Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Shortages Threaten Farmers’ Key Tool: Fertilizer
By KEITH BRADSHER and ANDREW MARTIN
Population growth, shrinking world grain stocks and a growing appetite for meat, particularly in the developing world, has collided with a shortage of fertilizer.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
Oh, woe is he, little HB. Stuck under the cribby and on top of a box, all at the verysame time.
And shirtless, to boot.
Cleverly he escaped, using only his mad creepy-crawly skills.
Guess he's not claustrophobic just yet. The end.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
But instead of telling me if I should remove the post, or what I should have done, the author told me about a deadline, and that this would have to wait, and that I should not use my email address to contact people about my blog, because it is a business address and not a free, nondescript sort of deal. Which is all fine, I guess. I am not trying to be a complainer here. I said I would receive suggestions. And I would have used a different address to correspond, if I didn't have a pretty good idea who the author was (as far as one can tell with the Internet). I never would have emailed my unhappy reader from a few weeks back with that address, no sir.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Here we are, from right to left (let's honour the Chinese, they've been getting a bad rap lately, those overpopulated, polluting monk-haters): Moi, Bec, Christine, and Betsy. We are Drinking. And we are Eating Naughty Desserts. Mine was Citrus-Soaked Date Nut Cake. The others ate the most divine ice cream on earth.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
This is where I am trying to look as calm and nonchalant as possible, you know, as if I were actually considering this ridiculous suggestion.
MyGal: It would eat all the bugs.
And this is where I tilt my head ever-so-slightly to the left as if she has made a good point...I also nod and shrug a little. And this is so that I do not say something that would hurt her feelings, or laugh sarcastically. Because I Am A Good Parent.
I hear you snickering.
MyGal: I could put a leash on it and tie it to my bed.
And this is where I look at her with wide, wide, wide-open eyes, my jaw hanging there like an empty swing. Because WHO HAS EVER HEARD OF A FROG THAT BIG? It was comic and terrifying all at the same time. And if it were that big, would it just lash out with its nasty frog tongue and try to eat me? Because I am NO FLY! I will not be tongue-spanked by a comickly-terrifying frog. Who cares about the freaking bugs now? THERE'S A GIANT FROG IN OUR HOUSE!!!!!
Then, my dearsweet NumberOneSon chimes in, "And we will wive hapuhwee evah after."
Without a frog.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
SuperClever Person of the Day: Jill!
thunderous applause, eternal fame, whatnot
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Monday, April 14, 2008
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Thursday, April 10, 2008
P.S. If you are just dying to throw the man a bone, visit his website.
P.P.S. (or is is P.S.S. or does anyone actually know and/or care?) And if you read this before I substituted the real-liveFword with a stand in f-, and were offended, I apologize. I find the word amusing, but don't really use it in public. If I offended you and you want to leave nasty comments, I promise to publish them. Just keeping it real over here.
- it is the least expensive organic coffee in the county.
- it is the least expensive fairly traded coffee in the county.
- it is less expensive than Dunking Coffee and Starbuzz.
- it tastes better than any other coffee I've ever had in my short but highly-caffeinated life.
I am inviting some lovely people over to sample four of the varieties offered by Equal Exchange. I did email a few of the lovelies I know, but if you feel that we would be better with you than without you, consider yourself invited. You should leave me a comment to let me know you are coming.
We are a snack-loving people, here so if you have something scrumptious to share that's great. I'll have some gruel for the kiddos on hand just in case.
Children are welcome. No pets. Shoes optional. Shirts? Well, I will leave that to you.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Now, I do have to admit that I was concerned about some sort of other naughtiness on The Mister's blog, seeing as how I was Under The Influence last night, and don't actually remember things too well. And it's unlike him to put certain things on display... I don't know if he had located nakey pictures of so-and-so and found them funny, and shared them with the world.
I was relieved about the cow poop. I am not relieved that I am finding cow poop more and more appealing. I love that one of the happy smells of spring is Spreadin'. The farmers don't spread until it's really, really spring. They take their vats and silos full of objectionable content and spread it over every uninhabited square acre of the county. And it is lovely.
I like objectionable contents.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
More. Coffee. Needed.
And maybe a powerbar. I'll take all the help I can get.
Monday, April 7, 2008
At least those little future felons are loyal.
My brothers and I were very serious about not telling on each other, after we reached the Certain Age of Realization where the brilliance of not ratting illuminated us like the...umm... uh... oh I don't know what. But it was a good moment in our lives. The Inclination That One Would Undergo Bodily Harm or Be Arrested were the two reasons to blow a sibling in to the authorities.
It was great. There was a decided decrease in fighting, much less kicking under the table, nasty looks, beat-downs. And much less getting into Actual Trouble.
It did not put a complete end to the fighting, I clearly remember a fistfight between Uncle Benna and someone over a game of Monopoly. It's so fuzzy...Who could it have been?...Maybe it was a girl?...No, well, could it maybe have been me?...It was so long ago that it's hard to say who it was. But anyway, it was a doozy. And Uncle Benna started it.
And there was that one time at Christmas dinner when I was nine months pregnant, and Uncle-I-Know-Things refused to stop telling me I was fat. He and his wife, soon-be-Auntie Teff to the incubating babe, hadn't endured a pregnancy yet, and he did not have the valuable information that YOU DO NOT TELL A WOMAN IN HER NINTH MONTH OF PREGNANCY THAT SHE IS FAT, MORON. He was duly warned, a number of times, and I was forced to stand, er, lumber up out of my seat, lean over the table (read: lie in the mashed potatoes), and punch him in the mouth. I'm not proud of this moment, I was simply doing what needed to be done. But do not be concerned for Uncle I-Know-Things; I promise you I hit like a girl. A very little, pansy-assed girl. I believe he actually laughed, but to his credit, he did manage to control himself until I had locked myself in the bathroom to cry.
Not that this has anything to do with my siblings, but now I'm stuck thinking about being knocked, so here's another tale to confuse or something. I had an interesting little hormone issue going on during my first pregnancy that was kindasorta like a game show. We called it Laughing or Crying? And we tried not to play. Here's why: someone inevitably said something, and funny or not, I would laugh. At the verysame instant I would begin laughing, my family would begin taking bets on how long I would laugh before I burst into tears. And nobody ever knew what to expect, especially me. I did not really enjoy this game.
However, my ability to function did improve with each subsequent pregnancy. At least, that's what they tell me.
Too bad nobody will tell me about my camera.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
"Say it. POP." Pop.
"No, that's not it. POP." Pop.
"NO. Just say it right."
NumberOne followed with this list of possible ways to pronounce popscicle.
- pah scuh cle
- pah scah ble
- pah aahh kle
- pah gah gle
- pos gah gle
- pops gah gle
So there you go, in case you have tired of saying popscicle and are looking for something new to try out. Happy Saturday, people.
Friday, April 4, 2008
This has been another long week, but believe me when I say it has been MUCH more fulfilling and frustrating than barfing, catching barf, cleaning up barf, and dealing with other gastrointestinal nastiness.
I am on the board of directors for my county's Habitat for Humanity affiliate. I was the Boss of Things for a while...a long, LONG, while, and am happy to have served as the Boss of said Things. I rather enjoy being the Boss of Things, however that is another topic for another day. My current duty is Support Person for our Partner Family. The family is made up of a single mom and her three sons. I like the woman I am serving. She is smart and hard-working, drop-dead gorgeous, but best of all she wants better things for her babies. I am sure they would cringe if they knew I referred to them as babies, but you know that is how I refer to Short People. So get over it, boys. And I am really motivated by other people who are motivated. (Read: constructively motivated.)
This is a really stressful and exciting time for our Partner. The house is complete. We have a Certificate of Occupancy. We have the final cost-out on the house. Our attorney, who is so far from being one of those Butt-Of-The-Lawyer-Joke guys, is on the case (sorry, that was a lame and unintentional pun) and is preparing the documents for closing. Our Partner has prepaid her closing costs, has completed her 300 hours of Sweat Equity. For those of you who don't know, one of the principles of Habitat is to require the Partner Family to work on their home. Our affiliate requires 300 hours from a one-parent household, and 500 from a 2-parent home. Kids contribute by getting good grades, because they are not allowed to be on the actual job site when actual work is being done. Safety and things, you know. The stressful part comes in the form of waiting for closing. Waiting. And. Waiting. AND. WAITING. And if you've ever waited to move and have a major change in your life at the same time, and had no idea when the move would take place, you can appreciate the situation. The closest I can come to in my mind of picturing it is imagining being nine months pregnant, plus two weeks overdue, living in my house with some stuff boxed up and crammed everywhere, with an OB who refuses to induce, and knowing that when I get out of the hospital, all of my stuff will be moved someplace else, to another house entirely.
I think I can turn every stressful event into a pregnancy story.
This is also a stressful time for me (I'll refrain from the preggers bit), because I am supporting our Partner, which involves encouraging her to be patient, and also advising her about things like lawyers and insurance. And this also involves lots of nagging...not Partner, so much, but everyone else who is a part of the Process Of Closing The House. And nagging involves phone calls. Lots and lots of phone calls. My children have (this is me cringeing) watched TV for four hours both yesterday and this afternoon. Because I have been Talking To People.
The worst was this afternoon's conversation which I will preface with this:
Our rules say that Our Partner must purchase outright her first year of Homeowner's Insurance. We gave her a ballpark figure of how much she should be paying, and also told her how much the house is worth. She went to Her Person, who does all of her family members' insurances, and the person quoted her RIDICULOUSLY HIGH on everything: limits, coverages, deductible, and the actual cost of the thing...twice as high as we recommended.
I told Our Partner flat out, in no uncertain terms, in such a way that I did not need to repeat myself: You are being screwed. No, let's not say 'screwed', let's say she has taken a number of sharp rods and impaled you with them. Go back and tell her that is ridiculous and that there is no way on earth you will pay that.
Our Partner went back, and only the price was changed. So after consulting with Men Who Know Such Things, I gave her an idea of how many tens of thousands of dollars in coverage she was being over-covered by, and told her to go back again, and have it changed and also get the deductible cut by 75%.
Insurance Lady got snippy and said she wanted to talk to me. Super! (That is me, saying that with my sarcastically happy voice.) I have played phone tag with Insurance Lady all bloody week. And, for the record, I don't know if she's actually snippy, or just sounds snippy. There's just so much snippyness to snip through to get to the real answer that I have decided I just don't care either way.
So finally, today, I was able to reach her. Lucky for me, it was Snippy and Patronizing Day At The OK Corral. First off, I introduced myself as Pamela. Everyone who knows me knows that I Will Be Called Pamela, Dangit Already. I have never once in at least the past 12 years called me Pam. There are a number of reasons, but again, another post, another day. She refused to call me Pamela, even after I gently corrected her. And then again, after I less-gently corrected her, she still ignored me, but continued to use half of my first name in every sentence. It was all I could do to not jump on the Snippy and Patronizing Day BandWagon.
Then she educated me about how insurance works. And here is the lesson: Deductibles don't actually matter, you don't actually pay the deductible, and the deductible is high to prevent petty loss claims. Insurance Lady also told me that "the deductible is just subtracted from the check we send you if you have a loss."
I think that, in some circles, could possibly be regarded as paying.
I EFFING HATE THE SEMANTICS DANCE!!!!!!
And here are the two examples she quoted me:
- There's a windstorm, and your screen door blows off your house. It's a $100 door, so with a high deductible, you just hop your little door-less self off to the Home Depot (we WNY HFH-ers prefer Valu Home Centers, by the way) and pick up another door. If you had a tiny deductible, there would be petty little claims every time it got windy, and wouldn't that be a waste of time?
- In case of a catastrophic loss, everything is replaced, and the coverage is in layers, so you get layers upon layers of money thrown at you, minus the Ridiculous Deductible. Which is not to be confused with actually paying the Ridiculous Deductible, which is demonstrably different?
I tried to pry information regarding this mystery deductible from her, say, in the case of a $1200 claim, is Our Partner supposed to come up with the Ridiculous Deductible off of the Money Tree we are not planting in her yard? And her response: return to the Screen Door Scenario, and review the whole thing with me again as if I were a Colossal, Brain Dead, Naive Ass.
It was the longest 24 minutes 38 seconds of my week.
And THEN, despite me completely not asking, Insurance Lady said, "I don't get commission from the policies I write. I get paid based on the number of points I get."
Deep. Breath. To. Attempt. Cleansing.
Nope. Didn't work.
I EFFING HATE THE SEMANTICS DANCE!!!!!!!
The number of points she gets determines her salary. I honestly have no idea what this means, and I wouldn't care, except for the fact that she just said she doesn't get paid commission, and boy, that sure sounds like a twin sister to the commission system.
I politely thanked her for her time and hung up the phone.
I wasted 24 minutes and 38 seconds of my life listening to that woman lie to me (let's call it what it is here, people) and treat me like a moron. I can't imagine how Our Partner must have felt talking to Insurance Lady.
Most importantly, I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how it is acceptable in our society to take advantage of the working poor. I don't understand taking advantage of anyone in a malicious way (except for when I play Monopoly with Uncle Benna, and then I assault him unkindly at every turn, but that's different).
This woman, Our Partner, is busting her ass to make a better life for her family. She is all those boys have, and she is responsible for everything, like so many others out there in the world. What good is there in overcharging her on something as simple as insurance? So when a kid comes over to play and slips and falls and breaks his whatever, Our Partner has to come up with a heartbreaking amount of money to cover the balance of the claim?
I do not wonder why there is a foreclosure crisis in our country.
I do not wonder why so many families live below the poverty line.
I do not wonder why people can't afford health care.
I do wonder how some people can live with themselves. There are some who should be ashamed. There's so much shame surrounding poverty, that shame should be spread around a little to everyone who contributes to continuing the downward spiral that is poverty, so that it's not just the poor families who are suffering the embarrassment. Don't misunderstand me and interpret this as me saying that no blame for poverty should be on the families. That would be a vast generalization. There is a lot of blame that could be cast.
But there is a lot of improvement that can be done.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
This weekend was one of those tedious sorts of never-ending events that, um, never ended. Here it is, Tuesday night, and I feel like it was just Saturday. Or whatever day yesterday was. I think I am going to consider yesterday and today the same day, because I was up with HB ninety thousand million gajillion times in the night and wee small hours of this morning, thanks to his high fever and superpointy incisor teeth. They are so sharp and pointy, yet they refuse to pop through the gum and be actual, real, live teeth. Why is that?
But today. And by today, I mean after the most recent breakfast consumed in my house. Today was Glorious. It was drizzling a happy little springtime drizzle, and the big kids went out to play. MyGal's hair was a damp frame to her pink-cheeked face, and NumberOneSon's hair had gone completely curly thanks to the moisture. They chased each other up and down the sidewalk and through the mud pit that is my front yard. Silly kids, in their pajamas and puddle boots and jackets. HB eventually woke up, still feverish and sobbing, and none of the usual tricks would cheer him. I opened up the front door so he could watch the other two playing.
We breathed the smell of earth. The scent of wet, thawed-out, just-rained spring earth is heavenly. As we stood there, soaking in the first real taste of springtime we've had this year, the robins chittered happily, the breeze brushed our cheeks, and the sun was shining boldly.
And all of the blech faded away. HB couldn't even wait for shoes, he was out the door before I realized he was gone. The back yard was littered with fallen twigs, branches and snowdrops, MyGal's favorite sign of springtime. There were hundreds, maybe even thousands of them, in clumps of twenty or thirty that made little polka-dotty designs in the grass. Not all of the snowdrops survived the day. She picked bouquets for our neighbors, and I tied them with bows made of pale pink yarn.
I'd like to think I'd have appreciated today as much as I did, even without the long, dark winter that was punctuated so strongly by this long, dark weekend. But maybe not.