Thursday, August 30, 2007

Luck of the Irish

I may have pretty frequent bad car luck, but this morning it went the other way. I had a flat tire, and I wasn't looking forward to spending the morning trying to change my spare and then find a place that repairs tires and has time to do mine before 12:45 when I have to be back for class, etc. etc. It turns out my new parking spot is about 5 feet from a car repair shop. They saw me struggling with my flat tire, and took it off, repaired it, and put it back on for only five bucks. There was a nail in it that had actually gone in head first, and then bent into a ninety degree angle. So, my morning hasn't gone to waste and my car is driveable, so I can take it to Wal Mart and get an oil change.
So, just once, I got lucky.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Grandma visits

I'm always mindful of Richard Nixon when talking about my mother. He stood at a press conference and with wife Pat standing by looking wretched said, "My mother was a saint." Poor Pat. Hard to compete with that.

Well, Grandma's not a saint, but she is the epitome of thrifty, cheerful, industriousness. Compared to Grandma, the rest of us are slugs and sourpusses. If I go a couple of hours without a thought of lying down or cranking about something, it's a miracle. Grandma is an inspiration to be a better person.

And the delight she takes in life is unworldly. Taking her home yesterday not a minute went by that she didn't chuckle or laugh about something. A cow. A herd of cows. A herd of sheep. A house. A hill. Curves in the road. Ups and downs in the road. Amazing. When I'm 87, it's gonna take a lot of Xanax to keep me cheerful.

Not that Mom can't test your limits. She is persistent and likes things her way. But cheerful all the while. Would that I was more like her.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

If Global Warming doesn't get ya,

flip-flops will.

Alyson and Barack (Last night, sorry)

Alyson, featured in this Obama email, is in New York to be at/on the Daily Show tonight with her friend Raina.
Yeah, I've probably already told you.
11pm. Check yer listings.
Dear Michael D,
Barack Obama will be appearing on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart tonight at 11:00 pm EDT.
Invite your friends to watch and ask them to join our movement for change:
An overwhelming number of you participated in our Daily Show campaign by inviting your family and friends to support Barack. We received thousands of interesting personal stories from new supporters.
Two young women were selected to join the studio audience and meet Barack in person. One is a longtime supporter, and the other is her best friend from college who only recently took an interest in Senator Obama.
Here's their story:
Alyson West of Atlanta, GA works as a project manager for a non-profit organization, focusing on aiding New Orleans small business owners who lost their livelihoods during Katrina. When she, along with 20,000 other Atlantans, saw Barack speak at Georgia Tech this spring, she was "electrified”:
"It was amazing. I remember thinking, 'He's reaching out to us, he's engaging us differently. This guy is telling the truth in a way that hasn't been told before.' We needed to be shaken like that, to be surprised by him, to be energized, and I felt that in that crowd."
"Barack makes me feel American," Alyson says. "He doesn't make me feel liberal. He doesn't make me feel black. He doesn't make me feel female. He makes me feel American."
Alyson decided to invite her friend Raina to meet Barack at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Alyson and Raina, both huge Daily Show fans, have been best friends since they met at Spelman College in 1995. They still talk every day and spend every Thanksgiving together.
Raina currently works as a Spanish teacher at Dr. Freddie Thomas High School in Rochester, NY and hopes to ask Barack about his thoughts on No Child Left Behind -- a program she feels stifles her ability to teach.
Before going into teaching, Raina spent three years in the foreign service, issuing visas in Monterrey, Mexico, and says that immigration is another topic she looks forward to discussing with Senator Obama.
Follow Alyson and Raina's lead and invite your friends to watch The Daily Show tonight and support Barack Obama:
Enjoy the show and thanks again for participating.
Obama for America
Paid for by Obama for America
To unsubscribe, go to:

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Money-saving tip.

For years we have bought expensive coffee. We tried all the cheap coffee and couldn't stand it. But we recently tried Great Value French Roast at Walmart. It's good! It's about 7-8$ for a nominal 3 lb. can. A small fraction of the gourmet coffee!

Another example of Walmart caring for the little guy.

A Recipe

Ok, kids. This is really easy, is delicious and will really impress your friends.

Get a couple pounds of country style spare ribs. At the supermarket. In the meat department. In the pork section. Where all good piggies go.

Spread them on the bottom of a casserole. In a saucepot, mix together 1/2 cup chopped onions, 2 tbsp. brown sugar, 4 tbsp. lemon juice, 1 cup ketchup (catsup), 1 cup tomato juice, 2 tbsp. worcestershire sauce, 2 tbsp. vinegar, 1 tbsp. dijon mustard or similar, 1 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. chili powder, some pepper. Don't sweat the measurements, just toss the stuff in there. Simmer the mix in the pot for fifteen minutes. Pour the mix over the ribs. Bake it all, COVERED, for two hours at 350 degrees. Pig out. So to speak.

Gender and vet school

An article in today's Boston Globe says that 89% of last year's first-year class at Tufts was female.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The poor woman!

Don't miss the security camera classic at Lileks. If you laugh you're a creep.

Jeff Jacoby Rocks

Do not miss this. He's the best of the Boston Globe which ain't sayin' much considering the competition. He's writing primarily about the Newsweek article which may be the biggest piece of journalistic bullshit I've ever read.

'This is the zealotry and intolerance of the auto-da-fé. The last place it belongs is in public-policy debate. The interesting and complicated phenomenon of climate change is still being figured out, and as much as those determined to turn it into a crusade of good vs. evil may insist otherwise, the issue of global warming isn't a closed book. Smearing those who buck the "scientific consensus" as traitors, toadies, or enemies of humankind may be emotionally satisfying and even professionally lucrative. It is also indefensible, hyperbolic bullying. That the bullies are sure they are doing the right thing is not a point in their defense."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Great stuff happening on the global warming front. Newsweek ran what was truly one of the most slanted and untruthful pieces I ever read. They complained about the gloabl warming denial machine, and alleged that some GW "deniers" were paid, get this, $10,000, by evil multinational oil corporations to write pieces critical of GW theory. There IS a machine in this debate, but it's not on the denial side, it's on the alarmist side.

Meanwhile, a statistician/blogger discovered a flaw in the data that analyzes temps in the US. It turns out that 1998 is not the hottest year ever in the US. 1934 is. 1934.

And it appears many of the stations that record temperature in the US are located in urban areas near asphalt, air conditioners and other things that could distort temps. Temps are then "adjusted" to reflect the surrounding area. What? This sort of thing has always made me wonder about GW. How can we compare temps recorded now with those recorded 100 years ago? Were conditions and instruments identical in the two sets of data? They couldn't have been.

Anyway, read this.


I just saw Julio Lugo have an amazing at-bat against Jose Reyes. He has turned into an offensive force, so I have to take back some of what I said about him. I stil think he is a below-average defensive player. Pedroia followed with a swinging strike-out. Pedroia was really upset. Then Youk struck out. Youk was really upset. Ortiz worked a walk. Manny swings at strike three over his head. So Coco and Lugo set the table and the big boys don't come to dinner.

Meanwhile the Yankees couldn't score a run for 17 innings. Roger Clemens missed his start because of the obligation of a pitcher to "protect" his teammates. He plunked Alex Rios in the back knowing full well he'd be suspended. The yanks lost his scheduled start 12-0. Was it worth it? Furthermore, the whole tit-for-tat thing goes back to ARod's stunt against the Blue Jays when he said something that caused the easily distracted BJ third baseman to miss the fly ball. Was that worth it? John Flaherty said he'd never seen an entire team angry at another player the way the BJs were angry at Arod.

And Mariano blew it two nights in a row.

Is the Big Mo shifting?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Parker Posey Party Girl

Get the Kitty!

"Fred and Laura Meyerson, both assistant professors of natural resources science at the URI, believe a fisher living in woods behind their house ate their cat, Parker Posey Party Girl, last November.
“It’s sad,” says Laura, as Fred recounts adopting Posey as a kitten, when the two were graduate students at Yale University several years ago.
But the couple, who now have two small Chihuahua mutts they keep a close eye on, say that Posey’s death was almost apt."

Sounds like the Fishers are moving south. Haven't they heard about GW?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Organic, the Global Warming Food

I'm shocked!


"Some have suggested a complete conversion to organic agriculture. But, on average, organic agriculture produces 30 percent less per hectare than conventional farms. If we were to convert entirely to organic agriculture, we would need at least 30 percent more farmland. Significant amounts of the remaining wilderness would have to be ploughed under to maintain current food production levels.

"The conversion to organic farming would also require a tremendous increase in animals to generate manure fertilizer. Anyone who has ever been near the back end of a cow knows this would significantly increase a different greenhouse gas.

"The organic food industry proudly states double digit increases in sales each of the last few years. However the world is not black and white and research has demonstrated there are significant environmental consequences of this success.

"Organic farming practices generate significantly greater CO2 emissions while producing less than conventional agriculture. On the other hand, growing genetically modified crops allow the farmer to reduce CO2 emissions while maintaining yields."

RU a Fenimist?

I am. Well, at least 11.38% of me is. And it did say something about crawling back into the cave from whence I came. I wonder what they meant by that.

Take the test and find out.

Are ya sweatin' yet?

No, I'm not talking about you know what. I'm talking about the MFYs being FIVE GAMES OUT! The Yankee lineup has scored an average of 267 runs per game over the last few weeks and they've whittled away at the RS lead and are now within striking distance. All that "Oh, the Yankees won't be able to pull it off this year" talk is looking pretty silly right now. The Yankees ALWAYS do it. You are NEVER far enough ahead of the Yankees.

The Red Sox don't understand me, though. They don't understand that I don't give a fiddler's fart for Eric Gagne. I do, however, like watching Kason Gabbard pitch, and I'd have enjoyed watching him mature. He was "ours". Eric Gagne is a rented gun. He'll be gone and I won't care, even if he wins it for us. Also, they don't understand that I hate listening to Jerry Remy holler a promo for every at-bat accompanied by canned music. The NESN broadcasts are a circus. And the three principal owners don't seem to realize that the RS aren't about them. George Steinbrenner at least has the class to stay in the background. We have to hear about the latest exploits of the 3 wonder boys (John Henry's second marriage is "irretrievably broken." He and his wife will be sharing custody of their 10 yr old daughter.), and put up with incessant hucksterism.

But it's hard to argue with success, and the Red Sox have to pay the bills. It just isn't my kinda thing. I'm interviewing other teams. The yankees aren't on the list, but they have the best broadcast team by a long shot. The other day Michael Kay wondered aloud why the white Sox were wearing black jerseys when it was so hot. Al Leiter said, "Pitcher's choice." They're too busy talking about Sox Appeal and the latest giveaways to talk about baseball on NESN. The Angels broadcasters aren't bad, either.

I can't stand Julio Lugo.

He can't hit, he's the worst SS we've had in my memory, and I hate the way he talks to his bat before every pitch.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


I'm moving Luke's comments on HP and the DHs to the top lest they be missed by some. Thanks for chiming in, Luke.


Well now that I'm home I finally got to finish the book, and I thought it was great. I was kind of disappointed by a lot of things though, and I actually think that economics article is pretty interesting. No, the Weasleys can't conjure up money, or food, and they don't have house elves, but they still do have a ton of other magical powers and are thought of as good wizards. I don't think they should have as hard of a time with things as they do.

As far as the amount of holes in the plot, this book has many more than the Lord of the Rings books did, and is also much less believable. ON THE OTHER HAND, it is a hell of a lot more fun. There are many things I would have done differently had I wrote them. But, I am not the author, it is not my choice, and I would not have nearly enough ability or patience to write anything even approaching the complexity of the HP series. Rowling did an amazing job of crafting the whole story, there are just some holes that detract from the overall believability and ruin it for me a little bit. Of course I was somewhat disappointed about some things not turning out the way I wanted but that's okay, it's her book not mine.

First of all, I wanted more of an epilogue. I want the whole biography for every single character and for the entire wizarding world. Like one of those things at the end of a docudrama movie where during the credits they show a picture of each character with a short paragraph about what happened to them after the movie. It was disappointing to watch them go through all that and then not really know what they get for it in the end.

Second, I still don't quite get Snape. It could just be that I'm too dumb, but I don't find his character in the end to be believable or satisfying.

Third, not enough time is spent on the dead people. ESPECIALLY Fred. Fred and George were my favorite characters in all the books, and I think she should have focused more on Fred's death and how George coped for the rest of his life. I couldn't believe that during the epilogue, there was no little boy named Fred running around or something. I found out from an interview with JK Rowling that George had a son and named it Fred. Still, I think this kid should have been mentioned in the book.

Fourth, the good guy's are all gun-controlled or something. They are always on defense, rarely attacking, and have some kind of strange reluctance to use deadly force against enemies who wouldn't hesitate at all to kill them. A couple of my favorite parts in the book were when Harry Crucios one of the Carrows and when Mrs. Weasley kills Bellatrix. If I were in the Order, I would be Avada Kedravaing, Crucioing, and Imperiusing Death Eater's left and right. I don't see the logic in going soft on any of them. It reminds me of when me and Laura were little, and we would play with action figures. At the end, the good guys would always finally get the bad guys and I'd say, "YEAH now let's kill 'em!" Then Laura would always get upset and want the bad guys to have a change of heart and decide to join the good guys.

On that note I also kind of wanted to see Draco do something good in the end. She really makes you end up feeling sorry for him.

Overall I loved the book and I wasn't at all disappointed until it ended. She had me wrapped up in the story so much. Really its only flaw I guess is that I wanted more of it. But I guess as she says in the book we must accept the fact that life (and a book) always comes to an end.

BTW Jesse the character's in the book probably get pretty good exercise by spending a lot of time resting, but then everyonce in a while having to exert all-out effort in running for their lives from some bad guy. Proper exercise should be brief, infrequent, and intense.
5:47 PM
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Friday, August 03, 2007

Organic, the ANTI-environment food

Reasons you should buy regular goods

By Jackie Avner
Article Last Updated: 07/27/2007 10:40:10 PM MDT
I don't like to buy organic food products, and avoid them at all cost. It is a principled decision reached through careful consideration of effects of organic production practices on animal welfare and the environment. I buy regular food, rather than organic, for the benefit of my family.

I care deeply about food being plentiful, affordable and safe. I grew up on a dairy farm, where my chores included caring for the calves and scrubbing the milking facilities. As a teenager, I was active in Future Farmers of America, and after college I took a job in Washington, D.C., on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee staff.

But America no longer has an agrarian economy, and now it is rare for people to have firsthand experience with agricultural production and regulation. This makes the general public highly susceptible to rumors and myths about food, and vulnerable to misleading marketing tactics designed not to improve the safety of the food supply, but to increase retail profits. Companies marketing organic products, and your local grocery chain, want you to think organic food is safer and healthier, because their profit margins are vastly higher on organic foods.
The USDA Organic label does not mean that there is any difference between organic and regular food products. Organic farms simply employ different methods of food production. For example, organic dairy farms are not permitted to administer antibiotics to their sick or injured cows, and do not give them milk-stimulating hormone supplements (also known as rbGH or rBST). The end product is exactly the same - all milk, regular and organic, is completely antibiotic-free, and all milk, regular and organic, has the same trace amounts of rbGH (since rbGH is a protein naturally present in all cows, including organic herds). Try as they may, proponents of organic foods have not been able to produce evidence that the food produced by conventional farms is anything but safe.

Do organic production practices benefit animals? Dr. Chuck Guard, professor of veterinary medicine at Cornell University, told me that it pains him that many technological advancements in animal medicine are prohibited for use on organic farms. He described how organic farms don't use drugs to control parasites, worms, infections and illness in their herds. "Drugs take away pain and suffering," he said. "Proponents of organic food production have thrown away these medical tools, and the result is unnecessary pain and suffering for the animals."

In order for milk and meat to qualify as USDA Organic, the animals must never be given antibiotics when they are sick or injured. On organic farms, animals with treatable illnesses such as infections and pneumonia are left to suffer, or given ineffective homeopathic treatments, in the hope that they will eventually get better on their own. If recovery without medication seems unlikely, a dairy cow with a simple respiratory infection will be slaughtered for its meat, or sold to a traditional farm where she can get the medicine she needs. I don't buy organic milk because this system is cruel to animals, and I know that every load of regular milk is tested for antibiotics to ensure that it is antibiotic-free.

Organic milk certainly is not fresher than regular milk. Regular milk is pasteurized and has a shelf life of about 20 days. Organic milk is ultrapasteurized, a process that is more forgiving of poor quality milk, and that increases the shelf life of milk to about 90 days. Some of the Horizon organic milk boxes I've seen at Costco have expiration dates in 2008! There is a powerful incentive for retailers to put the ultrapasteurized organic milk on the shelf just before the expiration date, so consumers will think the organic milk is as fresh as the regular milk. After all, consumers are paying twice as much for the organic product.

Do organic production practices benefit the environment? In many cases, they do the opposite. Recently, Starbucks proudly informed their customers that they would no longer be buying milk from farms that use rbGH, the supplemental hormone administered to cows to increase milk production (even though the extra hormones stay in the cow, and the resulting milk is the same). The problem with this policy is that Starbucks will now be buying milk from farms that are far less efficient at making milk. Without the use of the latest technology for making milk, many more cows must be milked to produce the same number of café lattes for Starbucks' customers. More cows being milked means more cows to feed, and therefore more land must be cultivated with fossil-fuel-burning tractors. More cows means many more tons of manure produced, and more methane, a greenhouse gas, released into the atmosphere.

I see Starbucks' policy as environmentally irresponsible. When a farmer gives a cow a shot of rbGH, the only environmental cost is the disposal of the small plastic container it came in. But the environmental benefits of using this technology are enormous.

Attention all shoppers: Safeway is adopting the same misdirected policy as Starbucks, judging from the prominent labeling of milk at my local Safeway store: "Milk from cows not treated with rBST." When I'm feeling particularly green, I drive past Safeway and shop at another grocery store in protest.

Consumers assume that organic crops are environmentally friendly. However, organic production methods are far less efficient than the modern methods used by conventional farmers, so organic farmers must consume more natural and man-made resources (such as land and fuel) to produce their crops.

Cornell Professor Guard told me about neighboring wheat farms he observed during a visit to Alberta, Canada: one organic and one conventional. The organic farm consumes six times as much diesel fuel per bushel of wheat produced.

Socially conscious consumers have a right to know that "organic" doesn't mean what it did 20 years ago. According to the Oct. 16, 2006, cover story in Business Week, when you eat Stonyfield Farms yogurt, you are often consuming dried organic milk flown all the way from New Zealand and reconstituted here in the U.S. The apple puree used to sweeten the yogurt sometimes comes from Turkey, and the strawberries from China. Importation of organic products raises troubling questions about food safety, labor standards, and the fossil fuels burned in the transportation of these foods.

Does buying organic really benefit your family? Remember, there is no real difference in the food itself. At my local Safeway store, organic milk is 85 percent more expensive, eggs 138 percent higher, yogurt 50 percent, chicken thighs 80 percent, and broccoli 20 percent. If the only organic product you buy for your family is milk, then you are spending an extra $200 on milk each year. If you buy 5-10 other organic products each week, such as fruits, vegetables, eggs, yogurt and meat, then you could easily approach $1,000 in extra food costs per year. Families would receive a more direct health benefit from spending that money on a gym membership, a treadmill, or new bikes.

When I share this information with friends who buy organic, I get one of two responses: they either stop buying it, or they continue to buy organic based on a strong gut feeling that food grown without the assistance of man- made technology has to be healthier.

I don't push it, but I wonder: Why do people apply that logic to agricultural products, but not to every other product we use in our daily lives? There are either no chemicals, or the minutest trace of chemicals in some of our foods. But other everyday products are full of chemical ingredients. Read the label on your artificial sweetener, antiperspirant, sun lotion, toothpaste, household cleaning products, soda, shampoo, and disposable diapers, for example. The medicines we administer to our children when they are sick are man-made substances. Chemicals aren't just used to make these products; they are still in these products in significant amounts. It just doesn't make sense to focus fear of technology on milk and fresh produce.

I say, bypass the expensive organic products in the grocery store. Buy the regular milk, meat and fresh produce. It is the right choice for the family, animal welfare and the environment.

Jackie Avner ( lives in Highlands Ranch.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Great news! Donnie graves is buying Portugal. He'll use it as a seasonal hunting camp and we'll be able to continue grazing it without having to own it.

New Seedings

Jeremy and I put in several new seedings this spring with the hope of improving the productivity of the pastures. Having done it in the past, I'd not been satisfied with the results. This time, we used seed specifically bred for use in rotational pastures and the results are fantastic. the above seeding is made up of ryegrass, orchardgrass, ladino clover and chicory. It is incredibly lush. It grows back in about half the time. The cows love it and are very productive on it. It's thrilling to have pasture that looks like this in August, and it has injected new life into a tired old farm.

Oh, what a night!

Headed up to the barn last night to check the washer. Decided to walk up and check the water bowl I'd fixed earlier and ended up by wandering out and moving the back fence in the new seeding. It was gorgeous out and the cows were contentedly grazing away. Got back to the house and we went for a swim and watched the stars come out one at a time. After swimming it was popcorn and a rare come-from-behind win for the Sox. Doesn't get much better than that.