Monday, January 31, 2011

Chicken Infirmary

   Our most spoiled chicken, Little, is an Ameraucana and gets picked on (pecked on?) by the other chickens. I feel partly responsible because Little has always been the favorite with the humans and I assume the other chickens have singled her out because of this. My wife agrees that it's my fault.

   Anyway, today we discovered a wound on Little's back where the other hens peck at her. We decided it was time to set up a chicken infirmary and separate Little from the rest of the flock for a while. Unfortunately the decision was made when we moved the chicken tractor late this afternoon, so we had to race to get it set up before dark.

   Of course, we had given our extra chicken wire to my wife's cousin for their coop, so my wife ran to the hardware store while I made preparations. We moved a wood and wire bin previously used for scrap wood to a safe spot in the yard, wrapped it with chicken netting, put in some food, water, a perch, and Little. We covered it with a solid pallet so nothing can get in (or out).

   At first Little was very anxious and kept trying to get out. We set up some boards around the side with the perch hoping that closing it in would make it feel more like the hen house and she would settle down. When that didn't work, we agreed to take Dumpling -- our other Ameraucana and probably most docile hen -- and put her in the infirmary with Little. That seemed to do the trick and once Dumpling found the food, water, and perch, they both seemed to settle in fine.

   We plan to move Dumpling back with the rest of the flock tomorrow. Hopefully Little will be okay by herself and we can keep her separated for a few days while her wound heals.

   I'll post updates as they happen.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Organic Elite Surrenders to Monsanto: What Now?

The Organic Elite Surrenders to Monsanto: What Now?

"The policy set for GE alfalfa will most likely guide policies for other GE crops as well. True coexistence is a must." - Whole Foods Market, Jan. 21, 2011

In the wake of a 12-year battle to keep Monsanto's Genetically Engineered (GE) crops from contaminating the nation's 25,000 organic farms and ranches, America's organic consumers and producers are facing betrayal. A self-appointed cabal of the Organic Elite, spearheaded by Whole Foods Market, Organic Valley, and Stonyfield Farm, has decided it's time to surrender to Monsanto. Top executives from these companies have publicly admitted that they no longer oppose the mass commercialization of GE crops, such as Monsanto's controversial Roundup Ready alfalfa, and are prepared to sit down and cut a deal for "coexistence" with Monsanto and USDA biotech cheerleader Tom Vilsack.

The Organic Elite Surrenders to Monsanto: What Now?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Got Questions About the State of the Union?

   Here are some opportunities to get involved in your future:

TODAY, WEDNESDAY

    * Twitter Interview
      Follow @PressSec on Twitter to find out when we’ll be taking your questions, then respond to @PressSec using the hashtag #1Q and watch for video responses from a special guest early this afternoon. 

TOMORROW, THURSDAY

    * 11:30 a.m. EST: Economy Roundtable with Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. 
      Submit your questions through MSNMoney, Mint.com, and Examiner.com.  Tune in to WhiteHouse.gov/live to watch the live event.
    * 1:00 p.m. EST: Foreign Policy Roundtable Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor.
      Submit your questions through ForeignPolicy.com, Economist.com, and Military.com. Tune in to WhiteHouse.gov/live to watch the live event.
    * 2:30 p.m. EST: Live YouTube interview with President Barack Obama.
      Submit your questions or vote for your favorite questions at YouTube.com/AskObama. Tune in to WhiteHouse.gov/live to watch the live event.
    * 3:15 p.m. EST: Education Roundtable with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
      Submit your questions on mtvU, GOOD, BabyCenter, and PBS Teachers. Tune in to WhiteHouse.gov/live to watch the live event.
    * 4:30 p.m. EST: Health Care Roundtable with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.
      Submit your questions on WebMD, AOL Health, Nurse.com, and Medscape. Tune in to WhiteHouse.gov/live to watch the live event.
    * Yahoo! Interview with Vice President Joe Biden.
      Yahoo! will be sitting down with Vice President Biden asking him your questions on Thursday afternoon. Go to Yahoo! to submit your question and check back again to see his answers.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Taco Bell meat not actually meat, law firm says

Taco Bell meat not actually meat, law firm says (and if you've ever eaten it, you already knew that)
By Melissa Bell

Ah, that sweet, delightful Taco Bell meat ... stuff. An Alabama law firm has decided to sue Taco Bell for false advertising when advertisements say their food has beef. Taco Bell uses a "taco meat filling" made up of a whole slew of chemicals and starches and powders and only 36 percent of beef.

Gizmodo reports:

    The USDA says that any food labeled as "meat taco filling" should at least have 40% fresh meat. According to the Alabama law firm, their stuff only has 36% meat. Perhaps they should call it Almost Taco Meat Filling.

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE

The Girl With The Best Book Title Ever

   My wife is reading The Girl Who Played With Fire, having just finished The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. She informed me last night that the author, Stieg Larsson was dead. It turns out he died of a heart attack in 2004 and the three Millennium Series books were released after his death.

   I told her it was too bad because he had hit on a title concept that could go on infinitely (as it turns out, only The Girl Who Played With Fire was the only original title -- the other titles were changed for the American translations). Some titles we came up with included:

The Girl Who Had Too Many Shoes
The Girl With Low Self-Esteem
The Girl With Terrible Gas
The Girl Who Couldn't Help It
The Girl Who Hated Shopping
The Girl With The Dog Face (but a Heart of Gold)
The Girl With The Lazy Eye
The Girl, The Gold Watch, and Everyt... oh wait, scratch that one...
The Girl Who Just Wanted To Have Fun
The Girl With The Club Foot
The Girl With Something In Her Teeth

   My sincere apologies to the late Stieg Larsson.

   RIP

Monday, January 24, 2011

This Time of Year

   The holidays are a busy time of year for entertainers like myself, and this year was no exception. The exception has been the weeks following New Year's Eve! Usually a time of rest, I have been busier this month than I was last month. The sad thing is that I'm not really making any more money, but that's a whole other story...

   This week will mark four decades that I have been on this planet. I'm not sure how I feel about that. In many ways it's just another year and they seem to get easier as each one goes by. At the same time I cannot escape the feeling that time is running out. Time for what? I'm not exactly sure. Perhaps I just need to take some time to reflect...

   Now that the leftovers from the holidays have finally run out we have started making use of some of the food we canned last fall. I am happy to report that the brined dill pickles turned out excellent! In fact, the flavor is not unlike those of Mrs. Neushins', one of my favorite commercial brands. That will be a recipe to hold onto!

   I was worried that I made way too much salsa. When the tomatoes weren't coming in from the garden I bought tomatoes from the local produce stand to make salsa. Then when it came time to decide what to do with the 31 pounds of green tomatoes we did harvest, we opted to make green salsa, green tomato relish, and dilled green tomatoes. As a result, we have a lot of salsa, but we have been able to go through several jars already with a variety of Mexican dishes. Yum. The dilled green tomatoes turned out pretty good as well, though they are a bit mushier than I had hoped. Still, they'll make excellent relish! We have plenty of relish...

   We did have one canning casualty this year -- our first so far. I went to the pantry to retrieve a jar of chili for dinner one evening and found that the seal had broken on one of the jars. While it smelled fine, we did not want to take the chance of poisoning ourselves, so that went to the compost pile. The rest of the chili appears to have sealed fine and we have enjoyed a couple jars of that so far.

   Our experiment with chicken soup also turned out fantastic! Back in October we learned that contemporary canning guidelines shun the use of things like pasta and rice in canning recipes (of course, older canning recipes use rice and pasta as do commercial canners -- I need to research this one further). So we instead canned chicken soup with only chicken, carrots, and onions in broth. The plan was to make rice or pasta to add to the soup when we opened a jar and that has worked just fine so far.

   The corn turned out great! I wish I had made a lot more spaghetti sauce as we are almost out of that already. We are almost out of canned beans as well. We haven't tried the beef stew yet, but we used the same recipe as last year and that was delicious. There is still quite a bit of ketchup (which also turned out great), some applesauce, and an assortment of jellies and jams as well.

   Next year we'll make more spaghetti sauce, beans, and chili.

   An update on taxes: as I said in Reloading, Revenue, and Resolutions, I was recently contacted by the state and informed that I have been delinquent on state taxes that I did not know existed. I have now filed and paid all of my back taxes. Fortunately, I don't make much, so the taxes were pretty small. Today I am playing phone tag with the representative from the state to make sure there is nothing more I need to do at this time.

   The resolution to pay down our debt has been going slow but steady. The two credit cards with the highest interest were the ones with the smallest balances. I had been able to stash some money before the first of the year to pay off one. Today we are sending in a payment to pay off the other. That feels pretty good. Now come the big debts that won't be so easy to pay off. We just need to stay focused and keep paying as much as we can whenever we can. It's going to be a tight year, but it'll be worth it to finally get out from under everything.

   Finally, thanks to a generous gift card from my mother, the family and I will be making a trip to Cabela's tomorrow. I'll be able to get to those reloading projects sooner than I expected. Thanks mom!

CBC News - Consumer Life - Wal-Mart in court over Civil War site dispute

What's wrong with paving over our history for the sake of 300 part-time, minimum-wage jobs, anyway?

The symbolism of Wal-Mart wanting to build near the historic site of a battle that was fought -- at least in part -- over the use of slave labor is almost too much to take.

CBC News - Consumer Life - Wal-Mart in court over Civil War site dispute

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Partisan Puzzle part II

   "If everyone has access to affordable healthcare, doctors won't get paid, quality will go down, and healthcare will become substandard."

   Okay.

   But...

   "If everyone has access to affordable food, farmers will thrive, quality will go up, and people will be healthier."

   I would bet neither of these statements is completely true, yet there are those who buy into rhetoric.

   Let's assume big business doesn't care about you or me and only cares about the bottom line.

   Think about how insurance companies and companies like Monsanto and DuPont work.

   Now let's discuss the statements above.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sustainable Agriculture & GMOs

   Yesterday I came across this article on Justmeans. While the article is pretty basic in it's overview, the comment that followed it seemed to missed the point. The way it was written made it difficult to fully understand, but it compelled me to respond with this:

No one wants to discuss the the real debate here. It is a question of how many people can live off the land sustainably, how to proceed, and what are the consequences?

If we live in harmony with nature and use a sustainable form of agriculture, can we feed everyone? The answer is: No -- not the way we've been doing it. We, as a species, would need to stop mono-cropping and chemically treating our crops and completely shift gears into a bio-diverse, land nurturing agriculture model. Can that feed the world? We don't know for sure, but we can do some math and speculate.

If we continue on the path we are on we will need to continue to create newer technologies to keep up. In our current system GM crops are already failing, creating more resistant enemies to less nutritious food. We are already behind the ball just in keeping up with what we have created. That's great news for the corporate interest who hopes to bring out the next agricultural miracle, but it's already a nightmare for farmers and food-eaters the world over. Can we sustain this?

If we continue, the rich will continue to eat well for a while (by well, of course, I mean have health issues but not be hungry) and the poor will continue to struggle. Eventually, though, we will reach a point when either the land or the technology can't keep everyone fed and healthy, and the population will have to balance by attrition.

Looking back throughout history, the U.S. is really good at temporary solutions and saving problems for later generations, so it's no wonder this debate rages on.

The big picture is: do we hold on to the current model until starvation and disease become an epic problem, or do we move to a sustainable model and find a balance over time?

Monday, January 17, 2011

"Genetically modified crops no good at all"

   From Sunday Vision. I think it's good to understand that this is an international viewpoint...

THE debate about genetically modified crops (GMOs) continues, but if Dr. Charles Mugoya’s article “Uganda is ready for genetically modified foods” is to be believed, then we have already lost the battle.

This is corroborated by a recent press report citing Monsanto among ‘partners’ to boost agricultural productivity in East Africa. Just like the debate on mosquitoes and DDT, I still find it strange that a scientific fact is subjected to ‘social’ debate.

The intentions of Monsanto are known. Yet we seem to have our priorities elsewhere. If the rumour mill of the ‘campaign billions’ is a measure to go by, then we do truly have our priorities upside down.

Time, energy, money, brains are spent on sentimental issues like the seniority, ‘juniority’ or mediocrity of a cultural leader, while our enslavers are slowly incapacitating the only form of independence we had left: a peasant’s capacity to feed himself. And the next day we globe-trot with a begging bowl in hand!

Like MPs and others, our scientists live in our times: with families and children that need to go with the times. They, therefore, have to lean where the buttered side of the bread is stacked. This explains Mugoya’s shameless arguments. It is not his inner persona nor his scientific knowledge talking. It is is his stomach: very human!

If Parliament can be recalled from recess, public hearings organised to debate who is or is not a cultural leader is, WHY NOT DO THE SAME TO DEBATE THIS THREATENING MONSTER MONSANTO? (mark the pun!). Or is Parliament itself already compromised?

Remember ‘The Confessions of an Economic Hitman’? It is such that make those who argue for the actual takeover of the real powers more relevant than our pretensions to sovereignty!

Amon Mbekiza
Kampala

Published on: Saturday, 15th January, 2011

SEE THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Monsanto Voted Most Evil Corporation of the Year by NaturalNews Readers

Monsanto Voted Most Evil Corporation of the Year by NaturalNews Readers

After taking nominations for the Most Evil Corporation of the Year survey from our readers, we hosted an online survey that allowed readers to vote on this question. Over 16,000 readers voted in our online survey from January 5 through 9, 2011.

Astonishingly, fifty-one percent of all votes went to Monsanto as the Most Evil Corporation of the year. This means Monsanto wins the top prize by a huge margin.

Taking second place was the Federal Reserve, with twenty percent of the votes. This is especially intriguing because it means that NaturalNews are well informed about the fact that the Federal Reserve is not a government entity but rather a corporate entity that serves the profit interests of the global banking cartel.

The other corporations included in the survey (along with their vote results) are:

British Petroleum 9%
Halliburton 5%
McDonalds 3%
Pfizer 2%
Merck 2%
Wal-Mart 2%
Nestle 1%
Other 7%

(Note: The total slightly exceeds 100% due to rounding on the part of the survey host.)

Monsanto Voted Most Evil Corporation of the Year by NaturalNews Readers

Friday, January 14, 2011

Why WikiLeaks Matters (from The Nation)

This is from and article, Why WikiLeaks Matters on The Nation:

"It's necessary to do this because most in the US media, after brief coverage, provided little follow-up. Consider the scope of even this very limited list of revelations:


§ The Saudis, our allies, are among the leading funders of international terrorism.

§ The scale of corruption in Afghanistan tops even the worst estimates. President Hamid Karzai regularly releases major drug dealers who have political connections. His half-brother is a major drug operator.

§ The Pentagon basically lied to the public in downplaying sectarian violence in Iraq. Our military handed over many detainees they knew would be tortured to the Iraqis. US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of torture and abuse by Iraqi police and military.

§ After the release of the Iraq logs, new tallies put the number of documented civilian casualties there at more than 100,000. The Afghanistan logs similarly showed many more civilians killed there than previously known, along with once-secret US assassination missions against insurgents.

§ The British government assured Washington that our interests would be protected in its 'independent' public inquiry into the Iraq War.

§ The Pakistani government has allowed its intelligence unit to hold strategy sessions with the Taliban. Despite longstanding denials, the United States has indeed been conducting special ops inside Pakistan and taking part in joint operations with the Pakistanis.

§ The Yemenis have lied to their own people, taking credit for air attacks on militants in that country—but it was the United States that did the job. The Yemeni president gave us an 'open door' to combat terrorism. Washington has secretly shipped arms to the Saudis for use in Yemen.

§ The Saudis, contrary to their public statements, want us to bomb Iran. So do some other countries in the region—or so they say in private.

§ Our State Department asked our diplomats at the United Nations to spy on others, including the secretary general, even aiming to retrieve credit card numbers.

§ At last we got to read in full the historic 1990 memo from US Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie before Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and the first Gulf War.

§ The Obama administration worked with Republicans to protect Bush officials who faced a criminal investigation in Spain for alleged torture.

§ Pope Benedict XVI impeded an investigation into alleged child sex abuse within the Catholic Church in Ireland.

§ Bribery and corruption mark the Boeing versus Airbus battle for plane sales. 'United States diplomats were acting like marketing agents, offering deals to heads of state and airline executives whose decisions could be influenced by price, performance and, as with all finicky customers with plenty to spend, perks,' the New York Times reported early this month.

§ Israel destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007.

§ US diplomats have been searching for countries that will take Guant√°namo detainees, often bargaining with them; the receiving country might get a one-on-one meeting with Obama or some other perk.

§ Among several startling revelations about control of nuclear supplies: highly enriched uranium has been waiting in Pakistan for more than three years for removal by an American team.

§  The U.S. embassy in Paris advised Washington to start a military-style trade war against any European Union country which opposed genetically modified (GM) crops.

§ The British have trained a Bangladeshi paramilitary force that human rights organizations consider a 'government death squad.'"

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE

Costco

   In discussing the decision to focus our efforts on getting out of debt, the wife and I talked about shopping at Costco more to save money. Once upon a time, we shopped there with some regularity, but as we became more interested in local, organic, and sustainable we found that the annual membership fee was more than what we saved on the few items we actually bought there. Recently, my uncle mentioned that he stopped shopping at Costco because, as a single person living alone, he was tired of throwing out food.

(I talk about Costco rather than Sam's Club for what should be obvious reasons to anyone who has read other posts on this blog. Sam's Club is Wal-Mart, and Wal-Mart is a business to which I can not give my money.)

   We have made a couple trips to Costco since discussing it. Costco hasn't changed a lot, but I found it has changed some. While I have to agree that many items offered at Costco are not really practical for a single person (or even a small family in a lot of cases (no pun intended)), I did find a few items that are going to save us money in the long run. Things like salt, pepper, oil, vinegar, beans, rice, sugar, and flour can be stored for a long time and stocked up on for less money in the long run. We found a five pound block of Tillamook cheese, but agreed that we might not be able to eat that much before having serious mold issues. We could cut it up and freeze it, but then we came across a two and a half pound block that was actually a better deal then the five pound block. Perfect! Non-food items that we use regularly like food-storage bags, plastic wrap, and batteries will also save us money in the long run. I wish they sold canning jars and lids!

   After talking about it, we did decide to compromise on a few items when it comes to local, organic, and sustainable. The process of lessening one's ecological footprint is just that -- a process. We're not perfect, there is still a lot we can do, and if we have to take a small step back to get out of debt, we are willing to do that for now. We'll see how it goes. Things we can't get locally like olives, for example. I have been impressed, however, at the number of organic items Costco carries these days.

   Sure, it isn't cheap the first time out when stocking up on several things at once, but I've already noticed grocery trips being less expensive (not to mention quicker and easier!). We still get our meat from the local butcher and what produce we buy comes from the local produce stand. We also have quite a bit of food that we canned this fall.

   Between the garden, the butcher, the produce stand, canning, and Costco, what we need from the "conventional" grocery store is very little.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Walmart NY campaign responds to local backlash - PRWeek US

Walmart NY campaign responds to local backlash - PRWeek US

As a counterattack to those charming, indifferent New Yorkers who took notice of its plans to open city locations, retail giant Walmart launched a PR, print, online, radio, and direct mail campaign focused largely on job creation. Though we all learned something from its microsite, riddled with fun facts - 71% of the city's residents are in favor of the news - it hasn't necessarily fended off the local opposition - cue the Fiddler on the Roof ghosts - showing that for every two jobs it creates, it will likely kill three, according to a report by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Hunter College. The microsite also includes supportive videos, polling, a petition, and a Twitter share function.

Walmart NY campaign responds to local backlash - PRWeek US

Partisan Puzzle

   I hear in the media how "conservatives" are annoyed that "progressives" want to drag everyone back in time and stand in the way of "free markets".

   Then a new political party forms, calls itself the Tea Party "to remind you how this country was founded over 230 years ago", and appears to be almost entirely made up of "conservative" voters.

   A lot has happened in the past couple hundred years. What would happen if we all admitted that and then had an honest discussion? Was there a time when "progressives" stood for progress and "conservatives" stood for conservation? What do any of these labels really mean?

   I want someone to start a Norman Rockwell Party.

   I just want to see who shows up.

Monday, January 10, 2011

2011 Resolutions

   As I covered over the past year, I think New Year's Resolutions in general are clich√©, but I have learned the value of setting goals, writing them down, and revisiting them from time to time. The beginning of the year seems to me to be as good a time as any to do it.

   This year I am simplifing my resolutions a bit. Instead of a long list of specifics I only have a handful of general goals. The primary reason for doing this is, as I mentioned in Reloading, Revenue, and Resolutions, the wife and I have agreed to committing this year to seriously reducing our debt if not getting out of debt entirely. This is the focus this year. As such, I am hesitant to make goals about cheesemaking or hunting because I need to save money and put it toward paying down our debt. Cheesemaking requires tools and ingredients I do not currently have and hunting is just plain expensive (see Hunting Is A Form Of Gambling). My wife and I want to buy property and start a small farm. Getting out of debt is the next step toward that goal.

   I do wish to continue the things that I have included in years past that are more lifestyle oriented. Things like the garden, exercise, doing things with my son, and eating food, not too much, mostly plants. I will continue this blog and hopefully do more with it this year. I will probably try to learn to bake and get back into homebrewing regularly since those kinds of things will save us money.

   I have two other things that I would like to do this year, but have not decided which and I will not be able to do them both simultaneously. One is a music/business project that, if I decide to go forward with it, it will take up a lot of time and energy. If I opt out of the music project, I have several writing project ideas and I will pick one and do it.

   So, there you go! It's going to be a difficult year, but I'm up to the challenge!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Reloading, Revenue, and Resolutions

   While it is nice to have the craziness of the holidays done for another year, it is never as simple as one might hope. I was really looking forward to things getting back to "normal" after New Year's but, of course, that has yet to happen. Each season brings it's own challenges.

   Not all challenges are unwelcome, of course! Over the holiday my mother sent a generous gift box that included some reloading tools and supplies. With the hunting season over, the gardens in frost, and backpacking season not quite here (for me, at least), it seems that now is a great time to get out the reloading gear, take inventory, and practice reloading a few rounds. In doing so I made the realization that some of the supplies I was handed down last year were not what I thought they were. I still had enough of everything to do most of what I wanted to do. The new tools were a nice upgrade and made the whole process more accurate and efficient. I find myself low on a couple supplies and needing to stock up on some items.

   This won't happen as soon as I might like...

   My work schedule has settled down from the erratic holiday shuffle, but in a strange twist of events I find myself working more for less pay. It's a long story of restructuring and adjusting pay schedules to deal with the fact that people are going out less and not spending as much, but the end result is that most of this month I am working five nights a week and making less than I did working two nights a year ago. I need to talk with my employers about this to try and sort out a solution.

   To make matters just a little worse, I was contacted by the state Department of Revenue recently regarding my "business" and informed that I am liable for two and a half years of back taxes. Here's the backstory in a nut: about a decade ago I became self-employed as I began earning an income as an entertainer. I have worked for several companies but, for the most part, I work for one company at a time who makes my schedule and dictates pay. It's a lot like being an employee, without the benefits (welcome to entertainment). Before moving to Washington in 2008, I worked like this over the course of living in two different states, but I also traveled and did some work in a handful of other states. I've always filed and paid my taxes accordingly. Upon moving to Washington State I continued working as I had the past seven years. At the beginning of 2009 I filed my taxes and was told Washington has no income tax. In 2010 the state did an audit of the company I now work for and sent me a letter in November saying that my "business" (i.e. me) has been operating in the state without a license. I left several phone messages over a week before getting a call back to ask what exactly was going on. I was informed of the audit and told that, as a business, I needed to file for a license and pay taxes for any work done in the state dating back to 2002. When I said that this was all news to me and I had been working this way for several years out of at least two other states I was told, "you'll probably find that Washington doesn't do a lot of things quite the way other states do." Okay. When I asked how I was supposed to know that I needed to do any of the things of which I was now two and a half years delinquent I was informed that this was the most common way it worked: you do your job and eventually that state will find you. How fair and efficient, I thought.

   I now have all the paperwork done and have my business license. The next step is to file twelve quarters worth of back taxes before the end of the month. I sat down to do this yesterday, but with categories such as, "Slaughtering, Breaking and Processing Perishable Meat; Manufacturing Wheat into Flour, Soybean & Canola Processing", and, "Prescription Drug Warehousing; Bio/Alcohol Fuel, Split/Proc Dried Peas, or Mfg. Fresh Fruit and Veg." (seriously -- these are just two of many tax classifications taken directly from the state website), I was unable to find a classification into which my "business" fit. There is a telephone helpline, but it only operates during normal business hours, Monday through Friday. Hopefully I will be able to reach someone tomorrow who will walk me through the tax classifications and we will discover that I don't actually owe anything. Not likely, I know. Even if that did happen I am certain they would have a revision in place to include me by next quarter.

   The state tax thing comes at a particularly bad time as my wife and I had previously agreed that we would commit to one joint resolution this year to pay down our debt and, at the very least, pay off our credit cards. I hate that we have credit card debt. Before moving across country (again) in 2008, we had no credit card debt. Then the opportunity to return to the northwest presented itself. We knew that I would take a small pay decrease and that our cost of living would go up a little, but we had reason to believe my pay would go up after three months and we were able to find an affordable living situation. We financed much of the move with our credit cards expecting that we would be able to pay them off as we had when we moved to the east coast three years earlier. Instead, the housing bubble burst, the economy took a dive, and my pay has actually decreased over time. The result is that we still have credit card debt on top of school loans, a bank loan, and a hospital bill.

   Last year we were able to put away money to pay for a trip back east for a wedding in October. We also were able to finish outfitting ourselves for backpacking. While these things were done on tight budgets, the sum of those things represents a good chunk of cash and we realize that if we make the same commitment to paying down our debt we should make considerable progress over the course of the year.

   I have more on New Year Resolutions, but I will save that for next time, as well as an update on our tax situation.

   Happy New Year, everyone!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Wikileaks cable: GM foods pushed by US French embassy - San Jose Libertarian | Examiner.com

I posted something about this last week, I believe, but it's still making headlines:

'Mission Paris recommends that that the USG reinforce our negotiating position with the EU on agricultural biotechnology by publishing a retaliation list when the extend "Reasonable Time Period" expires.'

The cable goes on to cite France's pivotal role in the EU's acceptance of GM crops, and the need for the United states to:

'calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the worst culprits.'

In defense of this position, the cable's author makes the following claim in paragraph 5:

'... farmers, once they have had experience with biotech, become its staunchest supporters.'

The cable also makes numerous references to 'MON-810,' better known as YieldGard.

Wikileaks cable: GM foods pushed by US French embassy - San Jose Libertarian | Examiner.com

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A New Year

   It took an unbelievably long time to get out of downtown Seattle tonight.

   The holidays are over and it is time to start a new year.

   Happy New Year to you and yours!

   Let's do something incredible this year.