Saturday, July 29, 2006

Saturday Painting Palooza Vol. 51

The staff thought that I should lighten up, so I'll post one of these, usually posted elsewhere.

Welcome back!

This week we'll be continuing with the painting of Wild Horse Butte, a scene from southern Utah.  It is seen in the photo directly below.

When last we met, the paiting appeared as it does directly below.

Since that time I've continued refining the surface and shadows of the butte. The entire butte now has a texture and highlights. The highlights have been done with a lightened version of the main body color. The same color has been used to define horizontal areas. I've also brushed some of this paint accross the shadowed areas. For these areas, the brush was almost dry. Finally, I've painted in the small background area on the right side of the painting.

The painting as it currently appears is seen directly below.

I must say that I never expected to get this painting to this point so quickly. But I got into a groove and things came together. Sometimes you struggle, sometimes things just go a bit more smoothly. You just never know.

I will continue with the piece and have more for you next week. See you then.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Life Imitating Art

It's tough being the opposition, even in my neck of the woods.  But the level of discourse has been reduced to a level that would make Don Corleone proud.

Town of Wawayanda (Orange County, New York) Councilwoman Gail Soro, the only Democrat on the town board, has been the subject of small harassing actions for some time.  But her harasser has apparently raised the stakes.


Slate Hill - The bent windshield wipers annoyed her. The sex toy glued to her windshield back in June made her furious. But finding a horse's head in her swimming pool yesterday hit Wawayanda Councilwoman Gail Soro right where she lives.

After the discovery, fear eventually gave way to anger.  While considering security devices, Ms.Soro stated her commitment to continue.

Gail Soro sent her own message last night: She won't be chased out of office. She's up for re-election next year, and she's running. Soro's been right in the middle of tussles over growth and planning that are the hot-button issues in the town.

But when asked if this event would discourage others from running for office, she was less certain.

"Who would want to put up with this?" she said.

In a time where swiftboating has entered the general lexicon of state and national level politics, can we really expect local politics to take the high road?  Apparently rigorous debate just doesn't suffice anymore.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Mighty Rad Gumbo

She's cooking gumbo

A mighty rad gumbo

Its the only way she can go

Down at the Club Rad Gumbo

Oh no, no escargot, no cordon bleu

This aint the place to go lookin for beef stew

But if you like tender shrimp and rice

If ya think ya can stand the spice

Shes cooking gumbo

A mighty rad gumbo

Gumbo.  The recipes vary in their ingredients but one constant is rice, that staple food for much of the world.  But not all rice is being grown for the purpose of providing such sustenance.

Ventria Bioscience has developed genetically engineered rice with a very distinct purpose.  Specifically, the treatment of diarrhea.


Ventria has developed a strain of rice that produces two proteins found in human breast milk. The proteins can speed recovery from diarrheal illnesses, which annually kill 2 million children, most in developing countries. ...

After attempts to grow the rice in California met with objection from local rice growers, the company set out to find another location.  The concern of the growers is that the genetically modified crop will contaminate the local crop.  There has already been evidence to show that, at least in some cases, this will occur.  

... Two years ago, after pharmaceutical seed fouled corn and soybeans in Iowa and Nebraska, the Agriculture Department imposed new rules that included more inspections, dedicated equipment and buffer zones.

Ventria is now considering several locations.

Of late, the state of Kansas has been attempting to woo Ventria in the hope that the company will choose the state as the site of the rice crop.

A Topeka-area economic development agency has proposed $2.25 million in incentives to encourage Ventria to build a $10 million rice processing facility there.  Private investors and a Kansas state biotechnology agency are considering adding to the offer, according to Doug Kinsinger, president of the Topeka Chamber of Commerce.

It is hoped that these efforts will lead to eventual large scale production.

Officials in Topeka hope that a Ventria processing plant would eventually provide a market for as much as 30,000 acres worth of Ventria's special rice, which would be grown by Kansas farmers.

The thinking is, apparently, that since there is currently no rice being grown in Kansas, the danger of contamination with other rice is small.

Unlike California and Missouri, Kansas has no rice industry -- and thus no rice farmers anxious about the marketing problems that genetically modified crops sometimes bring.

However, even a few minutes of googling will reveal that several nearby states have, at least in some cases, extensive rice production.  Texas and Arkansas are amongst these.  So the potential for contamination is present.

Ventria president Scott Deeter had this to say, in part:

"Without political leadership, a small minority of activists and noninterested folks can derail something like this. Luckily, as far as we can tell, that leadership is in place," he said.

Yep, Mr.Deeter, that's called grassroots action.  Learn to live with it.

GMO contamination is a growing problem. Here is a list of strategies to help. PDF file

I'll leave you with a nice crock pot gumbo recipe:


A gumbo recipe for the crockpot.


1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup cooking oil

3 cups chicken broth

12 to 16 ounces smoked sausage, sliced about 1/2" thick

2 cups chopped cooked chicken

2 cups diced cooked chicken

1 to 2 cups sliced okra

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

1/2 cup chopped celery

4 cloves garlic, minced

salt, to taste

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

boiled white rice


For roux, in a heavy 2-quart saucepan stir together flour and oil until smooth. Cook over

medium-high heat for 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium. Continue to cook,

stirring constantly, for about 15 minutes more or until roux is dark reddish brown.

Let roux cool.

Add chicken broth to a 3 1/2 to 6-quart slow cooker. Stir in roux. Add sausage, chicken, okra,

onion, green pepper, celery, garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to

10 hours, or HIGH for 4 to 5 hours.

Skim off fat. Serve with hot cooked rice.

Makes 6 servings.



Friday, July 14, 2006

Preparing for Invasion

I'm preparing for the invasion.  No, no, not the invasion of Iran, North Korea or other threatening nation of your choice.  No, I'm referring to the invasion of the US by those who would regard us as a dangerous rogue nation.  And surely there must be at least one, or perhaps two, who do so.

Surely we must be regarded as such based upon our tendency to, umm, spread democracy and...our stockpile of chemical weapons, second largest in the world.  But wait, all those chemical weapons are going to be destroyed, at least at some point in time.  Right?

ENS Link

U.S. Will Miss Treaty Deadline to Destroy Chemical Weapons

THE HAGUE, The Netherlands, July 10, 2006 (ENS) - The United States has requested a five year extension to the deadline for completing destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile. But even if the extension is granted, the new deadline cannot be met, a U.S. ambassador says.

The United States possesses the second largest chemical weapons stockpile in the world - more than 27,700 metric tons of deadly VX, GB, HD, mustard, and sarin nerve agent and associated explosives. They must be destroyed under the Chemical Weapons Convention, a treaty signed by 178 countries.

What's that you say?  Even with the extension, the deed won't be completed?  Well, maybe our grandchildren will see it.  Until that time, the preparations for invasion will continue.

Head of the U.S. delegation to the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Eric Javits:

"Based on our current projections, we do not expect to be able to meet that deadline," the ambassador said first in April and reiterated at the council meeting.

"We are making every effort and continuing to seek opportunities to improve our [chemical weapons] destruction with a view to meeting the 2012 deadline or completing destruction as soon after that date as feasible," Javits said.

Yikes!  Good to know that they are attempting to "improve" the weapons destruction.  And an open-ended completion date, such a comfort!

But here's more reassurance.

"Let me emphatically reiterate that the United States is committed to the earliest possible completion of destruction of its chemical weapons stockpiles," Javits said.

And finally, a statement for the wingnuts amongst us.

The threat of chemical weapons use no longer is confined to combat, he said.  "The threat now also comes from terrorists and non-state actors," as they may threaten "us in our homes and cities."

In the meantime, I'll offer this.

Talking Heads - Life During Wartime Lyrics

Heard of a van that is loaded with weapons,

Packed up and ready to go

Heard of some gravesites, out by the highway,

A place where nobody knows

The sound of gunfire, off in the distance,

I'm getting used to it now

Lived in a brownstore, lived in the ghetto,

I've lived all over this town

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco,

This ain't no fooling around

No time for dancing, or lovey dovey,

I ain't got time for that now

Transmit the message, to the receiver,

Hope for an answer some day

I got three passports, a couple of visas,

You don't even know my real name

High on a hillside, the trucks are loading,

Everything's ready to roll

I sleep in the daytime, I work in the nightime,

I might not ever get home

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco,

This ain't no fooling around

This ain't no mudd club, or c. b. g. b.,

I ain't got time for that now

Heard about houston? heard about detroit?

Heard about pittsburgh, p. a.?

You oughta know not to stand by the window

Somebody might see you up there

I got some groceries, some peant butter,

To last a couple of days

But I ain't got no speakers, ain't got no

Heaphones, ain't got no records to play

Why stay in college? why go to night school?

Gonna be different this time

Can't write a letter, can't send a postcard,

I can't write nothing at all

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco,

This ain't no fooling around

I'd like to kiss you, I'd love you hold you

I ain't got no time for that now

Trouble in transit, got through the roadblock,

We blended with the crowd

We got computer, we're tapping pohne lines,

I know that ain't allowed

We dress like students, we dress like housewives,

Or in a suit and a tie

I changed my hairstyle, so many times now,

I don't know what I look like!

You make me shiver, I feel so tender,

We make a pretty good team

Don't get exhausted, I'll do some driving,

You ought to get some sleep

Get you instructions, follow directions,

Then you should change your address

Maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day,

Whatever you think is best

Burned all my notebooks, what good are

Notebooks? they won't help me survive

My chest is aching, burns like a furnace,

The burning keeps me alive

Try to stay healthy, physical fitness,

Don't want to catch no disease

Try to be careful, don't take no chances,

You better watch what you say

Monday, July 10, 2006

By Their Toppings Ye Shall Know Them

Recently it was reported that Western Union is blocking and/or delaying fund transfers involving parties with certain names.  Money transfers to/from names such as Mohammed and Ahmed have been blocked or delayed on suspicion of possible terrorist activities.

Now comes this further development.

From the Somers Sentinel*:

Pizza Purveyors Assist The War On Terror

Ann Arbor-It was revealed today that Pizza Hut outlets have been refusing telephone orders from callers with certain names, including Mohammed, Ahmed and Yusuf.  

According to company spokesperson Paulo Provolone, recently enacted Pizza Hut guidelines were directed at thwarting terrorist activity.  "We would prefer to fight them over there.  But if we have to fight them here, it will be with their stomachs empty.", stated Mr.Provolone.

When asked about Pizza Hut's efforts with respect to in-person pizza orders, Mr.Provolone stated, in part, "You go with the menu you have, not the menu you'd like."  He continued, "I can't provide  many details about our efforts but I would personally avoid standing too close to the salad bar."

In a further development, it was revealed that the three major pizza chains have been cooperating with federal agencies in the war on terrorism.

Domino's, Pizza Hut and Papa John's have permitted several federal agencies acccess to inventory data collected by the companies.

An extensive analysis of the data has revealed several surprising trends.  Paramount amongst these is the apparent terrorist preference for certain toppings usually ordered together as a group.    

NSA spokesperson Sam Spook: "The continuity of the program precludes identification of the individual toppings, but suffice it to say that pineapple is a red flag."

Call your senators and congresscritter and demand that the federal government stay out of your pizza box.

*No link yet.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Kicking It

Kick it. That's what I wanted to do when I saw it, kick it through the fucking wall.

This began in an unlikely place, the local dollar store. We had come to find some of those thin aluminum roasting pans, and find them we did. But there, amongst the aisles of light bulbs and batteries, I found something that prompted in me a strong emotional response. To be truly accurate, it brought conflicting emotional responses. Arranged on the shelf and wrapped in individual protective plastic covers was a group of hackysacks, each emblazoned with the American flag. (Or at least what passes for the flag in the realm of hackysacks.) < gasp > Quick, alert the flag amendment proponents! Surely they'll want to make quick legislative provision for this singular outrage!

One of the hackysacks in question is seen in the photo directly below.

Never having seen such a hackysack, it seemed strange that an object made for the sole purpose of being kicked would be decorated with the American flag. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem putting the flag on a hackysack. In fact, when I saw it, I wanted to make full use of it and slam the thing.

Yes, yes, I'm know. I'm confusing the sad actions of our government with the symbol of our country. But it's become hard to separate these things, especially in light of the recently attempted flag amendment.

Unfortunately, these days, the flag (or hackysack approximation of same) makes me feel both anger and pride. I'm proud of the nation that gave rise to that flag, but sickened by the recent actions of our government. On the day that I saw that hackysack, anger was the stronger of the two emotions.

I felt anger because of a war intentionally brought about by lies. A war that has caused the deaths of thousands and devastated a country and will likely give rise to a new generation of local activists.

I felt anger because of the assault on the middle class and the disappearing safety net.

I felt anger because of the sale of national forest land, potential offshore drilling and the degradation of our national park system.

I felt anger because a country that is composed of immigrants or the descendents thereof, has demonstrated its xenophobia.

I felt anger because our government thinks so little of our personal liberties, trashing them daily.