Monday, March 29, 2010

Don't trust the media. . . but you knew that.

The Tea Party people held a rally in Searchlight Nevada on Saturday. CNN's anchor woman showed no pictures of the crowd but basically dismissed the event as a flop, saying that only "hundreds of people, at least dozens of people" were there.

Here are some pictures of the crowd and the highway leading to the event. The security firm handling the crowd control estimated 30,000 people. Other estimates ranged from 9,000 to 14,000 attendees. And those numbers didn't take into account the fact that there was a massive traffic jam on the road headed to the event, so many people never even got there.

Why would CNN anchorwoman Fredricka Whitfield get the number so wrong? Why indeed?

If you want to see the entire CNN transcript it is here.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Today's new word is iatrogenic

This is a article written by a businessman who set out to understand the health care system after his father died of an infection he got while in the hospital. The author says he's a Democrat, and he says he favored health care reform this year.

It's a long article; but if you want to understand the problems that we currently have in our health care system it's a good place to start.

"Iatrogenic" by the way means "caused by physicians." Every year hundreds of thousands of people die due to physician and hospital mistakes. In a way that isn't surprising, because doctors are no different from other people and hospitals are no more efficient than other human institutions. They're not perfect -they have bad days, they make mistakes, and sometimes they're careless or distracted. And, sometimes they are simply wilfull. What killed the author's father is the fact that doctors and hospitals don't pay enough attention to infection control and sterilization. On the simplest level many doctors resist the added time and effort needed to really control hospital caused infections, and hospital administrators are not willing to push them on the matter, in part because our current system of health care reimbursement does not penalize hospitals for bad results.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Snakes and hawks and eggs benedict, oh my

As luck would have it I went to Gettysburg with Sam and Don today. So I got mediocre Eggs Benedict for breakfast and a nice battlefield walk and drive; but I missed quite a bit of natural drama around here.

Linda got to see several garter snakes emerge from the yucca plant in front of the house after hearing them rustling around in there. She figures they must have been hibernating either under the yucca or between it and the foundation of the house.

A little later a large hawk landed in the small maple tree just in front of the patio and then proceeded to go down to the ground and try to catch something. Linda thinks it was a Coopers Hawk, but she didn't sound too confident about her identification.

It just goes to show that there's no place like home; although Gettysburg was pretty nice. It was the perfect day for touring around out there. Ideal shirtsleeve weather, and there were only moderate numbers of other tourists because it's so early in the season.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

If it's springtime that must be a wolf spider

Linda is on the phone trying to get us senior citizen discounts on the tickets for a play this Saturday night. When did we suddenly get old enough to qualify for senior citizen discounts? It seems only yesterday we were in our fifties.

Meanwhile we've had spring like weather around here for the past week, so the snow is almost gone. Yesterday the last snow that was holding down part of the clump bamboo grove finally melted away. The aggressive radiating bamboo has been clear of snow for several days and, in the way of these things, the evil aggressive bamboo has sprung back up even more eagerly than the clump bamboo.

There's been a slight interlude. First Linda professed to see a stink bug on the side of the small couch, so she advanced gingerly to catch it because you don't want to squash those things. Suddenly a scream rang out. The supposed stink bug turned out to be a medium sized wolf spider that went flying. It was, I imagine, not amused at being gently grabbed with a napkin and it quickly retreated under the couch. To her credit Linda grabbed it again with the napkin, much less gently, after I tilted back the couch. Scratch one wolf spider. It's getting past time for me to replace the weather stripping at the bottom of the front door. And it may be getting past time for Linda to see the optometrist about the prescription for her glasses.

Now that both our heart rates are back to normal, where was I? Ah yes, Spring is in the air. The pond is now ice free and the pair of possessive geese have been back for a few days. They were driving off another pair earlier today. You would think that pond would be big enough for two or even more nesting pairs; but that is decidedly not the case. The possessive pair will tolerate ducks on their pond; but they will not tolerate other geese. Later, after they have young they will join up with the pair that ends up in possession of the other pond up the way; but for now they want exclusivity.

I just brought in the last of the semi-cured wood, the rounds I cut and split in the fall from the big partially rotted branch that broke off the apple tree down toward the creek, so there had better not be too many more cold nights. I have got to get to cutting next winter's wood. So far I have only a trivial amount that I've cut by hand. I already have an apple tree and a couple of maples that are within range of the electric chainsaw marked for harvesting, and there are two fallen mulberries that are worth starting the gas saw up for. Aside from that Dan has a big pile of hard to split rounds put aside for me up behind the old house. I'll retrieve those as I go back and forth to mow over there this summer.

I have a fire of the apple going in the stove right now. Such great wood! Even half cured it burns hot.

In other news I think we will have our first crocus blooming tomorrow. Last year we had them before the end of February which was early.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tar and Feather Specter?

Linda spent a couple of minutes listening to Senator Arlen Specter's so called town hall meeting last night and then declared that he ought to be tarred and feathered.

Senator Specter, who is clearly afraid to actually meet with voters since he was disrespected at his last real town hall meeting, set up a sham meeting which was strictly a telephone event. The couple of questions we listened to were nice easy soft pitches designed to let him spout his bull without fear of contradiction. I pictured him surrounded by three or four advisers who were feeding him talking points.

What is it about long term politicians that prevents them from understanding when their time has passed? Specter has been a joke for close to a decade. He should be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail. And hopefully he will be come November.

Meanwhile, in other news, the clump bamboo canes are showing amazing resilience. As the snow has been melting more and more of them are standing up again. It's hard to believe that they didn't get kinked from being held down almost flat to the ground for almost a month. The evil linear growing bamboo is also recovering somewhat; but many of its canes are not going to stand proud. I'll need to do quite a bit of pruning over there.

And, I was looking at the pine trees behind the house the other day in a whole different light. I had a mental picture of them as pretty big trees; but now that there's a leaner in among the group I've had to give some consideration to just how difficult and dangerous it would be to cut a couple of them to get to the leaner. I think I'm going to punt on that and get a professional to come in and do it. I'm guessing those trees are over a hundred feet tall.