Monday, December 31, 2012

I Make Plans and God Laughs

At least the little dogs played ball!

I had the idea of driving up to Shenandoah National Park and showing my 24-year old son a terrific little four-mile hike down past a half dozen really splendid waterfalls with jaw dropping scenery all around. No one would be there in winter, and it's a terrific run to do with a big powerful dog that can go up and down rocks.  The little terriers would stay home.

A two hour drive later, we get within three or four miles, and the road is closed due to ice. The Ranger turns us around.   Sorry boys.

Back down the mountain. Stopped off at a small town for coffee (a two hour detour) which was OK, but this was not the day we wanted.

So ends 2012 -- not with a bang, but with a whimper. Hope my daughter is doing a better job of it in Panama.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

RSPCA: Rolling in Money While Killing Healthy Dogs

The RSPCA has just spent £330,000 (more than half a million dollars), getting a conviction against a single hunt for a single act of fox hunting. 

One hundred percent of the cost of this prosecution will be borne by RSPCA donors; a dubious use of their funds if there ever was one.

Meanwhile, the RSPCA is killing dogs and cats by the thousands and slashing staff as well,  because it says it does not have enough money.

Complete and utter nonsense.

In fact, the RSPCA is groaning with money, as even a cursory look at their books will tell you.

As I told a Facebook friend who works for the RSPCA in a small section rather removed from the main:
The RSPCA is rolling in money. Money is NOT the problem. The problem is that the RSPCA does not see itself as an organization that works to save and rehome dogs and cats. It's a FUNDRAISING organization (primary mission) that engages in CAMPAIGNS (secondary mission) that will do well in the mail.

They position themselves as law enforcement, but it's a complete lie, as they have NO police powers; it's all dress up, fraud and intimidation. Meanwhile, they shovel dogs and cats into the ovens because KILLING is part of the plan - it cuts down on expenses, and actually works to increase donations.

In short, it's just like the American ASPCA and HSUS: a direct mail fundraising mill that does some small bit of good that is completely out of scale with the massive amounts of money raised, even as their primary mission is a full-on war with farms and farmers.

So who actually does the bulk of the dog and cat rehoming in the U.K.?

As in the U.S., it's not the big-name "humane" organizations that flood the mail, but the small, underfunded groups that do the real job of helping and rehoming dogs and cats.

Fund them, and tell the big humane organization to "go fish."

Flight Over the Shire

This looks like a GoPro camera strapped to an eagle, but in fact it's a GoPro strapped to a quadrocopter drone made up to look like an eagle.  Very cool on several levels.

Coffee and Provocation

Hermaphrodite Puppy Found Abandoned
A lurcher, in Ireland.  Eight weeks old.  A "double-neutering" is on the agenda "to render her as a female."  A headline below the article caught my eye:  "Dog sex case Irishman goes free after woman dies".  I advise not going there.  I did, and now I am boiling my brain in bleach. Ahhh!

Yes, read that sentence againWombat poop is cubic, ostemsibly so the very dry turds do not roll off the rock and logs where they are deposited as markers.  Photos at the link.
Holland vs The Netherlands

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Greyfriars Bobby Fraud Confirmed

A Victorian-era hoax and tourist trap.

In the dog world, it's long been known that the story of "Greyfriar's Bobby" was a hoax, but apparently it was a more elaborate hoax than was previously thought.  As The Daily Mail writes:

For more than a century, he has been seen as the epitome of man’s best friend, known for loyally refusing to leave his master’s graveside for 14 years.

Now, however, it appears the heartwarming tale of Greyfriars Bobby the Skye terrier was a Victorian hoax cooked up by money-grabbing businessmen, an academic has revealed.

Dr Jan Bondeson has uncovered evidence that there were in fact two Bobbies from 1858 to 1872 – and that neither of them belonged to the man buried in Greyfriars cemetery, Edinburgh, whose grave they sat by.

Dr Bondeson, who has published his findings in a book, said: ‘I knew the famous story of Greyfriars Bobby but the more I researched it the more I smelt a rat.’ His research shows the first dog was in fact a stray which wandered into the nearby Heriot’s hospital and was then taken to the graveyard.

James Brown, the curator of the cemetery, treated him so well that he stayed, and locals assumed he was mourning his dead master.

He says his research shows the first dog died in 1867 and was replaced with another by Mr Brown and Mr Traill in an effort to keep visitors flocking to the grave.

Dr Bondeson said: ‘Pictures of Greyfriars Bobby show a distinct change in May or June 1867.

‘The first was an elderly, tired dog who wasn’t much to look at, and the second a lively terrier who ran around and fought other dogs.

‘It would also explain Bobby’s longevity – he was supposed to have lived for 18 years, when even today ten to 12 years is a good life span for a Skye terrier.’

He said Bobby was ‘very good for the local economy’ so it wouldn’t have been difficult to persuade those who knew to keep quiet about the con.

Iphone at the Aquarium

Mom and Megalodon Shark jaw.


Unknown (to me) species of fish.

A Tang of some type.

Spade fish

Shark of some type

Dropped the daughter off at the Baltimore-Washington airport yesterday, and she jetted off to Panama for the week. 

My mom and I had lunch in Baltimore, and then did a tour of the National Aquarium before her eye appointment at Johns Hopkins. 

These pictures were taken with my Iphone, through glass, without a flash, and so represent the outer edge of crappy-camera meets bad-conditions, and yet the photos are fairly serviceable for such tourist stock schlock.  Sorry that I am not better at identifying fish!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Down to Earth Forums - Free 2013 Home Journal

The free 2013 Down to Earth Home Journal is up on the forum and waiting for you to download it. It contains 22 pdf files that will help you plan menus, organise yourself and get into a routine during the coming year. Here is the list but you have to download them from the forum here. If you're not a member yet, click on the link above.
DTE recipessheet.pdf D2E garden journal 2013P1.pdf

Caption Please!


ASPCA to Pay $9.3 Million to Settle Fraud Charges

Back in August, I wrote about how the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) and the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) were under the gun for RICO charges (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) for a rather bumbling effort to contrive a legal case against Feld Entertainment, owner of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.  As I noted at the time:

In the end, I think the court is likely to force HSUS, the ASPCA, the Animal Protection Institute, the Animal Welfare Institute, and perhaps some of the individual employees of those organizations, to shoulder Feld Entertainment's decade-long legal expenses, which could easily top $20 million.

Well guess what? I was not alone in making that determination. Today, the ASPCA agreed to pay $9.3 million to Ringling Brothers to settle their part of the decades-long direct mail fraud perpetrated on the American people.  As Feld Entertainment's press release notes, this $9.3 million payment was paid by the ASPCA:

... to settle all claims related to its part in more than a decade of manufactured litigation that attempted to outlaw elephants in the company's Ringling Brothers Circus. This settlement applies only to the ASPCA. Feld Entertainment's legal proceedings, including its claims for litigation abuse and racketeering, will continue against the remaining defendants, Humane Society of the United States, the Fund for Animals, Animal Welfare Institute, Animal Protection Institute United with Born Free USA, Tom Rider and the attorneys involved.

As I noted back in August:

...whether this case is won or lost, more than money has already flown out the window as the HSUS and the ASPCA are now fully exposed as having created a make-weight legal case whole cloth out of nothing but elephant dung, and to have maintained that case for more than a decade while clearly knowing that core elements of the case were completely manufactured by a pay-to-say witness.

Does this mean elephants should be kept by circuses? 

No.  But it does mean, that the ASPCA and HSUS have had to resort to inventing facts and bearing false witnesses against the circus industry because otherwise they cannot make a legal case at all. 

Think about that.

Two Well Fed

Lucy on a long leash so she does not get shot as a deer (or chase one).

Death in Black and White

Dead crow in the snow.  The local fox has not picked this one up yet.

Year's End With Family

Still married more than 30 years later!

Sarah is off to Panama for a fun trip after Christmas!

Austin's Birthday is Christmas day!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Down to Earth Forums - decluttering with Becci

I'm just dropping in to let you know that Becci is starting her introduction to decluttering right now on the forum. Becci said this will be an ongoing theme during the year and this exercise is to get ready for it.  Just click here to go to the thread. If you're not a member yet, just click on the link above.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas in Yellowstone

Merry Merry To You

The gifts are unwrapped,
the paper and ribbons gathered 
up and put away.
The standing rib roast is just about
 to hit the oven
and my thoughts drift toward 
the Yorkshire Pudding to come.
Breakfast was omelets with a little 
Pride and Prejudice viewing post eating.
That scene of him walking 
across the moors...
gets me every time...

The kids and I have spent each late night
 watching Season 1 of Homeland, that 
I purchased just for that purpose.
We have thoroughly enjoyed it, 
and now I have to find a way to see Season 2.
Spending each evening with them 
in pj's on the couch, 
noshing on a variety of snacks
 has been...well exquisite....

We hit all our favorite stores last week, 
and their Father treated them to many fabulous 
meals about town, while I was at work.
Tonight they attend the annual 
Christmas Day movie with him.

Dearest Son leaves for LA tomorrow
 and Darling Daughter 
heads back to NYC, weather permitting,
on Thursday.
It will take me several days to adjust
and not be sad...even knowing they 
return to good friends and significant 
others who love them.

A few more days of holiday work and 
then it's on to 2013 and job searches 
and house redecorating/purging plans 
and a return to my list of all those
 things left undone in 2012,
and moved over to the New Year.

I have been so blessed.

I wish peace, love and joy
to all of you this day....
and I pray each day
that soon this world will
end the hatred, greed,
dishonesty and cruelty 
that makes this 
gift of life so difficult 
for so many.

I love finding you here
each day, each week.
You make my days brighter,
and fill my heart with laughter.
Thank you for your love, 
your support and exceptional kindness.

Merry Merry to you all.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

So this is Christmas


  This painting is attributed here to Carl Larsson. I'm not sure it is his work but I like it anyway.

Well, finally it is Christmas Eve. For some of us, tonight will be the start of Christmas - my sister Tricia and her family celebrate in the German tradition, on Christmas Eve. For others, we wait until tomorrow. Some attend church, some sleep in, some get up early to

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Weekend reading

The wonderful Maggie Beer

Paper cup garland lights

Homemade Christmas

Ted Trainer's transition

Australian heroes

This is a very cute tutorial - March of the Penguins at Craft Berry Bush

Computer freebies and fonts via Pinterest

Treats for chickens chart from Backyard Chickens

Wise Craft


Check out the Musings of MissFifi, there's a larder full of good

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tits and Teeth are Not Talent

The core message of the American Kennel Club is a simple one: beauty pageants are how we should judge dogs. 

By extension I assume that the women who attend dog shows also assume that beauty alone is how we should judge women?

If so, what an odd thing, and how very backward.

Could one reason that the American Kennel Club has fallen so far out of favor be, quite simply, that modern American men and women are no longer willing to judge people on looks alone?

If a man cannot be the wrong color, can a dog?

If a woman is more than tits and teeth, is a dog more than gait and ear set?

Think about it. 

Maybe the rapid decline in AKC registrations goes hand in hand with the rise of civil rights, and a world that is increasingly run on merit.

Who cares what your dog looks like?  What does it do?

Who cares what you look like?  What talent do your bring to this job?


An Era of Gears, Levers and Working Dogs

I think of terrier work as coming from the era of gears and cogs, levers and tracks.

This was the period before microwave ovens but after we stopped cooking whole animals, bone in, over an open fire.

This was the period before cell phones, but after metal type and pulp paper made books and newspapers cheap and readily available.

Sprocket, Ratchet, Torque, Driver, Rocker, Gear, Spindle, Cog.  These are all mechanical bits, but also excellent names for a working dog.

New Houses Going Up

I live in the smallest neighborhood in Arlington, Virgina and things are pretty stable for the most part, but the edge of a wedge of really big houses appeared about three years ago when my across-the-street neighbor put in a 15,000 square foot job.

Now these two houses are going up around the corner.  The second house is much larger than it looks, as it is shaped like an "L" and this is the short side. 

The covenant in the neighborhood requires all houses to be stone or brick and also that they have slate roofs, so I assume all of the sticks will get covered with suitable material.


The sandpit is officially open

Just dropping in quickly to share this photo of Alex, the first visitor to the sandpit. Sarndra and Alex arrived yesterday afternoon for a quick visit and will be off home this morning. If I have time, I'll be back later, if not, I'll see you all tomorrow. I hope you have a lovely day.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Best Headline Evah

Congressman Norm Dicks joins the cause.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Best Terrier Entered to Fox

Someone give that dog a rosette!

What is the role of the homemaker in later years?

An email came from a US reader, Abby, who asked about being a homemaker in later years. This is part of what she wrote:

"I am a stay-at-home mum to 4 children, ages 9-16. I do have a variety of "odd jobs" that I enjoy - I run a small "before-school" morning drop-off daycare from my home, I am a writing tutor, and I work a few hours a week at a local children's bookstore. But mostly, I cherish

Why Can't the Americans Be More European?

Mass killings seem to be about as common in Europe as they are in the U.S. on a per capita basis, but the shattered language structure of Europe and the general head-up-the-ass chauvinism that is common to all people everywhere wants this to be an "American" phenomenon and never mind the facts.
  • Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 in Norway
  • Michael Ryan killed 17 people in Hungerford, England.
  • Robert Steinhauser killed 17 in Germany. 
  • Pekka-Eric Auvinen killed 9 near Helsinki. 
  • Thomas Hamilton killed 18 in Scotland.
  • Matti Saari killed another 11 in Finland. 
  • Derrick Bird shot 23 and killed 12 in Cumbria. 
  • Tristan van der Vlis killed 7 in Netherland. 
  • Nordine Armani killed five and wounded 121 in Belgium. 
  • Tim Kretschmer killed 16 and wounded 11 in Germany. 

And I am not even trying! 
What America has more of than Europe is drug-related killings and incarcerations. 

If anyone wants to argue that the "war on drugs" has been done all wrong, I will agree, and I have written a little about that!

But is our rate of violent crime worse that Britain's? 

No.  In fact, as The Daily Mail itself notes, Britain is the most violent country in Europe, and is even "worse than South Africa and the U.S." 

Whoa!  No wonder the entire country is netted up in closed circuit television with facial recognition software in full force!  It's 1984, and no kind of evil could ever come from that, could it? 


While we have drug dealers killing each other in Watts, Detroit, and South Philly, the Europeans sniff that they are not nearly so barbaric. 

Instead, like civilized people they take away each other's guns and then herd entire train cars full of people into concentration camps.  Fresh-dug ditches for the sheep.  How many millions did that kill, again? 
And it's not ancient history, is it?  Bosnia is only the most recent example, and it's not going to be the last I'll bet.

Which is not to say that America does not need a decent dose of "time, place and manner" laws when it comes to certain people and certain guns in certain locations. 

Perhaps we can start the conversation by agreeing that a loaded Bazooka at the airport waiting lounge might be a bad thing?

But let's not kid outselves.  It's already illegal to take guns to schools, and there are already laws governing gun sales to crazy people and to criminals. 

Are there some loopholes that need to be closed? 

Are there some weapons that I think can and should reasonably be banned? 

Sure.  And I will include the Bush Master .223 on that list -- the main gun used in the Newtown, Connecticut murders.  Let's have that discussion, but if you want to know what caliber my shotgun is, maybe you should not talk too much while we are having it, eh? 

As for the notion that you can simply wave a magic wand and get rid of "assault weapons" (whatever those are) that's just ignorance. 

The simple truth is that you do not need a Bush Master .223 to inflict mayhem and mass carnage on a population.

The Glock handgun that is used by the FBI and most police departments, for example, is also the weapon of choice for a lot of civilians looking for a home protection piece. 

There are millions of these guns in this county, and they can all be fitted with a $40 aftermarket clip extension that will give the shooter 33 rounds per clip (more than the number of bullets in Lunatic Lanza's Bushmaster).

This is not a "special assault weapon" -- this is a regular, off-the-shelf pistol of the kind owned by millions of people.  Ban the clip?  Do you have any idea how easy it would be to make one?  Not hard!

And guess who carried a Glock to his massacre?  Not only the lunatic who shot up two rooms of first graders in Newtown, Connecticut, but also the lunatic who shot up Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and several others, and also the lunatic who shot up the Virginia Tech campus, and also the lunatic who shot up the Aurora, Colorado movie theatre. 

And guess what? 

All those guns were legal, same as gasoline is legal.


Yes, gasoline.  You see, the single largest intentional mass killing of people that I know about was not gun-related at all.  It was done by a lunatic (that word again!) in Korea who killed 198 people on two trains with nothing more than a gallon of petrol

So killing mass numbers of people, it seems, is not hard to do. 

And it is not particularly American. 

If you don't believe me, ask any Tutsi in Rwanda, or the families of those who met Ahmed Ibragimov, Woo Bum-kon, William Unek, Martin Bryant, or KumatarĊ Kido on their last day on earth. 

No, it turns out mass shootings are pretty common all over, and as common in Europe as they are in the U.S. -- and that's true even when we leave off that inconvenient and rude bit about all the dead that showed up in ditches after their guns were first taken away.  That could never happen again, right?  And never mind that it is happening every day, all across the world.  Never mind that -- we have closed circuit television now.   That will keep us safe from the things that go bump in the night.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The War on Saturnalia

A happy and blessed Winter Solstice to all my Pagan friends.

For those who are wondering, Winter Solstice (coming up on December 21) is the shortest day of the year and the ancient Pagan day of celebration to which Christmas conveniently attaches its sleigh.

What? Christmas is older than Jesus?

Yes, it's true.

In fact, it's older than Judaism as well.

Surely, you did not think the world began with Moses or Jesus? Dinosaurs once roamed your back yard. I promise you this is true.

Winter Solstice is the the darkest day of the year, and Winter Solstice is celebrated as the beginning of the return, or rebirth, of the Sun.

In short, tomorrow is the beginning of the REAL New Year, and it pretty much always has been celebrated as such.

The Roman holiday held at this time of year was called Saturnalia, and it lasted from December 17th to the 24th, with the Winter Solstice itself being (incorrectly) celebrated on December 25th (Sol Invictus) after Julius Caesar introduced the Julian Calendar in 45 B.C.

Groundhog Day, February 2nd, is the halfway point between the true Winter Solstice (December 21) and March 21 (the Spring or Vernal Equinox)..

It is not an accident that February 2nd is also 40 days after Christ was born, as in Hebrew tradition mothers were required to purify their children in the temple 40 days after giving birth.

February 2nd then is not only Groundhog Day, but also the "Feast of the Presentation" otherwise known as Candlemas. In the ancient Pagan world, Groundhog Day was known as Imbolc.

So where did the holiday we know as "Groundhog Day" come from? For that story, read the previous blog posts on that topic.

Bottom Line: Today is a great day to celebrate "that old time religion".

And yes, all you New Age Pagans should feel perfectly free to call it Festivus.

In fact, please do!

Seinfeld - The Festivus Story


Building a sandpit

I am married to a wonderful man and I don't say it enough. I think it often but it's not the same. We make a very sound team and between the two of us, we can do just about anything we need to.  It's easy living with someone who knows what is right, and does it. It gives me strength to see him work doing daily chores and extra projects. It makes me feel secure when he gathers up the climbing

I Smell a Rat :: Patty Griffin


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ermine in the Chicken Coup

If you're a chicken, you're going to die soon enough.  Of all the ways to die, Death by Ermine may be the best end.  What a story to tell when you get to the Big Chicken Coop in the sky!

These great pictures are courtesy of David Cunningham, who hopes to exclude this little bugger and keep him alive and patrolling for the occasional rat around the outbuildings.  If the dogs catch him, however, it will be quick work, and nothing to be done.  But what a death for an Ermine!  Death by Terrier, Wolf Dog and Wolf Hound while stealing chickens!  Now, there's a great story for the Great Warren in the Sky!

Preparing for Christmas - week 4

Next Monday is Christmas Eve so this is the final week to organise ourselves enough so that we enjoy the festivities as much as the rest of the family. We're having our family lunch on Boxing Day and we'll have eight adults and two toddlers here. The menu is:


Homemade guacamole with corn chips
Yoghurt cheese with homemade chilli jam and crackers


Leg of ham

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Roots and Branches of Violence

Another massive shooting,  and more people chasing effect in order to avoid looking at cause.  

The killings in Connecticut, and the killings, assaults and bombings that occur all across America and the world everyday are about violence, not just about guns.

  • What percentage of violence is associated with alcohol? Anyone pushing to tax that more? Regulate it more ? Ban it? We have a hell of a lot of violence in this country, and most of it is fueled by booze.
  • It's hard to get or afford mental health treatment and even harder to institutionalize people and keep the mental health system properly monitored and reviewed.  Anyone want to talk about raising taxes for that?
  • People who assassinate Presidents and who do mass shoots are chasing fame. Anyone want to talk about First Amendment restrictions so people cannot propel crazy shooters to fame and give every lunatic loser on Facebook an idea?

28 dead in Connecticut.

Sad, but that many young innocents are killed on our highways by drunk drivers every week.

Our government routinely racks up that number with drone strikes in foreign lands.

Stop wringing your hands and wailing. Help a few kids. Give to charity. Be a Big Brother or Big Sister. Adopt. Write a letter and vote for taxes so the crazy can get mental health care. Take a kid fishing. Encourage a quiet child. Provide a job. Find a troubled soul and invite them into service with others and see how much change that can make.

And ask yourself this: What are the roots of violence?

For every one that is hacking at the roots, there are a hundred pushing at the branches. But it is at the root that violence is fixed.  All else is method.

The killings in Connecticut are not a record for mass murder even in recent history in the U.S.  That distinction belongs to the Virginia Tech killings, which I wrote about more than five years ago.  What I said then still rings true to me now, and so I append that piece below.

Support Mental Health or I'll Kill You

Reid Farmer sent me a piece from The Los Angeles Times in which that august paper suggests that the shootings at Virginia Tech are all about Virginia's "primitive" rural gun culture.

I find that pretty odd, as I have lived in Virginia for a hell of a long time and I am unaware of a gun culture in my state.

Sure some people hunt deer and turkey, but no one I know is reading Soldier of Fortune.

In my neck of the woods, the problem is not guns, but Mara Salvatrucha gang members from El Salvador who occassionally hack each other up with machetes.

I first wrote about Mara Salvatrucha in 1992, when Conrad Hilton's Best Foundation for a Drug-Free Tomorrow paid me to go to East Los Angeles to look at gang violence there. At the time, South Central was still smoldering, but East LA was far more violent, with two-thirds of all gang deaths in the City.

In fact, East Los Angeles remains one of the most violent places on earth. In rural Virginia, on the other hand, the thing that is most likely to kill you is a deer on the road.

The simple truth is that the massacre at Virginia Tech is not about guns: It's about violence, and most importantly, it's about mental illness.

Sadly, there are ferked up people all over, and there is not much intervention anywhere. This nation is heavy with people who are drunk, hazy, crazy, and stoned, but it's pretty damn hard to do anything about it, and that's just as true in Los Angeles as it is in rural Virginia, no matter what the good editors of The Los Angeles Times think.

Why is it so hard to do anything about it?
Simple: back in the "bad old days" of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, there were horrific civil rights abuses and people were locked up in mental wards with little due process (and often no real treatment) for very long periods of time.

The court- and state-ordered antidote to this abuse is that today we have severely restricted the ability of police, schools, families and neighbors to involuntary lock someone up.

You may think someone is a ticking time bomb, but now he or she is going to have to "go off" before anyone can take legal action to stop it. Merely having auditory and visual hallucinations is not enough. Not bathing is not enough. Living on the street is not enough.

Today people have "a right" to not bathe, to see and hear things that are not there, to live in a cardboard box in the park, and to panhandle for change. Similarly, people have "the right" to drink themselves silly on a routine basis, and there are also many who think people have the right to abuse other drugs as well (and why not; sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, they argue).

Add to this the fact that we have decided that people also have the right to drive cars and trucks, to preach odd religious beliefs (your religious beliefs are odd, but mine are not), the right to buy gasoline, the right to buy nitrate fertilizer, the right to own a gun, and the right to buy rat and ant poison, and it's amazing we do not have mass killings every day.

Ultimately, we cannot make the world safe, and crazy people will always figure out a way. For $500 (the cost of just one of the legal guns used at Virginia Tech) you can buy 1,000 pounds of nitrate fertilizer anywhere in the Shenandoah Valley and kill far more people in 5 seconds than this lunatic did with two handguns and a couple of clips. Indeed, the very day that the Virginia Tech massacre was going on in Blacksburg, nitrate bombs killed more than 180 people in Baghdad. Am I the only one that noticed?

The "silver bullet" idea of banning guns is stupid on its face. This nation is awash in heroin, methamphetamine, illegal aliens, counterfeit handbags and watches, and cars that never saw an import sticker. I can get methamphetamine or heroin a lot faster than I can get a legal handgun and a box of bullets, and I live in (supposedly) gun-crazy Virginia.

Here's a hint: If a suburban matron can find an illegal alien to mow her front lawn, and an addict can find an eight-ball of heroin or cocaine, rest assured that criminals and lunatics will be able to find and obtain guns even if they are banned. In fact, they may be able to find them easier and with less oversight than they can now. After all, no one does a criminal background check at a drug dealer's, and there is not a 30-day waiting period for illegal alien jump labor.

Despite the fact that mental illness (and an inability to deal with it) was the obvious problem in Blacksburg, both sides of the gun debate are anxious to have another long-winded "throw down" about the Second Amendment.

And you know why? Because for Sarah Brady, the National Rifle Association, and the editorial writers across the country, gun control is the answer to the only question they REALLY want answered. And that question is this: What topic can I write a direct mail letter or newspaper column about that will generate a lot of money and/or attention?
As far as I can tell, not one of these groups really gives a damn about violence in America. When was the last time that the NRA talked about community-based mental health programs or the need for national health care so that all the crazies can afford their medications? When was the last time Sarah Brady pushed for more therapeutic communities in jail? When was the last time a newspaper or magazine said it would not accept alcohol ads because alcohol fuels so much of the violence in this country?

I am a proud Virginian, and I believe that the people of Blacksburg are not going to chase butterflies, but are going to ask the right question. The right question is: How can we enable people to be more responsible? How can we help people reach out to the troubled and disturbed people within the community, the dorm, the family, the neighborhood, and the job site?

We Virginians may be "primitive" in the minds of the arugula-eating, white-wine-and-brie crowd that edits The Los Angeles Times, but we know our ass from our elbow, and a real solution from a fake.

Above all we know enough to remember our dead for the bright young men and women that they were, rather than focus all the attention on the confused madman who craved media attention and was willing to kill to get it.

EcoStore fragrance free

As many of you know I am bombarded with requests for product reviews that I refuse. I've been fortunate to have been sponsored by EcoStore during the year. I use their dish liquid exclusively now and I'm more than happy to keep using it and to recommend it.  They're wonderful sponsors, they send me laundry liquid and they don't hassle me. I don't push their products but when anyone asks me what

Friday, December 14, 2012

Down to Earth eBook is published today

The Down to Earth eBook is being released by Penguin today. Yipee! I had a few sample pages emailed to me last week and I'm really pleased to tell you that they've retained the beautiful look of the print book. That's quite a feat because formatting illustrated books with a lot of photos can be quite a difficult process.  But they're done it and if you've been waiting for the eBook, you can buy

You Are Not Getting a Puppy


Thursday, December 13, 2012


An erratum to Gore Vidal's obituary in The New York Times from earlier this year:
An earlier version misstated the term Mr. Vidal called William F. Buckley Jr. in a television appearance during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. It was crypto-Nazi, not crypto-fascist. It also described incorrectly Mr. Vidal’s connection with former Vice President Al Gore. Although Mr. Vidal frequently referred jokingly to Mr. Gore as his cousin, they were not related. And Mr. Vidal’s relationship with his longtime live-in companion, Howard Austen, was also described incorrectly. According to Mr. Vidal’s memoir “Palimpsest,” they had sex the night they met, but did not sleep together after they began living together. It was not true that they never had sex.

Keeping in the spirit of things, the picture below is that of Gore Vidal Vidal Sassoon.

Weekend reading

A timely reminder from Soulemama

Who owns your content?

Do you have a Facebook page?  Better read this

Finding a vet for your chooks UK

Silent Spring to be republished - why Rachel Carson is a saint

Whole Larder Love

Older women are an untapped resource


There's a lot of Christmas cooking going on at not just green fingers

Megan is back at Byron


A heavy NYC winter coat hanging from the hook

 A jumbled mess of her favorite throws
 and smooshed pillows on the couch. 
I saw this first thing as I rounded the corner
 into the den this morning. 
Darling daughter is still asleep after working 
until 3 am (6 am her time) on the computer last night.

I cannot explain why seeing these two sights made me well
up with tears, except to say...
She's Home
She's Home
Dearest Son arrives in one week.
His shoes, his jackets will be strewn everywhere.
He's Home
He's Home

I have a lovely roof overhead
Nourishing food in the pantry
Generous and loving friends
Glorious children
A holiday job I adore
Life is so good
..and the tears fall gently again

merry merry everyone
I pray you are as blessed


Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Gina sent this to me. Clearly my body on Mountain's head.

Homemakers come into their own at Christmas

Not many women grow up knowing their career of choice will be that of a homemaker. Most Western education is steered towards the commercial world but it is not until we start that type of work that we realise that our time might be better spent doing for ourselves and our family at home, actively saving the money brought into the home by the breadwinner and having time to raise children. Of

Purebred Breeders: Liars Selling Defective Dogs

A complaint against internet puppy mill bundler Purebred Breeders was filed in Florida by defrauded puppy buyers (complaint here) and it makes for eye-opening reading.

Although a judge dismissed the complaint, it was dismised without prejudice, which means it may be resubmitted and was clearly not a frivolous complaint.

Purebred Breeders are said to sell between 1,200 and 1,400 puppies a month, none of which they actually see or take possession of. 

Operating from an unmarked building in a Florida strip mall, they simply bank the credit card cash, tell the puppy mill operators where to send the dogs (sight unseen by either buyer or Purebred Breeders) by airfreight, and try to squelch all complaints from their poorly informed but cash-rich customers.

If you know someone that is ordering puppies off the Internet this holiday season, this is probably where they are coming from or some other shady operation just as bad.

By the way the "Purebred" monicker is complete nonsense. This company will sell anything, including dogs like "Malta-Poos" which are as common as ditch water in the puppy mill world.

If you want a puppy, be advised that you will not be getting a puppy ever; you will be getting a dog, and if you really want a dog the test of that desire is whether you will go to Petfinder or yout local pounds and honest breed rescues and take an adult dog. Most of these dogs are terrific animals whose only crime is that they are no longer a puppy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dear 2012

Dear 2012 

I'm writing to you on 12.12.12 because some people think there are magical qualities attached to the date, and although I'm very skeptical, there is no harm in playing it safe. I've been meaning to write for some time to tell you how wonderful you've been and that I've thoroughly enjoyed our time together these past twelve months. I knew I was in for the ride of my life

Monday, December 10, 2012

Coffee and Provocation

Elephant Poop Coffee
If coffee that has been run through the rectum of a civet is too refined for you, then perhaps you might try Black Ivory Coffee from Thailand. "Trumpeted as earthy in flavor and smooth on the palate, the exotic new brew is made from beans eaten by Thai elephants and plucked a day later from their dung.... Black Ivory Coffee is not just one of the world's most unusual specialty coffees: At $500 per pound (or $50 a cup), it's also among the world's priciest."
Snake Oil That Works
Dr. Peter Martin, director of the Institute for Coffee Studies at Vanderbilt University says "If you drink [a lot of coffee], it's not going to do you any harm, and it might actually help you. A lot." How? It could reduce your chances of developing diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, depression …and the list goes on.
Piss on the Brain
Human stem cells harvested from urine may one day be used in therapies for neurodegenerative diseases.
Lightning Deaths are on the Decline
Why? Because people are spending less time outdoors.
The Parsi are Going to Bring Back the Vultures
They need them to eat the human dead. Read about vulture poisoning from an earlier blog post.
Most Famous Wolf in the World Shot Dead
The most famous wolf in the world was shot dead by a hunter, even though it was wearing a radio collar. Yellowstone wolf 832F almost never left the park, but the one time it did leave was one time too often now that there are wolf hunting seasons in effect in Wyoming and Montana.
I Want This Castle
It's a real 30,000 square foot castle, in New York, and it's only $1 million dollars, which is pretty damn cheap.  More pictures here and even better ones here.  I would buy it too, if only I could get the woman's olympic volley ball team to move in with me.  How hard could that be?
Remember how Cass Sunstein was supposed to be the tip of the spear of a secret Obama Administration plan to end all hunting? I called bullshit early on, and time has proven me right. So what’s Cass Sunstein writing about now? He has declared a “war on Christmas” by suggesting that maybe people should think a bit more before spending money they do not have on gifts other people do not need.  Bastard.
The Obama's are Replacing Baby Jesus with Satan's Dog
Yes they are. Bastards.
We Spared the Rat and Tested Your Clone Instead
In the future, we may not test drugs on natural animals, but on lab-created heart-beating living human tissue.
Smells Like Teen Spirit
Want your house to smell like a college dorm room? Here's the ticket.
Now We Know for Sure
DNA tests show that the Romani (aka the Roma, the Gypsies, the Travelers) came to Europe and America from India.
Saw-Whet Owl Tagging Makes it to The New York Times
Apparently, all the cool kids do it now.   Right.  You know I am cool, but really this is so last month.
Releasing Genetically Modified Mosquitoes in Florida
Hundreds of thousands of genetically-modified Mosquitoes are about to be introduced into the Florida Keys in order to eradicate dengue fever. The GMO mosquitoes are designed to pass along a birth defect that will kill baby mosquitoes before birth. 
Text Can Now Be Sent to Your Contact Lens
James Bond meets Star Trek… or something.
Drones Save Live
Here’s a map showing the location of every single bomb dropped during the blitz. Next time someone rants and raves about the horror of new and improved drones and guided missiles, show them this and ask them how much collateral damage (destroyed homes and dead children) the old unguided drones and bombs caused. 
Whatever Happened to Bubbles?
Bubbles the chimp, Michael Jackson’s former pet, is now the 29-year old alpha male of a group of seven at a Florida chimp sanctuary, and you can buy his paintings at $1,500 a pop. He shares his digs with other abandoned performing apes that have had shattered and miserable lives.
Five Fishy Presidents
Barack Obama is one of five politicians who have had their names attached to newly discovered species of fish. Along with Etheostoma obama, there are species named after Teddy Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Al Gore. All five of the fish are newly discovered darters native to the rivers and creeks of northern Alabama and eastern Tennessee.  Barack Obama also has a small carnivorous dinosaur named after him (Obamadon gracilis), as well as a lichen (Caloplaca obamae), and a worm (Paragordius obamai).
Manufacturing Coming Back to the U.S.?
Manufacturing is coming back to the U.S., but maybe without too many jobs. The reason: $30,000 robots are even cheaper than foreign employees, and dealing with all the shipping, brand-name knockoffs, theft, and other sourcing problems that come with overseas production is a pain in the ass. And yes, the robots are Made in America and no, they do not require complex programing.