Sunday, May 29, 2005

Monday, May 30th 2005 is Memorial Day

Memorial Day Flag, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

May 30th is Memorial Day here in the United States. Originally known as Decoration Day, as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers . It has evolved into a day, actually a three day weekend, in which many Americans spend a lot of time having picnics, BBQ's and parties. Traditionally it had been one of the few days each year that everyone would fly their Flag outside of their house. Though since 9/11 that has changed quite a bit and at least where I live many people not fly the flag year round.

Like many other holidays, it is also a time for retailors to have special sales to entice those that are not working for the holiday to spend a few extra dollars. In general people know the significance of the day, which is to acknowledge and honor those who have fallen in our armed forces. Often times many cities, including my home town have big parades that many citicizens attend. It is always something special for the kids and of course the veterans.

Posted by mightymerk, 6:37 PM | link | (2) comments |

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Nous C'est Non

The EU - Bigger before Better?, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

This Sunday a vote will take place that too may of those who do not fancy political talk or geo-politics will simply ignore, assuming they are lucky enough to hear about it. I have been reading a lot about it recently...and of course speaking to a few European friends about it.

What am I talking about?

The citizens of France (as with a previous other 11 member states, and 12 future states) will be voting on whether or not to ratify a proposed constitution written by a convention led by former French President Valery Giscard dEstaing.

French concern has both its rational and irrational basis. Some people think the constitution is a conspiracy to use free markets to destroy the existing social model. They are uneasy being swept into a large pool of some 450 million people and the possible consequent dilution of self-determination.

Part of the EU Project 'working', requires the steady loss of sovereignty amongst the member nations and the "harmonization" of most economic and social policies. If any of the EU's 25 member nations rejects the proposed constitution though, it would not come in to effect. (so far 11 have ratified it). Pending the outcome of the French vote, the next vote to take place in The Netherlands could prove interesting. Which way would they go? Some speculate the Dutch would follow the French lead and vote against it.

George Will, writing for the New York Post, answered his own question by saying that perhaps a main reason why these two countries are being so balky on the proposed constitution is because "they are allowed to be". As the EU has largely come as far as it has by bypassing democracy.


"The constitution says that member states can "exercise their competence" only where the EU does not exercise its. But the constitution gives EU institutions jurisdiction over foreign affairs, defense, immigration, trade, energy, agriculture, fishing and much more."

The result of these votes will be interesting to me. I am still not exactly sure what the EU has accomplished; what ills it has cured? and what parrity it has brought the average European?

UPDATE: (Article Here)
The French vote against the proposed EU constitution. Next up is The Netherlands. Dutch friends, any idea as to how this will go?

Further UPDATE (Article Here)
The Dutch also say NO. 2 of 6 original EU nations have now rejected the proposed constitution

Posted by mightymerk, 12:08 PM | link | (3) comments |

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Short Sabatical

Blogger Friends

I am SWAMPED right now. I would rather take my time and post something of quality then just spitting something out for the sake of doing it.

Wife, kids, dog and garden are doing fine! :)
Posted by mightymerk, 2:00 PM | link | (0) comments |

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Mighty Garden of mighty merk

The Mighty Garden of mighty merk, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

A personal discussion.

As I understand it, a good portion of my ancestors that came over from the 'Old World' started out as farmers upon arriving to America. There were also, bakers, factory smoke stack cleaners, construction workers, bar owners and business people.

I have done quite a few things in my life (even if just for a day or so). I worked a construction job for a short while. I flipped burgers at a fast food joint for 3 years. I have partially cleaned my own chimney's (but will attempt to do the full job shortly). I am currently at the Director level of a manufacturing firm and had even started up my own company at one point. I have spent enough money at bars that I should be part owners of a few (no joke). The one thing I have not even tried to attempt was starting my own garden. That has changed.

I thank my children and wife for requesting to do this, as this gift/project for them is secrety a gift for me. I must also say that the labor of this job was shared by all.

I was never really into vegetables for most of my life. I mean I liked green beans, corn and salad stuff. I never truly started craving them until just a few years ago (my mother always told me that the veggie bug would catch me). New Jersey is famouse for its Jersey Tomatoes (yes we are very creative here in New Jersey). When I was younger I rarely had tomatoes on any of my food, I am at the point now where I can almost enjoy a tomato by itself.
There is another background story (about the real Merk Farm Estate) to all of this. For those of you who are curious perhaps I will post it at another time.

Let me describe what you see in the picture above. In the far back are all Strawberry plants. They tend to spread quick so we keep them away from the rest of the plants. In the front, to the far left are the beginnings of Jersey Tomatoes. Those few little green leaves you see towards the middle are actually for blueberry bushes. Then to the far right we have planted seeds for some carrots and cucumbers.

I will let you know how it goes. Truth be told I think about this little 3'x5' garden at least three times a day since we planted it.

Let me know if you want to stop by and have a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich... just bring the beer!

Jersey Tomato Garden Tips

Posted by mightymerk, 6:06 PM | link | (10) comments |

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Winds of Change in The Netherlands?

Kinderdjik, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

Rita Verdonk, the Dutch immigration minister known as the Iron Lady and a former prison governor is proposing Europe's most dramatic experiment in managing the mass immigration with the concept of "compulsory integration". Article Here

Starting in July, newcomers over 17 would have to pass examination requiring basic knowledge of the language, history and culture of Holland. This would apply to anyone not part of the European Union. No doubt the murders of both Theo van Gogh and Pim Fortuyn (original Mighty Blog posts here and here) served as a major catalyst for such action, but it also must be understood that for the past several years one of the larger concerns amongst the 'very liberal' Dutch people was the fact that the emerging immigrant populations were fostering very un-Dutch like thinking with regards to topics as same-sex marriage, drug use tolerance, etc.

From Ms. Verdonk

"What wasn't good was that we were naive for a long while. We thought that everybody who wanted to live in the Netherlands would easily find his way around Dutch society. Now we have about 700,000 people who have been here for years but who don't speak the language or have a clue about our most basic rules and values."

So how will this go over? Well I hope a few of my Dutch friends will add their thoughts.

My personal feelings though are that a program like this is a good thing to help bridge the gap and make assimilation for the great many people who are looking to get into Holland much easier and more successfully. I am sure that there will be initial resistance and with that some reshaping of the program. Perhaps it will need to be less ‘liberally offensive’ or more inclusive in certain ways.

If this program were to be successful it leaves me to ponder whether or not such a program would be replicated throughout Europe and what kind of an impact that would have.

Posted by mightymerk, 9:10 AM | link | (2) comments |

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

I have been reading a lot of stories the past few ( 1, 2, 3 ) months about three different states and several other schools throughout the nation choosing to remove those foods and beverages (such as candy, soda, oily and fried foods) considered unhealthy and replacing them with more nutritional and healthy foods (apples, fruit juice. , milk etc.) The goal is to help reduce childhood obseity.

Proponents of such measures argue that the average child drinks about 2 cans of soda each and every day, mainly through school purchases which amount to approximately 2100 in wasted calfories each week.

Further, they say that children at a very young age are developing a habit of snacking once or twice a day.
As a person who believes that bad habits are what really doom some into a life of being slightly overweight to outright obesity I feel this is the most compelling aspect. I myself can attribute much of the extra 15 pounds I am carrying around to late night snacking as well as the less frequent exercise I have been taking part in the past 2 years. Though genetics and various psychological aspects (such as stress and depression) must be considered factors, there is no doubt that as creatures of habit, we tend to develop some very bad habits.

Come to think of it, my dog has the best possible diet in our household, or so the people at Eukanuba say. How ironic that I care so much to see my dog have a healty shiny coat, while I am celebrating Twinkies 75th Anniversary.

Opponents of such measures usually have two arguments. The first of which focuses on the fact that any of these foods, taken in moderation are not harmful. Children should learn moderation and self control from their parents rather then taking the students right to choose.

The second argument is that many schools receive huge funds from corporations such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Frito-Lay etc, funds that are contingent on the sale of their products to the students in the schools. The schools would loose additional revenues from the actual sales of such items.

While I feel both sides make valid agruments, the over riding concern for the wellfare of our children MUST win out. Snacks and Sweets need to be viewed as treats and not as sources of nutrition. At the same time corporations most likely will be the one's to break by substituting their offerings. Is it any wonder that both Coca-Cola and Pepsi have their owned bottles of water? Public trends will ultimately dictate to the corporations (no matter how much their marketing may tell us otherwise). Just look at
McDonalds which in the past two years has done quite a bit to have healther offerings, especially those geared towards children.

I personally favor providing the children with good nutrition and a portion of snack (perhaps ice cream or a smal package of cookies). To have vending machines chock-full of goodies, easily accessible and unsupervised is a bit reckless. Most of us are not above being tempted (myself included). Remove 'some' of the temptation and perhaps we accomplish something.

Of course the banning of "unhealthy foods" is not the solution in of itself. I was just discussing with some friends the other day how when I was younger and growing up, my parents main problem was getting me to come in from outside (playing baseball, riding bikes etc.), where today most parents have trouble getting their kids to go outside and have some physical activity (with gaming stations, computers and loads of TV programs easily accessible to many kids). Thankfully I do see attitudes changing and parents becoming more selfless with their time. It will go a long way and hopefully the trend continues.

To keep our kids (and ourselves for that matter) in better shape it is about changing our diets, or habits, and most importantly our thinking (knowing that consumers really drive the market).

Posted by mightymerk, 5:55 PM | link | (0) comments |

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Happy Mothers Day

Happy Mothers Day, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

It takes a special someone to be a mom. My hats off to you ladies.

Posted by mightymerk, 7:19 AM | link | (0) comments |

Friday, May 06, 2005

Political Trifecta?

Despite faulty intelligence on WMD's in Iraq, Despite the War in Iraq, Despite protests by millions of people across the world, Tony Blair has been elected Prime Minister for a historic Labor Party record 3rd staright time.

Conventional wisdom told us that George Bush would not have been re-elected, but he was. Australian Prime Minster John Howard (aproponent of the Iraq War) was not to be re-elected, but he was. Now Tony Blair (also a proponent of the Iraq War) has been re-elected. A number of 'progressive' predictions failed to materialize.

Who predicted this Political Trifecta?

So what gives here? Sure, each of these guys has taken their lumps (of sorts), But why were these guys not defeated? Is their a silent majority that we don't know about? Is it all big talk on the other side of the political debate (more sizzle then steak)?
Posted by mightymerk, 10:29 PM | link | (0) comments |

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

A Nice Story to Read - and something to ponder

Quite an amazing story I just read.

It is the story about a firefighter who was left brain-damaged after a roof collapsed on him when he was fighting a house fire.

The recent Terri Schiavo case aside, I think in general the medical profession is too quick to write off patients who suffer such severe industries. As a result, I think we have less of an understanding of the human bodies natural capacity to heal itself overt time.

Let's think for a moment if humans had even a fraction of the capacity of rejuvenation that some lizards have to grow new tails after the original might have been lost to a preadator. Now I am certainly not implying that one could grow a new arm that was amputated, but at this point does the medical profession really know enough to understand what kind of healing powers we might have inside our own bodies. Perhaps after thousands of years of 'evolution' , these powers have been dulled or lost to some capacity. Perhaps we were even 'created' with such powers, that while not limitless, does allow a person with some faith and TLC to recover.

Now, there are not enough details about this case (yet) but I will watch thsi closely and update this post. How much brain damage was he originally diagnosed with? Was he going to rehab? More importanly did doctors monitor his brain acticity periodically, or for the past 7 years did he 'just exsit' as so many like to label such a condition today?

All said in done. Catch this story while you can. As amazing as it is, it will only be reported for 24-48 hours or so, and that is a real shame.

Just read an article in the NY Post in which they say that the medication given had changed about three months ago and the are investigating whether or not it had any effect.
Posted by mightymerk, 8:48 AM | link | (0) comments |