Sunday, July 26, 2009


Warning: Boring tomato post. If you couldn't already tell that from the title.

Bill and I usually have three tomato plants in tubs in our backyard, at least two of which are heirloom. This year we have Bull's Heart (my favourite - we grow it every year), Belgium Giant (Bill picked it out), and Jetsetter (which, contrary to the name, was the last to ripen yet again this year). This usually means we have so many tomatoes we can't eat them all before they rot, so I can many of them. Last year started out promising, but ended up being a dud. I canned 4 jars of Bull's Heart, and we easily kept ahead of them and ate the rest as they ripened.

This year:
First harvestA few days later it had grown into a big scary pile. Time to can:After the massacre:Done deed:This year they are very juicy. I usually use a slotted spoon to spoon them into the jars, and that only leaves a little liquid at the bottom. Usually. I actually canned 3 more jars after this photo was taken.

When you grow tomatoes, tomato hornworms often show up eventually and can do some major damage. I call them an attractive nuisance. They're really quite pretty.(click to embiggen) Bill called me outside to see a small black wasp "stinging" this one. I ran out and there was a pitched battle going on. The wasp was landing on the hornworm's back, and the hornworm was flinging it's head and upper body violently around at it. I said, "Um, no. It isn't stinging. It's laying eggs."

Then I wouldn't let Bill kill the hornworm (what he normally does when he finds them) because I thought we should allow the parasitic wasps to survive to adulthood. The hornworm hung around in the top of the Belgium Giant plant for about a week, and then disappeared yesterday. I didn't see any signs of wasp infestation (it is apparently fairly obvious when they pupate). Now I don't know if it died due to the infestation, or has gone further down into the plant to pupate and metamorphose into a moth.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

WOW! She got it EXACTLY... well, maybe not.

Although PZ Myers already posted about it, I thought I'd throw in my two cents worth.
This woman sums up what a lot of people seem to believe about atheists. Because they know us better than we know ourselves. Apparently.

There are some key factors involved in this thinking by atheists that are not usually published. (Actually, these idiots write about it all the time)

Being the hot topic of the day, any discussion of atheism, should include these 'difficult to admit' points:

Firstly, atheists claim that they themselves are god. They claim they have superior knowledge then* the rest of us by trying to say that they have better knowledge because of their own thinking. They will not acknowledge anyone else to be above them.
I have been an atheist all my life and have never once claimed to be a god or goddess, except in the kitchen and maybe once in the bedroom.** Come to think of it, I may have only used Green Goddess salad dressing in the kitchen, and may have only been called one in the bedroom.

I love PZ's response to this - Personally, I only rank myself as a lesser demon.
*Note, I refrained from correcting her misspellings, but not from making fun of them.
** If you are my father - DON'T READ ANY FURTHER!

Secondly, atheists have been hurt somewhere in their lives, can't understand suffering, and are mad at God — so it is easier to deny there is one.
Um, nope. I'm a generally happy person who has not been hurt any more than anyone else, very happy with how my life has turned out so far, very much in love with my husband, happy that my family is in fairly good health, and happy in my job (except for the potential 20% pay reduction - but at least I still have a job!). I have occasional "down" periods, but those are just part of normal cyclical ups and downs.

I'm not sure what she means by "can't understand suffering." Suffering is a normal part of life. I know many people who suffer or have suffered both physically and emotionally far more than I have, and I know I've been fairly lucky so far. Suffering actually seems to me to be an argument against the existence of any sort of "loving" god. A truly loving and omnipotent god wouldn't allow it, and would actually be an evil god if he/she/it could stop it, and yet still allowed it. However, suffering has to be explained somehow, so it seems to be a big part of the religions of many cultures.

As for being mad at God - how can you be mad at something that doesn't exist? It's like being mad at the Tooth Fairy or Santa Clause or the Loch Ness Monster. I am sometimes mad at religious idiots, but not at their imaginary friend.

Thirdly, atheists are looking for God for the same reason a thief would be looking for a police officer. They don't want to be accountable to a higher being because of the wrong things they do.
I knew someone would finally catch us on that. Bill and I will just have to stop having sex in the street* and robbing banks. We tend not to do illegal things (well, I speed a little sometimes) not because some magic book tells us not to, but because they are either illegal or morally** wrong.

*I actually had someone ask me what stopped me from having sex in the street. That would be...HELLO! cars and a healthy sense of self preservation. Oh, and not only would it be illegal, it would be WRONG! I'm an extremely private person and wouldn't do it even if it was legal.

This same person then went on to accuse me of having sex with my dog. Now I loved Charlie more than any other dog I've ever had (or possibly ever will have), and we had a very, very strong bond, but if I had wanted to do that, I wouldn't have had him NEUTERED, would I?

** Morals have been around far longer than any present day religions, and the basics (such as the taboos against murder and incest, and reciprocity (aka the Golden Rule), are most likely evolved, while many others are learned depending upon the culture in which you live. Many other animals also exhibit morality, and they certainly didn't learn it from a magic book.

Fourthly, atheists forget that when a person goes to a museum and admires a painting, that there was a painter/designer of that art piece. The art piece is absolute evidence of a painter and not caused by random nothingness.

All of the world, stars, animals, plants, oceans, and mountains are absolute proof of a divine intelligent being (beyond our human ability and thinking) who made these things.

Can the atheist make a tree? It is scientifically impossible for bees to fly (laws of physics) and yet they do. It is impossible for our eyes to see and yet they do. What more proof does an atheist need than their own heart pumping in their chest without them commanding their heart to pump each beat in perfect timing each and every second necessary?

Of course things weren't caused by random nothingness (except maybe this woman's brain). Evolution by natural selection is actually the opposite of random, and over millions and millions (sometimes billions) of years only gives the illusion that something was designed.

Complex, image forming eyes may have evolved up to 100 different times, so obviously they are a handy thing to have. Actually, if you look at the physiology of the vertebrate eye, it is not "designed" very well at all - sort of back-to-front, actually - because the light photons have to travel through all the nerves and blood vessels to get to the photoreceptors, which are pointing backward. These nerve cells and blood vessels all come together at the optic nerve, and create a blind spot. This is exactly what you would expect from something evolved, but not purposefully designed. Cephalopod eyes, on the other hand are "designed" correctly. The photoreceptors are pointing toward the light source rather than away, and there is no blind spot, as the nerves are behind the retina rather than in front of it.

Can the theist make a tree? If not, then why should an atheist be able to?
This interesting article
shows it's not scientifically impossible for bees to fly and they in no way contradict the laws of physics. Obviously, SINCE THEY FLY! Duh!

Fifthly, denial is a strong coping mechanism in crisis, but does not serve anyone in the long run. Like an ostrich with its head in the sand, an atheist denies God not because God does not exist—but because the atheist doesn't want God to exist and does not want to see the truth and evidence in front of their eyes.

I would rather believe in God and make sure my life is doing what is acceptable to this Superior Being than to not believe in God and find out I will be accountable to this God for everything I've done after I die. With 84% of the world's population believing in the existence of God, I think the majority rules in this case.
Yeah, actually there is no evidence of a god. If there were, I would believe, but nobody's come up with anything at all convincing or that could only have a supernatural explanation yet. Gods were invented by man to explain the unexplainable. Over the last 1000 years or so, we've been slowly chipping away at things that previously could only be attributed to a god until we will eventually understand every one.

Pascal's wager (better to believe than not just in case there is a god and he gets mad at you) has been done to death. An omniscient god would be able to tell you were only believing in him because you were afraid not to. I would ask her how she knows for sure she's worshiping the correct god? There are so many. What if the Hindus or followers of Shinto are actually right? Maybe the ancient Greeks were. What if she's following the wrong type of Christianity? There are numerous Christian sects. Maybe the Amish or the Mormons are right.

At one time far more than 84% of the world's population believed that the Earth was the center of the universe. Did majority rule make that correct? Up until the latter part of the last century, most people believed that the continents were static and had always been in their present positions. Did majority rule make that correct? And 84% may believe in gods, but does she believe that Mohammad was the true prophet and flew up to heaven on a winged horse? I doubt it. And to which version of Christianity (I'm assuming she's one of the many Christian sects) does she adhere? There were numerous Ecumenical councils where church leaders got together and decided what biblical canon to keep and what to throw out.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

And introducing...Clio!

Alright, already! I'm being badgered by someone who shall remain nameless to post some photos of our new kitty, Clio. A little while after both Kitty and Isis (yes, she's the gorgeous fluffy goofball in the fishtank) died within a month of each other, Bill thought we should get a kitten. I did a little online research and found a cat rescue place nearby, so we went over. It turned out the woman and her husband also rescue horses (no we already have one, thankyouverymuch).

There were cats (and horses) everywhere. We went into the detached mother-in-law's cottage which was entirely devoted to cats. There were about 5 cats who immediately came out to greet us, one of whom was a skinny little long-haired calico who had just been spayed. Bill's eyes literally lit up as soon as he saw her, and she was the first one he picked up. Over the hour and a half we were there, the woman kept bringing more and more cats in to show us. Cats of all ages, but mostly Maine Coons, Ragdolls, Turkish Angoras and Siamese. I wanted to take them all home. Bill couldn't stop picking them up and cuddling them, but he kept coming back to the calico. I finally told the woman that it looked as though he'd fallen in love, and we'd take her. Here is a photo from the day we got her. On the way home, Bill suddenly said, "Clio. I think we should call her Clio after the Greek muse of history." We got her home, and she immediately jumped up and tried to steal my dinner. I pushed her away, and she just looked affronted and swatted at my hand. I pushed again and she swatted again. Bill picked her up and put her on floor. She jumped up again. About 12 times. She doesn't take no for an answer.

She quickly made herself at home.Bill happily smothered in cats.

A few days after we got her, one of her eyes started watering slightly and she started squinting a little. It didn't look very bad, and I didn't think much of it. Then suddenly both eyes started watering and she could hardly keep them open. I figured she had pinkeye, and we had just decided to take her to the vet when they opened on Monday when Alice suddenly got really lethargic and wouldn't come out from under the couch - very un-Alice-like behavior. When we dragged her out, she obviously felt absolutely crappy. Alice is the love of Bill's son's life, and Bill completely freaked out. He rushed her to the outrageously expensive emergency clinic on Sunday, found out she had a very high temperature, and came back with broad-spectrum antibiotics, but no diagnosis.

Bill then took Clio in to our regular vet on Monday, and came back with more broad spectrum antibiotics for both her and Alice, eye ointment, and a diagnosis for both cats. Feline rhinotracheitis or herpesvirus (FHV-1). The antibiotics were to treat the secondary bacterial infections. I was really concerned about my son's 11 year old cat, Smokey, but I'm not sure if she ever got it. She was really sick when I found her next to the road when she was a tiny kitten, and perhaps she had FHV-1 then. She did, however, cough a few times and suddenly completely lose her voice, so I got her some antibiotics too, even though I believe they are way overused. The vet was concerned that she would contract a respiratory infection more easily than the younger cats, and after Kitty and Isis, I was NOT going to lose another cat. We then spent the next two weeks dosing three not-very-happy cats twice a day.

Clio was already looking at us suspiciously before all this, but us grabbing her twice a day, stuffing nasty bubble-gum flavored Clavamox down her throat, and squeezing ointment in her eyes just confirmed all her worries. She still really doesn't want us to catch her and pick her up, although she's getting better about it.

The vet thought she was a very small 8 month old when we got her, and she has grown tremendously over the last couple of months because she never stops eating. I think she was starved before she was rescued. She's supposedly at least part Maine Coon, and they can keep growing for up to five years, so we'll see how big she actually gets. She'll definitely grow out if not up.She's almost as big as Alice now. They love this crunchy tunnel, by the way. Clio loves jumping on it, so we just have to fluff it back up every 3 minutes.I keep interrupting their wrestling to take photos. They stop as soon as the red-eye reduction light comes on.
We even got them all a big new toy from
Please stop flashing that nasty light in my face.