Sunday, December 30, 2007

My Workout Working!

Hi.  Just wanted to let you know that my promise to myself to start working out is really happening!  I have consistently worked out five to six times a week since that original blog post. 

I'm seeing the benefits too!  My waist has gone from 46" down to 40.25".  My goal is a long ways away, but I don't mind.  I have a great workout partner who holds my feet to the fire and I'm happy to be going on the right path again after soooooo long.

Is Globalization Working?

John Ralston Saul, a novelist from Canada, wrote an aggressive takedown of globalization in Harper's magazine several years ago that I've just gotten around to reading.

I've always been firmly behind globalization, but his article has caused me to rethink some of my most valued suppositions about it. Here is an interesting paragraph in his article:

This determinist approach toward agriculture as an industry rather than as a food source--toward the implications of everything from fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides to genetics, hormones, antibiotics, labeling, and sourcing--became the flash point for a far broader concern among citizens. This was the context in which a growing percentage of people judged the handling of key issues as different as mad cow disease, the availability of pharmaceuticals in the developing world, and global warming. They were beginning to feel that what was presented as an argument of Globalism versus protectionism was often just a confused opposition of personal choice and abstract corporate interests. So Globalization, put forward as a metaphor for choice, was organizing itself around not consumers but corporate structures, structures that sought profits by limiting personal choice.
I've always known firsthand that corporations are more efficient than government departments.  As a computer consultant, I've seen the belly of both, and, while neither is pretty, corporations have the ability to get things done by at least a factor of twenty-to-one compared to government departments.

However, if a corporation takes over a function that a government department was once responsible for, and the corporation has a different (and wrong) goal, will it still be more efficient?  This is a point that Ralston Saul brings up that I stupidly hadn't considered before.

Ralston Saul says that in our efforts to globalize, we've paid attention (and measured) only the commercial aspects of things, ignoring the human and social aspects. This has caused us to be quite helpless when events that are economically insignificant but socially important occur, like the genocide in Rwanda.

Good God!  Will I turn into just another liberal big-government stooge?  I hope not.  This stuff is always more complex that I want to admit. But thanks anyway, John Ralston Saul, for making me think about my positions once again.

You can read much more from Ralston Saul, as well as see his collection of fiction and non-fiction writings, at his Website. I was first drawn to his work after hearing his lecture on the excellent podcast from TV Ontario called Big Ideas.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sticking Your Kids With Your Debt

I typically have two big issues which I judge political candidates on: the environment and the national debt.

Almost every year, both issues have been completely overlooked in the election process by both parties. However, this year, the environment actually is being talked about and the Democrats seem to have some plans to improve things.

The national debt has had no discussion whatsoever. Have we forgotten that the yearly budget deficit, brought to zero under President Clinton, is now higher than it's ever been? President Bush and the Republican Congress ran up a massive amount of debt that we are going to have to pay back.

Correction - our children will be paying it. Which brings me to a point, brought up eloquently by Oliver "Buzz" Thomas, a minister, lawyer and author of the book "10 Things Your Minister Wants to Tell You (But Can't Because He Needs the Job)."

Thomas wrote a blog post for USA Today earlier this month about our penchant for debt. He feels that we are violating fundamental religious principles by running up this debt and putting in no effort to pay it back. Essentially, it is like building up a $30,000 credit card bill and then leaving it to your children.

Would you do that? Probably not. But, as Thomas points out, it is just easier when it is a distant, shapeless blob like the national debt. And our politicians, especially the spendy Republican President we have, don't help. Can't blame it on the war either. This administration has increased the national debt every year without even counting war expenses.

As Thomas puts it, "Whether you're Christian, Muslim, Jewish or Zoroastrian, your tradition has taught you at least this: a) Pay your bills and b) Provide for your children. Right now, we are doing neither.

So why aren't our politicians talking about it? Probably because it will be uncomfortable to pay back the debt. Services will have to be cut. Taxes will have to be raised (sorry W - your way ain't-a workin').

We have to re-insert this into our national discussion again. Do we need to resurrect Ross Perot to bring back the topic of paying the debt? I hope not.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

How to Be a Glam-Granola Girl

Glam-Granola Girl

What do you get when you cross a glamour queen with a granola girl? Wendy Roy, author of the new book "You Know You're a Glam-Granola Girl If..." says that is exactly what she is - A Glam-Granola Girl.

Wendy also feels that there are many others like herself. Women who delight in being beautiful, feeling sexy, and also have a deep respect for nature and the environment.

Wendy recently read my article on natural cosmetics, and we've had a number of chats through e-mail. She seems like a chronic overachiever - singer, composer, author, entrepreneur, instructor, you name it. She's even sung at Boston's Fenway Park regularly and composed a song that was sung on Idol, South Africa. Amazing woman!

But you might be most interested in her book. Published just in time for Christmas, her book "celebrates the glamourously earthy ladies of the world."

The book costs $14.95 and is available from Wendy's Website. Click here to order.

Here's a quote from Wendy on what a Glam-Granola Girl really is:

We are ultra-stylish in appearance, yet comfortable in our shoes, and our skin. We encourage ecological responsibility, and promote inner peace, as we understand that this is from where external peace grows. We are the ladies who break all molds, and feel elated by, and proud of it.

We are intelligent, we are women of substance, and we are quite extraordinary, actually.

We are Glam-Granola girls.

Wendy Roy

Sunday, October 07, 2007

I've Started Exercising - For Real!

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I've finally started working out on a regular basis. My wife and I have always gone for walks pretty much a couple of times a week, but it is never fast enough to be a "workout" for me and I've been getting fatter and fatter.

Right now I weigh 240lb and I have a 46" waistline. I don't have a weight goal, but I'd like my waistline to be a lot smaller. That means burning fat and building muscle.

And thank God I found a great workout partner. My buddy at work, Walt, is working out with me at 5:30am every weekday morning.

Maybe I'll take some before and after shots of myself and post them here (and maybe I won't - LOL).

We are following Walt's workout plan, which means lots of free weights, 30 minutes of cardio and working opposing body parts each day.

I'm looking forward to it. We've done one week so far and I haven't quit nor have I caught a cold (which is a usual thing for me starting workouts).

I'll keep you up-to-date on what happens.

My goal is to look good before I go home to Canada for Christmas, because the rest of my family is all totally fit and I'm not. Hey, vanity is an excellent motivator.

Who "Should" Be in the Atlas Shrugged Movie

After hearing that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had bought the rights to the Atlas Shrugged movie, and that they were planning to star in it themselves, I couldn't help but think of who the actors for each character really --should-- be.

Erin Daniels as Dagny Taggart. I think Erin would have the perfect look and that she could play Dagny's personality most effectively. Her thin body, beautiful face and quiet but assertive nature would be a great fit for the role. I think Angelina, as beautiful as she is, seems a little too ethnic and too showy for the Dagny role. But maybe she will be able to pull it off (we hope).

Erin Daniels as Dagny Taggart

Tate Donovan as Jim Taggart. Tate has the right look of youth even though he's in his forties and also can play the panicked executive very well. Plus, the guy's ex-girlfriends are Sandra Bullock and Jennifer Aniston - he must have something going for him!

Tate Donovan as Jim Taggart

My choice for Lillian Rearden is truly inspired. Joely Richardson has the cold eyes and elegant thin body to play the ultimate bitch of the story.

Joely Richardson as Lillian Rearden

Mark Humphrey as Hank Rearden. Mark is a journeyman actor who would look good as a blonde and has the right face for the stoney responses Hank is always giving to people.

Mark Humphrey as Hank Rearden

John Galt is actually pretty easy. All you need is a really good looking guy and put green contact lenses into his eyes. Brad Pitt is planning to play John Galt - he could be okay. My choice would actually be Christian Bale.

Christian Bale as John Galt

The rest of the people are pretty easy too. Oren Boyle can be any old fat guy. Wesley Mooch is a simpering fool. It goes on. If they can get those top roles right, the movie could be worth watching. I'm asking you, Brangelina, please reconsider acting in the movie yourselves. You might do Ayn Rand better justice if you stay behind the cameras on this one (as pretty as you both are).

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Four Boneheaded Biases of Stupid Voters (And We're All Stupid Voters)

Reason magazine is fast becoming one of my favorite news/opinion sources. They have a nice RSS feed and excellent articles.

I was especially taken by this article on the biases we all have about voting, and hopefully this explains how we end up with free-spending, policy-deficient politicians like George W. Bush.

Anti-Market Bias

I first learned about farm price supports in the produce section of the grocery store. I was in kindergarten. My mother explained that price supports seemed to make fruits and vegetables more expensive but assured me that this conclusion was simplistic. If the supports went away, so many farms would go out of business that prices would soon be higher than ever. I accepted what she told me and felt a lingering sense that price competition is bad for buyer and seller alike.

This was one of my first memorable encounters with anti-market bias, a tendency to underestimate the economic benefits of the market mechanism. The public has severe doubts about how much it can count on profit-seeking business to produce socially beneficial outcomes. People focus on the motives of business and neglect the discipline imposed by competition. While economists admit that profit maximization plus market imperfections can yield bad results, noneconomists tend to view successful greed as socially harmful per se.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Speech on the So-Called Evil of Money from "Atlas Shrugged"

"So you think that money is the root of all evil?" said Francisco d'Anconia. "Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?

"When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the effort of others. It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to money. Not an ocean of tears not all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow. Those pieces of paper, which should have been gold, are a token of honor--your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money, Is this what you consider evil?

"Have you ever looked for the root of production? Take a look at an electric generator and dare tell yourself that it was created by the muscular effort of unthinking brutes. Try to grow a seed of wheat without the knowledge left to you by men who had to discover it for the first time. Try to obtain your food by means of nothing but physical motions--and you'll learn that man's mind is the root of all the goods produced and of all the wealth that has ever existed on earth."

For the rest of the speech (it is very long, philosophical and extremely well-put) go to Capitalist Magazine online. Wikipedia has a good article on the book "Atlas Shrugged" and a list of the characters in the book for background to this quote.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Should I Be Buying Railroad Stock?

I've been hearing a lot lately about the resurgence of rail. With gasoline prices rising now and almost certainly skyrocketing in the near future, railroads look like a fantastically efficient way to move goods around the country again. They can haul triple the amount of freight for the same amount of fuel as a truck.

St. Petersburg Times writes about it here.

Warren Buffet and Carl Icahn are investing in railroad stocks according to the Daily Reckoning Website.

Forbes talks about railroad companies reinvesting here.

All this while I'm re-listening to book mp3 of Atlas Shrugged, a 1950s era novel which centers on the railroad industry of the time. I love to listen to it everytime I need a shove in my level of productivity. This book makes me want to work harder.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bandidas Movie - How Did I Miss This?

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Two women whom I love dearly starred in the same movie in 2006 and, somehow, I missed it. Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek came together in a turn-of-the-century Western played out in Mexico called Bandidas.

I haven't even seen the whole movie but I know I'm going to love it. We recorded it on TiVo and it's waiting for me...patiently. My heart is still beating fast...

UPDATE (Sep 10) - I've now watched it twice all the way through. Friggin' loved it. Honestly, these are two of my favorite women in the world.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

New Study on Dairy Badly Flawed

"Drinking Milk Cuts Diabetes Risk" blare the headlines. The University of Cardiff in England just completed a study that showed that the more people drank milk the lower their incidence of metabolic syndrome, which is essentially a grab bag of symptoms that can lead to diabetes and heart disease: insulin resistance, obesity, high blood pressure, etc.

One problem. The study did not specify what the control group drank. Think about it. If there was one group drinking more milk, what would the other group likely be drinking? Water with stevia? Doubt it. They were probably drinking more soda and sugared energy drinks.

So, perhaps the headlines should have read "Milk Better Than Soda." Yeah, well, what isn't?

Further, the study reports that the number of people in the control group versus the milk-drinkers was virtually the same as far as who was actually diagnosed with diabetes during the study. The metabolic syndrome rate was lower in the milk-drinking group, but the rate of diabetes was the same, even given the twenty-year span of the study.

A better-conducted study from 2000 showed that cow's milk actually increases the incidence of diabetes by a factor of three. The results of that study are here.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Taking Drugs for Your Disease Can Cause...Another Disease

Public Citizen's excellent Website features an article this week on the various "side effects" caused by today's most popular pharmaceutical drugs. As if that's not enough, they also have written anecdotal stories of people harmed by drugs, including people who developed additional diseases caused by the drugs.

Larry, an otherwise healthy 58-year-old man with diarrhea believed to be due to “irritable bowel syndrome,” was given Stelazine, a powerful antipsychotic tranquilizer to “calm down” his intestinal tract. Stelazine is not even approved for treating such medical problems. Six months after starting Stelazine, Larry developed severe parkinsonism and was started on L-dopa, a drug for treating Parkinson’s disease. Presumably, the doctor did not realize the parkinsonism was drug-induced, and the Stelazine was continued. For seven years, Larry took both drugs. Then a neurologist specializing in Parkinson’s disease saw Larry, recognized the real cause of his problem, stopped the Stelazine, and slowly withdrew the L-dopa over a six-month period. Larry’s severe, disabling parkinsonism cleared completely.

Read entire article here.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Review of Side Effects Movie

I finally bought the DVD for the movie "Side Effects." I have been wanting to see this movie for a long time. Dr. Pam Popper at the Wellness Forum introduced me to it, but I haven't had a chance to see it until now.

Side Effects is a movie about the drug industry. It is based on a true story, the budding career of a pharmaceutical sales rep named Kathleen Slattery, who also happens to be the director of this movie.

The story begins with Karly Hert's (Kathleen's character) start in the pharma business. The initial pay and perqs get her excited, but she isn't really good at the job for a while. Finally, she decides to tell the doctors the unvarnished truth about the drugs she's selling, being upfront about all the side effects. It works, and Karly becomes the top sales rep, earning top dollars selling their marque drug, named Vivexx (named suspiciously like Vioxx, the arthritis drug that killed tens of thousands).

Karly finds out that the drug company withheld important side effect information, and does some digging to find out the real facts. She does some great detective work and at the end, makes a difference in a big way (trying to avoid spoilers here).

The movie itself is quite entertaining. That is for one reason and one reason only. Karly is played by Katherine Heigl, who is from Grey's Anatomy on TV and recently starred in Knocked Up. Katherine is an amazing actress. She holds the entire film together. I can sympathize that Kathleen Slattery is a first-time director, and as such, she does an okay job. But the movie has many problems, which can all be traced back to the director. Awkward ten-second scenes that mean nothing, strange interviews with doctors interspersed throughout, and awful performances by almost everyone except Katherine Heigl. The actors who play Karly's boyfriend and her two bosses are especially painful to watch. Again, it's understandable that, with a budget of less than $200,000, you're not going to get great actors to surround a star, but it doesn't make it any easier to watch.

I have one more bone to pick. As a red-blooded guy, it pains me to complain about this, but why does Katherine Heigl have to get undressed on-screen a half-dozen times or more with no connection whatsoever to the plot? It seems like a very cheap way to get our attention. Yes, Katherine has a beautiful body, but even a sex-crazed guy like myself can tell when he's being manipulated.

Having said all that, my wife and I still watched the whole thing and we still liked it. We both thought it was a tribute to one of the best new actresses of the twenty-first century, Katherine Heigl.

And, setting my inner movie critic aside, the story is good and the message is incredibly important. I suggest that, if you want to buy the DVD, you consider getting a combo-pack with Kathleen's companion movie called "Money Talks," which is a documentary on the same issue of pharmaceutical companies' undue influence on doctors.

Both movies are worth watching. We all need to learn more about this issue and find out what we can do to mitigate the risks.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Aspartame Linked to Cancer Again

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In a study conducted by the Ramazzini Institute in Italy, aspartame was found to be linked to malignant tumors and leukemia in rats.

The link is a PDF, so you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is a free download.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Vinegar for Weeds

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Well, I'm putting my money where my blog is. I tried using this vinegar, soap and water solution (see recipe under "Vinegar and Dish Soap" heading) on my weeds today, mostly thistles and dandelions. I'll let you know how well it works.

Oh, it was great to get out in the sun for a few minutes. I used to hate yard work with our house, because there is so much of it. But now I actually like it because it gets me out of the house and into the sun.

And, no, I do not wear sunblock. A lot of the news reports about sun and skin cancer are wrong, wrong, wrong. As the Journal of the National Cancer Institute at Oxford states, sunscreen appears to be linked to skin cancer more closely than sun exposure to skin cancer.

Whoa. Where the hell did that rant come from?

50 Uses for Vinegar

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This blog entry has fifty uses for vinegar. It cleans. It softens. It kills weeds. It freshens. Let me know what works for you.

There's also a book that has tons of uses for apple cider vinegar, specifically. It is supposed to be good for your health. Strange how something as acidic as vinegar would help your body alkalize. The book is in its Fifty-Fifth edition.

I'm Deleting My Post about Sicko

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I made a post on this blog about Michael Moore's new movie "Sicko" and I am now deleting that post from my blog. I have not seen the movie yet and I need to do that before I make my comments.

I read some very thought-provoking comments on Moore's Website that made me realize I may be speaking out of turn.

This deletion is a result of my own research. I have not been contacted by Michael Moore's organization or anyone else, this is my own decision.

Thank you.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

I Found a Salsa Without Cilantro

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UPDATE:  Frontera has stopped selling this product, as far as I can tell.  They switched the shape of the bottle, stopped selling this salsa flavor, and now EVERYTHING has cilantro and/or "spices" in it.   Damn it. Damn it. Damn it.

I finally found a salsa that contains no cilantro!

Why am I so excited? Especially considering that I love cilantro?

Well, the reason is that my wife is allergic to cilantro. This sad fact took the two of us several months to determine, but it became quite obvious when I purchased a bunch of fresh cilantro and she put it into a chili that she ate for several meals in a row. She broke out in a red, itchy rash on her neck and chest, and this happens now to a lesser degree whenever she eats something with the fragrant, tasty herb in it.

I say "sad fact" because both of us enjoy the taste of cilantro. There are apparently many people who don't like the taste of it, but for us, it is just because of my wife's allergy that we stay away from it.

And staying away is not easy. Cilantro has become the herb of the decade in restaurant food and any type of prepared grocery store food. Indian food almost always contains cilantro. The Chinese call cilantro "Chinese parsley" and use it liberally.

And Mexican food has cilantro in everything. Especially salsa.

So, for those who don't like the taste of it, or, God forbid, are allergic, take heart. Frontera Kitchen's Red Pepper and Garlic Salsa has no cilantro listed on the ingredients (available at Whole Foods Market). I'll report back later if Tamara starts having reactions to this too.

By the way, cilantro and coriander are from the same plant. Cilantro is the leaves and coriander is the ground-up seeds. My wife is allergic to both.

Group of Presidential Scholars Give President a Letter Asking to Cease Torture

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(Mari Oye second from right)

The Presidential Scholars of 2007 visited the President this summer like they do every summer. But this time, several of them (almost a third) signed a letter asking the President to stop torturing prisoners and enemy combatants.

Mari Oye (second from right in photo) was the one to hand the letter to him. To his credit, the President read the letter right there in front of her. His only response was "America doesn't torture people. America doesn't torture people."

This has to be the most underreported story of the summer. Why are the networks all Paris Hilton's butt and totally missing this story? I heard it originally on the Democracy Now! podcast but also found an article on the Boston Globe Website that is pretty good.

Democracy Now! has the entire transcript of Amy Goodman's interview with Mari Oye and one other scholar who was involved.

Democracy Now! is my new favorite podcast. Here is some background on the Presidential Scholars program.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Rare Earth Magnets Act as Possible Shark Repellant

Since 2001, SharkDefense has been working on a chemical shark repellent. The co-founder of this small company was playing around with powerful rare-earth magnets in 2005, when he dropped one next to their shark research tank in Oak Ridge, New Jersey. The lemon and nurse sharks inside instantly darted to the opposite wall.

Bewildered, the two scientists began to investigate. The results of their studies are at a site called Ocean Magnetics (their spinoff company).

They've found that sharks dramatically avoid magnets made from neodymium, iron and boron. They think the magnets overload a shark's ampullae of Lorenzini, small vesicles and pores around the head that form part of a subcutaneous sensory network.

Nice alternative to chemical shark repellants. Better for everyone.


Socks for your Sandals

So, it's too cold to go barefooted but you still want to wear your flip flops? You need Flip Flop Socks!

I can see that these could be useful for those in-between weather days. Or if you want to hide your ugly feet from view, but still want to be comfortable?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Insulation Made from Mushrooms

Discovery Channel gives us a view into what could potential replace our current types of "pink" home insulation: mushrooms.

Mushroom spores, actually.

Although excellent insulators, traditional polystyrene and polyurethane foam blends are made from petroleum, are expensive to produce, and are not biodegradable.

The patented Greensulate formula is an organic, fire-retardant board made of water, flour, minerals and mushroom spores. It not only hinders heat flow but could also be modified to produce sustainable, "growable" homes.

It's been developed by a couple of kids from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. They claim that these spores grow very quickly, couple of weeks, and that the end product will be quite cheap to produce. They're creating the company to market we speak.

Another article on the topic here.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way - Ahh, We'll Follow, Thanks

Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan and Renault automakers, has said that he wants to pursue a "wait and see" strategy on hybrid cars. He says that consumers are still deciding whether they want a hybrid gasoline-electric car, like the Lexus RX400h (which I personally love), or a "clean diesel" (assumably biodiesel) car. Ghosn says "When the market will shift, we will follow."

As the clever Dvorak Uncensored article put it, Nissan is hoping to "outperform GM at falling behind." This decision just might do that.

Toyota, meanwhile, has sold over one million hybrid cars now. And when Toyota looks in their rearview mirror, if they really look hard, they'll see Carlos Ghosn trying to decide whether to wear the red socks or the green socks today.

Help for an Embarrassing Problem

Hi. I'm Daryl. And I have an embarrassing problem known as Hemorrhoids. (It pisses me off that I've dealt with it long enough to even know how to spell it.)

I've had it for years, and tried various treatments, conventional and alternative, but everything seemed to make it worse. Each option was more painful, embarrassing and unproductive than the last. (Actually, it does help to use baby wipes instead of toilet paper, though. Just make sure to get the flushable kind.)

When I read the testimonials for Healing Natural Oils product "Heal Hemorrhoids," I sent in my order. Forget the fact that the damn tiny little bottle costs $70 (33ml). Forget the fact that nothing else had worked.

Well, I wish I could say that the oil totally eliminated the problem. It didn't. However, it did several very positive things. First, no more bleeding. That stopped almost immediately. And the pain also stopped very soon afterward. But the hemorrhoids themselves have not gotten smaller or disappeared, as discussed in the testimonials for the product.

That said, I wouldn't go without this oil. When I ran out of it recently, the bleeding and pain started up again quickly. For me, this is not a cure, but it is relief. The $70 bottle lasts about a year, so it isn't a huge price to pay for relief from pain and embarrassment.

My understanding is that the oils use aromatherapeutical and homeopathic principles to help heal the problems. With my excellent results from a homeopathic remedy for motion sickness, I'm happy to continue trying these various homeopathic products.

If it's so embarrassing, why the hell am I blogging about it??

NOTE: At this moment, Healing Natural Oils is offering 25% off their ridiculous prices, which makes the whole experience a big less ridiculous. Shop for your items, then enter "save25" as your customer code when you get to the order page.

I make no money from the links in this post. I am not an affiliate of Healing Natural Oils.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

1,637 Adverse Reactions to New "Miracle" HPV Vaccine

This was just a matter of time. Certain U.S. States and the country of Australia have instituted legislation forcing young girls to take a vaccine produced by Merck against the human papillomavirus (HPV).

The deaths and bad reactions are starting to roll in. Three girls died shortly after the vaccine was administered to them, and over a thousand have had "adverse reactions" according to the FDA.

These sad facts were reported in the British Medical Journal as well as on Dr. Joseph Mercola's blog.

For a detailed look at the problems with vaccines, check out Dr. Sherry Tenpenny's Website.

Curry vs. Cancer

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The ingredient in curry that gives it its bright yellow color is called curcumin. This ingredient has long been known in naturopathic medicine to offer help in avoiding or reversing cancer.

Now scientists have come up with a way to embed curcumin into nanospheres, ultra small particles, so they can be injected into the bloodstream, hoping to help cancer patients.

Or, umm, you could just eat curry. Or a quarter teaspoon of turmeric in a smoothie for breakfast, which is what I do. The studies quoted in the article vastly overstate the amount of curcumin needed for health, similarly to the way studies often state a much higher amount of green tea intake than necessary.

Turmeric, the plant that contains all the curcumin, can be a bit expensive to buy. However, my trick is to go into the imports aisle of your grocery store (Giant Eagle has it) and buy a huge bag of it for a few dollars. It is a lot cheaper than buying the little spice bottles.

Why I Had to Cut Down Four Trees So My Wife Could See the Sopranos Finale

Our neighbor has lots of mature trees. In fact, that was one of the reasons for us moving here. But once in a while, a tree (or four) has to be sacrificed for a higher purpose. In this case, my wife's Sopranos addiction.

Our satellite TV reception (through DirecTV) had been getting worse and worse for the past month or two. I knew what it was. I called the DirecTV support line just in case, but we both quickly came to the same conclusion - our trees were getting in the way of our satellite minidish's view of the southern sky.

It got worse and worse until our satellite system completely shut down. We were getting no programming whatsoever. In a way, it was nice not having a TV to turn to for entertainment. But I could not foresee an imminent disaster that was about to overtake our little household.

The Series Finale of the Sopranos was coming up on Sunday, and my wife dearly loved the series. I had watched some episodes of previous seasons, but had missed every episode of this current, and known to be final, season.

My wife missed the previous week, but when she found out that the Season Finale was coming up, she demanded that we get our satellite system fixed, come hell or high water.

I ditched whatever weekend plans I had had and set to work on figuring out what to do. We could call a tree service and probably get it all cleaned up, but that would probably cost a few hundred dollars. Besides, I had a handy electric chainsaw (that I enjoyed using), so why not try it myself?

The trees were no more than 6 inches wide at the base, so I cut each one down with the chainsaw. It worked pretty well. The trees were thin but pretty tall - 25-30 feet (which was the whole problem).

I didn't damage anything with trees falling all over the place, and then proceeded to cut them up into small pieces.

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I got the job done in about 4-5 hours, then went into the house and gingerly turned on the TV and satellite receiver. It worked! We had almost flawless reception.

I say "almost" because the Sopranos came in perfectly (imagine our panic when the screen blanked out in the diner as Meadow was walking in!!) but this past week we've had one or two digital "blips" that indicate there's more cuttin' to do.

It will be constant battle now. Hopefully we can just cut the tops off the trees as they get bigger. With the four trees I cut down, they were actually "volunteers" in our neighbor's yard that they wanted to get rid of anyway. But the next time, it might not be so simple.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Damning Studies on Splenda

A good friend recently asked me why I avoid Splenda. I've actually never tasted it! (I hear it tastes good.) The reason is that although there have been only a few studies done on this manmade chemical sweetener, the studies I've read have not been kind.

So, for my loyal blog readers, I'll give you the links that I shared with her. Splenda studies, with a nice little aspartame study thrown in for good measure!

Journal of Head and Face Pain (Sep 2006)
- This is just the abstract of an article done by Mercer University School of Medicine showing that sucralose (i.e. Splenda) triggers migraines.

Journal of Food Chemical Toxicology (Jun 1990)
Journal of Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology (Oct 1994)
- This is a very comprehensive article, written by an MD, summarizing the research done before 2000. Look towards the bottom of the article for the journal references. There are also some interesting, but clinically inconclusive, personal stories listed at the end of the article.

Journal of Food Chemical Toxicology (2000)
- A detailed abstract of a study where sucralose was tested on pregnant rats and rabbits. Gastrointestinal damage caused two mothers and four fetuses to die. This study was actually paid for by McNeil Specialty Products, the makers of Splenda.

Journal of Mutation Research (Aug 2002)
- Concludes that sucralose caused DNA damage in mice.

International Journal of Obesity (Jun 2004)
- Interesting study that says that artificial sweeteners actually make us want more sweets

Environmental Health Perspectives (March 2006)
- Aspartame found to cause cancer in rats at very low levels of ingestion (PDF version)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

A Network of Holistic Moms

Here is a neat new organization that is a support group for parents who want to use holistic methods in their parenting.

It's called Holistic Moms. It was founded in 2002 and has 85 local membership chapters in the U.S. and Canada, including chapters right here in Ohio. They provide support and information on natural living, health and wellness, informed and mindful parenting, sustainable environment and balance in life.

Membership costs $35.00/year
, but you can't pay online, you have to download their form, print it out and mail in your membership check.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Former Head of the Chinese FDA Sentenced to Death

In a surprisingly harsh decision, the former head of China's food and drug agency was given a death sentence for the corruption of his department.

Zheng Xiaoyu was convicted on charges of taking bribes and dereliction of duty.

The severity of the sentence probably had something to do with China's embarassments over the pet food poisoning scandal as well as others involving toothpaste manufactured in China, but Xiaoyu's corruption apparently predated these events by years.

Xiaoyu was convicted with taking bribes from pharmaceutical companies amounting to more than 6.5 million yuan ($850,000 US). There is a long list of Chinese patients who died from drugs that were approved by his department and later found to be unsafe.

This is quite a story. It speaks to a lot of issues in China as well as issues we deal with in the U.S.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Massage Therapy Lowers Blood Pressure in Cancer Patients

In a study conducted at the University of Minnesota, patients undergoing chemotherapy were given massage therapy (MT) and Healing Touch (HT).

Both therapies were found to lower blood pressure, respiratory rate and heart rate. In the 230 patient trial, pain rates were also lower in a 4 week period with these therapies than without.

Another study, quotes in the April/May 2006 issue of Massage Magazine, conducted at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, found that sixteen healthy males had significantly lower blood pressure after the first two massage therapy sessions in the controlled trial.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Al Gore Should Host a Democratic Presidential Candidate Debate on the Environment

I was inspired reading the Time magazine article (read the whole thing here) on Al Gore where he was quoted as saying "If I do my job right, all the candidates will be talking about the climate crisis."

Hmm. I visualize Al Gore being the moderator at a Democratic Presidential Candidate debate that has one topic and one topic only: the environment.

Can you imagine? He would ask them great questions. They would be forced to bone up on the issues of climate crisis and come up with credible responses. If we're going to be faced with ten or twenty debates this year anyway, why not have one of them facilitated by Gore and focused on one extremely important issue?

The candidates of both parties are getting away too easily without having to face tough questions about the environment. Each candidate needs to be confronted by a knowledgeable questioner:

  • What would you do about carbon emissions?
  • Are you in favor of a carbon tax replacing the payroll tax (as Gore has proposed)?
  • Would you allow new coal plants to be built?
  • Do you think nuclear power is part of the solution?
  • How would you advance biofuels, particularly cellulosic ethanol from corn stalks, straw and switchgrass?
  • How can the United States become a world leader in reducing emissions?
  • Will you create and enforce CAFE standards for automobile miles/gallon?
  • How would you incent Americans to drive hybrid cars?
  • Would you invest in solar and wind power research?
  • Would you work on building a hydrogen infrastructure for fuel cell cars?

I really, really want to know what the candidates answers to these questions are. Do you? What do you think?

Maybe after that we could have a healthcare debate moderated by Dr. Andrew Weil.

How to Tell Genetically-Modified Foods by the Label

For years I thought (and was told) that there is no way to tell if a piece of produce in a grocery store was genetically modified or not. In the U.S., there is no regulation specifying that food retailers disclose whether food DNA has been tampered with.

Well, I was wrong. You can tell if a piece of produce is GM by looking at the "product look-up" (PLU) code on the little label.

According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, physician and activist, you can determine the following by looking at the label:

  • Conventionally grown food (not GM, not organic): 4 digit PLU
  • Organic food: 5 digits starting with a nine
  • GM food: 5 digits starting with an eight

Of course, buying certified organic food means that it is, by definition, not GM. And these days, it's safe to say that if it's not organic, it is probably GM. Dr. Mercola says that 7 out of 10 items in a conventional produce department are GM.

NOTE: Whole Foods Market prides themselves on carrying *ZERO* GM foods in their entire store. They say that no ingredient in any product has a GM source. In Columbus, Ohio, we're lucky to have a Whole Foods Market very close to where we live. Yes, you could doubt Whole Foods claim, but my previous posting on this blog explains what I think is the flaw in that logic.

If you're on the fence with GM foods, read this study or this one. Rats fed a diet of GM corn developed smaller kidneys and had blood abnormalities. The study was conducted by Monsanto, a GM food manufacturer, but when they saw the results they tried to hush the researchers. Unfortunately for Monsanto, fortunately for us, the information got out anyway.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

North Dakota to Legalize Hemp Cultivation

North Dakota has taken steps to make it legal to grow hemp. Hemp is a really useful plant that can be made into rope or clothing. Misguided lawmakers have outlawed it because they confuse it with marijuana, but the amount of hemp you would have to smoke to get high would be astronomical.

This is a great step. I hope it helps North Dakota's economy. The only trouble now is that they will have to fight off the feds, because hemp is still illegal at the federal level in the U.S.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Tomatoes Not Effective in Protecting the Prostate

Okay, are you tired of this crap? I sure am. Tomatoes, declared to be our savior against prostate cancer, are now declared to be...useless.

Sorry, but the latest study says that the lycopene in tomatoes doesn't help a bit against prostate cancer, in fact, it probably causes more problems than it solves.

Wait a minute. Wait just a cottonpickin' minute.

What do they say? When your method continues to give you contradictory results, question your method.

Our "gold standard" of medical studies, the controlled trial, is not helping us converge on solutions to our health problems. In fact, it is providing us with wildly divergent results, time after time.

I say there's something wrong with the controlled trial. It hastens to "factor out" all possibilities to zero on...whatever is being studied. Does it work? Obviously not. Sorry, but if your controlled trials are telling me one minute that tomatoes/lycopene provide the ultimate protection against prostate cancer and then the next minute saying that lycopene actually causes prostate cancer... C'mon! Do you expect me to trust your methods?

The controlled trial can't factor out everything because it's not possible to factor out everything. Yes, on the physical side, you can factor out a history of cancer, or diet, or other drugs being taken. But what about emotional? We know the emotions have an effect on the body and health! My grandfather died only a few months after my grandmother. Why? Because something happened to his diet? Or because he was lonely?

Until controlled trials factor in (or out) all factors, including emotional, mental and energetic (which I think is actually impossible anyway) we can't trust the controlled trials themselves.

That's my (post-flu) rant. Hope you liked it.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Why Isn't there a Car Insurance Crisis?

In this excellent article from Capitalist Magazine, writer Wayne Dunn walks us through the easy steps to creating a "car insurance crisis" just like the health insurance crisis we already have.


If you've read my book (now available as a free e-Book), you already know what I think.

(Thanks to Props Unlimited for the great gas station artwork.)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Natural Cosmetics (An Article for Estheticians)

A few months ago, I was asked to write an article for the great, great magazine called "Skin Deep" which is focused on helping estheticians with their skin care and hair care businesses.

They asked me to write an article on product knowledge. I actually wrote the totally wrong article, because they were asking me to write something on product inventories, trying to predict what customers want, etc.

The article I wrote was completely about natural products free of chemicals and harmful additives. They rejected that idea and asked me to rewrite it. I did the rewrite and the article went great, but I had this article that I really loved and did all this research for was just sitting here unused.

So here it is! This is an article that estheticians can use who are interested in using products for their customers that are more natural and better for the skin, hair and nails. And it is also an article for women who want to use these more natural products for themselves.

Please let me know what you think. This particular article ain't gonna make me any money, but hopefully it will help lots of people choose better cosmetics and beauty aids for themselves and their customers.

Could "Going Natural" Be Your Best Competitive Advantage?

As an esthetician, you put time and money into making sure you are the best at your work – facials, waxing, rejuvenation. But knowing your skin care products, what's in them and how to use them most effectively, is an equally important responsibility. And it can put your far ahead of your competition.

You are in a highly influential position. Clients come to you regularly for facials and beauty treatments. Unlike a retail store, you are performing a very personal service for each client, and at the same time, showing them how to take care of themselves between appointments. You are like a health, wellness and beauty coach.

They expect you to do good work, but they also expect that you will know exactly what products to recommend to them, that you'll have those in stock, and you'll know what will or won't fit their needs.

Many clients will ask you about “natural” versus “non-natural” skin care products. “There is a lot of misinformation about what is natural or not,” says Valerie Bennis, an aromatherapist who owns Essence of Vali, a maker of balms, mists and oils. “To me, natural means something that comes straight from a plant. The less it is changed by man, the more natural it is. Jojoba oil comes from the bean of a plant. Essential oils come straight from plants.”

And certainly the more manmade chemicals added as preservatives, coloring or fragrance, the less natural the product becomes, and the more potential harm it can cause.

Educate Yourself, Then Your Clients

“Selecting a product for your clients just because it smells nice or looks good isn't enough,” says Bennis. “You must understand the ingredients first.”

Sodium lauryl sulfate is a chemical that is added to most creams and shampoos. It adds texture to cream and helps a shampoo create lather. But it is a skin irritant. “Even worse,” says Angelika Arseneau, an esthetician who works in Hawaii, “Is that lauryl sulfates are often combined with nitrosamine, which is a proven carcinogen. And the nitrosamine might not be listed on the label.”

There's so much to know! Where can you get started?

Bennis suggests making it a habit to attend industry trade shows (See the sidebar for a list of shows.) “Ask the vendors what is in their product, and how it's made. Find new, smaller vendors who have products that are more natural, with fewer chemicals.” She also says you must use the Internet as your research tool. Find out what the experts say about the various additives, and stay up to date on the latest news and research. And be aware of the authority of the Website you're using. Understand that not all the information on the Internet is necessarily unbiased or authoritative.


Reed Spa and Resort Expo and Conference
New York and Los Angeles

Las Vegas

Natural Products Expo East
specializing in “natural products” including food and beauty products

Product Lines

Once you have the knowledge, how can you try to please everyone? It's a fact that not all of your customers will be interested in the most “natural” products, especially if it means a higher price.

“Set up several product lines for your customers,” says Bennis. “One for people who want to go completely natural, a medium line, and one for people who don't care about anything but effective treatment.”

And when you are choosing products for those lines, find the products that have what Bennis calls “integrity. Try the products yourself. Make sure they do what they say they will do.”

Stocking products can sometimes be tricky. Buy too few and you might run out at a critical time when clients are clamoring for them. Buy too many and you might have problems with expiration dates. “Natural products often have a shelf life of six months to a year. Jojoba oil doesn't go rancid, but canola, almond, grapeseed and avocado do,” warns Bennis. Jojoba is technically a liquid wax, not an oil. That's why it doesn't have rancidity problems like true oils, and this also makes it easier to be absorbed into the skin and scalp.

Questionable Ingredients

We've already mentioned the lauryl sulfate (and companion laureth sulfate) family of chemicals. These are skin irritants that are often paired with carcinogenic chemicals.

But did you know that antifreeze is a common ingredient in personal care products? A type of antifreeze, propylene glycol, is used in many deodorants and cosmetics, even cleansers. Although this is considered to be the “safer antifreeze” in that it is less toxic than ethylene glycol, it is still suspected to play a role in compromising the immune system and the nervous system if absorbed into the body (according to

“Women underestimate how completely chemicals can absorb into the body,” says Arseneau, the Hawaiian esthetician. “Breast tissue is very sensitive. It is part of the lymphatic system, so when the body is trying to remove chemicals absorbed through the skin, from cosmetics, oils or creams, those toxins can accumulate in the breast tissue and eventually cause cancer there. Researchers have investigated the breast tissue of cadavers and found more than 80 different chemicals in them, from cosmetics, hair care, even fabric softener. The fewer chemicals we expose our skin to, the healthier our bodies will be.”

Also be aware of anti-bacterial products. Arseneau warns that soaps and cleanser touted to be anti-bacterial often contain triclosan, which is an irritant and tends to create “super germs” like those found in hospitals. Approximately 90,000 people die each year in hospitals from staph infections caused by super germs, which are created largely by overuse of antibiotics and anti-bacterial products (Triangle Business Journal). Don't turn your salon into a super-germ factory!

NOTE: Most U.S. states require that you use anti-bacterial products to sterilize your equipment. We are not suggesting that you break the law. Our suggestions are for the products that you use with, and sell to, clients.

Blindly buying products that “seem healthy” is not a good strategy for your clients either. You must examine the ingredient lists. Whole Foods Market, the largest health food store chain in the U.S., sells a shampoo under its own label that contains sodium lauryl sulfate. Tom's of Maine deodorant contains propylene glycol. It is you, the esthetician, that must stand up for your clients and fully understand the details of what you are selling to them.

Other things to watch for:

  • Coloring, dyes that are not vegetable based
  • Added fragrances are almost always chemically enhanced

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)

Finally, it's worth noting an increasing problem happening to Americans called multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). This is a condition where a person's health deteriorates rapidly and seemingly inexplicably, due to a hypersensitivity to chemicals. The patient gets to a point where they can't tolerate even the slightest amount of manmade chemicals in their food, makeup or even in the air they breathe, with debilitating results. It is fairly clear that this frightening condition is caused by a lifetime of absorption of chemicals, so if you, as the esthetician, can help your clients avoid problems like this in their future, it seems like it's worth educating yourself and helping them avoid health problems like this. Ohio State University has done a fair amount of research into this condition and has identified some of the main culprits in causing MCS as formaldehyde, pesticides, nitrogen dioxide (from unvented gas stoves), solvents, latex and dyes. If someone you know needs help with MCS, they may or may not get help from a Western medical doctor. Many doctors are unaware or suspicious of this condition. They may need to seek help from a qualified naturopathic physician.

Now for the Good Stuff

Now that we've warned you about all the “bad stuff,” let's talk about some great products that you really can trust. Most of them are from small manufacturers who pay close attention to staying “natural” with their ingredients. For this, we turn again to Angelika Arseneau for her suggestions.

Essence of Vali – The owner is one of our featured interviewees in this article. They feature compresses for the face, massage oils and energizing sprays.
Epicuren – Enzyme-based, metabolically active spa and cleansers, exfoliants, masks, scrubs and creams using a variety of ingredients including rosemary extract and essential oils.
Well-in-Hand – Carry a selection of shower soaps, bath soaps, essential oils and even acne treatments.
Farm Esthetics – homegrown herbs put into toners, powders, body scrubs, lotions – ayurvedic treatments, fragrances, flower oils
Country Herbals – candles made from beeswax, pure essential oils; also spa soaps
Primavera – essential oils from Germany

So how did Arseneau get to be so well-informed? “Usually, when I find a product I'm interested in carrying, I call the company directly. I ask them 'How do you put these products together? Where do you get the raw materials?' I learn a lot just by having the courage to question them.”

Multi-Level Marketing Products

Sooner or later, as an esthetician, you will be approached by someone about a multi-level marketing product (also known as “network marketing.”) These are products that are not usually sold through normal retail outlets, and are instead marketed through person-to-person relationships. Multi-level marketing is either the next generation of retail or the scourge of modern civilization, depending on whom you talk to.

“If it's a good product, who cares whether it's multi-level or not,” says Arseneau. “Just be sure to check the ingredients thoroughly. Look for the manmade chemicals, preservatives, foamers and coloring. Even in the multi-level products, there are several lines of cleansers and creams that claim to be 'all-natural' that contain many of the most dangerous chemicals that you don't want on your skin or your customers' skin.”

Know the products you sell. Know how effectively they clean and moisturize the skin, and know what's in them. Give your clients a choice – remember the three product lines (all natural, medium, treatment-oriented).

Your products say a lot about you. When your clients are at home, your product is the nearest representative of your esthetic practice. Don't you want that representative to be the best it can be?

Written by Daryl Kulak

Creative Commons License

work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Sir Ken Robinson's Funny, Provocative Speech on How Education is Undermining America's Creativity

At a time when we need our citizen's creativity the most, our education system is sapping it out of our children so completely and so consistently.

Sir Ken Robinson, a former (reformed?) professor who now speaks out against our current mode of education in schools and colleges, has a very engaging, witty message for us all. He may be addressing an American audience (the TED Conference in California) but what he says applies to many of our educational institutions worldwide.

Be sure to check out the other speakers at TED over the years, including Seth Godin, Jeff Bezos, William McDonough and others.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

An Intelligent Response to "The Great Global Warming Swindle"

Nicholson of "The Australian"

When I viewed the documentary called "The Great Global Warming Swindle" I was more than a little suspicious.

Were these scientists who were quoted really scientists, and if so, where did they get their funding?

The source I always ALWAYS turn to when I'm concerned about scientific issues is the podcast "Geek Counterpoint." This podcast is produced by a guy who is a scientist and engineer and the information is always backed up by tons and tons of references. The host, Lorne Ipsum, uses the podcast to cut through the hysterics and misinformation which dominate the mass media, and he does it in a calm, professional manner. No name-calling, no screaming.

Lorne took on "The Great Global Warming Swindle" a few weeks ago and documented exactly the problems with each argument presented in the film and the extensive questionable associations that the featured "scientists" had with oil companies and lobby groups.

I especially find it very interesting that the scientists who are the most-quoted advocates of the "Swindle" are some of the same scientists who were happy to say that cigarette smoking didn't cause lung cancer in the 70s and 80s. Can you say "PhD For Sale???"

I strongly suggest that you listen to the Geek Counterpoint podcast on this documentary and read the Website entry as well. I think you'll be very happy you found it.

I also found it useful to go through the Geek Counterpoint podcasts on global warming preceding this episode, including Climate Change 101, Climate Change and Logical Fallacies (The Argument Clinic), Climate Change - The Skeptics Pt 1, Climate Change - The Skeptics Pt 2, Climate Change - The Skeptics Pt 3 (Naming Names), and a quickie post (not a podcast) called More on the "Swindle."

Geek Counterpoint Podcast Home Page
"The Great Global Warming Swindle" Geek Counterpoint episode
"The Great Global Warming Swindle" trailer
Recent evidence of Exxon's attempt to bribe scientists to criticize global warming

NOTE: The film had been viewable online through Google Video, but it looks like it has been removed, probably for copyright violations, would be my guess.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bill Maher and His Bevy of Hot Republicans

Bill Maher hosted another great Real Time episode this week. I can't get over how he finds so many hot Republican women to be on his show! This week it was Amy Holmes (shown above), a beautiful African-American conservative activist and former speechwriter. Last season he had fewer, but I think it's so cool because there just aren't many beautiful women who are Republicans. But Bill, horn dog that he is, seems to find them all and put them on his show for us. Thanks Bill!

Bill's "New Rules" segment was about how bees seem to be sensitive to cell phone radiation and how bees are disappearing, which could be disastrous for all life. I like how Bill, more than almost anybody, puts environmental and medical issues front-and-center. Thanks for that too, Bill.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Charging for Food Left on the Plate

There just ain't much room left in Hong Kong. For this reason, and as a gesture toward preventing global warming, restaurants in this small Asian country are now charging customers for leaving food on their plate. The food gets dumped into a landfill, starts to rot, which creates methane, which is a notorious greenhouse gas. Plus, the landfills are too big and there's no space left to create new ones.

The charge for not being a "clean plater" is about 64 cents per ounce of food left. What a surprise it must be to get your check at the end of dinner and see a charge at the bottom for what you didn't eat!

It kind of makes sense though. Every little thing we can do to create less waste is a good thing.

Thanks to Greethinkers for pointing this article out.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Beautiful Bamboo Countertops

I saw these bamboo countertops on a home improvement store Website today. How gorgeous! The store is marketing them as eco-friendly, I think because bamboo grows so quickly and eats up so much carbon dioxide while it's growing. I read that bamboo grows up to a foot a day but that's only when you add up all the stalks on one plant. Still, that's a lot of fast growth.

I'm actually thinking of visiting this store in Fairfield, Iowa. My company is asking me to travel to Des Moines quite regularly soon, so I might get the chance to zip over to Fairfield over a weekend or something.