Oct 1 2009

Finally, Texting While Driving Is Illegal In Maryland. Yay!


Kudos to our Maryland lawmakers who got this one right.  As of today, it is illegal to text behind the wheel.  Now, if they would just outlaw ALL cell phone use while driving.

As an added bonus, teenagers now have to be 18 before they can get their full license.  Still too young IMHO, but a step in the right direction.

If you’re wondering just how dangerous distracted driving is, here’s an excellent, if long, article from the New York Times:

Driven to Distraction, from the New York Times

And if you really want to get serious about the safety of your loved ones, have them make this pledge and sign it.  Everyone in our household has.

Safe Driving Pledge

Sep 13 2009

Is It Safe To Drink The Water?


Bottled water is stupidly expensive and environmentally irresponsible.  Most “city” water is supposed to be safe, but how do you know?  And what about those, like us, who are on a well?  We’ve had ours tested and supposedly it is fine.  I am going to test again with a home kit I picked up, just for peace of mind.  We use a lot of water — just ask CJ about our coffee drinking habits.

In the first eight years of this century, we in the United States seem to have lost a lot of ground in terms of environmental safeguards.  A recent report in the New York Times uncovers just how bad our water safety situation is.  Link here to their interactive map to see your local polluters:

Find out who’s polluting where you live: New York Times interactive

Fortunately, there’s nothing too close to us or too, too alarming.  I hope you, gentle reader, are as fortunate.

The interactive feature in the Times lets you zoom right in on your neighborhood.

The interactive feature in the Times lets you zoom right in on your neighborhood.

Aug 23 2009

Tomato Tragedy: Late Blight Fungus


Well, it’s the worst disaster to hit my tomatoes in all my gardening career.  If you’re a gardener, you know how bad the late blight fungus is this year — a veritable epidemic in the eastern U.S.  Evidently, the cool, damp Spring and a bad infection among some major growers created a perfect storm. You can read the Maryland Cooperative  Extension Service’s info here:

Region’s Tomatoes & Potatoes At Risk of Devastating Disease

I noticed it first on three plants at the end of our “tomato alley.”  But when I went to pull and dispose of those plants the next day, it was clear that the entire crop is infected.  I did pull those three plants as planned — indulging that helpless feeling of having to do something — but I left the rest.  Basically, the fruit that is on the vines is mostly ripening and usable.  Maybe 15% spoiled.  But the vines themselves are rapidly dying off, and no more fruit will be set.

That said, we’ve enjoyed quite a number of tomato sandwiches, and tomato-mozzarella salads, and last night we sent off some of our guests from Nicole’s send-off party with small bags of tomatoes, and today I made maybe 5 or 6 quarts of homemade tomato sauce.  But we won’t be doing the massive canning that we anticipated.

It’s sad, because the plants were so big and beautiful and loaded with nice fruit.  I just hope the fungus doesn’t overwinter.  It typically does not, but there is concern that it may have mutated.  We’ll take some precautions.  Meantime…

Lessons Learned

  1. Plant further apart.  No matter how far I space them, it’s never enough.  I will plant fewer and further apart next year.
  2. Be cautious about evening watering.  I’ve never been too disciplined about this; after all, it rains at night, right?  But I’ll avoid this practice in the future.
  3. Water from the bottom.  I will set up a drip or seeping irrigation system next year.  I’ve always meant to do this.  Now I have incentive.
  4. Start our own plants exclusively.  I really doubt any of the plants from Dana’s, our favorite nursery, brought it here, but who knows?

Jul 21 2009

Hang Up And Drive, Dammit! And Slow Down While You’re At It.


I’ve changed my mobile talk habits dramatically, since the data seems to have reached a critical mass.  It’s just stupid to talk on the phone and drive, even with a hands-free device.   Read here some of what the government has suppressed about the dangers:

Driven to Distraction – In 2003, U.S. Withheld Data Showing Cellphone Driving Risks – Series – NYTimes.com.

Oh, and speaking of needless highway deaths and countless injuries, not to mention a catastrophic energy and climate crisis, what ever happened to that 55 mph speed limit?  Details:

55 mph stats

Guess we’re all just too damned important and in too much of a hurry.  I suggest:  slow down, shut up, or stay home.

Jul 20 2009

Tomato Alert: Late Blight Fungus


Bad news for tomato growers and gardeners throughout the East. Late blight fungus is spreading wide — “explosively” according to the USDA — and destroying whole crops. Link to an article below. A reminder that tomatoes in the garden require good hygiene. If there’s any doubt at all, do NOT compost your tomato vines. These things are nasty and highly contagious, even season to season.

New York Times article on late blight fungus