Ironwood Tree

Monday, July 30, 2007

Ok, I'll pile on too

What really bothers me about O'Reilly is that a grown man can not know what falafel is. Read the legal documents, he can't mean really mean falafel can he?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

This is really creepy

Check out this Digby post.

The Republican party has really become something very weird.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

And now for something completely different

After the previous post I clicked on Boing Boing. This article they linked to is by a former narc who now tells people how not to get busted.

I'll add another one - don't can your hash and think the dogs can't smell it. A few years before I started at Continental Can, the DEA consulted them on some canned hash that wasn't corned beef. Smugglers got a canning machine and cans and canned their hash. The dogs found it with no trouble.

It used to be common for farmers to use actual cans for home canning since the can will just deform when it's stored in a root cellar in the winter. Glass jars will freeze and break. You used to be able to pick up small canning machines at flea markets and the can makers would sell a few cans or maybe the canneries would. You could buy the process instructions too - I had a manual for this at one time. It was safe as long as you kept away from green beans. Commercially canned green beans are totally safe but do not home can them! Too many things can go wrong.

Fox has some real news?

Yep, Fox gives us the goods on botulism. Cans are busting out all over

This is the final puzzle piece that makes the story fit together. They don't say whether it's just the chili sauce that's exploding, but this is what undercooked cans do. They also don't mention that they stink to high heavens too when they finally break. If you're lucky they'll just ooze but undercooked cans can burst spraying foul smelling goo everywhere. Getting rid of them is worthy of a Dirty Jobs episode.

Castleberry is unlucky since with usual undercooks this will happen way before it's shipped out to customers and the cans will be punctured so no one will steal them and then they'll be buried in a landfill. This does happen a lot but it never makes the news because no one's in danger. I wonder why this one wasn't caught?

Monday, July 23, 2007

The problem with the Democratic Presidential lineup

I like too many of them. I like Richardson and Obama, I could vote for Hillary no problem, and now Edwards is growing on me too.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Thanks Ellen!

Ellen pointed out new news on the botulism outbreak.

This is an appalling situation. First, this is an area that I have 7 years experience in. I was in food canning, I worked for a local canned food processor and I worked as a research scientist for Continental Can. Everyone in the canning industry with half a braincell knows that the worst thing that can happen is botulism. I worked with the people that developed the processes for canned food to prevent botulism. One has retired but there's a good chance the other guy is investigating this.

I really don't know how this stuff got out. At first I thought it was misformulated chili sauce. Botulinum will not grow in a pH lower than 4.5. High acid foods have shorter processing times because of this. I've heard of a case where a processor tried a new variety of tomatoes in tomato soup and found botulism in the final product. The company was responsible and the soup never made it to market. I have lots of their products in my pantry since I know I can trust them.

Now I thought this was a misformulation and I'm still wondering how it could be an undercook. It's really hard to miss an undercook. I remember talking to a technical sales rep when I worked at Continental. He said he always knew a problem was an undercook because of the smell. You can literally smell a food plant with an undercooked batch a mile away. It's horrible. I've seen and smelled it myself.

This must have been a very slight undercook or, possibly a new variety of botulism that is even more heat resistant than usual. Meat products usually will really get disgusting if undercooked. Normally a product without a lot of carbohydrate or protein like green beans is the most dangerous since they can grow botulinum but won't grow the really messy and stinky bacteria that will warn you away from the food. I always say that friends don't let friends home can green beans. In the current case, undercooked canned meat should really stink to high heaven before they ship it.

If you're worried about your canned food being safe, you should heat it to boiling - that deactivates most but not all botulinum toxins. You shouldn't depend on it but boiling could make the difference between illness and death. I always heat canned food to boiling. Make sure there is a vacuum in the can. the ends of the can should be slightly indented, bulging is really bad and bulging cans should be discarded. If you have any doubt about the safety of your food, don't eat it.

This is a very major, very serious failure. I don't know whose failure it is but maybe the company thought they could cut corners in the current regulatory environment. I do know that meat inspectors don't always have any background for the job but really most of them can recognize an undercook.

I fell off the wagon

I had fun today at The Midwest Folk and Fiber Art Fair in Crystal Lake. I made several vendors very happy. I swear they had more vendors than the last time I went to Black Sheep. It's not surprising - this is the midwest where we have a lot of farms, lots of sheep farms and lots of spinners and knitters. Next year I'll take a day off for workshops. Today I just shopped.

I bought two very strange things that are working out really well. I had seen drop spindles with square whorls in Spinoff. I bought one from Carolina Homespun and it works very well. I was walking around spinning with it and once I was used to it, it was fast and kept spinning for a long time.

The other weird purchase was black diamond fiber for spinning. It's bamboo fiber that was heated and carbonized. It's a gray fiber that spins very easily, it feels more like wool than bamboo. I also bought a selection of new fibers - soy silk, silk latte made from milk, and bamboo that was not carbonized. Plus northern lights space dyed roving and some tussah and a Kathryn Alexander hat kit.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Way to Go FBI!

You may think I'd have a problem with this. You'd think wrong. I think it's a great use of modern technology as long as they had a warrant.

It might be an idea to try this with the creeps putting up terrorist websites too.

Thank you Captain Obvious

Ben Bernanke discovers that maybe loaning money to people who can't pay it back is a bad business plan.

Uh huh.

Phase 1: Steal underpants
Phase 3: Make money.

The Underpants Gnomes are in charge of the economy. It's my favorite Southpark episode but not a business plan.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I'm chatty tonight

I fixed a stuck sump pump and after the thrill of victory I just can't stop posting.

I wish I wasn't posting this. The Republicans refused to fund the troops today. John McCain had the most disgusting self serving lying speech accusing the Democrats of defeating the Levin-Reed bill funding the troops and requiring them to withdraw combat troops from Iraq by April. This was after the Republicans defeated the bill by a filibuster.

The troops have done their job. Now it's time for the executive branch to do their job and engineer a diplomatic solution to the chaos in Iraq. At the very least, we have to get our soldiers out of the middle of a civil war.


Watch out for that rubber chicken. Dennis Kucinich is down with food poisoning.

At least it won't hurt his campaign.

What TPM Said

I think Condi hit her level of incompetence when she was assigning conference rooms at Stanford.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


This makes me giggle.

This makes me laugh out loud.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Watch before you munch!

I have some pots of herbs on my deck. I really like fresh dill, parsley, basil, and thyme. I was looking at the dill yesterday and I saw two of these baybeh caterpillars. The dill stalk was sort of old and bare so I put them on the parsley where I saw baybeh tiger swallowtails. I'm planting a lot more parsley - these get big fast. I checked on them tonight and they're a lot bigger.

Check your plants - there are a lot of cool things around. The fireflies are putting on an incredible lightshow next door and we have tons of butterflies.

On the mammal front, we have two sets of twin fawns hanging around. Luckily they don't munch herbs and don't like going up on the deck.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Republican=Really Cruel?

What is it with the current Republicans and cruelty to animals? This is just out of the blue and something I'd never expect, but it keeps on happening.

First, Bill Frist revealed that he would adopt cats and then dissect them. That's really sick. Then it turns out that Judith Giuliani used to kill dogs with surgical staplers for a living. That didn't surprise me - anyone who would stay with Giuliani and actually marry him has to be even colder than he is. She saw how he treated his family and she has to know he's going to try it with her someday when he gets tired of her.

Now the last straw. Mitt Romney put his luggage inside the family car for a 12 hour trip but strapped the dog outside. The terrified dog pooped all over the outside of the car. This is one of the most cruel and stupid things I've ever heard of.

I've had dogs over the years, only 3 because ours tend to live long, and they were part of the family. I couldn't imagine anyone treating them like that.

Can you imagine what cruel freaks like this would do to regular Americans if this is the way they treat kittens and puppies?

See Dogs Against Romney

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Rest in peace, Ladybird Johnson. She was my favorite first lady. Her Keep America Beautiful campaign was incredibly successful. I remember traveling with my family in the 60's and seeing the difference after she made people realize that it was wrong to throw trash out your car window.

There was a time when many people just threw trash everywhere. It was really disgusting but thanks to Ladybird all of a sudden the whole country stopped throwing trash out the car windows. Gas stations started handing out litterbags for cars and towns started thinking about putting plants instead of billboards next to roads. It was absolutely amazing to see.

Once the roadways were cleaner, we started to realize that rivers were catching fire and the sky was an icky brown instead of blue. Al Gore is a great environmentalist but in my book, Ladybird Johnson was the most effective environmentalist of the last century.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Michael Moore says what I feel

For the record, I haven't watched more than 2 hours of CNN since Aaron Brown was fired. Every time I flip to it, they're reporting on celebrities or missing white women.

CNN's coverage of the war has been abysmal. They've been wrong on everything for years and now they've even hired that racist scumbag Glen Beck. So when Michael Moore ripped Wolf a new one, I rejoiced.

Is Cheney the devil or could it be...

A mystery player. Someone totally under the radar that we don't expect.

I was sitting on the train reading It Can Happen Here by Joe Conason. As I was reading about Sinclair Lewis's novel "It Can't Happen Here" and the eerie parallels to the Bush administration I remembered Keith Olbermann's comment that sometimes he thinks a policy maker in the Bush administration read 1984 on an airplane and didn't quite get it right but thought there were some good ideas in the book. There are also echoes of Machiavelli's The Prince in Bushie tactics.

So who does all that reading? Can't be Bush. I still can't believe he got through any Camu, much less all the books he claims to have read this year.

So, the thought occurred to me, the mastermind, the evil genius in the shadows wasn't Cheney, could the puppetmaster be .... Laura?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Impeach Cheney First

Sign the petition.

Why Dick Cheney is a traitor

No, I don't use this term lightly. Read this. Also, check out Larry Johnson's blog. He was in the CIA and trained with Valerie Plame.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

It's all easy

I just looked at the previous post and it looks like I'm an eco nut that goes to a lot of trouble. Really, the only insane thing I do is the composting and I like it because I love gardening. None of the other things I do takes any more effort than being wasteful. I live a very comfortable upper middle class American life, mainly because of our family attitude that waste is stupid and hard work is good.

Live Earth

I've been watching Live Earth for a few minutes. Unfortunately so far I have no idea who's been playing. I really haven't paid a lot of attention to pop music for a while.

So I just checked my environmental score, 323 is about average for the US, but my family's carbon footprint is 13 tons, less than average. I have a Prius, which I really like, I take the train again after driving to my office on Michigan Ave for a year or so - it takes a little longer but it's time I can use to read or knit and I've incorporated about 1 mile or more of walking into the commute. I'm also going to start riding my bike to the train. This is mainly for the exercise.

We also recycle as much as we put in landfill, don't use air conditioning much, and I've replaced our most frequently used lightbulbs with compact fluorescents. I'm also investing in green mutual funds. The returns have been decent so far and I think that responsible companies will give better returns in the long run. None of these things take much effort and they save a lot of money along with the environment. I'm also collecting batteries at work for recycling and use rechargables at home. I've been refilling an Aquafina bottle with tap water at work all week too.

The only actual trouble I go to for environmental reasons is composting. I have a bin in the backyard I bought from the Boy Scouts and I probably compost 5-20lbs of kitchen and garden waste a week. In this hot weather it turns to soil in about a month. I also compost shredded junk mail since our grass clippings just stay on the lawn. It really helps the garden. We pile up the raked leaves in the fall and I put them on the garden in the summer when they're around half composted. You need a lot of space to compost leaves but if you have the space, it really builds up the soil and cuts down on watering. I put the compost from the bin on the bottom and leaves on top. The leaves will be totally incorporated in the soil after a year or two.

My real energy sin is all my computers. I usually have 3 plugged in. The family computer, my linux box, and my macbook are usually plugged in along with several tv's. I'll work on this situation next. We'll just hit the off button on the power strip after shutting down the computer in an orderly fashion.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Stop the funding, stop the war

Stop funding the troops? No. There was an unvoiced worry over funding the troops a month or so ago. It wasn't that Congress would let the troops starve in the field, no, I really think that everyone was worried that Bush would see the troops starve before he'd sign a bill he didn't like. He's crazy enough to do it and no one can really take that chance.

So, what to do? Rahm Emanuel (possibly cued by Randi Rhodes) had a good idea when Dick Cheney decided he wasn't in the executive branch. Defund Cheney if he doesn't cooperate.

Take it a step further. Tie the funding of the executive branch to progress in Iraq. Make the people responsible for this mess suffer if they can't manage a victory.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

is it just me?

Or are the red dots on the Washington Monument really creepy? It's like glowing red eyes coming out of a KKK hood.
Check it out.

I did not know that

Says here a Prius can go 100 miles/hr. The new models must be faster than mine, I've never gone faster than 80 but mine's a 2002.

Yep, it also says Al Gore's son is an idiot. But I still hope his father runs for president. Now we have a designated idiot relative for the press to laugh at so that's another requirement taken care of. It doesn't matter if the kid is ordinarily a genius, you have to follow the script. And at least he was driving a Prius.

Monday, July 02, 2007

So Treason isn't a crime anymore

Just like California, where murder isn't a crime if you're at least on the C list, if you're on the Washington A list, perjury in defense of treason isn't a crime. And leaking the name of an undercover CIA operative is one of the most serious crimes I can think of.

Last week I saw the movie Breach and I've been following the news of the Robert Hanssen case. The damage he did by revealing the names of our undercover agents was unbelievable. Once you reveal the name of one agent, the target countries go through all that persons contacts and other agents are revealed. Those people will be killed or jailed. What the Vice President did was as bad as what Hanssen did, the only difference was in degree.

Hanssen made a couple million dollars from his treason, Cheney made a lot more than that from his defense investments as he manipulated the country into a war for corporate profit. Now Scooter isn't going to jail for covering up for his boss, wealthy donors will pay his legal fees and fine, and who needs a law license when you're on the right wing think tank gravy train?

Here's my prediction. Scooter will get a full pardon Jan 19, 2009.