Saturday, April 30, 2011

Supreme Court denies right of farm workers to unionize

It's not just the U.S....

Supreme Court denies right of farm workers to unionize

By Sharon Hill, Postmedia News April 29, 2011

WINDSOR, Ont. — The Supreme Court of Canada has abandoned Ontario's farm workers and the charter of rights has failed them, UFCW Canada national president Wayne Hanley said Friday after the union lost a 16-year court battle to allow agricultural workers to unionize.

"We are shocked that the Supreme Court of Canada has treated agricultural workers differently here in Ontario than any other worker," Hanley said at a Toronto news conference after the ruling was released.

In an 8-1 decision, the Supreme Court sided with the province, ruling its Agricultural Employees Protection Act does not infringe on the charter. At issue was the freedom of association. The act allows workers to form associations to take complaints to employers and if needed to a tribunal, but it doesn't allow collective bargaining.

"The Supreme Court of Canada has abandoned agriculture workers here in Ontario in their plight for dignity and respect," Hanley said.

[READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE: Supreme Court denies right of farm workers to unionize]

Thursday, April 28, 2011

General Update

   Here's what's up in our world:

   The wife's serger is still in the shop. Turns out it needs a needle plate (?), so that's going to take another 7-10 days. Bummer. It's just as well as the sewing table probably won't be here for another couple weeks (being delivered by mother-in-law from Oregon) and we're not making speedy progress in getting the computer backed up that is currently on the desk where the sewing table will go. We need to get on that.

   The outdoor seeds have not sprouted. The weather is continuing to dip 5-10 degrees below normal every night and sunshine is still sparse. It's almost May! C'mon, spring! The indoor seeds are doing well -- all but the wonderberry and marmande tomatoes. I have replanted marmande seeds (again). Hopefully the weather will warm up before the tomatoes and peppers get too big!

   The CDs we hung around the garden seem to be doing an excellent job. I've seen the crows several times but have yet to see a bird in our front yard.

   The chickens were moved this afternoon from the side yard to the backyard. The backyard still has spots that haven't fully recovered, but we'll try to keep the chicken tractor away from those areas this round. The side yard is not flat and the neighbors have a new puppy that makes us (and the chickens) a little nervous, so it's nice to get them out of there.

   I am just waiting for one sunny day to take the tent and backpacks outside and treat them with UV/waterproof spray. If I can make time and the weather cooperates Monday or Tuesday, perhaps the family and I will take a drive and possibly do a day hike up around Mt. Rainier. Here's hoping!

   Tomorrow I plan to make the final payment and close the account on a loan I've been nursing for 16 years! I'm not proud to have has this debt for so long, but I am thrilled to be putting it behind me. It's amazing how easy it is to pay things off when there are less of them to pay each month!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

USDA moves to let Monsanto perform its own environmental impact studies on GMOs

   From Grist, by Tom Philpott:

   Last August, Federal Judge Jeffrey White issued a stinging rebuke to the USDA for its process on approving new genetically modified seeds. He ruled that the agency's practice of "deregulating" novel seed varieties without first performing an environmental impact study violated the National Environmental Policy Act.

   The target of Judge White's ire was the USDA's 2005 approval of Monsanto's Roundup Ready sugar beets, engineered to withstand doses of the company's own herbicide. White's ruling effectively revoked the approval of Monsanto's novel beet seeds pending an environmental impact study, and cast doubt upon the USDA's notoriously industry-friendly way of regulating GM seeds.

   A rigorous environmental impact assessment would not likely be kind to Roundup Ready sugar beets. First, sugar-beet seeds are cultivated mainly in Oregon's Willamette Valley, also an important seed-production area for crops closely related to sugar beets, such as organic chard and table beets. The engineered beets could easily cross-pollinate with the other varieties, causing severe damage to a key resource for organic and other non-GMO farmers. Second, Monsanto's already-unregulated Roundup Ready crops -- corn, soy, and cotton -- have unleashed a plague of Roundup-resistant "superweeds," forcing farmers to apply ever-higher doses of Roundup and other weed-killing poisons. Finally, the Roundup herbicide itself is proving much less ecologically benign than advertised, as Tom Laskawy has shown.

   How has the Obama USDA responded to Judge White's rebuke? By repeatedly defying it, most recently in February, when the agency moved to allow farmers to plant the engineered seeds even though the impact study has yet to be completed. Its rationale for violating the court order will raise an eyebrow of anyone who read Gary Taubes' recent New York Times Magazine piece teasing out the health hazards of the American sweet tooth: the USDA feared that the GMO sugar beet ban would cause sweetener prices to rise. Thus the USDA places the food industry's right to cheap sweetener for its junk food over the dictates of a federal court.

   In early April, the USDA made what I'm reading as a second response to Judge White, this one even more craven. To satisfy the legal system's pesky demand for environmental impact studies of novel GMO crops, the USDA has settled upon a brilliant solution: let the GMO industry conduct its own environmental impact studies, or pay other researchers to. The USDA announced the program in the Federal Register for April 7, 2011 [PDF].

   The biotech/agrichemical industry has applauded the new plan. Karen Batra of the Biotechnology Industry Organization told the Oregon-based ag journal Capital Press that the program will likely speed up the registration process for GMO crops and make the USDA's approach less vulnerable to legal challenges like the rebuke from Judge White. Capital Press summed up Batra's assessment of the plan like this: "The pilot program will not only help move crops through the process more quickly, but the added resources will also help the documents hold up in court."

   In other words, the industry plans to produce studies that find its novel products environmentally friendly, and fully expects the USDA to accept their assessments. Judge White had ruled that the USDA should be more rigorous in assessing the risks of new GMO crops, yet his decision seems to be having the opposite effect. No doubt the USDA's latest scheme reflects the administration's stated desire to not be too "burdensome" in regulating industry.


Food Costs May Top Record as Global Inflation Accelerates

   The good news is, it's not too late to start planting a garden and looking for local sources of healthy food.

   From Bloomberg Businessweek, by Tony C. Dreibus:

April 26 (Bloomberg) -- Global food prices may rise 4.4 percent to a record by the end of the year, driven by demand for meat, oilseeds and grains used to make ethanol, adding to costs that mean inflation is accelerating from the U.S. to China.

The United Nations’ Food Price Index may climb to 240 points from 229.84 last month, said William Adams, a fund manager at Zurich-based Resilience AG, which has $22.2 million of assets. Global corn stockpiles are shrinking the most in seven years, inventories of nine edible oils will drop to the lowest since 1974 and U.S. beef stocks will be the smallest since 1999, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates.

“The stockpiles are being severely depleted,” said Adams, who correctly forecast gains in heating oil and gasoline prices last year. “Eventually it gets to the consumer. The U.S. government isn’t subsidizing pork chops like it is ethanol.”

The cost of living in the U.S. rose at its fastest pace since December 2009 in the 12 months ended in March. Chinese consumer prices rose last month by the most since 2008. The People’s Bank of China raised borrowing costs four times since October and the European Central Bank increased rates on April 7 for the first time since 2008. World Bank President Robert Zoellick said April 16 that the world is “one shock away” from a crisis in food supply and prices.

Price Report

The UN’s food-price index, which covers 55 commodities, reached an all-time high of 236.8 points in February, before dropping by about 3 percent in March. The next report is scheduled for May 5.
Costlier food contributed to riots across northern Africa and the Middle East that toppled leaders in Egypt and Tunisia. It also drove 44 million people into poverty in the past year and another 10 million may join them should the UN index rise another 10 percent, the World Bank said April 16. Consumers should get used to paying more because farmers will take years to expand production enough to meet demand, the International Monetary Fund said in a first-quarter report.

Wheat traded on the Chicago Board of Trade, a global benchmark, jumped 75 percent in the past 12 months, soybeans gained 38 percent and corn more than doubled. U.S. wholesale beef prices are up 13 percent this year and pork costs 22 percent more, USDA data show.

While the gains increase costs for consumers they also mean U.S. farmers, the world’s biggest agricultural exporters, will earn a record $94.7 billion this year, the USDA estimates. North Dakota, the largest wheat-growing state, has a jobless rate of 3.6 percent, the lowest of any state.

‘Their Moment’

“There are not a lot of opportunities like this for farmers,” Adams said. “Raw materials are actually at a premium, so this is their moment.”

Consumers are unlikely to make major cutbacks on meat purchases even as beef and pork prices jump, USDA’s Chief Economist Joe Glauber said yesterday. Some may opt for cheaper cuts, Glauber said.
Prices for meat, poultry and fish will jump 5 percent to 6 percent in 2011, led by beef, which may climb 8 percent, and pork, which could gain 7.5 percent, the USDA said in a report.

U.S. Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Janet Yellen said April 11 that higher food and fuel costs will have only a temporary impact on inflation and the gains do not warrant a reversal of record monetary stimulus.
The use of some crops is also gaining because of demand for alternative fuels after oil traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 33 percent in the past year. Denatured ethanol, which contains additives to make it unfit for human consumption, rose 65 percent on the CBOT over the same period.

Biofuels Factor

Demand for U.S. corn from ethanol producers including Archer Daniels Midlands Co. will rise 9.5 percent to 5 billion bushels this year, equal to 40 percent of the national crop, USDA data show. U.S. lawmakers introduced legislation last month to scrap a 45-cent-a-gallon tax credit for producers.

“Biofuels, including ethanol, are a factor, but a relatively minor one” in food costs, Michael Baroni, vice president of economic policy at Decatur, Illinois-based ADM, said in an e-mail.

U.S. ethanol makers use 3 percent of global grain supply and produce 38 million metric tons of distillers grain and gluten used in animal feed, according to the Washington-based Renewable Fuels Association, which represents the industry.

U.S. corn stockpiles will fall to 675 million bushels by Aug. 31, from 1.7 billion bushels, the USDA estimates.
“Ethanol producers may be confronted with a squeeze on corn supplies during the late summer months,” F.O. Licht, a commodity researcher based in Ratzeburg, Germany, said in a report this month.


19 Studies Link GMO Foods to Organ Disruption

A new paper demonstrates that consuming genetically modified (GM) food leads to significant organ disruptions in rats and mice. Researchers reviewed data from 19 studies and found that parameters including blood and urine biochemistry and organ weights were significantly disrupted in the GM-fed animals.
The kidneys of males were the most affected, experiencing 43.5 percent of all the changes. The livers of females followed at more than 30 percent. Other organs may have been affected too, including the heart and spleen, and blood cells.
According to the Institute for Responsible Technology:
"The GM soybean and corn varieties used in the feeding trials 'constitute 83 percent of the commercialized GMOs' that are currently consumed by billions of people. While the findings may have serious ramifications for the human population, the authors demonstrate how a multitude of GMO-related health problems could easily pass undetected through the superficial and largely incompetent safety assessments that are used around the world."
Further, the biotechnology firm Monsanto is only an FDA approval away from its latest monstrosity -- soybeans that have been genetically modified to produce omega-3 fats. That FDA approval is expected this year.
Monsanto plans to include GM soybean oil in every product it can -- baked goods, baking mixes, breakfast cereals, cheeses, frozen dairy desserts, pasta, gravies and sauces, fruit juices, snack foods, candy, soups, and more.
According to Forbes:
"Monsanto is so despised by environmentalists that Google's first suggested search term for the St. Louis company is 'Monsanto evil.' Readers ... voted Monsanto the world's most evil corporation in a January poll, giving the corporation a whopping 51 percent of the vote."
Scientists have also introduced human genes into 300 dairy cows in a process that they say will cause the cows to produce milk with the same properties as human breast milk. They believe that this could provide an alternative to formula milk for babies.
Critics of GM technology questioned the safety of milk from genetically modified animals, and also its potential effect on the cattle's health.
According to the Telegraph:
"The researchers used cloning technology to introduce human genes into the DNA of Holstein dairy cows before the genetically modified embryos were implanted into surrogate cows ... [T]he researchers said they were able to create cows that produced milk containing a human protein called lysozyme."



   The Family and I spent Easter with family in Portland. I missed the early Sunday festivities (it's difficult to work into the wee hours in Seattle and attend morning appointments in Portland), but was mostly present for the family gathering afterward (in all honesty my sleep schedule is still off). We had a nice evening just wife, son, mother-in-law, and myself. The wife and I talked about how our jobs are up and down. Mother-in-law had great stories of poor-laid plans, misplaced dogs, and over-abundances of ducks. By the time we retired to bed we had all been up later than expected.

   Monday morning we bid farewell to mother-in-law as we departed town and headed north. We made a few stops, including lunch at McMenamins. I popped into REI to pick up a hiking map and book for Mt. Rainier. Not sure what this backpacking season has in store -- I'm  not abandoning the Olympics, but I like the idea of exploring new territory. I also picked up a filter replacement for the water filter and stuff to clean and treat the tent. I washed the tent but will have to wait until the weather is more stable to take it outside, treat it with UV and water-proofing, and reseal the seams.

   The chickens are well. The garden hasn't begun to sprout yet, but the indoor sprouts are doing very well! I've been spending as much time in my new "five-finger" running/hiking shoes as possible. I think it's time to start exploring day-hikes around Mt. Rainier!

   I have some new ideas about the music/writing project I committed to choosing that I might decide to take on. I am disappointed that the writing (and the exercise, for that matter) has taken so long to start in on. I have let enough time lapse that spring and summer will now overtake any indoor project. That's fine, though, I now have several options to mull over while toiling in the garden and exploring the great outdoors. 

   I'm so happy spring is finally here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Beans and Sewing Machines

   Today was not as productive as I'd hoped. I have one lesson that I teach each week and it fell through. The other appointment that I had also fell through.

   My wife did get her serger (overlocking sewing machine) in to be serviced. We have been discussing curtains for the living room to replace the blinds and a cover for the futon, so we looked at some ideas there. At least on the curtains she agreed that she could probably make some that fit better and that we liked better for less than what we could buy. We did buy a new glass measuring cup and a set of stainless steel measuring spoons in our continuing effort to cut down on plastic, especially in the kitchen. We also stocked up on a few essentials at Costco.

   After we returned home we took advantage of the blue skies as we moved the chickens and picked up the yard a bit. I made a quick run to the grocery store, made a payment on yet another debt, and finished replanting this round of indoor seed starts.

   The family spent the rest of the evening relaxing. After the son went to bed the wife and I finished the pinto bean canning project. As I type this the cans are cooling and the lids are beginning to pop sealed. They look great and I am looking forward to trying them out!

   All day long I wore my new "barefoot" shoes. I am feeling it in my calves and arches. Time to get back in shape...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Another Productive Day

   This morning the house was cold. Yesterday had been an usually long Sunday and I lacked the ambition to get a fire going in the wood stove. So I woke up this morning, made coffee, and  cranked up the wood stove. Once the wife and son were up we loaded in a supply of firewood and had breakfast.

   Then we set outside where the garden beds were waiting for us. They had been mulched, composted, and turned and all that was left was to put seeds in the ground. We've been patiently watching the weather forecast and putting off planting. Today was the day!

   The hops were way ahead of us...

    By the time we were done we had planted onions, broccoli, carrots, spinach, lettuce, peas, green beans, cucumbers, squash, radishes, cabbage, cilantro, dill, thyme, sage, and basil. We left space for the tomatoes and peppers that are still under the grow lamp inside.

   In the picture you can see last year's oregano still going strong in the foreground. Some of the herbs are in the pots under the tree. The CDs are hung up to deter the crows and other neighborhood birds. 

   Speaking of neighborhood birds, the chickens were also waiting for us this morning. Here they are scratching in the new grass just after being moved.

   We did a few more chores around the yard. While we were out the mail came and along with it... new shoes! A few weeks back we were in REI and I tried on some Vibram Five Finger running and hiking shoes. They're supposed to be the next best thing to barefoot without having to worry about things like broken glass and whatnot. Because your legs and feet use different muscles on bare feet it is recommended to start slow. Because I am out of shape after an embarrassingly lethargic winter I was inclined to do just that. The wife and I went for a couple-mile walk while the son rode his bike.

   Before calling it a day we prepped some pinto beans for canning tomorrow.

   Tomorrow's going to be another big day! 


   The seeds have begun to sprout! The sunflowers have taken off and will be transplanted into the peat pots tomorrow. The peppers are doing very well and there are even a couple tomato sprouts!

   Besides planting the sunflowers in the peat pots, we plan to start planting veggie seeds in the garden beds outside tomorrow.

   Hopefully I will have more pictures to post soon!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I Hate Credit Cards: Part III

   The other day I received a statement in the mail from the second-to-the-last credit card to have been paid off. Despite the card having been paid off, the statement showed the current balance as $11.32.

   WTF!?!? Okay, okay, after my last experience with this I pretty much knew what was going on. Credit cards, it turns out, calculate interest daily, but do not add that interest to the balance until the end of each billing cycle. So, even if you get your balance online (which one might think would be a real-time balance), and pay it online on the day, you are not actually paying the total due. Why would they keep this information from you?

   Why do you think?

   Unfortunately for me, we paid this one off before getting the statement from the second-to-the-last card, so I was not yet aware of this evil device when we paid this last card off. I decided to make a phone call.

   After the typical phone-key menu designed to make a person hang up in frustration I finally reached a human being. I explained the dates and balance paid and reasons for believing that I did not actually owe them another $11.32. The call center professional then began reading their script about how purchases are added...

   I stopped him. "We haven't used this card in over a year. There were no new purchases."

   He said, "If you would let me continue..." and proceeded to explain how balances are carried over.

   I knew exactly what was going on -- they took nine days worth of interest and fees and applied it against the balance before it was paid off. I was arguing that if I took the balance from their website it should be real-time and there should be no balance.

   At this point the call was dropped.

   I hate cell phones.

   I called back. Understand, I knew how it worked and that I was playing their game and they make the rules. The last card I dealt with dropped these charges because, let's face it, it's petty money grubbing. So I get a new call center professional on the line who reads me the exact same script. I have the same argument until I get tired of being told that I am the one who does not understand by a person who clearly can not work off-script. I keep explaining that, if I paid the balance off during the last billing cycle, how do I know that they aren't going to send me a bill next month for the interest and fees on $11.32?

   "What do I have to do to pay this thing off and never have to deal with you people again?!"

   I was transferred to an executive who tried very hard to save me from ruining my credit by closing such a important account. This person was able to immediately waive the interest charges "as a courtesy" before I had a chance to ask. I explained my frustration in paying off the card and then receiving a bill that the card still carried a balance and complained about their practice.

   I was then offered to have all charges waived except for a $.09 fee which was handled by a different office and given the phone number for that office. As I was about to agree to these terms, keep the account open, and call the next office about the last $.09 (which I would have paid regardless of principal), I was told that the others fees were not able to be waived. So I'm back at interest waived, but I still owe all of the fees.

   I said, "How can I pay this off, close the account, and never have to deal with [bank name here] again?"

   After another volley of how bad the bank would feel for me to lose this grand gold star on my credit report I assured them that I would be just fine to never speak with them again.

   I paid $5.09 and felt simultaneously free and like I was taken for a chump.

   The balance has shifted too far to Hamilton. If we're really going to make important decisions based on the people and events of 200+ years ago, we need to understand all of the founders. Personally, I'll take Adams and Jefferson.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Washer Update

   It's been three weeks since the arrival of the new washing machine and I am still pretty happy with it.

   We received our water bill and I was disappointed to note that our water use did not go down -- in fact it was almost exactly the same as last month and slightly more than this month last year. I quickly made two important realizations.

   1) Our dishwasher was broken for most of last month. The landlord approved my ordering replacement parts and fixing it myself, but while that was figured out, the parts ordered, and the repair made, we were hand washing everything. As much water as dishwashers use, hand washing tends to use more. I usually use the gathered water from the dehumidifier to rinse dishes and use the water-miser setting on the washer, so I can see how hand washing the dishes may have had an impact here.

   2) Also, in our excitement over the added capacity of the washer and it's allergy and sanitizing options, we got a jump on the spring cleaning and have been washing EVERYTHING. Blankets, rugs, pillows, curtains, you name it -- it's been through the wash. While I still doubt we've averaged eight loads a week even in this short, high use time frame, we have been using it a lot more than we normally would. We're also using more intensive cycles than the average day-to-day washing. Having used the machine for a few weeks now, I believe our average use will be about three loads a week -- a load of "normal" wash, a load of pants/jeans, and one other that will vary between whites, towels, the pink/red/purple/ultracoldwaterload, etc.

   It's also worth noting that the water bill period was three days longer this year than last. While three days does not make up the difference between 79 gallons a day and 87 gallons a day on average, I think the other factors help to explain the difference. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next few months (assuming we do not have to relocate).

   In other water news, I have started the process of draining the rain barrels and cleaning them out so they can refill with fresh water for the summer. Today I intend to get up on the roof to brush off the moss and fir needles and clean out the gutters.

   In gardening news, we have sunflower, green pepper, and yellow pepper sprouts under the grow light! My hops that survived from last year are also making a healthy comeback. The forecast calls for one overnight low of 31 in the next ten days. Between that and ongoing uncertainty over the rent and my job, we are continuing to delay further seed sowing.

   I really want to put seeds in the ground...

Monday, April 11, 2011

For the first time, food becomes a political priority

For the first time, food becomes a political priority 
From Monday's Globe and Mail

For the first time in Canadian electoral history, the edible is political.

Each of the country’s federal parties have included strategies in their electoral platforms that, to varying degrees, highlight food as a distinct priority separate from agriculture.

The Conservative policy, announced Sunday, most closely resembles a traditional agriculture policy, with its focus on efforts to sustain the family farm and boost exports, while the Liberals and New Democrats aim to foster unprecedented co-operation between government departments dealing with the production, distribution, sale and consumption of food.

Building on a growing middle-class awareness of the pressures on the global food system, all parties acknowledge the need for some sort of long-term national strategy. What separates them are their degrees of willingness to expand their focus beyond the farm.

The fact that food is mentioned across all five electoral platforms is being hailed as a victory for the global food movement, which has already nudged a handful of European nations to implement long-term policies.

“The conversation is changing radically to be able to talk about a food policy,” said Harriet Friedmann, a world-renowned food policy expert with the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. “… It is a triumph of the food movement of the past 20 years.”

On Monday, the parties will hash out their respective policies at a debate in Ottawa. But one food policy critic said none of the platforms are detailed enough to take seriously.

“None of them really link the food story to health care that well, or to social-policy reform,” said Rod MacRae, a professor at York University who is one of Canada’s foremost experts on the subject. “What they’ve done is pick the low-hanging fruit – the things that are more part of the public consciousness right now.”

Still, strong federal leadership in the national food policy process is critical, he said. “The federal role is to act as the animator, the facilitator, and to use its usual package of sticks and carrots to try and get everybody on board.”


My Letter to President Obama

Mr. President (and administration),

Twelve days ago I received an email with the subject line of Gas Prices that told of your goal to reduce oil imports. I missed the deadline for the Advise the Advisor feedback, but I wanted to share this with you.

It seems clear to me that we have focused too much on consolidation of resources and activities with catastrophic results like "too big to fail". It seems to me business models need to look more like the internet, which is lots of small computers connected to a large network. With businesses growing larger and larger and becoming more and more consolidated, we are creating more and bigger problems.

Two examples of this are directly connected to this energy policy.

1) Solar farms. Why do we feel we must create large solar farms that take up real estate? The sun shines in different areas at different times and we currently have networks of buildings already connected to the power grid all across the country.

Why don't we let the people build new jobs in solar energy and a new "solar internet" of power by creating incentives to make solar affordable to individuals, families, and businesses in the current market and make requirements for new construction to include solar collection? This would reduce power consumption and feed any extra solar power back into the grid.

2) Agriculture. Right now our industrial model of agriculture uses an unbelievable amount of energy that goes into growing, fertilizing, pesticides, packaging, processing, storing, and distribution from a small number of industrial sources to all over the world. This practice is both unsustainable and unsafe (how many eggs had to be recalled last August?). Concentrated agriculture has proven to be an environmental hazard as well.

Why do we not encourage networks of smaller and more diverse farms that are not a burden on nature, closer to the people they feed, and thereby more sustainable? This model can drastically reduce agricultural energy dependence.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


   Here at the homestead, two events happened today:

   First, my job came to an end. That's not exactly accurate -- I'm self-employed and that didn't really change. The company to which I sub-contract (the place where people make my schedule and dictate my pay but isn't "really" my employer) was sold to another party. So that job is over. The new group has indicated that they wish to continue to use me for about half of what I was making before. (I mentioned this in Is This The Moment? about six weeks back.) Tomorrow I will get to find out all of the details of my "new contract". Then I will need to make a decision.

   The second event was the receipt of a notice in the mail that our rent is going up 20%, effective immediately.

   The wife and I had a conversation this evening about possible options. At this moment, all I can say is that I'm glad we didn't have time to get seeds in the ground yet.

Monday, April 4, 2011


   Our heirloom seeds arrived in the mail earlier this week! Tonight the wife and I had time to get the tomatoes and peppers and such started. We're getting a late start -- trouble with the original seed vendor. Better late than never!

   At this point we can probably plant some of the heartier veggies outside in the garden over the next day or two.