Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Lord of the Rings News!!

Limited Edition 2-disc sets...

Theatrical version and extended version in the same set...

All three movies...

New documentaries...

In stores soon...

I'm excited!!

Pokeberry experiment begins

Well, I picked the berries approximately one week ago with Jason's help while I was in South Carolina visiting all my peeps up there. Most of the berries were *very* ripe. We put them in plastic ziploc bags and Jason froze them for me to keep them fresh until I left the Burough on Saturday. As soon as I arrived home, I put them in the outside fridge where they remained until today. I guess the freezing or the time it took for me to mess with them again, something, broke a lot of the berries because all three of the larger bags were leaking juice when I opened the pot they were in and there was a good centimeter or two of juice in the bottom of the pot. That's okay though... I figure it won't hurt the dye quality none if they were breaking and leaking juice before I added the vinegar and smashed them.

I weighed the pokeberries as best I could and I have about 6 lbs. Still doesn't quite add up to even one gallon, let alone two in actual weight measurement. I should have thought of this before. I'm confused by these vague units of measurement. 1 gallon berries to 4 ounces wool? Is that 1 gallon of just the berries, or one gallon of berries and stems? And is it meant as a weight measurement or volume? I'm just not sure. Still... From my best guess, I'm going to attempt to dye 8 ounces of wool with slightly less than is recommended by Rita Buchanan (writer of A Weaver's Garden) for 4 ounces. We'll see what happens.Worst that I figure can happen is that the dye is a lighter shade than expected. I think I'd actually like a lighter pink better with the wools I had planned to pair the pokeberry-dyed wool with, so either way, as long as it's not a disaster, I'll be happy with the result.

So I've placed them in one of my large enamel pots with enough vinegar solution to cover the berries and set it in our warm garage with the lid on it to ferment the berries as recommended by Rita Buchanan as well as several people on the Yahoo! DyeHappy list. I need to let it sit for a few days, so I won't be getting back to it until at least Friday... What am I saying? I *will* get back to it on Friday, provided I have found alum by then... I've called like *every* drug store and supermarket from Carrollwood to the county line and even a little bit into Pasco county, and no one has any. Best I could find was that all the Publixes said that they stock it from the end of September to the beginning of January... Don't ask me why only then, cause I don't know. ::sighs:: So I've ended up just ordering it online... from amazon.com of all places...


We've just started getting the first of our rain from Ernesto. The predicted path of the eye is still far to the east of us. The thunder is pretty bad. My little dog, Baby is cowering under the furniture. As of 8 pm, they still haven't cancelled classes. Hurricane (or in this case Tropical Storm) Days are our Snow Days. They have cancelled classes and school in counties to the south and east of Hillsborough, but still not in Hillsborough. It will all depend on whether or not the storm deflects further to the west than predicted as it comes on land in the Keys and across the Everglades. If it does, we'll no longer have a Tropical Storm Watch, but rather a Tropical Storm Warning, and school will likely be cancelled. If there's a chance that buses could be pushed over by the wind, they have to cancel school...

Classes continued...

... Unlike when I was a Freshman, I *now* know not to bite off more than I can chew. Therefore, I'm dropping my Theory of History class, which (to paraphrase Maria's reaction) is like a full-time schedule all in one class, in order to concentrate on my other classes. I just don't feel like sacrificing my GPA on the alter of expediency, cause seriously the class is ridiculous. Latin requires daily attention and discipline. Medieval Spains has 7 text books, a 7 - 9 page term paper, as well as a movie review. Theory of History required a lot of seriously heavy reading (another 7 books... *thick* books...), not fun books either, books that the prof claimed we would want to kill him for assigning, as well as a ten-page paper, and 7 2-page papers... What worried me most was the pace of the reading (a whole several hundred page book + an impossible to BS paper on said book every 1 to 2 weeks) because I don't read quickly and I have never mastered the art of skimming and retaining information. Call it a mental block, but I've tried and it just doesn't work. On top of that, the prof is the one everyone in the department warns against taking classes with because he's more than a little unhinged in Sadistic kinds of ways... He likes making things as difficult for his students as he possibly can and is extremely abrasive. He also told us that he purposely picked difficult books because he felt like it and doesn't care if his students don't like it. I hope he *never* gets tenure because it's just not necessary to be that way. I've tried to take classes with him before, but I just couldn't stand him. Theory is required to graduate, but nothing says I have to take it with him. There are other profs who are nice and human beings and pick reasonably books. Unfortunately, all other sections are packed for this semester...

So I won't be graduating until Fall 2007 now.

That's alright...


I have to look on the bright side. Now, I have time to concentrate on starting my business.

Monday, August 28, 2006

First day of classes

I've been to two out of my three classes for the day, and so far so good. I feel almost like a Freshman again, in that I'm cautiously optimistic. I've got an enthusiasm for something I think is going to be very, very difficult, but ultimately worth it. I think that this is a pretty good out-look. More on that later in the week...

Tropical Storm Ernesto could be headed our way, and by the time it gets here, would be a hurricane... so we might have a Hurricane Day or two the first week of school. The two profs I met earlier today are either definitely new, or seemingly new to Florida and haven't been through hurricanes before (either from what they said or the impression I've gotten from them), so it should be interesting to see what happens. Current predictions place the center of the storm almost over Lake Okeechobee on Wednesday at 8:00 am. We'll just have to wait and see where it goes as it makes its way northwest from Cuba.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Bringing it home...

The article linked below was written in August of 2002. Even then, people knew that imports were becoming a huge problem for American manufacturers and workers. Susan is from Martinsville, VA and her people have lived just up the road in the Bassett, VA area for many, many generations, so perhaps I do have a personal reason to care. Though even if I didn't, one of the saddest things I have ever see in this country is the empty shell of a factory - shut down, silent, filled with broken windows, graffiti, dead leaves, trash, and rusting, wasted machinery.

Bassett, Stanley, DuPont, Pulaski, American of Martinsville and Hooker (I'm sure, among others) have all been based in or had a major plant located in Martinsville or Henry County, VA at one time or another. Many of those factories have closed and moved manufacturing to Mexico and/or China. Those closures left a good portion of the working class people of Henry County laid off, and many people lost retirement pensions. There are many more just like them all over the country in every industry.

So please do think about these thousands of good American working people who have been put out of a job and pension by the needless shift to imports and outsourcing the next time you're buying a new bed, bureau or TV stand. Consider doing a little research first to find what products are US made before buying and go look at them first if they're anywhere near your price range. You just might get a nicer product for your dollar and feel better about where your money is going than if you just go straight for the uber-cheap at your local Haverty's or Rooms-To-Go. Let me tell you from personal experience, furniture from both of those stores is cheaply and poorly made, and begins to fall apart very quickly and with little provocation. You'll have to replace it at least twice as fast as the better made products, so might you just as well go for the nicer products first if at all possible? And if what is still manufactured in the US is beyond your price range, consider going to antique stores, flea markets, garage sales and Good Will Stores in search of furniture. Sometimes, you can find really nice, good looking things at those places at very reasonable prices. Sometimes, you can even find a total *steal*!

For raw numbers and statistics from people who know what they're talking about and are involved in the industry, go here.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

This just in...

It is a sad day when I am forced to agree with the likes of Rush Limbaugh... I was listening to his radio show, not by design but because my dad also listens to the Devil Rays games on that station and he didn't want to change the channel...

Rush... or whoever was standing in for Rush... it didn't sound like Rush... was talking about the Southern Lebanon issues, the issue about Lieberman loosing his primary, and the general state of politics going down the toilet in this country right now.

He read a letter-to-the-editor from a Berlin, Germany newspaper written by a doctor who left southern Lebanon in 2002. He said that he was a Shi'ite Muslim and that he hates Hezbollah. Hezbollah is actually to blame for *all* of this (which some of us already knew). He said he witnessed first hand in his village that Hezbollah in 2001 (or there about - after the Israelis pulled out in 2000, but before he left in 2002) built a bunker for their weapons and bombs and then built a school and a residence on top of it. In this way, they figured they could not loose. Hezbollah could either bomb and kill Israelis with those weapons *or* if the Israelis bombed the bunker, Hezbollah would still win because the International Community would condemn Israel for the resulting civilian deaths. The doctor went on to say in his letter that Hezbollah really *does not* care about the Lebanese people or their lives. They use them as human shields in their terrorist activity, and once they are dead, they use them as propaganda to further their extremist terrorist cause and gain sympathy from moderates and liberals alike. He goes on to say that Hezbollah does not mind killing other Muslims because their view is that *any* Muslim who dies as part of their jihad, whether an attacker or a victim, will go to Paradise as a martyr and it is G-d's will that they die, so they don't view it as a bad thing. You cannot reason with people who think like this anymore than you can reason with a turnip.

FYI: Prior to 9/11, Hezbollah had killed more US citizens than any other terrorist organization in the history of the world. In 1983, the US Armed Forces stationed in Lebanon as part of an international peace keeping force lost over 200 men and women to Hezbollah attacks on the soldiers. That was only one of the many attacks Hezbollah has carried out against the United States and the rest of the world. They are not, in any measure, to be trusted or believed. Hezbollah will not stop until Israel is destroyed and Lebanon is under their complete control or they themselves are all dead or incarcerated. They *are* being backed by Iranian money and have been so funded for many, many years.

The lighter side of life

Food, fun and shopping! oh yeah...

I was searching today for CSA farms (Community Supported Agriculture). They're kinda like a time share except worth it and with a farm and not a house. With some, it's like a commune where you help with the work on the farm, and others they do all the work, you just get the fresh veggies in return for your money. They have one of the latter types in the western part of Hillsborough County and it's *organic*! And only $550 a year, and you pick up your produce shares *twice* a week from September to May! Fabulous deal! Mom's calling about it tomorrow...

Later, I was shopping for direct shipping mead online, now that direct shipping to Florida is legal (yay!). I'm having a difficult time deciding on what kinds of mead I might want to get... I thought Florida orange blossom, since that's my favorite kind of honey. In my search for that, I stumbling upon a site that sells honey from farms all over the country... Lo and behold it is the same site that has listings of CSA farms that I was using earlier today. I looked around their store a bit and found that they also sell rovings from all over the country at very reasonable prices. I'm going to link this site in the right hand column of my blog. It's http://www.localharvest.org and I highly recommend checking it out!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Oy vay... We need to get working NOW!

My dad is really pissed right now. He's going off at the reports on CNN of the French withdrawing their support of an international UN force in southern Lebanon to ensure that Hezbollah does not rearm once they have been disarmed. He's convinced that this is yet another symptom that the world hates Jews and that the vast majority of the world, including France, wants to see Israel destroyed... This may or may not be the case. I certainly don't believe that the vast majority of the world wants to see Israel destroyed per se, but it would not surprise me to learn that the vast majority of the world doesn't give a damn if it survives... including France... And France does and doesn't surprise me, taking this turn. They surprise me because France is home to more Jews - in raw numbers, not percentage - than any other country in Europe. They don't surprise me because they're the French, who have a history of rolling over for whoever comes knocking at their door since Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo, and more than half the times that's happened since Charlemagne died. They are, after all, the fucking French, to paraphrase Eddie Izzard.

How is it that anyone can believe that, if left to their own devices, Hezbollah, an admitted terrorist organization, will not reform themselves and rearm and go back to their terror tactics against the Israeli people just because the Lebanese army is in Southern Lebanon? Anyone who does is more than naive, they are fools! But they won't be the ones to pay for their foolishness, the Israeli people who die will be the ones who pay. But I suppose they probably won't care about those who die, anymore than people who buy exotic wood, beef or soybeans from South America care that their patronage contributes to the destruction of the rainforest and the murder of innocent farmers, as surely as if they cut down the trees and put the guns to the farmers' heads and pulled the trigger themselves. It's appalling. And all the while their misplaced faith or apathy strengthens governments and organizations that free people should never even dream of strengthening, the jihadists and the extremists of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan and in smaller numbers in most of the rest of the Middle Eastern countries, furthering agendas that will mean the death of what little freedom people can enjoy under any government. And all out of ignorance and want of oil to power their creature comforts! Fools, fools, everyone! And if they don't wake up to reality soon, their children, and, more importantly to me, my children, and most certainly the Israelis will pay for it dearly!

These sycophants are lazy, and forget that they have power if only they are willing to exercise it. They forget that they are capable of impacting positive change for the ultimate good of themselves and the world. They forget that cars, electricity, air conditioning, etc are recent luxuries for the human race. We can and have survived quite well without all that... Perhaps not as comfortably as we do now, but we have survived and can do it again if we must... Though there is no reason why we must because there are alternatives for energy production all around us if only we are willing to use it and reject the oil. Then we can say to Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia, whose anti-democratic agendas fly in the face of everything every free person holds dear, "Drink your damned oil, for all we care, and eat your sand, I'll be your thrall and allow you to treat others this way no longer!" I, for one, pledge to work to this end, making myself and my family as independent of black oil as one who is not independently wealthy can possibly get with no help from big business or the government. Instead of buying fancy cars or luxury vacations, I will save my money so that I may spend it on energy efficient, solar and wind powered housing that hurts no one but the evils of Big Oil and benefits everything in the end. What money I do spend in the meantime will be on the most fuel and energy efficient cars and appliances to be had, and on food grown and produced in harmony with nature. I will drive as little as possible (already I'm down to an average 1 tank of gas per month, and in the last 8 months, I've driven under 3,000 miles total) and use alternative means and carpooling whenever possible. What is good for Big Business is no longer good for everyone. I am a proud American capitalist, and I believe in the power of free markets, but I have my limits, and that is it. When the machine of economy is heading us all for a cliff with a hundred foot drop into disaster, I choose to do everything I am capable of to stop it before it gets there and to find a safer, better road. I urge everyone who reads this to do the same.

Every citizen - that's right, every - in these United States is as capable as I am.

Start by writing to your government representatives at any level you choose, or at all levels, and tell them what you want for this country. It doesn't take much time. You don't have to be eloquent or persuasive, just informative. And together with the work of other Americans, we can take back our government from Big Business, Lobbyists and corruption!

Research the candidates' records and history, and VOTE and for who you think will do the best job (not who the media, or your pastor, or your next-door neighbor thinks will do the best job!). The right to vote in free, democratic elections is the thing that sets free people apart from those who are manipulated and exploited by those in power. That we have allowed ourselves to come to this point is a deadly shame on our American ideals. Men and women have truly suffered and died to give us all the right to cast a ballot for our chosen candidates and causes. That is an historical fact, so think about that for a moment. Would you die? Would you give up your life in order to give your fellow citizens the chance to impact their government's policy? There have been many thousands who have done just that for you, for your family and loved ones, and for your fellow citizens. So VOTE and make it count for what you think is right.

Write to the media - to newspapers and news networks - and tell them what you think of their reporting, or tell them about stories you think they should report on less or more than they do (Such as the NAIS plan of the USDA). You don't have to write to them all, you don't have to write long letters... just pick whatever source you use to get your news from (I don't think that "The Daily Show" or "The Colbert Report" will be all that effective, but if that's where you want to send your letter, go to!) and send them a letter, a quick e-mail, a post-card, anything. They will listen to the people who compose their audience. They must if they want to keep your attention with the competition in that field right now.

Be active in your consumerism! A good deal of your power in a capitalistic society is in the money you choose to spend and on what you choose to spend it and with whom. I don't say that you can't buy things that you want to buy. I only ask that you make conscientious decisions about what you buy and from who you buy it.

  • Compare the benefits of organics with those of non-organics, and buy what you will from whomever you will.

  • Consider the economic benefit to yourself and your friends, neighbors, and countrymen if you buy goods produced in the United States, rather than imports.

  • Consider if something you can only get "made in China" is really necessary for you to buy, and if it isn't, consider not buying it. If you must buy it, make sure that you get your money's worth and don't buy cheap junk that you'll have to replace with another purchase from China.

  • Write to companies that you have purchased from in the past and ask them to manufacture in America as much as possible, stating that it is important to you as a consumer that they do so, and praise them if they already do.

  • Buy appliances and cars that are as efficient as possible and write to manufacturers that you are considering patronizing and ask them to make their products even more efficient. Write to car manufacturers and ask them to build cars that at least have the option of running on something other than gasoline, full-time (as opposed to those that still require any amount of gasoline in order to run).

  • I have done all of the above at least once in the last six months. Some I have been doing regularly for even longer than that, and some I have integrated into my day-to-day life with surprising ease and little effort. I believe that all of these things are things that any American citizen, regardless of economic situation, is capable of doing - especially since in this blessed country it is free to get a public library card (to this day, not so in Russia! "public" libraries are truly a foreign concept there!) and internet access at public libraries is free for those who have a library card. There really is no excuse anymore to not get involved in some way in making a positive impact of change on our society. Take a few moments to consider all this, and do something about the negative things we all see daily on the news, in our country, in our cities, towns and homes.

    Our American system is only as perfect as we are willing to make it be for us, and for our children. It can work and it does work, when we want it to work, if we are willing to work for it!

    Good gracious me

    So I am once again preparing ahead. I've been searching for Chanukah/Christmas gifts for the bitties and also Lara. In this search, I came across a book called 50 Things You're Not Supposed to Know by Russ Kick. To be frank, it looks like something that Michael Moore might have written and for the sole purpose of pissing off the Christian Conservatives, something that I enjoy, but only if you get your facts absolutely right with no hyperbole because if you get hyperbolic, those whose heads you're hoping to implode instead get ammunition to use against you... Nonetheless, he points out an interesting thing about the Bible. He says that the Ten Commandments aren't really the Ten Commandments we think they are (but he left out one commandment, probably because he didn't understand what it meant, meaning that there actually should be *11* Commandments... this doesn't surprise me much because I doubt he's Jewish, and he's certainly not a Biblical scholar, *and* he was using the King James version for his translation, which any scholar will tell you is not worth the paper it's printed on for clarity or accuracy of translation).

    Read Exodus 20-34 if you don't believe me. I'm not kidding here...

    These were the rules written on the 2nd set of tablets by Moses in the Exodus story (paraphrased & with my commentary in the parenthesis):

    1. You must not worship any other gods. (The Israelites at this time did not deny the existence of other gods, only that they should worship them... not that it stopped most people...)

    2. You shall not make molten idols to worship for yourselves. (Personally, I would take this to mean that one *could* make idols for non-Israelites to worship...)

    3. You shall observe Passover. (pretty clear...)

    4. The first (male) offspring of every mother belongs to the Lord, whether human or animal. Animals will be sacrificed, human sons will be redeemed from sacrifice by donating money to the priesthood (or by joining it if they are a Levite). (To this day, if the firstborn child of a practicing Jewish mother is a boy, the child's parents will give an inconsequential amount of money - like a dollar or less - to any Jewish man who is believed to be a Levite in order to fulfill this commandment. If the first child is a girl, now, as in Biblical times, nothing need be done.)

    5. No one should come to worship without a sacrifice. (pretty much what it says...)

    6. Keep the Sabbath day. (no working at all, period, end of story... Building fires is included in this specifically, which is the reason some Orthodox Jewish families and probably all Orthodox synagogues employ a non-Jew - sometimes called a "Shabbos Goy" in Yiddish - in order to turn lights on and off for them during Shabbat. Others probably simply turn on any light they will need before Shabbat begins and keep it on until after it ends. All food is prepared the day before and must be ready to eat as is - no cooking.)

    7. Observe Shavuot (also known as Pentecost) and Sukkot (also known as Tabernacles).

    8. All the men must go to worship three times a year, at Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot (the Pilgrimage Festivals).

    9. The sacrifice cannot be combined with anything leavened, and the Passover sacrifice cannot be left to eat the next morning. (Lack of leavening might recall to mind the Passover matzo - I'm guessing - and the Passover sacrifice could not be saved for eating later, it had to be consumed all in one meal or evening.)

    10. The best of the first fruit harvest had to be sacrificed. (Just what it says... From what I understand and remember from class, at one time, the best of the fruit harvest had to be brought to the Temple in Jerusalem. They found that they had problems with shipping though, just as I'm sure farmers have problems today. The fruit from out-lying areas would spoil before they could get it to Jerusalem. The priests allowed these farmers to sell their fruit that they would have been bringing to Jerusalem and then travel to Jerusalem with the money and buy new fruit once they arrived... It was the thought that counted...)

    11. You shall not boil a kid in its mother's milk. (This obscure commandment is what has led to the separation of dairy and meat products in modern Kosher dietary laws... Funny thing is that was not what this is referencing. A delicacy of non-Israelites in the area some near 3000 years ago was boiling a baby goat in its mother's milk... This not only grossed out some Israelites, it was also seen as something that made the non-Israelites different from the Israelites, and as a way to separate themselves further, they forbid the consumption of that dish.)

    Now, about all these commandments... They are all concerning religious cult matters, not day-to-day living. To me (again, guessing here, I could be wrong 'cause I haven't looked it up - note to self: I really need Who Wrote the Bible by Friedman), they are most clearly from the Priestly tradition (the tradition that comes from the Levite priesthood). Without looking any of this up, just going by what I can remember from my lessons on how to properly criticize Biblical text, these second set of rules are for a sedentary people, not the nomadic Hebrews at the beginning of their wandering. The traditionally known 10 commandments may very well be the *Ten Commandments*, and I would guess they are the older of the two traditions that have been combined in the Book of Exodus et al, but still if you follow what the text says today, they aren't the ones that were to have survived in tablet form way back when... Do ya follow? I would think that the second set of commandments cited by Russ Kick couldn't have come into the oral tradition until the time of the Judges at the *earliest*, possibly not until as late as the reign of Solomon, maybe later... (Didn't research, can't give time periods for sure, these are all educated guesses.)

    What Russ Kick should have said was something else from the Bible that's misunderstood or not known by the vast majority of people... like Jesus probably didn't walk *on* water because the preposition used there could be translated as "on" *or* "next to"... and was probably meant as "next to"... but some over-zealous believers misunderstood it and went nutz with that interpretation to the exclusion of all others and it got spread around and pretty soon everyone was interpreting it "on" water. Or he could have used the info about commonly misinterpreted sections of the Prophets' books or Revelations, or even the fact that the story about the adulteress who was about to be stoned and Jesus is quoted to have said, "Let he who is without sin..." yada-yada, didn't appear in the text until more than 500 years after it would have occurred and is in none of the oldest copies, and so is most certainly not original and was made up and added by some scribe or particular Church group... Any of that, and a lot of other things, he could have expounded on for his "the Bible isn't the Bible you think it is" part of his book, but Russ Kick didn't do that. His book looks kinda crackpot to me.


    Oh, my goodness, I love banana pudding!

    Saturday, August 05, 2006


    Interesting facts about pokeberries:

    The United States' Constitution was written with pokeberry ink.

    The ink was also used by Civil War soldiers to write letters home because it was available in the wild during the summer months... Walt Whitman is said to have used it to write dictated letters of wounded men when he was working at a field hospital.

    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    Why I hate hot...

    So, this evening, I was going to make myself an egg sandwich for dinner... And to put on this egg sandwich, I was sautéing some diced sweet onions and what I thought were mild chili peppers. Big mistake... 'Cause the peppers were supposed to be like slightly zesty bell peppers. I've cooked with them before. No precautions necessary, totally innocuous. The capsicum is almost undetectable and has never left a significant residue on my hands before. Well, these, apparently, were mutants. I mistakenly rubbed my left eye and instantly was blinded by the pain. It took over 30 minutes of alternately flushing my eye out with cold water and sugar water to get the sting to subside enough to open it and yet another 20 minutes before the burn went away completely. My fingers are still stinging, despite being washed what must be a hundred times and soaked in sugar water for about 15 minutes. My mom tasted a small piece and said they were hotter than jalapenos... Joy...

    So I decided not to use peppers in my eggs. Had to dump that batch and start a new one. Onions, dill and tarragon with Swiss cheese on a French baguette. Much better.