Monday, May 31, 2010
-In 1973, Jacqueline is 12 and living in Alexandria, Virginia. As a gift, her uncle Ed gives her a blue wool sweater with an African motif: two zebras at the foot of a mountain. She writes her name on the tag; it becomes her favorite sweater. When it becomes too tight for her, she donates it a second hand shop where it ends up in Africa to be distributed.
-In early 1987, she travels to Kigali, Rwanda, to help establish a microfinance enterprise for poor women.
-While jogging one afternoon, she spots a young boy on the road. He is wearing a familiar-looking sweater; it is made of blue wool, with zebras at the foot of a snowy mountain. She stops him, turns down his collar—and sees her name written on the tag. It's the sweater she donated 11 years earlier. The encounter convinces her that all of us are interconnected.
-In 2001, her sense of purpose renewed, Novogratz founds the Acumen Fund, a nonprofit that encourages entrepreneurship as a means to combat global poverty.
Blue sweaters, plaid shirts, suede loafers... do we think about the clothing and stuff we buy, its necessity and use, perhaps needless extravagance and waste?
How can we create a cycle of giving and receiving on a global scale?
This post is a submission to Magpie Tales #16, writing on a theme of the above illustrated shoes. Thanks, Willow.
Illustration by Penelope Dullaghan
Sunday, May 30, 2010
A report released by a coalition of seven environmental groups entitled 'A Grizzly Challenge' argues that "human-caused mortality thresholds are too high, there’s not enough habitat being protected, and there are too many roads running through bear country."
This article got me thinking about some men and their love of muscle machines: the bigger, more powerful, and noisier the better: All Terrain Vehicles, Jet Skis, Snowmobiles, Power boats, motorcycles, muscle trucks and SUV's,... These machines like to go to the hinterlands, the frontier, to exploit their rugged horsepower potential.
When taken separately the impact does not seem too significant, but when mounted together...what toll do these machines have on the environment and our attitude toward the finite resources of our world?
For example, I like to go cross country skiing, biking, kayaking, canoeing, and going for a brisk walk. The mechanized alternatives really are unsettling especially when they are unleashed in some of the last pristine places in the world or in domains where natural silence is most invited.
Will we ever be able to live within an ethic that more is less, and less is more?
Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler. ~ Albert Einstein
Perhaps simplicity is one of the ultimate goals for survival.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
One of the two writers at Stickhorse Cowgirls writes an excellent post entitled 'Paying it forward with big returns.' She describes a witness who went way out of his way to testify for one of her clients. He didn't have to be so cooperative but he said he did it because of a thoughtful act of kindness he experienced as an African American at his first job.
At nine years old the boy showed up at the local golf course to caddy. The first man handed him his oversized golf bag. The man's playing partner saw that this bag was far too heavy for the young boy and rented a golf cart for the boy to pull instead. The lad never forgot this act of kindness throughout his life. Now 56 years later, from an incident that took place in 1954, the man's actions were positively affected.
Pay it forward is an interesting concept. Instead of paying someone back for doing a favour, pay it forward... Catherine Ryan Hyde wrote a novel and a movie in 2000 was released starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and Holey Joel Osment. There is also the Pay it Forward Foundation which provides materials to be used in schools and in the community.
Can pay it forward not only be an interesting concept, but a dynamic plan of action and lasting legacy? Have you ever been touched by a gesture which left a lasting imprint?
Be the change you want to see in the world. ~ Gandhi
Friday, May 28, 2010
By accident I bought some Heinz ketchup last week and discovered that it's HOT, hot as in Tabasco sauce hot. The famous sauce has been added as a variation to Heinz' famous recipe. I love it; it's ketchup with BAMM and pizazz.
E.A. McIlhenny invented the blend of peppers, salt and vinegar after the Civil War, and everything on 2,200-acre Avery Island, Louisiana from the bayou bridge on, belongs to his descendants. Visitors can tour the Tabasco factory where the family still produces the famous condiment, which now generates $250 million in annual revenue.
Peppers are ground into "mash" the same day they are harvested and placed in white oak barrels for a three year aging process. Until recently all the peppers were grown on Avery Island but now the bulk of the peppers are grown in Central and South America. They are handpicked at just the right ripeness.
It's amazing that this centuries old product is still in private hands. The family has nurtured and preserved the integrity of the brand well. Do you enjoy hot pepper sauces and sprinkle them on your food whenever you have the chance?
Image: Hot peppers on Avery Island
Thursday, May 27, 2010
The financial scorecard on May 26 – a $222.1-billion (U.S.) market value for Apple versus $219.2-billion for Microsoft – marks a symbolic changing of the guard. Apple's shares are now worth 10 times more than they were 10 years ago.
According to Barrie McKenna for the Globe and Mail, "It parallels a remarkable reversal of fortunes for the two U.S. technology titans – one who wooed consumers, the other who chased Big Business.
The consumer won. Apple, which once relied on one-hit wonder computers, has transformed itself into a consumer electronics giant by cleverly linking its trendy devices – including the iPod, iPhone and its latest iPad – to lucrative sales of songs, books, photos and movies.
Microsoft, meanwhile, has become a stagnating giant, content to be a technology follower, too reliant on pushing its Windows operating system on business customers."
It’s been a remarkable comeback for Apple and its founder Steven Jobs, who presided over the launch of the Macintosh computer in 1984.
In years since, the computer company almost crashed as Microsoft’s operating systems dominated the industry. For a while, Mr. Jobs was exiled from his own company. And rivals suggested Apple should be wound down and the cash handed back to shareholders.
But Mr. Jobs came back in 1997. "He reinvented Apple, and himself, as a purveyor of must-have computers and tech gadgets, with enticing designs that made technology fashionable and easy to use."
Take the classic iPod, for example, which can store a lifetime of music. "It looked more like a white soap dish than a sophisticated piece of electronics. But consumers loved the functionality and convenience of the device, launching Apple’s transformation into a digital media giant."
To what extent do you enjoy Apple products? Will you be purchasing an iPad? It seems like Apple right now has mastered the art of digital convergence.
First of all, in Canada there is a conundrum about the spelling of grey/gray. Our kind neighbours to the south use gray and our British ancestors grey. Also as I scan all the blogs out there, I think twice about using 'colour' and 'humour' when so many spell it without the 'u.'
Let me suggest that 'gray' is a color (American) and 'grey' is a colour (Canadian, British...) More confused? Oh well, another grey/gray area, another wrinkle of reasoning.
A poem entitled 'Grey areas' from the enjoyable site Fridge Soup provides an excellent reflection on our thought processes and perspectives. Do we like to look at issues as black and white with a definite right and wrong answer? Or are we reluctant to take a stand because there is a lot of complexity, a lot of grey area?
Consider the many controversial issues that can get people very excited. Some are 'for' and some are 'against' and it's often difficult to provide a resolution to the conflict or to find a middle ground. Indeed, as a former English teacher, I enjoyed assigning student debates where they had to apply their reasoning skills on an issue.
- The drinking age should be raised to 21. (in Canada it's 18)
- Computers should be substituted for books.
- The media distorts teen values.
- The environment faces hopeless degradation.
- Teens face negative stereotyping...
In the adult world the issues are even more diverse. Our opinions are coloured by our biases and presuppositions, and perhaps even by propaganda.
In actuality, however, most issues should be faced with humility. Do we understand all the diverse details and perspectives, all the little wrinkles? Is it yes, no, or might?
Shades of grey wherever I go;
The more I find out the less
Black and white is how it should be,
But shades of grey are the colours I see. ~ Billy Joel
This is also a Theme Thursday post on wrinkles.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Light gives of itself freely, filling all available space. It does not seek anything in return; it asks not whether you are friend or foe. It gives of itself and is not thereby diminished. ~Michael Strassfeld
Our clematis is blooming outside the kitchen window. It's snuggled between an old gold juniper and an Annabelle hydrangea. It struck me how this jewel in the garden enjoys the morning light. All of its blooms are turned to absorb the warming presence.
Strassfeld compares our love and interest in others as a light. The quote encourages one to ask how much light do I have within? To what extent am I emanating that light to others? How selfless am I in sharing this light?
This evening I am accompanying our church sponsored immigrant family to a community soccer game. The six year old boy loves soccer and has scored a goal in each of the last four games. It has been gratifying also to teach the family some ESL once a week in the evening. Small slivers of light...
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
As President Obama nears his 500th day of his presidency, it is clear that he is trying to move the U.S. toward more egalitarian lines and closing the gap between rich and poor.
On the campaign trail in 2008, he told Joe the Plumber: “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.” According to Konrad Yakabuski of the Globe and Mail Obama confirmed this belief with his unscripted comment last month in Illinois.
After telling a small-town Illinois audience that he was not pushing tough new rules to rein in Wall Street because he “begrudged success that’s fairly earned,” Mr. Obama strayed from his prepared text and quipped: “I mean, I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.”
The American Dream has typically involved unrestrained wealth accumulation. Redistribution is not part of the deal. However, as the article points out, Obama is initiating transformational change as seen in the 787 billion stimulus package which is 'an omnibus act of economic restructuring,' the health care reform package, Wall Street financial reform, and the end of tax cuts to the wealthy, and instituting more taxes to the middle class.
"Old battles have been eclipsed by a new struggle between two competing visions of the country’s future... In one, America will continue to be an exceptional nation organized around the principles of free enterprise. … In the other, America will move toward European-style statism grounded in expanding bureaucracies, a managed economy and large-scale income redistribution.”
As a Canadian I don't pretend to know all the nuances of American politics and society, but these initiatives seem to address some of the glaring inequities and problems in the United States.
Also, his initiatives encourages one to think about the qualities of good government and what is best for society.
According to Jonathan Watts at the Guardian, the biggest of the projects will be a huge plant at the great bend. It would involve the construction of a series of tunnels, pipes, reservoirs and turbines to exploit the spectacular 2,000-metre fall of the river as it curls down towards India.
One plan is a giant 38 gigawatt hydropower plant that would be more than half as big again as the Three Gorges dam, with a capacity nearly half as large as the UK's national grid.
"This dam could save 200m tonnes of carbon each year. We should not waste the opportunity of the biggest carbon emission reduction project. For the sake of the entire world, all the water resources than can be developed should be developed." That CO2 saving would be huge according to analysts.
Tapping the power of the river as it bends and plunges from the Himalayan roof of the world down towards the Indian and Bangladeshi flood plains has long been a dream of the world's hydro-engineers. One wonders, however, about the environmental costs and the displacement of traditional communities along the way.
The projects under consideration also encourages one to think about the other great hydroelectric projects in the world which tap nature's great power and which provide a relatively clean source of energy. Are these mega projects always above reproach?
Sunday, May 23, 2010
As a river sweeps downstream, there is the left and right bank. Emma-Jane Kirby, a BBC correspondent, writes an essay about her time spent in Paris and her love for the Seine. It's the center of a lot of beauty, history, and fascination.
As well, she reflects upon the interests of the Parisians on both sides of the river.
Go right and you are a conservative, your interests practical and your passion - business and money-making."
Perhaps as a symbolical gesture, Kirby decided not to rent an apartment on either side of the river but in the middle, on an island. Here she could double her enjoyment of the river.
"I made a strategic decision to choose neither bank in Paris and instead had an apartment on the Ile St Louis, an island floating peacefully - and impartially - in the centre of the river. .. I felt very much at home cradled in the bosom of the Seine, .."
Now she has returned to England, and "Since I have moved back to Oxford, I seem to spend a disproportionate amount of time strolling the banks of the river Isis - some strange, atavistic (reappearing) urge drawing me to water."
It's interesting to think about our own perspectives, prejudices, and interests. Are we on the left or right bank of the river of life, or do we enjoy an island view of both sides?
Saturday, May 22, 2010
(There is some vague allusion here to Aesop's The City Mouse and the Country Mouse.)
"There once was a mouse who liked his country house until his cousin came for a visit.
"In the city where I live," his cousin said, "we dine on cheese and fish and bread. Each night my dinner is brought to me. I eat whatever I choose. While you, country cousin, work your paws to the bone for humble crumbs in this humble home. I'm used to finery. To each his own, I see!"...Photos: It's fun spending time with this cute Yorkie, called Finnegan and with his loving, doting care givers this weekend.
Do country pets really have more fun?
Friday, May 21, 2010
One was fed up with cut worms and disease and decided to give it a try. He made six planters out of five-gallon plastic buckets, and cut a two-inch hole in the bottom of each bucket and threaded a tomato seedling down through the opening, packing strips of newspaper around the root ball to keep it in place and to prevent dirt from falling out. He then filled the buckets with soil mixed with compost and hung them on sturdy steel hooks bolted to the railing of his backyard deck.
A NYT article explains, "The advantages of upside-down gardening are many: it saves space; there is no need for stakes or cages; it foils pests and fungus; there are fewer, if any, weeds; there is efficient delivery of water and nutrients thanks to gravity; and it allows for greater air circulation and sunlight exposure."
In my area of Leamington, Ontario we have several thousand acres of greenhouses which grow hydroponic tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. As they grow they are suspended on twine that extend at least ten feet high. From bags of nutrient rich water, huge yields are obtained. It's interesting to see the diversity of growing options available. Drip irrigation is also used extensively outdoors.
Among the many options, upside down may be an exciting little project to undertake with your child or grandchild or just for your own enrichment. Topsy Turvy offers a number of gardening products.
Do you have an interesting gardening technique or experience? I enjoyed growing million bell tomatoes which provide zillions of delectable fruit (vegetables) when suspended on trellices.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Researchers analyzed results from more than 20 studies involving more than 1 million participants in 10 different countries. They found that eating as little as 2 ounces of processed meat per day increased the risk of heart disease by 42 percent and the risk of diabetes by 19 percent.
In a BBC article the study also found that eating unprocessed red meat products like steak and hamburgers did not carry the same health risks, even though they contain similar amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol.
Researchers say the increased risks associated with processed meats are caused by higher salt contents as well as preservatives.
Some experts insist that processed meats do not have to be completely eliminated from the diet. Instead, consumers should eat them in moderation.One doctor said, "The study doesn’t suggest that people should panic if they had a piece of processed meat for lunch or cut it out of their diet completely, but as people are making choices it may be better to move away a little bit from the processed meats."
Another, " Go for lean cuts and aim to cook from scratch using healthier cooking methods like grilling or baking."
This study certainly makes one think about the kind of processed meats and foods we eat which may be laced with preservatives, salt, sugars, and fat.
I personally enjoy a farmer's smoked sausage that comes from the Waterloo area three hours away. Residents in my community make orders about four times a year and stock them in the freezer. Delicious from the grill.
What's your opinion of processed? Hot dogs anyone?
Last summer my two son in laws and I booked a chartered fishing boat on Lake St. Clair that connects Lake Huron with the Detroit River. The shallow lake with an average depth of about twenty feet is noted for some good fishing including the musky which is the largest member of the pike family. Its name comes from the Ojibwe word maashkinoozle meaning ugly pike. The French derivation is masque allonge. Musky are ambush predators with an elongated body. They range from 2-5 feet in length and can weigh up to 66 pounds.
The charter knew how to troll for this sleek marauder, what lure and tackle to use. For us inexperienced anglers it was a pleasure to enjoy the lake and wait for the strike. Then there was an exhilerating adrenalin rush to fight the fish and the rod to bring it into the net. For someone whose closest fish was about five times smaller than the one I caught, it was one of those thrills of a lifetime. Of course, the most cherished memory is that I could enjoy the day with these two adventurers.
This is my entry adapted from an earlier post to Magpie Tale #15, a weekly themed writing site. Thanks, Willow.
Most of us probably have at least one vivid fishing memory...
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
According to Forbes 2/3's of the world's 1,011 billionaires created their own fortunes. Some overcame personal misfortune and sometimes tragedy. An article with images provides a glimpse of 10 inspirational stories.
-Oracle’s Larry Ellison was adopted and raised by his aunt, and then dropped out of college when his adoptive mother died. He is now worth $28 billion.
-Apple's Steve Jobs, a San Francisco native was adopted by a working-class couple. He dropped out of college when he couldn’t afford tuition but continued auditing classes and started the company in a garage in 1976. Now with iPod, iTunes, and iPad his company continues to experience amazing growth. - $5.5 billion
- Acrobat showman Guy Laliberte started as a stilt-walking, fire-eating street performer. He founded Cirque du Soleil in 1984 with exhibitionist pals and hit it big when casino mogul Steve Wynn brought act to Las Vegas in 1991. Since then has expanded shows to include themed-versions featuring The Beatles and Elvis and next up is Michael Jackson. - $2.5 billion
-Writing wizardry single mother J. K. Rowling lived on welfare in Edinburgh, Scotland. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was published in 1997 and quickly became a bestseller and the first of a seven-book series that captivated children and adults worldwide. The film series began in 2001 and the six so far of the magical movies have grossed more than $5 billion. -$1 billion
- Born to a single teen mother, Oprah Winfrey grew up on grandmother’s farm in Mississippi, and then moved to Wisconsin where she was a victim of sexual abuse. Her talk show debuted in 1986, now a haven for women worldwide. Guests range from celebrities, to politicians to victims of abuse. Her expanded empire now includes broadcasts in 145 countries, O magazine, esteemed book club and "favorite things" lists. Daytime talk queen is moving her show to a night slot on new Oprah Winfrey Network cable channel. - $2.4 billion
Rags to riches stories are always fascinating.
It also encourages one to think about how much is enough?
Photos: Guy Laliberte, J. K. Rowling
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Feelings are much like waves; we can't stop them from coming but we can choose which ones to surf. ~ Jonaton Martensson
Some days we can feel like a placid pond, others like a lake with white crested waves; then there are the raging seas.
EARL is an acronym for emotion annotation and representation language. It groups 48 emotions into 10 helpful compartments:
- Negative and forceful: anger, annoyance, contempt, disgust, irritation
- Negative and not in control: anxiety, embarrassment, fear, helplessness, powerlessness, worry
- Negative thoughts: doubt, envy, frustration, guilt, shame
- Negative and passive: boredom, despair, disappointment, hurt, sadness
- Agitation: stress, shock, tension
- Positive and lively: amusement, delight, elation, excitement, happiness, joy, pleasure
- Caring: affection, empathy, friendliness, love
- Positive thoughts: courage, hope, pride, satisfaction, trust
- Quiet positive: calm, content, relaxed, relieved, serene
- Reactive: interest, politeness, surprised
EARL encourages one to think about this broad spectrum of emotions and how they sweep in and out of our day to day lives.
How do you manage them?
Monday, May 17, 2010
All he needed was a wheel in his hand and four on the road. ~ Jack Kerouac, On the Road, 1957
The Wall Street Journal has an article with images of some of the most scenic roads in the U.S. It makes one think about the road trips taken, sites enjoyed, memories cherished.
Several of mine include:
- the Cabot Trail which sweeps along the northern part of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
- the highway that crosses Vancouver Island to Tofino, on the west coast
- driving south of San Francisco along the coastline (Do you sense my wife and I like water views?)
Of course, roads also serve as great metaphors:
When all is said and done, all roads lead to the same end. So it's not so much which road you take, as how you take it. ~ Charles de Lint
How are you progressing on the road?
Sunday, May 16, 2010
I have always said about myself I am a survivor because I am. ~ Lee Tergesen
As I write this, I look forward to the finale of Survivor, ending its 20th season with a classic Heroes vs Villains confrontation. It doesn't really matter which side wins because it's just a game and it makes for great TV.
But the idea of Survivor hits on a central theme of life. Life has its challenges and pitfalls, heartaches and failures, disappointments and rejections. Yet, there is a resolve to carry on, to not let failure get in the way of a vital life.
As well, unlike the Survivor show of 'outwit, outplay, outlast,' which explores the mindset of screw the other guy, there are central principles at work.
How do you carry on to be the best person you can be from day to day? What makes you a bold survivor?
Saturday, May 15, 2010
The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them. ~ Thomas Merton (1915-1968)
Speaking of reflections, Smashing apps has a stunning assortment of reflections captured in photography as the one above.
Any reflections on reflections?
Friday, May 14, 2010
~ W. H. Davies
Indeed, there are many opportunities anytime, anywhere to take a few seconds to see the beauty and vibrancy of life.
The image above is a cascading purple beech with its new satiny leaves dancing in the breeze with some tulips all dressed in complementary colours.
Where did you stop to stand and stare? Where might you find some wonder this weekend?
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Our Forget-me-nots are blooming in the garden. They are easily overlooked, thus their appropriate name. For most of the year they look like a pernicious low weed with woody stems. But then in mid May tiny 5 petalled blooms appear that twinkle like azure stars. They are best appreciated by getting down on hands and knees and inspecting them closely. Their beauty is delicate and fleeting.
In the photo is a treasured heirloom. It's a plate decorated with Forget-me-nots, the only surviving dish from my wife's grandparents who fled Russia in the early 20's after the Russian Revolution. Their once prosperous farms were taken over by lawlessness, and they fled the violence to pursue a new life in Canada.
How appropriate that the plate is decorated in this way. For the family it's a reminder of our past: the struggles, the faith, and the hope. While we look to the future with vitality, it's good glancing into the rear view mirror occasionally to understand the family story.
Most of us have a family heirloom with lasting beauty.
This is a submission to Willow's wonderful theme site Magpie Tales, #14 about a treasured plate.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Every year the Purina Animal Hall of Fame 'honours pets and service animals whose extraordinary acts of bravery, intelligence and devotion have gone beyond the human-pet bond to ultimately save lives.'
Some recent distinguished inductees:
-'For two days and nights during an unexpected blizzard, Chance, a Dalmatian/Fox Terrier mix, stayed by the side of a 7-year old severely autistic boy who had wandered into the woods near his home.
-A normally mellow cat, Gepetto wailed incessantly as his home filled with more than 70 per cent carbon monoxide, prompting his owner to get help - in the nick of time.
-A Dutch Shepherd, Ace tracked and found a woman who was buried beneath deep snow for 72 hours after going missing during a severe snowstorm.
- A black Chow Chow, Jarod bravely fought a black bear who was threatening his owner and the family's other dog. '
It makes one wonder about the pets in our lives and their special endearing qualities.
For example, we had a Springer Spaniel that was the best darn bird dog. She could point with her tail out as her nose hovered near a hiding pheasant in the long grass. She was also not afraid of water and would retrieve to our delight.
Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms. ~ George Eliot
Photo and article about Chance.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Now the show has reached a digital music milestone with over 160 million songs sold on iTunes.
Billboard's Fred Bronson called Simon Fuller's iTunes tally "historic" in a decade which has seen album sales slump and cheaper, digital sales soar.
"He is without question the biggest manager of the digital age," Bronson said.
The British entrepreneur teamed up "American Idol" with iTunes at the Apple music store's 2003 launch, spotting its potential to capitalize on the TV singing show's appeal and the tens of millions of fans who watch it weekly.
"I felt there was a real synergy with what I do, which is launching new artists and TV shows, and what iTunes does, which is to sell music in an immediate and interactive way," Fuller said in a rare interview.
According to the world recording industry group IFPI, physical sales of music fell by 12.7 percent globally in 2009 while digital music sales rose by 9.2 percent to $4.3 billion -- more than 10 times the digital market value in 2004.
Fuller, who turns 50 years-old next week, said the speed of change had come as a shock to the music industry but he expressed hope for the future. He is reportedly looking at all the digital platforms for the next big thing in entertainment. His artist management company is 19 Entertainment. One wonders over the next five years how the music industry will evolve.
Do you iTune, iPod? What's on your playlist? I am iIlliterate.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Wordless apologies, bedhead all day long, when the windshield wipers match the beat to your song, when the cashier opens up a new lane at the grocery store,...
I have been following Neil Pasricha's blog '1,000 Awesome Things' for a few months. His acclaimed site enjoys a huge following thanks to his wit, enthusiasm, and eye for the little details which fill up our days. Now he has come out with The Book of Awesome.
"I don't think of myself as excessively positive. I just like reminding myself of all the simple things in life that we have to be happy about."
On May 7 he writes a timely post on a Mother's Day theme about going to the movies with his mother, 'Hanging out with your mom...'
'...Now, my mom’s five feet tall so her legs dangled from the chair, her clean gray spongy-soled sneakers swaying like a kid on a swing set. We chatted, chilled, and chowed down on chocolate before leaning back for the start of the show...'
One admires his perspective which celebrates all the little positives in the relationships and experiences of our day.
What little awesome things about life have you experienced?
Several of mine today were enjoying the fragrance of lilac and Korean spice in the garden, and buying freshly cut asparagus at a road stand.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
It's interesting to scan the list. I have always suspected grapes or any foods with crevices and rough edges such as broccoli which may be difficult to wash. I never suspected celery or apples to be as high on the list.
As a response, Heidi Kenney at My Paper Crane created a convenient 'cheat sheet' to carry with you as you go shopping. She recommends that one buys organic, if possible, for the dirty dozen.
Organic foods may seem a worthy goal, but there are definite challenges in finding quality produce at a reasonable price.
Does the list surprise you? How do you address the problem of pesticides in food?
Many organic practices simply make sense, regardless of what overall agricultural system is used. Far from being a quaint throwback to an earlier time, organic agriculture is proving to be a serious contender in modern farming and a more environmentally sustainable system over the long term. ~ David Suzuki
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Are church goers more charitable in terms of their time and money than atheists? An opinion essay in Macleans suggests that they are if one looks at the numbers.
"Last summer, Statistics Canada released a survey on Canadians and their charitable habits. While less than one in five attend church regularly, those who do are far more likely to give to charities, and are substantially more liberal in the size of their gifts to both religious and non-religious organizations. The average annual donation from a churchgoer is $1,038. For the rest of the population, $295.
With respect to volunteer effort, 66 per cent of churchgoers give their time to non-profit causes while only 43 per cent of non-attendees do likewise. And churchgoers put in twice as many hours volunteering."
The essay continues:
"Of more practical concern, if organized religion continues to fade from mainstream practice, how will society ever replace the massive contributions of time and money that believers currently provide?"
It seems that, "Spirituality and altruism share an obvious and welcome concern for humanity and its future. Do atheists?"
Of course, there are exceptions such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, two professed agnostics (doubtful or noncommittal), who are among the world's leading givers.
Tags: philanthropy, social justice, faith
Friday, May 7, 2010
I chuckled when I read about "How to Make a 3 minute chocolate mug cake." The recipe and photo make it appear wonderfully easy and delicious.
All of us have favorite recipes we turn to again and again. One of mine is called 'Favorite Pancakes' and it's from the classic Betty Crocker's Cookbook. My wife and I received it as a wedding gift 35 years ago. The book has its share of grease and batter stains and like a dog eared Bible that's a good thing. Here is the very simple, uncluttered recipe for two servings:
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons salad oil
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Generally you beat all this together and have fun making them on your griddle. ( I throw some blueberries on top before I turn them to reveal the golden undersides. We enjoy them with pure maple syrup, some whipped cream, and a little sausage and Heinz ketchup .)
By the way, Betty Crocker was invented by a food company in 1921 to give a personalized response to consumer product questions.
What do you enjoy making because it's always so good?
Thursday, May 6, 2010
"Vodka is cleverly marketed with words such as 'pure' which makes it appear glamorous and safe," explains England's foremost expert on liver disease, professor Roger Williams. "Moreover, teenagers think it's easy to disguise as it's more difficult to smell on the breath."
One teenage girl, who had never drunk vodka before, was said to have consumed half a bottle. Twenty minutes later, she was lying unconscious in her best friend's home. She, along with other friends, had been left alone to celebrate a 15th birthday! She was swept away with an ambulance to have her stomach pumped.
One 15-year-old girl told media, "It makes us feel strong, exciting and sexy. We arrive at parties ready to wow the boys." Incredibly, one girl remarked, "It isn't a proper party unless an ambulance comes!"
Needless to say, with that kind of drinking 40% of 13 and 14 year olds reported being drunk the first time they had sex.
All of this reminds me of Adbusters, a Vancouver based anti-consumerist magazine. One of its features is a satirical look at advertising campaigns. One is their series on Absolute Vodka as seen in the image.
Any thoughts on the mass media and teenage values and the role of parents?
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Have we reached the tipping point in world oil production? The ongoing disaster of the Deepwater Horizon oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico may signal an end to deep water drilling by companies and countries who support them.
Jeff Rubin, a leading economist and writer about oil markets, writes a blog at The Globe and Mail. He says that this latest spill is like the near nuclear meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979. Since then, for forty years, no company in the U.S. has built a new one.
The Deepwater leak is already approaching the volume of oil spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster off Alaska.
"The scene of hurricane-force winds raining oil on New Orleans and the rest of America’s Gulf Coast will no doubt make for an apocalyptic image of the end of the age of oil. Unfortunately, our dependence on the stuff will survive this catastrophe, even if the fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico and the marsh ecosystems of the Mississippi Delta won’t...
If the Deepwater Horizon disaster is the offshore energy industry’s Three Mile Island, then not only has world oil production already peaked, but it will also very soon start to shrink.
So if you think oil prices are high today, you ain’t seen nothing yet."
As I mowed the lawn today, drove about town, purchased some fruits and vegetables shipped in from around the world, saw the store racks piled high with consumer goods, and thought about the burgeoning developing countries like China, India, and Brazil who want a similar lifestyle... I realized how our world revolves around oil. Rubin's warnings may not be that far-fetched. Will the world become a smaller place, as he suggests, and will it mark the end of globalism?
What does the future of our world look like?
Tags: Gulf of Mexico oil leak, clean up, disaster, long term effects, economic implications,
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
I dwell in Possibility --
A fairer House than Prose --
More numerous of Windows --
Superior -- for Doors --
Of Chambers as the Cedars --
Impregnable of Eye --
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky --
Of Visitors -- the fairest --
For Occupation -- This --
The spreading wide of narrow Hands
To gather Paradise --
~ Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
In a surprising match up, one of my favourite actors Bill Murray reads this poem to construction workers at the building site for the Poets House at the national library center in New York city. Of several he reads, this one gets the applause.
With Dickinson as an inspiration and motivation, what possibilities exist in your life?
Monday, May 3, 2010
Recent studies have shown that spending more time in nature leads to improved physical and mental health. Researchers discovered that even a five minute dose can markedly improve self esteem.
With more than one half of the world's population now living in urban rather than rural areas, it's ever more important for planners, developers, and government leaders to incorporate parks and other green spaces.
"Urban environments, with their traffic and harried pace, are a constant drain on our mental resources because we have to work to pay attention to a myriad of stimuli.
A connection with nature is vital to our psychological and physical health because it helps recharge our brains so that we're better able to cope with the stresses in life."
Even children with attention deficit disorder functioned better after a "green" activity (i.e. one that likely took place in a natural setting, such as fishing or soccer) than a "non-green" one (such as watching TV or playing video games).
Through interviews, researchers found that residents in public housing projects whose apartments were exposed to green spaces reported fewer aggressive conflicts, including domestic violence, than those who that had no views of green spaces. They also procrastinated less on major goals, such as finding a job or a new home, and were less likely to think their problems were unsolvable.
Having our capacities for attention restored, "allows us to be our best selves, ..and to think better."
Have your towns and cities provided adequate vision and allowance for green spaces?
Tags: environment, urban planning, wholistic health, wellness
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Teaching is like sitting on a log, with the student on one end and the teacher on the other. Talking. Learning from each other. As long as you have that, you'll be okay. ~ Elliott Galloway
The Galloway School of Atlanta wanted to create a lasting tribute to founder Elliott Galloway and tapped sculptor Marty Dawe on the shoulder. It took some time for Dawe to come up with an overall concept. He studied Elliott’s life and work, watching hours of video footage and interviewing past headmasters, Galloway family members, and faculty.
“Then one day I was just taking a lunch break with my apprentices, and we started talking about ideas for the sculpture,” explained Dawe. "Let’s make it so the students can really join him. Let’s make it an outdoor classroom."
This past weekend the creation was unveiled to the community and, no doubt, will become a vital centerpiece to learning.
Several other perspectives of Galloway on learning:
I wanted to make life more meaningful for children by helping them to become competent and self-motivated individuals.
"We know that children will learn only if they want to learn. So what we do is pay attention and find that thing that gives them the desire to know.” He insisted that learning be challenging and joyful so that his students would want to seek it for the rest of their lives. He believed that learning took place through relationships, so he emphasized cooperative partnerships between students and teachers.
Care to share a meaningful lesson you had in a more informal setting with a caring teacher?
One of mine was a field trip to the River Rouge Steel plant in Detroit. We studied the steel making process before we left, and then saw the spectacle in all its immense scale, noise, smoke, and fiery sparks. Awesome!
Saturday, May 1, 2010
People in Japan believe the Japanese cherry blossom captures and defines all that is vulnerable about being human. The sakura season is a timely reminder that life is fleeting and time is precious.
This is a time to take stock and evaluate what you have achieved, and what you are going to do next on your own life path. In essence, the cherry blossom cycle is seen as a metaphor for life.
The trees bloom for about 2 weeks; however, the blossoms are delicate and easily damaged. If the weather is kind the celebrations will last the full 2-3 weeks, but any unseasonal rain or wind will shorten the life of the flowers, and in turn, the length of the cherry blossom festival.
Here are several haiku's which capture the essence of the blossoms:
Three days, neglected cherry branch...
And you are bare ~Ryota
Live in simple faith...
Just as this simple cherry,
Flower, fades and falls. ~ Issa
How does your garden grow? What is it telling you?