Thursday, March 31, 2022

Spring Retreated

Well, spring was nice.  It went down to 32F (0C) last night. It looks like the geraniums will continue to move out to the driveway in the morning, and then back into the garage at night for a little while.  The meteorologist who is almost always wrong is predicting 50 mph winds on Monday.  Here's hoping he continues his streak of wrongness in this case.

Here is a sunset from a few days ago.  That was pretty good.  We've had a lot of days with sun and clouds.  According to our neighbor, April is a roller coaster of weather.  Wind, hail, hot, cold - all on the same day.  It's not like Tucson where it would be hot and stay that way until early November.

This was taken last night.

Today I tried something new.  I have eaten one too many frozen peas and green beans.  Safeway produce has hit new lows in Spokane.  It is beyond me why they bother to put out beans that are clearly molding.  We look for bok choy, but it always looks like it's been through a shredder.  There is a Yoke's, which is the home grown store which allegedly is good, but ours does not change their chicken oil often enough.  After five minutes in there, all clothing must be washed.  This is cabbage, onions and celery.  Interestingly enough, sauteed cabbage does not put a bunch of food smell into the house, like the onions do.  So, using pre-cooked onions, we can add cabbage to the list in the future.  I pre-cook onions and keep them in the freezer.  We really need a new green vegetable.

We checked out another, newer Yokes, which is not all that far from us, so we're going to be shopping there.  It's a huge store, really bright, wide aisles and no over powering smell of deep fat fried chicken.

This is from my neighbor's yard.  I don't know what it is.  The kids have trampled the one next to it.  They are tough on vegetation and sprinkler lines.

Here is another sign of spring, power raking.  Over time the lawn gets full of dead grass from being mowed and the cuttings not completely removed, or thatch as it's called.  Another neighbor hired a guy with an aerator and a power rake.  Most people got the aeration, which is when they cut plugs of dirt and grass out and leave them on the yard.  Here is the guy aerating a yard across the street.  It's self propelled so he does not have to push it up that hill.

We got the power raking, which just pulls out the dead grass.  He did yeoman work on this; power raked, manually raked up the dead grass and then mowed the lawn.  See the light brown stripe around the edge of the yard, that's thatch.  Soon, it will be time to fertilize the grass.  Lawns are kind of a pain in the butt.

Today the House of Representatives passed a bill to limit the cost of insulin to $35 a month.  193 House Republicans voted against lowering the cost of insulin. Every Democrat voted for the measure.  From The Hill we learn the following:

Insulin was first discovered by researchers at the University of Toronto in 1921, and has not been significantly improved in the past 100 years.

The patent was sold to the University of Toronto for a dollar in the hopes that it would be made widely available for patients in need.

As the Lancet detailed in a report last year, shortly after the University’s patent on insulin expired in 1940, the Department of Justice investigated three companies — Eli Lilly, Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb — for anti-competitive pricing tactics.

Today, three companies control nearly 100 percent of the world’s insulin: Eli Lilly, Sanofi and Novo Nordisk.

Countries that control drug prices don't pay exorbitant amounts for insulin.  A vial costs under $5 to produce.  Without insurance, people pay around $1,400 a year  for insulin.  It's not a drug you can cut back on to save money.  Anyway, the republicans were in fine form arguing against capping the price.  A woman representative from Georgia said she was voting no in order to protect our freedom.  Kathy McMorris Rogers, who is my idiot rep, got up and said if government controls insulin prices, what's next?  Will the government set the price of gasoline?  What these stupid people don't seem to know, or care about, is that the pharmaceutical firms are controlling the price of insulin, there is zero pressure free markets can bring to bear on the costs. 

In news from other countries, we have this.

The video of the drone killing Russian hardware can be found here.   The music in the background is Ukrainian rap, which is sort of an acquired taste.  Drones were "... demonstrated in a military exercise and said to be able to hit a target a meter across from an altitude of 300 meters high, enough for the drone to be virtually invisible and inaudible. The RKG-1600 grenades are apparently produced using 3D printed parts."  For more on this, go here.  Unlike the Switchblade drones the US is providing, this delivery system does not kill the drone. 

Shanghai is currently under lock down due to Covid.  The government is sending out robots to tell people to stay inside.  To play the video go here.  It's pretty cool.  The robot walks like the Boston Dynamics dog, but it might be a Chinese knock off.  I love the speaker on its back.

Finally, we have this.  A boy and his dog.

So that's it - that's all I've got.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Spring, Maybe

Yesterday was a first for 2022.  We did not have to wear jeans and boots to go out.  We're back in Columbia nylon pants and Hoka One Ones.  Soooo much more comfortable.

Soon it will be time to migrate back to the upstairs shower.  This house is weird.  There is a basement, the majority of which is below grade.  All winter it was warm down there, because we had the heat on.  Now the furnace is not running and it's freezing down there.  It's great for working out, not so much for the shower.  I'm not sure where bread dough is going to be rising.  It may be time for the heating pad to help it along.  

Who knows what these are?  I'm guessing tulips, but my plant knowledge is miniscule.

It appears that the second boosters have been approved.  We've been debating on now vs. later.  Now, and protection will wane sooner.  Later, they might run out due to the wretched republicans pulling funding for Covid.  As of this second, we're thinking sooner, rather than later because of this.

Cases are currently increasing in New York and New England.  It's difficult to know exact numbers due to home testing and no reporting.  Waste water sampling is one of the best measures at the moment.

So, that's what I've got.  Spring and more Covid.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Utilities and World Events

Well, even longer for the no write.  Ukraine, the murdering bastard Putin and the republicans' perfidy and malfeasance have been occupying my head; living there rent free, as it were.  I'm also filled with rage at the fact that the west will not help Ukraine enough to END THIS, before they are all dead, and there is nothing left to save.  Ukraine should have been a NATO member long before this.  

In the June 7, 2021 issue of the New Yorker, there was a short piece about the dedication of the central branch of the Brooklyn Public Library phase one remodel completion.  Chris Owens, son of Major Owens (who got his start in politics as a Brooklyn librarian) read from his father's poetry.  "Human history is a long, ugly tale/ Tragedy guided by the frail monster male."  That right there is Vladimir Putin.

In the neighborhood we have been observing utility work.  It's spring, the ground is not frozen, so they're out with power tools.

This is sewer repair.  In order to work on the sewer lines, one must dig.  These two were friendly and did not mind having their picture taken.

Look at the pile of dirt and the size of the hole.  It's amazing how dirt expands when you remove it from its previous location.

New poles were installed while we weren't looking.  I guess these are for more neighborhood safety.  We already have round abouts at most intersections, so I'm not clear on why we needed more traffic calming measures.

The fiber people have been in the area as well.  They will be in ours at some point.  They will take fiber underground, up the street, and then tunnel to junction boxes in people's front yards.  After that, one must sign up for service before they bring it into your house.  We're on the fence about fiber.  For one thing, it is impossible to know how much it will cost.  The first year is full of discounts and one year free for this that and the other, and then it goes up.  Their speeds are higher than Xfinity speeds, but honestly Xfinity is fast enough.  When we lived in the RV and stayed in Issaquah, we would get DSL at 7 meg/sec and it was fine.  I think fiber speeds would be wasted on us.  Here is one of their machines.  I believe that's what they call the missile, that pushes conduit through the earth.

We've been out in the yard.  We took out a large uwanamus, that had an amazingly large root system.  Parts of the roots required saws to get them out.  The deer ate the front half all winter, it grows all over the ground so weeding is difficult, and then it drips leaves into a window well.  It had to go.  We replaced it and the horrible looking rose bush with box woods.  The deer don't eat them.  It was hard, we're still kind of sore from the effort.  Yesterday we deployed bags of rocks in the areas that were thin.  Today I'm not doing any of those kinds of activities.

It's been an interesting week.  During the confirmation hearings, there was the Airing of Grievances on the part of Lindsey Graham; that's a Seinfeld reference, go here for Festivus if you're curious.  Twice he went off on a rant about things not related to Ketanji Brown Jackson's Supreme Court nomination.  After the rant was done, he grabbed his drink and stormed out of the room.  Ted Cruz attempted to appear all lawyerly in his interrogation, until he was forced to admit he had the wrong case that he was using to try to make a point.  Then there was Josh Hawley.  Just look at this face.  There is a lot of venom behind that expression.

The media made much of KBJ's ability to remain calm, not roll her eyes, and absorb the lies told about her sentencing record.  Not too much was said about why did she have to endure this?  Why are a bunch of white guys allowed to speak to her like that in the first place?  Why did Cruz get to talk over her repeatedly, and then accuse her of filibustering instead of answering?  Then there was Marsha Blackburn, asking her to define "woman."  It was a weak, failing effort to get her to discuss trans rights.  KBJ was not having it.  Jalyn Radziminski on twitter posted "Don’t get me wrong- the nomination of Judge KBJ is a historic moment. But why are we normalizing a Black woman being verbally & emotionally abused by a committee for the public to see? Why are we applauding composure during abuse? Why must Black women suffer to make history?"  Racism and misogyny run deep in the republican party.

Then the 29 text messages between Ginni Thomas (wife of Supreme Court justice, Clarence) and Mark Meadows were revealed.  She was strongly urging Meadows to not let the orange ectoplasm concede, because they were going to overturn the election.  This is sedition, she's the wife of a justice.  She claims Clarence didn't know what she was doing.  She was organizing a insurrection, which she did attend until she got too cold.  NPR has a piece on it with no pay wall.  WAPO has the original story, but they paywall. Clarence Thomas was the lone dissent in the SCOTUS’s January order rejecting orange guy's bid to withhold documents from the January 6 panel.  He should be impeached.  Mark Meadows should be arrested for voting fraud after registering to vote at an address where he never lived.  North Carolina takes a dim view of this.

Ukraine rolls on, they're holding their own, but Mariupol is paying a terrible price.  Most of the city is gone, and the survivors are starving at this point.  Russia refuses to allow humanitarian aid to be delivered.  They need more weapons, more javelins, stingers and drones.  One man did this.  The only bright side (this is dark humor) is that the Russians are starting to run over their commanding officers.  The conscripts are not highly motivated to do this thing.

This was Mariupol before.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Moon and Spider

We had really clear skies and a full moon two nights ago.  I'm using my big camera again since Jim was able to get the stuck battery out.  It was wiggling a little, so he pried it out with a small screw driver.  Good thing, getting a camera repaired is going the way of TV tube testers.  If you're old, like me, you'll remember those being in hardware stores and drug stores.  The camera is happy, and I'll be ordering a new battery to replace the old one.  Anyway, I was able to get a photo of the moon.  I need a longer lens, but don't have one.

A zoomed in photo.

It was good timing, the next night was really overcast.

Our neighbors are getting a new roof.  Yesterday they did the tear off.  Today, very early this morning, they delivered the shingles to the top of the roof.  Unfortunately, the roofers did not show up.  Neighbor says that communication is not their strong suit.

This is a pretty cool spider.  He's a Peacock spider.  They don't spin webs, they forage.  Females are known to eat the males if they do not like their dance.  Go here to see the spider dance, it's amazing.

There has been speculation about what the goals of the trucker's convoy are in Washington DC.  Today they're driving through DC neighborhoods being cursed at by the citizens.  These words were spoken on stage at the morning trucker's meeting.  I guess now we know what they want.

This is also from twitter.  It made me think differently about the whole abortion argument.

That's it!  That's all I've got.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

The Grouch Speaks

Mellow Greetings fellow humans.  How are things with you?  I've not been posting as of late because I've been very grouchy and did not want to expose you to my generalized ire.  

The cheerful things I can now report are as follows.  We found a handyman outfit who actually answers the phone, and dispatches people in a timely fashion.  The grout in the shower cracked in a few places.  It had almost reached the stage of letting water out of the shower.  We watched a bunch of youtube videos and decided we could fix that.  Hah!  Double HAH HAH HAH!  After wielding the grout saw for a bit, we realized we would die of old age prior to getting the grout removed.  The guys from Faithful Hand Handyman came today, dug out the cracked grout and put in new.  It looks really good and it's done.  We're going to have Josh come back to install a new kitchen faucet.  We've done it before, but the way the plumbing was done in this house makes it very difficult.

After a long and arduous search I found a table cloth (oilcloth) to replace the old one.  This is the old one.

Here is new.  The giraffe print was ok with the previous fabric on the chairs, but not with what we have now.  Although this is a fake wood grain pattern, it reads as a solid if you just glance at it.  It will take a few months for the creases to sort themselves out.  I am wildly excited to be done with the giraffe.

There are new socks.  I now have a complete winter wardrobe of varying weights of wool socks depending on which boots I am wearing, and how cold it is.  Socks are good.

OK, so much for the happy stuff.  The republicans are making me very angry, and they're putting even more hate in my heart.

Texas wants to make it possible for any relative of a rapist to sue the victim of the rape if she aborts his child.  They also want to make it a crime to take a trans child out of state for gender affirming treatment.  They're also thinking they'd like to impose the death penalty for women who abort, as well as their doctor.

Missouri would make it illegal for women to cross the state line into Illinois for an abortion.  They want to control what their citizens do in other states.  Missouri Rep. Brian Seitz proposed a bill that would classify removal of an ectopic pregnancy as an abortion, which would be illegal after 10 weeks.  When asked if he understood what the procedure entailed and why it was performed, he allowed as how no, he did not know these things.  An ectopic pregnancy, if not removed, will always result in the death of the woman and the fertilized egg stuck in the fallopian tube.  Contrary to what republicans might believe, it is not possible to remove it and place it in the uterus.

The Idaho House would like to make the penalty for taking your trans child out of state for gender affirming treatment punishable by life in prison. 

The gas companies are infuriating me with their price gouging.  The price of a barrel of oil has dropped, yet prices at the pump have not.  The republicans supported Biden's decision to not buy Russian oil, then turned around and blamed gas prices on Biden.  Gas prices are up everywhere, yet it's the US president's fault.  This will be a big campaign issue in the mid-terms and I don't see the Democrats developing any convincing talking points to counter the Tucker Carlsons of the world.

The Senate republicans would not approve further spending for covid testing, antivirals and monoclonal antibodies, or research on how to treat new variants.  Covid is over! We don't need to spend any money on that - right?  Well no.  BA.2 is on the move.  China is shutting down large swaths of the country trying to get it under control.  Hong Kong has lost the battle, hospitals and morgues are over run.  Cases are increasing in Europe.  And yet, this is what we saw on the digital copy of Washington Post today.

This is from a tweet thread Andy Slavitt put up.  "In the UK and Germany, BA2, a variant of omicron we first saw in Denmark, is driving new case growth. BA2 is over 50% of cases. And cases are on the rise in the U.K.  In the US, cases are still down. But 2 things are worth watching. 1) Only 10% of cases are BA2 and since BA2 spreads approx 30% faster than omicron, expect it to follow Europe, 2) About 1/3 of our early warning wastewater sites are showing increases.  As we have seen throughout the pandemic, the US has followed Europe by several weeks in our waves of cases. That may happen again here. But what happens next is going to be different in every country based on what happened this last year. The factors that will influence how a rise in cases might look in the US are: -the proportion of the country with prior omicron infection -the percentage of non-omicron infected who are vaccinated, or if higher risk, boosted -the state of US hospitals. An estimated 45% of the US has had omicron recently. That should be highly protective. Those fully vaccinated but who haven’t had omicron should be vulnerable to infection from BA2, but largely won’t be hospitalized or worse. Those who haven’t been infected but also aren’t vaccinated or boosted will be at highest risk of hospitalization. So we could see lots of cases, but an even lower portion of ppl hospitalized than last wave."

What he did not mention is the tsunami of people already disabled by long Covid, and BA2 will bring even more.  Very little research is being done on why there is long Covid, or what can be done to fix it.  Surviving Covid is only half the battle.

In closing, I'd like to post this from Hillary.

Monday, March 7, 2022

Recent Stuff and Ukraine

Greetings!  Long time, no write.  We've been overwhelmed with grief for the Ukranian people.  Knowing what is going on there tends to make life here seem somewhat frivolous.  We've been doing stuff, but writing about it seems superficial.  Note, I'm not saying anyone who is posting is frivolous, I'm saying that I feel that way.  Anyway, in no particular order I have a few photos of recent events.

This is something of which we were not aware.  It's a laser distance measure.  It's really good for measuring windows for blinds or shades, so much easier than bending the tape measure in the corner and trying to decide how many 16ths there are.

We once again bought craft paper and non-slip shelving stuff to make drawer liners.  I hate it when stuff slides back and forth when you open and close a drawer.  I can not tell you how much easier this was to do with the laser measuring device.

The new counter for the dining room storage area came and was installed.  The previous piece of granite, which was a remnant they just put in there, was not attached.  The de-install went very quickly.

Now the laptops and the phones have a lovely place to charge their batteries.

Are these not cool looking clouds?

Tonight there was a decent sunset.  Sunset has moved north so now it's easier to see it out of the kitchen window.

Ok, so that was my recounting of some of our days.  Now I'm launching into stuff about Ukraine I want to remember.

A few days ago I said "Ukraine" sounded odd to my ear, that it should be "the Ukraine" and I wondered why that was.  It's because I grew up hearing the area referred to as "the Ukraine", because it was a region of Russia.  So, like we say "the Palouse" we said "the Ukraine."  Now they are their own country and they asked the rest of the world very nicely to drop the "the."

Why are we now calling Kiev, Kyiv?  We in the west, with our limited ear are still saying it wrong.  From Duolingo we learn the following. "The Russian name for Ukraine's capital is Киев (Kiev), which, as you would expect, uses Russian sounds. (Just like English speakers use English sounds to say Madrid, Istanbul, and Reykjavik!) But the Ukrainian name of Ukraine's capital is Київ (Kyiv), which, naturally, uses the native Ukrainian sounds to say its own capital's name. The letter и is like the English "i" in "kit," and the letter ї is pronounced "yee": put it together, and you have "ki-yeev" and spell it "Kyiv" in English."  In the US the best we can do is Keev.

 I have a lot of hate in my heart for the people that won't provide Ukraine with more airplanes.  I understand that a no-fly zone can only be put in place if there is no adversary with whom you will be fighting, but I still do not agree with the decision not to provide planes to them.  How is a plane different than the Javelins and Stingers?  Now the pointy heads are talking about how Russia will completely collapse maybe in 30 days, or by summer.  The Ukrainians will all be dead by then.  Like I have said before, we're not a good ally.  

Sabine wrote a post in which she took issue with the media that keep saying this is the first European land war since WWII.  There seems to be no memory of the break up of Yugoslavia, and the terrible fighting and shelling that occurred.  I guess they are not sufficiently European to be considered.  It just pisses me off.  The amount of denigration that Eastern Europeans get from the Western cohort is disgraceful.  I wonder if that's why they're not getting the jets.

The evacuation route Russia agreed to for Mariupol was mined.  The other Putin approved evacuation routes from Ukraine go into Belarus and Russia.  He's bombing cities from Russian territory with dumb bombs as well as cluster bombs. This photo is from the front page of the New York Times, they're not even trying to hide what they are doing.  Putin really is a monster.

Who can find Chechnya on a map?  I had to look it up.  After Russia finally quelled armed dissent in Chechnya after many years, Ramzan Kadyrov was placed in charge.  They're an Islamic country, men have multiple wives, women have no rights and are frequently married off to men several times their age.  Honor killings are done without consequence for the murderers.  Kadyrov maintains a fighting force to control his domain and has shipped some of them to Ukraine.  The leader of the group of fighters that was sent was killed the first day.   I think the installation of Kadyrov says a lot about Putin, none of it good.

The 40 mile long convoy remains stalled.  Here is a possible cause.  They are not doing maintenance in Russia and the tires are shot.  The big trucks need to be moved at least once a month to activate the system that puts air in the tires.  Trucks need to be parked close together to keep some of the sun off the sidewalls.  Things need to be lubed, and cared for.  Since their tires are in such bad shape, they must stay on the road.  There is a good twitter thread on the subject here.  It's also quite likely that they are out of fuel.

This is nice, but sad.  

That's it!  That's all I've got.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

March 1 Ukraine

It appears that NATO has reneged on supplying aircraft.  It's difficult to parse what their excuse is, something about not transiting NATO airspace, pissing off Putin, escalation, yada yada yada.  What in the hell do they think will happen after Putin takes Ukraine.  Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia may be next.  Putin has a plan to recreate the Russia of yore.

The 40 mile convoy of equipment is stalled.  It's believed that they are out of gas, possibly food.  Barry McCaffrey had this to say about the situation.

Civilians in Ukraine are beginning to starve.  They need food and weapons.

Remember the first impeachment trial when the committee interviewed Fiona Hill?  She's brilliant.  Anyway there is an interview with her in Politico.  It's a long read but worth the time to understand how and why things have come to this.

Meanwhile in the US, the beacon of democracy, Texas is de-registering voters.  Their registrations are just gone.  Georgia sat on their new illegal re-districting long enough that a federal judge ruled that it was too close to the election to throw out the map.  Pennsylvania and North Carolina are appealing their Supreme Courts' decisions to approve fair voting maps.  I think we're about to become a republican run country, which is not good.