Archive for June, 2008


Monday, June 30th, 2008

Okay, I know it’s terribly expensive to hire actual human proofreaders, but I bet the American Family Association is wishing it had made the investment after this snafu. It seems some right-wing sites use Auto-Correct on Associated Press articles to weed out language they find unacceptable. I wonder what the AP thinks about this:

…the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow website takes the phenomenon [auto-correct] one step further with its AP articles. The far-right fundamentalist group replaces the word “gay” in the articles with the word “homosexual.” I’m not entirely sure why, but it seems to make the AFA happy. The group is, after all, pretty far out there.

The problem, of course, is that “gay” does not always mean what the AFA wants it to mean. My friend Kyle reported this morning that sprinter Tyson Gay won the 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials over the weekend. The AFA ran the story, but only after the auto-correct had “fixed” the article.

That means — you guessed it — the track star was renamed “Tyson Homosexual.” The headline on the piece read, “Homosexual eases into 100 final at Olympic trials.”

The eagle eyes at the AFA have since fixed their “fix”, but there is a screen capture here, along with some more examples of proofreading brilliance.

via Shakesville

Bring On the Bees

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

european-honey-beeI promise this isn’t going to turn into a gardening blog — well, not exclusively — but I do want to link to this interesting piece on attracting European honey bees, which includes a recipe that’s supposed to bring the little suckers running…er, flying to pollinate all those flowers that make yummy fruits and vegetables.

Have y’all tried something similar? If so, have you had success?

ETA:  Joe has a post about his own experience raising bees in Vestavia Hills, with some fascinating pictures and video.  Check it out.

They’ll Take Away My Salvia…

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

…when they pry it out of my cold, dead hands. The WTF story for the day (well, aside from this week’s Doctor Who cliffhanger *spoiler alert*) is this one from Loretta Nall. There is a move underway in Alabama to outlaw a particular type of salvia, salvia divinorum, which is apparently a hallucinogen.

Deborah Soule, executive director for the Huntsville-based Partnership for a Drug Free Community, said efforts are currently under way to outlaw the drug once and for all. Since 2007, Soule has personally contacted many of Alabama’s legislators and Gov. Bob Riley to bring attention to the drug.

She had limited success during the last legislative session, when Sen. Roger Bedford Jr. sponsored a bill to make salvia a controlled substance. However, the bill never made it made it out of committee.

“It just got caught up in a log jam of a Republican filibuster,” Bedford said.

To Soule, the real problem with the bill was the lack of education about salvia.

“The biggest problem in the Alabama Legislature is a lot of people didn’t know about it,” Soule said.

Well, goodness, let’s get busy and inform the legislature about this terrible danger lurking in our midst. And, at the same time, clue in the kids who are supposedly at risk. Loretta makes some excellent points here:

Once Ms. Soule, in collusion with our legislative clowns, make it illegal, we will see a huge jump in its use by kids. We’ll see prison imposed for possession of a geranium plant, teens and college kids saddled with felony criminal records (according to Sen. Bedford they are the main consumers), lives ruined, forced treatment, drug court and all kinds of crazy stuff that we don’t see now when it is legal and not widely known all because of the raging, moralistic crusade to outlaw anything that might give someone else pleasure. What will they outlaw next, spinning around in circles until you get dizzy? That also alters ones state of consciousness.

Let me add my concern. How will the salvia police know which plants are illegal? I googled an image of salvia divinorum and came up with the same one Loretta uses at her place, which looks way too similar to pineapple sage. Pineapple sage like the one on my back deck. Yeah, a plant expert could tell them apart, but how many police officers will get botanical training before they’re sent out to fight the terrors of, um, sage? Especially when they can use the guilty-till-proven-innocent asset forfeiture laws to grab houses, cars, and cash from homeowners or plant nurseries that harbor suspect plants.

I’d like to hope our legislators would resist the lure of yet another headline-grabbing “tough on crime” measure, but I’m not holding my breath. Guess I’d better start building a priest’s hole for my pineapple sage. :)

First Cherokee Purple

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

This one’s for Kyle:


Dear Husband has already sampled it, and he pronounced it very good. It doesn’t look purple, and it doesn’t look like liver. It looks yummy! Kyle, I hope you beat back the onslaught of green worms and have a bumper crop.

Rising Stars

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

If you’re looking for a fun (and affordable) activity this evening, head to Canterbury United Methodist Church at 7 pm for The World Goes ‘Round, presented by members of the CenterStage Rising Stars ensemble. This group of eight very talented young people puts on a great show, and even more impressive, they have done it with five days’ rehearsal. And you can see them perform for a $5 donation. Don’t miss this chance to see the future of theatre in Birmingham and beyond!


Friday, June 27th, 2008

I spent an hour or two in the garden this morning, taking care of the tomatoes. The tomato patch was a mess, branches hanging on the ground and lots of extraneous foliage. Now it looks like something out of Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory, with the plants rising out of long-overgrown baskets and clinging to six-foot stakes. I remember back when those tiny seedlings looked like they would never reach the first ring of the baskets.

That was April; this is now:



I did lots of pruning too, so maybe they’ll get busy making more tomatoes instead of growing more leaves.

Here’s my new rule for growing tomatoes. Stake early, prune often. For some reason, I bet that’s not news to anyone who has grown tomatoes in the past. I waited too long to do this, which made it a lot harder. Oh, and those tomato baskets? Yeah, I’ll be leaving those in the garage next year and starting out with stakes in place. I did discover one cool new thing (also likely not news to the experienced tomato grower), velcro plant tape.  It’s amazing!


Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Or something like that. I don’t have the energy to look up the lyrics. And most of y’all are probably too young to remember that song anyway.

It’s hot here. Duh. June in Alabama. The tomatoes are coming along. I missed the first ripe ones, but nephew Zach, who was kind enough to house-and-pet-and-plant-sit while we were on vacation, sampled them and said they were good. It’s not quite as traumatic as missing the baby’s first steps. :) We’ve had a few off the Early Girl and one from the Celebrity, and I picked the first Cherokee Purple yesterday. It wasn’t quite ripe, but I wanted to bring it in before the birds spotted it. I’ll cut it today or tomorrow and see if the inside really does look like raw liver. The jalapeño plants are covered with peppers, and I’ve already made one batch of cornbread.

We added to the herb collection while on vacation, picking up a Kentucky Colonel mint and a tri-color sage. It’s really too bad that I can’t stomach bourbon (a bad experience in my misspent youth), but perhaps someone else would like a mint julep.

The bell pepper seedlings and cilantro plants are coming along. I’m keeping them in pots as my other peppers (except for the jalapeños) aren’t doing too well in the yard. Just rescued the hot banana from the back bed and put it back in a pot; it’s looking pretty pathetic. Zach’s, OTOH, is doing great. He brought it with him when he came over to house-sit, and it has two big honkin’ peppers on it. I should have taken a picture of his and pretended it was mine. Zach, you should post a pic at your place; you definitely get bragging rights.

The cats are enjoying the catnip and other herbs — when they can bestir themselves to chew. I cut a bunch the other day, made pesto with the basil and stuck the rest in a vase.

I promise more politics soon. Cat and garden pictures and a recipe for jalapeño cornbread after the jump.


Happy Summer Solstice!

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Beach pictures:


Beach and dunes from the top of the boardwalk


A blurry picture of the Gulf (sorry about that — it’s hard to tell how the pictures look when I’m outside)


Our house (or the house we rented for the week anyway — we haven’t yet traveled to the alternate universe where we could afford a beach house)


The view from the teenagers’ lair on the top floor

How Green was my Charger

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

Okay, I am totally taking advantage of the power of Glamour/Society Blog access to share a petty rant. Here goes:

DD is still in the wonderful and all-too-brief “I love my new driver’s license! Got any errands you need run?” phase. Last week at Target she grabbed Energizer rechargeable batteries instead of the regular kind, but she was more than happy to go back the next day and buy an Energizer charger to go with them. What the heck, I thought, it’s time for us to be a little greener about battery use (turning off the Wii would probably be the greenest of all, but still, every little bit helps, right?)

I was a little confused when several plastic parts fell out of the package—had I already broken the damned thing just by cutting it out of its clamshell? Then I realized that “Sleek: white, black, silver” on the package copy referred to these parts. Apparently you can change out the faceplate of your Energizer Easy Charger (they make several kinds, and we now own the Easy one) to…to what? Match your decor? Your socioeconomic status? Your mood? (more…)

Tuesday Funny

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

more cat pictures