Category Archives: coffee muses

Day 5 – Bathing in the artificial sun…along about the orbit of Mercury.

There was a break in the afternoon gully washers yesterday. I took that opportunity to play a bit of catchup on the yard work. I managed to mow about 2/3 of the yard…if I’m lucky I may get the rest mowed this afternoon.

At 6am this morning we are already at 80 degrees with a 95% humidity. Unless something change, it is gonna be a scorcher. You really have to love the weather prognosticators, the MyCast forecast calls for little or no chance of rain today while the National Weather Service is calling for a 40% chance of heavy rain. AccuWeather is telling me that the RealFeel temperature out right now is about 92 degrees…What a way to start your day.

Reading my Washington Post email I see one of the top stories is ‘Signing Statements’ Study Finds Administration Has Ignored Law .

President Bush has asserted that he is not necessarily bound by the bills he signs into law, and yesterday a congressional study found multiple examples in which the administration has not complied with the requirements of the new statutes.

Bush has been criticized for his use of “signing statements,” in which he invokes presidential authority to challenge provisions of legislation passed by Congress. The president has challenged a federal ban on torture, a request for data on the administration of the USA Patriot Act and numerous other assertions of congressional power. As recently as December, Bush asserted the authority to open U.S. mail without judicial warrants in a signing statement attached to a postal reform bill.

Now exactly who hasn’t realized by now that this administration hasn’t ignored the laws it felt did not apply to it? Come on America, this has to be the most politically corrupt group since the Nixon White House…Oh, yea…It’s the same people, I forgot. They pretty much got away with it then so they figured they could get away with it again. You would have thought most American’s would know that old proverb, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me.” Well America, shame on you…

“At least it makes clear the signing statements aren’t solely for staking out a legal position, with the president just saying, ‘I don’t have to do these things, but I will,’ ” Bruce Fein said. “In fact they are not doing some of these things. You can’t just vaporize it as an academic question.”

The stories keep coming about the White House thinking it’s above the law, yet, no one seems to do anything about it. I think it’s time to put some options back on the table…

Another example…Trying to bypass the Official Documents Act…Bush Aides’ Misuse of E-Mail Detailed by House Committee

White House aides made extensive use of political e-mail accounts for official government business, despite rules requiring that they conduct such business through official communications channels, according to new evidence disclosed yesterday by congressional investigators.

At some point don’t these stories reach critical mass and demand an accounting? It’s no longer an issue of just incompetence. It is no longer an issue of ideology. It is now an issue of law. It is now an issue of criminality.

Pardon the political rant. I try to hold it in, but damn it, if I treated the law as disrespectfully as these folks do I’d be serving time. Who the hell do they think they are?

Time to run…more muses later…

Day four in atom crunching…

The weather the past two days was…to be nice…wet. Occasional heavy thunderstorms interspersed with steady rain. Short periods of local street flooding. One of the changes I have seen in my half century in SE Texas (particularly the flat coastal plain) is the change in road building styles and flood handling concepts. In my younger days all roads were raised in this part of the country, with bar ditches on both sides for runoff. At some point it was decided that the roads themselves would be the ditches with subsurface drainage to empty the pools that would form. In general it has worked. But this area is prone to heavy thunderstorms where rainfall amounts can reach 3-6 inches an hour and the storms have a tendency to stall in one spot, or worse do what the weather prognosticators call train. When a storm starts training it keeps rebuilding in one location and trailing away over the same area for hours. These types of storms regularly drop half a foot of rain or more in relatively short time. Luckily, nothing this weekend was that bad…But the outside temperature this morning before sunup is already moving into the upper half of the 70’s with the humidity at 97%. Gonna be a great day for driving around Houston.

I see my friends in the mountains of the Blue Ridges are going to be living with temperatures in the mid to upper 80’s today. Looks like another year for the record books. We are going to get tired of hearing how each year is the hottest since we began keeping records soon. Especially as Congress can’t seem to come to grips with the fact that America we have a problem.

Off this afternoon for treatment #4. So far all goes well. I guess I should get a photo to document I really do have a ponytail again after all these years before it all comes falling out…Later folks, I gotta roll.

Sunday Morning on Sunday Morning

I was sitting here checking out some WP plugins when I noticed the time. Poured my first cup of the morning muse and turned on “Sunday Morning“. I was late for the preamble but caught most of the first story. Even Sunday Morning is on the sugar story and what caught my attention as I tuned in was they were talking about…High Fructose Corn Syrup.

The surprising fact they presented…4g of sugar equal 1 teaspoon.

Follow the link for the transcript…

“All sugar-containing foods aren’t bad. For example, an apple has its main calories come from sugar. But it’s surrounded by fiber, so it digests slowly and keeps blood sugar under control.”
Dr. David Ludwig

Is America Too Sweet On Sugar?, Sugar Has Been In The American Diet Since Columbus, But It Might Be Time To Cut Down – CBS News

Next up was Paper, Plastic or Poetry? Attention Supermarket Shoppers: The Grocery Store Poet Is At Your Service. Here is a guy who sits and composes poetry on the fly and to order all day long. While they didn’t bother to show many of his examples (how could they as he doesn’t keep copies), the few they quoted sounded pretty good to my uneducated ear. The transcript, unfortunately, doesn’t contain any examples, for that you’ll need to watch the clip here. VIDEO

Sunday Morning is regular part of my Sunday morning. And this was another, this Sunday Morning, June 17, Twenty O’Seven…

Now it’s email time…From the Washington Post we get another of those great life stories they publish as “A Local Life”…

A Local Life: Benoni Dawson Allnutt
Traditional Farmer Found Ways To Transform With Changing Times

During six decades cultivating his family’s acreage near Poolesville, in upper Montgomery County, Benoni Allnutt tried to adapt to massive change.

His “Homestead Farm” stopped functioning as an all-purpose hog-corn-cattle-wheat business in the years after World War II. In time, horticulture took over entirely. The fall pumpkin crop and pick-your-own berries became essential additions for Allnutt’s survival as a full-time farmer in a rapidly changing county. Yet they also created what some family members have jokingly called “agritainment” and a farm that appears “more Disneyland than heartland.”

The first thing that caught my eye was the name…Benoni Allnutt. It wasn’t all that many years ago that I could have claimed to have never heard the name Benoni, wouldn’t have recognized the Biblical reference in the name. Then a few years ago I discovered that my great-grandfather on my father’s mother’s side was nicknamed Benoni. That was his name, Benoni Cox as listed on the 1850 United States Census from Limestone County Texas. He was one year old at the time. From later records in his life I knew his given name was Benjamin Franklin Cox. For a few years that was the only Benoni reference I had. Then as I was studying an old family Bible I inherited fro my dad I came across a reference to Benoni Pearson who died in 1845. From everything I have been able to put together Benoni Pearson was Benoni Cox’s maternal grandfather. But I digress, we were talking about Benoni Allnutt…

Allnutt, who died June 12 at 90 after a stroke, began bringing elementary schoolchildren to the farm in the 1960s to educate them about farm life. He liked to take them marching through a barn with its cow droppings liberally carpeting the hay. He enjoyed squirting the children with warm milk from a cow’s udder, a vivid reminder that milk does not come from supermarkets.

Schoolchildren now tramp through the clean barnyard with “hand-wash stations,” not exactly his idea of rugged realism. But then again, tractors now have air-conditioning.
“If he wasn’t teasing you, he didn’t like you too much,” said his son Bob. “If he was polite, that wasn’t necessarily a good sign.”

It sounds like Mr. Allnutt was ahead of his time. Could be his life would make a good lesson plan on how to farm in the 21st century. With his farm tours, specialty crops, and farm products he seems to have led the transition away from the monocultural farms of the 1950’s into the artisanal farming that will be saving the family farm going forward. Reading this “Story of Life” makes me wish I had been offered the opportunity to have met Benoni Allnutt during his time on this earth.

“If he wasn’t teasing you, he didn’t like you too much,” said his son Bob. “If he was polite, that wasn’t necessarily a good sign.”

Benoni Allnutt, it was good to have met you even at this late date. May you rest in peace.

The Ethicurean: Chew the right thing.

The Ethicurean Blog always has some intriguing posts about the food we eat and how it is raised or shows up at our table. Maybe I’ve been reading them too much, ’cause this whole dependence on corn is beginning to remind me of something else. Are we planning to trade in a petroleum habit for something that is even worse.

Defending their corn: meatpackers, soft drink makers and food companies go after ethanol by Mental Masala – 16 June 2007.

The ethanol boom is inspiring some surprising behavior in the food and farming community. Philip Brasher, the Des Moines Register’s Washington Correspondent, wrote about pushback from the food and drink industry over ethanol in Thursday’s newspaper. The article illustrates how the ethanol boom is leading to some hypocritical demands and Machiavellian strategies.

Let’s start with makers of soft drinks. Brasher writes:

Coca-Cola, which relies on corn syrup to sweeten its soft drinks, has joined chief competitor PepsiCo Inc., food companies like Kellogg Co., and groups representing meatpackers and livestock producers in raising alarms about a Senate energy bill that would require the usage of 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022. Current law requires motorists to use 7.5 billion gallons of biofuels by 2012, a target that will be surpassed in coming months as dozens of new ethanol plants come on line.

Does anyone remember “new coke”? It took them a while to get the formula right didn’t it. So what, old coke was sugar, new coke was…something else, classic coke was/is corn syrup? Makes sense to me. After all of that tweaking and reformulating now they may have to do it again because the revenuer’s are changing the rules and taking their sweetener away from them. Do we still raise cane in these parts? I know they shut down the sugar plant in Sugarland just up the road here.

You know, in my part of the world they sell Mexican Coke in almost all of the stores. You know the stuff with the actual sugar in it…Seems the immigrants, legal or otherwise, don’t like the gringo cola…

It all goes back to the Food Bill…I mean, it all goes back to the Farm Bill and the way Industrial Agriculture has learned to game the system. Isn’t great to live the American Dream?