Bill Hoyt (El_Borak)

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Make hay while the sun shines.

"There’s nothing wrong with buying in bulk while food is in season with the intention of putting most of it away for the fall and winter months."

That's exactly right, and there are two more ways you might add that take a little time and effort but are well worth it: drying and making wine or liqueur.

Right now my whole house smells of bananas, as the lovely wife hit a .29 per pound sale on bananas this week. Apparently they weren't moving fast enough or the weather was too humid or something, but the store had the bananas all bagged up and was almost begging someone to take them away before they ripened further. By tomorrow we will have enough banana chips to last all winter - and they are a far better snack than regular chips when you have to have something crunchy.

The pear wine from last fall is almost finished, though to be honest I'm not sure how much I'll like it. We also have rhubarb wine ready (and mead almost ready), cherry brandy, and a little liqueur made up with honey. That I'm sure is good, as I've been taking the cap off it and smelling it all spring.

As for canning and freezing, Mike is exactly right - it's easy but you've got to follow the rules. We still have honey-strawberry and honey-plum jam left from last fall, as well as pear butter (we had a LOT of pears), jalapenos, tomato salsa, and green beans. And some frozen green beans (almost gone), enough frozen horseradish that I'll let the plants alone this year, and some rhubarb I brought back from Minnesota this spring (mine didn't take off this year... sometimes that happens).

Total time? Maybe 50-60 hours in the kitchen over the course of 3 months. Total cost? Well, I'm sure the jars are amortized by now - I bought many of them used anyway - and lids cost about .10 a jar. Plastic food dryers, pressure and open canners, they're not all that expensive. Wine and liqueur bottles are free.

It's not difficult, but just a question of habit and experimentation. When bringing in the harvest or picking over the farmer's market, you just have to ask yourself, "How can I eat this all year?" There are usually multiple ways to preserve anything. You just have to do it. Once you've done it, then it's just a matter of enjoying it,

June 24, 2009 at 11:02 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

How to Hitch Sustainably

A belated congratulations on your nuptials, Mike. May the two of you enjoy and long and sustainable life together.

May 26, 2009 at 8:28 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Top 10 Best Fourth Movies in a Franchise

Return of the Pink Panther, 1975.

May 19, 2009 at 11:15 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

On the Futility of Bailouts, Part Deux

Just because it's not worth an entire blog entry all to itself:

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration is weighing plans to detain some terror suspects on U.S. soil -- indefinitely and without trial -- as part of a plan to retool military commission trials that were conducted for prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The proposal being floated with members of Congress is another indication of President Barack Obama's struggles to establish his counter-terrorism policies, balancing security concerns against attempts to alter Bush-administration practices he has harshly criticized.

On Wednesday, the president reversed a recent administration decision to release photos showing purported abuse of prisoners at U.S. military facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Obama cited concern that releasing the pictures could endanger U.S. troops. Mr. Obama ordered government lawyers to pull back an earlier court filing promising to release hundreds of photos by month's end as part a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union.

May 14, 2009 at 7:39 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

On the Futility of Bailouts, Part Deux

Dots: "I need a raise just reading this blog."

Consider your salary doubled, my friend.

May 12, 2009 at 2:15 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

On the Futility of Bailouts, Part Deux

"which is saying a lot."

It sure is, because I'm sure I've said a lot of stupider things. But because I'm so stupid, I'm not sure exactly which part of it is so stupid. It can't be the math, as it's pretty obvious that a starting accountant will make $18-$20/hr. Those numbers are a little old, so let's bump them 30% for inflation ($24-26/hr), and we will still find that about half of the $54/hr that the article claims for autoworkers:

Maybe it's the part about the job being harder? As one bit of evidence, I would submit that the above $25 demands at least a bachelor's degree in accounting, maybe a master's, some professional certification, and should one move into the top ranks of accountancy/auditing and become a CPA, one could make $91,608, or $46/hr., almost what an autoworker makes:

To be an autoworker, one must be able to perform "any combination of following repetitive tasks... Loads stamped metal body components into automated welding equipment ... Bolts, screws, clips, or otherwise fastens together parts to form subassemblies, such as doors... " There's more, like applying "precut and adhesive coated vinyl tops and pads to vehicle roofs," but that's the gist of it:

Now, does one need a degree or even any specialized education to do so? I have not been able to discover it (maybe you can), but I did note that there was a little bit of "one the job" training available to autoworkers:

"In 1979, Eastern Michigan University received a federal grant to establish a basic skills literacy center through the Right-To-Read program. The "Academy" developed a learner centered, research based approach aimed at upgrading adult literacy in nearby counties. In 1984, union and management from a nearby Ford plant invited the Academy to set up a basic skills training center for its hourly workers. These workers had been out of school for 10 to 20 years and were being hit with workplace changes that were part of Ford's quality initiatives. The program concentrated on applied math since the plant was introducing statistical process controls."

So if you've been an autoworker for 10-20 years, you might be able to learn to read and to do "applied math." Plus if you started at the right time, you would be able to retire on most of your salary at age 55.

Certainly the autoworker job is more physical, and repetitive works is tiring and can take a toll on the body, but it would be very difficult to say that it's a harder job to do. At least so much self-evidently harder that my statement should rank anywhere near my Idiocy Hall of Fame.

I usually have to work hard to outdo myself. That time I wasn't even trying.

May 11, 2009 at 7:46 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Read It and Weep

Sorry, Jenny, that rant wasn't directed at you personally, not at all. In the words of Dots, "I'm just saying."

In this period of incredibly fast economic realignment, there are a lot of people who think that what they are doing - and more importantly, how they do it and that it be them personally doing it - are mission critical for the survival of society. Those people are howling for the taxpayers to be forced to step up and allow them not to change.

Slogans aside, none of us like change, because it is painful. But change is here, like it or not.

May 8, 2009 at 11:08 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Read It and Weep

While one should expect that those who most benefit from the present free press "model" (reporters and editors) would be the most opposed to any change in that model, it is important to keep a couple of facts in mind:

1) As Chrysler and the banks and colleges and everyone else who takes government money soon discovers, there are always hooks. A government that controls the purse strings will always always always use them to influence outcomes. A subsidized press is not and cannot be a free press.

2) The present press model of large corporate news organizations run by unionized worker bees and headlined by blowdried celebrities is not necessarily even a good model, much less the best possible model. It may have been a good model when it was developed (which is why it succeeded), but the fact that it is failing means that it must change.

Change never comes about through subsidy, it is always the offspring of necessity and pain. "Saving" the newspapers in their current form is a way of avoiding necessary change.

May 8, 2009 at 10:09 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

On the futility of bailouts

MyName: "We're already approach a 1:1 person to car ratio in this country, which means eventually people aren't going to be needing more cars..."

This is probably the most important factor in the whole discussion, and yet it's one that is almost never mentioned. Nice catch.

May 7, 2009 at 3:12 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

On the futility of bailouts

I don't think it's ALL about swing states, though that factors in. Part of it is pensions, which will be thrown back on the government after they are shed in bankruptcy, and part of it is watching out for certain communities that will be devastated because these industries are the major employer by an order of magnitude. One city losing 50% of its jobs is far worse than 5 cities losing 10%.

Part of it is that we innately know we need to to build cars, and subsidizing bad business is the easiest way we can think of to do that in the short run.

May 7, 2009 at 8:45 a.m. ( | suggest removal )