Thursday, August 31, 2006


Radio Shack fires 400 employees via email. Classy.

The Children's database being developed in the UK, supposedly to protect children, will not include children of celebrities because, you know, no one ever wanted to harm a celebrity child. Just ask the Lindbergs, the Hearsts, or the Ramseys.

Also in the UK, Blair has increased the size of his propaganda office His government blames the 24/7 news coverage while others see it as a way to stave off his flagging policies in Iraq and elsewhere.

Funny difference in headlines today. The LA Times says:
Iraqi Forces Not Ready Yet, U.S. General Says
The Guardian Unlimited in the UK says:
The U.S. view of Iraq: We Can Pull Out Within A Year
The view on the ground: unbridled savagery.
Same story, different takes. The LA Times headline seems pessimistic while the Guardian's seems cynical. Neither are favorable.

Mike Malloy

Air America continues to shoot itself in the foot. It fired Mike Malloy yesterday. Malloy was filling in for the Randi Rhodes show this week, but alas no more. Listen good folks at Air America: Franken can be funny, but not often enough and it is painful to hear him on the air sometimes. I think he's a sincere and thoughtful man, but he's not a radio personality. The best thing for Air America would be for Franken to leave the airways to run for the Senate.

Jerry Springer? Worse. Hearing him think through an issue on the air is terribly unprofessional. He waffles, equivocates, and whines. Again, I'm sure he's sincere and thoughtful, but he's about as welcome as a limp cucumber in salad.

Randi Rhodes? She can be great, but she's on too long. I love Randi, but sometimes I feel as if she's trying to fill airtime when she gets going on an irrelevant rant.

Sam Seder? Pretty good. He's growing into his role. Seder's show is well prepared and he doesn't take crap.

Mike Malloy was a highlight on your network. I'm sure you got him for a fraction of the cost to get Springer and Franken. Do yourself a favor - get him back and let the other two go. The publicity factor for having Franken has worn out it's welcome. Seek, cultivate, and maintain some real talent. Malloy was one of those talented folks. Too bad you followed the Broadcast News method and went after the glamorous suit instead of the substance. You folks may know a lot about politics, but you don't know shit about radio.


Keith Olbermann hit one out of the ballpark last night. Read it here. Watch it here. Excerpt:
The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack.

Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet...

Sadly, we have no Winston Churchills evident among us this evening. We have only Donald Rumsfelds, demonizing disagreement, the way Neville Chamberlain demonized Winston Churchill.

History — and 163 million pounds of Luftwaffe bombs over England — have taught us that all Mr. Chamberlain had was his certainty — and his own confusion. A confusion that suggested that the office can not only make the man, but that the office can also make the facts.

Thus, did Mr. Rumsfeld make an apt historical analogy.

Excepting the fact, that he has the battery plugged in backwards.

His government, absolute -- and exclusive -- in its knowledge, is not the modern version of the one which stood up to the Nazis.

It is the modern version of the government of Neville Chamberlain.

But back to today’s Omniscient ones.

That, about which Mr. Rumsfeld is confused is simply this: This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely.

And, as such, all voices count -- not just his.

Had he or his president perhaps proven any of their prior claims of omniscience — about Osama Bin Laden’s plans five years ago, about Saddam Hussein’s weapons four years ago, about Hurricane Katrina’s impact one year ago — we all might be able to swallow hard, and accept their “omniscience” as a bearable, even useful recipe, of fact, plus ego.

But, to date, this government has proved little besides its own arrogance, and its own hubris.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Here it comes again

The rain returned to the Pacific Northwest yesterday. It was so nice to see some grey clouds and moisture on the ground. The summer was an odd one for the garden. It was hot and dry. We got our plants in late and that resulted in a booming crop for the most part. The past few days have been getting really cold at night which has resulted in many of our heat loving plants giving up the season. The rain is bound to help many of our plants, though. Last night it rained hard enough to wake us up at 1AM. It was impressive, beautiful and it reminded me of one reason that I like this area so much. Yea, I'm one of the weird ones who like the rain. I also like clouds and fog. I also like to get up at 4AM. Weird. Time now for some quickies:

Nobel Prize for literature winner Naguib Mahfouz has died. I have not read a lot of his work, but what I did read, I enjoyed.

Keystone Kops: Security folks make man with Arabic script on his T-Shirt, change shirts before he boards a flight from NYC. KK2, The Private Sector: AT&T has data on some 19,000 customers stolen from hacked website.

What is it with corrupt, incompetent Bush administration officials and horses? First it was Brownie and now it's for head of PBS and current State Department official Kenneth Tomlinson. Tomlinson is accused of over billing the government and using State Department employees for personal business, including assisting said horse farm.

Some British companies want an open door policy for workers from EU states. The request is causing a debate as it is feared that such a move will lower wages and increase instability. Ernesto came to Florida on a guest worker visa, but was downgraded to a tropical storm. While we're talking about the environment, read how global warming and rising seas have destroyed an atoll in the South Pacific.

Kurdish rebels declare that they will turn Turkey into a living hell. "Our motto is: 'more actions, bigger blows'." Sounds like the byline for a porn film to me. Seriously, this was not started by the war in Iraq, but that action has certainly agitated it once again.

Ted Stevens is revealed as the Senator who put a secret hold on a bill that would make government funding more transparent. No surprise since he an Robert Byrd are the kings of pork.

Speaking of pork, the Government Accountability Office concluded that tax-payer money spent by the government to combat drug use was money wasted. That was $1.2 billion wasted.

DJBC has a new mash-up tribute for Katrina out featuring New Orleans jazz musicians and the Wu-Tang Clan. Link or torrent via Boing Boing.

Violet Blue has become the sex columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. Congrats, Violet! Speaking of sex, a school teacher in Texas decided to take her fifth grade class on a field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art. Parents signed off on the field trip, but later called to complain when they discovered their children had seen nude figures in the art. The teacher has been put on probation.

Above image available here as a refrigerator magnet.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


You might notice the post below just appearing. Blogger had a problem on Sunday after I typed up the post and I couldn't publish it. Hence, it was a canned post only now appearing. Speaking of canning, we canned the remaining case of peaches on Sunday. Four quarts were canned with brandy and the remaining were canned using my light ginger syrup. One of the brandied peaches quarts didn't seal properly so we're testing them out as dessert this week. Ahem...

Some quickies for you: Rox Populi is having a contest. Re-Title Cheney's new biography and win $50. I've got my entry in. Have fun and vent!

The Rothenberg political report now says that the Democrats are likely to pick up 15 - 20 seats in the House this election. They need 15 to become a majority. The good news for the country is that this could provide us with a semi-divided government that will strike a slightly better balance in the country. The bad news is that Nancy Pelosi is as ethically corrupt politician as her Republican counterpart and about as effective.

has an amusing op-ed comic on airport security. While we're on the subject, comedian JJ Walker rates Seattle as the worst airport in the country. As Bruce Schneier noted, details are emerging in the British Terror cases and it appears that those cases may have been hurt by a rush to bust the terrorists to be. As Schneier summarized, there was "No imminent threat". By rushing to arrest, we got no information about a wider network, none about tactics as employed in the real world to carry out the attack, and less hard evidence that would have made for a better prosecution.

In the UK a school in London wants to begin fingerprinting every student. This has serious privacy implications. The school claims that it wants to install the expensive finger print identification system only to monitor attendance, because taking roll call apparently has been so flawed.

Will Floridians push for better border control when illegal immigrant and tropical storm Ernesto comes ashore? Will Governor Bush declare that his preparations for Ernesto are proof that his brother's proposed guest worker program will be effective?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Sunday moanin' quickies

Mattel is suing a Brazilian artist for portraying Barbie as a lesbian in some paintings. As the artist notes, Barbie is really portrayed as a bisexual.

U.S. involvement in the Iraqi war now surpasses it's engagement of Germany in WWII. For the record, it will surpass the engagement of Japan in December.

The next Swedish government may sell off the company that markets Absolut. Then again, they may not.

Global warming opens new business opportunities: selling air conditioners to Inuits. Sadly, that's not a joke.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


In this post on my travels to Peshastin and purchasing peaches, I mistakenly referred to "Smallwood Farms" as a stop on my journey. A careful reader wrote last night to correct me:
Smallwood's Harvest is in Peshastin....Smallwood Farms is in Okanogan
No business connection, just shirt tail relatives. I noticed the slight error in your son owns the Okanogan Smallwood Farms and has great Red Globe peaches. :)
So, it was Smallwood's Harvest that I visited. A usually packed to the gills sort of operation filled with produce and tourist trappings, some of which is good, but the atmosphere turns me off.

On the other paw, please visit Smallwood Farms in Okanogan and buy some Red Globe peaches. They are delicious, hold their shape well, and irresistible. Besides, you'll support family farming and what could be better than that!

Thanks, dear reader, for the kind note of correction.

But they're our Keystone Kops

The TSA can be so cute sometimes. Take the latest war against liquids, for instance. They tested - twice, mind you - a liquid that was carried into a terminal in a woman's luggage as positive for being an explosive. It turned out to be makeup. Now, to be fair, maybe it was some sort of collagen based product to make her lips appear fuller or to get rid of wrinkles.

More bizarre than that is this tale of a man who accidentally flushed his iPod down an airline toilet. Her tried to warn that he knew what the item in the toilet was, but was ignored. The plane was diverted, passengers were evacuated, the plane was searched. Only stink bombs were found. Short version here.

Only in Congress

Two Senators introduced a bill that would create an online, searchable database of which companies, organizations, and individuals receive federal funds. It's a sound idea proposed by fiscal conservatives to create transparency in government. I like the idea and I think many Americans would support it. There's only one problem: a Senator has put a secret hold on the transparency bill. Oh the irony...

The Gift the GOP keeps giving

Katherine Harris, she who crowned King Bush and who is running woefully behind in the polls in her attempt to unseat Florida Senator Bill Nelson, speaks truthiness to her wing of the GOP:
If you are not electing Christians, tried and true, under public scrutiny and pressure, if you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin," she told interviewers, citing abortion and gay marriage as two examples of that sin.

"Whenever we legislate sin," she said, "and we say abortion is permissible and we say gay unions are permissible, then average citizens who are not Christians, because they don't know better, we are leading them astray and it's wrong . . ."

Harris also said the separation of church and state is a "lie we have been told" to keep religious people out of politics.

In reality, she said, "we have to have the faithful in government" because that is God's will. Separating religion and politics is "so wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers," she said.

Ms. Harris, "God" is about "to choose" Bill Nelson. And, for the record, I believe that it was you and the Supreme Court who chose George Bush the first time around.

Friday, August 25, 2006


AllPeers has launched their beta plug in for Firefox. AllPeers is a P2P application that allows users to share files with family and friends over the Internet. I recently got into the private beta test and got an inside look at the application. Among the things I liked: Easy to use interface - very clean, generally good service, nice that it was in my browser, easy to set permissions as to whom got access to which files. Things I didn't like: Incompatibility with NoScript plug in made it impossible to remove folders that were shared, memory hog (big time), no way to turn it off without closing the browser (which made the memory hog issue an even larger complaint). It also doesn't like to have large folders shared. I dropped in a music folder on my hard drive that is several gigabytes and contains thousands of files. It took a long time to load the file. Once done, there was no way to drill down past the top level of the folder structure.

Now, note: Your mileage may vary. For instance, you may not use NoScript, so incompatibility will not be an issue there. AllPeers is aware of these problems as well as others and they are working on resolving them. If you don't mind playing tester for a while, then by all means try it out! I still believe in the concept and think that the company is coming up with a potential killer app for Firefox. The kinks in it now were just too much for me to continue in the beta.

While I'm mentioning plug ins: Free Enigma will encrypt/unencrypt emails sent using Gmail or Yascrew or other web based clients via Firefox using open source software. And BlackBoxSearch is a Greasemonkey script that feeds all searches into an anonymizer in order to prevent traces of your searches being tracked.

Want to have a brief time waster that will amuse you? Try looking at these photographs of rickshaw mudflaps.

Consumer Reports has been involved in a heated debate within the online security industry the past couple of weeks. Apparently, they tested anti virus products by making their own viruses. Now, as Sunbelt blog reports they tested anti spyware products using a tool that only tests blocking capabilities; not scanning and removing capabilities. In other words, as you read the blog posting, it is abundantly clear that Consumer Reports doesn't understand spyware, malware, or viruses well.

A geography teacher is placed on leave in Colorado for hanging flags from other nations in his classroom. A recently passed law in Colorado states that only U.S. flags are to be permanently hung on school grounds. A geography teacher for chrissakes! What next? Suspend science teachers for declaring Pluto a (dwarf tossed) planet?

Republican campaign strategy revealed:
...It is partly a campaign document, a product of the Republican strategy of scaring Americans into allowing the G.O.P. to retain control of Congress this fall. It fits with the fearmongering we’ve heard lately — like President Bush’s attempt the other day to link the Iraq war to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

But even more worrisome, the report seems intended to signal the intelligence community that the Republican leadership wants scarier assessments that would justify a more confrontational approach to Tehran. It was not the work of any intelligence agency, or the full intelligence panel, or even the subcommittee that ostensibly drafted it. The Washington Post reported that it was written primarily by a former C.I.A. official known for his view that the assessments on Iran are not sufficiently dire.

Laura Rozen reports that a former member of the National Security Councils of presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan, Gary Sick, has found numerous problems with the report. The Independent in the UK reports that the House Intelligence Committee report was prepared by a former staff member of UN ambassador John Bolton.

Wonkette reveals that Phyllis Schlafly and Jack Kemp are the same person. Don't just stop at the headline, read the first paragraph and note that they both use almost exactly the same wording, including the same quote from Mark Twain.

RIP, Maynard Ferguson

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Chinese ban strippers from funerals

Damn it, if they take away the strippers, then what is the dignity in death?


A color picture of the cat with the gold capped teeth. Bad ass!

Pets and the City
market upscale dog clothes, collars, carriers, and bling. Yes, you read that right: bling. One of their slogans is "Bling that Bitch" which would be funny except that photos throughout the site feature either pictures of dogs or WOMEN. I am not a prude. Women wearing dog collars is fine, but women wearing dog collars with are the farthest thing from the S & M scene (teal, for instance and bejeweled) and accompanied by a "Bling that Bitch" slogan is degrading in a most degrading way. Disgusting.

Republicans in former representative, full time asswipe, Tom Delay's former district (so dedicated to them that he changed residence to Virginia after resigning) sued to have his name removed from the ballot in Texas. He lost the suit which meant that Republicans in Sugarland had to find a write in candidate to push. Rather than pick someone with a simple name like "Uncle Tom Swift", they chose Shelley Sekula-Gibbs. That's going to be tough for voters to remember. To make matters worse, as TPMmuckraker reports, the electronic voting machine that will be used in that district makes it difficult to enter in a write in candidate (requiring a track wheel to scroll over individual letters in order to input them; rather than just typing away). Why would a district choose such machines? Perhaps I'm being cynical, but I suspect it was to assist in eliminating the possibility that a write in candidate would succeed.

War and Piece is reporting that the administration is sending out feelers for candidates to replace Rumsfeld. A good move, if a belated one. After all, who would want the job, now? Other than the most publicity hungry sycophant around who's looking for a quick way to rise to the limelight, I mean. Apparently, at least one candidate has already turned Bush down even after a personal arm twisting.

Plan B has been approved
in the U.S. after 3 years of political delays, the head of the FDA quitting and her successor having his nomination put on hold for not allowing science to dictate it's outcome. Kudos go to Patty Murray and Hillary Rodham-Clinton for leading the charge on this one. Still, it wasn't a total win. Pharmacists will keep it behind the counter and it will only be available to women 18 years and older. But this is a step forward and as such it should be cheered. Now, can we get back to Plan A (sensible sex education)?

The solar system is suddenly down to 8 planets after Pluto was dissed.

Here's some erotic photography to take your mind off the universe. NSFW

Man born with two penises wants one removed. Woman born with two uteruses feels blessed.

Aztecs ate at least 550 conquistadors. North American CEOs laud the increase in productivity they've achieved. The Bush administration responds, "We couldn't have done Iraq without you."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Guns for gals...hand grenades, too!

Double Penetration: Man born with two fully functional penises wants one removed.

Armor of God pajamas - otherwise known as unisex nighties.

Hitler's Cross restaurant in Mumbai, India is causing a furor. Sadly, decorated with the theme as well.

Katrina funds wasted by contractors and the government. Not shocking. However, Hizbollah has committed at least $150 million to rebuild and rebuild bombed houses in Lebanon. If they finish first, should we see about contracting with them for the people in New Orleans? Just askin'!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Was Bush hungover?

Hat tip to Wonkette for this video from a news conference during which Bush was asked about the judge's ruling that warrantless wire taps are illegal. Not only are his remarks off point and mostly unintelligible, but he also looks like his staff spent the better part of the morning pumping him up with coffee and washing his mouth out with Listerine.


Garden bounty 2006

Garden bounty 2006
Originally uploaded by B.D.'s world.
Kohlrabi, carrots, lettuce, roses and peas.

Pea vines

Pea vines
Originally uploaded by B.D.'s world.
The peas got to be over 7 feet tall this year!


Originally uploaded by B.D.'s world.
Up close and personal.

Bed of greens

Bed of greens
Originally uploaded by B.D.'s world.
Early shot of the garden beds. In the forefront are the early greens: lettuce, spinach, kohlrabi, carrots, and beets. In the background to the right are early zucchini plants. To the left background are bell peppers and our monster bronze fennel.

Garden picks

Garden picks
Originally uploaded by B.D.'s world.
Another shot of the early garden haul.


Originally uploaded by B.D.'s world.
Some selections from our garden this year: roses, kohlrabi, carrots, beets, and raspberries.


Originally uploaded by B.D.'s world.
This site has an applet that turns your web page into graphs. The dots mean:

blue: for links (the A tag)
red: for tables (TABLE, TR and TD tags)
green: for the DIV tag
violet: for images (the IMG tag)
yellow: for forms (FORM, INPUT, TEXTAREA, SELECT and OPTION tags)
orange: for linebreaks and blockquotes (BR, P, and BLOCKQUOTE tags)
black: the HTML tag, the root node
gray: all other tags

Friday, August 18, 2006


As I suspected, Turkey and Iran are not looking too favorably on the Kurds. Both are amassing forces on Iraq's border and shelling the Kurds. Oil pipeline parts maker, Weir, now says Iraq is too dangerous to operate in.

The three men accused of plotting to blow up a bridge in Michigan after being caught with 999 cell phones (because just a couple wouldn't do) have been charged with fraud; not terrorism. Fraud, you ask? Apparently, they were unlocking the phones.

In this video, Joe Scarborough discusses with another Republican whether or not George W. Bush is an idiot (or, at least, "lacks intellectual curiosity"). Democrats have been saying this for ages. Now Republicans are taking those complaints seriously.

Libertarian Julian Sanchez takes the idiot factor further by satirizing the concept that Bush is reading Camus while on his summer holiday. It's pretty damn funny.

Countries who offered to add peace keepers in Lebanon include Indonesia and Malaysia, neither of which recognize Israel's right to exist. Israel says "No thanks." France, who is heading the force, offers to send 400 people. Robert Fisk points out that the perception that Lebonese forces didn't occupy southern Lebanon is a lie.

Ethiopia goes from drought to flooding and both are a disaster.

The true history of the discovery of the drug ecstasy. Apparently Merk developed it while looking for a blood clot medicine.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Jasper Wong

Weird...I wanted to add this to the post below, but for some reason Blogger isn't allowing me to add images during the edit posts mode. Anyhow, here's an example of Jasper Wong's work.


Breast implants save a woman's life.

Abstinence only education fails in Canton, Ohio school. Sixty five students became pregnant, so now they've decided to teach birth control methods as well.

A touching article on Mexican immigrants.

British Deputy Prime Minister says Bush is crap! Robert Fisk continues his series on Lebanon.

Senate Democrats are finally getting pissed off a Loserman, um, I mean Lieberman. Welcome to reality, folks.

Bush thinks Iraqis don't appreciate what we've brought to their country. Snip:
More generally, the participants said, the president expressed frustration that Iraqis had not come to appreciate the sacrifices the United States had made in Iraq, and was puzzled as to how a recent anti-American rally in support of Hezbollah in Baghdad could draw such a large crowd.
Roadside bomb attacks are up in Iraq in July. Snip:
“The insurgency has gotten worse by almost all measures, with insurgent attacks at historically high levels,” said a senior Defense Department official who agreed to discuss the issue only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for attribution. “The insurgency has more public support and is demonstrably more capable in numbers of people active and in its ability to direct violence than at any point in time.”
The U.S. military dismissed more soldiers for being homosexuals in 2005 than 2004. Because, you know, they have all the people that they need.

Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, thinks that the alleged UK terrorism plot was more propaganda than anything else. There is reason to be skeptical.

Senator Orin Hatch on how terrorists love Democrats:
The senator stressed that the Middle East is the haven for terrorism and if the United States leaves too soon the terrorists will follow them back to the United States and we have World War III. "They're waiting for the Democrats here to take control, let things cool off and then strike again."
Never mind the fact that Republicans have been saying that they've been preventing terrorism the last several years. Um, I guess those attacks occurred during Republican regimes, but the Democrats will clearly invite the attacks and just let them happen. Puleeze.

Finally, check out the art work of Jasper Wong - incredible.


"Honey, when he gets here I'm going to let him have it. I can do that, too, you know." Helen Hauff was speaking to me. I had been sitting in front of her fruit stand for about an hour yesterday when this proclamation burst forth. She was a pleasant hostess, but every minute longer I sat there seemed to irritate her more about the fact that the peaches she ordered hadn't shown up on time.

Time? It was about 1:30 yesterday afternoon. We were sitting on plastic chairs under the awning of her stand. The temperature was just getting hot, about 80 degrees.

The day had started out much cooler. At about 8:00 AM I started my drive towards Peshastin, just east of Leavenworth, along Highway 2. A little more than a half hour later and I was sitting in a booth in the Index Cafe, ordering breakfast and preparing to read a little of Neil Stephenson's novel, Confusion. The meal at the Cafe was typical: tasty, loads of fat, and large. The service was also typical: prompt and friendly, relaxed. I didn't finish the meal, but I did get ten pages read in between bites, listening to the conversation at the table next to me, and taking time to stair at the mountains.

It was a chilly morning. Clouds hung over much of Puget Sound in the morning. The mountains were the same, except that the clouds seemed a little closer and the tops of the mountains were assumed. Such grey days are to be relished, I thought, as I stared at where the top of Index point should be seen. A cloud obscured the top of the point. Whisps of it, like cotton candy, seemed to swirl around the trees that could be seen under the bottom edge of the cloud.

Soon enough it was time to head over the Pass to eastern Washington. I half expected to find sunshine, though the radio report said that I shouldn't. Luckily, the weather report is often wrong here. Leavenworth was covered in bright morning sunshine. The place not only was less busy, it felt that way. There were fewer tourists here than on weekends, so less traffic, too. The public pool already had several occupants, mostly children while moms sat in chairs on the side and chatted, keeping at least one eye on the kids.

I got to the Hauff family farm and fruit stand just before 11 AM. A couple of cars were already parked in the drive way when I pulled in. Helen Hauff, the owner of the stand since the 1950s was working the counter. Helen is about 4' 11" tall and maybe 90 pounds. She's 77 years old this year, but you wouldn't know it. Her hair is white, but her skin is surprisingly smooth and she's a spry woman, full of life. In the three years I've been going to her stand, she's always hauling cases of peaches, apples, pears, plums, corn - anything she sells - around the stand for customers.

Peaches were my agenda yesterday. Helen sells red globe peaches that taste wonderful and hold good shape when canned. I put them in a light syrup (can't stand too much sugar) flavored with slices of ginger when I can them. They've become favorites around my house and several relatives now ask for them as gifts.

"Honey, I don't have any right now. They are supposed to be in around noon. So, if you come back then, I'll have them for you." Helen Hauff calls everyone "Honey". She's a sweet lady. There's no sense that she's putting on some sort of act when she calls you that.

I told her that I'd be back and I headed down the road to another stand that I usually stop at. Smallwood farms is not small and there isn't much farm there. It's a more commercial operation than the Hauff family. As such, they usually carry a lot more fresh produce. I was interested in ears of corn which I noted Helen did not have. But neither did Smallwood Farms on this visit. Their tomatoes interested me, but they didn't smell fresh and the melons seemed old as well. Disappointed, I decided to head towards Chelan for another couple of stands. They didn't have corn or Italian Prunes (for my manager). Some would call that a wasted trip, but it really accomplished two things. First, I killed time before heading back to the Hauff stand and second, I had a beautiful drive along the Columbia river.

The place is such a contrast. On one side of the road there is the Columbia River along with a few houses and farms, irrigated no doubt by river water. On the other side of the road is parched land with scrub brush, rocks, steep inclines, and nary a tree. It's a lovely area for a leisurely drive. I was not the only one taking it in and I took my time enjoying the scenery. At one point, I almost pulled into a park for a nap or some reading, but I didn't have any sun screen so I didn't want to risk burning my head.

Instead, I went back to the Hauff farm. It was about half past noon. No peaches yet, but Helen was going to call him. "He said he'd be here by noon. He's late. Back in the day, you were never late. If you were, then you lost you business. It irritates me when people are late like this." Helen certainly seemed agitated. I tried to reassure her - I wasn't going anywhere, but she was annoyed. Even more so when she couldn't get the man on the phone. "Well, he must be on the way. He'll be here soon. Want to wait?"

So it came to be that I was sharing a table and chairs with Helen Hauff. There are worse ways to spend an afternoon. Helen told me about her niece, whose husband died two weeks ago in a motorcycle accident (he did an illegal turn and the other driver was intoxicated). I caught her up on the latest scoops on widely reported crime cases (Helen doesn't watch much television during the summer). Helen told me about each long term customer that came to the stand. Like the guy who comes and asks if she has any pineapples every time he shows up. Or the woman who always comes dressed to the nines.

She told me about where she gets her peaches and about how hard it was when she started. "It's gotten hotter and drier. There's more competition. But I was lucky and was in early, so I have a lot of return customers." Every so often Helen would get up and wait on customers, or water her flowers, or speak with her son, or take a delivery. In those moments, I just sat and read my book.

"Honey, can I buy ya something to drink? We've got Pepsi, lemonade, um, Jones soda, uh..." Lemonade was fine. The temperature was hitting 85, according to Helen's thermometer. "I just spoke to him. He's going to be another hour. You don't want to wait." I looked into Helen's eyes. There didn't seem to be a question mark at the end of that statement so I was trying to determine if she was trying to scoot me out of there. Her eyes had a look of irritation at the farmer and sorry that she couldn't help me.

"No, I'll wait. We can chat or I can read. I've got nothing better to do and besides, it would cost me more to drive back again to buy these from you. I can't get red globes at the farmer's markets."

"Oh, just sit right there." She was pleased. She walked into her shop and came back with some Rainier cherries. "I'm giving these to Stevie to take home to his family, but here you take some." Stevie, as I had learned earlier, is her son. "No, they don't sell the red globes at farmer's markets. They don't grow many of them anymore - just sort of fallen out of favor these days. They're good peaches, though. One of my favorites."

"I was going to come up Sunday to pick them up."

"Well, it would've been a waste of time on Sunday because I didn't have them then. Today is my first shipment of the year. I'm getting 75 cases and you're getting the first two from the new crop. And if he doesn't get here soon..." her voice trailed off for a bit. "I'm going to tell him that he owes you a case." I explained that wouldn't be necessary. As we spoke, fresh corn arrived, picked in the field an hour or so ago. Further proof that I wasn't wasting my afternoon!

When she sat back down, after her kevetching about the peach delivery, Helen told me that she's going to close her stand. "Honey, the state wants to build a new exchange for the road here. My son has all of the details. I don't know what all's going to happen. I just know that they say I'll have through 2007, but not 2008." That's sad. Helen's stand sits on the pear orchard that she and her husband founded in the 1940s. Her son runs that farm today while Helen takes care of the stand that she's operated since 1952. The state plans on buying them out. By doing so, they are leaving the more commercial stands down the road in place and losing another family business. Some like to crow about estate taxes; I'll just bitch about the state.

Helen tries to play it off. She's old, she tells me and ready to retire. I don't believe a word of it. What's she going to do? "I'll go to California and live with my sister. That's what I do during the winter anyhow. After next year, I guess I just won't come back..." Her voice trails off again. Memories flashing through her mind. "I was here before that gas station across the street. It's gone. Closed down last year after hearing about the road changes. The owner also owns that self storage place next door. The state is closing that, too, but he bought the property right next to it and he was gonna build an antique mall, but now he's gonna build a new self storage place. Those things make lots of money. People pay more to store than the stuff they own is worth! Now, where are those peaches?!?"

The peaches arrived at about 3:30. I had spent 3 hours, reading, talking with Helen, enjoying the sunshine, sharing cherries, sipping lemonade, speaking with Helen's customers, breathing in the hot, humid, and smokey air (wild fires in the area) outside of Peshastin. Much worse ways to spend a day off. Now, I had my two cases of peaches, 3 ears of corn, and 3 winter squashes. "Thank you, thank you, thank you, very, very, very much" Helen said to me.

"No, thank you for the lovely afternoon. I'm going to miss you when you're not here anymore. In the meantime, I'm going to come back and cherish it ever more."

"Ah, honey..." a tear appeared in her eye, but before it could take hold, Helen smacked her hand on her counter and said "I'll see you, soon. Hi folks! What can I do for you?" And she was off to the next customers.

As I drove through Leavenworth, the smoke for the wild fires was drifting in front of the mountains, making everything hazy. A different kind of fog and clouds from the morning ones, I thought. The silhouettes of the mountains reminded me of Japanese landscape paintings - the ones done in shades of grey where forms are more important than details. I drove into that landscape and away from the more colorful world of Hauff farms and I couldn't help but think that her area was going to get a little more grey when that farm is gone.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


The President is delusional about the Israel/Hizzbollah conflict. Near as anyone can tell, the fight was a draw at best.
President Bush asserted yesterday that Hezbollah was defeated in its month-long conflict with Israel, casting the fighting that killed hundreds of Lebanese and Israeli civilians as part of a wider struggle "between freedom and terrorism."
George Will bravely looks into the minds of those like Bush:
This farrago of caricature and non sequitur makes the administration seem eager to repel all but the delusional. But perhaps such rhetoric reflects the intellectual contortions required to sustain the illusion that the war in Iraq is central to the war on terrorism, and that the war, unlike "the law enforcement approach," does "work."
New Scientist News reports on a British study that claims that alcohol and tobacco are more dangerous drugs than Ecstasy, LSD, or marijuana.

Pet Peeve for the last several weeks: news media that insist on using the word "Bombay" when referring to the Indian city of "Mumbai". Worse? Using both interchangeably in an article.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Post Katrina

Reason magazine has a great article by Jonathon Rauch on the aftermath of Katrina, one year later. Rauch visits the St. Bernard's parish and speaks with several people about the problems and their accomplishments.


Curtailing rights was supposed to make us safer from terrorists. Yet, as demonstrated last week in Britain, it hasn't. Still, Michael Chertoff assures us that if we curtail more rights, then the world will be safer. What happened in Britain was that a neighbor tipped off police to the suspects and then good investigation techniques were followed. No curtailing of rights was needed to capture the alleged terrorists.

It shouldn't be any problem for Chertoff to get the measures he wants. According to the Boston Globe, most representatives in Congress don't bother reading the wording of intelligence bills - they just vote for them trusting the administration. Note: That's Republicans and Democrats alike.

Seymour Hersch:
According to a Middle East expert with knowledge of the current thinking of both the Israeli and the U.S. governments, Israel had devised a plan for attacking Hezbollah—and shared it with Bush Administration officials—well before the July 12th kidnappings...

The Israeli plan, according to the former senior intelligence official, was “the mirror image of what the United States has been planning for Iran.”
Robert Fisk has written several articles on Lebanon from his home in Beirut. From the latest:
The US saw this war as an opportunity to humble Hizbollah's Iranian and Syrian sponsors but already it seems as if the tables have been turned. The Israeli military appears to be efficient at destroying bridges, power stations, gas stations and apartment blocks - but signally inefficient in crushing the "terrorist" army they swore to liquidate.

U.S. citizens are near the bottom of countries that believe the theory of evolution is true. Only Turkey's population ranked lower in 34 countries surveyed.

Know and practice your rights during police stops.

Plasma television screens use 4 times the amount of electricity as CRTs.

This is rich: the RIAA wants to depose the family of a dead man in order to collect funds from his estate. Being the sensitive organization that it is, the RIAA is giving the family 60 days to grieve.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Schneier Op Ed

In the Star Tribune:

Airport security is the last line of defense, and not a very good one at that. Sure, it'll catch the sloppy and the stupid -- and that's a good enough reason not to do away with it entirely -- but it won't catch a well-planned plot. We can't keep weapons out of prisons; we can't possibly keep them off airplanes.

The goal of a terrorist is to cause terror. Last week's arrests demonstrate how real security doesn't focus on possible terrorist tactics, but on the terrorists themselves. It's a victory for intelligence and investigation, and a dramatic demonstration of how investments in these areas pay off.

Read it in it's entirety at the link above.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Have I got this right?

Lesse: The U.S. is attacked by terrorists. We, in turn, attack Afghanistan - the country harboring the terrorists. But, before we can actually take out the leaders, they flee to Pakistan, an ally. We get bored and turn our attention to Iraq. One reason put forward for attacking Iraq is that we'll be fighting terrorists on their own turf and keeping them from our shores. Yesterday, the U.K. announces arrests of alleged Pakistani terrorists plotting to bomb planes over the U.S. shores. We're still in Iraq. The policy proposed has clearly not worked in any method put forth before the Iraqi war. Somehow, this is the fault of those who want to phase out of Iraq and re-direct the money spent towards real protection of U.S. shores and fighting real terrorists?

Bullshit, plain and simple. Obviously, Bush policy reason number 437 as to why we went into Iraq has failed. But, he cannot admit defeat, so he blames Democrats and those who would elect the likes of Ned Lamont in Connecticut. Until now, I've not commented on Connecticut's senate race. Neither have I commented on Pennsylvania, New York, or any other such race outside of Washington. The reasons for this are simple: A) the whole media hype about bloggers taking it to Lieberman is not reality based (and any blogger who thinks that they had a hand in it needs to get their egos re-tuned) and B) it's not my business. I live in Washington and my votes go towards electing a senator from this state. Frankly, I'm appalled by the money that comes across state lines from people and companies that are not based in my state. If I had it my way, such money would be forbidden. Therefore, I don't generally feel the right to comment on what persons voters from other states elect. Sure, I have opinions, but I share them among friends and don't publish them elsewhere.

However, the statements from Dick Cheney regarding Lamont's win made this particular issue a national one. It is simple fear mongering. It's the same strategy that the administration used in the last election - let Dick make the worst, most outrageous comments and let Curious George make the more tempered remarks. To add insult to injury, the statements are just false. Lieberman, rather than demonstrate the fallacies inherent in Cheney's argument (namely that Lamont would yank resources from Iraq and apply them towards real protection and real terrorists), chose to take the administration's statements as talking points and attempt to lambaste Lamont. Does he think this is going to win him Democratic voters? Hell, that's one reason that Lamont won the primary! Let me be clear: Lamont won the primary not because he was against the Iraqi war, but rather because he didn't spend so much time sucking bile from Cheney's asshole. Lamont doesn't blindly throw support behind a President just because the country is in a state of terror. Lamont isn't kissing the Republican asses that blindly follow a leader of failed stewardship. The rejection of Lieberman was for these reasons. Democrats support candidates that they may disagree with about the war (Hilary Clinton's numbers are still high regardless of her position on the war). They do not support someone who appears to be a lapdog of the President on such issues and that's what Lieberman appeared to be and, from yesterday's attack, still appears to be.

Friday, August 04, 2006


Former Seattle police chief, Norm Stamper, publishes an op-ed in The San Diego Union Tribune on the causes of drug violence in Mexico. Hint: We're the biggest part of the problem.

Surfing at work? Perhaps some material not safe for work or perhaps you just want to hide it from the boss? Try workFriendly, which reformats any page to look like a Word document, removing images, etc.

Curry is brain food.

Friday Random Ten

01) Thievery Corporation - Mathar
02) DJ Prince - Nightshift Dance
03) Akika Yano - Hitotsudake
04) Ben Harper - With My Two Hands
05) James Taylor Quartet - The Scene
06) Dick Hyman and Mary Mayo - Space Reflux (Blues in 5/4)
07) Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter - You Are Not Gotten Here
08) Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers - A La Mode
09) Ministry - She's Got A Cause
10) Roy Ayers - Don't Stop the Feeling

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Well, it's been a tough couple of days on the PC. Our story begins in June when Windoze update was running. I shut it down mid-coitus, as it were, and the computer did not react well to that. For one thing, update hung. For another, the PC would not completely shut down. *sigh*

Still, I ignored the problem hoping the gremlins might pop in and apply a fix to the machine. After two months that hadn't happened, so I begrudgingly decided that it was my duty to deal with the mess. I decided that my problem was probably an unstable Windoze install, so I went ahead with a plan to repair Windoze.

That took several hours. At first I thought that I'd use my Windoze CD and slipstream Service Pack 2 into it so I wouldn't have to do as much updating. However for some reason which is still unclear to me, my burner wouldn't burn the disc either by creating an ISO or burning an ISO. I tried the slowest speed possible and no love. This meant that I had to do it the old fashioned way (and, of course, it took me several hours to resolve myself to that method).

I loaded the Windoze disc in and began the repair. It took a fair amount of time, but completed it's task successfully. As I had downloaded SP2 earlier, I went ahead and ran it on my machine from the disc drive. Calling home that night to warn the co-signer, I found out that the update had failed. *sigh* Trying the SP2 update the next morning revealed another failure, but this time after a reboot, the machine read that SP2 had indeed taken hold.

Next step was to get the remaining updates (54 for Windoze alone). Once again, that took some time, but 53 of the 54 installed without a hitch. Well, one hitch - the video driver was no longer valid and that hosed up my screen so that I was seeing everything in 4 colors and at 640 x 480 resolution. Easy fix as I just downloaded the latest driver from the manufacturer's website, but another delay. Then I upgraded to IE 7 and went to the Microsoft Updates site. Nine more updates were called for (including the one that failed). At this time, for no apparent reason, my downloads stalled just as they had done in June. *sigh* A little research revealed that I had to shut down the Background Intelligence Service and the Automatic Update service and re-register the DLLs related to those processes. That did the trick! Seven of the 9 updates downloaded and installed correctly.

Of the two remaining updates, one was for the .NET 2.0 framework. For some reason that update did not want to take. Finally, I came across dotnetFx_cleanup_tool. I uninstalled .NET 2.0 Framework, then reinstalled it and applied the update and all was well. That left one more update and for the life of me I couldn't figure out why it wouldn't apply. It took nearly an hour before my eyes saw the problem: it was Office XP SP3 and I'm running Office 2003. Doh!

Finally, Windoze was fixed and up and running properly. But while this was happening, another problem crept up. Mozilla Thunderbird had an update and, for what ever reason, my RSS feeds stopped reading. Today I spent a few hours tracking down the problem. In the process, I did a clean uninstall and clean reinstall of Thunderbird. I reinstalled my profile using MozBackup. MozBackup did a wonderful job of restoring my data and extensions, etc. However, the RSS problem persisted. I asked questions on the Mozillazine forums, but got no reply.

It occurred to me that I should run the Java Console built into Thunderbird and capture a detailed error message. I copied the message into the forums in hopes of some good advice, but none came. I read the message closely, realized that one file was pinpointed in the message as being the problem and so I decided to investigate it further myself. Lo and behold, I found my problem. During the upgrade my feeditems.rdf file became corrupted. That file stores the URLs for individual posts from an RSS feed. It must be in synch with the feeds.rdf file (which stores the feed URL) in order for Thunderbird to function properly as an RSS reader. Someone on the forums confirmed this for me, though that person referred to these as database files and they are nothing of the sort. They are flat XML files that I read with notepad.

The solution? I had a backup of the uncorrupted file from the end of May. I restored the file, but it was still out of synch with the feeds file. So, I manually went in and re-entered the feed URL for any of the feeds that did not update automatically (which was most of them). This seemed to do the trick, even if I had to look at the error message saying that that feed URL was already in the load. Two hours later and Thunderbird was reading all of my feeds again. Backups and a little digging saved the day.

Still, many people have experienced such problems with this latest Thunderbird update. This is certainly not a good or proper way of storing the data. The program needs a much more robust system of maintaining that data if it is to be considered a serious tool for RSS feeds. It's nice to have that functionality in the program, but most people are not going to take the time to A) run backups as often as they should or B) to investigate what went wrong. My post here is to aid the more diligent people who are having problems. Unfortunately, if you don't have a backup of your feeds somewhere, then there's nothing that I know of that can be done for you. Your best bet might be to export the feeds, import them elsewhere (for safe keeping and to make certain that the export functioned properly), the clear out both the feeditems.rdf and the feeds.rdf files and re-import your feeds into Thunderbird (assuming that the prior export worked properly).

As for the file structure, you'll have to rebuild that manually. Also, thanks to the reinstall that I did, my spam filter is re-learning my spam rules, the RSS feed posts that I had labeled for organizational purposes are no longer labeled, and the individual rules I put on folders for retaining feed posts (no more than 30 days) had to be reapplied folder by folder.

In any case, I'm back. But for the rest of today, I'm going to take a break from the computer.