on the Internet, and think carefully about everything else.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I keep hearing bad stuff about our President, but after reflecting on the last what - 18 months, he actually seems to have accomplished quite a lot.

Lets take Health Care, a lot of Presidents have wanted it, and not been able to get it. Teddy Roosevelt, Harry Trueman and a whole bunch more, but Obama succeeded where they failed! And it is not going to bankrupt the country as many are trying to say. In fact by all accounts it will extend Medicare's life by about 12 years AND cut $143 Billion over the next 10 years! Not too shabby. And the insurance companies can no longer cut your coverage if you get sick!! Now THAT is a biggie! Another plus - in my book - is that people with pre-existing conditions can get covered, no more "Feel Good" stuff like denying coverage to sick kids. You can keep your kids on your policy until they are 26 now as well. As Joe Biden said "It's a Big Fucking Deal." Obama managed to cut $136 Billion from what health insurance companies charged the government for being middlemen between Medicare and patients too!
How about the $60 Billion savings that banks charged to do the paperwork on student loans? The US government sets the rate and assumes the risk. The Banks collected big bucks for doing almost nothing. No wonder the Banks hate him. The new law also caps payments on student loans at 10% of income and forgives loans to students who go into public service. Several Presidents have tried to do this before. Obama succeeded.
I've seen studies by reputable companies that say we'd have lost 16 million jobs if we had not had TARP and the Recovery Act - double the 8 million jobs we did lose. Without those acts unemployment would have been more than 16% - with double this years deficit. TARP cost has gone down from $700 billion to $30 billion. The Recovery Act produced 26 and a half million jobs. Just think where we would have been without that stimulus! We were going 'down the tubes', probably to a new depression, I don't know how we didn't, Obama's enemies were surely hoping we would! Some people wanted a bigger stimulus than he got. But according to Mark Zandi - John McCain's adviser - "It ended the Great Recession and jump started a recovery." But Obama is getting a bigger stimulus, he got the unemployment benefits extended, three times, we had the Cash for Clunkers program, Aid for States, then there was that $170 Billion loans and tax cuts for small businesses. All fought against by the Republicans - who keep shouting about the tax increases since Obama got in, when in fact almost everyone is paying less taxes since he got in. The Trillion dollar tax break, only to the rich helped get us into this problem!
The Recovery Act in fact: - Reduced taxes to the middle class. It delivered benefits to 95% of working families. It also invested in Clean Energy ($94 Billion) and we sure need to clean up our environment, especially our air and water. It also put $100 Billion into improving education.
It took Bush 8 years to almost destroy America, we were bleeding to death from several wars, some legal, most illegal, tax cuts galore to the Richest of the Rich, as well as just the Rich, and of course to Big Business and Big Banks. Evisceration of The Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and a host of other Anti-American, Pro Big-Business moves. But Obama got the Stimulus/Recovery Act going within his first month in office! He has stopped the bleeding and is getting America back on its feet. I never thought it would happen, it seemed that Bush, in the Worst Presidency Ever had brought us to out knees and it would be at least years if not a decade or more before we could recover from such a beating. But here we are after only 18 months, officially out of the recession (it may not seem like it but the economists on both sides say we are) back on our feet and climbing out of the hole. Seems to me that is a remarkable achievement especially as he is being fought tooth and nail all the way by those desperate to see that he doesn't succeed under any circumstances. I would respect the opposition a lot more if they would get both sides together to help us out of this hole instead of putting up as many blocks as possible. Obama has held out his hand "across the aisle" repeatedly, only to be rejected repeatedly. Even when he does what the opposition wants, like a tax cut or to stimulate the economy or save Detroit they change their minds and fight against it. At this point in our dilemma we should have some kind of Coalition Government, with both "Sides" on the same side - the side of America. But the extreme right has shown that they are not interested in putting America back on her feet, they are only interested in seeing that Obama does not do it.
Well, he is doing it without their help, it is slower, without every ones help and with almost half of Congress and the Senate sabotaging his every move, but he is succeeding, much to their chagrin.
How about Detroit? Save them, everyone said, even the Conservatives, until he started to save Detroit, then it was "let them go under." Well he proved them wrong again. Remember that old adage "As goes GM so goes America."? To have let GM go under might have been the last straw for us. Now GM and Chrysler have recovered, sales are rising. A million jobs were saved. I don't hear any Conservatives saying "Good job Barrack." (As a matter of fact I don't even hear any Democrats saying it.) One of the biggest problems with Democrats seems to be they don't crow about their accomplishments - and as you can see from this here Blog, there have been a lot - they need to, instead they just seem to be getting on with what has to be done, with no help from "The other side." In fact with the other side spending all their time and money berating what IS being done, while not doing ANYTHING constructive themselves at all. Talk about a bunch of whiners. First they put the country on it's knees and then they say "Put us back in" and we'll . . . .What - Do the same thing over again?
Hey and guess what, approval ratings of the US in the rest of the World are rising. Countries everywhere were laughing at us when Bush was in office, well, really they were laughing at Bush, but they actually like Obama! He is restoring our damaged reputation in the rest of the World.
And how about this Black President - or should I say Green President? - and his clean energy commitment. Re-power America in a Clean Way! There is a chance we will double our renewable energy in the next year or so (Unless The Party of NO get back in, in which case all bets are off on anything that could help Clean up the Air or the Water, in favor of giving Big-Business a free rein to Pollute us as well as rob us) The EPA (That's Environmental Protection Agency), is in their sights - because it is "Anti-Big Business" - which means in my mind that it is Pro-America and Americans. It's name says it all, Fat Cat Big Business wants the "RIGHT" to destroy, pollute and dump whereever they want to. So I think the EPA is headed for extinction as soon as the "Greed is Good" party gets back in. I still think the Clean Energy movement does not go nearly far enough, but I guess its as far as he could get it against all the resistance from Extremists, Haters and Fat-Cat Big-Business people. The Cash for Clunkers got 700,000 gas guzzlers off the road. Automakers have been required to cut CO2 emissions and raise fuel standards. Big polluters like Cement Factories, Coal Plants etc are having limits set requiring them to reduce their carbon pollution by 28% in the next ten years.
I think he is doing a remarkable job, considering the Resistance. If only he and the rest of the Democrats would tell us what they have done. To sum up a few accomplishments : - Saved the Auto Industry, Health Care Reform, Getting at least some of our service men and women out of Iraq, (Where we never should have been in the first place) Helping the Environment, Cutting Taxes, a Stimulus that boosted the economy out of a depression. Why can't he capitalize on these accomplishments? Maybe because he is too busy focusing on a better future for the country, instead of doing "Politics stuff" He sees the need to get us out of a hole and getting us going again and just can't be bothered with wasting time on politics. Unfortunately "The other side" is concentrating all their efforts on thwarting those efforts, instead of helping him as they should be. Making up outrageous lies and accusations. I see what is going to happen, he will be ousted, the country will recover because of all the Recovery Stuff he has put into place, and the incoming party will claim that it was their doing because they will immediately undo all his accomplishments in finance reform, environmental reform, health reform etc. I further predict that we will have the worst depression ever within a few years as Big Business and Big Banks continue, and even accelerate their "Business as usual" attitude whereby they steal, pillage and plunder the assets of the middle class and the poor for their multi-million dollar bonuses, sacrificing our air, water, food and anything else that can pull in a few more dollars to their over-stuffed bank accounts.