cmaukonen

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Farming … growing the food.

By: cmaukonen Sunday July 20, 2014 1:54 pm

Old Barn

Took a trip out to Burton Ohio, where I spent the first 14 years of my life, to do some photography. Raining off and on so did not get too much done. On the way just outside the village I stopped at Sunrise Farm. They sell mostly flowers but also have local fruit and produce from the farm. It’s still kind of earl in the growing season so they did not have much yet, though they did have some sweet corn and I got a few ears.

As I cruised around it was sad to see so many small family farms had been either subdivided , left to fall into ruin or where the fields were still being planted but the farms themselves were no longer there. The fields having been rented out to some others to plant.  Usually in corn. I had a short talk with the lady at the register at Sunrise Farms and told her that members of my family were coming up to the Geauga County Fair at the end of August. She said it has changed a lot. I said I know. I remember when the first thing you saw after entering the fair was the 4H and FFA exhibits and now they are off on to the side.

The reality is though that unless a farmer can afford the new fancy gadgetry, farming is still hard ass back breaking work. Most cannot and you will not get rich farming. Break even and feed you family maybe. Unless the elements and varmints  work against you heavily. As oft times happens. From before sunrise to after sunset. And in the early days before steam and the rail roads, even more so as this essay outlines. A lot of people lost their farms during the summer of 1816.

Most of these family farms had been handed down through the generations and the kids had no aspiration to become farmers. Like our milk man whose son wanted to be an engineer and not run the dairy. His father was inconsolable and my father – a guidance counsellor – had to go over and a calm him down and tell him that children do not always want to follow in their parent’s foot steps.

A family friend lived on and worked his mother’s farm to help keep food costs down and often we would receive baskets of excess produce from them. He also had a few cows and chickens and sold the milk to the local dairy in milk cans. Many dairy farmers did this at that time.

It was common for people then to either have their own kitchen garden or purchase their fruits and vegetables from road side stands in front of the farms. Conversation often was where and who had the best corn or beans or tomatoes or apples …

Then there were those who bought small farms because of the housing shortage after WWII, did not necessarily want to farm them but found the added benefit of being able to grow their food a plus. Then sold the farm and moved on.

With the renewed interest in locally grown food, non GNO and Organic a new approach and interest in small family farms has sprung up. CSA or Community Supported Agriculture where a consumer buys a share in the farm(s) seasonal produce and receives deliveries each week of fresh produce that is in season. There can be as many as ten farms involved or as few as one. Like Geauga Family Farms in North East Ohio, which is mostly Amish farms. Or the Central Roots Farm in Ohio City,    Most also have a farm produce stand as well. Some even include meats and poultry.

However if you are new to this be advised. The produce you get is not picture perfect looking produce. It may have dirt on it or even small bugs. Like  one would get picking it out of the ground. Since that is where it came from. Generally though it won’t have pesticides or herbicides.

As a baby boomer I find the renewed interest mildly amusing as my family got nearly all of our fruits, vegetables and meats locally.  Either from our own garden or from a stand some place. We got our meats from a local packing house. Even pork. Bought it in bulk and froze it up.

And it really does taste much better than trucked in supermarket stuff.

 

 

God Save the Queen … Why America Has Always Been A Disaster

By: cmaukonen Monday July 14, 2014 5:59 pm

THE PRINCESS in 1947…flickr creative commons license

First of all, the reasons given for the American Revolution that most people have been fed all these years — with King George baring much of the blame – are pretty much a load of whooey. Either our founding fathers were ignorant or naive or both, or there were other reasons that were rarely — if ever told. By the 1700s King George had no power at all to govern. The English Civil War put an end to that.

Secondly, having a government based exclusively on a two party system was just asking for trouble. So the situation described by Henry A. Giroux in his current Truthout essay,is no real surprise. There is little or nothing that will change it since there is no institution, group or individual that can claim to be unbiased objectivity. This country is all about politics and finance, especially now. With one side claiming the high ground over the other or vice versa.

So when I read about something like melting roads in Yellowstone, I do get a bit concerned. Not about any volcanic eruption per se, but how this country reacts to any disaster, or rather overreacts. To examples. Before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the president had a hard time getting congress to approve money for fire hoses to send to England during the blitz. That was how isolationist we had become.

Afterwards … he got everything he wanted or nearly so. And getting men to sign up for the war was a piece of cake. Before 9/11 Bush would have likely been impeached for what he did. After ….

We have no institution to help maintain social or political stability or help hold the country together. It’s always “you are either for us or against us.”

So why did Parliament retain the monarchy after the civil wars, when they could have easily removed it entirely? Here is one good explanation as to what the sovereign does [from the Royal Family's web page]

The Queen is able to recognise success and achievement in a personal way. These include honours, awards, visits, patronage and sponsorship. At Investitures, for example, The Queen honours individuals for public service or outstanding achievement.

The Queen’s role is to:

Perform the ceremonial and official duties of Head of State, including
representing Britain to the rest of the world;

Provide a focus for national identity and unity;

Provide stability and continuity in times of change;

Recognise achievement and excellence;

Encourage public and voluntary service.

The Queen also hosts garden parties to which guests from all backgrounds are invited, most of whom are nominated by charities and public sector organisations for their service to their communities.

In the thousands of messages sent by The Queen each year to people celebrating their 100th birthdays or diamond weddings, Her Majesty is able to give special and personal recognition of remarkable individuals.

The Queen also supports service to others, through close relationships with the voluntary and charitable sector. About 3,000 organisations list a member of the Royal Family as patron or president. The Queen has over 600 patronages and The Duke of Edinburgh over 700.

In all these roles, The Queen is supported by members of the Royal Family, who carry out many of the engagements which Her Majesty cannot undertake in person.

In other words the Queen [or King] and royal family provides a non-political institution that is far above the fray that presents the kind of behavior that all can appreciate and aspire to regardless of ideology or standing. Nearly all other constitutional monarchies operate in a similar manner.

Yet here in this country, we are so enamoured of royalty that there are those here  that celebrate the queen as well. Even to refer to the presidency of JFK as “Camelot.” But to try and hold any elected official up to those kinds of ideals is foolish at best.

Combined with a Parliamentary form of government that allows multiple party representation, it seems to work very well for them. It got the British through the blitz.

So God Save the Queen.

Conscription or Greetings from The President of the United States

By: cmaukonen Saturday July 12, 2014 5:55 pm

1942 — WWII draftees at Bus Station on West Huron, Ann Arbor, Michigan. – flickr creative commons

Conscription AKA The Draft has been around in one form or another almost since time immortal.  China had conscription as early as 221BC. Primarily to keep an army big enough to be used in times or war, some countries have used it for civilian activities as well. A number of countries still have conscription for those 18 to even 64 years of age and lasting anywhere from 1 to 8 years.

The first major use of conscription in the US was during the civil war, which sparked off New York City draft riots.  Then for WWI and for WWII. After WWII ended, in 1948 congress passed the Selective Service Act of 1948, from which combatants for the Korean War came. Then the Universal Military Training and Service Act in 1951 and Reserve Forces Act of 1955 with the aim of improving National Guard and federal Reserve Component readiness.

After Korea ended and before the Vietnam escalation, most people who were drafted would end up on US military bases in Japan and Europe, often in Germany. I have been told by many that German duty could be the best. There were of course deferments for college or if you had a high ranking job at a defence plant.  Of course, there were also political deferments and for those very well to do.

The closest I ever came to the military was being part of the CAP or Civil Air Patrol.   As an auxiliary of the Air Force, you got pretty much the same training as you would entering the Air Force using the same  materials and covering the same subjects. If you completed the CAP/USAF training you could enlist in the USAF with a much higher rank and a less strenuous boot camp. I never did this having become disenchanted with it.  Wound up with a 1Y deferment due to a scooter accident I had.

Resistance to the draft increased dramatically as LBJ and then Nixon committed more and more to the Vietnam war. By the late 1960s the Anti War movement was made up almost entirely of middle and and upper middle class students and kids who simply did not want their tails shot up, heads blown off and be on the receiving end of some surprise the Vietcong had dreamed up. Being sent to Vietnam was considered a death sentence and everyone who was drafted was sent there, unless you had “connections”.

By 1980, after the end of the Vietnam War, the draft officially ended. Though Jimmy Carter issued Presidential Proclamation 4771 and re-instated the requirement that young men register, nobody has ever been cited for not registering.

Say what you will about the military now, but during the era of the draft  you got something. Your civilian status meant little in the military. Only your performance and your rank. Lousy attitudes and lousy behavior  were not tolerated.  Not by your commanding officers or your fellows. You learned self reliance and to rely on others. To be responsible. In short you were forced to become a mensch.  We seem to have very few of them these days.

The GI Bill got you an education and helped you get a home. And at that time VA health care was one of the best.

Obama initially wanted a civilian mandatory service for education, community service, and renewal. Not surprisingly both the left and the right shot it down. Pity, one of the few good ideas he had.  Forcing spoiled brat rich kids into the slums and actually see and help people was a great idea. No wonder congress hated it.

Kids today …

By: cmaukonen Wednesday July 9, 2014 5:49 pm

If You Go Down To The Woods Today
A bloke called Jerm – flickr creative commons

I have a very difficult time relating to kids. My childhood was so vastly different from theirs in just about every way imaginable, it isn’t funny. No high tech toys, just TV, telephone and radio. I grew up in northeastern Ohio in a very small town, or rather township of Burton Ohio, in Geauga County.

Initially, in the first house my father built, a small two bedroom affair on State Road 87, Kingsman Road. Lived there until I was six years old and we had two brothers younger than me. I was the oldest, first born. My father then bought land on Butternut Road not far from there and built a much larger place on three acres of land. Nearly all of it wooded, most heavily so.  The road was a dirt road at the time and had very little traffic. The parcel was but a small part of a larger wooded area that went back for another 5 to 10 acres. On one side was a field that later became a dirt parking lot to a small golf coarse the son of the original owner of all the land there put in.

The original lands was part of one or two farms and an old coal mine, the entry to and ventilation hole for which you still find today. As we got older, my siblings and I had pretty much free rein of the woods, and except in the winter, it was the area of choice for whatever fun we chose to have – with small springs, run-off gullies, trees, fields…you name it. My rural education came from there, along with having friends that lived on farms – some worked regularly, some not. Barns and silos and farm animals of all sorts. Pigs and goats and chickens and cows and ..  We even had loan of two goats from some friends for awhile, which I loved.

My city education came from visiting my cousins who lived on the west side of Cleveland at West 84 street and Denison, in a very blue collar neighborhood, all the houses built in the 1920s, two-story type. My cousin Matt and I would travel on bikes all around the west side, sometimes driving my grandmother to distraction – she lived there as well.

Conversely, they would come out to our place in the summer for a few weeks, and also on the weekends when my aunt and uncle would work on a house in Burton they owned and rented out. Once when I was around 10, my father bought a Chevy Microbus and we began camping across Pennsylvania in the state parks on our way to visit my grandparents who lived outside of Philadelphia. One year my cousin Matt came with us as well.

All this came to an end in the fall of 1963 when my father decided to move the family down to Florida, eventually choosing Coral Gables. While waiting for the real estate agent to sign on a house, my father had a brain hemorrhage and died. After getting the estate settled and living with my grandparents outside Philly, my mother moved us to Naples, Florida, which at that time was not much bigger than Burton Ohio.

Now where is this all leading? And how does it all relate to today’s kids?

I often go the the various Cleveland Metro Parks reservation to hike a bit and take pictures, like I did today. I often see parents with kids by the hand and strollers and – like today – some on a field trip, today’s group from a summer camp up in Mentor, Ohio.

Most here know me as a geek from previous diaries, but when I was young, and even now, the geeky radio and electronics was primarily a winter thing. Summer was outside in the woods. There were no parents or grownups around. Nobody to make sure we did not fall into the pond and drown; f we got bit or fell out of a tree; if we survived [and I know of no one who did not] we got talked to [chewed out] for being such a dumb ass. It was a learning experience. So when I see kids being hand-held through their exposure to nature, I feel sorry for them and afraid for them. They likely will not experience nature in the raw, like I did.

As a child I was very very fortunate in this. I appreciate nature and respect nature and am very comfortable with nature. Most of those like me and of my generation were not protected from the world, but encouraged to explore it; not to see the world only as something to satiate out insatiable appetites.

I feel sad about kids today.

Cleveland Gets a Chance [To Be Screwed] By the RNC

By: cmaukonen Wednesday July 9, 2014 6:17 am

Clint Eastwood talks to an empty chair – DonkeyHotey

Well it seems that the RNC has chosen Cleveland for the Pointless Political Schmooze-Fest.

As they look to the Republican National Convention arriving in 2016, Cleveland business leaders are envisioning themselves as storytellers.

They see an opportunity to present a new, more accurate image of Cleveland to a curious world.

A fresh perspective, they expect, will spark a new era of business interest and investment.

Oh really? Well, guess who foots the bill which can cost up to $100 million bucks to the tax payer?

Federal taxpayers could be on the hook for more than $136 million to cover the cost of the major political parties’ presidential nominating conventions.

That’s the estimated total taxpayer tab of this week’s Republican Party National Convention in Florida, and next week’s Democratic Party National Convention in North Carolina.

And that does not include how much the city will wind up paying in the end to clean up their mess. As I commented to the Cleveland.com article above. “Does Cleveland really want to play host to a bunch of sociopathic,narcissistic megalomaniac Tea Party creeps masquerading as a political party?” They and the Democrats have proven themselves to be cheapskates and deadbeats more than willing to give the host city and the taxpayers the shaft. It only marginally benefits the slimy business interests and gives everyone else the shaft.

Cleveland needs to Just Say NO to the GOP and the Democrats as well.

America: A Fantasy Game

By: cmaukonen Tuesday July 8, 2014 8:09 am

Robot Scrabble – flickr creative commons

I posted a link to my FB page from Alternet about the gun nuts and their power trip. An FB friend commented that it reminds her husband of the OK Coral and the Clantons. Maybe so, but I seriously doubt these clowns would engage in a shoot out with anybody. And in the “Old West” carrying a gun into town was generally not allowed.

Had a discussion with a friend the other day on this country’s infrastructure and how old and dilapidated it is.  That upgrading it would be pricey but would improve life immensely. This is done only for high price, new communities as a selling point. Places like Cleveland or Pittsburgh or even Chicago will still have the old wires on the verge of coming down. Like the ones out back of my humble abode.

Now, how do these two subjects tie together? Easy. If someone or some group really wanted to cause trouble, wanted to disrupt the status quo they could easily do it and without much effort or expense.

Another electric substation was attacked but the homemade device failed to detonate. Luck I guess.

I often go hiking to take nature pictures and very often the trails lead through areas where high tension cables are strung. Or near railroad tracks and sometimes both. Unguarded and unprotected. There are numerous sites — even with maps — that list and show where major communications cables and switching networks are located.

Bridges and overpasses and what not.

Now with such vulnerability that even a minor natural occurrence such as a hurricane or earthquake can be very disruptive, how come even the most extreme groups on either side of the isle have not launched even a small attempt to cause chaos? With all the big talk and open carry and all.

Because it would be very disruptive on a personal level. Living in Florida and going through many hurricanes the one thing I notice was peoples biggest concern was for things to “get back to normal.” In other wards for the status quo to return. The cable and electricity back on and the burger joint open.

As much as everyone bitches, moans, complains and even threatens mayhem concerning the status quo, nobody really wants it to change. Everyone wants a major change it the situation but with one main and overwhelming proviso: that it won’t prevent them from going to the local quicky stop store to get a carton of milk, a couple of six packs of beer and a carton of cigarettes.

They just do not want the inconvenience. In fact, the very thought scares the hell out of them because without the status quo, they do not know what to do.

As a culture America has become completely dependent of the very things we now despise. And the elites know it. That as much as people rail about capitalism, it’s injustices and environmental destruction there is no way anyone is willing to put it in jeopardy. And the elites know it.

In the late 1960s a group called The Jefferson Airplane put out an album called Volunteers. The theme of witch was tearing down a system that was unjust, unfair and despised. The very system that enabled this same group to charge thousands of dollars for a concert and collect even more in record sale. Obviously a fantasy album. Would make a great computer game, don’t you think ?

Andrew Levine on Tea Party Smarts and the Poison of Ted Cruz

By: cmaukonen Sunday July 6, 2014 6:31 pm

According to Wikipedia the Tea Party movement is not even a party, it’s …

Several polls have been conducted on the demographics of the movement. Though the various polls sometimes turn up slightly different results, they tend to show that Tea Party supporters tend more likely than Americans overall to be white, male, married, older than 45, regularly attending religious services, conservative, and to be more wealthy and have more education. Broadly speaking, multiple surveys have found between 10% and 30% of Americans identify as a member of the Tea Party movement. Most Republicans and 20% of Democrats support the movement.

And as Levine points out, Ted Cruz and David Brat are the epitome of this. Both being graduates of the most prestigious private Universities. Both doing very well academically, even graduating magna cum laude. Indeed though there are those who say it’s just a racist movement first popularized in the South, it really is more – and less – than that.

They and Cruz are not the elite but worship those who do have money, especially the elites. They think that everything should be privately owned and bought and sold. They love “free market” capitalism but are hardly libertarian.

The dominant inflection is libertarian. But Tea Party libertarianism is more visceral than philosophical. Tea Partiers talk an earful about freedom, but what they really want is freedom from government interference in areas that matter to them.

Racism and bigotry is only a part of it, for they despise anyone who is not like them. Most especially those below them, those they see as having servitude as their only worth. I read once where racism is only the ultimate in snobbery. Tea Partiers are the ultimate snobs – and snots.

Tea Partiers are also averse to state programs that advance the well being of the least well off, especially when they are not white. In this respect, the Tea Party is like many other right-wing political movements throughout the world. It has a xenophobic, nationalistic and, more or less explicitly, racist tinge.

Mind you, this is primarily about economic and class division, and keeping minorities poor, keeping them as cheap labor.

Levine wonders about their fixation on gun ownership and how these tea party people could also be so educated, maybe not realizing that both go hand in hand. That they feel and believe their high incomes and bank accounts entitle them to be able to defend their possessions and wealth by any means necessary.

One other little item, I would wager that few if any served in the military because their attitude would not be tolerated there for a minute. I say this without fear of contradiction since their attitude toward those who have served is the same as their attitude toward anyone else who is not white and well off.

Levine also explores the Tea Party’s lack of any real political convictions. This is simply because they have no conviction at all outside of their own personal well being.

Let me remind you of who we are talking about. Not those poor whites who associated themselves with the movement, but the upper crust. Lawyers and Doctors and Executives and College Professors and Bankers and Stockbrokers and all. The ones who live in exclusive neighborhoods and high rises and condos and want very much to keep them that way, exclusive.  Who want to keep their country clubs off limits to anyone they deem their lessors. And their schools and their neighborhoods and their doctors, office and hospitals …

Hurricane Arthur

By: cmaukonen Thursday July 3, 2014 11:47 am

Arthur

The first hurricane of the season has arrived and with gusto. Hurricane Arthur is expected to brush the North Carolina coast later tonight or very early tomorrow morning. The latest advisory and tracking information can be obtained on the National Hurricane Center’s web site. And I must say for the first one of the season, it is an impressive looking storm.

Currently with winds of 90 Mph, Arthur’s a strong Category 1 storm that is expected to further strengthen to a Category 2 storm with winds over 100 mph. Not all that strong by most standards but still dangerous.

One thing I’ve noticed in the past 15 or so years has not been the strength of the storms in wind speed but the size in the area covered and the wind field. The last compact storm I remember was Hurricane Andrew which devasted South Miami and Miami in 1992. It was a Category 5 storm that decimated South Miami but was small in area covered. Living in central Florida at the time, we had no effects from the storm whatsoever. Yet even though I was in Central Florida in 2005 when Katrina was in the Gulf, we had rain bands from the storm and it covered almost the entire Gulf of Mexico.

I lived in Florida from 1964 until I retired in 2012 and I remember going through many Hurricanes, from small ones to big ones like Cleo and Betsy, but none of them affected such a large area. And this is the one major change I have seen.

We may or may not have more hurricanes and they may or may not have stronger winds, but hurricanes are noticeably larger in area and affect more people. Even if a hurricane or tropical storm does not pass over or even near your area, the rain bands can -and often do- spawn small tornadoes that can be very damaging. And now we have even more people living on the coastal areas and being at risk.