Yes, we have no bananas 
...but I am up to my ears in tomatoes! I planted 12 tomato plants in May and you can't believe the yield! Each of the last three days I have picked at least 40 tomatoes. I've been busy making salsa, spaghetti sauce, and giving them away. All told, I have probably picked at least 250 since they began bearing fruit and that's 250 edible ones. As always, some, although red, were no good.

I've never had so many tomatoes before and I have planted 12 plants several times. I moved the garden to a sunnier spot last year but many tomatoes suffered from blossom-end rot; I estimate I tossed out about 40% of the tomatoes I had. This year, I am throwing out much less, probably fewer than 10%. To say I've found the right spot for the garden is an understatement and there's still a lot of red out there!

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Well, I knew this was inevitable, this morning I took the winterizing plastic off the main air conditioner in our house. By the way, it was here when we moved in; I take pride in the fact that I've never purchased an air conditioner. We've been using a small room air conditioner (free) for the twins' room but the rest of the house had not been subject to air conditioning. I hold out as long as I can because I do not like air conditioning. Once it was on, I made sure to spend the day outside on our screened-in, non-A/C porch. 92 degrees, no problem, that's just barely the low-end of hot.

And, no, I don't use it in my truck either. It's been broken for five years and what irks me is that I'll have to fix the A/C in order to sell the vehicle. At one time I thought that A/C in cars was the worst feature ever but it was bumped to number two when some brain-dead marketing executive (excuse the redundancy) decided to put DVD players in them.

It used to be that people only used A/C when it got hot. Nowadays, it seems like people have lowered what 'hot' is from say, 90 to 80 and, thus, the A/C runs every day from mid-June to early September.

Cutting back on our A/C usage would be an easy way for everyone to chip in and reduce our energy consumption. I wonder why no one ever proposes this? I'll admit I do it for personal reasons but what about all the blowhards out there who are always lecturing us on our habits and yet never change their own? Brian: 1, loudmouth hypocrite: 0.

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Ok, so I tried the Kool-Aid again. I installed, successfully, Kubuntu 7.04 (Feisty) on a Sony Vaio laptop. A brief overview is here and I submitted the entry to Linux on Laptops too.

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I was going to use this post to make some comments about Mr. Hypocritical but I decided against it because all Americans should educate themselves on his inconvenient reality. These sunflowers are American Giants and the package said they can grow to be 8-14 feet. The tallest one there comes in over seven as of today.

As for my garden, the storm we had a few weeks ago really did some damage. Most of the tomatoes were blown down, cage and all, and many had snapped branches. However, none were uprooted and there is red out there and I've already picked about a half dozen tomatoes. Since none were uprooted, I am optimistic for a good bounty.

Given my minimal carbon footprint, I feel good that I have offset what I emit. Aside from the garden and flowers, the air conditioner that cools the main floor of the house is still wrapped in the winterizing plastic!

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Money Laundering 
To launder money basically means to conceal the source of it. Sometimes people have no choice but to disclose what path their money has taken.

Dog chews and eats nearly $750; most recovered

From the story:

"After finding out what happened, the family collected the pieces of money, cleaned them as best the could, put them together and swapped $647 for fresh currency at a bank."

Makes you wonder what the money you've handled has been through, doesn't it?

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Canada Trip 
Here is another picture I took along Kings Highway 15 near Seeleys Bay, Ontario two days ago. If I do the math right, that works out to about US$3.77 gallon.

I didn't hear a lot of griping about gas prices when I was there but things in general are more expensive. The gas price I saw is typical throughout Ontario according to Other prices I saw were a dozen eggs cost about $2.10. A 1/2 gallon (2L?) of milk was $2.45; Canadian of course. The local exchange rate was 2%; 98 US cents == $1 Canadian. Officially it's .955/1 according to I just paid $1.81 for a 1/2 gallon of milk here and I rarely buy eggs when they are more than $1/dozen.

I found out that the Kingston area of Ontario has a doctor shortage . According to Wikipedia, the metro population of Kingston is about 152,000. With 20,000 without a doctor (are they uninsured then or just completely without any means to get medical treatment?) out of 152,000, that's 13.15% of the population. If we take the generally agreed upon number of uninsured in the US at 40 million, that works out to be 13.33% here. I don't know if 'doctor shortage' = 'uninsured' but I do know that if there is a doctor shortage, the amount of uninsured people is not the main healthcare issue that needs to be addressed.

I was not totally without Internet access. The local library, open three days a week, had Internet so I was able to get online for about 20 minutes one day just to check email and the news back home. There was a coffee shop that had wi-fi but it had closed down within the past week; just my luck. The nearest McDonald's to where I was, about 20km, did not have wi-fi.

When I crossed back into the US, at the line where the car is supposed to stop at the border checkpoint I saw some apparatus that looked a little like a cell phone tower except it had large gray squares, maybe 18 inches square, about 6 on each one, one at each divider between the lanes at ground level. I wonder if they are radiation detectors. I decided not to take a picture of one because while I am sure the Homeland Security folks are really nice and friendly, I didn't feel like spending an afternoon with them, lol. Whatever they were, I've never seen anything like them. We passed through after a few questions from the border guard, as usual and, as usual, it felt great to cross the border back into the US.

We stopped at the Ft. Drum exit off 81 to gas up ($3.06/gal) and grab a quick bite at McDonald's. Aside from the welcoming site of American flags and listening to American radio stations, I saw a trio of our bravest from the 10th Mountain Division entering the McDonald's. Even though I was still 250 miles from my house, I knew I was home.

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Canadians Support Their Troops Too 
Picture taken by me at a coffee shop on Kings Highway 15 near Seeleys Bay, Ontario. The sign has a McDonald's logo on it but the nearest McDonalds was about 20 Km down the road.

Locally, the biggest story was that a soldier from Kingston was killed in Afghanistan on July 4 and the funeral is being held today.

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On Holidays 
...well not anymore. I returned to the good ol' USA today after a few days in Canada. I came home to no phone service in my house. The storm on Tuesday must have knocked it out. Of course, this being Friday evening, the earliest the phone company can come out is Tuesday. Luckily, it appears nothing else major was affected by the storm except maybe my garden. I took a quick look at it and it, well, looks, oooook, but I can see that it did take a beating. Nothing appears uprooted or totally destroyed but I'll find out for sure tomorrow.

I'll have another post in a day or two about my trip and maybe post a few pictures.

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University of Pittsburgh Dogs? 

For some odd reason, my alma mater decided to change their secondary logo, pictured above, and they must have used some art-school dropout (excuse the redundancy) to design the Panther logo pictured above. Below is the most recent panther. I never thought it was great either but at least it's clearly a cat.

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I'll probably be taking holiday from blogging for the first half of July. Stay tuned, though, as I may sneak a post or two in depending on my mood.

Remember to fly your flags and read the Declaration of Independence on the 4th.

Here's the link to the post that explains what I did last July 4th. As for this one, I'll probably just go see the fireworks and spend time with the family, aside from, of course, flying the flag and reading the Declaration of Independence. I usually read through it two or three times a year including on the 4th. I think everyone should do the same.

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Beer is Getting Expensive 
...and making beer is too. The local homebrew store I buy my stuff from recently raised their prices, significantly. For example, the kit to make a batch of porter, which I just made (Pat, email me if you want to sample it when it's ready, it should be ready by next week) went from $34.95 to $41.95. Yowza! Considering the average yield is around 50 12 oz bottles, that price increase equals about 14 cents per 12 oz. That may not sound like a lot, but imagine the outcry if gasoline or even milk went up by that increment in a two month span!

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