My predictions after the 2011 election

After the Canadian Election 2011, with a Conservative Majority, here are my predictions for the next four to five years until the next election is called.
  1. Two Tier Healthcare as a platform by 2015
  2. National debt of $1 Trillion dollars
  3. 25% less government and government services
  4. No new Healthcare Accord, instead a year-by-year funding stranglehold on the provinces
  5. Vote based funding for political parties will be gone, corporations will be allowed to fund parties again.
  6. 65 fighter jets that will saddle the Canadian Forces with a budget nightmare, final cost for the planes will be $50 billion over lifetime of use.
  7. Corruption will increase.
  8. Attack adds on the NDP, election or not. Particularly in Sun Media stations.
  9. Justin Trudeau will run for leadership of the Liberal Party.
  10. Long Gun registry is going going gone. Whether the police use and like it or not.

Day 5…

So today concludes Day 5 of my water, tea, coffee fast. I’ve not been having coffee, the smell makes me unhappy in the tummy. I have decided to end my fast tonight. I was hoping to do 7 days, but I am mentally done.

Physically I’m getting regular heart palpitations, and my balance is a bit wonky. I get tired pretty quick too. And I’m cold. Always cold. I think physically that’s the most disturbing part, I’m never cold. I can tromp around for half an hour in -30C and be warm again when I get inside within 15 minutes, but right now I am icy all day long.
Mentally I’m a bit sideways. I work all day at code type tasks, mostly CSS and HTML, and I find myself doing a lot of ‘stare blankly at zend and css trying to figure it out’. Talking is a bit weird too, getting my thoughts in the proper order is often an issue for me, and right now I’m pretty sure half of what comes out of my mouth makes no sense.
Spiritually I am on the fence. My meditative prayer is totally shot, I can manage 2-5 minutes before it all falls apart. My spontaneous prayer has improved though. I haven’t had any amazing revelations for sure… other then a deeper understanding of what my Father went through as a kid in WW2, and what billions of people go through every day. I guess empathy is a form of spiritual growth.

Day 3…

On Friday, after my meditative prayer, I joined the fast with the 35,000+ people at If you don’t know what this is about, here’s the skinny: the latest US budget rapes and pillages the money going to feed the poor, feed children, care for vetrans, and care for the least of our society. At the same time it maintains benefits for the military and the rich ( such as a $2billion a year tax break for vacation and second homes ). In response some fairly influential figures started fasting, and it’s grown to 35,000+ people fasting in prayer and protest from across every major religion and secular group.
The politicians say there is not enough money, yet have cut nothing from military spending. The people are saying a budget is a Moral Document, and that these cuts are not about scarcity, but about horrifically skewed morality ( or a total lack of it ).
I’m fasting from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It may seem a bit odd that a Canadian is fasting in prayer and solidarity with Americans over an issue largely in America. But our government is planning on spending insane amounts of money on fighter jets ( 2% of our national budget for 20 years ), and ignoring our growing issues with working poor, working homeless, and the growing number of Canadians without proper food. ( 3.5 million and growing every year! )
Our government sort of just follows along with what America does, so I’m hoping that by praying and fasting with them to help their poor, it also helps ours. Besides, love thy neighbour right? Canadians spend a lot of time mocking our American neighbours, or slighting them. But what’s going on down there affects us, and what they are doing to the poor in the US is sick and wrong. It is heart breaking.
I’m at day 3 of no food. I’m on water, tea, or coffee ( black ). This seriously sucks, it is a level of discomfort I’ve never felt in my life. It brings a whole new meaning and understanding to hunger. Proper empathy. I can only imagine how this feels when you do not have a choice to go hungry. I can end this any time, millions of people in the US and Canada don’t have that luxury. Billions don’t world wide.

Oh magic 8-ball, is it spring?

My sources say: Try Again Later.

I was really hoping to get out in the garden and distract myself by putting together my planned cold frame. Instead another weekend of snow.
So the sproutcount as of now is:
8/16 Green Onion ( they get another 4 days to finish sprouting or they meet the bin )
5/6 Cabbages ( booyah, that’s more then I need )
6/18 Tomatoes ( I was aiming for 6 total, but my record is horrid. )
The tomatoes and cabbages are getting “leggy” ( means long and spindly, usually because of poor light, the kind you get when it’s always cloudy and snowing for example ). I’ve added in a second light source to Sarah’s old LightBook. She says I get it for 2 weeks, then it’s going to be used for a lightbox to photograph the endless piles of yarn making their way to our house.
On my Mom’s advice I have put the sprouts into peat pots ( 4 inch ) and for the leggy ones I’ve buried their stems about half way. She says they’ll shoot roots out of the stems if they are under soil. Hopefully all goes well… otherwise I have to start more cabbages and tomatoes.
On the docket this weekend: Lettuces. Crisp Mint ( Romaine ) and Bronze Arrow ( leaf ).

The English Debate

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter I’ve been randomly firing off things about the 41st Canadian Election, including various bits of propaganda. I’m not blogging about it much, because I’m more interested in the immediacy of things on Twitter. But I will say that compared to the mayoral election in Calgary the MPs really don’t get social media. Nenshi built a win by responding and debating with the electorate. The MPs and candidates in the federal election sort of just use Twitter and Facebook as a sounding board or giant megaphone. Very little engagement, even from fringe candidates in the Green Party or REALLY fringe candidates in things like the Marxist-Lenninist Party.

Most of the main twitter feeds for local ridings are dead here in Calgary, though the #elxn41 twitter hash tag has a solid flow to it.
All this being said, I took a movement to listen/watch the English Language debate during spare moments here at the office. If you missed it on TV you can watch it on the CBC website. It’s two hours of your life, but it’s worth listening too. If you’re lazy like a lot of voters, or just really busy, or just hate the sound of the politician’s voices here’s my personal synopsis on their over-all performace.
Stephen Harper
Harper was his typical blank-ness and monotone with non-answers or answers built on the backs of previous governments. Some dodge the question. Kept calling the debate and democratic process ‘bickering’.
Michael Ignatieff
Ignatieff was solid, but occasionally stuttered, and had one moment of glaring dodge the question ( about his poor attendance record in the commons ). Really hammered on the lack of trust with the conservative government, and the nature of democracy and debate.

Jack Layton
Layton rambled various socialist policy off, and basically played a game of ‘play the Conservatives and Liberals against each other’ ( NDP policy for 40 years ) and attempt to look superior as a non-bickerer.

Gilles Duceppe
Duceppe rambled and interjected non-sequitors and random sovereignty statements, often very off topic. On occasion he lobbed some zingers into the debate that were worth while.
Elizabeth May
May wasn’t invited, but commented from the sidelines in an online chat, and sounded like a combo of Layton and Duceppe, sort of a whiney younger sibling forced to eat at the kids table. Normally I’m a Green supporter, and she’s usually decent and has things worth hearing, but this time felt scripted and meh.
Over all impression of the debate: same old, same old, nothing new to see here. I was hoping to see Ignatieff come out like a berserker and rip appart the competition. What I got felt toned down, though he was excellent about tearing into Harper on his horrible record in Parliament when it comes to thwarting the democratic process.
I also had to do about 30 drop shots because Harper kept saying ‘coalition’.

They LIVE!

Tomatoes: 5/6 from batch three sprouted so far, 4 at two leaf stage.
Cabbage: 4/6 from batch two sprouted so far.
Green Onion: 4/18 from batch one sprouted so far.
Looks like things are starting to germinate, based on the advice my Mom gave me about letting the Jiffy pods dry out a bit more and leaving the lid off the starter for 8-9 hours a day. So far so good!
Also found this website ( ) which is a pretty decent place to track your garden supplies and activities. It’s a bit rough, but way better then any of the apps I could find on the iTunes store. It is semi-free ( you get a stripped down version for free ). Pretty good so far. Cost for premium tools was only a yearly fee of $15 – $50 depending on how much karma you want.

Cabbage Fail

So the Jersey Wakefield cabbage seeds aren’t germinating either. I took them out of the Jiffy tray and used a knife to open up the Jiffy peat pod. Looks like most of the seeds were at a depth of 1/2″ or so, which is about double the depth they should be at. I’m not sure if I just planted them too deep or if they settled in the peat, the former is my guess since I wasn’t using a planting gauge at the time.

The seeds looked like they had softened up a bit, I cut them all in half ( because at this point I’m doing science! ) and the shells were softer then the raw seed, and they had swollen up some. Not rotting, but not germinating either.
I’ve started a new batch, we’ll see what happens. Should sprout by Friday/Saturday if I’m lucky, or Wednesday the 20th. I was hoping to stage them out some so I could get cabbages at a couple times, but I suppose getting them to sprout is the proper first step.
The snow is almost melted off the yard again, but I hear vile rumours of snow showers or sleet this coming week…

April Snow, Rotting Tomato Seeds

So it’s still snowing, in April. Not a big surprise here in Calgary I suppose, but I’m ready to be done with the snow so I can get out in the garden. I plan to start by building some row covers / cold frames for our first veggie bed. I think I’ve settled on a design, I’m modifying the setup I found on The Garden Hound to fit my bed, and run width wise rather then length wise in case of random snowfalls. This would be over-engineered in most cases, but the weight of a surprise spring snow will be covered better. Should also allow me some frost protection for spinach/lettuce/radishes in the late summer, and maybe let me push growing season into early October. Fingers crossed. The design also doubles as a way for running rabbit protection from the hordes of hares that live in our area, and I can swap out the cold frames for trellis for the climbers.

I have started the adventure of indoor seeding. So far: epic fail.
My first batch of tomato seeds rotted out. After waiting 16 days for germination, I pulled one out of the sort-of-heated Jiffy seed starting tray and cut it open. I found a partially germinated seed and a brown root that clearly succumbed to root rot. Scrap attempt one, start attempt number two. It looks like I’ve been a bit overzealous with the water.
This bodes poorly for the cabbage seeds I planted last Friday. The green onions ( or bunching onions if you will, or scallions if you won’t ) have been a bit too damp, but only for about 3 days. They aren’t nearly as wet as the others. I’m leaving the lid off the starter bed to allow the glorious semi-desert air of Calgary to suck the moisture out a bit. Fingers crossed I didn’t lose the cabbage seeds. Thankfully still lots of time to try again, given that winter refuses to leave…

Yay! My seeds are here!

So I made the call on my seeds for the next gardening year. Since this is the first time we are doing a vegetable garden I had to get all new seed stock, so instead of getting some species named with a serial number I went to Heritage Harvest Seed ( ) and Johnny’s Seed ( ).

Heritage Harvest Seed is out of Manitoba, and specializes in rare and hard to find heirloom seed stock. A bit more expensive then getting seeds at Home Depot, but I’d rather support a smaller operation and use seeds that have some sort of legacy on the prairies. Johnny’s Seed is out of the US, and were the first hit on Google in my quest for funky looking pattipan squash.

I tried to pick plants with short growing times, since here in Calgary the weather is rarely cooperative with early springs and late frosts. Given that this is a La Nina year, I may be embarking on a bit of a disaster garden, but fingers crossed something survives! Experiments are fun! All in all I got -WAY- too much seed for my 40 sq feet of veggie patch, but I have no clue what will work and what won’t in my yard’s micro-climate on the north-west side of Calgary.

When ever possible I erred to something the Amish liked to grow, or things that were recommended in Gardening Under the Arch. ( A must have for Chinook zone gardeners! ) Sadly in the case of my summer squash and patty-pans I sort of guessed and picked based on pretty shaped or coloured fruit.

Seeds I picked up from Heritage Harvest Seeds:

  • Early Riser Pole Bean
  • Purple Peacock Pole Bean
  • Lutz Green Leaf Beet
  • Early Jersey-Wakefield Cabbage
  • Danvers Half-long Carrot
  • Purple Dragon Carrot
  • Five-Colour Silverbeet Chard
  • Fordhook Giant Chard
  • Lyaluk Cucumber
  • Bronze Arrow Lettuce
  • Crisp Mint Lettuce
  • Amish Snap Peas
  • Homesteader Peas
  • Longstanding Spinach

Seeds I picked up from Johnny’s Seeds:

  • Flying Saucer Patty-pan Summer Squash
  • Sunburst Patty-pan Summer Squash
  • Zephyr Zucchini Squash

Next steps are to figure out who’s going to get an early start ( I am thinking about converting my wife’s old LightBook into a grow lamp, but it’s small… ), what bits and bobs I still need to buy and build, and figure out a way to keep the rabbits and hares that roam our area out of the garden. Climbing frames for the peas, beans, and cucumbers also need planning, and I’m pondering doing a cold frame setup so I can get soil temperatures up earlier in the year.

Goodbye Safari…

I have a low tolerance level for browsers crashing. Up until the last few weeks Safari was my browser of choice. But lately Safari has been unstable, almost childish at times, when I use Google products. Gmail rendering issues, constant crashing, and just general productivity killing.

Today was the last straw. Four crashes in one day is unacceptable in a browser. So until the next major revision of Safari comes out she is now relegated on my dock to fringe browsers for testing… like Opera.
Primary browser for dev: Firefox.
Primary browser for surfing: Chrome.
Being a witty fellow, I also sent a bug report to Apple. In the form of a haiku.