Monday, February 29, 2016

Random Thoughts, I haz them

While watching the morning news and watching the temperature plunge back down to 0F, my mind took a trip of it's own.

The Oscars. The biggest "we love ourselves and want to show each other just how much except for some of us" award show in America. Oops! We forgot about loving the black actors and actresses. We'll try harder next time. At least they include some white women. Chris Rock had fun and was pretty funny without being overtly angry and Lady Gaga sings well enough to change her name from Gaga to Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, which is her real name. What an idea!

Super Tuesday is tomorrow when regular people in about 11 states get to pick their choice for Republican, Democratic, or both, favorite candidates to run in the presidential election coming up in November when it will be getting cold again. My god this is a long, torturous process! Is all this "freedom" worth it? Watching the Republican leaders in the contest is like watching children arguing in the sandbox about who has the best sand and calling each other various names like clown, baby, lightweight, liar, idiot, a mess, looks like he's got a squirrel on his head, single biggest liar, pretends to be a Republican, short, sweaty, little boy, con-artist, make sure his pants weren’t wet, and the absolute worst, "liberal." Trump is still leading over Cruz and Rubio, but I wonder if it's because he isn't Cuban? Suffice it to say I won't be giving my support to any of them.

Today is Leap Day where those of us who are earthbound use the day to synchronize our concept of time with the rest of the universe. It is also considered to be Sadie Hawkins Day. It allegedly began  back in Ireland, but was given the moniker of Sadie Hawkins Day in the Li'l Abner comic strip back in 1937 and may have been another day altogether. Back when gender roles were more strict it was permissible for women, who had been waiting for the man of their dreams to ask them out on a date, to ask the man out or to get married whichever was appropriate. This, of course, has all kinds of sexist connotations that hearken back to what many Republicans refer to as "family values." Thinking back to my own Sadie Hawkins experiences, I recall getting asked to a dance or two in high school and college. I was okay with it and a little flattered, too. It was the beginning of my feeling that if women had more responsibility to run things some of the pressure would be taken off of men. To me it was a brilliant concept, but not to all men. It must be a  control thing. Gazing into my crystal ball I see this changing in a major way come November. While she may not be my first choice, Hillary Clinton is way better than anyone from the other side. I will sit back and enjoy the explosion of heads among some of the other old white men out there.


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Lighten the Mood

With all the usual silly politics, murders, wars, poverty, disease, hunger, and death going on as usual, I need to take a break from reality. So I'll post some humorous stuff just to give it all a rest and take a breath so that I may function in a manner that passes for normal. I think I have a lot of people fooled since I learned to walk upright. Enjoy!

I feel a little better now. How about you?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Sanctity of the Home

The safety and sanctity of the home has always been an aspiration to many. "A man's home is his castle." "Home is where the heart is." There are many sayings expressing the love for ones home and family and rightly so. There is often a feeling of peace and well being around thoughts of home. It isn't like that for everyone, though, in cases of abuse, violence, and poverty for example. In an ideal world, however, the desire to achieve some kind of peace in your own sanctuary may be relatively high on the list of things to do in a lifetime.

Where I am going with this is the latest news from the EPA and Lumber Liquidators about the amount of formaldehyde in laminate flooring made in China. The questions of how and why come up and can be answered here. Last year sales of the Chinese made products was suspended because of excessive off-gassing of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. All this came to the public's attention from a 60 Minutes investigation airing last March.

Investors have been upset and the CEO of Lumber Liquidators resigned and sales and profits are down. My heart bleeds for them. Not. Families have been and are being exposed to unsafe amounts of formaldehyde constantly. Lumber Liquidators has offered free air testing in homes. Whoopdee-do. What they should do is immediately start ripping out the questionable flooring and replacing it at no charge and hope their customers still don't sue them out of business which they may do anyway.

In the meantime, from USA Today, "In an unrelated matter, Lumber Liquidators recently agreed to a criminal settlement involving $13 million in penalties and five years of probation after acknowledging it was guilty of illegally importing wood from forests that are home to endangered species."

So much for ever considering buying anything from Lumber Liquidators.

It also was not until the 2012 passage of the Drywall Safety Act that drywall containing "high levels of hydrogen sulfide were found in the samples of Chinese wallboard, as well as sulfur dioxide, carbon disulfide, methyl mercaptan, dimethyl sulfide, carbonyl sulfide and ethyl mercaptan." You see, after the hurricane seasons back around 2004 and 2005, rebuilding and repairing of houses overwhelmed the domestic drywall producers and we started importing the contaminated stuff from China. Over 20,000 homes were affected in the following years, mostly in Florida and Louisiana.

I had this horrible thought of living in a home in Flint, Michigan built with Chinese drywall and Lumber Liquidators flooring with poisonous water coming out of the taps. Suddenly the American dream of home ownership didn't look so appealing. It is much easier to bail when you rent than when you own, especially if your family is being slowly poisoned or killed by the home they live in.

I work in a small town contractor-oriented lumber yard, but I am usually aware of what goes on even out in the more heavily populated areas of the country.  There are common and relatively easy ways to know where your products come from. FSC® Chain of Custody Certified is the one we use to ensure we don't sell illegal wood or unsafe wood products. I will personally not sell any W.R. Grace products because of what they did to Libby, Montana which is still contaminated with asbestos.

Profits before people is not acceptable, but still goes on. The gutting of regulatory agencies by congress and presidents has been allowed to go nearly unchecked for years and we the people continue to pay the price. At some point just rocking the boat won't be enough. It will be time to sink the ship.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sable or Mink?

After taking care of the horses this morning I came back inside. It was 15 below zero with a pretty stiff wind.

Sitting around on a Saturday morning when it's too cold to go out puts me in a mood. I never know which mood until I try a few. First thing I did was write new lyrics to the tune of "Bad to the Bone".
I called it "Froze to the Bone".

That was after three cups of coffee.

Then we looked out at the bird feeder and something hairy was on it. I blinked a few times and thought I saw a Sable. A 1995 Mercury Sable.
No, not that one! This one!

I did! I did! I did saw a sable!
We usually call them Marten or Pine Marten around here, but it's the same critter. As it was -15F and windy I guess he was hungry for some suet. Of course he had to get into some contortions to get at it seeing as how he doesn't have a beak like a bird. He managed to get some, though. Here he is taking a break.
Maybe a second helping would be in order.
He gave up at that point and went down into the woods. We left the chickens in their coop because martens will kill chickens. I caught on in the act once and had to make it stop. The surviving chickens were too traumatized to go back in their coop and were later killed by another marten, but that was long ago.

I went to start reading a book and after a while something furry at the bird feeder caught my attention. I thought the marten was back. I was wrong.
This time it was a mink! A cousin of the marten from the Mustelidae family it is a bit smaller and more aquatic. We have ponds and a trout stream running about 150 feet from the house which would normally keep it fed, but it is getting toward the end of winter even though it is still a bit frigid. The water is a bit "thick" to swim in and is the Suet is an easier catch.

Of course, there are others who might like a bit if time on the feeder.

Minks are not as good at climbing as martens, so we watched it fall off the feeder into the snow a couple of times.
Note the snow on its back and tail, but it doesn't give up easily.
It still defends its "kill" against all comers.
Then it was full so it headed back toward the creek which has been frozen for a couple of months.
That was it for the daylight hours, but it did come back in the evening for a while. I thought about starting a collection with which to make a nice fur piece for the girls, but it might take a while. Then I though of the luxury I would feel if I used it as insulated underwear to keep things warm down in "manland". I am sure there are those who would ask why I had that smile on my face while walking around in the subzero cold. I would wait until they had a mouthful of coffee and tell them proudly, "I have a dead animal in my pants!"

 Happy Valentine's Day!