Saturday, October 29, 2011

Washington DC & Occupy

Blessings Darlings!

I moved out of the DC suburbs under a year ago, so I feel qualified to comment on why the government of Washington DC and the OccupyDC occupation are getting along so well.  So I'm going to share my unique insights with all y'all.

There are two major reasons, IMNHO.  The first is the unique relationship that DC and it's residents have with the Federal Govenment, the second has to do with .... the reality of the type of folks who so often get elected in the US.

I'll start with the fact that Washington DC and its residents do not have any federal political representation ... and that the Occupy movement is focused on the relationship that corporate money has on ... the federal government.  DC government can't even make their own laws without 'review' by Congress.  Washington DC is a not-represented US colony.  As a result, most of the city government is more than happy to help folks pressure the Federal govt about ANYTHING.  Poke them!  Harass them! DC Govt will stay out of your way as long as you don't cause any  more problems than the constant federal motorcades cause.  DC is used to protests. They've been thru' calm ones, mild ones, and everything in between.  After the WTO ones, OccupyDC is a bunch of scouts camping out in a park. The police like protests, in my view.  They justify  keeping lot of police hired, and dealing with them is FAR safer for the police than dealing with criminals and far FAR safer than going on a domestic violence call.  Back under Police Chief Ramsey the size of protests were routinely overestimated, the better, IMO, for the police to ask for more money from the city. 

Sidebar - for some protests under Ramsey I'd go into DC and watch them, taking the Spawn and teaching him to estimate crowd sizes.  I'm pretty good at crowd size estimation, in my opinion. 

The other major reason that OccupyDC and the Washington DC city council are getting along is .... Sigh.  We once again have a mayor who is under investigation of possible criminal wrongdoing.  Having protestors in town and having the press give THEM attention takes media attention off of him.  Personal political power is at stake, but only if the residents follow the story (and care about the story). Even if there is enough evidence to prosecute him, even if he's convicted, none of that matters.  What matters is voter memory.  The less the press carries the story, the shorter the memory of voters.

So, those are, in my view, the major reasons why OccupyDC is smiled upon by the DC city council.  They see it as something that can only help the status of the city and/or their careers.

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pushy Jewish Broad

Blessings Darlings!

I was raised Jewish, and I was raised in Skokie, Illinois.  That's sort of the epicenter of Chicagoland Middle Class Conservative Jewry.  By any ethnic consideration, I am a Jewitch, or Druish, depending on if you are coming from Wiccan or Druid perspective.  The 'woman of a certain size' version.

Which means that in business and social situations I tend to speak right up with my concerns/issues.  I do not suffer in silence - I make sure that everyone else suffers with me.  Add that to my Survivalist leanings, where a basic tenet is that s/he who hesitates is shot, and ... let's just say that when pushed I push back. Solidly.

Do you think I need a warning label?  Or just a camera crew to record the fun that occurs when folks don't realize this about me?

Frondly, Fern

Monday, October 24, 2011

Life, The Universe, and Everything

Blessings Darlings!

It's been REALLY busy around here lately, but nothing worth blogging about!  Switching the garden from summer to fall/winter.  Switching my COOKING from summer to fall/winter (stews, soups, baking again now that I don't have to worry about heating the house in summer).  Working out transportation issues now that the Spawn works and we still only have 1 car that we are sharing among the 3 of us.  Trying to find time and money to visit my mother in the nursing home in Chicago.  The hard work of feeding a family on what we'd get if we were on food stamps (which I can only do because I work at home and can make damn near everything from scratch while still working).

In fact, I'm going to go throw some bones into the oven, because roasted bones make better soup stock.  Then I can bring them and saved carrot scrapings, etc, and water to a boil, and make more soup stock.  I've been going thru' GALLONS of that this month, and am trying to get every particle of flavor out of every bone.

Business has been busy, but as you hardware and software geeks know - all development takes longer than you think it will.  Which means we are behind on several client's projects, which means we haven't been paid for several client's projects. 

And I'd prefer to be at OccupyDC than here.  Partly because I'm still having hot flashes and camping in the cold sounds REALLY nice, but mostly because I'm fully behind forcing our congresscritters into making real campaign finance reform.

Frondly, Fern

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Gritty Reality

Blessings Darlings!

To continue on the grain theme from yesterday ... I've been grinding my own flour again, now that it's cool and I'm doing a lot of baking again.  I don't bake 100% whole grain bread, for the record, because my family isn't fond of it.  Over time I'm raising the percentage of whole grains, but that's going to be a LONG LONG slog.

But since I am grinding and sifting and making corn meal mush and frying polenta and all, I ended up with a jar of ... well, *I* called the stuff corn grits, but in reality it was mostly husks.  Being cheap frugal, yesterday I figured I'd see if they WOULD cook up into grits.

The answer was ... not exactly.  Too many flakes of husk.  But ATSHTF, I'm sure we'd eat them happily.  They weren't AWFUL.  But we're not going to eat them until then.


Okay, I'll probably try them mixed into a loaf of white bread and see what happens next.  Shhhh.  Don't tell my family.  Let's keep it a secret.

Frondly, Fern

Friday, October 21, 2011

People Food

Blessings Darlings!

As many of you know, my food storage program is built around a base of feed-store bought wheat and corn (and, damn, I wish feed stores around here sold whole soybeans).  Some people have wondered about whether humans can/should be eating food that's sold for feed for animals - sure grains sold for direct human consumption are better somehow.  Cleaner? Better inspected?

Certainly the same products sold for human consumption are more expensive.  But better/cleaner/certified?  Nope!

While the Chubby Hubby isn't at all into prepping, really, he DOES bring a serious knowledge base into this part of the discussion.  While in college, he worked summers at a Huge Corn Processing Company.  They made (I'm sure they basically still exist now, but have been swallowed by an even LARGER Huge Corn Processing Company) most of the types of corn products used across the US: corn starch, corn sugar, corn syrup, glutens, flours, etc.  He has told me stories of how things work there.

The corn the company got was the same corn that the feed producers get. The same silo spits it out into the same train hopper cars.  The silo tests ALL of the corn for toxins.

The feed companies and the Human Processing company both use the same process to 'clean' the corn - fundamentally, using fans/compressed air to blow away things not the right weight as the kernels should be.  After that, the feed company fills 50 pound bags with the grain.  Meanwhile, the Corn Processor starts to play.

Corn Processor 'cleans' the corn .... by dumping the kernels water with sulfer dioxide in it, making the water a weak acid.  Yummy! This kills stops any mold from growing during the 24 hour soak, but allows enzymatic action in the kernels.  They then wet mill it, and the slurry gets divided into it's 4 main component parts - hulls starch, germ, and something I can't recall right now.  Dang. The splashing acidic slurry eats away at the concrete around the milling machines, by the way. 

Anyway, let's talk about where the starch goes.  It gets refined in TONS of different ways, for different purposes.  Every now and then, they take out a sample to test it.  When they take a sample, some spills on the floor. 

How do they clean the floor?  Oh, with water.  Where does the corn starchy water go? BACK INTO THE MIX FOR PROCESSING.  How yummy is THAT?

So, yeah.  I grind my own flour, from whole grains meant for animals.

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Journalistic Integrity

Blessings, Darlings!

Do you work in a large business, with lots of branches around the country (maybe around the world)?  Or, in ANY work situation do you ask the same probing questions of co-workers that you would of others?  Would you say to a co-worker that what they are saying doesn't make sense to you, and push them HARD for better answers on a non-work related issue they promote? 

Like, oh, for instance ..... if your co-worker was to organize some political thang.  And you were assigned to cover that political thing.  Would you push your co-worker for clear answers as hard as you would a stranger, knowing that you'll still be passing each other in the halls, hanging out with the same folks at work?  Would it be as easy for you to ask them the tough questions, and try to insist on answers? If you had more questions, and your work in the same building, would you seek them out and push for more answers?  Would that person then feel that they were in a hostile work environment?

I'd hope, that as a news person, you'd be able to do that.  But I understand why your employer would feel that you might have a hard time doing that, and that it might at least subconsciously affect your reporting.

Which, obviously, brings me to National Public Radio's (NPR) rules against any of it's employees participating in that NPR covers. The issue also is whether someone on NPR's payroll should be allowed to say something in one venue that NPR would not allow on its air. NPR’s ethics code says they cannot.

I'm betting that NPR would not allow it's employees to advocate, on the air, that congressional office buildings should be occupied.  Which is what StopTheMachine2011, the group that Lisa Simeone is on the board of directors of, did the other day.  I dunno just what they did today at the bank. And I blame the editor from the National Standard for the incident at the National Air & Space Museum.

I don't think that their policy is a great one.  I understand why they have it, but I think that there area better ways to promote journalistic integrity, like just saying they can't participate in things that they themselves cover.  But the policy is clear, and has been VERY public since NPR fired Juan Williams a few years back.

I AM amused at the folks crying censorship over this who were fine with Juan Williams being fired.  Just because I'm amused by folks who rationalize things like that. 

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Purple Sweet Potatoes

Blessings, Darlings!

I removed all the sweet potato vines from my garden.  They go into compost unlike the tomato vines which, due to risk of blight, don't get composted.  While removing the vines I found yet MORE potatoes.  Bringing my harvest up to about 18 pounds.  I'm VERY happy with those numbers, given I had NO idea what I was doing and planted only 3 slips 'lasagna' style over solid clay soil.  These are, after all, a crop that loves SANDY soil, the opposite of what I have!

So, I hear you asking, how are they for eating?  Remember - I've grown these in the wrong soil and in a drought/heat wave, so YMMV.  Not as sweet as most orange sweet potatoes to me, and while the skin on most of them is thin ... just under the skin is a fair amount of fiber which can be nasty.  But I'm sure that I'll learn how to deal with that better soon.

I expect that the leaves are edible, too, but haven't tried them yet.  The deer LOVE them.  I let the deer in at the end of the season, so they could help remove the vines.  Working WITH nature rocks!

So, again - nice flavor, GREAT color, GREAT yield.

Frondly, Fern

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Baby, it's cold outside

Blessings Darlings!

Actually, it's cold AND damp.  Rain, and the temperature hasn't gotten out of the 40's in days.  It's a colder snap than usual this early in the year. 

So we're trying to acclimate to fall/winter temperatures a bit earlier than we'd like to.  The Chubby Hubby even turned on the heat in the bedroom last night!  The house is 63 now, instead of 78.  I'm very unhappy - I have a cold and I'd be uncomfortable under the best of circumstances, and this is ... okay, it's a first world problem.  We CAN turn on the heat.  We CAN afford it right now. 

Since the weather is no longer nasty hot, I'm back to making soup and we're having that for most lunches.  Last week I made Huge Batch O' Chili. We're still eating that, and there's a half gallon in the freezer for some other time.  I'll probably make Barley Veggie with Beef next - we love us some barley!  The guys will probably insist on chicken noodle after that - they are kind of predictable.

Soups have been one of my favorite foods since I was a baby, apparently.  My Mother says that I couldn't get enough the first time she fed me chicken noodle soup.  I immediately became a soup addict.  Or at least a salt addict.  It's likely that was the first salty food I was given as an infant.

I often make soup in big enough batches that I can freeze a couple of quarts for some time when I'm too busy to make more.  I consider that good use of the freezer.  I'd probably can some of it but I'd have to can the full batch to fill the canner, and then what would we eat immediately?  Okay, that's not an insurmountable problem.

To sum up today's post:  Weather cold, soup good.

Frondly, Fern