Tuesday, June 29, 2004

I think I first noticed "shrines" in early 1992, when Bob, my father and I took a car trip to Florida. I spotted them along highways in the South, on the way down. During the past decade, they seem to be everywhere, a floral reminder of the bloodbath that is our favored way of travel. Whenever someone dies in a car crash, a shrine immediately appears. Some, often in the most high traffic areas, quickly disappear; others are there for years afterwards, either becoming forgotten, tattered and forlorn, or they are regularly visited, with new bouquets placed nearby and sometimes even more permanent displays erected.

I wonder at this phenomenon. Is it because increasing numbers of people are cremated, (that is my guess, it has no factual basis) and so do not get interred in cemeteries, and there is no permanent place for mourning? Does the spot where death happened hold some special power? Or is it something about the special horror of car accidents, related in some way to "rubber-necking"?

For famous people, shrines appear at places besides the death site, and even when the death is not accidental. I wrote a bit, sort of on this subject, here.

Bob and I developed a business idea! (Since this site gets little traffic there is no fear it will be stolen...and we'll never do it anyway). Some florists and cemeteries offer services, delivering flowers or a plant to the grave of your beloved, on occasions such as Mother's Day or Memorial Day, when you can't visit yourself. So how about applying the same idea to the many neglected shrines along the roads? Roadside Rememberences. Let us lovingly maintain your dear one's shrine. Special on four times per year package: Easter, Memorial Day, Christmas, Birthday. Prayers extra.

Monday, June 28, 2004

I have been finally been using my digital camera. Here are a few pictures taken recently.

We have four of these hanging from the porch in Castleton. It is a zonal geranium, wave petunia, and vinca in each.

Not a great picture, but new this year, a second vegetable patch in Castleton, down the hill. It has yellow and green zucchini, cucumbers, and green beans.

This is the view from the front of the house in Samsonville.

This is what we have been doing on the weekends. The S'ville kitchen is coming! I faux-painted used cabinets.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

The taxation without representation budget fails again. This quote from the board president really burns me up:

"It's not a happy day for the district," said school board President Marino D'Orazio. "It seems this Board of Education has been faced with some issues over which it has no control. ... It's all come together in one place THEY have a say, the school budget vote." [emphasis added]

D'Orazio attributed the defeat to a voter backlash from the town of Olive over so-called "large parcel" legislation that would tax reservoir properties separately, thus raising school taxes significantly in that town, and from the town of Hurley, where voters are upset at the closing of West Hurley Elementary School.

No, the large parcel legislation and closing of the West Hurley school resulted in voters becoming aware that OCS is an incredibly high cost district. Combine those three elements, plus a very arrogant attitude on the part of the board and administration [issues over which the board had no control? Did a little green munchkin decide to adopt the large parcel? And the munchkin's fairy godmother decided to close the school?] and the people had to find their voice.

Something I really don't understand and (despite my education-related PhD and last rant in the newspaper on the subject) I'm not wild about educational budgeting, so I may never find out, but how is it that a austerity budget still involves an increase in spending, an increase in taxes, and yet all sorts of programs have to be cut and people fired?

On another subject, turns out we can't get satellite television. There is no clear path, across the street is a hill with trees, and it blocks the signal. So, we went back to Radio Shack, and swapped the installation for what we intended to buy originally, state-of-the-art rabbit ears. We get eight channels, three VHF: CBS, NBC, ABC and five UHF: public television, Fox, WB, and two small local channels - one is mostly advertising, one rebroadcasts some things from NBC. CBS, public television, Fox, and WB come in just as clear as with cable, the other five are pretty clear, if you play around with the rabbit ears a bit. That should be more than enough TV for anyone, and we are enjoying thinking about the savings.

Update: I lied. I couldn't resist doing a little digging on the school budget. I know the usual line is that teachers' salaries and benefits drive the increase, but I don't believe that really accounts for all of it, and it doesn't explain why OCS is such a high cost district. I mean, other districts have to pay out similar amounts in that category. So I read the 6/22/04 board meeting agenda. The same night as the vote - the trustees could not know the outcome (though they must have suspected it would fail again) and they approve over $200,000 in consultants for 2004-05? Yet they wring their hands and claim that all sorts of things have to be cut due to the austerity budget?

Monday, June 21, 2004

My mother and I are growing two types of garlic. One type has scapes - elaborate tops - that should be trimmed so the plant puts more energy into growing the bulb. Tonight I made garlic scape pesto - Yum! It was delicious!

Garlic Scape Pesto

5 chopped garlic scapes (about 3/4 cup)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
3 Tablespoons olive oil

Blend in food processor or blender.

I finally charged the batteries for my camera, and I decided to take some pictures of the garden and flowers in Castleton. I accidentally switched it to black and white mode and didn't realize it until later. So, now I'll have to take more photos of my beautiful flowers. But here is an interesting one of one of my favorites this year, a strawberry pot.

We bought steps for our pool in Samsonville, and yesterday we put them in. As we were carrying the old ladder to the shed, I noticed this stunning little fellow was using it as home (luckily, by this time I had switched the camera back to color):

Thursday, June 17, 2004

According to a People magazine interview, Ray Bradbury is mad at Michael Moore for ripping off his book title. That's good enough for me.

We cancelled our cable. Time Warner asked why, and Bob told the representative that DSL is cheaper and faster and we are going to get satellite for the TV. Yesterday we went to Radio Shack, to buy some modern rabbit ears (an oxymoron?) in the hopes of improving the reception on local channels. The young man who worked there was very convincing, and we wound up signing up for Dish, the basic package plus local stations. It will be installed tomorrow. So this is a savings of $360 per year.

And, my latest rant about the taxation without representation district budget is here. It's long, and there are a couple of typos, but all-in-all, I am pleased.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Today, for the first time in a long time, I have no university work. Summer session starts Monday, and I finished up a few details for my course yesterday - also submitted a book review to a textbook publisher. Wow, it feels good to have a few days to do "whatever." Maybe I will play with my digital camera.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

This report, all over the news, from Science, should be no surprise to dog lovers. And, on whether it is just "fetching behavior": No. Dogs not only can understand a lot of what people say, they also are capable of communicating in very sophisticated ways. Sophie wrinkles her forehead, tips her head and focuses, trying hard to understand what is said, and to learn new words. Rudy barks sentences, and his meaning is loud and clear. Hobo listens and responds to conversations, even when he is in another room.

It is looking like we will switch to DSL after all. I have been very happy with it during the trial. Time Warner has some worthy competition, they better watch out. Bob is planning to have the cable discontinued when we cancel road runner. We can get the local channels without it, and that plus the DVD player is plenty of TV. If he decides he wants to reconnect after the summer is over, we will get satellite instead.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

I am testing Verizon DSL. So far, I notice no speed difference between it and Cable, which is saying a lot - it is $29.95 to Road Runner's $44. I had no trouble connecting - though I have not yet tried it using my hub rather than directly to the ethernet card in my recently crashed, newly back in business computer. Unfortunately - I predict I wind up cancelling it at the end of the trial, not because it isn't a good value or fast, but for reasons I'll call "the hassle factor." I have to install a DSL filter for my kitchen phone - they were included for desk phones, but not for wall phones. I have to try it through the network, on the old machine (which will mean lots of time consuming moving of files). Then, we already have cable television - not that we couldn't keep it and DSL, but satellite is cheaper - seems we should either get rid of the Time Warner bill entirely, or not bother. Packaging up the modem (which is nice) and all the DSL filters and wires involves a bit of a hassle factor - but on balance, it is less. Hmmm. DSL + satellite = $60/month, Cable TV and internet = $90. I was kind of hoping the decision would be easy - the connection wouldn't work or the speed would be awful. So maybe the hassle would be worth it?