Monday, December 31, 2012

Poem: I Heard a Bird Sing

File:Flickr - paul bica - quiet winter night.jpg
Source:  Wikipedia Commons

I head a bird sing
In the dark of December.
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

"We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,"
I heard a bird sing
In the Dark of December.
~Oliver Herford

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Quote for the Day

"Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." 

~Howard Thurman

Saturday, December 29, 2012

French Idiom

File:Korb mit Brötchen .JPG
Source:  Wikipedia Commons

Since I struggle with regular, formal French, I usually don't usually try to learn idiomatic expressions.  However, I discovered one that really strikes a chord with me and I'm going to try to remember it.  It is:  Ne pas manger de ce pain-la.  The literal translation is:  not eating that kind of bread.  But it has a deeper meaning.  It means to not act in a way that goes against your personal values.  A good thought to keep in mind in all situations.  For a more detailed discussion of this idiom, go to to this blog post.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Farm Friday

Our holiday season has been extended as we got a surprise call Wednesday night.  Seems our granddaughter's plans for the weekend fell through and our son asked if we wanted to spend more time with her.  Of course we said yes and picked her up late yesterday afternoon.  We've fallen into a routine when she visits - she always wants to go look at the animals with Grandpa and wants to help Mimi in the kitchen.  This morning we made pancakes and we have plans to make cookies, granola, and bread while she's here.

Saturday night was stressful for us - we had to call the vet to stitch up our horse Rowan.  Our guard dog Joey and Rowan have a love/hate relationship where sometimes they are the best buddies and other times they're snapping at and chasing one another.  Bill went outside to check on the goats and startled the dog while he was sleeping.  He happened to be sleeping on the bale of hay that the horse was snacking on and something made Joey decide to snap at him.  Unfortunately, he did more than snap.  The poor vet was hosting a Christmas party at his house when I called.  Since Rowan wasn't bleeding profusely - but it was a large tear that needed stitches - he was able to enjoy his guests and come to the farm after the party.  The next morning, we made the decision to move Rowan to a different pasture because we can't risk another incident between the two of them.  

On a positive note, I've been able to do a little bird watching.  The birds are finally getting serious about the feeder I hung outside.  With the lower temperatures and the rain we've had, I think they decided that black oil sunflower seeds are the best bet for meals.  At one point I had four of these little guys at the feeder.  I also have a feeder at the farm house and it's about half empty now.  

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 27, 2012


I weaned myself off of magazines some time ago but somehow I ended up with a "subscription" to a ladies magazine.  I've gotten renewal notices stating that my subscription will stop if I don't pay.  Since I didn't subscribe in the first place, I'm not heartbroken over it.  Today I got an issue with a cover that said "Last Issue."  Thank goodness.

Since the magazine was free and it's in my house, I thought I'd leaf through it before banishing it to the recycling bin.  The cover promised "New Tips to Save $4,600 This Year" and the magazine tagline is "This Magazine Pays for Itself."   As I browsed the first few pages, I saw coupon after coupon for products I don't need and don't use.  So I question how this magazine would save me money if I actually used the proffered coupons.

Another thing that amused me was that the inside flap had an advertisement that contained a recipe for "S'More Cupcakes in Jelly Jars" that contained a variety of chemical-laced "food" products such as marshmallow creme, Cool Whip frosting, and instant pudding."  One page later and there was an ad for two varieties of detox teas.  Well, if you're going to make the cupcakes, you'll definitely need to detox.  

The magazine (and I know many others do, as well) alternates between articles telling you how to save money and declutter while at the same time pushing products (both in their articles and in their advertising) that would cost you money and clutter up your house.  No wonder so many of us feel stress.  I advise that you step away from that magazine rack and just say "no."  Good for your pocketbook (just the cost of the advertisements, er...I mean magazines, alone is high) and good for your sanity.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wellness Wednesday

Repetition Series 8
As you begin the new year with the decision to exercise more, please avoid the use of Gatorade and similar products that contain brominated vegetable oil.  According to this article in Environmental Health News, brominated vegetable oil was originally 
patented by chemical companies as a flame retardant and has been banned in food and beverages in Europe and Japan. In 1970, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration conditionally approved the interim use of BVO in fruit-flavored soft drinks. More than 30 years later, BVO's status is still listed as interim, despite concerns from scientists that the research is outdated and insufficient.
This chemical is not just in sports drinks.  Rodale reports that brominated vegetable oil is found in "beverages like Mountain Dew, some orange-flavor prevent the artificial flavor from separating from the rest of the drink.  In other words, it's purely for cosmetic reasons."

Flame retardants in beverages?  And 30 years with "interim" approval?  Better to hydrate yourself with good old-fashioned (but filtered) water. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Wishing you and your family a Very Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Quote for the Day

"According to the Mayan calender, the 21st of December is the end of the non-time and the beginning of time.  It is the end of hatred and the beginning of love, the end of lies and the beginning of truth."
~Evo Morales, President of Bolivia on
the predicted 12/21/12 doomsday

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas in Connecticut

Source:  Occupy Wall St. facebook page
I've put off commenting on the heinous event that took place in Connecticut.  First, I needed to process it (which I really still haven't) and I also didn't want to be yet one more person pushing an agenda while the parents' grief was still so raw.  However, many thoughts have run through my mind this past week, thoughts about our systemic problems that lead to such events.  Ours is a culture of violence that goes beyond mere gun ownership.  We glorify violence -  in our movies, our music, our video games, our sports, our politics.  Violence breeds violence.  But I was at a loss as to how to put my thoughts into words on paper (or computer screen).  Then I ran across this article on by Philip Giraldi that says it all for me:

Christmas in Connecticut
The slaughter of 20 elementary school children in Connecticut has shaken me to the core. As an American who has been horrified by Washington’s foreign policy over the past 11 years, I must admit to having imbibed a steady diet of death and destruction, but there is nevertheless something special about a tragedy that strikes close to home. I was born and raised in a mostly Catholic factory town in New Jersey, probably a place not unlike Newtown. I remember vividly my first day of kindergarten. My daughter is a teacher in an elementary school, and my grandson, a little boy full of curiosity and life, is now five and is in kindergarten in a small town in Virginia. He went off on his school bus wearing a Santa Claus hat on the day of the Newtown massacre. It shocks me to think that but for the accident of being in the wrong place at the wrong time he might have returned home dead, shot by some maniac who coolly reloaded while executing a classroom full of cowering children.
Inevitably, many of my friends in the antiwar movement have taken Newtown as a metaphor for what the United States is doing all around the world. I understand that, but when the unspeakable happens in a village in Connecticut it has an immediacy for me that Gaza does not. The pictures of the children, teachers, and parents filing out of that school in shock and fear inadvertently conjure up so many memories of small-town life in America that I cannot replicate it by thinking of other horrors. The thought that those little boys and girls had their lives snuffed out for absolutely nothing, that they will not grow and learn about the world, that they will not have children of their own and grow old surrounded by family and loved ones leaves me completely empty.
And even if I know that I cannot fully transfer what I am feeling to the thousands of victims of the cult of American Exceptionalism overseas, I think I do understand how their suffering is not unrelated to what took place in Connecticut. I always opposed George W. Bush’s wars on realist grounds, i.e., that they were based on faulty intelligence, they were disproportionate, and they could not possibly succeed. But I turned passionately antiwar over the death of a child when I saw the front-page newspaper photo of the body of poor little Ali Hussein being dragged out of the rubble of his home in Baghdad back in April 2008, the victim of an errant American bomb. People wrote to the paper complaining that the picture would hurt the war effort, some suggesting that the photo had been staged. I asked myself, “What kind of monsters have we become?” More recently, I was shattered when I looked at the photo of BBC reporter Jihad Masharawi holding his dead 11-month-old son Omar, the grief evident on his face, another innocent victim of Israel’s latest White House–enabled outrage against Gaza.
Who is to blame for the horror? Well, maybe we all are in that we are not marching in the streets in protest, but those in power are surely more culpable than the rest of us. America’s precipitate ethical decline might have started when Bill Clinton’s secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, declared the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children were “worth it” and no one in the mainstream media demanded her resignation. Or it might have been the growing jingoism in the wake of 9/11. Our country’s worship of the military has advanced in lockstep with our evolution into a national-security state in which the dead are trivialized by the euphemism “collateral damage.” The American way of death produces triumphalist war managers such as Gen. David Petraeus who themselves have never experienced combat up close and personal, and it ignores the suffering of the poor bastards who have to try to survive underneath our drones or who face miscarriages and birth defects from our left-behind depleted uranium. Our soldiers in Afghanistan, brought up on a diet of shoot-first, now consider “children with potential hostile intent” acceptable targets. All sensible people worldwide should demand that America’s insistence on the intrinsic righteousness of its rather tattered cause, however that is defined, has got to stop. It’s time to fold up the huge flags at football games and return to the Founders’ view of the military, that it was a necessary evil and nothing to be proud of. Soldiers and Marines do not exist for hurricane relief and to collect Toys for Tots at Christmas. They are trained to kill people, and they are very good at it.
And then there is popular music that exalts violence and the revoltingly graphic videogames in which teens can kill hundreds of enemies using a joystick. Battle by way of a video screen has created a mindset in which eliminating whole categories of adversaries for entertainment has inevitably reduced any moral restraint over the act of killing. The unemployed teenagers put aside their games and naturally morph into assassins in uniform sitting in air-conditioned rooms in Nevada who can spot and kill a suspected bad guy half a world away. The Air Force armchair warriors are now even demanding medals for their service when they should instead be ashamed of what they do, if not fearful of eventually going to prison for war crimes.
In today’s America, the government manages much of the violence. CIA torturers walk free even when an exhaustive report finally reveals that what they did destroyed the lives of many of those on the receiving end while accomplishing nothing but tarnishing the name of the United States. And then there were the renditions, turning suspects over to the torturers in other countries to carry out the heinous act by proxy. Rule of law? Just ask Khaled al-Masri, who was detained by the CIA then tortured and sodomized. When he sought redress through the U.S. courts, he was blocked through the invocation of the state-secrets privilege, an instrument that has been used many more times under President Obama than during the terms in office of George W. Bush, who was generally accused of being unsympathetic to constitutional rights.
And so, Mr. Obama, this has all got to stop. You can do it and the people will support you, as most are tired of the continuous warfare and all the killing. Declare the war on terror over. You can even say that we won if that would help you politically. You do not have to provide lethal aid to Syrian rebels and you do not have to attack Iran. No one in America will be safer if you do so. Bring everybody home. A growing number of your fellow citizens are beginning to understand that America’s increasingly institutionalized viciousness overseas is spilling over and taking root here in the U.S. The devil walks among us. If you can’t see it, you are blind to the reality and maybe it is time to change your advisers, replacing the yes-men and women dedicated to getting you and other Democrats reelected with ordinary people who still possess a moral compass and common sense. It’s not just a question of gun control, which will undoubtedly be the tune that you will play, but rather of what kind of nation we have become in the past 11 years. Twenty children have died in Connecticut, but you have used drones to kill 176 children in Pakistan and Yemen. The U.N. reports that an average of 4.8 Afghan children are killed or injured every day in a war that you should have ended four years ago. Twenty-eight children died in Gaza alone last month in the latest paroxysm of hatred engineered by Israel with the acquiescence of your administration. Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, far from expressing regrets, said they “deserved it.” Do you think the Afghan, Pakistani, and Yemeni kids also deserve it? Most of those dead children are invisible, since there is nothing in the U.S. media commemorating their names and their aspirations, still less about their grieving families, but, perhaps unlike the poor innocents killed in Connecticut, their blood is undeniably on our hands. A nation that is constantly at war will inevitably produce a people that is at war with itself, hardly a consoling message as we approach Christmas.
As we point our finger at those we feel are to blame, let's remember there are still three fingers pointing back at us.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Farm Friday

I continue to bake "no knead" bread on a regular basis.  I first got the idea from The Gardener's Cottage.  Then I saw a couple of videos with Mark Bittman (here and here) using a similar recipe to make bread.  I modified it very slightly and am pretty happy with the results.

This week we have the privilege of hosting our granddaughter for a few days.  It came as a surprise to us - we had wanted her to spend a few days with us but knew she had a very busy schedule.  Turns out her parents were able to get her out of school a few days early on the condition that she keep a journal about her stay at her grandparents' organic farm.  Here she is petting one of our sweetest goats, Sheena, who always loves attention:
As the weather has been fairly mild, we still have a few things growing in the gardens:  spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, radicchio, and collards.  I continue to seek out new ways to cook - some hits, some misses.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Something Positive

File:Eoliennes a Sloterdijk.jpg

A recent study at University of Delaware revealed good news for environmentalists.  According to the research, the United States could generate almost 100% of our power through renewables by 2030 at around the same cost as conventional power sources. 

This article from Common Dreams points out that Germany is already well on it's way to clean, green energy, already getting 25 percent of it's power from renewable sources such as wind and solar.  The article said Germans are puzzled that the United States is not looking to make such a change as well.  The author points out that "[n]ot only is the U.S. the wealthiest nation in the world" but that the idea is an American one that they adopted 40 years ago.  It was an idea gleaned from Jimmy Carter.  However, the push for clean energy was abandoned during the Reagan administration.

The good news is that it is possible to power our grid through cleaner means, such as solar and wind power.  The challenging news is that politicians and leaders in the U.S. don't seem very interested in it.  Perhaps with this study, there will be a new push for a greener grid.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wellness Wednesday

Body scan of 250 lb. woman and 120 lb. woman
In my grad school studies, I focused on the obesity crisis as that appears to be the most serious health concern in our future.  This article on CNN explains that, except for sub-Saharan Africa, the world has an obesity crisis on its hands - and it's much worse than the hunger issue.  As the world has adopted the eating and lifestyle habits of the United States and other English-speaking countries, diet-related illness has become the number one health problem.  More alarming is that with advances in medical technology and care, people are living longer but are suffering more.  Living longer with chronic disease means more expenses, both for individuals and for the government.  As the article points out, the last 14 years of life that people experience the most illness and pain, which means more trips to the doctor and hospital and more medication, which always comes with side effects.   Not a very good quality of life and not something I would choose to spend my time and money on.

Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and musculoskeletal disorders are among the chronic and debilitating diseases caused by diet and obesity.  Most of these diseases are preventable - and in some cases reversible - by adopting healthy eating and exercise habits.  Here's a video of Dr. Neal Barnard talking about how diabetes can be reversed (even though the medical profession will not acknowledge it):
In the US, it is traditional to make resolutions for the new year, with weight loss being the most common resolution.  For 2013, I encourage everyone to get serious about making and sticking to this resolution.  Learn about healthy eating and find ways to move your body more.  But don't take on so much that you feel defeated before you start - take baby steps.  And enlist friends to make it more fun.

I don't know about you, but I really don't want to spend the last 14 years of my life suffering, especially when much of it can be prevented. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Loving YouTube and the Internet

As a homeowner, I've often done my own repairs when they're simple.  However, there are certain projects that I've been afraid of int he past and always called in the experts, be they plumbers, electricians, or appliance repair experts.  When we lived in Florida, I had my list of trusty experts that I could call on when needed and knew they would show up at a prearranged time.  Moving to the country has been challenging for two reasons - I don't have a list of dependable people anymore and it's quite a drive that some aren't willing to make.  

A couple of months ago I discovered that our dishwasher had sprung a leak.  In the old days, I would have immediately called someone to repair it.  This time I decided to investigate to see if I could do it myself.  I loosened the bracket that held it to the counter, slid it out, and turned it on.  I immediately saw the problem.  One of the hoses had pinhole leak.  Upon further investigation, I realized the hose was held in place at both ends by simple clips.  Deciding I could fix it myself, I visited one of the big box home improvement stores and located a "universal" hose for much less than the cost of a home service call.  I happily snapped it up and raced home to complete my task.  Unfortunately, universal is not universal.  The hose didn't work.  But I wasn't deterred.  I pulled out my appliance manual and found the description and part number for that brand's hose and did a quick internet search.  I found the part I needed, still for much less than the cost of a service call, and placed an order.  On my next trip into town, I returned the "universal" hose.  A few days later, the correct part arrived and it was simple to remove the old hose and install the new one.  The most difficult part was to get the dishwasher lined up with the cabinet so I could reattach the brackets.  I felt pretty good after the job was done.

A few weeks ago I had another problem.  When I went to use my laundry sink, the faucet snapped off in my hands (I'm not that strong so I'm not sure what went wrong).  "Ah ha!"  I thought to myself; another opportunity to do a home repair.  Again, it wasn't as simple as it sounds and so, several weeks later, the sink still isn't repaired.  One problem is that it is impossible to get to the nuts that connect the faucet to the water supply lines.  There was no wiggle room to maneuver a wrench.  How on earth did they do it?  My first thought was that I had to remove the sink.  Then I remembered that I would also have to disconnect the drain line.  My light bulb moment - perhaps someone had done a YouTube tutorial on this topic.  Yes!  A nice plumber, bless his soul, had made one and even identified the tool - a basin wrench!  Once again, a quick search and there it was.  Another search revealed that big box home improvement stores carry them and they're not expensive.  So on my next trip into town, I'll be bringing one home.  And my laundry sink will soon be ready for duty.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Poem: The New York Poem

File:Sunrise in Constanta,Romania.JPG

The New York Poem
by Sam Hamill

I sit in the dark, not brooding
exactly, not waiting for the dawn
that is just beginning, at six-twenty-one,
in gray October light behind the trees.
I sit, breathing, mind turning on its wheel.

Hayden writes, “What use is poetry
in times like these?” And I suppose
I understand when he says, “A poet
simply cannot comprehend
any meaning in such slaughter.”

Nevertheless, in the grip of horror,
I turn to poetry, not prose,
to help me come to terms—
such as can be— with the lies, murders
and breathtaking hypocrisies

of those who would lead a nation
or a church. “What use is poetry?”
I sat down September twelfth,
two-thousand-one in the Common Era,
and read Rumi and kissed the ground.

And now that millions starve
in the name of holy war? Every war
is holy. It is the same pathetic story
from which we derive
“biblical proportion.”

I hear Pilate’s footsteps ring
on cobblestone, the voice of Joe McCarthy
cursing in the senate, Fat Boy exploding
as the whole sky shudders.
In New York City, the crashes
and subsequent collapses
created seismic waves. To begin to speak
of the dead, of the dying... how
can a poet speak of proportion any more
at all? Yet as the old Greek said,

“We walk on the faces of the dead.”
The dark fall sky grows blue.
Alone among ash and bones and ruins,
Tu Fu and Basho write the poem.
The last trace of blind rage fades

and a mute sadness settles in,
like dust, for the long, long haul. But if
I do not get up and sing,
if I do not get up and dance again,
the savages will win.

I’ll kiss the sword that kills me if I must.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Quote for the Day

"Philosophy is the talk on a cereal box.
Religion is the smile on a dog."
~Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Pictures Worth Thousands of Words

Recently, my heart was breaking over what we are doing to our planet.  And I realized part of the problem is that people in the westernized world never see the results of the unquenchable thirst for *things.*  Some of the damage cannot be seen (such as radioactive and toxic waste), although we can see the aftermath.  Other damage can be clearly seen, if you know where to look.  I hope these photos, provided in no particular order, give a glimpse into what is happening to our world.  It might not be in our backyards, but it will ultimately catch up with us.
File:Runit Dome 001.jpg
Cement dome built in the Marshall Islands to contain radioactive contamination from nuclear testing
Source:  Wikipedia
Mountain top removal
Source:  Unknown
Ecological damage from oil pipeline explosion in Nigeria
Oil from a leaking pipeline burns in a swamp area of the Niger Delta in Nigeria / Credits: Reuters
Oil leaking from Nigerian pipeline burns in a swamp
Deserted Chernobyl with nuclear power station in background
Source:  Flickr
The biggest river in West Java provides drinking, cleaning and irrigation water for millions in and ... / Credits: Reuters
Polluted Citarum River, Indonesia
Fresh Kills Landfill
Amazon rainforests of Brazil
Amazon rainforest cleared for oil and gas exploration
Deforestation Brazil
Deforestation in Brazil
Deepwater Horizon oil spill in Gulf of Mexico
Aral Sea was once the world's fourth largest lake
File:The Mir mine in Yakutia.JPG
Mir diamond mine in Russia
Source:  Wikipedia
Gold mine in Australia
Land cleared for palm oil plantations in Malaysia
Escondida, Chile
Copper mine in Chile
Another copper mine in Chile
Uranium mine
Military cemetery
I include this photo of a military cemetery because military conflicts are about the struggle over control and use of resources.  When we are told that conflict is to protect "American interests" or for our "security," the underlying message is that we need more resources.

There is hope.  We can do something about it but we need to remove the blinders from our eyes.  What we see in our everyday lives is a sanitized version of what is really happening in the rest of the world.  In our everyday lives, we need to consume less and to be more content.  We must be vocal about environmental issues by telling corporate leaders and politicians that we are opposed to policies that degrade our environment - around the world.  We must educate ourselves and share the knowledge we gain.  People can make a difference.

I'll close with a quote attributed to Gandhi:  "The world has enough for everyone's need, but not enough for everyone's greed."  

Friday, December 14, 2012

Farm Friday

Eye makeup remover ingredients
A few random thoughts and things for Farm Friday:

I continue to strive towards more sustainable living.  One project this week was to make my own eye makeup remover.  It's not aesthetically pleasing but it seems to get the job done.  Maybe if I put it in an opaque rather than clear container, I wouldn't notice the off color.

I've also started baking my own "no knead" bread with pretty good results.  I've never had much success with bread making - and it actually scared me.  But this recipe, which seemed too good to be true, also was too good to pass up.  I'll have to share the recipe in another post.

Since my reflective period back in September, I've been trying to reduce my energy consumption by driving less and cutting down on the loads of clothing that I wash and dry.  Since it's not growing season, we don't have to make multiple trips to make CSA deliveries and to sell at the farmer's market so I've gotten more deliberate about grouping errands.  For instance, we got our pork processed at a USDA facility so we could sell it.  The processor is about an hour away and is on the way to Greensboro, NC where I shop at a natural foods grocery store.  So, since I had to pick up our pork, I first visited the grocery store, picking up a variety of things, including cans of organic olive oil, safflower oil, fair trade organic tea, bulk organic oatmeal, and bulk organic spelt flour.  Now I won't need to go back to that area for a while, thus saving gas and wear and tear on my vehicle.  I also started using my portable drying rack more, hanging many of my clothes to dry rather than using the clothes dryer.  

As part of our commitment to the environment and our community, we decided to get more involved with the anti-uranium push in our area.  As I mentioned earlier this week, we attended an important meeting on this topic on Tuesday night.  This afternoon we attended a press conference at which our lieutenant governor announced his personal support of continuing the moratorium on uranium mining.  You can read his official statement here.  It's great to get his support but the struggle is far from over.

In doing some research on the uranium topic, I found a "pro uranium" blog that had an infographic showing how many mined materials go into solar panels.  A very valid point.  No matter how we generate our power or manufacture our goods, it is important to know we are still using valuable resources and must treat them as such.

A final note:  When we built our house, I made sure that the windows in our main living areas faced our best view.  What I didn't plan for was the spectacular sunsets that the view includes.  I need to remind myself not to take those sunsets for granted.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wellness Wednesday

One way to protect your health is to become an activist.  Although I prepared a long, detailed blog post to explain this conclusion, I realized that you just need the short story.

Last night I spent 3 hours at a public hearing on uranium mining.  There is a uranium deposit about 20 miles from my house.  After researching the legacy of uranium mining in the west, I realized the importance of maintaining the current uranium mining ban in Virginia.  This mine has the potential to contaminate our water, our land, and our air.  Not only are local people at risk, but people downstream, all the way to the coast, could be affected.  While all the government officials, those who are supposed to protect us, assured us that they had safeguards in place and that they would be on top of things, accidents and natural disasters happen.  The levees in New Orleans and the oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico are good examples of man-made structures that were regulated by the government.  Yes, the government was on top of things, doing its job, following regulations - but it didn't prevent the devastating damage.

For governmental agencies, it seems that being on top of things entails taking action once contamination has occurred.  This was a common theme last night.  I heard discussion about condemning contaminated wells, preventing the sale of contaminated meat and produce from local sources, monitoring cancer clusters, etc.  This was not very reassuring to me as that means the damage would have already been done.  

My situation highlights the importance of knowing what industries are in or are coming to your area and any possible health consequences.  According to the World Health Organization, about one-fourth of diseases in the world are caused by environmental factors.  Further, for children under the age of 5, environmental factors are blamed for one-third of diseases.  While some of these environmental factors are personal, such as diet, substance use, and lack of physical activity, others are caused by outside influences.  Becoming an informed activist is beneficial to your health and well being.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How to Save 50%

Stop following directions.  That's right; if we stop following directions we can save up to 50%, sometimes even more, by refusing to follow directions.  From grade school on, we're taught to adhere to the teacher's directions, color inside the lines, *bubble in the answer*, etc.  As a result this has spilled over into our everyday lives.  

Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.  How often have we seen this?  And most of us follow it.  What would happen if we didn't?  What if we just lathered and rinsed?  Do you fill the dishwasher cup to the top?  And the laundry detergent cap to the suggested line?  Have you ever thought about why repeat or fill to the line or the full cup?  Rather than it being the most effective amount, maybe it's the most the manufacturer can make us use without experiencing negative results.  

By refusing to conform and follow directions, we'd cut some of our expenses in half.  And for those who haven't switched to eco-friendly toiletries and cleaners, it would reduce the amount of toxins from those products by half - and the amount of plastic and other containers.  You can go further by thinking of the necessity of some daily activities.  Two showers a day?  Is it a necessity?  Can you plan your activities so that only one is necessary?  Same with washing your hair.  Does it need to be done every day or would every other day suffice?  Rethinking these things can cut some expenses in half.  So I suggest you view everyday activities with a critical eye. Do you really need to follow the directions?