Health Insurance Inc.

August 20, 2009 by

On August 17, 2009 the DOW went down something like 180 points.  Most stocks tanked.  However some stocks performed pretty well that day.  People that are generally in favor of more competition.  Some people also think the government does a lousy job at most things.  I’m still amazed that I can send a letter from here to Alaska for 44 cents and that it will get there in a few days.

So Obama had a plan to allow the government to set up a health insurance program that could introduce some competition into the private marketplace.  In case you haven’t noticed there isn’t a whole lot of competition in the health insurance marketplace.  It’s basically run like an oligoply.  That is there are few players due to high barriers to entry.

So people that are generally in favor of competition and think the government does a sucky job are opposed to the government competing with private health insurers.

You can imagine how fearful private health insurance corporations are of the government offering services.  Just like drug dealers who don’t like other dealers trading on their turf, private health insurance corporations are deathly afraid of losing business to government.  They want to protect their own trade.  Remember private companies like Aetna, CIGNA and Humana care about profits before all other things.  Your health isn’t even a second though.  First thought is profits and the second thought is shareholders.

So on August 17, 2009 the market tanked.  It went down 2% or so.  This was also the day that Obama said he would take the public option (government offered insurance) off of the table, or so the rumor mill swirled.

What stocks do you suppose did great on the day when most others fell, health insurers.  As soon as the public option was removed from consideration the health insurers rebounded because they know that they don’t have to compete.  Sorta like a drug dealer that caps his competition.  When everyone else tanked Aetna, CIGNA and Humana all had a banger of a day because competition was stifled.  Each of these stocks went up about 5% on a day that the broader market was hit by large declines.

Don’t be a tool of for profit health insurance corporations.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!! ©

I written about burdock a few times and explained the many medicinal uses of it so I figured I’d show a couple pics of second year plants in flower.

p1010002Do you recognize these burrs/  Have you pulled them off of your dog or yourself after a ramble in the woods?

p1010003Well now you can spot this plant and now you know that the roots from the first years plants and the young leaves are both edible.  So supermarkets even sell burdock root.  Also, burdock root is a major ingredient in may traditional Chinese medicines.

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Guns at protests

August 18, 2009 by

Good.  In case you haven’t seen it, a man carried what looks to be an AR at a protest in Phoenix, AZ. art.obama.gun.pool That’s fine by me.  I think it’s good to exercise our rights.  I also think that it’s good for those in government to be aware that the forceful overthrow of government is always an option.

PHOENIX, Arizona (CNN) — A man toting an assault rifle was among a dozen protesters carrying weapons while demonstrating outside President Obama’s speech to veterans on Monday, but no laws were broken. It was the second instance in recent days in which weapons have been seen near presidential events.”

I understand that some folks are concerned.  I figure some people who are opposed are just anti-gun or gun control nuts.  I don’t care about them.

Then there is probably another group of folks who are concerned that carrying guns at political protests can lead to violence.  I understand their concerns.  I hope that those in power are concerned too.

gun-at-town-hall-chyron

And at an Obama town hall meeting in New Hampshire another protester had his sidearm openly displayed.

Once again I think it’s fine and appropriate for American citizens to be exercising their rights.  I also think it’s important for our elected representatives to understand that change can be forced too.  Most Americans were against the bailouts for Wall Street, yet our congresspeople ignored MILLIONS of phone calls and emails and letters and went ahead and bailed out big finance and big insurance.

It’s great for people to get out and protest things.  I wish more Americans took to the streets to petition the government for a redress of our grievances. Be careful though folks, cops being what they are, don’t allow yourself to be drawn into some unnecessary conflict with the blue enforcers of government policy.

Those we elect need to know and understand that they will be held accountable.  Law is in the books.  Order comes about through the ongoing threat of force.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!!! ©

This is lamb’s quarters.  It is definitely one of the more tasty wild edibles.  Some stuff is good to eat and I’ll grab whenever I run into.  Stuff such as berries, the blueberries, the blackberries and mulberries.  Yum.  Then there is other stuff that is genuinely good to eat to, stuff like lambs quarters, dandelions and purslane fall into this category.  Then you got a whole lot of stuff that just ain’t that good and I’d only eat if I was hungry.  Anyways, back to the point at hand, lambs quarters.  This stuff is in the second category.  it is good to eat anytime.  Lambs quarters is the pale looking plant with the leaves shaped like goose feet.  that’s also another name for lamb’s quarters – white goosefoot.

q10Here is a better shot of a lamb’s quarter plant.  Some of the ways I spot this plant are the whitish leaves that seem kind of waxy and the hollow stem.  It can grow 4-5 feet tall and gets massive seed heads on it.  These plants develop so many seeds that Indians used to collect the seed and grind it to flour.  You can also boil the seed and make a sort of oatmeal from it.

q9Wildman Steve Brill writes, This European relative of spinach and beets, which grows throughout the North America, bears large quantities of edible, spinach-flavored leaves you can collect from mid-spring to late fall. It’s one of the best sources of beta-carotene, calcium, potassium, and iron in the world; also a great source of trace minerals, B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, and fiber.”

Lamb’s quarters grows everywhere.  I guarantee you that if you don’t know what it is there is some growing within a few hundred yards of where you live – city, country or suburbs and you consider it a weed.  You want to eat the youngest leaves or the smallest leaves from the top of the plant.  This is a great plant to start foraging with because it is easy to ID and really does taste great.  In addition it could keep you alive.  This is a real tasty wild edible.  Get yourself some field guides, positively ID the ones in your neighborhood and try it out.

Our future, the future

August 14, 2009 by

Those of us living in the reality based world expect the economy and the economic outlook of the average person to get worse over the coming years.  Sure there’ll be ups and downs for as one of my favorite writers writes, “the market doesn’t zig and zig; the market zigs and zags.”

A formerly homeless man was arrested and charged with injuring two homeless people when he threw a Molotov cocktail into the large concrete pipe where the victims were staying, Lynn police and fire investigators said.  Brian Bowman, 28, admitted throwing the lighted Molotov cocktail into an unused concrete sewer pipe in a vacant lot at 229R Lynnway around 1:30 a.m. June 26, while the victims were inside, according to a fire investigation report.

The catalyst of this firebombing, other than economic hopelessness, was an argument at some point over the victim allegedly stealing the perpetrator’s fishing gear.  If you are homeless and/or hungry I imagine that fishing gear is pretty important to you.

I generally have had no problems with homeless people.   I treat the homeless as I treat everyone else that I may meet.

So prepare yourself for increased violence and less compassion.  Hungry people will burn you alive for a few hooks, bobbers and lead sinkers.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!! ©

This is purple coneflower, purple echinacea.   Purple coneflower is used to stimulate the immune system.     The best parts of the plant to use are the roots and the tops.  You probably know where some purple coneflower grows.  It was widely used by Native Americans.

y4It’s best taken at the first onset of symptoms of illness.  I’ve also read that it can be used for disorders of the skin because the plant contains some cortisone like properties, but I’ve never used it topically.

y3You can squeeze the plant and use the juice or make tinctures and teas from the roots and tops.  Either way it’s a nice addition to your garden.  I also love the geometry of the flower.

Oral surgeon and health insurance

August 12, 2009 by

So I had a root canal done a couple of months ago.  It really sucked.  I had some issue in my mouth so I go to the dentist.  They tried to cap one tooth on the top.  That didn’t work, but I still had to pay for it.  The cap wasn’t done right so it was banging into a tooth on the bottom of my mouth.  Each time the teeth clanged together it hurt like an SOB.  So I had to go back to the dentist again who now told me that the tooth on the bottom, the one below the new cap that she just put in, needed a root canal.  She sent me off to an oral surgeon.  BTW if you ever get a root canal done when you leave the surgeon’s office you’ll be feeling fine because of the Novocaine.  When that Novocaine wears off though you’ll be writhing in pain in the dark on your bed.  So on your way home from the surgeon, get your pain script filled and take the Vicodin or Percocet right away even though you feel fine.  Don’t wait for the pain before taking the Vicodin.

Off to the oral surgeon I go.  I had an initial consultation that cost $100.  Then two additional treatment visits were needed.  The first treatment visit they drill it out and put in a temp filling.  Then you come back a week later, and if everything looks ok, they take out the temp filling put in something more permanent and off you go.

So because I have dental insurance I had to pay something like $750 and the rest would be covered by the dental insurance. That is what I was told by the surgeon’s billing office.  As far I was concerned that was the deal I accepted.

The numbers: $100 for the initial consultation, then I paid $375 after I left the first treatment visit with the deal being I’d pay the second half, $375, after the final treatment visit.  The insurance company pays the balance of like $750, so the total surgeon’s charge is around $1,500.

About a month after I was treated I got a check in the mail from the surgeon’s office for $68.  It represented a refund of some overpayment.  That was more than two months ago.

Yesterday I get a call from the billing folks in the surgeon’s office, the dental insurance decided not to pay something and they want me to pay back the $68 that shouldn’t have been remitted to me.  They’re waiting to hear back from the insurance company about the rest of the money.  The billing person told me that the insurance payment can be yanked back and I may end up owing more money.

I told her that’s not the way it works.  I never agreed to an open ended contract and that I can’t agree to something if I don’t know what it is.  The most basic rule of contract formation is mutual assent.

So the billing lady tries to explain to me that if they hear back from the insurance that some of the root canal isn’t covered that I will be billed.  I told her again that’s not the way it works.  I paid my bill in full as required by their office policy at the time that the services are rendered.   I told her it’s not right that three months later they can bill me $100, $500 or $1,000.  I never agreed to that.

Imagine bringing your car to your mechanic or having a plumber out to your house.  They give you and estimate.  You look the estimate over and based upon their assurance say, ‘fine, complete the job.’ Then three months later you get a bill from your mechanic or plumber looking for an additional $500 or $1,000.  That’s not the way it works.  The only contract I know of that can be changed at the whim of one party are credit card contracts, but that’s because they are credit card bastards.

And that is why we need healthcare reform.  Has anyone else ever been given the run around by a health insurance company?

You know who is most against healthcare reform, health insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Don’t be a tool of their vested interests.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!! ©

I look out of a window at home to the backyard where the pool is and I see something or someone floating in it so I go to investigate.  I pull a lot of froggies out of the pool because we need to be careful with our amphibian friends.  Turns out it wasn’t a frog at all, but a….snapping turtle.  He must have made is way into the pool during the rain the night before.  Turtles can’t use pool ladders.  Eventually he would have tired out and drowned so I rescued him.

y6Here Mr. or Mrs. Turtle is in the recycle bin from the town.  The recycle bin is maybe two feet long so you can see that this was a good sized creature.  He was not too happy about being caught.  So I stuck a knife into his brain cavity, boiled him up and made some terrapin stew.  NO I DIDN’T.  JUST KIDDING.  Actually I dropped him off at the Terrapin Station to catch a lift home.  No, just kidding again.

I actually ran him up behind the house to a large vernal pool where he probably came from in the first place.  Here he is getting dumped on the ground, making one final hiss at me and slithering back into the water from whence he came.

y5You can see his open mouth hissing at me.  I think he was pretty old because his shell was covered in algae.  It felt good to save some little creature’s life.

Check it out! Personal security and pokeweed.

August 6, 2009 by

Check it out. We go through our life like automatons.  Not the way to be.  Be conscious and aware of your surroundings and each of the thousands of little decisions you make every day.  Don’t be a bystander in your life.  Be an aware and willing participant.  Check it out.

Think of how many things you do automatically everyday.  Really, stop for a second and think of them all.  Stop it.  Slow down and stop and before taking any action ask yourself why, whether it is necessary and should be done.

An example may help to bring it to life.  You wake up every morning to the sound of your alarm clock buzzing.  Then you pour a cup of coffee into your travel mug.  You go outside and get into your car.  You drive the 27 1/2 minutes to work.  Then you park your car and head into the office building where you work.   Five days a week you go into the lobby of the building and push the up button for the elevator.    The elevator door slides open and you step inside to push the button to the eighth floor. Only then do you realize that there are already two unsavory characters inside of the elevator.  The doors slide closed and the thugs move towards you.

Before getting on an elevator, check it out.  Don’t get on automatically.  Check it out. Look in the corners where someone could step out of view.  If there is someone on there that you don’t like the looks of then don’t get on.  Point being, make a decision whether to get on the elevator or not.  Don’t just do it without thinking about it.  Don’t be looking down at your Blackberry, morning newspaper or cell phone.  Look up where you are going.

Same thing for getting off the elevator.  When the doors swing open just don’t step out.  Have a looksy first to make sure that the floor isn’t on  fire or taken over by zombies.

If you are in the city and flag down a cab.  Well I know you must be white because cabs don’t stop for black people.  So there you are a white guy flagging down a cab.  The cab pulls over, you open the door and get inside.  Before getting in a cab check it out.   Make sure that the hackney license is hanging and that the driver looks safe.  Check it out.

Parking garages and parking lots are a couple of other places that you shouldn’t be acting like an automaton.  If you just pulled in and parked your car check out the garage before unlocking your car door and getting out. [You do keep your car doors locked correct?!?!] While you are sitting in your car look around.  Observe if there are any posts around you where someone could hide or a large van someone could be behind.  Look in your review mirrors to see if anyone is around or approaching your car.   Shut off your car and listen.   Once you open your car door have another look behind your car and listen to see if you hear anyone approaching.  Only then should you get out of your vehicle.  Point being don’t just pull into a parking garage and jump out of your car like some hayseed rube.  Stop and think about what you are doing.

When you hear a knock at the front door do you just answer it without asking who it is? Don’t. Stop, think and check it out.  Ask who is there.  Even better get a peep hole or look out a window to see who it is rather than giving yourself away by asking, ‘who’s there.’  Even when you get back to your own home don’t just unlock the front door and rush inside, pause for a second before entering.  Have a look to make sure that the place isn’t ransacked or filled with smoke.  Every time I exit the bathroom at my house I open the door and before stepping out into the hallway I look both ways.  Laugh if you want, but I won’t be surprised.

So I hope that you get the idea to not just walk, but to really look, observe and think about where you place each foot for each step that you take in all aspects of your life. Anytime that you are entering or exit a building or vehicle you should stop, wait, look and listen.    Live deliberately.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! ©

Pokeweed.  This is the stem from a pokeweed plant.  It’s big and green and thick and beefy.  You can see the leaves are big succulent looking ovals.

q12Pokeweed can grow  eight or ten feet tall.  You can see the leaves are smooth and toothless.  Here is the bloom of the pokeweed.

q7Eventually each of these little white flowers will develop into a green berry about the size of a pea.  The berries are kind of flatish with almost like a cross on one end.  Then the berries ripen into a really pretty purple color, almost black.  The berries are used to make a natural fabric die.  One look at the ripe berries and you’ll know why they make a good die.  I’ll post some pictures of the ripe berries in a few more weeks once they ripen.  All parts of the mature pokeweed plant are poisonous, but the young shoots make a tasty green.  You need to cook the young shoots in a couple changes of water to get the poisons out.  You c an’t eat this plant after it is 6 inches tall so you need to be able to spot the young growth poking up at the beginning of the spring.  So you can eat the young shoots after boiling them in at least two changes of water.  Anything this poisonous also has medicinal uses.  The roots were poulticed for arthritis, swelling and inflammation.  A poultice made from the root is so poisonous that it’s used for scabies and ringworm.

“If some of y all never been down south too much
I’m gonna tell you a little about this so that you’ll Understand what I’m talkin’ about …

To understand what we talking about
Down there we have a plant that grows like a turnip green
And everybody calls it poke salad … poke salad
Used to know a girl lived down there and she’d go out
In the evenings and pick her a mess of it, carry it
Home and cook it for supper, cause that’s about all they
Had to eat, but they did all right.

Down in Lou’siana,
Where the alligators grow so mean,
There lived a girl that
I swear to the world,
Made the alligators look tame

Poke Salad Annie
Poke Salad Annie
Everybody said it was a shame
Cause her mama was a workin on the chain gang
I mean, vicious

Her daddy was lazy and no count
Claimed he had a bad back
And all her brothers were fit for
Was stealin watermelons out of my truck patch

Poke Salad Annie
The gators got your granny
Everybody said it was a shame
Cause her mama was a workin on the chain gang
A wretched, spiteful ( (?))

Every day ‘fore suppertime
She’d go down by the truck patch
And pick her a mess o’ poke salad
And carry it home in a tote sack

Poke Salad Annie
The gators got your granny
Everybody said it was a shame
Cause her Mama was a workin on the chain gang

Sock a little poke salad to me
You know I need me a mess of it

Sock a little poke
Sock a little ah ah ah
Sock a little oh oh oh
Sock a little ah ah ah ah ah ah

Poke Salad Annie
Poke Salad Annie
The gators got your granny

Poke Salad Annie
Poke Salad Annie
The gators got your granny”

Poke Salad Annie by David Hallyday

Jewel Weed

August 4, 2009 by

Jewel Weed deserves its own post.  This is a very useful medicinal plant.  It works

04This is what the plant looks like.  See the kind of oval toothy leaves and the yellow flowers.

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These are the stems of Jewel Weed.  See how they look kind of ratty with most of the new growth happening at the top of the plant.

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The stems look kind of like green straws of water if that makes sense.   Also notice how at the bottom of the stem it’s kind of red and the roots start above the soil.

They  call it Jewel Weed because rain water collects on the leaves and is supposed to look like little jewels.

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This is a good picture of the Jewel Weed flower.  See the jewels of water drops on the leaves.

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d4See how the flower look like old fashioned lady’s slippers or elf shoes with a curled toe.  If you look real close you can see that the Jewel Weed flower has little orange spots.

Jewel Weed typically grows in kind of shady wet spots.  It can frequently be found growing in the same habitat that poison ivy does.

Okay, now that you can spot Jewel Weed you gotta know what it’s good for.  The juice from the Jewel Weed stem is good for skin stuff like poison ivy, mosquito bites and bee stings.  If you have a skin issue Jewel Weed can probably help to heal you.   The juice can be squeezed right out of the stem onto your skin.  The plant contains lawsone which is known as a anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine.  “A 1957 study by a physician found it effective in treating 108 of 115 patients.”  Foster and Duke, Peterson Field Guide (2000).  I read that you can eat the cooked young greens, but I’ve never tried them. z I bet they would be good because the plant reminds me a bit of spinach.  I’ve always thought of the plant though as a remedy for skin ailments.  All you do is rip up a stem and squeeze the juice (like from an aloe) and spread it on your rash, bite or sting.

Now go forth and GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! ©

d8One last picture of the Jewel Weed.  See how the top has been grazed off, most likely by deer.  Remember this plant.  It’s mroe effective than Calamine.

Bugs

July 31, 2009 by

Bugs can drive you nuts.  If you spend any amount of time out of doors than you know that bugs can drive you nuts.  I was out walking today.  It was 90 degrees and 100% humidity.  The bugs, skeeters, were so bad that I had to put on my rain jacket and hood.   Even if your plans don’t entail being outside for any period of time you need to prepare for it, because the one thing you can be certain of is that reality will differ from your plans.   You never know what may force you our of your home and into the great outdoors.   Anyone that has spent some time outside will tell you that the bugs are at their worst during dawn and dusk.  One time we were out afield and as the sun started to set the mosquitoes came out.  We had to stop set up our tent and nap and hideout for a few hours until dark.  By then the bug couldn’t fly and it was safe for us to come out of our Eurekas.   Slapping at bugs can be a draining experience too.  Bugs constantly at you, at you, at you can wear you down physically, and more importantly, psychologically.  Insects can spread disease.  They can give you infections.  You need to prepare to protect yourself against any insects in your neck of the woods.  Bees and such don’t bother me too much.  I’ve been stung more times than I can count.  At this point I kind of enjoy the pain.

Leeches and ticks are two more insects that one needs to be careful of.  You need to know enough to give yourself the once over and know how to remove them and treat the location of the bite.

Candles, lamps, Mosquito magnets, lights and bug zappers – I never thought that citronella worked.  It does smell kind of nice though.  it would be good to burn a citronella candle on a cold, snowy January day to remind me of the summer.  Not so good for chasing bugs away though.  The black bug lights don’t work either.  The mosquito magnets work well.   Mosquito magnets are like pools and boats though.  You’d rather have a neighbor with one than own one yourself.   Bug zappers attract bugs like moths that are attracted to light.  Bug zappers zap the wrong kind of bug.  Mosquitoes like carbon dioxide.  The drawback with all of these but the small citronella candles is that they’re too big to carry any distance.

Bug sprays and ointments – these work well, DEET is the best, but some folks are allergic to it.  You may try putting some of the stuff on your clothing, cap and shoes rather than skin.  There are some repellents made from natural ingredients.  I don’t think that these work as well as the DEET.

Ultrasonic – I don’t think these work either.  These are the ones about the size of a lighter and work off of battery power.  They generate some ultrasonic noise that is supposed to scare insects off.  I don’t think these work either.

Physical – bug nets, head nets, long sleeves and long pants – If you live in bug country you need to carry a bugnet in your bug out bag, get home bag or whatever bag it is for you.  These work great.  The drawback is if it’s hot out you’re wearing more clothing.

Sometimes when I’m out in the woods I’ll break off a small branch from a white pine and just use it like those Shite Iranians who practice self-flagellation.  It may not be the best method but swinging a little pine branch around my head sure does seem to work.

First aid supplies – just the basics here.  Some folks like to use tweezers for ticks.  Other use a blade of some type to force udner the tick.  Me, I just grab it by its body and yank.  You have to make sure that you removed the head of the tick too.  Otherwise you can end up with an abscess.  So you need the basics too like: antibiotic ointment, adhesive bandages, tweezers and alcohol.   People have told me that if you put vaseline on a tick that it will release its bite and back out.  It hasn’t worked for me.  Neither has the hot method though either.  Don’t forget instant cold/ice pads for bee stings.

Edit: I should have mentioned that diatomaceous earth is good for intestinal parasites.  It’s also good for water filtration and has some use in the garden too so you should make sure to get some and store it.

Don’t be afraid of the bugs.  You can’t swim without getting wet.  GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!! ©

q3This is a mulberry that’s just about ripe.  Kind of a bad year for berries of all types it has ocurred to me.  If you haven’t had the pleasure of knowing a mulberry tree you really are missing out on something.  I really like the taste of mulberries.  They do have a lot of teeny tiny seeds though like a cane berries.  The trees are pretty small and in a good year have so many berries that you can set a tarp up under the tree and shake the tree to make the mulberries fall into the tarp.   Eating the fruit is supposed to be good for a fever and a root tea can be made to combat weakness.  Notice the heart shhaped leaf.

And some blackberries.  This is really a beautiful time of year in New England.  I’m telling ya going for a ramble in the woods and seeing wild berries along the way, a nibble here and a nibble there.  It’s a beautiful thing, man.  You have to GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!

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Health care tort reform and yarrow

July 29, 2009 by

Part of health insurance reform is tort reform.  We hear a lot of people talk about tort reform and how tort reform is necessary.  I worked for three years in a very prestigious plaintiff’s litigation firm.

Three big points to make.

1. Everyone is against lawsuits until a battery explodes in their face, a stairway collapses under their feet, a surgeon leaves forceps inside your belly or a radiologist misses a radiolucent lump in your brain.  Then as soon as someone perceives that they’ve been hurt they come running to a lawyer to fix their problem.  My point is that just like government provided economic benefits, you are against the other guy’s, not your own.  You want tort reform for them, not for you.  Look at the example of Tom Delay (Scumbag-TX), when his own father was hurt they wasted no time filing a lawsuit. Not to be out done you also have the example of Rick Santorum (Dirtbag-PA),

“Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., says that the No. 1 health care crisis in his state is medical lawsuit abuse and in the past he’s called for a $250,000 cap on non-economic damage awards or awards for pain and suffering. “We need to do something now to fix the medical liability problem in this country,” he declared at a rally in Washington D.C., this past spring.  But Santorum’s wife sued a doctor for $500,000 in 1999. She claimed that a botched spinal manipulation by her chiropractor led to back surgery, pain and suffering, and sued for twice the amount of a cap Santorum has supported.”

So just like I said everyone is for reform as long as it only restricts the other guy and not you personally.  You should see how people come running to lawyers as soon as they think they have “a case.”

2. The plaintiff’s bar accepts cases on contingency.  You know what this means?  Contingency means that a lawyer gets paid only if she wins.  The lawyer getting paid is contingent on them winning the case.   This is a big deal.  Expert witnesses in cases can cost $5,000 or even $10,000 for a single day!!  Plus they always want to be put up in the most expensive hotel rooms.  A big case can go on for two or three years.  There has to be depositions, which are expensive.  Maybe the lawyer wants some of his own testing done or he ma need to hire a PI to do some footwork.   Plus there can be tens, hundreds or even thousands of hours put into a big case.

The whole time that the case is pending the secretary needs to be paid, rent needs to be paid, insurance needs to be paid, utilities need to be paid.  You get the idea.  All of this money is out of the lawyer’s own pocket.  If he loses the case he not only is out all of his out of pocket expenses, but he never gets paid for his time.  ZERO.

So lawyers will only accept cases that have a very good chance of being successfully pleaded.  A lawyer will not accept a marginal case, because they can work for years and pay tens of thousands of dollars in out of pockets expenses and than never get paid because they lose the case.

Would you work on contingency?

3. It is very difficult to win a case.  The jury pool has been pretty well corrupted.  The insurance industry, big business and their paid servants in Congress have been sure to inform everyone of run away jury awards, the hot coffee case and every aberrant two standard deviations out of the norm award.  It is very tough to win a jury case.  Questions of doubt are answered in favor of the defendant.  The plaintiff needs to convince everyone.  The defense just needs to convince one.

Don’t easily give up your right to seek a redress for your injuries.  Those of you opposed to government involvement in the health care system, those who cry socialism, are you prepared tohave the same government set caps on lawsuit damages?  It’s a bad idea.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! ©

This is yarrow.  It used to be called names like soldier herb or knight’s wort because yarrow can stop bleeding.  Yarrow is one of our most useful herbal remedies.  It is particularly good for women and the problems they may have related to menopause and menses.   It is worth reading up on.

02This is a nice shot to show you how you can identify yarrow.  Notice the leaves look fernlike.  Each leaf is almost feathery.  It’s latin name is something like millefoil.  The prefix mille means something like thousands, same prefix as millipede, because millipedes got 1,000 legs.  Well yarrow has 1,000 leaves, each leaf is like 1,000 sub-leaves.

Here is a pic of it blooming.

oDon’t confuse it with wild carrot.  The leaves and flowers are different.  A yarrow poultice is used to stop bleeding.  Yarrow tea is used for colds, fevers and internal bleeding.  It’s also known as an anti-inflammatory.  So get your own field guides and look up yarrow.  Yarrow is a must for your herbal remedy toolbox.

Legalize it!!

July 27, 2009 by

The time has come to legalize It.  It being marijuana.   “Calif. tax officials: Legal pot would bring $1.4B”  Think Cali can use that kind of money?  How about your own state?  Hell, even the Republican governor has admitted to smoking pot at one point in his life.    “The Equalization Board used law enforcement and academic studies to calculate that about 16 million ounces — or 500 tons — of marijuana are consumed in California each year.” WOW!!

So on the one hand states are missing out on billions in tax revenues, on the other hand enormous sums of money are being spent by the federal and state governments to further perpetuate the illegality of marijuana.  Billions are spent every year to keep a plant illegal.

“In 2007 the Department of Justice reported that there were 1,841,182 drug arrests in the United States; the report also stated that there were  more drug abuse arrests than any other category of offenses. Marijuana arrests accounted for 47.4% of the drug abuse arrests. This allows us to estimate that about 872,720 persons were arrested for marijuana offenses. Eighty-nine percent of these arrests were for possession.”

This is not only an economic issue for state governments, but it is also a liberty issue for private citizens.  Consenting adults should be able to do pretty much anything they want that doesn’t impact others.   The cops like it though.  The seizure of private property prior to conviction and roadblocks are further intrusions on citizens’ rights.  Why give the cops another reason to interact with citizens.

Pot also isn’t the gateway drug anymore than milk and cookies.  How many heroin junkies started with milk n’ cookies?

Since pot was first criminalized do you think a single person has been denied due to marijuana’s banned status.  Kids in elementary school and prisoners in jail all have access to the illegal weed.  Goes to show all the money spent on cops, prisons, judges, and brand spanking new cop toys is wasted money.  Prohibition does not work.  Prohibition puts a substance in the control of criminals and drives up the market price.

Making pot illegal only serves to benefit: cops, prisons, lawyers and politicians.  The fastest way to cure all of the violence in Columbia and Mexico and American cities is to take drugs out of the hands of criminals.  How do we accomplish that overnight? LEGALIZE IT.

So there you go six simple arguments to legalize It.

1. issue of personal liberty and self-determination, legalizing It would help to limit Big G Government intruding into our private affairs.  Why give them another excuse?

2. It isn’t nearly as dangerous as those with beholden interests make it out to be;

3. opportunity cost of lost tax revenues;

4. direct costs of keeping pot illegal;

5. indirect costs of giving kids a permanent record and the loss of student loans;

6. the ineffective War on Drugs has been an utter and total failure.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! ©

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Pretty gold finch feather.  I saw blue jay feather yesterday that was as blue as the bluest sky.   Really pretty amazing.  We were sitting outside the other day and four yellow finches were flying around us putting on an acrobatic flying show.

This is the flowerhead of staghorn sumac.  I posted a winter picture of it back when snow was covering the ground.  You’ve seen these before haven’t you.  Usually you see them in areas that have been previously disturbed.  Like me.  The plants are kind of hairy.  Like me.

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You can make a sort of lemonade from the red berries by picking off the red flowerhead and soaking a bunch of them in cold water.  Use maybe 6-8 flowerheads per big pitcher of water.  Always use cold water and then strain it through  a coffee filter or something to strain out all of the little red hairs.  You can add sugar if you want to. “Of 100 medicinal plants screened for antibiotic activity, this species [staghorn sumac] was most active, attributed to conetent of gallic acid, 4-methoxygallic acid, and methyl gallate.” Foster & Duke, Peterson Field Guide.

Cambridge PD & Dr. Gates

July 24, 2009 by

I felt like I had to write about this story because it’s been ubiquitous this week.  If you haven’t heard a black professor from Harvard was arrested on the doorstep of his own house.  The story is that this older professor of African American Studies, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, PD*30233165came home from a trip abroad and the front door of his Harvard provided mansion was swollen shut from the humidity.  It sounds like he and his driver tried to force the front door open with their shoulders.  A neighbor saw two men trying to force open the door and called the Cambridge PD.   Doctor Gates went around back and crawled through a window.  He then came around front and opened the front door.   By then the PD were there.  He showed his ID that proved he lived in the house.  Maybe the cop wasn’t satisfied.  Who knows.  Dr. Gates mouthed off to the cop.  It’s reported that he said such things as: ‘this is because I’m black’ and ‘do you know who I am’ and ‘I’ll talk to your momma out front’ meaning the cop’s momma.  Dr. Gates is black and the arresting officer is white.

Dr. Gates ended up being arrested for disorderly conduct. The cop wrote in his police report that Dr. Gates was out of control.  I know the Police fabricate and stretch the truth in their police reports.  They know what they need to write and what they need to include in their reports in order to help the DA convict. The Police are only too happy to oblige.

I have no doubt that Dr. Gates may carry a chip on his shoulder AND RIGHTFULLY SO.  Which means all the more reason to be careful when mouthing off to the Police.  Always remember the Police are the sole of the jackboot of Government.

So there has been all of this talk on the Internet, newspapers, Big M Media and radio talkshows about whether the Police were right or whether Dr. Gates was picked on for being black.

I don’t see it as a black white thing. I don’t care if it’s a white cop and a black defendant.  Dr. Gates was wrong.  This is all about Authority exerting its Authority. The cop said that he had to deescalate the situation and that the best way of doing this was to arrest the old professor on his own porch.  I think the cop would have arrested a white guy too and that is the crux of the problem.

No the best way to deescalate the situation would have been for the cop to leave once he saw proof positive that Dr. Gates was the occupant of the house and not a burglar.   Instead, the cop being a cop felt as though he had to stay there and argue with this guy.  Just leave.

The cop had to prove that he was right.  I wasn’t there, but I can see it now, because I’ve seen it many times before.  The cop probably told him to calm down and quiet down.  Just leave.  If you  are provoking someone’s behavior STOP IT. Cops being what they are the cop had to prove that he was in charge and the Keeper of the Authority.  I mean why else wear the uniform if you don’t want to exert authority.

So no I don’t see this as a black white thing.  This is about the Police arresting a man on his own porch. If the Police were hassling you on your own porch wouldn’t you tell the cops F&uck Off?  That would drive me nuts too.  The Police coming right into my own private lair and hassling me.   Ruby Ridge anyone?  Branch Davidians?

So don’t get drawn into the headline that the Media feeds you.  This isn’t a racial thing.  This is a Government Exerting Its Authority Against The Governed Thing.  If it can happen to a well dressed, older Harvard professor with a PhD basically on the campus of Harvard in Cambridge than it can happen to you.   It can happen to you on your own porch.

Lessons to learn:

  • Don’t believe the story you are told by the Media.  Try to look at the story through your own eyes.
  • Don’t mouth off to the Police unless you need a place to stay for the night.
  • The Police can come up to your door at anytime for any reason and hassle you.
  • The Police can handcuff you, throw you in the back of a car and spirit you away for any reason or no reason at all.
  • You can be arrested for disorderly conduct on your own porch or front lawn.
  • Check who is at the door before opening.  Better to even look if you can and be silent than announcing your presence by asking, “who is there?”
  • The Government and its agents are getting more aggressive.
  • It can happen to You.
  • Know a good defense lawyer.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! ©

Just as the Police are the Police, summer is summer.  And summer being what it is there are so many different plants happening now that I’m going to have to have some posts just on plants.  I want to do one on Purslane in the near future.  Personally I think Purslane is my favorite foraging food. Yummy! I should also do a post on Jewelweed because it’s also useful.   Anyways….

c1I hope your recognize this as beautiful blueberries.  These are lowbush blueberries and are only a foot or foot and a half tall.   These aren’t the big super fertilized blueberries that you buy in a store.  These berries are about the size of a pea, maybe even smaller.  I’ve also been told that you can tell edible blueberries from the non-poisonous ones by the little crown on the blossom end of the fruit.  If you don’t know what I mean look at the following picture.

c3Now if you look at these berries notice how the part of the berry away from the stem end has a little crown on it where the flower used to be attached.  it looks a little like a donut shape.  That’s how I was always told to tell blueberries from pooberries.  A pooberry being one that gives you the shits.

I thought this would be a good berry year because of all the rain we had, but unfortunately it has been a pretty slim berry year.  Lesson learned here is don’t every count your crops before they’re harvested and cured, pickled, canned, dried or stored safely away.

Anyways, the Indians used to dry these out and mix them with ground dried meat, maybe some ground nuts and some rendered fat to make pemmican.  Pemmican is ultra high calorie and fat survival food.  You can also make tasty juices.  Blueberry is supposed to be a super food.  I used to spend hours collecting blueberries and making wine from them.

Gay marriage & wild grapes

July 22, 2009 by

This is a sensitive topic I know.  The grapes come after the waxing philosophical.  If you don’t want to be subjected to my mini-rant on gay marriage then skip below to the GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY part.  Last chance to leave or skip down to the Wild Grapes part before you are subjected to the rant.

I knew that you couldn’t resist reading the rant.  You don’t even know if I’m pro or con gay marriage.  I’m not gay.  I don’t care who is.  I live in Massachusetts.  Gay marriage has been legal here for more than five years.  Massachusetts is the same now as before gay marriage was authorized.  That’s right, my straight marriage isn’t under attack.  The streets aren’t filled with militant gays and lesbians.  Things are as bucolic as ever in Massachusetts.  Heck, if you were a space alien visiting from another galaxy you wouldn’t have any clue that gay marriage is allowed.

A couple of points to make here:

1. Allowing loving people to marry each other doesn’t mean the end of Western Civilization.  The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is just as screwed up now as it was before gay marriage became legal.  NOTHING HAS CHANGED.  I think the present Speaker of the House is under indictment just like the last Speaker of the House.

2. What business is it of anyone’s which adults can marry which adults?  MYOB!! The gays want nothing to do with you or your kids.  I think they would like nothing better than to be left alone.  While I’m at it I think the Mormons got a bad rap too.  I don’t know why someone would want more than one spouse, but more power to you.

3.  Gays aren’t indoctrinating anyone into the lifestyle anymore than you were indoctrinated into being straight.

4. Your way of life, our way of life, the straight way of life is not under attack.

5. No one is going to force any church to solemnize a gay marriage.

6. Just like the American Revolution and Civil War were fought more over economics than principal, recognition of gay marriage has more to do with economics than anything else.  It has to do with access to health insurance, survivorship benefits, health care and pensions.

I’m not sure that this is a state’s right issue, any more so than if a state refused to recognize marriage between different races or ethnicities.    I do agree that marriage has always been relegated to the states.   However, just as laws against miscegeny were struck down by SCOTUS in 1967 in the landmark Loving v. Virginia case, so should state laws barring gays from marrying.

I like to mind my own business in the hopes that others will mind their own business too.  If the gays don’t bother me, which they usually don’t, then I won’t bother them. Deal?

After five years of legal gay marriage in Massachusetts I can tell you that you have nothing to fear from gays getting married.   At least to me life seems the same.

Hey you are free to disagree with me.  Reasonable people can disagree, as long as no one is getting hurt.  Oh, and in a survival situation no matter how you feel about gay marriage pro or con, I hope you know to keep your opinion to yourself.  Opinions can be dangerous things.  It’s usually much safer to be agreeable and bide your time.  Speaking out can get you killed.  It’s better to be a survivor than be right. In a survival situation  stop worrying about being right and focus on surviving.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY! © Now for the wild grapes.  I was out walking the dog through the woods and saw some wild grapes in a little clearing.  It would have been easy to walk right past them, but like I always preach, you gotta keep your eyes and your mind open.   Your mind has to be open to observe what your eyes are seeing.  It is easy to look right past things without seeing them.

P1010004So what is there to say about wild grapes.  They’re pretty easy to ID.  You can see the stem is kind of reddish purple.  If you look closely the stem almost looks like paper peeling up in a few places.

Another good way to tell wild grape from Virginia Creeper is because grapes have a three lobed leaf. I don’t know if lobe is the correct word, but if you look you can see that the leaf is genuinely divided into three segments.

P1010008Virginia Creeper which looks like wild grape, but shouldn’t be eaten has a five or seven lobed/segmented leaf.  I think you can drink the water from cut grape vines too, but if wild grape is growing you know that there is water nearby.  Wild grapes don’t grow where it’s dry.

I liked this picture too because it looks cool, but also shows another good way to ID wild grape.

P1010007Isn’t this a beautiful picture the way the light is shining through the canopy of grape vines?  Go ahead and click on it to make it big.  So anyways another good way to ID grape is because its tendrils, those are the things that grab onto to other things to climb.  It’s the grape’s way of getting more into the sun.  Anyways, the tendrils on wild grape are binary.  See how there are like four or five pair?  Wild grape tendrils grow in pairs. Plus the fruit looks like grape and tastes like grape, tart grape, but grape.  I used to spend a fair amount of time hunting and picking wild grape and then making wild mountain grape wine – strong and sweet.  Oh, and watch those seeds.  I’ve yet to find a seedless wild grape.

There now you have a bunch of ways to positively ID wild grape: bark, tendrils, leaves and fruit.  You can see this fruit isn’t quite ready yet, But the race is now on between the birds and me.  BRING IT ON TWEETY!!

Protect your stuff

July 20, 2009 by

This is a $20 solution to saving you a whole lot of grief.  If there is only one thing you should accomplish in the next week this should be it.

First, scan your important documents like: birth certificates, marriage license, divorce decrees, adoption papers, wills, power of attorneys, health care proxies, deeds, titles to cars, insurance policies, DD214’s, and at least the first page of the bank statement from each of your bank or investment accounts.

Next, empty everything out of your wallet – credit cards, debit card, driver’s license, VA card, gun license, professional license, health insurance cards – and scan them.

Then purchase a large jumpdrive.  I think that I got a 16MB one for about 20 bucks.  Back all of your documents and pictures from your PC or Apple to the jumpdrive.  Make sure you also copy over everything you scanned.

Finally, buy a waterproof match container from WalMart.  I paid 99 cents for this one.

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Stick the jumpdrive into the waterproof match container, seal it and find someplace safe to put it.  You may want to store it someplace different than your home, maybe at your office, locker, in your car or with your BOB.

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Be disciplined about it and do a backup of your data at least once or twice a year going forwards.  Protect your stuff.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! ©

This is crown vetch growing in a nice summer field.  This is what I will dream about during the cold, dark days of our New England winter.

P1010001I think it may be called crown vetch because each little group of flowers looks like a purple crown.  Vetch is a legume, which means, like peas and beans, it puts nitrogen into the soil.  That’s right legumes convert nitrogen from the ear and leave it around their roots.   Legumes improve your soil.  Also, because most legumes have good roots they help to keep soild friable.  If you plant legumes in your garden at the end of the season don’t pull the plants up by their roots.  Cut them at soil level so that the part of the root where the nitrogen is fixed remains in the soil.  Livestock can also graze crown vetch.  I know those pretty purple flowers look tasty to me and I only have one stomach.  Ahhh, the smell of summer.

Dick Cheney

July 18, 2009 by

Four more banks were taken over by the FDIC this afternoon. Two of them were rather large banks based in California.  I’m talking Billion $ banks. Now back to the evil topic at hand.

Dick Cheney the well known hawk never served in the military.  He was famously quoted as saying,”I had other priorities in the ’60s than military service.” Washington Post 1989.   He also received five draft deferments for a variety of reasons.

And although the Republicans were very successful at blaming President Clinton for DOD cutbacks the truth of the matter is that Dick Cheney under Bush 41 was responsible for major budget and troop cuts.   Did you know that Dick Cheney as Sec Def cut the Army troop levels by 26%?

“Over Cheney’s four years as secretary of defense, encompassing budgets for fiscal years 1990-93, DoD’s total obligational authority in current dollars declined from $291.3 billion to $269.9 billion. Except for FY 1991, when the TOA budget increased by 1.7 percent, the Cheney budgets showed negative real growth: -2.9 percent in 1990, -9.8 percent in 1992, and -8.1 percent in 1993. During this same period total military personnel declined by 19.4 percent, from 2.202 million in FY 1989 to 1.776 million in FY 1993. The Army took the largest cut, from 770,000 to 572,000-25.8 percent of its strength. The Air Force declined by 22.3 percent, the Navy by 14 percent, and the Marines by 9.7 percent.”

Dick Cheney was so good at being the hatchet man that he was hired by Halliburton after leaving the Bush 41 Whitehouse.  At Halliburton Cheney reigned over leadership of the company at a time when Halliburton was tendering bribes to secure business in Nigeria.   Under Cheney, even with economic sanctions in place, Halliburton did business in such places as Iran, Iraq and Libya.  ?  So the revolving door between industry and government continues to spin.

Now it comes out that Cheney gave the order for the CIA to mislead Congress concerning President Bush’s illegal and unconstitutional surveillance program.

“The Central Intelligence Agency withheld information about a secret counterterrorism program from Congress for eight years on direct orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney, the agency’s director, Leon E. Panetta, has told the Senate and House intelligence committees, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said Saturday.”

Although they claim that Cheney’s secrecy in this case didn’t involve Bush 43’s domestic surveillance program, who knows what to believe.   What beats the band though is that “Andrew Card (Bush’s Chief of Staff); David Addington (Cheney’s CoS and Counsel); John Ashcroft (AG); John Yoo (DoJ’s Office of Legal Counsel); and George Tenet (CIA)” all refused to cooperate with the investigation.   Think we could get away with that?

And the thing that gets me is that Cheney has been taking to the airwaves at every opportunity to proclaim that the Obama Administration is putting us at risk.  No, Cheney can say whatever he wants, that doesn’t bother me.  What bothers me is that There has been no comment from Mr Cheney.So the sycophant Big M Media will bend over backwards to give unlimited access to Cheney to use as a platform to spread his private message, but when it comes to holding the PTB accountable “no comment” suffices.

Whomever interviews Cheney next, the first question out of their mouth better be about illegally keeping secrets from Congress.  Wanna make a bet?  Cheney is part and parcel fo the elite global ruling class.  If it was found that eating baby brains would cure Cheney’s terminal disease, make no mistake about it, the baby brains would be flowing.  He is an international pirate.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!©   This is the flower to the milkweed plant.  They smell like summer.   The milkweed is a very edible plant as long as you boil the white sap out of it.  You can take these flowers and batter em up in a tempura or beer batter and fry them.

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Goldman Sachs & magic mushrooms

July 16, 2009 by

WTF.  Goldman Sachs is the poster kid of what is wrong with our country.  The blogosphere is alive with folks ranking on Goldman Sachs and with good reason.  First, you have the revolving door between industry and government where folks like Summers, Rubin, Geithner, Paulson, Neel Cash n’ Carry, et al work in private commerce, then they get jobs in the public sector where they change private commercial interests into  public policy then it’s back through the revolving door into private industry to rake in the big bucks.  Or as the NYT wrote, Government Sachs:

“While many Wall Streeters have made the trek to Washington, there is no question that the axis of power at the Treasury Department tilts toward Goldman. That has led some to assume that the interests of the bank, and Wall Street more broadly, are the first priority. There is also the question of whether the department’s actions benefit the personal finances of the former Goldman executives and their friends.”

So this private firm, Goldman Sachs, owned by private investors gets an enormous public bailout totaling BILLIONS of dollars in public funds.   Predictably Goldman Sachs stock goes up,  enriching each private investor.  This was an enormous transfer of wealth from the pockets of hairdressers, grocery baggers, carpenters, teachers, cops, doctors, pet groomers and lawyers into the pockets of the owners of Goldman Sachs.

“Goldman Sachs Group Inc executives sold almost $700 million worth of stock since the collapse of rival Lehman Brothers last year, the Financial Times said on Monday. The newspaper said that most of the stock sales took place while the biggest U.S. investment bank was bailed out by the government with $10 billion of taxpayer money, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.”

You got that?  Goldman Sachs was sucking because it overextended itself.  The taxpayers bailed it out.  Stock prices went up and executives sold, profited on the backs of taxpayers.

When my business went belly up.  I got no bailout.  I sold everything I had, barely held onto my house and paid the debt off.  In 2007 three bigshots at Goldman each took home more than $70,000,000 in pay EACH.  Then a year later they come to American wage earners with cup in hand.  Ska-Rew!!

So last year right around Thanksgiving Goldman was trading at $52.  Since then on the backs of wage earners it has tripled in value.  Who is getting the benefit of that gain?  It sure as hell isn’t the American wage earner taxpayer who generously contributed to bailing out Goldman.

And of course Goldman is back to paying out million dollar bonuses to the select few while the vast majority of Americans are still suffering through a personal financial crisis.

I’m really not qualified to write on Goldman, for that I turn to someone much better educated than me, Mike Morgan.  I strongly suggest reading Mr. Morgan on a regular basis.

“Shame on Meredith – Today she prostituted herself in her nauseating glowing remarks about Goldman Sachs. What Meredith failed to point out, was exactly how and where Goldman Sachs is making their money . . . on the backs of pension funds, endowments and other fiduciary money that they are manipulating and front running. I should also mention, Meredith has failed to even hint at the problems facing Goldman Sachs as a going concern.”

Then I hear that some trading software was stolen from Government Sachs and that this software would allow the owners to manipulate the marketplace“The 34-year-old prosecutor also dropped this bombshell: “The bank has raised the possibility that there is a danger that somebody who knew how to use this program could use it to manipulate markets in unfair ways.” So Goldman admits to having software that can manipulate markets. Let’s see what happens to them.

Make no mistake about it, there are a very few individuals at the top of the food chain who are running things for their benefitEverything else – Republican, Democrat, Palestinian, Israeli, white, black, gay, straight, pro-life, pro-choice is nothing but frosting.  The real nuts of the matter to the powerful few is the accumulation of wealth and power.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! ©

Okay folks, any mushroom experts out there? I saw this pretty little mushroom so I figured I’d share it.  I think that it is amanita muscaria aka magic mushroom.  I’m not certain because I don’t see the rings around the stem, but I do think that I see the universal veil near the base of the cap, but no rings on the stem.  Any of you know for sure, or have a better educated guess than me?

05This is some summer raspberry growing near my house.

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Why should we?

July 14, 2009 by

I mean really.  I’m trying not to use profanity, because I don’t know you folks and someone shouldn’t write anything on the Internet that they wouldn’t say to their mother or sister.

Anyways…did you see that federal buildings are vulnerable to attack? The Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) sent undercover ops carrying bomb making supplies into federal buildings.  Once the agents made it past security and metal detectors they assembled the make believe bombs and carried them all over the buildings.  The GAO attempted to penetrate 10 buildings and they were successful 100% of the time.  One of the security (ahem) professionals was sleeping and another was found using a government computer to run a porn website.  Talk about double dipping.

Which reminds me of another older story I saw, GAO: Investigators pass security at 19 airports with bomb parts.

So it’s pretty apparent to me that our Government is as ineffective at securing our airports and buildings as it was responding to hurricanes, or getting to some victim when they are getting their head kicked in and 911 is called.  The Government can’t do it.

Also, anyone who has spent time in a correctional facility will tell you that the guards can’t keep drugs out of prisons.  Why should they when their is so much money to be made by guards smuggling drugs into prisons.  So the Government can’t even keep drugs out of a walled, concertina wired fortress like a prison either.

We’ve been giving up our privacy ever since 9/11.  We’ve been forced to take off our shoes and subject strangers to our dirty, stinky feet.  There are cameras on almost every street corner or traffic light.  We get stopped at roadblocks, and our free movement as US citizens is limited.  It’s getting harder and harder to exercise our Second Amendment rights.  Even protesters are locked into Free Speech Zones.  (I thought the whole US of A was a Free Speech Zone.) They’ve been tapping into our email, Internet browsing, blogging, telephone calls and banking activity.  Think about that, every time any of your info is sent electronically, it is sifted and sorted and compiled and filed by Big G Government.

WHAT FOR!?!?!  All of these Big G Government trespasses into our private affairs obviously don’t have the desired effect of making us safe.

Why do we stand for it!?!?  They search my pockets to make me safe and people still smuggle bomb making materials into protected buildings and box cutters onto planes.  I get stopped for having a Swiss Army Knife on my key chain.

The reason Big G Government is spying on us and limiting our privacy and civil liberties isn’t to make us safe, IT’S TO TRACK US, ANALYZE US AND FIGURE OUT WHO MAY BE A THREAT – POLITICAL OR OTHERWISE.

and my digital camera is back so I can share with you, beg of you and plead with you to GET OUTSIDE EVERY DAY!!! I used to work with one of the best attorneys in the state.  She went to all of the best private schools, high school, undergrad and law school.  This particular attorney had no idea that bees had to pollinate flowers for her to eat an apple, peach, pear or orange.  So I know some reading this may have 1,000 acres in corn, but some other people might not know where corn comes from.   The corn around me is about five feet tall.  This is the male cornflower.  It spews pollen.

P1010009Hopefully a lot of the pollen falls down and lands on the female parts…

P1010012The pollen then fertilizers each little kernel of corn.  If you ever get an ear that has the kernels all messed up it’s most likely due to some sort of problem with when the flower was pollinated.  Because corn is wind pollinated (not insect pollinated) you have to plant more than a few plants in order to get good pollination.  So the next time you sit down to have an ear of buttered corn stop and take a second to thank the farmer who grew it for your table and the miracle of nature.

Night vision

July 8, 2009 by

If the first thing that you thought of when you read the title was night vision goggles or sights (it was wasn’t it?) then, IMHO, you may be relying too much on technology and not enough on developing your own skills and body.  No it’s not what you think, Gen 25.4 thermal infrared high-tech, big military contractor big bucks stuff.  Night vision for us po’ boys is what happens after you’ve been out in the woods under the stars for a few minutes.  It’s the natural adjustment of your eyes to limited light.  It’s great if you can afford the big ticket battery operated stuff, but seeing how I can’t, this entry will be about the free night vision.  This isn’t to disparage the high tech, but batteries die, goggles get lost or left behind and equipment breaks.  Sure it’s great to have a GPS unit, but you should also have a compass, be able to find direction with an analog watch or by tracking the sun.  Get my drift?  Learn to rely on your body’s natural responses.

When you get out from under artificial lighting at night your eyes will start to adjust to the darkness so that you can see better.  It takes a couple of minutes to start the process and after about 25 minutes your eyes will be fully adjusted.  Even on real dark moonless nights your eyes will adjust as best they can.

The first thing you need to do if you find yourself outside at night is to stop.  Stop walking.  Stop moving.  Stop and give your eyes 2-3 minutes to adjust to the darkness.

If the lights ever go out due to EMP, solar flares or more pedestrian causes like equipment failure or thunderstorms you should be used to moving around in the darkness.  If you spend all of your life, 24/7, under artificial lights and sitting in front of a TV or computer screen then if you find yourself in drowning in the dark you may feel uncomfortably blind, or worse, maybe even freak out.  You should spend enough time in the dark, that you are used to the dark, both physically and psychologically.   Just like exercise makes a body strong, spending time in the dark will make the darkness your friend.

One of the best ways to do this is to get out and walk at night.  You also need to practice walking in woods at night without lights, because if you can do that under a dark sky and be comfortable, then you can walk on a street or sidewalk in the dark too.  When is the last time you made a point of getting out at night? Now it is summer now.  It’s a great time to get out and ramble the woods and meadows. Get out and listen to the creatures of the night.  Get used to finding your way at night without light.  Learn to embrace the dark.  Your world is dark for half of your life so get used to it and use it to your advantage.

When I ski in the woods at night, very rarely do I put my headlamp on.  If there is snow on the ground it helps to reflect the ambient light.  With a moon and snow on the ground sometimes it is so bright that I cast a shadow.

As long as you walk with the aid of lights your eyes will never adjust to the darkness and you’ll miss seeing the world around you.

One problem with using lights at night is that it sets your night vision right back to zero.   Another problem is that a flashlight or headlamp will light you up at night like a Christmas tree.  If you are walking at night and using a flashlight, I’m also out walking, but I won’t be using a flashlight.  I’ll be able to see you walking with your artificial cone of light from hundreds of yards away.  You might as well be wearing a glow in the dark bullseye.  Even better if you have a headlamp on, then all someone need do is aim two feet down from that and….

If you are out walking at night using your flashlight and you come upon someone else walking don’t shine light in other peoples’ eyes.  It will ruin their night vision and piss them off.  If I’m out doing my own thing, minding my business, enjoying the woods, of course I won’t be using a flashlight to light my way.  I’ll have one (or many more) just in case, but I won’t have it on.  Please if you come upon me don’t shine your stinking bright light in my eyes.  Don’t be rude, either shut your light off or point in down at the ground while we pass each other.  Most likely I’ll see you coming from far away because of your cone of light and I’ll step off the trail into the woods.  I’ll be quiet and just allow you to pass right on by.  You’ll never even see me.

I can’t count the times I’ve been in the woods at night and seen and heard bright and loud people coming my way and I have just ducked off the trail a couple of feet and laugh silently as they obliviously walk right on past me. You’ll never even know that I’m there watching you, unless I choose to let myself be known.  Don’t be ignorant of your surroundings.  Keep those flashlights and headlamps off while walking at night. So get out and practice.  Get used to walking in the dark without the use of battery powered technology.

GET OUTSIDE EVERY NIGHT!!!

Okay, the digital camera is MIA so we got some old night pictures to post.  Here is Running Bear taking a breather while SKIING AT NIGHT SANS LIGHT.

Snow5And here is another buddy with Green Eyed Dog getting ready to take the downhill WITHOUT ARTIFICIAL LIGHT.  The only light is the flash from the camera.  Trust me this grade is much steeper than it looks, and it’s on cross country skis, at night, without flashlight.

ns2Just do it.  Get out there at night without headlamp or flashlight.  Wait a minute or two for your eyes to adjust and learn to be as comfortable walking around in darkness as you are during the day.

Sorrel or clover

July 6, 2009 by

Wood sorrel is a tasty wild edible.  It’s so common too that I thought I’d do a post about it.  Many people think wood sorrel is clover.  It’s not.  This is clover.  A useful plant in it’s own right.  You know what clover looks like.  See the round, globe like flower and the oval leaves.

P1010006

And another picture of clover.

P1010005See the round flower and oval leaves in groups of three.

Now here is wood sorrel.

P1010004You see the heart shaped leaves on wood sorrel.  The yellow things are the closed flowers.  When open the flower is simple five or six petaled.  Now look at the middle picture of the clover.  To the left of the clover is some wood sorrel growing.  You can see the heart shaped leaves.

The leaves of wood sorrel are sour tasting kind of citrusy.  I like them as a trail munch when I’m walking or hiking.  If you have a dry mouth a small handful of leaves will temporarily quench your thirst.  You can make a tea by steeping the leaves in some hot water.   The leaf tea is also good for fevers and UTIs.  A small handful or two of the leaves added to a salad will lend some freshness and zing.  Never over do it when eating wild edibles.  Only eat small amounts of anything you find foraging.  Chewing the leaves is also good for sore throats, mouth sores and nausea.

But don’t believe me, get your own field guides and GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!

Deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed

July 4, 2009 by

Surfing up in Maine for the weekend so I figured I’d let some other people do the writing for me.

READ IT.  READ IT. READ IT.  READ IT AGAIN. You owe it to every person who has died in the name of the United States.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present [FILL IN THE BLANK] King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Get outside everyday!!

Have you seen these before?  They’re Indian Pipes.  It’s also called the Ghost Plant. Boo!!

p1010009It’s a saprophytic plant, which means that it feeds on dead organic matter. Boo!!  Because it doessn’t have chlorophyl it doesn’t photosynthesize and that’s why it’s white and not green like most plants.  The Native Americans made some powerful potions from the root tea.  It was used for such things as: convulsion, fits and epilepsy.

Light Pollution

July 1, 2009 by

The noise post from a while back got me to thinking about how thecity_at_night_1024 light each of us makes impacts others.   As you can infer from my blog’s tagline, “Suburban survival for the stupid“, I live in the suburbs, so there is a lot of light around here.   To see the Milky Way I need to get into the woods, beach or up to the great north.

If your neighbor has a big motion activated metal halide, that’s going to impact your space.  Your neighbor’s light will prevent you from seeing the night sky like you otherwise could if he didn’t have the gulag light blaring down on you.  Light can even make someone lose sleep.

At night light travels for a real far distance.   So a little light can have a great impact.  If you have a floodlight outside try to have some respect for your neighbors and how your floodlight can impact them.  If you are driving towards people walking at night dim your lights.

When you leave a room shut off the lights.  Shut off any unnecessary lights anytime you can.

Light_pollution_It's_not_prettyThis picture above is the night sky looking at Orion from dark skies and from the Orem/Provo, Utah area. (Courtesy of Light Pollution, Wikipedia.)  You can see how much light interferes with the environment.

Shutting off unnecessary lights also saves energy.  Which saves $.  You look at a picture of a city at night and you know that most of the offices with lights still burning in them are now empty.  The worker bees having left the hive hours ago.

As civilization and urbanization continue to spread the problem has definitely and will continue to get worse.  I wonder if the day may come when our kids’, kids’, kids may not even be able to see the stars at night.  20040921144929!Usa_night

This is a picture of the continental United States at night.  You can see the cities and highways all lit up.  And just because you don’t see your neck of the woods lit up, doesn’t mean that light pollution is not a problem around you. I can’t help but wonder how much of the light is necessary and being used right at the moment this picture was taken.  How much light is the on at dusk off at dawn variety.

city-lights-building-nightThis picture is just over the top.  Chances are fossils fuels were burned to light up this city like that.  And you can be sure that you can’t see s single star at night.

Okay, that was all the neighborly stuff, now for the Suburban Survival stuff.  The other thing about light is that, like water, it will find small opening to seep through.  Light travels out of windows and cracks under doors.  At night people going by your house will be able to see light leaking through small openings.   Light also lets others look into your house and if you look out you won’t be able to see them in the darkness.     Be careful of making yourself a silhouette.  Don’t make yourself a silhouette.  In other words be aware when there is a light behind you.  If the lights ever go out for a long period you best be careful to seal up all the cracks and hang thick blankets over the windows.  Through a towel under the door.  Being the only one in town with lights burning could turn out to be a dangerous thing.  Nothing wrong with having some extra stuff on hand to reduce the amount of light you emit: plywood for windows, duct tape, tarps, maybe some black paint, caulking.  Don’t forget over flat treeless terrain a lighted house can be seen for a very far distanceAnd to someone hungry, cold or hurt light means the end to all of their suffering.   You can also use it to your advantage because light will draw people like moths to a flame.

This last picture was taken during and after a large east coast power outage.  You can see how much of the house w lightnight sky is visible when the power is off, and how much is hidden whan the floodlights and house lights come back on.   If someone were standing in front of the window in that house, you’d be able to see them standing there plain as day.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!

P1010001This bunny was even too small to eat.  Then again maybe I just wasn’t hungry enough.  I bet I got within ten feet of him.  What works for me is to not look at an animal as I’m approaching it.  Also, just like when fighting never approach straight direct, move at angles.

Summer Solstice

June 29, 2009 by

I’m not a fan of the Summer Solstice.  The summer solstice traditionally falls on June 21st.   That is the longest day of the year.  From here until the shortest day of the year, on December 21, every day is a minute or two shorter than the day before .  sun_woodcut1Then, thankfully, each day gets a minute or two longer.    I call the time after summer solstice the long decline into darkness.  I don’t like when the sun sets at 4:00pm.   I start work pretty early.  I try to be there by 7.  If I work till after 4pm that means I can go days without seeing the sun.  That’s not natural.  Humans need sunlight both physiologically and psychologically.  I don’t need a doctor to tell me that.  And that is why although summer is my favorite season that the summer solstice bums me out.  Because I recognize it’s the changing of the seasons.

People have been celebrating the solstice ever since we began to track the sun and celestial bodies.  Stonehenge is aligned to mark the solstice.   To herald in the beginning of summer the ancients used to build bonfires, get drunk, sing and dance.

How in tune are you with the seasons?  It’s not too late.  Make a resolution to sit by more campfires.  Go swimming in a lake or the ocean.  Go camping.  Ride your bike.  Play tennis.  Have a barbecue.  Rent a kayak.  Walk barefoot.  Eat watermelon and spit the seeds.  Plant some flowers or veggies.  Walk your dog or your kids.

No matter what season you are celebrating…GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY! I thought that this Robin’s egg was a good picture to go along with the one about the shortening days.

p1010011Robin Redbreast
By: William Allingham

Good-bye, good-bye to Summer!
For Summer’s nearly done;
The garden smiling faintly,
Cool breezes in the sun;
Our Thrushes now are silent,
Our Swallows flown away,–
But Robin’s here, in coat of brown,
With ruddy breast-knot gay.
Robin, Robin Redbreast,
O Robin dear!
Robin singing sweetly
In the falling of the year.

Bright yellow, red, and orange,
The leaves come down in hosts;
The trees are Indian Princes,
But soon they’ll turn to Ghosts;
The scanty pears and apples
Hang russet on the bough,
It’s Autumn, Autumn, Autumn late,
‘Twill soon be Winter now.
Robin, Robin Redbreast,
O Robin dear!
And welaway! my Robin,
For pinching times are near.

The fireside for the Cricket,
The wheatstack for the Mouse,
When trembling night-winds whistle
And moan all round the house;
The frosty ways like iron,
The branches plumed with snow,–
Alas! in Winter, dead and dark,
Where can poor Robin go?
Robin, Robin Redbreast,
O Robin dear!
And a crumb of bread for Robin,
His little heart to cheer.